Google Singapore and you are bound to see skyscrapers, modernistic structures and even a wondrous view of our Supertree Grove in Gardens By The Bay (yet another avant-garde stylish addition). If you haven’t already known, Singapore is definitely more than the futuristic and state-of-the-art city that you know of. The Singapore that my parents grew up in was once a kampong (village in short) and they frequented slow-moving rivers to catch fish in buckets, ran in fields of lallangs to ensnare spiders and climbed hills for sport. Singapore, as we know today, is not entirely different, much to the delight of our previous generation. Our urban jungle has a few new swanky additions and undergone quite a bit of a facelift but it does still retain that bit of nature to connect us to our roots.
An Otter Delight
We have to apologise for the bad pun but more than just the otters found in our River Safari, Singapore is home to a few wild families of otters and it is great fun to see them going about their business with the backdrop of Marina Bay behind them. While they were once thought to have been extinct, these families of smooth-coated otters have made an appearance and followed that up with many subsequent ones in spots like Bishan Park, Botanic Gardens and even in Sentosa. Singaporeans, in particular, have adopted these otters and have even acknowledged them as citizens of our beautiful garden city.
Exploring Wildlife Parks
For those looking to get in touch with some animal friends, Singapore is really not short of options. We have five main zoos in the Singapore Zoo, Night Safari, River Safari, S.E.A. Aquarium and the Jurong Bird Park. The newest of which is the River Safari which has charmed locals and expats alike with their huge collection of freshwater animals and the Amazon River Quest boat ride that takes you through Wild Amazonia to encounter the most unique wildlife from the world’s biggest tropical rainforest like the jaguar and maned wolf. For families who wish to do more than just sightseeing, the River Safari even has their own unique tours for you to get a behind-the-scenes view and opportunity to get up close and personal with the animals. Each wildlife park has its own unique draw and it would promise you and your family a fun spot to spend the weekends at.
Kicking Back In Nature Reserves
If you enjoy heading out of the city to explore the nature that borders around civilisation, Singapore does have its own playgrounds of nature as well with a number of nature reserves for you to explore. Nature reserves like the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and the Central Catchment Nature Reserve are extremely popular for those who enjoy a spot of sunshine. The MacRitchie Reservoir, in particular, has an exhilarating trail loop on the MacRitchie Trails that takes nature lovers on an 11km walk and even the chance to greet animals along the way. Previous sightings along this trail are the long-tail macaque monkeys, squirrels, monitor lizards and even flying lemurs.
Another tip is to go beyond the shores of Singapore to the nearby islands that border Singapore. Something that is still within Singapore waters is Sisters’ Island. As of now, this is still a hidden treasure since most Singaporeans might just shrug their shoulders if you ask them about it. Sisters’ Island is where you can find unique corals (about 32% of the species of hard corals in the world are found there) and who knows, you might just spot friendly wild dolphins on their way back after a fun time exploring.
The work week might take a toll on you and that is why most Singaporeans enjoy a bit of heart-pounding fun on the weekends with a bit of sport and fun. A popular haunt for most Singaporeans is East Coast Park, where you can bike, rollerblade and even land fancy tricks on your skateboard. For the water sports enthusiasts, you can take a fun trip out into the waters and soak up the sun with a kayak or canoe at either the MacRitchie Reservoir or Singapore Sports Hub. Regardless of where you reside in, you are bound to find a park or even a stadium nearby for you to sweat your stress into oblivion.
A City For All
Singapore is not a place dictated by an ‘all work and no play’ mentality. Start exploring the off-the-beaten paths and you would start to see and understand another side of us that loves wildlife and nature. If anything, making this garden city your home should not be a hard decision to make. You are promised secret nature escapes, well-organised walking trails and even the occasional sighting of wildlife for you to get your trek on.