Into the Wetlands

We went to the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve this morning.  It’s the most peaceful place we’ve been in Singapore; it’s relatively underpopulated, and you find yourself in a state of zen-like observation as you half search for wildlife and half just enjoy the view.

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One of the big attractions is the mangrove forest:

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And another are the tidal mud flats (with the tall buildings of Malaysia in the background):

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The mud flats draw lots of visitors, most notably shore birds migrating on the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.  We saw herons and egrets and plovers and redshanks and kingfishers, and one birder was very excited to show us a far eastern curlew.  For the most part, however, we don’t know enough about the birds here to have a clue what we’re seeing.  I say things like, “hey, there’s a yellow bird!”  And that’s usually about as far as I can get with my identifications.

This park was very well developed, with great boardwalks and tons of bird blinds (or “hides,” as they call them here).  I especially liked these observation towers:

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We spent much of our time hunting for wildlife, and were well rewarded.  After being promised crocodiles by this sign, I thought we might get our toes bitten off:

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But the estuarine crocodile we eventually found was no longer than about two feet, lazing on a sunny log off in the distance and looking notably non-threatening.

We did happen upon this enormous Malaysian water monitor lizard:

We also found a dog-faced water snake, about a thousand mud crabs (which spend a lot of time on trees), and a bunch of mudskippers!  These little guys — fish that spend much of their time out of the water — are really cute (and surprisingly difficult to photograph):

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I continue on my quest to find the elusive mud lobster.  They build amazing volcano-like mounds all over the mangrove swamp:

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We’ll definitely be returning to Sungei Buloh — we had a great morning there.  Oh, and I liked this vast array of “don’ts”:

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“No bird grabbing” is my personal favorite.

Finding ourselves more than a little peckish, we walked up the road to a very strange place called Gardenasia — part plant nursery, part landscape architecture company, part “farmstay villas,” and part overpriced bistro.  We ate lunch at this very odd structure:

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This is one of those places that can’t decide if it wants to be fancy or not.  On the one hand, they serve rocket salad and pear-lychee cider from Sweden.  On the other hand, what’s with those odd yellow walls spraying mist onto the pond?

The rest of the property was a mix of the expected, like a lot of plants …

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… and the very definitely unexpected:

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Whoever owns this place has their own particular design aesthetic.  Apparently, you can get married there — we had fun at the teeny-tiny Shamrock Chapel:

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Overall, one of our best outings — and we made it home in time for a little rest by the pool before we head off for an improv show!

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