Bukit Blowout
(the 'high point' of Singapore)

3 Mar 2005 - by Steve Eckert

It was my birthday. I had some free time. I was there anyway. These are the best reasons anyone could have for bagging the high point of a country, eh? My smiling face at the top is below: The sun was very bright. I was squinting. But that's a smile! In case you can't read that sign, it says the high point of Singapore (Bukit Timah Hill) is 163.63m or 537' above sea level, at a latitude of 1.3547 N and a longitude of 103.7669 E.

According to Wikipedia, Bukit Timah literally means "tin hill" in Malay, and was identified on an 1828 map. "Apparently, the area was so infested with tigers that it constituted a serious threat to human life. In 1860, nearly 200 people were reported to have been killed by tigers in and about the gambier and pepper plantations." Click here to play some background sounds while you read... courtesy of the pinhole mic on my digital camera.

Singapore is slightly more than one degree from the equator, with all the heat and humidity that implies, but strangely enough there were no biting insects. It takes almost as long to get from anywhere to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve as it takes to climb to the summit. The side trip to the Nature Park lets you see the radio towers as a backdrop to the granite quarry, while the summit trail lets you see the towers as a backdrop to the summit block (with lat/lon/elev carved into it).

The Lonely Planet book says you should be sure to visit the North and South View trails, but the only long view on either of them requires heading over to the "DANGER" sign so you can catch a glimpse of the quarry. Otherwise it's all jungle all the time except right at the summit... which is about half an hour from the car even with tropical humidity and heat!

I found mostly locals on the trail, some getting extra exercise with arm movements and strides that I've never before encountered, some walking backwards downhill, and one woman at the top lying down and slapping herself repeatedly for the entire time I was there.

Still, I'm posting this report to encourage people to do the peak if you're on the island. Everyone I talked to said the (free admission) Reserve wasn't very good to visit - go to the (expensive) Night Safari instead! (Actually, the Night Safari was pretty cool, and I recommend it also.) Take lots of water and a tarp or pad to sit on, and get off the paved main trail to avoid the crowds. Mid-week it wasn't too busy and most people were soaking up nature instead of babbling - and that's important because the insect and bird sounds are the best part of this climb. There are better jungles and better summits elsewhere.

PS: Did I mention it was hot and humid?

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