Dispatches from Abroad: Biking Singapore (IV) – In Search of the Rail Corridor

Although today is my last day in Singapore and I returned my rented bike 10 days ago, my series on biking in Singapore would be incomplete without recounting a two-day adventure across the island and back in search of and eventually on part of the Singapore Rail Corridor trail. 

coast2coastRR

My intention had been to ride the Coast-to-Coast trail from West Coast Park to Coney Island Park (magenta line to the east in the map above) and then ride west to pick up the Rail Corridor at Kranji Road (the northern terminus of the blue line in the map above). But I couldn’t find the northern end of the Rail Corridor, my GPS kept trying to send me across the causeway to Johor (Malaysia), it started to rain, and the batteries on both my phone and my GoPro gave out, so I ended up heading straight south back to home base.

If you’re too busy to read, you can watch the videos here (Part I, Part II). Otherwise…

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Dispatches from Abroad: Biking Singapore (III) – Relaxing on the Ulu Pandan Park Connector

For the last month, I’ve worked three days a week out of my guest office at NTU. On alternate days and most weekends, I start the day with a brisk but relaxing 90-minute, 30-km bike ride along the Ulu Pandan Park Connector. Given my home base in the Pasir Panjang area of Singapore, this route has much to recommend it. Other than a few road crossings at the very beginning (and end), it’s completely away from traffic and off the sidewalk. The North Bank extension is quiet and tree-lined, and a destination for the rapidly growing community of Singapore’s birdwatchers. And it’s almost entirely flat, so it’s more like a morning stroll than a heavy workout. Continue reading

Dispatches from Abroad: Biking Singapore (I)

A map of the terrain from West Coast Park to NTU via the Park Connector Network

Singapore is an exciting city, but it can be confusing and intimidating to learn about and get around. An island city-state, Singapore has an area of about 780 km2 (about 280 sq. miles)—about the same size as New York City—and about 5.7 million people (more than any other city in the US except for New York City). The excellent subway system is a quick and efficient way to get around, but being underground doesn’t afford much of a view of one’s surrounds or an easy way to get oriented. With its equatorial heat and humidity, long walks are not the most comfortable way to explore Singapore. However, Singapore has an accessible and expanding network of hard-surfaced “park connectors” (separated from the main roads) that make bicycling across and around the island a pleasant way to explore the city and its various parks and green spaces. Continue reading

Dispatches from Abroad: Truckin’ with Trikes

I’ve been in China for over seven weeks now, and as a people-watcher and photographer, nothing has caught my eye more than the panoply of three-wheeled vehicles meandering the roads. When I was a college student in the late 1970s studying Chinese, there were virtually no cars in China; just shy of 40 years later, BMWs outnumber bicycles in many Chinese cities, and the two-wheelers once pushed by peds on pedals are now mostly electrified. But through it all, the trikes remain, anachronistic work-horses that fill the gaps between bikes and BYDs, Vespas and Teslas.

I spent a few hours this afternoon—my last in Beijing before I move on to Kunming tomorrow morning—walking the streets and alleys, photographing three-wheelers, and reflecting on stasis and evolution in transportation systems.

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Dispatches from Abroad: Green Spaces of Xi’an

For a rapidly expanding city of 9 million people, Xi’an is fortunate to have a number of temples, parks, and gardens that provide islands of green space an places for enjoyment, exercise, and contemplation. Spending day in and day out in a hotel, in an office, and in the midst of Xi’an’s sidewalks, streets, and traffic, I longed for a bit of green and a bit of quietude. So I avidly scanned my otherwise incomprehensible city map (it’s in Chinese, of course) for green spaces and made it a point to visit four of them during my two weeks in the city: the Xing Qing gardens, the Xi’an Botanic Garden, the Green Dragon Temple, and the Ba Qiao wetland reserve.

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