We wanted to do a walk on Sunday afternoon-the weather was cool and overcast and I'd been reading a bit about HortPark and the new walkway connecting it to Telok Blangah Hill. It is possible to do a 9km scenic walk from Kent Ridge Park all the way to Mount Faber, although this is a little ambitious with children.
We decided to start at Kent Ridge Park and see how far we got. We ended up doing about 3.7km, finishing at the Henderson Waves, the tallest pedestrian bridge in Singapore. It's just over 1km to HortPark from Kent Ridge Park, then another 2.6km to Telok Blangah Park and the Henderson Waves.
We dropped into Reflections at Bukit Chandu for an interesting hour before continuing on to the canopy walk. This lovely colonial building has been transformed into a memorial to the soldiers who died in a fierce hand-to-hand battle between Malay Regiment soldiers and the Japanese Army in 1942 on this hill.
Upstairs in the theatre the battle is presented through headphones and speakers for a 'binaural' sound and visual experience which is quite realistic and a little disturbing. Ben had to leave half way through as he was terrified, and Maya clung to me the whole show. It is so well done that you really fell like you are caught up in the middle of the war. The rest of the centre is very interesting and not quite so confrontational, and the children got a lot out of the rest of the exhibits.
Continuing on from Reflections at Bukit Chandu, we walked down the 'canopy walk' to HortPark. This is where our quiet walk ended and the tourist trail began. Large groups of tourists, teenagers and families were enjoying the park under a light rain shower. I'm sure during the week you'd have the park to yourself, but on a Sunday afternoon it is, for the moment, a popular place to visit.
This 23-hectare park is Southeast Asia's first 'one-stop gardening and lifestyle hub'. There is a retail outlet here selling all the usual garden centre bits but the centre is also a knowledge hub for plants and gardening and provides a platform for the industry to share different practices and showcase garden designs, products and services.
The blog Seen this scene that has an excellent review of HortPark where he describes it as 'hot' for numerous reasons, one being the fact that there is little shade even though it is a park. The various greenhouses are interesting architecturally, and the children's play area fun. But I found the individual plots featuring different landscape design ideas very uninspired. Surely there is more talent here in Singapore than that?
After HortPark we continued over the Alexandra Arch (which spans Alexandra Road), along the elevated walkways. This took us past, or above, Gillman Village and the lovely row of 'Black and Whites' on Preston Road. From Alexandra Road this elevated iron walkway is an eye-sore in my opinion, hardly blending in with the secondary forest it winds through. But it is quite a thrill to actually walk on it, as you are so high up (between 3 and 18metres high) and if you look through the iron grills as you walk along it seems like you are walking on air.
If you are walking from Alexandra Road, as we did, the final part of the walkway becomes a zig-zag up the hill, and from above reminded me of spaghetti junction in L.A. The views from the top are great-towering HDBs amongst the greenery, industrial plants, and the Southern Islands beyond. This is not a nature walk, but an interesting way to see this part of Singapore.
From here we walked through Telok Blangah Hill Park to the Henderson Waves. The car parks were full here and there were people everywhere. The bridge is lovely to walk over; the design is beautiful, and in the 'waves' there are shelters/resting places to enjoy.
We were happy to descend the steps to Henderson Road, although we could have continued to Mt Faber without kids. I would recommend this walk for the dramatic views of Singapore and the innovative approach to encourage Singaporeans to enjoy their surroundings.
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