Day 4: Lizards, Veggies, & Frogs, OH MY!

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Today (February 23) we went to the Kranji Wetlands area to go on a hike to find various species of animals such as birds, snakes, otters, and lizards. We took a bus driven by Mr. Lim to the outskirts of Singapore, that border Malaysia. In the wetlands, we were able to see one species of lizard which was called the Changeable Lizard. img_9173We searched the area but we did not find any snakes! However, Tom may have found one and took a picture of it coiled around a branch; this snake is still in debate of whether it was a vine or not haha. Most of the wetlands area was actually closed off though due to construction and re-planting because they were trying to construct a golf-course out there. Go figure right? It was hardly recognizable by Dr. Dan which was sad, but we were able to explore it and climb one of the towers and look off into the horizon to see how far it stretched. After boarding Mr. Lim’s bus, we headed to Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve which is Singapore’s first ASEAN Heritage Park. It was first opened as a nature park in 1993 and by 2002 130 hectares had been officially gazetted as a Nature Reserve  and renamed the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. FUN FACT: After reading about this wetland reserve I found that it had been awarded a certificate by Wetlands International and by receiving the award it gained a formal entry into the East Asian Australasian Shorebird Site Network which includes a few other parks INCLUDING Australia’s Kakadu National Park! I had went to this national park back in summer 2016 during my Duke in Australia program. How awesome is that! As we hiked its trail, we made it to a part where it is on the edge of Singapore actually and directly across the water was Malaysia! Literally right in front of me, in pure sight, was the bordering country of Malaysia.

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Also on the edge of the park were these logs inserted into the ground in the water almost like a fence which were put there to prevent crocodiles from entering the area and disturbing those who wished to take advantage of the mud experience. The mud experience, according to Dr. Dan was where visitors can step onto the mudflats during low tide and get an up-close experience with those organisms living within the mudflats. The area where most of the mud experience actually occurs was off this balancing rope bridge where visitors can climb down onto a lower platform and onto a wood walkway with stairs leading into the mudflat. We departed the wetland reserve and headed to our next destination: Bollywood Veggies!

This may have been my favorite place thus far if not one of my favorite places (which includes Gardens by the Bay). Bollywood Veggies, located on Kranji’s Countryside in Singapore was a sustainable agricultural farm owned by Ivy Singh-LIm who is also President of the Kranji Countryside Association. Her farm utilizes freshly grown fruits and vegetables in its Bistro! She was so energetic and welcoming toward us on her farm. She really is the epitome of a gentle warrior (which she calls herself and truly is) and true advocate for the environment because to her, Bollywood Veggies is more than just farming:

“It’s about creating a circle of life. The very rich must help to carry the poor. Everything that has a heartbeat has a place in the kingdom of the gentle warrior”

-Ivy Singh-Lim (SG Asia-City 2014)

We all sat down to lunch and Dr. Dan, Emily, Kayla, Daniella, and I all shared the Bollywood Starters Plate which consisted of Bolly Wings, Samosas, Moringa Tempura, Mixed Veggies/Salad and Chicken Curry I believe. Although on the website the dish on the menu says different, I do not remember if we had Spring Rolls or not! It was all SO good. For dessert, we tried their freshly made banana bread and IT WAS HEAVENLY. Wow it was so fresh you could taste the bananas that they grew and baked into it. We then had a tour of the garden with Anthony, and he was so smart and witty as he talked about how smart plants are. I tried a seed from a freshly grown pepper there and it was SO SPICY wow, and I usually love spicy things! My mouth was burning for a bit afterwards. But we learned that the spiciness was an adaptation for the pepper in order to defend itself against the fungus that tries to attack it. It is did not have the capsicum inside it, it would not survive. We had a bit of history background also about the introduction of various plants and got to see the Sandbox Tree which is one of the most poisonous trees in the world. We saw breadfruit trees, jackfruit trees, flowering trees that had blooming hibiscus flowers (which are used in makeup and also as shoe shiners in the past), and we also saw Tom’s personal favorite I’m sure, the coffee plant. This tour was so much fun. I really loved talking to Anthony and listening to him and his passion about plants and agriculture. The farming practices reminded me a lot about what I learned in my classes back at Duke and also I cannot wait to share all this with my best friend Natasha! She would be over the moon about this. I really hope to go back there one day soon. Sadly, we had to say good bye and head to our next destination, back to Sungei Buloh, through another entrance to hike the other trail that they offered. On this trail however, at the pond at the entrance, we saw a medium sized Water Monitor Lizard! A bit further down, across the bridge that was over the river, we even saw a small crocodile on the water’s edge. No snakes however on this hike 😦 but I was able to point out to Dr. Dan a smaller sized Monitor Lizard that was almost camouflaged on a tree branch. We were also able to see some ferrel dogs that are in the park on our walk before it started to rain. After the rain slowed down we made our way to the Frog Farm where they grow and reproduce frogs. The farm was closed so we only were able to look around; I am not a HUGE fan of frogs so I tried to keep my distance haha. The tadpoles and fish were cute though. From here, we headed to our last destination for the day: the cemetery. *cue the thunder and lighting and instant rain storm* Just kidding :). We went to three cemeteries and all three were actually VERY different but very fascinating because they were structured based on religion. There was a Chinese cemetery that had Hinduism and Muslim rituals for the burial of the dead, another Muslim cemetery, and then we went to a Catholic/Christian cemetery. The differentiation between the three was profound whether it was how well it was kept or the over all construction of the graves. Check it out below (one of the pictures is not mine because I was not able to get a clear show of the Muslim graves):

Later on in the evening, I decided to venture out to Chinatown on my own. It was definitely an adventure. I took the #10 bus to the Haw Por Villa MRT where I got on the Circle Line to Harbor Front and then took the North East Line to Chinatown. This was then where I knew I needed to memorize where I was going. I came to Chinatown hoping to try the well-known dish from Singapore called the Chili Crab, but no one in our group knew how much it was because it always said “Market Price”. I went and sat down in this restaurant in Chinatown just off the Buddha Tooth Temple and THIS DISH WAS $46. I passed. I ended up getting some Seafood Fried Rice and Dumplings with Dragonfruit Juice. I guess I will not be trying Chili Crab this time around haha. I really enjoyed my time walking around Chinatown though and seeing the shops, buying a few gifts and collectibles here and there, before heading back just at sunset so I would be home around dark. Overall, it was a really great day and I definitely had a lot of fun on my adventures in Singapore today.

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