A Fun Walk Among Giants

It was a cool, dry September morning that saw a group of people gather at Henderson Waves for the start of the “Fun Walk at the Southern Ridges”.

Dressed in their light-blue SembCorp corporate shirts, Elaine, Gwendelyn, Sebastian, Raymond and Boon Yong were there to be guides for the day. These passionate nature and conservation enthusiasts have been actively volunteering their weekends during school holidays to conduct guided tours for the public as part of HortPark and Southern Ridges’ “Connecting with Nature” outreach programmes.



Elaine (left) started the tour by giving a general introduction of the Southern Ridges before the participants were separated into groups for the guided walk.

Raymond, a SembCorp senior executive, was the first to move off with his group towards the Henderson Waves, where he shared about the history of the bridge. The younger participants were fascinated by his description of how the extension of Henderson Road divided Mount Faber into Mount Faber Park and Telok Blangah Hill Park.



At the Henderson Waves, Raymond (left) sharing with the group on the history behind the construction of Singapore’s highest pedestrian bridge.

In another section, Boon Yong was overheard asking his group, “Do you know what tree this is?” as he pointed to a tree in the background. “It’s a Tembusu tree!” he exclaimed and proceeded to explain that a similar tree located in the Singapore Botanic Gardens is printed on the back of the Singapore $5 note.



“The Tembusu tree can grow this huge!” Boon Yong (with his arms up) enthusiastically describing the Tembusu to his group of participants.

As part of the tour, the participants were brought to an arboretum project in Telok Blangah Hill Park – the SembCorp Forest of Giants. Here, SembCorp had sponsored the planting of trees through the Garden City Fund, a charity and IPC established by NParks.

The trees planted used to dominate the regional landscape, but no longer exist due to urbanisation. Over 600 trees from 55 species were planted along the Southern Ridges with the aim of inculcating the importance of conservation in future generations.



Boon Yong and Elaine with the participants among the tree saplings planted as part of the SembCorp Forest of Giants. Some of these saplings may grow to be 80 metres tall in 50 years’ time.



Raymond (2nd from right) inviting foreign participants to taste some local snacks made from trees found along the Southern Ridges.

Along the way, Raymond handed out snacks such as nutmegs, figs, packets of belinjau chips and assam candies to the participants as they walk past the nutmeg, belinjau, assam and fig trees. He felt that the participants, especially the children, would relate better to his stories if they could see, feel and taste the actual products of these trees.



Participants enjoying the view of tree tops along Forest Walk.

Hugh Lavin, one of the participants, commented on how he was intrigued by the cultural uses of trees as food and daily necessity. His wife, Elisabeth, had learnt about this tour from her colleague, who, in turn, read about it from an NParks’ e-newsletter. She loves taking walks and was glad to have the chance to not only walk through Henderson Waves, but also explore Forest Walk, Alexandra Arch and HortPark.

Their daughter, Aurora, enjoyed hearing the birds singing in the parks, and would love to join the next tour scheduled for December. “It was much more fun than what I had imagined it to be!” she said. As the groups entered HortPark, they were greeted by the buzz from Gardeners’ Day Out – a gardening event held every quarter at the park. Soon, they were lost among the crowd snapping up bargains at the gardening bazaar and enjoying the free gardening talks given by hobbyists and industry partners.



The walk ended at HortPark where the Gardeners’ Day Out was in full swing.


The light-blue-shirted Sembcorp volunteers with some of the participants – on the left: Tan Boon Yong, Sebastian Goh Eng Meng and Gwendelyn Koh Kim Choo. On the right: Raymond Yeo Seng Boon and Elaine Tay Eng Hua. Their enthusiasm made the tour a wonderful experience for everyone Hopefully, in turn, the participants will share the conservation message with their friends and family.

 By Eugene Sng

Fun Walk at the Southern Ridges
The Fun Walk is part of HortPark and Southern Ridges’ Connecting with Nature programme organised in collaboration with SembCorp. It takes place once every quarter – March, June, September and December. The next Fun Walk will be held on 7 December. Registration is required, so please email NParks_HortPark@nparks.gov.sg if you are interested.
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