Singapore is such a small place though, and you really can't drive for much more than 40 minutes without hitting Malaysia. Most of Singapore is built up and very urban, but there are a few pockets which are very different to the malls, HDB buildings and freeways that we usually see everyday.
The other day we drove through the most rural-looking scene I have come across in Singapore yet. We passed the Kranji Goat Farm (go to Seen This Scene That for a review), and various other hydroponic, koi and fruit farms as well as military bases, and eventually arrived at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. This reserve is a tiny (130ha) bit of preserved mangrove, mudflats, ponds and secondary forest right on the far north-west of Singapore. You can actually see Johor Bahru in Malaysia up river. Most of the Singaporean coast would have been like this not so long ago, so it is a great escape to enjoy some tranquility.
There are board walks through the mangrove and walking tracks around the freshwater ponds where migrating birds gather. We saw a flock of what we think were Curlew Sandpipers which we identified from a drawing in one of the observation hides. These birds can fly thousands of miles, migrating from their breeding grounds in Siberia and northern Asian countries to where it is warmer and where there is food supply.
Watching out for those crocodiles
We also saw some slow moving monitor lizards, plenty of spiders, squirrels, noisy cicadas, beautiful blue Kingfishers and some huge crabs climbing the routes of the trees amongst the mangrove. We didn't manage to see any mud lobsters or crocodiles, although Estuarine crocodiles are known to inhabit the waters of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.
This monitor lizard watched us with little interest
We didn't have a lot of time and so didn't walk the whole way around the ponds, but we could see the Aerie, an 18-m tall tower hide offering a panoramic view of the wetland reserve. For serious birdwatchers, this would be a perfect place to observe the birds.
We enjoyed our walk, although I think the noisy children scared off most of the wildlife. Do wear shoes and socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirt and apply insect repellent on exposed skin as the area is a perfect place for mosquitoes. There is a small kiosk on site selling drinks, finger food and snacks, as well as fish food for the koi in the surrounding pond.
There are free guided tours every Saturday and these are an easy 30 minute walk suitable for whole family. Next time I'd like to walk the Kranji Nature Trail, which connects the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and Kranji Reservoir Park. This 2km green corridor linking the two wetlands is designed for people of all ages with its relatively flat terrain and passes through grassland, secondary forest, sandy beach and mangrove. Hard to imagine sometimes that we have all that right here in Singapore.
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
7.30am to 7.00pm weekdays
7am-7pm Sundays and Public holidays
Free entry during the week
Saturdays, Sundays, Public Holidays and School Holidays SG$1.00 per adult $0.50 per child / student / senior citizen