A guide to Singapore's guides

Olivia Ho and Lian Szu Jin Straits Times 16 Jun 17;

Dazed and confused by sprawling collections of artefacts? Unsure why a national monument matters? Lost while wandering in the wild?

There are also numerous burgeoning guide groups for community heritage trails, art outreach, nature walks and more.

Who are these dedicated people? The Straits Times provides a guide to the guides.

BUG LOVER FINDS CALLING AS NATURE GUIDE

Mr Ivan Kwan, who started guiding in his early 20s, set up his ownnature guiding company in December last year and covers places such as Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (above). PHOTOS: FELINE LIM, PATRICE LAMOUREUX
Ivan Kwan, 35, full-time nature guide

Guide at: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Pulau Ubin, Chek Jawa Wetlands, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Central Catchment Nature Reserve, Pasir Ris Park and anywhere else on request (go to www.natureadventures.sg or e-mail hello@natureadventures.sg)

"I was the weird kid who always played with all sorts of bugs and insects," says Mr Kwan as he transfers a small, furry spider from a railing along Sungei Buloh's Mangrove Boardwalk into his hands.

"This is a heavy jumper, one of the largest jumping spiders in Singapore," he adds, as he takes the photographer and me on a tour around the wetland reserve.

He grew up in Tampines and loved observing the frogs and tadpoles found in the grassy field next to his block, as well as the insects that flew into his house.

He has grown up to be a passionate nature guide, giving tours to places such as the wetland reserve and Chek Jawa for 10 years with different organisations.

In December last year, the bachelor set up his nature guiding company, Nature Adventures SG.

He started guiding in his early 20s. During his last year studying geography at the National University of Singapore (NUS), he started volunteering as a nature guide for NUS Toddycats - a volunteer group with the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.

After he graduated, he worked as a research assistant at NUS, then as a conservation projects manager at National Parks Board.

He also volunteered with a group called the Naked Hermit Crabs and took visitors to the boardwalk at Chek Jawa.

His favourite place to guide at is Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve because of the crocodiles there. During the interview, he demonstrates his skills, recognising faraway birds such as a white-bellied sea eagle from its call.

Setting up his nature guiding company, he says, is a way of "doing what I'm passionate about as work".

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