Monday, February 27, 2012

Welcome to the Jungle

The Tree Top Walk

On Saturday Julius and I went on an 10 km hike in the MacRitchie Reservoir with friends Kumudu and Azhar from NTU. We started the Tree Top Walk at 10:30am and finished at around 5pm. There's a really good reason it took us so long: we're out of shape. It seemed that every couple of minutes we were being overtaken by marathon trainees wearing Nike Dri-Fit outfits and speed-walking aunties and uncles alike (respectful terms for older Singaporeans). Our limbs felt as if they weighed 100 pounds due to the excessive heat and humidity, but we carried on relentlessly until we reached the bridge in the canopy, and behold how triumphant we are!

Tree Top Walk Bridge in the MacRitchie Reservoir

After that we stopped for a short lunch break of half a litre of water, mixed nuts, dried mangoes, apples... and potato chips and chocolate chip cookies (it started out healthy and went downhill from there).

After our lunch we were quite exhausted and hoping the Giant Forest Ants we encountered would carry us away on their backs, but no such luck. According to Wikipedia, The Giant Forest Ant, or Camponotus gigas, is one of the largest species of ant in the world, measuring at 20.9 to 28.1mm. The one we saw was on the larger side at about 28mm and for the sake of comparison, was larger than the US quarter dollar which is only 24mm in diameter.

Look at the fangs!
I read a sign that said there were monitor lizards around, so we decided to play a game called "Be the first one to spot the Monitor Lizard". The prize was 10,000 Indian Rupees (don't ask me why), and I'm still waiting for my prize money! The one I spotted was about 1.2m from head to tail. We scared him and he climbed up the tree to get away from the paparazzi (Julius and me). 

Monitor Lizard

On the home stretch we came across a tribe of monkeys blocking our path. We found them cute and took a lot of pictures, but this could have been a dangerous situation because there was a male patrolling around on the defensive. There are signs all over the park saying not to make direct eye contact with the monkeys or threaten them in any way as they can become aggressive. You also shouldn't eat or drink anything around them, or even carry plastic bags with you because they associate this with food and can try to snatch them from you. It is illegal to feed these monkeys in Singapore, and offenders of the Parks and Tress Act of 2005, "shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding S$50,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both." Although the fine is pretty steep, this is really effective in getting people to leave the monkeys alone, and ensures that their natural diet of fruit from the forest can be preserved. They apparently also like supplementing their diet with fleas they've pick off each other's backs.

Hungry monkeys looking for a snack
A mama and baby monkey

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