With the impending closure and revamping of The Green Corridor, our editor writes a love letter to one of her favourite green spaces in Singapore, and lets you know why you should visit it now while you still can!
Singapore prides itself on being a “city in a garden”, and while I would never complain about the abundance of green spaces across our little island, I would say that most of them tend toward “garden” (that is, manicured and carefully controlled) rather than “forest”. I grew up playing in the woods, digging holes in the mud, and hiking up mountains, and wish to share my love of the outdoors as much as I can with my daughter (though I recognise we need to go elsewhere for hikes!).
Anyway, I’m a huge fan of Singapore’s network of nature reserves and parks, but there are very few that are truly unpaved and a little bit wild – fair enough, as we live in a densely populated city and the fact that so much greenery is so accessible to so many is commendable. But that’s all the more reason why I’m so in love with The Green Corridor (officially known as “The Rail Corridor” in government parlance). Because really, it’s not even supposed to exist, and it will only be around for a few more months before it’s closed for a massive revamping.
The Green Corridor is a lovely 24km stretch of former rail tracks going from Tanjong Pagar Station in the CBD all the way to Woodlands Checkpoint (until 2011 the train from Malaysia ran through here). It’s surrounded by bushes and tall trees, and lots of lovely flowers. The terrain is at times rugged, muddy and rocky (though flat). While there are condos, schools and even office buildings close by, it’s remarkably quiet and tranquil. It was slated for possible development when the train stopped (after all it runs through posh neighborhoods like Holland Village and Bukit Timah), but thanks to the remarkable efforts of local citizens in conjunction with The Nature Society of Singapore, the government agreed to hold off on real estate development.
This March, the Green Corridor will be closed for three years to construct the Murnane Pipeline, after which grand plans have been revealed to create a more permanent public space. The new plans look amazing: there will be bike paths, and tunnels, and even shower facilities; I actually heard about the new plans because so many of my friends in the US were sharing this article showing how it will compare favorably to New York’s famous High Line (itself a former rail line).
I’m sure the new park will be absolutely incredible and will certainly achieve its goal of “fostering social bonding and community-building”, but even that sounds so official and a little bit sterile, doesn’t it? I, for one, will miss its roughness because there’s nowhere else in Singapore quite like it. Here are my Top 5 Things to Love about The Green Corridor:
1) With 24 kilometers of trail, it just never gets old
I definitely have my favourite stretches (we like parking near Greenleaf Drive and then walking up to the Old Bukit Timah Rail Station), but it’s totally “choose your own adventure”. If you work in the CBD near Tanjong Pagar you could actually pop down for a bit of greenery at your lunch break, or you can head north of Bukit Timah and actually abut the Nature Park up there.
2) It’s incredibly Dog-friendly
Other than the dog parks, there are very few places in Singapore where one feels comfortable letting their dog go off leash (because dense urban area). My dog loooooves The Green Corridor because there are so many interesting smells, and I love to see how joyously he runs up and down the lush green open space stretching in front of him when we let him off his leash. It’s mostly enclosed, too, so I don’t have to worry about him running off into the street. While we might occasionally pass someone else walking (or even another dog), at which point we put Avon back on his leash, we mostly have the path to ourselves.
3) It’s easy to pop back out into civilisation if you want a snack or to use the bathroom
Last week we actually parked by The Rail Mall at Upper Bukit Timah, and after trekking a ways up to the edge of Bukit Timah Nature Park, we were fairly covered in mud (that’s part of the fun of it, after all). I’ll admit it was nice being able to run into Cedele to buy bottles of water and a snack to cool down (and clean up!) afterwards. In terms of MRT stations, Buona Vista and the new King Albert Park are both within a 5-minute walk.
4) It plays host to one of Singapore’s best running races
If you haven’t done The Green Corridor Run before, mama, now is your last chance! Begun in 2013 (when it was unclear whether the Railroad Corridor would remain untouched), this 10.5km race from Tanjong Pagar to Bukit Timah Railway Station is one of the few trail runs in Singapore (truly a breath of fresh air as an alternative to the standard F1 / Marina Bay routes). Not only does it provide all sorts of beautiful scenery (it’s amazing to start with Singapore’s stunning CBD right at your back), but families who live along the route often come down to the edges to cheer runners on, making for a particularly convivial and communal atmosphere. The final Green Corridor Run will be happening on 6 March; sign up here!
5) It’s a train lover’s delight
Got a little one (or, ahem, a spouse) who loves trains? Not only does The Green Corridor feature miles and miles of old railroad tracks, but it also has some incredible old bridges to walk across. What’s more, you can locate the spur to the old Jurong Railway Line, which began in 1932 and is even more wild and overgrown and ripe for exploration.
So, mamas, the next time you have a spare hour or two and want to get out of the house, please give The Green Corridor a visit. There’s nowhere else in Singapore (or really the world) quite like it!
For more information, including detailed maps and a drone’s-eye view of the Green Corridor, visit the URA’s website.