Daddy's colleagues told him about this"'great eco park" so we decided to check it out. We asked some of our friends and they went, "What park?!" Those who know would say, "Oh that park. In the middle of nowhere." We have never heard of it ourselves and had to look up driving directions on its website. It is not too difficult to locate the park as I know the landmarks around the area. (as mentioned on the site) However, I do forsee some challenges for those who are not familiar with the East, especially Tampines. Some of the more prominent landmarks include the Tampines Polyclinic, Tampines Regional Library and SunPlaza Park. I would recommend parking at the HDB carpark just across the road from Tampines Eco Green. The carpark is located among the HDB flats just behind the Tampines Polyclinic. We surveyed the area and found Blk 408 to be the nearest and most convenient. It leads you to SunPlaza Park so the kids can play at the playground before or after the walk in the park.
Of course, the girls couldn't wait. "But, Mummy, the playground is just here!" We relented and ended up staying there for close to 50 minutes. Time passes so quickly when you are having fun. There are several playgrounds scattered around SunPlaza Park but we chose the one with swings. This particular playground is just in front of Blk 408 and is only a 5 minutes walk to Eco Green. The facilities around the park are also varied - a bicycle kiosk, 2 woodball courses, a beach volleyball area, a skateboarding ramp, jogging tracks and even a water cooler drinking machine (read: free water) A coffee shop is also available, just about 200 metres away from the playground.
A netted swing. We had to wait for 3o minutes before it was unoccupied.
We had to get the kids away before it gets too dark to explore Eco Green. The entrance into the park is rather obscure and one can't really see it from the main road. In fact, one won't even be able to tell that it is the entrance. It is a dirt track beside a big canal and is blocked from view by a metal panel, like those that you usually see in construction sites. There is a small information sign by the canal telling you that you are at Tampines Eco Green. Walk pass the information sign(away from the main road) and you would be able to see the dirt track.
You can see the huge sign from the main road.
Walk past this information panel and you would see the entrance into the park.
Lush greenery welcomes you once you enter. The walking track is carpeted grass and you are free to remove your shoes and walk barefooted. Some elderly couples were doing that when we were there. E, a friend of ours, and A tried that too. A fuzzy feeling on the feet but once you are used to it, it does get rather therauptic. I suppose that is the true meaning of "Getting in touch with Nature."
Too many rules? Yet they are essential in the conservation of any nature parks. There are even countries with long lists of what to do and what not to do. A wonderful learning opportunity for children - that their actions have consequences on the environment and they have a huge part to play in the conservation of the environment. It allows them to develop the concept of 'Us' rather than 'Me'.
This is the second group of students we saw. Looks like it is quite a hit with Primary School children.
The girls love the rotating information panels
Being in the midst of such rustic greenery, with tall trees, bird hides, and a pond with pond skaters, it does makes me feel like I was walking in the tranquility of a woods. We were there around 5pm so the weather was just perfect. The trees provided the shade and kept the whole place cool. Of course, it is still not a wise thing to visit Tampines Eco Green at 12pm where the sun here is scorning enough to 'fry an egg'. Heard this phrase alot but have never tested it. Haha, maybe I should try it with the kids. Afterall, I am always on the look out for new and exciting things to do with them. Disclaimer: I am not an explorer by nature. Having kids changed me. (They turned my life upside down!) Now I am more willing to try new things, discover more truths and explore new grounds. Just leave the death-defying stunts out. I am happy being alive.
Touching the leaves of a Mimosa Tree arouses the girls' sense of touch. A good oppportunity to explain how certain plants and animals have defence mechanisms against predators.
Examining an ant nest and many ants at work! This is National Geographic live.
Admiring beautiful flowers.
Explained to girls why flowers are colorful to attract agents of biotic pollination so that their pollen can be brought to another place.
Bird's Nest Fern.
Examining a dried fruit. Explained to the girls the different ways seeds can be dispersed - explosive action, wind, animals, water etc. Can also point out the role a fruit plays - holds the seeds for plant reproduction (other than consumption purposes since the only thing the girls know about fruits is that they are yummy for the tummy)
Saw a tree being overpowered by creepers. Explained to the girls how creepers work and highlighted the need for plants to grow in search of sunlight.
A real bird's nest!
We shadowed lizards, crept behind birds, picked up bird feathers from the grass, touched plants and studied their fruits and flowers, followed bumble bees on their search for pollen, admired the different colors on the butterflies' wings, enjoyed the breeze in our faces and of course, one another's company and laughter.
A changeable lizard (Calotes versicolor)
I have no idea what this is but my husband said it is a spider. I have never seen this one before.
The only thing that we ran away from (but failed) were the mosquitoes. There seemed to be more mosquitoes along the forest trail. I am not sure if it is due to the huge canal just beside it or the ongoing construction alongside it. It could jolly well with the combined powers of both! We had to apply insect repellant every 20 minutes because the mosquitoes were so hardworking! It didn't help that the girls' skin react adversely to mosquito bites. Each bite would swell to the size of a 50 cents coin and they would stay like that for days before turning a dark purple. Needless to say, the girls could not resist the temptation of the itch and before the day had passed, the swells had burst and out flowed fresh red blood. Let me reinforce the attacking powers of the mosquitoes. In total, we each had 3 layers of insect repellant and 5 mosquito repellant patches on. The average number of bites on each of us? An agonizing 8! It seemed like each layer of insect repellant and mosquito patches attracted one mosquito respectively. Does it mean mosquitoes would not come if I do not have any one? Good question. Like I said before, I avoid death defying stunts. Letting the mosquitoes drain my blood is as good as a death defying stunt so no thanks.
Still, things were not all that gloomy. Once we got onto the diversity trail, (away from the big canal), it was all good. No mosquito bites, cool evening breeze, scenery is alot more beautiful and it certainly helped to simmer my wrath which the mosquitoes had incurred. A and I had a race down the trail and I had a 'hard' time trying to catch up with her. "Anna, you are too fast for Mummy'. I was 'panting' away while she was laughing away.
Lots of resting area for birds.
Area around the viewing platform.
Tampines Eco Green prides itself in being eco-friendly. They even have eco-toilets! However, I did not use it as it was locked! Not sure if it was part of their eco-friendly move. Maybe it was not working well. They do have portable toilets just beside the eco-toilet though. My advice? Use it only when you really need to.
The environmentally friendly eco-toilets (which are locked!)
The workings of a compost processor. Did take me a while to understand though.
The recycling bins are located outside the Eco toilet so if you want to do your part to protect the environment,do be sure to hold on to your recyclable trash till you see these 3 bins.
Sunset along Mangrove Trail at Tampines Eco Green
For more information on Tampines Eco Green, do visit http://www.nparks.gov.sg/ and look under 'Parks'.
Some Educational Aspects for Young Children
The lush vegetation, and a quick search for bugs, slugs, birds, bats and other creatures give children a chance to appreciate the animal and plant biodiversity in their natural setting. It is also a starting point for simple discussions on the importance of habitats such as these in the middle of a residential town. The Eco-toilet is an interesting conversational topic.