An Extended Hike Through MacRitchie Reservoir in Singapore

“Silence, I discover, is something you can actually hear.”
Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

On my second day in Singapore, I decided to take a hike to make up for my previous day’s failure. That first day I attempted to go to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, a large rainforest park in the outskirts of Singapore, only to discover that the park was undergoing renovations (supposedly they were improving the trails or something like that). That’s when I decided to head for the MacRitchie Reservoir, which is a much larger park than I expected.macritchie-reservoir

MacRitchie Reservoir, which was created in 1868, is popular among locals — there are numerous trails for people looking for little exercise. I saw groups of people out for a stroll as well as those jogging around the reservoir and surrounding forest trail. There were even a lot of people renting kayaks.macritchie-reservoir1

I originally thought I could walk to the reservoir from the MRT station, but I was definitely wrong. After a failed attempt at getting a bus (I was on the wrong side of the street), I checked out the stops listed on the bus stop but didn’t see a stop for the MacRitchie Reservoir. That’s when a kind local came up and offered some assistance — she told me which buses I could take and where to get off; she even took the same bus and pointed me in the right direction after I got off.

As I arrived at the reservoir, I headed for the trail around the water before turning off onto the forest trail. As I entered the park, there were a lot of monkeys playing in the trees and plenty of people watching them (there are signs in parks in Singapore reminding visitors to not feed the monkeys or carry plastic bags that monkeys might mistake for food). Along the trail I also noticed some small monitor lizards (I’m disappointed that I didn’t see any of the larger ones).macritchie-monkeys

The sign pointing to the forest trail said it was about 5 km to the TreeTop Walk, which is sponsored by HSBC (nice to see them doing more than laundering money for drug cartels).

What I didn’t realize is that the trail to the TreeTop Walk doesn’t go around the reservoir — it’s a trail through thick woodland, so you can’t see the reservoir. I also didn’t realize that while it’s 5 km to the destination, it was more than 5 km to finish the loop and then find the way back to the park entrance. I somehow found an exit along the way to the main road and bus stop nearby that would take me back to the MRT.

The forest trail through MacRitchie Reservoir
The forest trail through MacRitchie Reservoir

I was only a short distance into the forest trail — the noise of Singapore had already disappeared in the distance — when it started to rain (it is a rainforest after all). There are plenty of shelters along the trail, so I managed to find one before I got soaked with my camera. It cooled the weather until I made it to the TreeTop Walk, but it heated up considerably after that and I was desperate to get out–there were others I encountered on the trail who wanted to get out faster as well.

The HSBC TreeTop Walk
The HSBC TreeTop Walk

the TreeTop Walk had a beautiful view, especially considering the air cleared after the rain. After walking through the humidity after the rain, the view wasn’t as energizing as one would hope — I was sweating so much I felt like collapsing on the bridge (and it only got worse when I saw the signs for more than 5 km back out of the rainforest in either direction). The route I took back out of the rainforest took me along a country club golf course, which made the experience a little more surreal in my humidity-induced delirium (maybe it was a mirage).

View from the TreeTop Walk
View from the TreeTop Walk

I was tempted to stay on the bus to see where it went just because I was exhausted and thoroughly enjoyed the air conditioning on the ride to the MRT station.

Instead of heading back to my hostel to shower again and possibly take a nap, I decided to head farther from my hike to Bayfront. I wandered around the Marina Bay Sands mall to cool off in the air conditioning (and with the hope that I could find some affordable food (nope)) before dragging my tired legs to Gardens by the Bay, which is a story for another day.

View from the TreeTop Walk
View from the TreeTop Walk

I got to end my day with dinner at a little sidewalk buffet restaurant in Little India where I met a Dutch tourist and a few locals who ordered plenty of beer and even more food. I even met the owner of the restaurant who joined us for some of the beer and food. Somehow I paid less than half of my bill — certainly nothing to complain about.

Despite a hot and exhausting day, it was the kind of travel exhaustion I needed to rejuvenate myself (though my feet would disagree).

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