A sweaty MacRitchie Nature Trail and a prawn noodles reward
In the bustling city of Singapore, there are a number of nature sanctuaries, of which the MacRitchie Reservoir is the oldest. Around the reservoir is over 1 square km of primary and secondary forest with various trails of different lengths. So the other day, I decided to take a break and take a hike through nature.
By the time I reached the beginning of the MacRitchie Nature Trail, I was already sweaty from the walk over from the Marymount MRT station... But I was excited for the hike in the shade of towering trees. There are a couple of shorter trails that loop off the main trail, of which the Petai Trail is definitely worth the detour. This is a boardwalk trail that has a number of small signboards that make the hike a learning experience. For example, I learned that chewing gum trees (or jelutong) are very fast growing, with an approximate 5 cm increase in girth per year!
Before I went on this hike, I read up on MacRitchie, and just about every single review told me to beware of the macaques living in the nature reserve. I was pretty excited to see some in the wild, but just my luck - I didn't see a single one. Perhaps I should have brought some plastic bags (the macaques are attracted to the sound because it signifies food). In fact, the only animal I saw aside from humans were butterflies.
After approximately 6 km of up and downs from the MRT station, I finally huffed and puffed the last stretch up to my destination: the HSBC TreeTop Walk. By then, I was sweating profusely from the heat and humidity. I didn't know what sweating really was until I did this hike.
When I first saw the 250 m. long suspension bridge over 25 m. up from the forest floor, my legs immediately buckled a bit under me. Heights and I are not exactly good friends. As I walked across this one way bridge, the wind was so strong it made this metal bridge sway, which made my entire body turn to jello. I could barely enjoy the sweeping views of the rainforest below.
I was very content when I reached solid ground again, only to look up and see a set of stairs ahead of me. With shaky legs and covered in sweat, the last thing I wanted to do was climb never-ending stairs. But I did, and then more stairs going down, and some more going up, until I reached a gorgeous, short stretch of bamboo forest!
The rest of the walk back was a perspiring blur. I was running out of water, I was exhausted, and I was starving. Thankfully, Longhouse Food Centre was just a couple blocks walk up Upp Thomson Rd. After drinking four cups of watermelon juice from the juice stand, I walked around and got in the longest line for some pork prawn noodles from Big Prawn Noodles.
Wow. This broth was concentrated with savory flavors, and the surf and turf worked perfectly together with the noodles. I think people around me were in shock watching me devour this large bowl of deliciousness.
And for dessert, I had to try the famous goreng pisang (literally translates to fried bananas) food stall at Longhouse. Here, this culinary sin is made to perfection in the Chinese style. The bananas ripen as they hang above the stall, and then they are covered in a thin batter and fried to get the perfect, light crisp. These freshly fried goreng pisang were slightly sweet, crunchy on the outside and smooth inside. It really was the ideal way to end my day!
- Wear good hiking shoes for the MacRitchie Nature Trail - the trail has a lot of loose rocks so be careful.
- Bring plenty of water. You will need it because of the humidity.
- Surprisingly, there are no mosquitoes so you will not be in need of any bug spray!
- Apparently, if you want to avoid the macaques, don't bring plastic bags and don't eat food openly on the trail.
- There are plenty of signs pointing you in the proper direction so don't worry about getting lost.
- Definitely go get lunch or dinner or a snack at Longhouse after your walk, hike or run. It's definitely worth the extra walk (or bus ride). But go soon - they are being shut down for new buildings =(
- You can drive to MacRitchie, but the Marymount MRT station is quite close, and you can just walk from there (there aren't any signs from the station, but google maps will take you to the entrance of the reservoir). If you want to get to the very beginning of the trail, look at the MacRitchie Trail map.