I have migrated to a new blog, and along with it, a new blog post on bats! Do check it out at http://www.onceuponapea.wordpress.com ! 🙂 thanks for the support!


Trashy fun at Kranji Bund with NSS

Ever since my last coastal cleanup at Kranji East, I have been looking forward to my next one. It was just sooooo muchhhh funnn. Trust me, check it out here and here. When the next opportunity came along in the form of Nature Society (Singapore)’s coastal cleanup at Kranji Bund, I jumped at it. And once again, I was not disappointed.

Coastal cleanup never fails to leave an impact on its participants, and it’s truly an inspiration to watch. Apart from scaring newbies with the fact that Singapore can actually be sooooo trashy (at certain sites away from public eye without the army of cleaners), cleanups raise the awareness of and appreciation for marine life on our very own shores. Hopefully, this awareness will also translate into some form of action, and passing on of the message to others. Today, I was heartened to see all these objectives met, so kudos to Nature Society (Singapore) for making this happen.

There was such a great turn out, with participants from not just NSS, but also (from what I observed of the various t-shirts and all), Raffles Institution One Earth, Fuhua Secondary, ITE College among others. Glad to see so many people giving up their precious Saturdays to clean our shores!


After the mandatory briefing by Kerry, participants were sent out in groups of three, armed with the essential gloves, trash bags and of course, data collection sheet.

Alas, the lightning warning was sounded shortly after we began, and we had to seek shelter to wait it out. That dampened our spirits a little, but now thinking about it, the rain clouds actually made the weather nice and cool to do the cleanup! Unlike the scorching weather earlier (I was at Buloh for the Earth Day activities in the morning), I would say it was a blessing in disguise.

The lightning warning eventually went off and off we went again! There were a couple of mis-steps and squeals from newbies to the shores, but the pace soon picked up really quickly. There was so much enthusiasm shown that I’m beginning to wonder if people actually enjoyed picking up trash! 😛

Even this pup wants to be a part of all the action!

Even this pup wants to be a part of all the action!

Midway through the cleanup, I observed this fascinating scene. Can you guess what they are doing?

It was really awesome, actually. Initially before I took this photo, there were only two students participants standing around that place. What had caught their attention was actually a horseshoe crab turning itself right way up using its tail. A NSS member, Dr Hsu Chia Chi was there explaining to them how it works and you could tell they were captivated. When I glanced over at them again, a crowd had gathered!

After that mini lesson, Dr Hsu sent a couple of them out on an important mission – to return the horseshoe crabs to safety where they would not be crushed by us as we moved around. You can see this student concentrating so hard on this delicate mission as he carries two horseshoe crabs out to the mudflat, one in each hand, so very carefully before setting them down, also that carefully. It was truly fascinating to watch that heightened appreciation for our wildlife. Kudos to Dr Hsu for that lesson on the shores!
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Indeed, time flies when you are having fun. After a number of trips to and fro, we called it a day. The numbers were tallied, and wow! 377 kg of trash in total! *pats all around*

A big thank you to NSS for organising this great cleanup and also to my partners-in-crime, Juin Bin and Daniel!

Should you want to join in this fun, check out http://coastalcleanup.nus.edu.sg/ ! See you at our shores soon!

Rubber Trouble

I was on my way to Marymount MRT station via MacRitchie when I encountered the following which prompted me to write a blog post (yay!)

For those who don’t know, there is a troop of Long-tailed Macaques that enjoy hanging out near the boardwalk where there is a fitness corner and pavilion. Sometimes you would find them on the fitness corner machines! (Even macaques know to keep fit)

More often than not, you would have unsuspecting tourists, and even Singaporeans, who bring plastic bags of food to have their picnic or whatever not in MacRitchie. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? They would soon realise it’s not such a good idea after all when the macaques are running after them, stealing their food and other belongings.

This is NOT a natural behavior, as many people think, but a HUMAN-INDUCED one. More on that in a bit.

So the macaques were there again on this particular afternoon – some playing, others grooming and feeding on the fruits and seeds littered on the ground. Like this little fella here, breaking apart a rubber seed!


There was a group of tourists nearby, obviously fascinated by the macaques. The macaques took no notice of them however, probably because the tourists were barely carrying anything that look remotely like food. No bags or plastic bags even!

One young guy was especially captivated by the macaques as they nommed on the fruits/seeds on the ground. So much that he actually picked a couple up and attempted to feed them! Thankfully the macaques backed away. That was when I went up to him and told him to please do not feed them so that interaction with humans is minimised.

Many people like to feed the macaques – some give suitable food, like fruits, but there are many others who give human food, like chips, can drinks and whatnot! While it’s obvious the latter is bad, the former should not be done as well! Simply because the macaques are wild animals! It’s their natural instinct to avoid humans but the bold behavior we NOW see in macaques are human-induced. By feeding them, the macaques get used to it and expects EVERYONE to feed them too, with the bold ones even snatching visitors’ food or belongings because they have associated plastic bags and bags with food. Visitors get upset, and the culling begins.

This is NOT necessary.

Let’s all practise the proper etiquette when we encounter wildlife in our natural spaces. A simple rule of thumb is to give the animal space, and never venture too close, not just to not stress the animal but also for your own safety. Feeding should never be condoned.

Make your next visit to a natural space a pleasant one for yourself, your family and the wildlife!

Is your bike behind bars?


Photo by Siva

Well, mine ain’t anymore!

After an extremely motivating discussion with Siva and Gladys regarding whipping my cycling skills into shape, it’s time to get down to it!

Gonna try out the rusty old bike I have at home, which I fought to keep year after year, on the Punggol Promenade since it’s only about 15min away with the brother as mentor.

May it be a fruitful session tomorrow; wish me luck!

P.S. Sincere apologies to everyone who encouraged me to keep on writing but i disappeared into nothingness >< I'm back!

Reflections from ICCS

My first proper post is dedicated to my ICCS, or International Coastal Cleanup Singapore, experience at Kranji East with the Toddycats on 21st September 2013. For more information on ICCS, you can check out this link here.

For the Kranji East site, there were students from Jurong Secondary School, North Vista Secondary ODAC, staff from FMC Technologies Singapore and ‘Independents’ (people without an organisation).  We collected rubbish for about 1 1/2h – 2h (the tide was coming in), but it all totaled up to more than 1 tonne!  And this figure does not even include the two mattresses, a sofa, three tires, the huge PVC pipe you can see in the photo, an entire bicycle and a couple other stuff that could not fit into the bags!

All the rubbish collected at the Rubbish Disposal Point for NEA contractors to pick up. Photo by Adrianne.

All the rubbish collected at the Rubbish Disposal Point for NEA contractors to pick up. Photo by Adrianne.

What’s worrying was the amount of plastic, styrofoam and glass pieces that we found in the mangroves. It’s a wonder how the mangroves even grow through all that trash, and a bigger wonder, do people know how much they are throwing away everyday, and where exactly do these trash end up?

These are most of the cigarette lighters collected during ICCS 2013 (there are more to come). I estimate it to be about 300 in total. Photo by Melissa.

These are most of the cigarette lighters collected during ICCS 2013 (there are more to come). I estimate it to be about 300 in total. Photo by Melissa.

Pretty? Think again. Imagine the sheer number needed to be thrown away first for us to be able to collect to form this. Photo by Melissa.

Pretty? Think again. Imagine the sheer number needed to be thrown away first for us to be able to collect to form this. It’s ironic how this ‘art’ is actually a reflection of the ugly habits of people. Photo by Melissa.

With many things disposable, we start to lose track of the sheer amount that we are manufacturing, using, and then throwing away. It’s easy and convenient, especially in a city like Singapore with a good trash disposal system such that you most probably won’t see your trash again once it’s taken away by Sembcorp or some other company. Out of sight, out of mind right?

It’s also that, which result in us not realising that alot of our trash actually end up on our shores and in our oceans, which is detrimental in many ways. ICCS demonstrates that – in just an hour, at only one site, we have already managed to collect more than one tonne of rubbish. There are 44 sites in Singapore, with 3,500 volunteers in total. Exact figures for total amount of trash collected is not out yet, but in 2012, close to 20 tonnes were collected in all.

Doing this only once a year may not seem like much, but ICCS is actually very important. It opens new volunteers’ eyes (like mine) to the scale of this issue, the urgency required to deal with it and how everyone can contribute in one way or another. At the same time, it helps to remind old volunteers that this battle with trash is not over.
There are so many ways we can contribute. We are all consumers; we have a choice. Do we really need that extra plastic bag? If so, okay, but can it be reused after that? It will take some time getting used to such habits and all, but it can be done.
Edit: Thanks Siva and Weiting for the invaluable advice on this blog post! 🙂 The photos are larger now, but the resolution is terrible .__. Sorry about that. Anyway, can’t wait to write more!

First post!

Since the end of A’s, I have told myself countless times to start a blog to note down my journey – the people I meet, the things I do, the lessons I learnt etc etc.

Well, I’m sorry to say that I procrastinated on that. BUT finally, I am really getting down to it, because, well, time truly flies. And I don’t want to not be able to remember all that I have done during this gap year and the lessons I have learnt. Plus it will be a good reminder for me every now and then as to why I am doing all this.

Do drop me a note if you have a perspective to share; I would love to hear from you too!