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Meet farming experts, spot wildlife in the far-flung west

Living in Bukit Panjang for close to 30 years, photojournalist Ng Sor Luan is drawn to the beauty of Pang Sua Pond, which has turned into a new wetland attraction that connects the community, after a 30-month makeover by the PUB.
Right: A long-tailed macaque with its baby at the park. Groups of macaques have often been sighted in Bukit Panjang, which is between the western catchment reserve and Bukit Timah Hill. There have been reports of the testy relationship between the mo
Pang Sua Pond in Bukit Panjang was originally built in the 1990s as a storm water-collecting pond. It underwent a facelift in 2014 and reopened in 2017 to include Singapore's second-largest, man-made floating wetland - after Sengkang Floating Wetland in Punggol Reservoir. Pang Sua Pond has viewing decks, a multi-purpose stage, as well as a 480m-long boardwalk connecting residents to Senja-Cashew Community Centre. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Right: A long-tailed macaque with its baby at the park. Groups of macaques have often been sighted in Bukit Panjang, which is between the western catchment reserve and Bukit Timah Hill. There have been reports of the testy relationship between the mo
Zhenghua Park in Bukit Panjang was built in the 1980s. The trees in the older parts of the town have developed luscious crowns to provide shade for residents. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Right: A long-tailed macaque with its baby at the park. Groups of macaques have often been sighted in Bukit Panjang, which is between the western catchment reserve and Bukit Timah Hill. There have been reports of the testy relationship between the mo
Workers netting litter from Pang Sua Pond. The pond collects rainwater run-off, which is pumped to Upper Seletar Reservoir for storage and treatment. Terrapins and various species of fish can be spotted in the pond. There have also been sightings of otters.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Right: A long-tailed macaque with its baby at the park. Groups of macaques have often been sighted in Bukit Panjang, which is between the western catchment reserve and Bukit Timah Hill. There have been reports of the testy relationship between the mo
Above: A long-tailed macaque with its baby at the park. Groups of macaques have often been sighted in Bukit Panjang, which is between the western catchment reserve and Bukit Timah Hill. There have been reports of the testy relationship between the monkeys and residents living near the parks. Other animals such as wild boars, squirrels and monitor lizards have also been sighted. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Right: A long-tailed macaque with its baby at the park. Groups of macaques have often been sighted in Bukit Panjang, which is between the western catchment reserve and Bukit Timah Hill. There have been reports of the testy relationship between the mo
Above: Women doing taiji at Bukit Panjang Neighbourhood 5 Park, a hillock with winding paths, old trees, a fitness corner and half-buried, moss-covered rocks. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Right: A long-tailed macaque with its baby at the park. Groups of macaques have often been sighted in Bukit Panjang, which is between the western catchment reserve and Bukit Timah Hill. There have been reports of the testy relationship between the mo
A terrapin resting on a fallen leaf in Pang Sua Pond. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Bukit Panjang town, where I have been living since I was 11, is a nondescript place more well known for its LRT breakdowns than any fancy attractions, but it does have plenty to offer.

Its abundant greenery is part of the charms of this slow-growing estate in what some see as the far-flung west.

Construction work for Bukit Panjang town, which used to be kampung Bukit Panjang, began in 1981, with the first HDB flats completed in 1985.

The flats, parks and other amenities are built on low hills that extend all the way to Bukit Timah Hill, which gave the estate its name. In Malay, "bukit" means hills and "panjang" means long.

The roads here have also adopted the names of 1960s kampung tracks, such as Jalan Senja, Lorong Petir, Jalan Fajar and Lorong Pending.

The first residents moved in from kampungs nearby and some have been active in the estate's community gardens, offering expert farming advice to newbies.

You might meet one of these experts during a walk in the estate's many parks, drawing your attention to ordinary-looking plants and telling you of the many health benefits.

The trees planted in the 1980s and 1990s have matured, providing shade and greenery to the town.

Cosmetic adjustments have also been made in the estate, with the biggest change made to Pang Sua Pond, a storm water-collecting pond built in the 1990s.

 

Upgrading work was completed in 2017 to include Singapore's second-largest, man-made floating wetland, a multi-purpose stage, as well as several viewing decks and a 3G Wellness Centre.

A 480m-long boardwalk was built 7m above the water and the wetlands, connecting residents to Senja-Cashew Community Centre.

Besides terrapins, various species of fish can be spotted in the water. There have also been numerous sightings of otters.

The abundant greenery and wildlife here provide respite for residents and visitors, and they are what I love most about this town that I call home.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2019, with the headline 'Meet farming experts, spot wildlife in the far-flung west'. Print Edition | Subscribe