Thursday, December 4, 2014

Ecolife Tour at Bishan – Ang Mo Kio Park

During school holiday I try to let DinoBoy join in a workshop or two organised by National Parks, this December school holiday I did not managed to register on time as I was caught up with work.  Nevertheless, let me share with you the one we went during the September 2014 term break; Ecolife Tour that is happening in Bishan - Ang Mo Kio Park.  We have went past Bishan - Ang Mo Kio Park numerous times but never visited it, it has never crossed my mind to make a special trip down.  That day was the first time we ever set foot into the park and we were in for lots of surprises.

A little about Ecolife Tour
Ecolife is a 1.5 to 2 hour tour which introduces the park and the biodiversity found in the area through the use of interactive exploration themes and activities. It is to encourage family bonding between parents and child through the process of learning together. This tour is conducted by volunteers. Worksheets will be provided. You will be making some underwater viewing scope too.

* In case of wet weather, NParks personnel will call you 30 minute prior to the tour (8.15 to 8.30am) to confirm the cancellation of the tour.

The Meeting Point
The meeting point is the toilet shelter at Bishan – AMK Park River Plains. You can't miss the BIG toilet shelter nor this bright yellow wall with the words Ecolife Tour written on it.

Things to note and bring
· Be comfortably dressed
· Bring a hat and drinking water
· Use sunscreen
· Wear sandals or shoes (avoid slippers)
· Arrive earlier at 8.45am for registration. The tour will start promptly at 9am.
· Bring along an empty recycled 1.5 litre plastic bottle and a pen/pencil.

It was a sunny day, after the initial introduction of the tour, we proceed to make our Underwater Viewing Scope with the empty 1.5 litre bottle, cling wrap and some duct tape.  After that every one was eager to start the tour and explore the park, with the scope in hand.

And off we go~ in our 2 separate groups.  The friendly & knowledgeable volunteers started to introduce the flora and fauna in Bishan - Ang Mo Kio Park.  

Ok, I have to admit I was NOT paying attention, maybe only 10% listening to the volunteers.  Its' not because I am not interested nor it was boring, its because I was attracted by the beautiful surroundings and always wanders off away from the group capturing the sight.  Most of the times I could still be lingering near some trees, flowers, rocks etc taking photographs while the group has moved on.  By the time I catch up, they are ready to move on to the next stop and I will be stuck at that spot with my camera again.

Click here to see a bigger picture of the map

Besides seeing the park lovers doing the usual of strolling, jogging, walking their dogs, in the park, we saw 2 groups of students having a different kind of fun; hitting balls with their baseball bats and catching some Frisbee in the large vast field.  Talking about outdoor fun, these are definitely serious outdoor fun!

The highlight of the tour is exploring the River Plains, where the kids get to use the underwater viewing scope.  Through the scope we were able to see small fishes swimming and apple snails making their way slowly in the water.  There were so many things to discover in that small section of the river.

I was walking upstream talking some photos when I head a loud splash of water, it startled me and I thought some one had fell into the water.  I looked around and saw no one struggling in the water (it was too shallow to be drowned anyway).  I told one of the volunteer later and she mentioned that it is probably one of the resident tortoise.  There are some tortoises in the river, released by the locals over the years.  I probably disturbed a tortoise sun tanning along the river bank and made it ran back into the water *opps*.

So while the adults stayed dry on land, 2 of the younger boys decided to wade deeper into the water to check out the middle of the river.  The current was not strong but it sure was slippery so they have to hold onto each other to help each other steady themselves while walking in the water.

I turned my attention to the apple snails in the water and a while later I heard a loud splash behind me, this time its not the tortoise though.  DinoBoy lost his balance and sat down onto the riverbed, he was soaked to the skin from waist down.  I don't know what is worse, that I have forgotten to pack a set of clothes for him or he suffered a deep cut during the fall.  Lucky I have a small towel for him to dry himself as much as possible.  It was nearing the end of the tour too so we could head back home almost immediately after that.

Then again, to this happy-go-lucky boy, nothing cannot be solved in a genius way, when the tour ended and we were back to the starting point, he stood under the sun trying to sun himself dry.  Of course after a few minutes he took cover under the shade as the heat was too much for him to bear.

This is a very good & informative tour, having said earlier that I was not paying much attention during the tour, I know how kang kong looked like growing in the soil, that there is a tea tree in the park or that the yellow rain tree  has long root so that they can absorb more water or that one apple snail egg patch will have 1000 eggs inside them and if you are lucky perhaps you can catch the resident otter too!

DinoBoy takes this tour very seriously, absorbing every thing the volunteers said and writing furiously on his worksheets.  Needless to say, he was the one who gives answers & suggestions readily (does not matter its not the correct answer),

If you like to join the free Ecolife tour at Bishan - Ang Mo Kio Park, there will be tours on 6, 13, 20 & 27 December 2014.  More details on the National Parks facebook page or the Ecolife Tour announcement here or you can call their Helpline Number: 1800-471 7300 (Toll-free) to inquire about the tour or other tours they are may be conducting.  If you like to know more about Bishan - Ang Mo Kio Park, click here.


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