By Lim Yong Le (22S03M) and Sophie Goh (22S07B)
Even though we could’ve enjoyed a nice walk in a park, two Press reporters, at the risk of overestimating our fitness levels, somehow decided to spend Gap Day on a high-intensity cardiovascular workout across Singapore.
Buckle in, for it’s going to be a long ride.
The Coast-to-Coast Trail (Central) is a 36 km trail that spans across Singapore, linking up nature areas, parks and park connectors from Jurong Lake Gardens to Coney Island Park.
For convenience’s sake, a roughly 20 km stretch from Ang Mo Kio (CP5) to Jurong Lake Gardens (CP1) was selected out of the entire 36 km route, allowing us to better manage the long trail while starting at a destination relatively close to both of us.
Before the trip, we saved the Coast-to-Coast Google Map provided by the Trevallog blog. We recommend having decent map-reading and navigation skills (and to regularly check if you’re on the right track!) should you choose to follow this trail. Along the way, there are also Coast-to-Coast signboards every 200m for you to check the distance to your next checkpoint.
Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park
After renting our bikes from GoCycling @ Ang Mo Kio, we proceeded to our first stop: Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park (CP5).
With its wide, winding paths and ample shade provided by the tree canopies, this park was undoubtedly one of the most pleasant parks to cycle through amongst the many we passed by along the trail.
Along the way, we were greeted by various fauna: the odd rooster-and-hen pair, as well as adorable puppies playing at the dog run.
As we cycled along the naturalised Kallang River (its shrub-lined banks in stark contrast to the usual concrete canals found all over Singapore), we got to admire the wonders of Singapore’s soft engineering flood management strategies.
Once we finally navigated our way through the park to our first checkpoint, it was time to bid goodbye to this idyllic park and venture into the wilderness of Singapore.
The Urban Jungle of Marymount
Before we had embarked on the actual journey, we had pictured the trail to be lined with soothing, verdant greenery and beautiful scenery. After all, the name “Coast-to-Coast Trail” does undeniably conjure images of trees, nature and the like.
Sadly, the early stretches of the trail proved us woefully wrong.
On the route between CP5 and MacRitchie Reservoir Park, we battled against confusing road signs, construction barricades, and re-routed pedestrian paths. Many times, we accidentally intruded into the back of some HDB blocks.
Not exactly the nice scenery I was expecting.Yong Le, unimpressed at the fake scenery on the construction fencing
We later found out that the stretch was under construction for the upcoming North-South Corridor, which, according to LTA, would improve connectivity by providing more bus lanes, cycling paths and pedestrian walkways. The current urban jungle was, we suppose, an inevitable sacrifice we had to make for a (hopefully) more pleasant cycling experience to look forward to in the future.
For those interested in conquering this trail: unless you’re feeling unusually adventurous, we would strongly advise against taking this stretch. At least until 2027.
Lunch (and some monkey business)
Thankfully, the arduous Marymount stretch eventually came to an end, and greenery took over.
Around the MacRitchie area, we got to enjoy the luxury of proper cycling paths, and an immersive experience in nature, away from the usual building-lined cityscape. We even had an up-close experience with several monkeys.
We then made a lunch stop at Adam Road Food Centre.
Adam Road Food Centre is a small yet bustling hawker centre that serves up quality food at affordable prices. Opened in 1974, it has since become famous especially for its Malay fare and draws great crowds.
When we arrived, it was lunch hour, so the already cramped interior was extremely packed, with snaking queues for the famous Selera Rasa Nasi Lemak stall. Possibly due to space constraints, the space around the hawker centre all had large signs banning bicycles from being parked.
In order to try a larger range of food, we shared a plate of Hokkien Mee as well. The nasi lemak lived up to its reputation and delivered aromatic rice, fragrant sambal and decadent, crispy chicken. In comparison, the Hokkien Mee was relatively average, but still held its own in this star-studded food centre.
After finishing our meal, we then headed in the direction of Singapore Botanic Gardens.
We passed by schools such as Hwa Chong Institution and Methodist Girls’ School, on the journey towards our next landmark, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Stopping to snap a picture in front of the reserve, we consulted one of the many Coast-to-Coast signs strewn around the island. There was still more than 7 km left to go, so we wasted no time and continued on.
A look into our nature reserves
After another long stretch of over 5 km, we finally reached Bukit Batok nature reserve. Taking a breather, we pedalled leisurely around, stopping to take a few photos in front of an idyllic road leading into a deep, lush greenery.
As we sat down on spacious park benches and took a few sips of water, it felt like a true oasis in the concrete jungle that we had been cycling through. Nevertheless, it was soon time to leave and we reluctantly mounted our bikes to head onwards towards our final destination, Jurong Lake Gardens.
After an eternity of pedalling, we finally arrived at the promised land of Jurong Lake Gardens. We wasted no time in returning our (long overdue) rental bicycles, incurring a whopping extra twenty-dollar surcharge.
However, we still continued on, on foot this time, towards the park. Being able to walk around was (quite literally) a good change of pace, as we could better take in the picturesque sights that the lakeside garden had to offer. Many groups of children and a romp of otters were also among the visitors we saw at the park as we strolled alongside the long jetty.
With no further destination on our rather packed itinerary, we could take our time exploring the different corners of the park. Not merely stopping at observing the large lake, we also checked out the local cafe and water play area (which we deigned to participate in). There was no better place to end the day, as the two of us absent-mindedly meandered around the beautiful public garden.
All in all, the 20 km journey was definitely no easy feat— it took us almost 6 hours. Along the way, we crossed at least 3 overhead bridges, which required us to heave the bikes up the stairs. Needless to say, we learnt the hard way that this trail is not the most bicycle-friendly.
Still, it was an eye-opening experience. We often don’t pay very close attention to our surroundings on our commutes, so this is a great way to explore Singapore’s urban landscape, with its bustling roads and busy shopping malls right next to tranquil parks and nature reserves.
If you’re looking for such an experience, try out the Coast-to-Coast Trail. That is, if you don’t mind getting (more than) a little sweaty.