A visit to Lentor-Tagore forest 

Having been reading on Facebook about the impending development of Lentor area that will result in the destruction of forest and two natural streams, I decided to check out the area this afternoon in search of the elusive streams. 

But it turned out that I was a bit too late because when I arrived at Yio Chu Kang road via Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5, I saw that the entrance to the forest, where the streams were supposed to be, has been fenced off, and a portion of the forest behind a bus stop along Yio Chu Kang road has already been cleared. 

I decided to cycle around Lentor private housing estate, hoping to find another way to Lentor forest. The nearest I could get to the forest is via a canal near the junction of Lentor avenue and Seletar Expressway (SLE).

From the end of the canal, I could see heavy machinery clearing the forest. I found a path through the forest fringe that led me closer to the clearing. 

I decided not to venture too close to the clearing and turned back. I later circled round the area via Springleaf nature park in the north to the other side of the forest, hoping to find an entrance to the forest from Tagore Industrial Avenue. 

I managed to find a small entrance along the avenue, and walked some distance along the fringe of the Tagore forest. I came to the point where forest clearing was taking place in the south beside a stagnant-looking water body. 

Is that part of a natural stream? I wasn’t sure, and I didn’t want to trespass the construction site, and decided to hike in another part of the forest. I followed a track through Tagore forest that led me to SLE in the north. 

Apart from some wildlife such as a wild boar, a jungle rooster and munias, I didn’t see much in this area. There seems no signs of any natural streams. I suppose they are only found in the part of the Lentor forest that has been fenced off, which I wasn’t able to access. (Or maybe there is another entrance to Lentor forest that leads to the streams that I am unaware of, as I am unfamiliar with the area.)

I decided to call it a day, as evening was approaching. I cycled via Teachers’ Estate back to Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5, and took a lift up to the highest floor of a HDB block, and snapped some sunset pictures, showing an aerial view of the remaining forest next to Teachers’ Estate.

What kids teach me

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By taking a detour from the main road in Batam centre, I was hoping to find a short cut back to the hotel. Instead, I stumbled upon a poor neighbourhood district where kids played on polluted streets amid wooden huts. One would wonder why the authorities have chosen to spend the nation’s budget on building lavish shopping malls instead of improving the basic infrastructure of the residents. Nevertheless, one lesson I took away from this experience is the inverse relationship between happiness and material attachments.

The closer we are to Nature, instead of being cooped up in concrete buildings or hemmed in by motor traffic, the happier and healthier we are. The more we allow ourselves to be carefree and not rush, the freer and lighter we feel. And the simpler we live instead of making our lives complicated, the more joyful we become.

 

Touching deeply the wonders of Nature brings healing, nourishment, joy and happiness

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“It is clear that in this age of globalisation, what happens to one of us, happens to us all. We are all interconnected, and we are all co-responsible. But even with the greatest good will, if we are swept away by our daily concerns for material needs or emotional comforts, we will be too busy to realise our common aspiration.

“Contemplation must go together with action. Without a spiritual practice we will abandon our dream very soon.

Each of us, according to the teaching of our own tradition, should practice to touch deeply the wonders of Nature, the wonders of life in each of us, the Kingdom of God in each of us, the Pure Land, Nirvana in each of us, so we can get the healing and nourishment, the joy and happiness born from the insight that the Kingdom of God is already available in the here and now. The feeling of love and admiration for nature, that we all share, has the power to nourish us, unite us, and remove all separation and discrimination.

“By being in touch with everything that is refreshing and healing, we can free ourselves from our daily concerns for material comforts, and will have a lot more time and energy to realise our ideal of bringing freedom and compassion to all living beings. As it says in the Gospel, “Do not worry about what you will eat or drink or wear. Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be given to you. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will take care of itself.”

(From “Thich Nhat Hanh’s Speech at the Vatican, December 2, 2014“)

Pulau Ubin explorer II: kayaking event (9 Nov 2014)

The kayaking event is organised by Kayak Khakis meetup group based in Singapore. We kayaked from Pasir Ris beach to Pulau Ubin and back, and we were fortunate to experience favorable weather as it had been raining the past few days.

(Video: Kayaking expedition at Pulau Ubin)

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Single SOT and double SOT kayaks on Pasir Ris beach

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Some parts of the beaches in Pulau Ubin are polluted with carelessly discarded litter.

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Fish farms in the sea

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A flloating restaurant in the middle of the sea channel between Singapore and Pulau Ubin

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Safety briefing by the kayaking expedition leader and organiser Khee Wei

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Simon Paul Harrison: Why Nature Is Such A Miraculous Teacher

Video information

Nature is such a perfect teacher because she reminds us we have always been free. Video from Simon Paul Harrison. Music by Ian Mackinnon. http://www.simonpaulharrison.com for blog, books, audio programs and personal mentoring.

This inspirational video resonates with me. I agree with the message that Nature reminds us that we have always been free, and being in Nature enables us to enjoy the freedom from the burdens of the expectations of modern societies and know there is nothing to run after or out-compete, as we remember who we really are – we are already perfect here and now.

“Something Every Student, Teacher and Person Should See”

This article “Something Every Student, Teacher and Person Should See” by Arjun Walia from Collective Evolution resonates with me about creating our own reality and doing the things our heart desires instead of following the crowd in a consumerist culture. Like what the article says, “When you follow your heart, you can access the magic that’s all around us, the non-physical phenomenon that can help us on our quest”.

Alan Watts – What if Money Were No Object? NorthStarNetworker.com

As a dear friend said, “once we have dereligionized and deconsumerized ourselves, there is not much left to live for, other than loving people and making this world a better place”. Yes, being free from religious conditioning and consumerist culture enables us to focus on what really matters in life – loving our neighbors as ourselves through sharing the Earth’s resources which belong to everyone, and making the world a better place through using our gifts and talents. We will also enjoy the true treasures of the world with awe and wonder – the beauty of Nature, music, poetry, art, friendship and so on.

“On the Sea” – A Poem

Here’s sharing this poem I like which is about the sea as a place of solace and freedom for the soul, a healing balm and rejuvenating retreat from the drudgery and artificiality of city life in modern society.

‘On the sea’ by John Keats

“It keeps eternal whisperings around
Desolate shores, and with its mighty swell
Gluts twice ten thousand caverns, till the spell
Of Hecate leaves them their old shadowy sound.
Often ’tis in such gentle temper found,
That scarcely will the very smallest shell
Be moved for days from where it sometime fell,
When last the winds of heaven were unbound.
O ye! who have your eyeballs vexed and tired,
Feast them upon the wideness of the Sea;
O ye! whose ears are dinn’d with uproar rude,
Or fed too much with cloying melody, –
Sit ye near some old cavern’s mouth, and brood
Until ye start, as if the sea-nymphs quired!

I like the interpretation of the poem shared in this blog which resonates with me, including this part.

“In the second half of the poem Keats speaks to all those who are weary of the modern world. He commands them to “feast” their eyes upon the “wideness of the sea”. It is in simply the vastness of the sea in which he suggests we can find peace. In the city there are many intricate designs in architecture, there is complex machinery to understand. The sea is massive, and seemingly eternal. Keats here draws an important comparison between life in ‘civilised’ society during the 19th Century, where there were petty conventions and customs that one was obliged to be constantly aware and cautious of, and life in rural areas, where things were considerably less complicated, but more honest, and beautiful. In the same way that Keats finds peace in nature, he also seems to be suggesting that it exists within the poet’s soul. Keats, in godlike fashion, creates this beautiful scene in the poem himself; with his imagination. He imports the notion through this poem that it is not simply the exterior landscapes in which we can find inspiration, but also in interior landscapes; the landscape of our own imaginations. This was an extremely important idea for the Romantics. Keats appears to be condemning the trivial conventions of polite society, inferring that ‘natural’ behaviour is the most desirable.”

(‘On the sea’ by John Keats – emilyardagh)

Yes, perhaps the wild seascape mirrors the interior landscape of our own imaginations, from whence we find peace and inspiration abound.