The entrance to the green corridor is landmarked by a prominent black metal bridge behind the bus stop where we alighted, along Bukit Timah road. It had been a year since the senior batch had visited and the experience was noticeably different with different company. However, a surprise visit from some J3s – who bore gifts of Kitkat as well as stories from the army and their awe-inspiring travels – triggered some nostalgic reminiscing. Eventually, all of us started at a leisurely pace down the dirt trail, chatting animatedly amongst ourselves, and surrounded on both sides by lush green forest.
The path was level and straight for most of the trek, allowing us to engage in more quiet, intimate conversations with one another or simply stroll along and enjoy the view. A mix of natural and urban environments unfolded before us as we walked along the paths, as the scenery morphed from thick forest to buildings to the tunnels underneath highways which were haphazardly spray-painted with colourful graffiti – perfect chance to strike a pose!
The feature that was hardest to ignore, however, was the silence. Throughout the first half of the trek, we noticed the absence of the sounds of traffic and large crowds we have become accustomed to, a refreshing break from the hustle and bustle of our daily living. Keeping quiet for a while and just soaking in the atmosphere, one could fall into a relaxed, meditative state.
However, not all of us felt that way of course – a couple of sharp-eyed ODACians came across some quirky plants and creatures and called out excitedly for the rest to come and examine them. We found a red-and-black caterpillar so strikingly coloured that it was surprising how many of us walked right past it without noticing! We also sampled the sweet fruits of the Indian cherry tree, a seemingly ordinary plant. Truth be told, it required a fair amount of trust to swallow something that someone had plucked from a random tree, but the best way to ensure that it is safe is to always let someone else try it first!
We also witnessed a strangling fig that had almost entirely engulfed a rain tree towering above us and would soon literally strangle it to death. According to Mr Chew, it is possible in some areas to climb such trees as you would a natural rock face, as the many crevices of the tree surface provide excellent handholds and footholds. Chalk powder is also rarely ever required as the surface of the tree bark is textured and absorbs sweat, allowing a firm grip. Tree climbing – added to the bucket list!
It wasn’t just us along the green corridor that day. We also came across interesting characters en route – mountain bikers, cyclists and of course the occasional jogger for whom we would hastily make way for. We even came across a few elderly men sitting in their foldable reclining chairs just chit-chatting under the shelter of the concrete highway. What surrounded them looked like the furnished interior of a house, transplanted outdoors, making it seem like somehow, we were outsiders intruding into this private moment. This scene encapsulates the sentiments I felt that day – that no matter where you may be or have been, it is always the people around you that make each experience unique and memorable. More HT-HTs and a few wrong turns later, we found ourselves heading home, weary and mosquito-bitten but happy from a long day’s adventure in the company of friends.