Thomson Nature Park opened to the public on 11 October 2019 to great fanfare. Features of the park include the ruins of a former Hainanese village, as well as many rare and endangered species of animals.
With so much hype building around how unique this nature park is, I just had to see for myself? What is the difference between this park and other parks that dot this island?
The entrance to Thomson Nature Park was by no means accessible. The main entrance is located along the stretch of Upper Thomson Road, in between the Seletar (SLE) Expressway and Yio Chu Kang Road. Inside, there are five walking trails which you can undertake to experience the flora and fauna this park has to offer.
At its entrance, several signs informed me of the dangers that lie ahead—definitely not the welcome I needed. As I stepped foot onto my first trail of the park, I was immediately greeted by a swarm of mosquitoes which relentlessly ravaged my body despite me spraying insect repellent prior. Again, not the welcome I had hoped.
I tried my best to ignore the mosquitoes and started looking out for rambutans on this trail. However, I was later informed by a fact board that the Rambutan Trail got its name not because there were actual rambutan fruits hanging from the trees, but because the site used to be home to a rambutan plantation in the 1930s.
Other than facts on the rambutan plantation, there were also information boards that explained the history of the Hainanese Village that Thomson park was built on.
Completing this 400m trail will lead you back to the main entrance of Thomson Nature Park.
Walking down the pathway, I was met with a literal and figurative crossroads. I could continue my adventure on either the ‘Streams and Ferns’ trail or the ‘Ruins and Figs’ trail. Both trails were colour coded so that you always know which path you are on.
I opted for the Streams and Ferns Trail, and immediately after,caught a glimpse of a Plantain squirrel. While I was fascinated by this sighting, I realised later on after my journey ended that these squirrels were the same squirrels you may have seen anywhere else in Singapore and are not exclusive to Thomson Nature Park. Bummer.
While I saw many interesting trees along the way, there was only one stream in the entire trail, which you can view from three spots along this trail.
Along the way, there was a signboard explaining the copper-cheeked frog, which can be found along the stream. However, even after I peered down into the stream for a good five minutes, all I saw were water and stones. Amidst the faint trickling of the stream, I could not hear any croaks either.
Eventually, the ‘Streams and Ferns’ Trail merged with the ‘Ruins and Figs’ Trail.
The Ruins and Figs trail feature the remnants of the Hainanese Village, and I managed to catch a glimpse of how these villagers lived their life back then. On this trail, I saw what was left of two toilet cubicles, and also a sealed up well that was used by the villagers.
At the end of the ‘Ruins and Figs’ Trail, the path splits once again into two trails—the Langur Trail and the Macaque Trail.
One of the highlights of Thomson Nature Park is that it is home to two species of monkeys—the Long-tailed Macaque and the critically endangered Raffles’ Banded Langur.
Throughout my walk on both of these trails, I craned my neck upwards to try to catch a glimpse of these primates, but these creatures were more elusive than I thought. While I could hear their howling from a distance, not a single one came out of hiding.
I did not have the luxury of time to stand in one spot to wait for one to appear, as mosquitoes were already enjoying the buffet of blood I provided. With the itch getting unbearable, I hurriedly made my exit from the park.
Leaving Thomson Nature Park through either the Langur Trail or Macaque trail will bring you to Old Upper Thomson Road that connects Upper Thomson Road to Yio Chu Kang Road. This road also has a park connector that leads to Upper Pierce Reservoir Park.
I decided to walk towards Yio Chu Kang Road, as my experience coming into the park proved that it wasn’t the best place to catch a bus home.
After a good five minutes of walking, I was finally able to hear the low rumble of vehicles, and I also managed to catch a glimpse of civilisation.
Here was when I finally got to see a Long-tailed Macaque. I found it inconceivable that I had walked the entire park looking for one, only for it to be found by the roadside.
Overall, I was terribly disappointed at how little Thomson Park had to offer visitors—there weren’t many interesting things to see and experience as compared to the plethora of parks in Singapore. The mosquitoes and uneven terrain will prove challenging for Singaporeans to jog or have a stroll. If you are looking for that, I would recommend you go to Upper Pierce Reservoir Park located nearby. That being said, the many boards in Thomson Nature Park were educational, and you would be able to learn a thing or two about the park or about the Hainan village that was once there.
While I was disappointed by this experience, I understand why the park was built this way—Thomson Nature Park holds the preservation of wildlife as its utmost priority, which is why we may find some of its features inconvenient. It is because of this reason that the park closes at 7 pm daily and that there are no lamp posts installed in this park.
If you’re someone who enjoys nature and are always on the lookout for quiet places in Singapore with no traces of urban life, Thomson Nature Park is perfect for you. Bask in the chorus of forest creatures that never seem to quieten and the fresh air that the park affords. On an island crowded with urban amenities, we should always be thankful for places that offer a brief respite to a life stuck in an office, facing a laptop or a screen all day and night. Parks like this may well be the gateway you need to clear a cluttered mind. Just remember to cover all your exposed skin.
Opening Hours: 7am – 7pm daily
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