The first real let-up in the haze made us go a little crazy. Crazy as in, “Let’s drive to the furthest place from our house to discover a potential new playground that we really don’t know anything about.”
Jurong Eco-Garden is located within the JTC Corporation’s business park at Boon Lay. We pretty much had the entire place to ourselves – it was predominantly built to serve the surrounding business park workers and residential community. Signs at the entrance let us know to expect lots of wildlife – boars and snakes got our attention.
Lions and tigers and bears – oh my!
And as soon as we entered, the wildlife started appearing. Dragonflies, birds, butterflies, bearded lizards, turtles – they all put on a show. The wild boars and snakes must have been otherwise engaged, as we saw neither. By the time we had walked past the swamp forest, I was starting to wonder if I had made a massive mistake. My son was incessantly asking where the playground was, and all the rocks I had imagined us climbing over were very much contained off the paved pathways. The plants, while lovely, were neatly in their garden beds and only for looking – not for hiding under.
I figured we had come that far, we may as well give the whole park the once-over and call it done. Things weren’t looking any better as we crossed over very well-protected ponds, with no way to go sit beside them and poke a pretend fishing-rod-stick in. It made my heart sink to see so many great outdoor spaces, so many opportunities for my son to explore, all untouchable.
A ceramic surprise
Stumbling across the Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle was the first real treat of the afternoon. My son was enthralled with the dragon kiln, and wanted to know exactly how it worked. We watched a girl on a pottery wheel making a vase and found out about their workshops, which we will definitely be back for.
After leaving Thow Kwang, I was ready to whip around the rest of the paths and head home. But then the paths turned into tracks of loose pebbles, and the dry creek beds of perfect climbing rocks were now right beside us. Suddenly, the Eco-Garden was turning into the place I desperately needed it to be – a place where nature is something you can feel under your feet, not just walk through.
We even had to duck under branches in the Butterfly Garden and fight our way out of the foliage. Perfect.
A nature trek trail
The Nature Trail was exciting – almost like the trail at MacRitchie Reservoir, without the constant traffic of sweaty runners. It is nearly 1km long, so we only did part of it then headed back the way we came.
As we left the rocky trail, and got back onto the paved walkways, I noticed we had both slowed down a little. The time in the jungle, jumping from rock to rock, being impressed by the colours and crazy looks of the insects, had wound us down from our initial check-it-out-and-get-out attitude. My son was delighted to find a deluge of red seeds, and purple flowers “that will be perfect for my potion to turn me into a robot. Forever.” I had to give up my hat to store his booty, and we stayed to look again at the birds lining the side of the swamp.
So, would we go again? Possibly. With expectations of a nice walk through some greenery in the middle of an industrial estate. The Pottery Jungle will definitely see us back there, and the Jurong Eco-Garden would be a great add-on to a visit there.
Jurong Eco-Garden, 1 CleanTech Loop, Singapore, 637141
Days of Play rating for outdoor play: 5/10 (great for climbing over dry creek beds, lots of wildlife to see, but not so great for actually getting your hands dirty)
Nearby coffee: Bring your own, you can refill water bottles from water fountains within the Garden.