The last thing I wanted on a Wednesday afternoon was to have my foot (and my favourite white sneaker) stuck in ankle-deep mud in Clementi Forest.
The light rain was the culprit. It soaked the soil and turned the dirt path sludgy. It also wet my jeans and made the denim stuck to my skin. Yuck!
This was far from the relaxing trek I had anticipated. As I struggled to free my foot, all I could think about was how I should have dressed properly for the occasion.
Clementi Forest is the luxuriant patch of wilderness that I always see on my way to school at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. But I didn’t know its name until I stumbled upon the stunning drone footage taken by a local nature enthusiast, Brice Li.
Spanning 85 ha, this unprotected secondary forest in the heartlands of Singapore certainly looks National Geographic Wild-worthy. It has caught the eye of many Singaporeans, attracted some adventurous trekkers and led conservationists and environmental activists to speak up against future residential development in the area.
All the hype also made me curious enough to want to set off for this new place of interest after school. And that’s how I found myself in such a sticky predicament.
Thankfully, my friend managed to lend me a hand and pull me out of the muddy mess. Although my sneakers were caked beyond recognition, there’s no time to mourn. We soldiered on and continued our trek down the Green Corridor.
The sight that soon greeted us did not disappoint. Clementi Forest, with its lush, dense vegetation and glorious, towering trees at a distance, is simply an incredible view to behold.
Unfortunately, my soiled footwear did not allow me to venture further on this rough terrain. My mud-covered shoes were losing their grip and my socks were unbearably wet. So we reluctantly parted with the beautiful view and headed back to take the scenic route instead.
We headed to Bukit Timah Road Truss Bridge near King Albert Park MRT station to start my journey anew. Although the path was slightly rocky, it was still smoother than what I endured venturing through the Green Corridor.
Looking down from the bridge, I thought about the stark contrast between the serenity in the pristine forest and the hustle and bustle of our demanding city. I guess this goes to show that there’s a time and place for everything.
Soon, we reached the historic Bukit Timah Railway Station. It was part of a landmark land-swap agreement between the Singapore and Malaysia government, which agreed to stop the rail service between Woodlands and Tanjong Pagar some years ago.
I attempted to peer through the wire fence that looped around the rundown station but couldn’t see much through the thick foliage.
Photo Credit: Rachel Sin Ka Lam
After around 45 minutes of exploring and photo taking, the clouds had cleared up to give way to the hot sun.
As we continued walking and approached a large field, we saw a sidetrack, the recommended route for access to the denser parts of the forest based on my research.
Once we were on this trail, we were shielded from the hot sun thanks to the dense canopy. We just had to keep dodging the unruly vines along the way.
The road eventually led us to a truly beautiful part of Singapore. I was just so happy to see a true jungle amid a concrete one.
Photo Credit: Rachel Sin Ka Lam
The greenery simply stretched on and on. It’s so wild, untamed and free from dust and construction noise.
I continued venturing through the forest to enjoy the peace and silence for about 20 minutes.
When dusk approached, I knew that it was time to turn back and bid the wilderness goodbye, although there was so much more to be explored.
All in all, I can say with confidence that my trip was worth it despite some chaotic and messy moments.
Being able to see Clementi Forest on ground zero was truly satisfying. To me, it does live up to its hype.
With that being said, I must say that we should not have proceeded with the trek in the rain. If you plan to trek through the forests too, don’t go in your favourite pair of shoes or you may have just to toss them away after the trip. Also, do go with a companion, and make sure you both have your phones – fully-charged – with you.
Has my story got you psyched? Here’s a checklist of what to do and what to bring before you set off for the trek.
You can also click on the following map to check out the various stops I made during my trek :)