[Millie] After my two previous attempts to visit And Mo Kio Garden West were rained off with torrential showers, I finally made it! Within close proximity to a bus stop and MRT train station it was easy to locate – with a little help from Google Maps, too! Since relocating to Singapore, I’ve found the app so helpful as it tells me how many bus stops to go and what they are called which makes travelling in a new and unfamiliar place really simple. I used to use it all the time in the UK actually, but always seemed to get lost with it, which would result in having to call my husband asking him to help from the other end of the phone! But that hasn’t happened so far!
I decided to take the bus which makes a nice change from the MRT where you mostly travel underground. Taking the bus gives a nice view of where you are going and allows me to get my bearings of places around and to keep an eye out for other places along the way. Singapore makes public transport very easy and affordable. I never leave home without my EZ link card which I use for the MRT and buses – you board a bus at the front and tap your card on the reader and then get off the bus in the doors in the middle and do the same when you leave and the cost is deducted from the card. This keeps the busses moving and they are always on time.
I remember how different getting a bus was in the UK when I was a teenager. I lived in quite a remote little village in Norfolk where the buses stopped running at 7pm and never came on a Sunday. I learned to drive as soon as I could as the busses weren’t exactly reliable either, sadly I don’t think they have improved all that much in some parts of the UK. Here in Singapore we don’t have a car as it’s quite expensive and you are encouraged to use public transport. Singapore is so small if everyone had a car the whole island would become gridlocked.
After getting off the bus I promptly walked in the wrong direction – thankfully not for long. I followed my map and arrived at the bottom of two sets of symmetrical steps surrounded by towering palm trees and greenery.
I slowly walked up the steps – partly because of the heat and also to soak in the atmosphere. To get to the park I crossed a road busy with building works but as I walked up the steps those sounds disappeared and were replaced with gentle bird song, the ever present cicadas and the faint sound of music – which I later discovered was from a group of people doing yoga at the top. A gentle breeze made the walk pleasant and caused some leaves to fall from the trees, almost in slow motion. It’s so good to take time out to just enjoy the surroundings and be.
Many of the town gardens and parks in Singapore are placed to encourage people to exercise, take time out and have an outdoor space. But they aren’t just for us humans – plants are carefully selected to encourage wildlife and insects to the areas too. When I reached the top there was a central path around a flower planter where lots of different coloured butterflies had made their resting place.
When looking for a place to go I had seen there was a lilly pond located in the gardens. I followed the yellow signposts that are dotted around the park and after ending up back in the same place three times I asked someone for help. With a hint of sadness in his voice he informed me that the pond is no longer there and had been filled in a while ago. The park is still lovely and has lots of paved pathways which are shaded by the trees which makes it a perfect spot for jogging – if you’re into that! There are markings on the floor around an outer loop of the park which denote distance.
I followed one path and discovered a few nice surprises. Hundreds of poles with rope pullies were in the ground – some with bird cages delicately swaying in the refreshing breeze that came every now and again. I had heard of these spaces before and after doing some research found out this was called Kebun Baru Bird Corner which is home to the Kebun Baru Birdsinging Club.
There were around 40 birds in cages 20 ft high up on the poles, I found out some of the birds are Merbox or Zebra doves. There was another covered area with tiny brightly coloured birds inside which were long tailed Shama which is an expensive bird. At 6am most mornings locals can bring their birds here and hoist them up to enjoy the sunshine and feel at ease high up like they are in the trees and sing together. Competitions are held for beauty and singing and a pure bred birds can cost quite a bit of money . The bird area started from humble beginnings in the 80’s where locals wanted somewhere for their birds to enjoy being outside and socialise – both birds and owners! Now the club hosts competitions and there are prizes for the best birds in a variety of categories with the winner able to take pride knowing thier bird was the best.
I found all this fascinating – after some more research I discovered its best to go at the weekend to see it more alive. I’ve read there are monthly competitions too. As I write this coronavirus restrictions are still in place but I look forward to the day I can go and see this for myself in all its glory and hear the legendary birdsong.
I left the birds and their owners singing and chatting to each other and continued on the path. I came across some raised allotments. Each one is cared for by a member of the community who ballots for a plot. I was free to walk around the raised beds and peer inside at the goodies growing. After exploring the whole park for a couple of hours I was flagging in the heat and found a spot to re-fill my water bottle near an outdoor gym. There was also a clean and well maintained toilet and a covered place to rest.
This park is great for a walk about and if you’re feeling up for something more energetic the jogging track and outdoor gym has everything you need to stay in shape.
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2 thoughts on “Ang Mo Kio Garden West, Singapore”
How odd to have birds in cages hoisted up for all to hear their song.
Great place to explore.
If you enjoy parks, Bedok Reservoir is a nice place to chill! It is around 4.3km around the reservoir and there is also a place called Forest Adventure obstacle course for the kids to join. There is also a small outdoor cafe called Wawawa by the reservoir that serves local and western food. The kids will also enjoy the sandy playground near the cafe. 🙂 Not advertising for Forest Adventure or Wawawa… just recommending coz i stay here and really love this awesome place!