On the green fringes of island-city Singapore
And make that after my early morn tropical storm.
The Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, formerly known as Sungei Buloh Park was renamed to better reflect the reserve's 202ha of wetland. Don't expect a walk in the rough, as this wetland reserve is on the fringe of a island city famous for litter-free streets, with an airport consistently ranked #1 in the world and has been voted world's most expensive city two years running. Stroll atop boardwalks with immaculately maintained wood planks, or dangle over sturdy handrails to watch for mudskippers. These walkways are picturesque enough to stage wedding photoshoots (and they do).
Look on the ground as you walk, in case a giant African Land Snail (Achatina fulica) is out and about. This palm-sized snail species is a gardener's nightmare in many warm climate countries. It possibly was a stowaway on cargo, and made it's way to Singapore during the trading days of it's colonial past on the Maritime Silk Route. But here at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, the snail it is safe from menacing gardeners and has prospered in abundance.
All about, leggy Banyan trees (Ficus Benghalensis) swathed in luxurious moss tower around. During Singapore's Maritime trading days, the shade of these trees were frequented by 'banias' or Indian traders hence the name Banyan Trees. Today, this country bears testament to an amazing transformation, from third world to first in half a century and there are more towering skyscrapers & residential than Banyans. Nevertheless, this government protected wetland reserve hugs a small portion of the coastline north of Singapore and is a refreshing break from the city and an oasis in itself. Every little nook and cranny has some form of life. Travel slowly, look down closely and you'll find quiet spots, even here in the world's most expensive city of 2015 (Survey research by Economist Intelligence Unit/EIU).
Arachnophobics should skip this post or maybe avoid this wetland reserve altogether. Only because there are fist-sized Golden Orb Spiders (N.Pilipes) parked between the spaces of every shady backdrop bush.
Their webs are perfectly spun and the spiders enjoy posing in the middle of their geometrics to get their picture taken by me. It's a great stomping ground for the many local amateur/pro entomologists/photographers in town. You might run in to them on the weekends with some incredibly expensive macro lenses that I'd love to own. The Golden Orb Spider is probably best known for its ability to build large, spectacular webs with spider silk that is stronger than kevlar. If two were sharing a web, the larger and showy-ier looking of the two spiders could only be a female but of course.
With pools of water dotting the reserve, the Malayan water monitor lizards has done well here and thrived to the point of sitting in the middle of your way path a boss. Much smaller than Galapagos lizards and less grumpy, their sheer numbers around the wetlands will still make you feel like you're slowly entering the fringe of mother dinosaur's nests in Jurassic Park. While some scamper across dirt path, some sit as still as a painting in tanin-stained freshwater ponds full of dead leaves at the bottom, pretending like they're totally hidden in the water.