Monday, 8 June 2009

Off to the country side of Singapore!!

07 June 2009
Last week was a marathon outing week. Covered Riverside fruit park Sengkang two times, Punggol park, Pasir Ris park and as a grand finale visited Kranji countryside on Saturday. River side fruit park is near my home and is great for a good stroll in the evening with family. Its a newly developed park with cycle tracks and a small pond is there in the centre. The hustle and bustle of expressway can hinder the serenity 24/7.Punggol park is just 10 minutes drive from our home. Its frequented by people. There is a pathway surrounding a large pool and is frequented by joggers in the evening. Pasir Ris park is quite famous and it is great to entertain kids. Lot of swings and slides and kids parks are located there.

Inspired by one of our family friends, we set out to visit Kranji Countryside on a bright Saturday morning. We have never been to countryside of Singapore and couldn't imagine a spot in Singapore where we don't bump into people every other minute. Sajeev enjoyed driving along the unfrequented road and I was checking the printed map and giving him directions. We took Mandai Road,Woodlands Road, Kranji Road and Kranji Way to reach there. Along the way there are many sign boards indicating different farms. The countryside gives an 'out of Singapore' experience. There are no HDB flats, no high rise buildings and over all no crowd. Its calm, quite and serene. We drove until the last farm along Lim Chu Kang lane3 which is goat farm, Hay Dairies Pte. Ltd. There are hundreds of goats and live demo of milking goats were going on. Free breakfast and balloons were available for kids due to school holiday promotions. Goats were categorised according to the age and were kept in different cages. It is maintained quite well and Achu badly wanted to touch the lil ones.

From there we went to a farm full of cacti and other vegetables. Since there were no sheltered car parks available we had to park our car under the scalding sunlight. Bought some fresh vegetables which are not available in Singapore markets and I bought one Pistia stratiotes, often called water cabbage or water lettuce and is considered to be a native of Africa.It floats on the surface of the water its roots hanging submersed beneath floating leaves. Got one plant for 50 cents. There was a medium sized pond of Singapore's very own Koi fish and Achu, as usual, wanted to buy fish food and feed them. We let her do it, so that she will be happy. At one instant she put it all at one corner and told us that the fishes are still hungry and they need more food. I convinced her that other people are waiting out there to feed them and escaped to our car.

From there we drove to 'Max Koi Farm' . This farm impressed me a lot. One side was open and had few open ponds with green water. The landscaping was beautiful with bonsai plants on the shore. The other side had lots of deep ponds in which different groups of Koi fishes of different colours and sizes were bred. The ponds and surroundings were surprisingly neat and clean and fishes appeared healthy. Apart from Koi fish there were Arowana fishes as well. We rested there for a while since the breeze from the open pond was cooling and was much welcomed in such a bright weather.

Next was the organic farm where organic product sale was going on. Now a days whatever is labelled organic means expensive. Mushrooms,noodles, dried fruits etc were on sale. We got mushroom and dried olive, mango and prune. Outside there were different plants and veggies grown organically and wheat grass and mushrooms grown under shelter. There was a small creeper plant which caught my imagination and I took a small piece for my tiny garden back at home.

Next we went to Gardenasia ,a secret garden sanctuary,where we were welcomed by Morchoo and Titoy, two cute mascots. There were different events organised for kids and on 6/6/ it was Kampong fishing. It cost S$10 per kid. Friendly staff were helping us. We were given a small container of worms and the fishing equipments which is the old fashioned bamboo stick, a plastic thread and a hook, a bucket of water to put our catch, a

high chair and a round table. Sajeev and me conquered our fears of touching worms by touching it and carrying it in our hand, but Achu was not at all willing to experiment. She managed to touch but was far from comfortable in carrying it in her hand. She made us all laugh when she said worms are 'junk food'. We had to call for help each time we needed to hook the worms. The fishes were very smart and just took the bait and avoided the hook most of the time. We managed to catch three orange Lohan fishes. Even though a bit reluctant initially, Achu managed to pose with her catch after our constant encouragement. That was an enriching experience. She was a bit disappointed because we were not allowed to take the fishes home, instead had to put it back in the pond. There is a museum and lot of plants grown and maintained well. We were strolling along seeing plants when Sajeev pointed to a big dog sleeping peacefully in one corner. Suddenly, I felt hungry and wanted to escape. My inherent fear of dog always brings laughter to Sajeev, but I don't care as far as I am at a non-reachable distance from the dog.

Now, time for lunch and we wanted to find out a nice cosy place. On the way we found a board indicating 'Sungei Buloh wetland Reservoir'. We targeted that and paid S$1 per adult and 50 cents for child. Achu reiterated to the receptionist that she is a child and not an adult and also that she is a girl not a boy. Lots of people were coming out after trekking and photography. We could see lot of professional cameras hanging around peoples neck. We had our Pav Bhaji peacefully and rested for a while. Achu made friends with an uncle from Delhi visiting his daughter in Singapore. Finally we decided to trek for a while and went in the trekking direction. There were lot of wetlands and mangroves were growing on the banks of a beautiful river. We could see lot of life inside the river and a type of fish which was constantly trying to swim against the water current. It appeared to stand still in water, not sure whether that's the whole aim in their life or not. We could see Malaysia clearly. Because of my physical situation we didn't go for much walk and walked back.

Our last destination for the day was 'Bollywood veggies' . The name has an Indian flavour. We could see lot of tropical veggies and herbs plants. We can buy organically grown vegetables and herbs, but I found it a bit expensive. One tapioca root cost S$1. The sun was not merciful and so we sat under the shade of a large tree for a while. Natures ways are always amazing, the cool feeling the tree gave amidst the blazing sun was amazing. For a while we forgot that we are in Singapore. I had an ice cream -vanilla coated with chocolate from the Bistro.

It was a wonderful day. A day of going back to mother nature and its serenity. When we live in a country like Singapore such a retreat is essential for a family to enrich the coming generation and to remind us of our childhood days when we played in the sand and didn't mind getting hands dirty and when we ran after butterflies and grasshoppers , catching it, inspecting it and letting it go!! Yes, it was a true positive retreat for the whole family!!

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