I guess apart from some of the hilly areas around Bukit Timah, the Southern Ridges is another area that has been set aside by the government as nature reserve and designed to be linked up to allow for continuous walk, with scenice bridges and pathways.
So how does the hike look like?
Here is the actual GPS track of our hike on this day. Click on the photo below and Zoom in after that to see the enlarged Google Earth map.
|The Actual GPS track of our hike today|
For those who are familiar with Strava, here is the Strava link to this hike of ours. Very interesting GPS information and map data. Give it a click and see lah.
How far was the whole hike?
Well, it all depended on how far you would like to go. It could easily hit 10km one way out if you decided to continue walking down from Kent Ridge Park through Vigilante, to NUS through South Buona Vista Road, making the to and fro journey about 20km. On this day, our hike was about 15km. I remembered previously we only did 11km. But remembering that for training purposes, it was important simply to condition the legs to keep going continuously for a certain critical number of hours.
Preparation for overseas hiking?
We last did this Southern Ridges walk a few years back when we were preparing for our Nepal trek with the children. And today, Ah Li just happened to suggest that we do it again, this time in preparation for Kinabalu. So we just did it, although it was just only three of us. The main thing about trekking and hiking was, one had to condition the lower limb muscles for continuous walking and climbing, both up and down, for at least a good four hours or more. For longer treks, the timing may even be longer. Although in Singapore, we could never attain that kind of undulating terrain found in the Himalayan ranges, this was the best thing we could do.
The Start at Telok Blangah Rise
The best way to do the Southern Ridge walk was to start from the foot of Mount Faber. Where to park? Telok Blangah Rise Blk 42 car park. It was the best-kept secret (until now). On Sundays and PH, it was free, and there was plenty of parking spaces.
So 7:15am this morning we set off from the carpark at the foot of Mount Faber and started walking up the steep side of Faber. It was nice and cooling, and the walk was punctuated by shouts and grunts of the occasional cyclists either speeding up the steep side, or struggling up the same.
|The dreaded sight for many cyclists... the right turn up meant a one way ticket to the top.|
|A fast cyclist starting up..|
|Serene beating-gas to the cyclists going up...|
On this day, there wasn't any 'Wah lau'-ing from three of us, for we were leisurely walking up. I purposely strapped on my Heart Rate strap, and put on my Garmin forerunner 910XT watch, and carried along my Garmin Oregon 450 hiking GPS to capture the necessary data for the walk, and also to allow me to see how my heart rate was doing along the hike. Thankfully, the HR didn't need to go up too high throughout the walk. Of course, after a recent fall and multiple injuries, I was left with a weakened left hand and a severely lax left ankle. But nothing daunting enough for me not to attempt the hike with the enthusiastic Ah Li and Serene.
"Ah Li, here is the toughest part of the steep side of Mount Faber," I pointed out. "We always suffer like siao when we cycled here. And here this bay, it's for those who needed to rest for a bit of breather to push their bikes to."
"Ok, wait a while, let me change to my ankle lock here. Ah Li, you hold the camera for me first."
So it was interesting what happened when a teenager had a camera in hand.
|Her favourite Yi Mao, looking down at Telok Blangah.|
|Yi Mao getting ready to walk to The Jewel.|
I decided that we would take the right turn down Mount Faber Loop to descend to the Henderson Wave. It was easier and much shadier. Of course, at this time of the morning, cyclists were still aplenty, breathlessly pumping their pedals in their quest for the ultimate timing.
Here was how we walked to Mount Faber and from the top through Mount Faber Loop to the Henderson Wave.
"Ok, Ah Li, here. This is the Alternative Route to Henderson Wave," I said.
This young lady was most enthusiastic about the Henderson Wave. Although we had walked it before, but she simply loved doing it. And the highlight of this hike was of course this wavy bridge.
Until now, the walk had been uphill from the foot of Mount Faber. But from this point onwards it was down all the way. Easy peasy, really. I knew there would be more climbs later. But for the time being, we just went at a steady pace and enjoyed the nice scenery from up here.
"Hey look, Li! A frame for the flats below! In photography we always try to look for framing." Probably wasted advice there. But I still dished it out nevertheless.
The signboards were very good. One could never get lost as long as one followed the signboards. They would even show how far the distance to the next point. That was really good. Hmmm.. I didn't remember seeing such good signs that few years ago. I might have missed them then.
|Of course, Yi Mao had to photo-bomb my shot.|
The Henderson Wave!!
So there we were, the right turn into the Henderson Wave. It wasn't that crowded at this time, except for the few up here for their morning walks. The Henderson wave was an up-sloping bridge that linked Mount Faber to Telok Blangah Hill. I still remembered years back when my parents brought me here as a small little boy, Mount Faber and Telok Blangah Hill (previously known as Thousand Buddha Mountain 千佛山 with a temple right atop it that I could vaguely remember going to when I was a young boy) were linked. But the ridge was cleared to make way for a huge road that now connected Pasir Panjang to Telok Blangah. More of that when we arrived at the section.
Walking up the Henderson Wave would probably not bring my heart rate up much beyond 130. But cycling up the incline would be quite something else (don't let my NEA friends hear me say that, because one is not supposed to cycle on the bridge, but to dismount and push one's bicycle across).
Enjoying the slight inclined walk up the Wave.
What was interesting was, at every interval along the plank-lined path, there would be a figure on the floor indicating the exact altitude. I had never seen these. I thought these were very good information for those walking up. I took a look at my Garmin Oregon. It registered a 75m altitude when the board said 68m. Quite close, I must say.
Telok Blangah Hill
Once we crossed the Henderson Wave, we arrived at Telok Blangah Hill. The descent to the main Telok Blangah carpak mid hill, could be taken either by a inner, smaller pedestrian-only path on the left, or by the wider, but longer winding path on the right. We took the wider one.
"Pa, the road is so wet here," said Ah Li. "You said you all sometimes cycle down this windy road. Won't it be dangerous because it is slippery?"Good question, Ah Li. Actually yes and no. Don't cheong fast fast lor, and we would be safe. Serene must have been feeling fresh on this morning for she started a slow run from this point all the way to Alkaff Mansion.
The Alkaff Mansion had a really interesting history. Here was the account from the site remembersingapore.wordpress.com:
[click on the photo below to go to the site]
"Occupying a landsize of 780 square meters on top of a small hill at Bukit Jagoh (now known as Telok Blangah Green), the Alkaff Mansion was a holiday villa built by Syed Abdul Rahman Alkaff to entertain their customers and guests.Syed Abdul Rahman Alkaff (1880-1948) was a Yemeni trader who came to Singapore in the early 20th century. The Alkaff family was famous for their regional businesses in spices, sugar, coffee and other commodities. They also had vast property interests in other parts of Singapore such as Pasir Panjang and Henderson Road, and owned a beautiful Japanese-styled Alkaff Lake Gardens near MacPherson Road.After the Second World War, the Alkaff family sold much of its properties, including the Alkaff Lake Gardens, in a bid to revive its struggling businesses. Alkaff Mansion, built in 1918, was abandoned and left forgotten until 1990, when it was leased to Hotel Properties Ltd for redevelopment into a fine-dining place.The venture lasted more than a decade when it was finally closed down in 2003. The mansion was left empty once more."
Some more history of the Telok Blangah ridges. So as I researched, I found that the whole southern ridges were formed by a series of at least seven mountains. And over the years, some of these were levelled or partially levelled to make way for new roads and new developments. As a young boy, in the 70's I remembered my parents bringing me to this part of Telok Blangah Hill known as Thousand Buddha Mountain 千佛山. Apparently the old name for this part was Mount Washington, atop which a Buddhist Temple sat until it was demolished later to make way for developments.
|Walking up to Thousand Buddha mountain.|
"This is a picture taken in 1969 of the exterior of a Buddhist temple, which was demolished when development was made to the old Alkaff Mansion on Mount Faber. The temple used to be situated on part of a hill named Mount Washington, one of a range of at least seven hills in the Telok Blangah area. The Telok Blangah Hill area was renamed Mount Faber in 1845, after Captain Charles Edward Faber of the Madras Engineers, who was in charge of clearing the overgrowth of flora in the region. In the 1970s with the building of a new road extension, the area was sliced into two sections and one part remained as Mount Faber, while the other part was renamed Telok Blangah Hill. Photograph donated by Chua Ai Lin and displayed at Heritage Roadshow 2007."
Picture courtesy of National Library Board.
"Thirsty, thirsty!" called out Serene.
As I was the official water supplier, carrying a 3 litre CamelBak bladder in my daypack, my job was to supply water to her. Ah Li was very guai. She had her own water bottle. So I did a half-selfy with my point and shoot camera.
The Zig Zag Bridge (or more politically correctly named the Elevated Walkway'
Haha, yes. We came to this part on the side slope of Telok Blangah Hill which had concrete laid down in square-shaped lawn. We reckoned it was done to prevent landslide. But it made for a spectacular sight.
So everyone who walked past here would take a picture. Like the way we did here.
Where were we now ah?
So from what we saw in the Google Earh map, we were at the part right in the middle of the Google Earth map below marked 'The Square'. So we are moving along to Alexandra Arch soon! Keep going.
"Ok ladies, here at this part of the Zig Zag bridge, there are some Ang Moh Black and White houses. Let's turn right and explore them, shall we?" I suggested.And so we did, taking a right turn and exited the metallic walkway. And what a lovely part of the trail. Preston Road, it was named. Secluded, quiet, serene.. a paradise by itself. The old black and white houses were all rented out to Ang Mohs. And as we walked we could see some of the Ang Moh ladies enjoying a nice holiday morning sitting in the veranda feeding their babies.. others lying down reading a book.
"Cannot lah. Let us move it to somewhere safe, so that the cars won't run over it, " declared the good samaritan.
"Wow, what's that?" I asked. "Looks almost somewhat like a durian... Be careful don't let it's sap get onto your hands. May develop some kind of allergic reaction one leh.."
|Sleepy car, sleepy tyre.|
|This was right at the exit to Preston Road. We walked back to the Zig Zag bridge and continued our journey.|
Serene said: "Ah Li, if you fall down from here, the monkeys will grab you and bring you home as toys for their babies."
I looked at the sign, and I was impressed that we could actually walk all the way through Science Park, through NUS all the way to West Coast Park. Maybe the next round we would do that.
|Click on this for a bigger photo...|
"Ah Li, keep moving forward. Keep going straight. We would come to Kent Ridge Park. If we walk further down we will come to Vigilante Drive, one of the steepest roads in Singapore we've ever cycled on... But today we will stop just at Kent Ridge Park." said I.
- It overlooked the island of Singapore to the north.
- It gave access to Alexandra Road area where the British Army had its main ammunition and supply depots, military hospital and other key installations situated.
|Down the zig zag of Kent Ridge Park Canopy Walk... again.|