Our Delicate McRitchie Park

As a regular hiker through the McRitchie Reservoir, I must say that the dense forests and uneven terrain was by no means a surprise. But people like the Glass Ark members and I are but a tiny fraction of the student population in RI who have physically felt the vastness of the reservoir, not only limited to the open grassy patches and wooden boardwalks at the entrance near our school. This, however, will be the topic for another day.

The walk was a really enjoyable one. It gave us a chance to not only take a breather from the rapid and bustling urban lifestyle, but also take a look at what exactly the reservoir, just meters away from our school, has to offer.

We were definitely not disappointed, but instead, really surprised by the amount of life at the reservoir. Contrary to popular belief, Singapore’s biodiversity is actually really unique in relation to its geographical location, with numerous local flora and fauna even holding certain world records! In our tiny McRitchie Park lives the Giant Forest Ants (Camponotus Gigas), the largest ants in the world, the rare and elusive Green Leafbird, and many others.

The walk, albeit short, has taught me a lesson. It taught me the value of slowing down my pace in the things that I do, and not be so focused on the goal to the extent that the process cannot be enjoyed. In my countless occasions of hiking in McRitchie, never did I take note of the vast flora and fauna, nor did I know about the delicate food web and the astonishing history of the forests. Instead, it has always been about pace, timing, terrain and destination. True, the end product is undeniably important, but taking slower steps and enjoying the process to enhance the overall experience is definitely not a bad deal either!

All in all, the trail has been an eye opening experience for me. It has also allowed me to understand and appreciate the fragility of the rainforest and how the current forest’s existence is contributed by the delicate equilibrium of the various natural and man-made factors.  All this eventually draws conclusion to the ill effects of building of the downtown line through the reservoir. So let us all play a part in protecting this national heritage of ours and see that not only McRitchie Park, but all other parks are values and passed on through the ages! 🙂

Lets all work together!

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Love our MacRitchie Forest

Last Saturday morning, the whole of Glass Ark went for a nature guides training at MacRitchie Reservoir as part of the “Love our MacRitchie forest” campaign that was launched in response to the LTA’s announcement of the new Cross Island Line MRT (CRL), which is proposed to run through the fragile ecosystem that is MacRitchie Forest. The training was conducted by the very experienced, nature enthusiast Mr Subaraj (chief guide), who has actually guided me during the 2012 RGS Tioman trip, so it was a pleasant surprise to meet him again. He makes the best -hands down- animal sound mimicries you could ever hear! Other guides, and even participants, were equally knowledgeable. It was really inspiring to see how much passion these local guides had for our forests and the biodiversity, and I believe they truly encompass what it means to be an advocate.


About MacRitchie Forest


Proposed Cross Island LineImageOur biodiversity


Impacts of the CRL

We trekked along the trails that will be destroyed by the CRL and experienced firsthand what we will be missing out on if the CRL were to be built. It is a common myth that Singapore has very little, and very boring wildlife. But that’s not true! For such a small island, we have over 400 species of animals, which is no mean feat, as compared to Malaysia with 600+ species. The truth is, people are too lazy to go out and explore what little forests we have left, and too ignorant to open their eyes to the beautiful biodiversity we have around us. As students from Raffles Institution, the MacRitchie Reservoir is a mere 10 mins walk away from our school. Yet, how many of us have actually been there to experience the forests by ourselves?

It really seems as if humans only learn to appreciate things when they’re gone (cue Tanjong Pagar Railway Station), but in the case of the MacRitchie nature reserve, it will be too late to start reminiscing when it’s gone. Animals will not move out of their habitats. Even mobile animals like birds, are not found outside their common habitats. So once a forest is cleared, or even just disturbed, the animals will disappear. I’m sure it’s called a nature ‘reserve’ for a reason, but why aren’t we ‘reserving’ it? To us, forests may just be forests, but to the animals, it is their home, their habitats. Do we really have the right to take that away from them?

Well, I guess what I want to convey is not for everyone to blame the government for proposing the CRL and sign the petition against the building of this MRT line blindly, but for everyone who reads this (and that means YOU) to perhaps just pop by MacRitchie and really see what you’re missing out on. And if you like what you see, hear, and smell, won’t you want to share this with your friends and family (and *ahem future children)? At the end of the day, we just hope you would stop taking our local nature reserves for granted and start appreciating them today.

After all, it’s still not too late to save MacRitchie~
Love, Gina

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Day Out with the Crabs

Photo by the Naked Hermit Crabs

Photo by the Naked Hermit Crabs

On the 3rd August, four of us (Audrey, Jiayi, Johan and I) went on a walk to  Chek Jawa in Pulau Ubin, organized by the Naked Hermit Crabs. It was a guided walk, open to the public to allow people to gain a better understanding of the flora and fauna we have in Singapore, and appreciate our beautiful nature. It was great to see another group of students, from CHIJ Katong Convent, who were there to learn more about nature-guiding as well

Upon reaching Chek Jawa, we were extremely lucky to see a family of wild boars! We were as excited as the little kids when we saw the boars, it was definitely a good start to a great day. Along the boardwalk, we saw many other animals such as the Malayan Water Monitor, Long tailed Macaque, many creepy crawlies, crabs, and even a cobra!

From the top of the Jejawi tower, we were able to have a wonderful view of the whole of Chek Jawa, and truly witness the majesty of it all. We also learnt that the tower was built to be able to sway on purpose for stability sake, and is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Top of the Jejawi Tower. You could see Pulau Tekong in the distance!

Top of the Jejawi Tower. You could see Pulau Tekong in the distance!

This was my 3rd visit to Pulau Ubin, but my first time going with experienced guides to really see, and learn, what the island has to offer. And from this trip, I think Pulau Ubin is the perfect weekend getaway with family and friends, the perfect place to get in touch with nature. And it doesn’t even cost much! A boat ride to and fro costs just $5, but even the windy ride was a fun experience in itself. I do not know how many people actually know this (or maybe they know and just do not care?), but Pulau Ubin will not stay in its pristine state forever. Once the current generation living on the island passes on, the land will be claimed by the government, and god knows what will be done to Ubin. Perhaps it’d be developed into a tourist attraction? Or even housing estates? But no matter what, any interference, and disturbance will disrupt the forests and habitats in Ubin. 10, 20 years down, Ubin will change and there will be less of the amazing biodiversity, so I strongly encourage everyone to go now, when you still have the chance. Bring your younger siblings, and your ahgong ahmas. And perhaps, just perhaps, with more people visiting and appreciating Pulau Ubin, there will be more efforts put into conserving her.

Here’s a picture of us at the English Cottage to end off this post! Btw, do check out the Naked Hermit Crabs if you’re interested in attending such nature walks! 🙂 Stay tuned for our next post on Saving MacRitchie~

Tired but happy bunch!

Tired but happy bunch!

Love, Gina

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Chek Jawa Guided Tour

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Mangrove Kingdoms


Mangrove trees have always fascinated me. I think of them as castles –grand and majestic with their breathing roots encircling the stump like a troop of royal defenders, protecting something sacred and unimaginably ancient.

On our visit to Chek Jawa with the Naked Hermit Crabs, there were no doubt mangroves galore. There were many different types of mangrove trees, and many different types of roots.

Some were coarse and thick, like brave and stout foot soldiers; some pencil-thin and sleek, like proud,  elegant generals; some gnarly and curiously bent, like veteran soldiers wizened with age and marred with innumerable battle-scars.


These kingdoms came alive for me as my guide, Pei Yan narrated the rise and fall of these mighty kingdoms.

It all starts from a humble green stick called propagule. Propagules grow on the mother plant, they hang from her branches like windchimes and when the wind blows they sway dangerously. The very tip of the propagule was visibly the only thing attached to the branch, a precarious position which made it seem at risk of falling at the slightest breeze. image

According to Pei Yan though, these miraculous sticks would only drop off when the tide comes in. They will float upright and drift in sea where the currents will drop them off at different shores. If the soil is good and the conditions suitable, they will position themselves upright and grow. Otherwise, they will wait for the tide to come in and continue on their journey in search of worthy terrian.

And therein marks the rise of a mighty kingdom. The terrain might be unkind, the the abilities that these humble seedlings have been gifted with will enable them to root themselves deep into the soil, stand upright, grow and propagate their kingdom.


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