Saturday, 4 May 2013

Bukit Timah in the dark

At 163m above sea level, Bukit timah hill is the tallest point of Singapore. Which is a bit like saying Tampines Rovers is the best team in the S-league; it doesn’t mean much, and no one really cares, save for the small group of middle-aged foolhardies stomping along the dirt trails at 2330hrs.

Surrounding Bukit Timah Hill is Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, which at 2030hrs, is pitch dark. Black doesn’t begin to describe the depth of how dark it gets. If you hold your hand within breathing distance of your face, you wouldn’t see it, making it a great hiding place for a local cryptid.

I don’t see why the National Tourism Board doesn’t include the Bukit Timah Monkey Man as one of the attractions in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, it’s worth good money in certain circles. Of course people will never see one - it spends all its time in hiding from public view, much like post-election politics. And much like politics, it’s not about facts, it’s about hype.

Reality tends to hit much harder, and at 29 degree Celsius, and 91% humidity, we were drenched in the foul reality of sweat-drenched bodies, glued on shirts, and moist underwear. More than a few ankles landed awkwardly, which considering you’re in a forest of tree roots, mud and rocks with only a headlamp to light your way, is the reality of midnight treks.

Unlike the guy in the video, we were a group of six, which was just as well, because being in the middle of a Bukit Timah alone at night is pretty eerie, although nowhere near as creepy as Aokigahara at the base of Mount Fuji (dead bodies in that link, informed clicks please). Maybe that’s why the Oxfam Japan 2013 route doesn’t actually have Fuji as part of its route, or maybe there are plans to keep hikers off its beloved trails because those damn hikers keep dying.

It’s good to be trekking.