Yesterday, I shared with a new fellow intern that the highlight of my internship was writing about the recent Singapore General Elections. However, today’s hunt for off-the-beaten-track in Singapore proved to be more experiential than I ever imagined.
We have all heard about Bedok Reservoir, which is well frequent by joggers and water sport enthusiasts. However, unknown to many, a stone’s throw away, is a quaint and secluded water body—Tampines Quarry. It is hardly known and heard of simply because it is covered by the thick foliage of vegetation.
On Google, this forgotten piece of paradise (at least from the pictures), has been given a rating of 3.9 stars. Being the avid adventure seeker that I am, I wanted to see for myself the wonders this quarry holds and if it’s worth travelling to for equally avid thrill-seekers.
I started by doing some due diligence insights from the trusty Internet before footslogging there. Some things I have learnt from their lived experience is that the quarry is “a hidden park” that is largely “untouched”. Sounds pretty passable and trip-worthy too right?
Here’s how to get there:
To all Singaporean sons, Pasir Ris Interchange brings back fond memories of the basic military training days where they diligently “fall in” to book in and out weekly.
However, take that experience aside and look out for bus service 58 that brings you to “The Santorini” stop. The mall nearby, White Sands, is also a great place to stock up on fluid, and light snacks for this potentially perilous journey.
When you alight after 14 stops, you will see a mini hill with a signboard that says “State Land” from across the road.
Cross the road and walk along Tampines Avenue 10 towards Tampines Industrial Avenue 1.
As you walk along Tampines Industrial Avenue 1, you might feel like you’re walking to no man’s land but don’t be alarmed and keep at it because the quarry is about to appear amongst the woods on your left.
Also, you might see occasional lorries whizzing by along the roadway on your right side—after all, it is an industrial zone.
After a good 3-4 minutes of speed walking, an unofficial entrance welcomes you.
There are no signboards save for a sandy path unintentionally trailed out by preceding adventure-seeking trekkers and cyclists.
The walkways are either created or undesignated but they are all very well-sheltered, thanks to the overgrown shrubbery.
There are 2 main types of terrains you can expect here. Firstly, there are steep rocky paths which my friend and I tread with caution as the gravels might not be firmly anchored on the ground.
There are also muddy paths that are a bane to any new spanky white sports gear you are trying to bring to impress.
Given the amount of effort required to plod through knee-tall undergrowth and occasional thick messy roots, I must say the resulting views haven’t been satisfying.
You either see muddy slush or a dead end which requires an about-turn.
At this point, I was all-ready convinced that this place was not going to surprise me further. My back was drenched in sweat, there were multiple sand marks on my tights, yet not being rewarded with any semblance of a breathtaking view, this place deserves nothing more than a 1- or 2-star review. This was nothing close to a treasure trove or hidden gem I was expecting.
My friend and I walked back to the entrance and decided to explore the other side of the quarry, hoping to find something that makes this place more considerable. At a glance, the terrains on the left are a lot levelled with some sandy trails and a muddy “bridge”.
I generally have a terrible sense of stability so to keep myself from falling down, I trekked with my knees slightly bent and leaned forward to keep my eye gazed at the steps ahead of me.
“Don’t move!” my friend suddenly called out to me from the back.
Slowly, I lifted my head up and saw, from the corner of my eye, what looked like a standing black rope with leather scales. The sides of its triangular head were flaring out, its beady eyes staring right back at me, and the white inner belly shining in full view. Next, I heard a hissing sound and a forked tongue which threatened to flick at me.
That triangular head, the word ‘death’, and the danger sign was flashing at the back of my head.
“Keep calm”, “back off”, “leave now”—my flight instinct was triggered.
Freezing at that weird half-squat posture, I held my breath, reeled back gently one foot at a time, turned, and immediately darted across the muddy “bridge” and through the sandy trails—this time, with trice the speed I took to lumber in. Gradually, I regained some semblance of conscience and registered that the hissing sound has ceased.
As I left the quarry, I looked back at the unassuming entrance and remembered the adventurous spirit I carried along with me but left hastily, alarmed, jarred, and unsettled about the split second of the uninvited thriller with myself as the unsuspecting protagonist.
I have since lodged a report with NParks and learnt that the unfriendly reptile is called a “Black Spitting Snake” or “Equatorial Spitting Cobra”, which is highly venomous too.
To my daredevil friends out there, thrill comes with a risk and since external risks are unbridled, it can be perilous. Thus, it is only safe and responsible as individuals to be vigilant before embarking on any “exciting expeditions”.
Check out the list of park connectors and nature networks you can visit. Also, grab a friend or two to complete these walking trails because enjoying these moments always multiply the joy and doubles the safety elements too. You know, it’s better be safe than sorry.
As for the most memorable moments of my stint as a writer? This definitely tops the list now.
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