Walking to Kranji

Outings are limited these days, but one thing that you can still do is strike out from your apartment and walk. I did just that a few weeks ago, heading due north from Hillview along what was once the old rail line to Malaysia.

9F31DE85-11F1-430C-BB9A-8DB8A742599F_1_201_a

The start of the trail wasn’t exactly encouraging …

B4D12E83-8EC6-49DE-8EE4-230155BC78FB_1_201_a

… but warnings aside, I didn’t see anything of concern. This is an unusual trail by Singapore standards, in that it is (a) unnamed, (b) unmarked, and (c) hard to follow. Indeed, there were times when it seemed to disappear entirely. The first place it did this was in Bukit Panjang, where it first turned into an asphalt park connector and then became a gravel trail that ran alongside a drainage canal.

E25768F4-6A3C-4A12-A81B-4E715896F3B1_1_201_a

Following the trail after this required a certain amount of determination (and a willingness to walk for a ways under a sketchy overpass and past a bunch of construction debris). But I made my way back to a path leading toward Choa Chu Kang …

F06DFCC6-AF41-4DDD-9397-0F434024BCD7_1_201_a

… past some beautiful flowers …

82A6B388-D094-40C0-898A-34E0A36B5C2C_1_201_a

… and breadfruit trees:

56296BC1-4782-4D1A-AA08-8FFAB46D57BA_1_201_a

I lost the trail not long after this and ended up wandering through the industrial streets of Sungei Kadut.

B456A5CA-D2AE-454A-8FDD-72A23AC2F897_1_201_a

You can find material for all sorts of industry here, from glass and timber to furniture and construction equipment. And while I didn’t go walking to see an industrial estate, there is a certain raw beauty to some of this scenery.

9B111AE2-645F-4307-AD71-DDE831D3C11B_1_201_a

I appreciated the oddity of some of the buildings …

A8C67755-A2FF-4C5F-A2F7-1D4DB01ADBDD_1_201_a

… and while they’re not something I expected to find in an industrial area, I ran across scattered temples both small …

C969C70C-7738-4DCD-ADEF-57B6A71CF9B5_1_201_a

… and large (here, Sri Arasakesari Sivan Temple):

100A8C8B-5F90-494D-A952-C1E0A6A70461_1_201_a

Eventually I found my way off of the industrial roads and back onto some sort of a trail (well trodden, but again, neither named nor marked). Here, I found a rarity in Singapore: a free-flowing river, unbounded by concrete walls:

B7060C60-C106-4E39-BB99-9BDF91B0A707_1_201_a

The Singapore military has many installations in Kranji,  so I passed many of these scary signs:

A95B1170-7B56-41C8-B4F1-5A0DD00F149F_1_201_a

Diverging from my northerly route, I hopped off of the trail and took an east-bound detour through a neighborhood called Woodlands Park. Here, one house after another had beautiful plants stretched all along their sidewalks. This is just a tiny sampling of what I saw there:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

At the center of Woodlands Park sits tiny Jalan Rasok Park, where I found this somewhat neglected statue:

521041C8-CC23-4C3C-AE3C-13745949F19D_1_201_a

The statue has no apparent name or creator, but the language on the sign hidden beneath it is 100% Singaporean: “the four vines portray the distinctive spirit and dynamism of our multi-racial society. The intertwining of the vines captures the unity and cohesiveness amongst the different cultures partnering together to build a harmonious and progressive society.”

My goal in taking this walk has been to visit Kranji War Memorial, Singapore’s cemetery built to honor those who died in World War II. I didn’t know that cemeteries ever closed, but COVID seems to be able to be able to close just about anything — so I found one locked gate …

F3D831A3-478B-485D-96C1-8B7EA8723CF0_1_201_a

… after another:DDCC72F7-456D-4B84-907A-6CB5A7393D83_1_201_a

Fortunately, I was able to peek over the hedges to see some of the gravesites and memorials — but I’ll have to go back if I really want to visit this beautiful place.

22F735FC-0A6B-4367-9F61-FB966187653E_1_201_a

From here, I continued north on Woodlands Road, which was eerily empty of cars on a Sunday morning.85A3FF92-2B91-42FA-B1AB-A1CCC861621C_1_201_a

Bemoaning the lack of sidewalks, I trekked along the grassy shoulder, past this homemade temple-in-a-tree (not an uncommon sight at the base of ficus trees in Asia) …

94CF38D1-EC23-4E5F-BD39-230860679881_1_201_a

… and across a drainage canal to get back to the rail trail. This stretch was beautifully elegant …

11E281A6-0F63-4E0B-B7CD-95AE5A19E58F_1_201_a

… and soon the first real (if overgrown) evidence of an ancient railway came into view:

1687D2CA-2B7F-4391-A72C-D7F33DE5E4CD_1_201_a

This rail line was completed in 1903, and it once took passengers from the southern end of Singapore up to Malaysia (though prior to the 1923 building of the causeway that now links this island to the Malay mainland, passengers had to transfer to ferry boats to complete their rail journeys). Sadly, this rail trail no longer runs all the way to Singapore’s northern border — it peters out where Kranji Road begins. From here, you can keep walking up the road, or you can take a diversion onto another trail that leads alongside Kranji Lodge 1.

4834EDA2-A712-41AF-A50C-91BD251DAE88_1_201_a

The set of enormous, warehouse-like buildings is part of a system of dormitories built in the more remote regions of Singapore to house over 300,000 of the country’s “foreign workers.” Usually unskilled laborers from India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and mainland China, these individuals make up most of Singapore’s construction, marine, and manufacturing workforce. I could write a whole separate post about foreign worker housing, especially during COVID-19, where crowded dormitories have become breeding grounds for the disease. Suffice to say that Kranji Lodge 1 has been closed off for the past several months, and the foreign workers have barely been allowed to leave the premises.

After passing the dorms, this trail continues up to what Google Maps calls the Rainbow Bridge.

8BCAA32B-D6C4-4F75-A7D6-D2CEE168DC78_1_201_a

I was hoping to continue north from here, but the bridge is closed, so I backtracked to Kranji Road. At the trail’s end, I found an old, unmarked Malay cemetery with graves that appeared to date from the 1940s to the 1960s.

From this point, Kranji Road becomes pretty uninspiring — it’s an industrial zone with not much to see. But when you turn west onto Kranji Loop, you find this lion guarding the gates to Chek Chai Long Temple …

64C9090E-0157-49B7-B3ED-01EE836FC06B_1_201_a

… this statue of Ganesha guarding (or discarded by) one end of a bridge …

BE3C613C-85BC-42F4-B69B-5903DC76E065_1_201_a

… and this view out across the water to Malaysia:

FA061E7D-2360-4378-8AD9-1038DA9CF103_1_201_a

This was a long, hot outing — the walk took over four hours, and I’d guess that I ranged over 16 kilometers. But it was well worth it, both to get out of the house and to see entirely new parts of Singapore. I recommend this adventure!

One response to “Walking to Kranji

  1. Pingback: Singapore’s Rail Trail | Traveler Tina·

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s