We were supposed to have started our ride at 7.30am. But it rained and so the Brompton Pastors Club had breakfast in my home. A leisurely breakfast. By the time we finally rode off it was 9am. The weather was superbly cool. We rode to the Chinese and Japanese Garden because Then Chee Min came all the way from the east. At the least he should ride through the gardens. Then we were on the PCN to the Little Guilin. The west is where I live, so I guided the group. At Little Guilin the rain fell and we adjourned to a Malay kopitiam for an early lunch and fellowship (and theological discussion abut generational curse) till the rain stopped. Then we headed to the former granite quarry at Bukit Batok Park and from there proceeded to the PCN that links the Bukit Batok to the Ulu Pandan PCN. Our original plan was to do the Ulu Pandan PCN to Ghim Moh for lunch but rain altered our plans and we called it quits after we did the lovely Teban Garden overhead steel bridge. We reached my home by 12.15pm. A wonderful splendid lovely morning with pastors! God’s way is always better – the rain forced us pastors to spend as much time time seated around the table of fellowship as on our Brompton foldies; and it cooled the day which otherwise would likely have been direct sun on us by mid-morning.
This ride had an interesting element. Two of the pastors were new to the group: Jason and Vincent. We wanted to get to know them more, and of course to ride the park connector network from Pasir Ris MRT to Ponggol MRT.
For me it was the first time I would be taking the Brompton bike into the MRT. Now we can do it at any hour. Formerly the bike was not allowed during peak hours. Some friends would be taking the Brompton on the bus from Potong Pasir to Pasir Ris.
I was at the Chinese Garden station at 6.30am. I live in between Chinese Garden and the Jurong East stations. I thought I should be able to get a seat but the train was full, and I was only able to get a seat when the train reached Eunos MRT station!
We introduced ourselves and waited for everybody to be present and then we took off. It was a pleasant ride all the way to Coney Island but after that the sun grew stronger and the Ponggol stretch was harsh.
During the ride we took some breaks and Richard and I were doing some “evangelism” the wrong way. We were trying to sell the plus points of owning a Brompton bike to one of the pastors there. We extolled the great qualities like its compact fold, its engineering efficiency, its eye-catching uniqueness, its smooth ride, its durability and how it can be a great retirement vehicle. However we were too brash and near oppressive in our approach. So likely this friend was left with a bad taste in his mouth.
We were happy to arrive at Waterwaypoint. The coolness refreshed us and we settled at the MacDonald’s at the basement. We got their coffee but bought buns from the Four Leaves bakery nearby. Here we were: Anglican, Pentecostal, Baptist, Evangelical, and Canaanite (haha). We got to know each other better and did what pastors did best: talk shop.
Interestingly we abandoned our original plan to ride to Brompton Road. Everybody had things to do. So we went off in different directions: some rode home to Potong Pasir and Toa Payoh. Vincent and I rode back to Pasir Ris where he parked his car. However, along the way an idea struck us so we tried calling Kenny Fan to see if he was free for lunch. He has moved to Pasir Ris Bethesda Mission Church. We have not met as a group for over a year. This was a good opportunity and we had lunch at Changi Hawker Center and good coffee at a cafe. It was wonderful to touch base as we updated each other on what’s been happening in our lives and pastorates.
Its always good to have friendships with pastors outside of your church or even denomination. There is a richness there, an anointing of life and abundance. How blessed for brethren to dwell together in unity, there the Lord commands his blessing. Do you have pastor friends outside of your church and denomination? Like to hear from you.
When the Bukit Timah Hill first re-opened, I was not happy with the changes. Some of my favourite routes were blocked by fences. Old routes were re-routed for some good reason that I do not know. The old rugged, uneven, muddy paths had been made straight and flat and staired. Other hikers in the group were not happy too. The muddy and natural hill paths of the past had allowed us good realistic training for what we would find in many tracks and paths in the mountains of Malaysia and other South East Asian countries. Now it looked far from “natural”.
After many months
Now months have passed. I have been hiking these trails again. My feelings of annoyance at the insensitivity and intrusiveness of the park authorities have subsided. I wished they had interacted with and consulted the hikers who used the place frequently. Or at least they would bother to explain why things have been changed, and why they needed to be changed. Maybe an exhibit or video at the Visitors’ Center to explain the why of the changes. Or guided tours by park of rangers for those who want to learn more about the logic behind the changes. It was a great chance to educate the public about conservation and care of the forests. This was not done as far as I knew. I give them the benefit of the doubt though. They must have thought this through thoroughly.
There are advantages
Over the months, I have gotten used to the new trails and find them convenient. On Saturday, we hiked in the drizzle and I certainly appreciated that my boots were not muddied, and I did not slip, and it was very safe to walk even in the drizzle. The new paths made the trails more accessible to more people because they are now easier and cleaner and safer. Most people used the main road to the summit and never ventured out to the side trails partly because they did not know the way, and partly because the paths used to be muddy, and uneven, and had twists and turns. am sure they will venture to the side trails now that they have been upgraded. These side trails are definitely more fun and work the muscles better and exercise your heart more.
Accessible via MRT
If you have never hiked the Bukit Timah Hill, I encourage you to do so, especially now that it is more accessible by public transportation via the Beauty World Station of the Downtown Line. After you have had a good 1-2 hours hike, you have a good choice of restaurant or hawker food in the many shopping malls and hawker centers and restaurants, all within 5 minutes of the MRT station.
One of the things that puzzled me was why they did not build a multi-storey carpark like they did at MacRitchie. Why? I wonder if you had any questions after your visit to Bukit Timah Hill. Do write them in the comment box below.