Wednesday, 3 May 2017

East Coast Park and Surrounds

One of our first proper outings in Singapore was to East Coast Park. Yannick's friend Nessa was in town for Chinese New Year, and was kind enough to take some time out of her day to show us around. 
As it was our first time using public transport in the city, she first took us to the Bugis MRT station to purchase Ez-Link cards (Singapore's version of an Oyster card). We then took a bus to the Geylang area, which had far fewer skyscrapers than we had grown accustomed to. It still felt like a city, but more suburban than Bugis and many of the buildings were older.

We had lunch at the Loving Hut: a restaurant providing vegan versions of common local specialities. The food was delicious (though not so photogenic), and the chilled bevvies hit the spot as we were not yet acclimatised to the temperature and humidity of living near the equator. 

From there we walked through the streets to East Coast Park, where we sat on the beach for ten minutes or so before becoming too worried by the thunder and encroaching clouds to stay. Immediately noticeable were the long line of ships off the coast, which stretched into the distance as far as the eye could see. Even though we didn't get to experience much of the park, I felt a liking for it and knew I'd be back.

A couple weeks later, I took the MRT to Kembangan and walked down the Siglap Park Connector, which is basically a long canal with pathways on either side. Along the way, there were several parks (hence the name "park connector") and though the canal wasn't the prettiest I've seen it was a lovely walk. 

I discovered that there were many houses and apartments that looked fairly upscale in the area. Perhaps with easy access to smaller parks as well as East Coast Park, and bus and underground lines, it is a good area for families.

Once I got past the schoolchildren who were running laps along the last stretch of canal, I took the overpass over a wide and green road and found myself again at East Coast Park.

I didn't have a plan as to what to do from there, so when I saw a sign reading "To Gardens By The Bay East 5.8km" I figured I may as well give that a go. It turned out to be a wonderful walk, and one I would repeat several times with variations.

As it was a sunny day, I found myself sweating quite profusely. The park had plenty of tree cover which meant that I was able to cool down a little after the largely unshaded walk along the canal.

Though the park stretches for over 15km, it's long and thin and therefore you're never far from the city. It's also very well maintained, with workers cleaning up seaweed and leaves every day, and toilets placed at regular intervals. Whenever I got thirsty, a vending machine or bike rental shop with drink fridges was never far away. Because of this, it's definitely a nice relaxing place to get away from the city, but you can still grab a Starbucks in five minutes if you want to, meaning it's not exactly a getaway (even Sentosa, with its plethora of restaurants and hotels isn't much of a getaway, but it is further from the city than East Coast Park). 

As it was only about half an hour away via bus, it was my go-to if I wanted a beach day. I never did swim, and that's because all the ships off the coast made me question just how much pollution was present.

One aspect that made my walks through the park especially pleasant were the designated pedestrian and cycle lanes. Though some people disregarded these (I even told a couple of people off for it), most park users were polite and respected the lanes meaning you never had to worry you were getting in someone's way.

One day, I took Yannick on a walk through the park and we rented a tandem bike! Having never fully learned to ride a bike, a friend suggested we try a tandem in order for me to get a feel for riding. Though all I had to do was pedal and hold on, it was so much fun! I'm not sure it helped me learn at all, but I developed a taste for speeding along with the wind through my hair.

During my many park walks, I saw many creatures: monitor lizards, a little frog, bright birds, dragonflies, butterflies, caterpillars, and one gigantic spider. After Googling it later, I found that this was a Golden Silk Orb Weaver. Venomous, but not lethal, and growing up to 5cm in length (not including their legs) this is one to avoid. The specimen I saw was almost the size of my hand and only had five legs remaining.

Near where East Coast Park turns into Gardens By the Bay East, there's a bridge across the river which I took several times in order to walk to or from home. Though it's a motorway, and therefore not the most fun to walk along, the views are spectacular. 

I seems that the vegan food scene in Geylang is growing. When my friend Katie came to visit, she stayed in the area. I considered taking her to the Loving Hut, but decided on somewhere new instead: VeganBurg. It was pretty good, but nothing amazing. As I had high hopes, I was a little disappointed.

However, another eatery lived up to its reputation. Brownice, a vegan gelateria serving gelato made from brown rice milk, was an ideal stop after a long hot walk. The friendly counter staff offered samples of nearly every flavour, and it was so difficult to make up my mind! Even though I wasn't particularly hungry, I had to get three scoops, and I'm glad I did. I settled on the peanut butter chocolate, passionfruit, and Ear Grey flavours. Let me just say holy shit. I need to get back here to try their brownie with ice cream, waffle with ice cream, and rootbeer float. Holy shit. I also had their garlic fries, which were perfection.
So thanks, East Coast Park, for excellent long walks and delightful food!

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