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A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the National Parks newly constructed, eco-friendly Bishan Park – River Plains. Last weekend I took the boys to the opposite side of Bishan Park, which is dubbed “The Pond Gardens”.

For those who may not have read the earlier posting, Bishan Park is basically dissected by Marymount Lane. The section to the east of Marymount Lane is referred to as “The River Plains”, while the area to the west is called “The Pond Gardens”. Sorry if this seems confusing, but both are actually quite different, so I decided both deserve its own posting. For anyone still confused, this location map should give you some clearer directions.

Here’s how our adventure panned out. We parked at the public car park area just off Sing Ming Ave, to the south of the park (you will need coupons). We then walked over the bridge immediately facing onto the park. Here you can turn right towards Marymount Lane or left heading towards Upper Thomson Road. We opted to follow the signs to the playground and turned left. The park has been recently renovated and there are plenty of new benches, seats and lounger-type-things dotted around the place.

We crossed over another bridge and within five minutes found the playground, which has all new equipment (although one piece was closed to “mischief” – unheard of in Singapore right?!?!?). Compared to the other playground featured in the earlier post, this one is definitely for the older, more adventurous kids and our boys just loved it. One thing stood out as a favourite – a large concrete construction which had a climbing wall (with ropes) on one side and a pair of metal tubular slides on the other. This was linked to another bit of kit by a rope bridge, so for an hour and a half they were just doing circuits along the Rope Bridge, abseiling down the wall or sliding through the tunnels.

There is also a huge tower with slides that you climbed from the inside, a big house on stilts (closed due to mischief) and some more contraptions. As with most parks in Singapore, there was limited shade available within the play area, but in a few locations, National Parks have done a really good job of building circular wooden seating areas around large trees, which gave some respite from the sun.

After climbing aplenty we had lunch before wondering off in the direction of Thomson Road (away from where the car was parked) and found the reason why this area was nominated as a pond garden. There was a series of large ponds with wooden walkways across the top and a series of sala’s to catch some shade. It has been done really well and you can follow the boardwalks as they meander through the ponds.

As with the other section of Bishan Park, one of the features here is the effective use of bio-engineering. A huge concrete storm drain (which is actually part of the Kallang River according to the sign boards) has been replaced with a massive natural river feature that has been reinforced against erosion using various innovative techniques. The only slight concern is the fact that during times of exceptional flooding potential, there is a series of alarms that will signal the river area to be evacuated to higher ground. This is clearly marked and I’m quite sure at the first sign of even the slightest flood potential there will be plenty of notice and staff on-site.

By this time the boys were tired, hot and had enough, so we wandered in the general direction towards the car. On the way we came across the “biotopes” area, which is a lake-type feature planted with specific flora species that actively improve water quality by taking up certain types of pollution that may be carried in the water. The idea is that the majority of water drains into this area, and is improved in terms of quality, forming an integral part of the Public Utilities BoardActive, Beautiful Clean Waters Programme”. It also naturally recharges the local water levels by naturally soaking into the soil, instead of being whisked away by big pipes or drain structures. Older kids may find this educational aspect appealing (even interesting) – our boys, on the other hand, enjoyed hurtling around all the features and bridge areas.

All up, Bishan Park has a genuine town park feel to it, and without wanting to sound kitsch, almost feels like a mini-oasis within this humming area stacked full of residential housing and commercial buildings. What I can’t figure out is why more people don’t visit, because it’s never packed. Surely a better place to visit and spend time than hanging around a shopping centre?

Just my thoughts – take a trip and let me know what you think?