Somehow I never quite learn the lesson that “walking six miles to grab some tacos in St. Paul” is not the same as “hiking six miles with 2000 feet of elevation change in a jungle on the equator.” Should take about an hour and a half right?
Today we got up early to head for the national park. We stopped at the roti stall down the street for kaya toast and roti canai, then got a Grab out to the park, northwest of the city. Our Grab driver was great, and talked us through all the new construction dotting the skyline, and recounted how intense Chinese New Year (just concluded) was this year.
At the park, we got our passes and set out on a hike. The park has a network of trails with criss-cross, so we followed an AllTrails route which promised a nice mix. The park is in the midst of some renovation, and they’re investing in making the popular trails more accessible. Throughout the whole park, there are platforms for folks camping overnight, as well as all kinds of structures being reclaimed by the jungle.
About an hour and a half of hiking got us to turtle beach. We found some big boulders to flop on, which turned out to be important as Kat slightly fell into the water on her way to the boulders. Whoops! While giving her shoes time to dry (that’s a joke, nothing dries here) we stuck our toes in the ocean and enjoyed the view. We didn’t see any turtles, though there were plenty of ex-turtle nests.
The hike from turtle beach took us up. And up. And up. Obviously less trafficked than the lower trails, we had to do some real jungle trekking, dodging swarms of angry ants and many, many pointy plants. Fortunately the steepest bits have rope handrails, which are a must given the slick clay surface covered in leaves. At the top, we were rewarded with a view of … an abandoned campsite. Glamor.
The descent was easier, though still treacherous. By the time we made it back to the start, it’d been about 4.5 hours and we were thoroughly drenched in sweat and filthy. But it was a fun adventure! Originally we’d intended to do some other activities near the park, but all we could think about was a shower, so we vetoed those plans and got a Grab back to the city.
After a shower and a rest, we popped down to our old favorite coffee shop, China House, for some cake and drinks. A well-earned reward! They also let you draw on the table coverings, so we both worked our artistic muscles. China House was pretty busy (they transition to more of a dinner place at night), so after finishing our cake we moved to another shop called The Nook, which offers coffee, books, and all kinds of cozy spaces to hang out.
Our last stop for the night was the Macallum Street Night Market, which happens every Monday. It’s a mix of food trucks, food stalls and folks selling all kinds of other goods. Definitely a hopping scene, and we enjoyed a mix of snacks like peanut apom batik (thick pancakes with fillings), fried mushrooms, and loh mee.
Tomorrow, we’re thinking about being a bit less ambitious – laundry and some shopping.