Crocodiles, lizards and mangrove forest? Does this sound like Singapore to you? Probably not, if you've only raced through on your way to Bali, Vietnam or Malaysia. But In Kranji you will see the real Singapore - the farms, the swamp and the tropical forests. And yes, crocodiles...
Content by Sienna Juul Nyegaard / Written by Mathilde Moyell Juul
I have lived in Singapore for more than half my life and as a destination in Asia, I'd say I know it better then anywhere else we've been. People often just browse through, walk down Orchard Road, go to Sentosa and Universal Studios. and perhaps take a walk in the Botanics. But there is so much more to Singapore, and who'd be better to tell you, than us, who live here? We'll pick out the hidden gems and great spots for kids and split them up into topics or areas. Enjoy and welcome to the Singapore Chapters. This time, Kranji.
Bollywood veggies. Sounds exotic already right? Well, we're not in a filmstudio in India of course, but the founder of this farm was half-Indian and it actually goes well with the atmosphere there. In 1965 there were 20.000 farms in Singapore and it took up 25% of the land, but because most of them were pig farms that didn't make enough money, so by 1989 all farms were phased out. You know why Orchard Road is called Orchard? There used to be orchards and farming there - now, there's less than 2.000 farms and 90% of food in Singapore comes from 170 different countries .
So, you can imagine that a going to a farm in Singapore is now an exotic excursion, especially as you have to travel close to the border of Malaysia to find them. Bollywood veggies is a favourite with us kids. Before i went there with my grandmother and mum, Philip went there with his class at school, and they get a lot of schools there.
When we went, we just went around on our own and looked at all the many plants and exotic trees, but if you want, you can book a tour and choose between 14 different activities, ranging from potting plants, doing a culinary class to doing art in nature and a "scarecrow" challenge!
Looking at this picture, I could have won the competition, don't you think? Ok, I think you'd get sick of your mum too, if she took as many photos as my mum!
I cheered up, because Bollywood have these great swings and because the farm feels a bit like a playground.
Bollywood Veggies is not the only farm in Kranji, but it's the most fun for kids, they also a restaurant, a food museum and crazy plants and fruit trees to look at - just check out this crazy banana monster!
As if Bollywood wasn't exciting enough, you can quickly find more of the original Singapore around the corner. 200 years ago, 13% of Singapore was covered in mangrove forests, now it's 0,5%. There are still six left mangrove areas left, and one impressive one, is Sungei Buhloh Wetland Reserve.
I've been twice, one time with each of my grandmothers. Both times we started off at the Wetland entrance and first time we were lucky to see several monitor lizards and turtles.
If you'd like to see how the lizard moves up here (and how turtles should worry) - see this video:
I know, my little brother is so cute right?
Moving on to the bridge by the river (where Chris was rolling around), we saw, not one, but four crocodiles! They're not
very photogenic, but once in a while they will peak up, out of the water and remind us that 'clean' and 'safe' Singapore is in fact build on top of very wild nature and wild inhabitants!
But the crocs isn't the only wildlife that interests the people who come here more regularly. It's the birds - or "birr" as Chris wouldl call them.
This is where the eager birdfans set up their long zoom lenses and patiently wait for hours with their binoculars to find the ONE bird (out of the 200 possible species) not on their list yet. We couldn't see much without all this gear, so we just read about them on the wall.
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve have recently been refurbished, and built these wooden boardwalks that takes you around the are. They are impressive and vary a lot, and although some Singaporeans might think the mangrove has become too manicured, the boardwalk worked very well for Chris's stroller! I'll let the pictures speak for the rest of my story, and this will give you an impression of how a 3 hour walk won't bore you, even as a kid!
We went with my grandmother, my dad's cousin and his family and arrived at 8:30am, so that the trip wouldn't get too hot - especially as we had both Chris and my little half-cousin, Laila with us.
On the way, we saw beautiful waterlilies and lotus flowers, and if you look closely to the back left, you'll see another lizard enjoying this site!
We went at low-tide and what's fun about that, is that you can see all the roots from the mangrove trees - it looks weird and crazy, like sculptures!
Everywhere in Sungei, there are boadwalks and canopy's - but this one was planted in a big pool of mud! IF you DARE, you can actually do the "Mud Experience" here, a small assault course, where you crawl through mud! Unfortunately the track was closed for refurbishment when we went, otherwise Philip and I would obviously have gone (hmm).
But, the new boardwalks make sure you can avoid the mud and get high up and see everything from above, in these amazing newly built "pods", that look like onions!
Not only did Chris love running around in them - they also had these clever peepholes, where you can look out - here you get the view to Johor Bahru in Malaysia!
All the pods had names, this one "Kingfisher" - as if you're lucky you can actually see this colorful bird here. The pod further down was called "Mudskipper", as you could spot lots of this funny mud-loving fish around the stilts. If you look really close, you can also find the "Tree climbing crab" - yes, a crab, in trees! If only we'd known to look for it before we went.
Walking down to the next pod, we did see some funny "crab-meets-rays" in the water though - still not sure what they were, but they were sliding smoothly at the bottom of the water!
This pod on stilts in the sea was also fun - especially hanging in the roofs, but also seeing the thousands of fish that clung together underneath the shade of the pod.
In Sungei, the scenery constantly change. From the sea, we went straight into this fun wiggly hanging bridge,and into the jungle!
With the last pod with yet another view, we were getting to the end and to the brand new visitors centre. This place told the story about the history of Singapore mangroves, flora and fauna...and...had the last adventure awaiting for us: a "junior trail" playground!
Here, you had to be careful with your feet - unless you're up for another "mud experience"!
Thank you for joining me to Kranji - make sure you do this trip if you ever go to Singapore and remember: Go to Sungei early, then have lunch at Bollywood - and remember sunscreen, repellant and change of clothes if you're up for the challenge!