it’s a beautiful road, running along this calm stretch of water, tall trees line it and on its other side are dense green woods. look across the water and it’s another country out there. malaysia. the high rises and urban sprawl of johor bahru, a mere kilometre away.
there aren’t too many roads i know where one can stand and stare at another nation. from mount nebo in jordan i remember being shown the city of jerusalem in israel and finding it strangely exciting. i had sat there for a long time. my first view of the golan and the sea of galilee were also from jordan. and last year, i got a chance at a look from the other side when we were in israel and drove along highway 90 which abuts the the border with jordan. deep dark rolling brown hills, lights coming on slowly as evening descended.
i had seen admiralty road west at the northern edge of singapore, right on the straits of johor, a while back, i wanted to walk there and aj, my partner in walking, was as they say here, stress, the “t” pronounced soft, in a french sort of way.
where was this road i kept talking about, aj wondered. what? you want to go to admiralty? no, it must be sembawang, the docks… i insisted, it’s admiralty, i remember the driver telling me that. we stared at the street directory map. we found the road, aj said, but that’s the causeway, more discussions and map staring. actually it’s not that difficult to find, i think we were just trying to make it seem more complicated, because after all, it’s the road from where you can see johor bahru, another country…
it was a lovely happy day, quiet all around, hardly any traffic. benches lined the pavement, an old man sat on one, his spiffy cycle with tiny tyres parked next to him; a lot of green everywhere, the monitor lizard looked relaxed lying upside down on the tree trunk staring at the shrubs below, the force of gravity not a point being pondered clearly. suction pads can be useful.
i went to the railing at the edge and stood there, the water was greyish blue and still, tiny ripples here and there and not so pretty debris on the shore. there lay johor, all those buildings. and on our left a long bridge like road between this side and that.
the causeway as its called, or the johor-singapore causeway, connects two worlds in a brisk efficient way. highly congested at times, i think it’s still the preferred route despite the addition of the second link from the west of singapore.
this 1056 metre bridge was inaugurated back in 1924. the pressure on the ferry system between peninsular malaysia and singapore had become unbearable. trade was at a height i guess… and this massive engineering project was planned and commissioned a few years prior to that.
you can drive, take a bus, car, truck, train, two-wheeler across it, or you can walk. singapore infopedia says, in 2011 it was estimated that between 80,000 to 100,000 vehicles crossed the causeway every day.
many school children walk across it daily i believe. japanese troops used it to enter singapore during the war. cheap shopping on the other side attracts commuters all the time these days.
we saw a little old hut in the woods, aj was convinced it was a war time bunker. he is great fun to walk and stop and talk and traipse with. the monitor lizard must have smiled meanly and thought, “aiyah! these humans and their fanciful imaginings,” and gone back to looking at the greenery.
road to singapore, admiralty road west, marsiling drive, admiralty road, 24/04/2015 #SG50
end of 1997, we moved to singapore from india. in 2015, the country celebrated fifty years of independence. singapore has given me much and i am fascinated by the spirit of this gutsy city state with hardly any land or resources, but oh what dreams and chutzpah (the finest interpretation of the word), the ability to reach big, hunker down and hold and strategise and act and grow. despite my many years here, i haven’t seen a lot of the island, which started out at only 28 miles by 18. now of course it’s bigger, thanks to that spirit i spoke of. so anthony john or aj as i call him, my walking partner, and i decided to do fifty walks in the island to celebrate #SG50. well, we didn’t stop at fifty; couldn’t. there was still so much to see and feel and also how not to let the hot, merciless, climate-change sun not have its way with us. so the walks continue, as does the walk talk. hope you enjoy, try to bring an umbrella.