Singaporeans too busy to appreciate nature

Letter from Heng Cho Choon Today Online 9 Apr 12;

MR GORDON Reid's letter "This foreigner sees another side of Singapore" (April 7) strikes a chord with me as a nature lover.

The Singapore Flyer is a commercial project and the manicured lawns of the Botanic Gardens are too artificial to attract urbanites who long for the rustic outdoors.

Meanwhile, more of Singapore's forests, cemeteries and kampungs are making way for development and the living, who need more living space. Nonetheless, the National Parks Board spends millions each year to build park connectors and parks.

If Mr Reid had scrutinised the flora and waters of MacRitchie Reservoir, he would have found, perhaps surprisingly, that the place has butterflies galore and the pitcher plant (Nepenthes gracilis) grows in abundance near the water's edge.

The irony is that citizens hardly have time to enjoy the parks. Mr Reid hardly saw children there because they are immersed in their studies, tuition, ballet and music lessons.

Learn to spend more time in the outdoors
Letter from Ricky Jiang Shang Zhi Today Online 9 Apr 12;

Thank you, Mr Gordon Reid, for highlighting the peaceful, green and natural side of Singapore, in the letter "This foreigner sees another side of Singapore" (April 7).

It is a pity that this is not being promoted more to tourists and locals. Too much has been spent instead to promote the brightly-lit malls, casinos and theme parks.

Singaporeans, young and old, should learn to spend more time with nature instead of staying indoors in air-conditioning.

This foreigner sees another side of Singapore
Letter from Gordon Reid Today Online 7 Apr 12;

As a foreigner who has lived and worked here, I wanted to experience Singapore from an angle that did not include a theme park, shopping, entertainment or commercial experience.

Visiting one of the tourist visitor centres for ideas was an experience in itself.

I asked about the outdoors and walks I could find. I was met by a confused look and was told: "It's too hot for that. Why not see Universal Studios or the Singapore Flyer?"

So I asked about parks where I could get away from it all.

I was told about East Coast Park and the Botanic Gardens. I also checked the maps and was pleasantly surprised to find some wonderful areas of peace, green space and natural life.

First, I took the Mass Rapid Transit to Kent Ridge and walked along a winding road through a forest till I reached Kent Ridge Park.

It was delightful. During my walk, I saw some amazing birds, reptiles and butterflies. The view of the sea was lovely, too.

My path ended at a boardwalk with information about some significant historical events.

Next, I went to Labrador Nature Reserve and its nearby mangrove and coastal walk, all accessible from Labrador Park MRT Station. Once again, I was surrounded by peace and quiet, flora and fauna.

I ended the week with an 11.5km trek starting at MacRitchie Reservoir, accessible again via the MRT and bus. It was incredible that I was one of the few souls in these parks, which were free and easy to access.

At the same time, the shopping centres and streets were packed, with everyone shopping, looking for a table and queuing, while I took a bottle of water and packed lunch from home. I had no need to be entertained, nor was I compelled to buy.

I saw Singapore from a different perspective. It was a wonderful experience, yet I was saddened that I hardly saw anyone, especially children, in the outdoors.