04 October 2008

Elfslayer

I picked up two volumes of Elfslayer at Fat Boy's last night. I thought that Nathan Long had managed very competently to take up the mantle left by William King some years ago. Elfslayer is a continuation of the tale in Orcslayer.

03 October 2008

Titanicus

I started on the prologue and first chapter of Dan Abnett's new hardcover 'Titanicus'. First impressions? Laboured prose, bombastic and opaque. Hopefully, the pace will pick up later.

The Downfall of the Novel

Perhaps partly to blame for the novel's downfall are the temptations of the Internet, such as blogging. The Web, she says, "produces some pretty depressing people who don't know anything about anything."

From the 17th March 2008 Wall Street Journal interview titled 'Provocateur' with Doris Lessing.

01 October 2008

National Tourist Office of Spain

I called the National Tourist Office of Spain and was told that I could come down at 2:00 pm. I was there promptly at two but there was no one. Oh well.

National Tourist Office of Spain
541 Orchard Road
#09-04 Liat Towers
Singapore 238881
Telephone: +65 737 3008
Fax: +65 737 3173
Email: singapore@tourspain.es

What can I say?

29 September 2008

The central catchment area hike - Traversing the jungle from west to east

These series of entries describe traversing through the nature reserve between the Upper Peirce Reservoir and Upper Seletar Reservoir from the west to the east.

I think this is one of the most unknown and possibly not travelled parts in Singapore yet. Tony and I had observed almost no evidence of human-made artifacts or rubbish of any sort in the depths of the jungle. No trails either.

This route is extremely challenging in my opinion and one should only attempt it if one knows what one is doing. We did and we were prepared. Don't do it if you are prone to panic.

It was needless to say, a most rewarding hike.

Aerial photos of the Upper Peirce Reservoir Hike (our approximate route)

Aerial photo 2

Meeting at Beauty World (Our meeting point and our equipment)

Chestnut Avenue

Mountain biking trail

Helicopter manoeuvring area

Inlet at Upper Peirce Reservoir

At the water's edge of the Upper Peirce Reservoir

Water's edge

Fallen tree

The depths of the jungle

The heart of the jungle

Ferns and clearings

The long road out

The end of the hike

The end of the hike

It was another few kilometres of hard walking. 3:12 pm.

There were a lot of signposts warning people not to feed monkeys but from my observation, the signs didn't deter anyone.

Monkeys. There were a lot of idiots in cars feeding monkeys.

We walked along Old Upper Thomson Road and finally Upper Thomson Road where we caught a cab. 3:30 pm. Well, this had been a most fruitful journey. As Tony had said, it was worth it but we were not going to do this again. We had traversed through what I thought was Singapore's most difficult terrain, from west to east, in terrain which had seen no humans, at least I thought so. Unspoilt nature of sorts.

There was pressure on my toenails despite having cut short. My shoulders were aching and Tony and I were feverish somewhat from the extreme heat. Covered jungles and canopies? Well, not here. However, I had not suffered a single scratch. My legs were good to go for kilometres more. Just slight tiredness in the legs at best, the legs had held up well despite the stamping of the undergrowth. Shoulders and frame, that was another matter altogether.

WOO HOO! What an adventure!
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The long road out

We were finally out. We walked along the access road that led to the protected PUB facility and the water tanks.

We were soon at the road leading to the Upper Peirce Reservoir. 3:00 pm. I had two litres of water left. Tony said he had 750 ml.

We were exhausted. Given that Tony had just stepped off the plane on a flight from Shenzhen last night, it must have been more than punishing for him. Our initial pace was punishing and he bore it all.

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Ferns and clearings



The terrain had gotten extremely difficult. There were just patches of ferns and ferns everywhere. Shoulder-level ferns. Initially, Tony and I had to avoid the ferns as we deemed them impassable. These were the open areas that we had on the printouts of the photos from Google Earth. Clearing? It was the worst sort of terrain. Dense undergrowth and exposed to the sun.

Along the way, we were trying to read the contours of the land. There were certain slopes that were going up and there were ravines. We had not spotted the huge water tanks that measured from that 50 metres in diameter, 10 metres tall and was at least 30 metres above the ground. The dense foliage had made it impossible to spot anything beyond twenty metres.

The heat was getting unbearable. It was 33 degree celsius from 12:00 noon to 2:30 pm.

Tony and I were heating up really fast and we were making frequent stops to rest and drink. Our heart rates were over 100. Pounding. We could no longer maintain a punishing pace as before.

We had to bash throught the ferns that were chest level. The 'parang' and shears were absolutely useless. I was stamping the foliage down. At times, I pitched forward with my body to flatten the area before we could proceed. We took turns just flattening the foliage. I thought our progress was about 50 metres per half hour at best. I had expended over 3 litres of water now.

At this point, we were heading directly south. We had decided to make it out, forcing our way through whatever terrain we encountered, however difficult. We were also heading upslope. And we figured there was a possibility of the tanks nearby. We had heard noise of a diesel of some sort in distance. We could also hear many piston-engined trainers in the skies above.

Then, I spotted the water tank.* We scrambled straight up. 2:34 pm. We were finally out.


*Water tank in the photo above. Huge water tank. 50 metres across and almost 10 metres tall. Can you see it? The terrain we were forcing our way through was worst than that depicted in the photo. The visibility was less, hence also the lack of photos.

The heart of the jungle

There were no trails at this point. We had to traverse through a lot of difficult terrain.

One minor ridge after another. There were a few ravines which we avoided.

12:57 am. It was getting really hot.

I made a false sighting of a water tank in the distance. As the tanks were painted green, it was difficult. We were mostly heading east at this point.

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The depths of the jungle

11:06 am. We went through the creek.

We were constantly doing constant readings now.

We had decided that we had to go on. There were no sense in marking trails. Going back was too difficult now. We decided against our 1:30 pm cutoff time.

We were still making good progress at this point.
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Fallen tree

There were no more trails. We were heading east and southeast now, hoping to spot the water tanks of our next checkpoint.

It was 11:00 am. We needed to cross a creek when Tony spotted this huge fallen tree. We skirted along it to cross the ravine.

There was a rectangular concrete slab under the tree. Strange.
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Water's edge

There were less and less trails. 10:48 am.

We were still in a small peninsula along the coast of the Upper Peirce Reservoir.

There was a PUB sign that advised no swimming, fishing and all that. A sign in the midst of the wilderness no less! Hilarious!

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At the water's edge of the Upper Peirce Reservoir

10:41 am. We followed the trail and were going at a rather fast and punishing pace.

We were able to catch a glimpse of the waters of the Upper Peirce Reservoir occasionally.

I spotted a boat in the distance.

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Inlet at Upper Peirce Reservoir

10:36 am. We had gone northeast. We had spotted signboards for OCS Exercise Hunter. An hour later, we had reached an inlet of the Upper Peirce Reservoir.

We decided it was time to make east and southeast.

However, the foliage here was thick and we decided to follow the meandering trail along the water's edge. There were clearly trails here. Not army but PUB people. I spotted a new footprint at the water's edge.

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Helicopter Manouevring Area

We walked along the trail. Before long, Tony located our first checkpoint. A sign warning of the helicopter manoeuvring area. 9:33 am.

We went surveyed around the area and put up a marking sign.

It was getting hot.

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Mountain Biking Trail

The mountain biking trail. 9:16 am.

Tony and I put up notes with our time at various points during our hike.
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