The past two months since we got back from our Australia trip have been pretty quiet. We had a busy travel summer. And the holidays will get busy again. Add to that the fact that Sandy had two trips to the US in that stretch, and we decided to just stay at home and not do very much. Even with some long weekends during November. Then I fell into the trap of not writing any blog entries. I am going to change and try to write some entries on more everyday things here. I'll keep them shorter. But if they are boring, just skip ahead to the Christmas holidays.
Several weekends Sandy and I went down to the East Coast Parkway. I covered it in an earlier post back in August. It has really nice trails for walking, running, biking and skating. On afternoons on the weekends it seems like the whole population of Singapore comes down to engage in those activities. But we went early in the morning, when it was cooler and not so crowded. Singapore is not a morning town.
Our first adventure was learning how to get there. There is no MRT stop nearby. In fact, when I tried to scout it out during the week, I couldn't find any reasonable way to get there on foot from the MRT with less than an hour or so walk. That seems like too far to walk to get someplace to take a walk! The East Coast Parkway (highway) runs right alongside the East Coast Parkway (park). It is a major expressway and there are almost no places a pedestrian can get across. Even driving there was a little tricky since the main way to the frontage road is by getting off the freeway. But you can only do that going one direction. And it is not the direction from our house, but the direction from the airport. I couldn't quite convince myself to drive 10 miles out to the airport so that I could drive 8 miles back to get off at the park. Even on the city streets it can be tough as you can't always turn where you want to. So I drove right to the intersection that I wanted, no problem. But then I couldn't turn right on it. Problem. 10 minutes and several U-turns later we were at the carpark at the park. I didn't learn till several weeks later at my drivers class that the U-turns were illegal.
There are several places for renting bikes or rollerblades. One morning we went for bikes. The trail system is quite elaborate, with paths for walkers and another for bikes and skates. The bike trail even has lanes for two way traffic, crosswalks for pedestrians, and special sections that are only for beginners. Just my luck. I got a bum bike and the chain started slipping. Eventually it came completely off. Not wanting to get totally covered with grease, we took the bike back to exchange it for a different one. We had only gone about a quarter of a mile but I still felt like an idiot pushing my bike with my foot and slowly coasting along. With typical Chinese inscrutability, the Singaporeans we passed didn't crack a smile. Can't say the same for Sandy though. Luckily I had the camera at that point. With a working bike I was back in business and we rode all the way to the end of the island out near the airport.
There seems to be every kind of activity you can imagine crammed into the park. We ran into friends from hp who were there with their kids to go to the miniature golf course. Turns out it was being renovated so they were out of luck. The most interesting was a water ski park. There is a small lake that has a big circular cable tow that goes all around the lake. You pay a fee and you can get pulled all around the lake on waterskis or wakeboards. There are even jumps in the lake. If you fell it looked like it was very challenging to catch the cable as it went by and get back up on your skis/board.
There is actually a very long stretch of nice beach too. The whole park area is landfill and the beach itself is artificial. Apparently they sculpt the shoreline to be quite steep and then the natural wave action washes sand up from the ocean to create the beaches. Quite a nice job of engineering. The beach runs for several miles.
It seemed there were always a lot of runners along the path. It is one of the few places in Singapore where you have a several mile long path that you can use for distance running. A lot of people were out getting ready for the Singapore Marathon. With the heat and humidity running in Singapore seems like it would be pretty tough. But the run was the first weekend in December and it was quite an event. There were just over 10,000 runners in the marathon. That's not a typo. Ten thousand. There was also a half marathon, a 10K run and a kids run. The total for all the races was over 40,000 entrants. That is just mind boggling to me. There have been ads all over the city for the last two months promoting the run. I wish I had gone just to see it. I did see a guy who looked like a runner at Lucky Plaza later that afternoon wearing a Singapore marathon tshirt. And he looked *really* tired. Maybe next year Shannon can train for the run and give it a try.