Friday, May 6, 2011

MacRitchie Reservoir Park

This past weekend Elaine and I made a trip to MacRitchie Reservoir Park, one of the Singapore parks that has been on our list for some time.  Singapore has several fresh water reservoirs in its interior, which provide water for the city.  The water basin areas also serve as nature reserves and parks for some limited recreation, not unlike many water reservoirs in The States.  The reservoirs are also a keystone of Singapore history.  Singapore was the largest military base in the world in the British Empire prior to World War II, and a strategic center for Southeast Asia.  However, the Japanese, with a smaller invading force than the British defence, was able to force capitulation after only a month of battle because they were able to capture the areas surrounding the reservoirs, and disrupt the water supply to Singapore.

Tree Top Walk
Our main interest in MacRitchie was to do a "hike" in a more rural area, but also see and walk on the Tree Top Walk, an elevated bridge across a small gorge in the park.  (Truth told, you are never too far from the city anywhere in Singapore.)  The bridge is about 250m in length, although the "walk" follows a boardwalk through the jungle area (some areas are boggy), which is about 1.2 Km in total.  To reach the Tree Top Walk requires about 4.5 Km, and another 4 or 5 Km to get back, so all told, our hike was north of 10 Km.  The journey took us in a complete loop around the edges of MacRitchie Reservoir.  It took us about 4 hours.
Jim & Elaine on the MacRitchie Park Tree Top Walk
Tree Top Walk bridge--  The TTW is a narrow suspension bridge (yes, a little sway).  Patrons are required to go a single direction, no returns as it is rather narrow.  A ranger monitors the bridge at one end, and access is locked during non-open hours.
The weather was cloudy, and a very slight rain brought a few drops on occasion during the afternoon.  This may sound bad, but actually the walk would have been unbearably hot if it had been a bright sunny day.   Despite the high humidity in Singapore city proper, it was noticeably more humid in the jungle forest of MacRitchie.  By the end of the walk, I was as soaked as I might have been if we had been caught in a real Singapore downpour, with not overwhelming exertion.  Distances here can be deceiving--  a short distance can seem much longer because of the heat and humidity.

Mystery Shoe Failures
Apparently the trails around MacRitchie are quite rugged, or mysteriously hard on shoes.  We probably passed as many as a dozen different shoe soles along the path-- pieces of shoes from blow-outs along the way.  Fortunately, unlike the shoes along the Washington state coast, there were no feet in these shoes-- just the rubber/plastic sole parts.  What causes these failures?  Nike should investigate.
Rubber on the Trail--  a piece of someone's shoe.  I saw MANY of these.  There is something odd going on at MacRitchie Reservoir.  Something causing massive shoe failure.  Perhaps it is the heat and high humidity, or runners that just overheated their feet with a strong run!

MacRitchie Reservoir Park-- the jungle trail

No Fly Fishermen Allowed
As I discussed in an earlier post, fresh water fly fishing in Singapore is nearly illegal.  I got to see this first hand at MacRitchie Reservoir.  That's not to say it is totally illegal here.  Here's the information:

As it says, the allowable fishing area starts here:
... and it ends here:
To give you better perspective, here is another picture:
The vertical sign post some ways down the shore is the first sign.  All other areas around the reservoir appear to be restricted.  To fly fish in this area requires a good roll cast, or use of a switch rod, as the walking path behind the approved area is pretty close for a back cast.  I'm also pretty sure the fish in the reservoir probably avoid this section.  Any of those that failed to do so, disappeared.

The restrictions don't stop everyone...
The park is patrolled by rangers, so fishermen beware!
I was pleased to see some promotion of Catch And Release practices:

Long-tailed Macaque Monkey--  Humans aren't the only ones at MacRitchie park.  There are also golfers enjoying use of the golf course along one side of MacRitchie.
But, restricting fishing to a 50 meter stretch of reservoir is probably the greatest conservation measure for fish, short of prohibiting fishing entirely.  Other aquatic activities are permissible on the reservoir.  There is a significant rowing course (with a boat house for the rowing shells) with buoys, and kayaking is done as well.
The rowing course at MacRitchie