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Things to do in Singapore

Looking for things to do while visiting Singapore? You could always visit the Singapore Zoo but if it’s the monkeys you love most, why not see them in the wild?

I was so excited when I discovered that monkeys live in the wild in Singapore that I raced off to find them pretty much immediately. It just hadn’t occurred to me that such a populated place would have a wild population of primates.

You can find them in several places, all of which are easy to get to with Singapore’s fantastic public transport system, the MRT.

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is a lovely big park with heaps of walking and mountain bike trails. I had to search high and low for monkeys, so when I finally found a troop of Long Tailed Macaques it was very rewarding.

They were insanely cute. There were a lot of little ones leaping about the place and riding on the backs of bigger ones. I was watching their shenanigans when I noticed a big stream of piss coming out of the tree not too far away, so I decided to move up the road a bit. Before long the entire troop were over the top of my head…

They’re very curious about humans, apparently.

I had been so excited about seeing monkeys that I completely forgot to bring my new zoom lens so I was disappointed that my footage was a bit rubbish. Then I moved off the road and up into the jungle and things improved a little, so I persevered, thinking this was my one and only opportunity.

Tree Top Walk

I was just about finished editing the monkey video when I went downtown to watch the Singapore National Day Celebrations.

I met a lovely lady named Audrey, who you’ll meet in the next video.

She asked me if I’d been to the Tree Top Walk? I hadn’t because I’d made the assumption it would be $25 and I had enough free entertainment to keep me going. It turns out it’s a free attraction and boy, is it fabulous.

Audrey told me that if I wanted to see monkeys, this is where I should go.

MacRitchie Reservoir

The Tree Top Walk is located in the MacRitchie Reservoir park. If you look at a map of Singapore you’ll see a big green area right in the middle. This is the MacRitchie Reservoir to the east, and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve to the west.

Again I easily and inexpensively caught a bus, and set off on the walking trail.

Within a few minutes I came across a big troop of monkeys all lined up along the railings of a wooden walkway. It was highly entertaining to watch them go about their business. They were grooming each other, scratching their balls, rummaging about on the forest floor for things to eat, leaping dramatically from branch to railing and back again, and always, always watching for an opportunity to fleece the humans.

Monkey kicks woman

One lady positioned herself near the railing so her husband could take a photo. A monkey instantly came up behind her and started to undo the zip of her bag. The husband stepped forward and shooed the monkey away with his walking stick. The monkey retreated momentarily, then rushed forward, kicked the woman in the back and disappeared over the side of the railing.

She screamed. I caught it all on film.

It was completely marvellous.

Monkey grabs my tripod

After I’d published this video I went for ‘one last look’ at the monkeys before I flew out of Singapore.

I went back to MacRitchie Reservoir and found a troop hanging out on a path. I set up my camera – with the zoom lens – to capture their antics and was there for long enough that the troop took to ignoring me.

People came and went and I observed their different approaches. Some were relaxed, some were terrified. One guy was thoroughly obnoxious.

In one of the lulls a few little ‘teenage’ monkeys came over to investigate my equipment. I filmed the encounter on my phone because my main camera was on top of the tripod. One little guy approached only half warily, put his hand out, grabbed the tripod leg then backed off with a hiss when I moved slightly. It would have been quite entertaining to see what happened if I just let him go for it, but I didn’t fancy seeing my camera up a tree. It was bad enough when that horse made off with it in France.

You can see the footage on my Instagram feed, just near the sunflower. @cathwood1000

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(Updated 4 Dec 19)

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