Urban Tropical Ecology in Singapore

Monkey Business
by -- February 29th, 2016

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Today was an intense day.

Starting bright and early at 7 AM, we stumbled out of bed and onto Mr. Koh’s bus. By 7:30 we were beginning our hike through the MacRitchie Reservoir.

We were greeted by a troop of monkeys, not even 10 minutes into the walk. These long-tailed macaques were lively and rambunctious, climbing in and out of the trees, hanging upside down from thin branches, fearlessly jumping around.

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The walk started by overlooking the reservoir, which was filled with kayakers. The park was completely packed with people jogging, meditating, and practicing tai-chi. Smart, because it’s too hot later in the day for outdoor exercise.

We walked along a narrow boardwalk that followed the rim of the reservoir. Every five seconds we had to scooch to the edge to make room for the never ending stream of sweaty joggers. The water was surprisingly clear; you could see straight to the bottom where various aquatic plants lived. Large trees hung over the boardwalk, providing shade and a scenic view. Nestled in between were various flora, including a pitcher plant.

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As we strolled along the boardwalk, a lone monkey was moseying around, playing with ants and looking for food. He approached us, completely unfazed by humans. After a few selfies, we noticed he was eyeing our bags. Next thing we know he’s grabbed onto Sammy’s backpack. Fortunately, he didn’t get upset when he ended up empty handed. We eventually left our sassy monkey friend and continued onward.

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Once the boardwalk ended we proceeded onto a forest trail. The trees were tall and mighty, containing who knows what exciting creatures. There were patches of bamboo and wonderful smelling flowering plants embedded in the forest walls. Perched on the side of a tree was a flying lemur, the Malayan Colugo. It sat unearthly still, its claws holding onto the bark, eyes wide open, unmoving, staring up the trunk of the tree. The arms were connected to the back legs by a thin layer of fur-covered skin, used for gliding through the trees. The fur was modeled grey and black with short, dense hairs, like a chinchilla. Our creature-friend garnered lots of attention, which he did not like. He slowly, one appendage at a time, crawled to the back of the tree where he could sit unbothered.

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By this time, we had made it 1/3 of the way.

The next segment was the Treetop Walk, which was a thin suspension bridge looking over a secondary forest. The view was incredible, the breeze was refreshing, and below us lay a huge mass of lush green.

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We made it out of the MacRitchie park and walked past troops of monkeys hanging out on the road. We even saw some babies and juveniles, practicing their jumping and climbing skills.

There was a fruitless attempt at entering the Bukit Timah park through one of Dr. Dan’s “super-secret shortcuts.” The park was closed and we turned back to head to lunch at Al-Azhar. The menu contained at least a hundred items and was an eclectic mix of Indian, Chinese, and Thai food.

It was now about 12:30 and we had walked 11.3 miles. That’s right. 11.3 miles. As I said before, it was an intense day.

1 Comment

  1. Robin Howe McLendon
    Feb 29, 2016

    Beautiful picture of the flying lemur. tgats an animal I have never seen before. And of course the monkey went for Sam’s cute new backpack. Lol.

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