Singapore

Kranji: Monitors and Monkeys and Crocs - Oh My!

Saturday evening we had planned to "probably" go to Kranji Sunday morning. I set my alarm for 9, hoping we would get out at least kind of early, but I slept until 10. Then Jess slept until 11, despite my half hearted attempts at waking him via finger pokes (which he apparently did not feel at all, this is what I deal with).

I had wanted to see the Singapore "country side" since we got here, but it's a 30 minute drive and a lot of walking once we got out there. I had also wanted to see Pulau Ubin, which is a relatively undeveloped smaller island off the north eastern coast. So we argued about which adventure to take for the next couple of hours. By argue I mean I debated with myself because I couldn't make a decision, and Jess kept saying he didn't want to do either so it was up to me.

While both trips had positives and negatives, we ultimately settled on Kranji because that was our original plan. Hopefully we will have another weekend that we can still see Pulau Ubin.

We hopped in an Uber and took a very long and very quiet drive to the north western side of the country. Finally about two minutes from our destination the driver spoke up and said "I haven't been out here in a long time, this is a nice area." But he was also wondering what we were doing way out there, and probably wondering how we planned to get back home (yep... wait for it).

We were dropped off at a farm called Bollywood Veggies. I had found this place in one of my various searches and I'm still not sure why or how this was in my list. It was a very ...busy place. There were lots of silly signs and families partaking in the farm's various random activities.

We walked around on one of their trails for a while, astonished and confused. Finally we laughed about something (one of the signs, the banana tree, the creepy scarecrow? I don't remember what), then got the cameras out and started to document this trip.

We ended our trip to Bollywood Veggies with an assortment of cakes and teas; banana bread, chocolate banana bread, kueh bingka (tapioca cake), kueh kosui (palm sugar cake), fig tea, and aloe vera drink. The banana breads were delicious and the other two were interesting in flavor, but the textures were not for me, and once again not so sweet.

Meanwhile we were trying not to panic because there were no Ubers close enough to pick us up, and we learned that the walk to the wildlife park was less than safe (no sidewalks, windy road). So we walked around the corner where there was a resort, restaurant, bar, garden and nest museum, and marshes. This place was basically a ghost town. There was one other couple sitting on a bench, and nothing was open. There was no marsh in sight, and the resort was villas behind a gate.

We started to walk further away to see if we could find these marshes, then noticed a bus schedule. That's what this couple was waiting for, and two stops away was where we wanted to go! So we decided to wait 15 minutes for the bus.

The bus was five minutes late, and when it arrived it was ...I guess a bus, but I would really call it a large van. There were maybe 22 seats in this van, and probably about 32 people squeezed in. I took the accompanying picture after some people got off and before more got on. Our stop was not two away like the schedule said, it was four. And there was body odor and unfamiliar bodies standing very close together.

It was refreshing to get off the bus and feel the cool breezes and the shade at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. We made note that the bus would pick up from this location two more times and we could take it to the final stop, which was a train station where we could definitely pick up an Uber. (As you might guess, that is not what we did).

First stop, potty! Outdoor bathrooms again. Honestly, these outdoor bathrooms are nicer and cooler than some of the indoor bathrooms in the malls. For some reason a lot of the mall bathrooms are down long access hallways and seem to not be air conditioned. At least the outdoor bathrooms have shade and a slight breeze, and no creepy hallways.

After walking in a circle we decided on a starting path and headed that way. I quickly realized this was no joke, and we may be encountering some large, up close wild animals. And I was positive we were going to come across a crocodile.

We walked across a nice breezy bridge that was far from the water, trees, and ground. I joked about rounding the corner and seeing a crocodile in our path. As we actually rounded the corner we entered a hide with a long rectangular window facing the water, not much going on. We walked out and started down the dirt path and I quickly stopped and thought "holy crap, a crocodile already!?" Thank god it was just a "tiny" monitor. We stayed back from it since it was almost as big as my dog and I was unsure what these things are like. There was a man about to cross it's path, so I focused my camera on it to try to get him to notice that I was photographing something close to him. He noticed, and he did a little jump, then continued walking on while watching it back into the trees.

We then spotted several more lurking in the trees and water just off the path and I was convinced that a crocodile could and would sneak up on us just as easily.

There were multiple hides, piers and lookouts along the path, and after the initial mass of monitors we hadn't seen anymore animals (oh yea, except for a few squirrels or chipmunks or squirrel-chipmunk hybrids in the trees).

We heard a lot of different birds but could only find the obvious herons and other small birds. At one point we definitely heard a parrot cackling, and another bird making an interesting barking sound. I'm assuming they're either good at throwing their voices or they are teeny tiny, because we looked really hard and at least once the tree was not very full.

More than halfway around the trail we came across some turtles, snails and mudskippers. We started winding down and realized it was almost time for the next bus pick up, so we started to hurry toward the end of the trail.

We got almost to the end of the path and noticed a handful of nature photographers with some pretty serious camouflaged camera set ups. Oh snap! There was a big ol' crocodile out in the water, just chilling on a rock with his big toothy mouth wide open. I took a few shots, and Jess got a video, and then we hurried on to the end of the path. We found a map and noticed this was only half the park! I suddenly had another burst of energy (and apathy for riding that "bus" again) and decided the monkeys must be in the other half of the park. We knew there were supposed to be monkeys because a sign in the beginning of the park warned us to not go on a certain trail if we were afraid of being harassed by them.

So we skipped past the entrance of the park and moved toward the second trail. I was less concerned about crocodiles on this side since there was no immediate water near the path. We walked past more photographers with super serious set ups (who were photographing a bird that we couldn't even see with our eyes) and started on a wooden path. I saw children playing on a rope bridge and quickly became hopeful that we would enjoy this side of the park more.

I was right! The (stupid) kids were chasing a family of monkeys! There was a mama, a papa, and a teeny tiny little baby. They were running all along the railings of the bridges and playing with each other and really just ignoring the humans. I squealed in delight a few times. If for some reason you don't know this about me I have always been obsessively in love with monkeys, and this was just about the coolest thing ever.

I took a million photos (actually, not many more than what I'm sharing here) and Jess took some more video. They jumped off the railing and ran toward the trees and started playing in the branches. At one point the baby climbed out to the tip of a branch and the branch bent down toward the sidewalk. Then the mama followed and the branch bent so low it nearly touched the sidewalk, then the mama jumped off. The branch flung back so quickly I thought the baby was going to be launched into outer space (you can hear me expressing so in the video). Then they did this again and again, and eventually the baby monkey took off on the ground toward me. I thought I squealed in terror because I knew territorial papa would not be far behind, and I didn't want to get bitten, but on playback it turns out I only said "no no no, please don't come to me."

At this point the rest of the trip didn't matter, but we were in the middle of the park and had to get to an exit, so we ventured on. They had a bunch of these neat lookouts that Jess likened to something from the game Myst. Can confirm, I watched him play it once.

We stopped and enjoyed some more amazing breezes on the high walkways and continued on. To the right was swampy woodlands, and to the left the Strait of Johor, Malaysia and a marshy shore filled with garbage. So much trash! Considering most of Singapore is really clean it was a strange thing to see.

There was quite a bit of park left to cover and we were draining quickly now, and it was getting later in the evening. We eventually reached the visitor center and grabbed some cold beverages (the last water bottle we had was warm now). We were about 35 minutes from the next bus pick up and maybe a little over an hour from sunset and ready to go home. We could either walk back to the front of the park and wait, or walk to the dam (which was much closer) and wait longer, or walk a little further and try to signal an Uber.

As I said before, we couldn't get a signal for Uber way out where we were, but we could get one if we dropped the pin a little further past the bridge. I suggested dropping the pin further out, then calling the driver to tell him where we were, since it would be a lot easier and faster for him to come to us, but Jess thought we should make an effort to get a little closer to the pin point.

So we started walking. Across the street there was a small park with benches along the water, and we walked across the dam/bridge over the water. We got to a town on the other side which is probably the most bizarre place we've come across in all of Singapore. The entire town was men. Half the men wore sarongs, and they all stared at me/us like they were confused by our presence. I was starting to think we were in a men only town, but I didn't feel unsafe, just equally confused and weirded out.

There were a ton of stray dogs, and not once, not twice, but three times we saw people getting haircuts on the side of the road. This area was much more undeveloped than the big city we're staying in and there was nothing and no one near by to help us get transportation. We had one failed attempt at an Uber (who cancelled after accepting), and then trouble getting the next driver to actually find us. Thankfully after about a 2 mile walk and the hundredth stray dog that Jess thought was going to give us rabies just by looking at us, the driver finally found us just before sunset.

We had a nice relaxing drive home, then took nice relaxing showers, then went out for some sexy Thai food and a not so warm evening.