Yesterday, Alli and I finally took a trip to MacRitchie Reservoir for a nature walk, something we'd been intending to do for months. This is a great big reservoir in the center of Singapore, surrounded by a great big nature reserve, with several trails for hiking, running, and nature-seeing. Okay, I'll go ahead and let on where the real allure lies- MacRitchie is a known monkey hangout. Our post-PhD vacation in Thailand gave us glimpses of these creatures in the wild, but they are rumored to get much more personal in the nature reserve. Also, our monkey photos were widely disputed since we needed to draw arrows on pictures to identify their locations.

We set off for our hike, already into the afternoon, thinking we could just go for a decent few miles of walking. Of course once we were on our way I was quite tempted by the 10km trip to the tree-top portion. On our way there, I was dismayed as the wildlife sightings consisted of big trees, joggers, and a lone squirrel. Still, it was a very pretty walk through some fairly dense forest:

Alli also found some neat looking ferns and was able to take some more artistic photos:

Unfortunately, having started our hike later in the day, we decided to turn around and head back rather than risk being lost in the jungle after dark, no tree top walk this visit, no monkeys sighted. We took a slightly different route back, along a boardwalk by the reservoir, rather than through the woods, as the sun was already beginning to set. We figured this meant the wildlife sightings weren't going to increase. However, we were pleasantly surprised to see this guy swimming right for us:

He is a water monitor lizard, and we'd just read a sign stating that they are sometimes mistaken for small crocodiles. I think you might be able to tell why, he is a hefty guy. Actually, 2 or 3 runners stopped to look and comment on how big and pretty he was.

And then we moved on, and wait, did I just see? Alli! look! a real monkey!

And then, another. And then, another.

At first we kept our distance, having read that they can become aggressive in search of food. I carried a large stick with us for the entire walk-- just in case. However, the locals walked by like it was... just another day in the park. Joggers jogged right by the monkeys, casually weaving where necessary, paying no more attention than if logs littered their path. Seeing their courage/indifference, we got closer, and before you know it, there was a whole monkey tribe right in our path.

It does not make sense to measure the distance between us and the monkeys, as we literally had to avoid stepping on them.

See the look of disbelief on my face.

Some acted a bit interested, but all it took was a bit of gesturing with my stick and they were happy to leave us alone. Others didn't seem to notice us at all. Before long, we were just hanging out on a boardwalk with the monkey tribe, snapping photos and taking in the sunset. How cool to watch these creatures up close and personal as they played, groomed, suckled, and occasionally swung on a vine.

Hope you enjoy the pictures as much we enjoyed the experience.