We started our morning at MacRitchie Reservoir, a hiking area in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. While it’s a hiking trail in true Singapore style — many sections are built-up boardwalks, stairs, and asphalt — you still feel deep in the rain forest in no time. It’s not exactly private (the ratio of people who want to hike to available hiking spaces in Singapore is about 2,000:1), but it still feels at a far remove from the rest of the island.
This is a reminder of what Singapore used to be like (and what the country is still trying to keep at bay); it’s green and dense and filled with life. We stood with a group of delightfully nerdy college students as they identified fish and dragonflies (with names like crimson dropwing and violet sprite) for us. We read informational signage that taught us that many the rainforest trees have leaves that terminate in drip-points so rain can run off and fungus won’t grow. And we saw monkeys — so many monkeys!
To be precise, first we saw signs about monkeys. Lots of signs about monkeys. The long-tailed macaques here have, apparently, been over-fed by visitors who think they’re cute (they are). And the monkeys have grown a little aggressive about the free food deal. So the government is trying to re-train the visitors (and the monkeys).
And then we saw the monkeys themselves. The amazing thing is that many of these monkeys are so used to people that they’ll let you get within just a couple of feet of them. Someone fed this guy apple slices (so the signs don’t entirely appear to be working).
We also saw a monkey steal food from a man entering the park! The signs all say, “don’t carry your food in plastic bags; the monkeys have learned to associate plastic bags with food.” But this guy was carrying a plastic bag … And the smart monkey grabbed at the bag and earned himself a package of Ritz crackers for his efforts.
When the monkeys aren’t stealing food, they’re amazing to watch. We spent a while observing these two clean a tiny baby:
And then the family decided to go on the move:
It’s really something to watch them leaping through trees, swinging on branches and just hanging out.
This park also has a very cool section where they have built a suspension bridge up above the tree canopy, which gives you a rare vista.
In the afternoon, we opted for a complete turnaround, changing our drenched hiking clothes in for a dress and a collared shirt to see how the other half lives. This adventure took to high tea at Arteastiq, a swanky cafe.
It’s both a little ridiculous (especially when you look at the amount of food per dollar) and a whole lot of fun. And it’s quite a change from sweating in the jungle.
In the evening, we went to see Kubo and the Two Strings, a stop motion animation movie that just took our breath away. If it’s coming to a theater near you, run out and see it!