Serious Downtime


I took couple of days off this past week and travelled around this great island country of mine, with the specific focus of loosening up on my stress levels and giving my car the necessary run time as it had been doing less than 900 KMs a month on the average. I achieved both these objectives.

Cars in Singapore are so expensive that for the average car to even break even, one has to drive it between 1,200 and 1,500 KMs a month depending on the initial investment (I am excluding high-end and luxury cars, of course – the owners of such cars do not have such goals!). However, over the past 38 months of ownership of my socialist-branded car, I have driven only 34,000 KMs; one reason being, I did not drive into Malaysia with this car, though I had done that with my previous cars.

So much for car discussion. Now let me get back to the key objective of how I took my stress levels down – this is what I mean by “serious downtime”.

I have always loved the Nature Parks and Reservoirs of Singapore. After visiting the urbanized parts of Singapore (most of it is urbanized big time), a visitor would never believe his eyes when he visits the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve or the MacRitchie Reservoir, or the Labrador Park. The government has consciously attempted to keep Singapore as green as possible, and has avoided disrupting the nature reserves in particular. It has also gone about expanding the footprint of existing reservoirs and nature reserves, and establishing new nature parks such as the Windsor Park, located not far from my home. I used to go to one of these parks or reservoirs during weekends (I did that even today, being a Saturday), but this time around, for the first time ever, I took off from my office work for spending time with nature! It is a big thing for me as I am really not a slacker during weekdays, and rarely ever take off from work for doing “nothing”. I will quickly get bored of staying at home and drinking coffee.

I loved the two forenoons that I spent earlier this week. On day #1, I went to the Mandai Reservoir (now called Upper Seletar Reservoir) located close to the world-famous Singapore Zoo. There are couple of golf courses around this part of Singapore, and I crossed the Executive Golf Course before reaching the reservoir (I had played a 9-hole game in this course some 15 years ago, and I recalled that while passing by…………nice reminiscences!). I am giving the URL link here for you to take an “official” look!

https://www.nparks.gov.sg/gardens-parks-and-nature/parks-and-nature-reserves/upper-seletar-reservoir-park

I have not been to this reservoir (except from the Singapore Zoo side) before, and it was good to walk around (though it was hot sun shining overhead) and take some pictures.

There is so much to see at any such place in Singapore, the only deterrent being the hot sun. Obviously, I wore a cap and dark sun glasses (which I rarely use) to protect myself, but nevertheless it was a wonderful experience, away from the “maddening crowds” so to say!

From the Upper Seletar Reservoir, I drove down to the Lower Peirce Reservoir Park which is located on the Old Upper Thomson Road. It is a very old reservoir, but very appealing – I thought it was “cooling” to just take a walk into the park. I did not take pictures at this park, but captured an interesting sign board on the way out.

Singapore is very strict about maintaining cleanliness at all public places, and has now become extremely tough on public smoking.

On day #2, I again chose a place which I have never visited – it was the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, known as the habitat of migratory birds from as far as Alaska and Russia. While I was walking around this Reserve, I witnessed the passion of bird watchers from all over, who had chosen a nice Wednesday morning to visit the Reserve with their heavy duty photographic equipment to capture photos of their favourite migratory birds. This is what I call true passion – I cannot just dismiss these folks as guys with money, so they can do whatever they wish to do. That assumption may not be true at all. These guys are serious ornithologists probably, and driven by passion about one thing – birds which do not live in Singapore but use it as a transit point. This Reserve is Singapore’s first ASEAN Heritage Park. A must visit place for all, and was I surprised when I found out that my colleagues have not yet visited this Reserve – not at all. Most of the visitors were foreigners as far as I could tell! Apparently, Singaporeans like to work all the available time, and then do shopping; very few of them ever develop a serious life passion such as ornithology, though I did see a few of them at this Reserve.

I am going to make another trip to this place along with my family – it is simply too wonderful to be missed at a mere 22 KMs from my home, and best of all, the entrance and parking (!) are free, though I should warn you that food and coffee/tea are not available anywhere nearby. Come prepared!

Singapore has many such parks and reservoirs operated by the National Parks organization. Kudos to them for developing and maintaining such a lovely eco system in this very small island nation. Even big countries are learning from Singapore’s experience and expertise.

I plan to continue this exploration, and you will see more coverage from me, hopefully soon. I suggest you do this activity during a busy workday, rather than during the usual weekends, as that would reflect your utter seriousness in giving yourself the much-needed downtime away from all the noise, allowing you to concentrate on nature in a manner you would have never indulged so far. Try it, and I can assure you that it not only brings down all pressures in the body, but also knocks off the stress. You will feel like you are getting a rejuvenation of mind and body. Only one thing – put your mobile phone on silent mode, and don’t check your emails. I did that and cursed myself as somebody asked me to do something and then I got into the bad urge of instantly replying to that email. Not good. Don’t do it.

Have a wonderful weekend folks. And do enjoy what Mother Nature has given us. All for free. Reinvigorating and Rejuvenating, for sure.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

16th February 2019

Author: Vijay Srinivasan

VJ lives and works in Singapore. He hails originally from Southern part of India, and has lived in Malaysia/Singapore for over 21 years. He loves networking, reading, travelling, amateurish golfing, badminton, and arguing on intellectual issues which affect mankind with his friends and colleagues. He also loves his wines and blogging !

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