Breathing In, Crowded Out

Singapore parks
 
If you have not noticed (which would be a surprise) Singapore has become one huge construction site. Everywhere you go, at almost every turn, there is a work site with its ubiquitous industrial cranes, some in operation overnight. For the past decade (and indeed longer) Singapore has been on the race to keep one step ahead of its competitors and also to make this small island a liveable home to some 5.4 million people.
 
But as we plan for an even larger population in years to come, space has become more of a premium than ever before. Where in the past one could get away to say Changi Beach Park for some quiet time on the weekends, it no longer is that possible. From east to west, north to south, our parks have become more crowded, as more foreigners have come onto our shores in the last 10 years or so especially.
 
The government recognises that you cannot pack an island full of people without places and space to breathe. It would make for very stressful living indeed. So, the government has embarked on improving and even creating new parks. 
 
While some parks are indeed quite well landscaped, such as Bishan Park, they nonetheless do not feel as authentic as the real thing. This writer is disappointed with the Gardens by the Bay too which is more of a tourist attraction (which it is) than a proper park. Too much concrete flooring everywhere.  One could hardly even let one’s foot touch nature. And in the afternoon, the Gardens is mostly deserted because of the heat of our tropical island. It is made worst by the spread of concrete everywhere, which reflects the heat back off the ground.
 
Perhaps all that Singapore will be able to have, as far as natural environments go, are few and far between. Which makes places like the Sungei Buloh wetlands a treasure.
 
One of these rather pleasant places is the Riverside Park in Sengkang. 
 
Singapore parks
 
The Park Connector Network (PCN) track makes it a great place to stroll or cycle as you take in the greenery around you. The best time to do this, of course, is in the evening. Over the weekends, I went for a ride on my new bicycle while there was a small drizzle. As it turned out, it was such a gorgeous experience, with the cold air blowing on your face, and the overcast skies above. Some areas along the PCN track were big open spaces which are rare in Singapore. You can’t help but feel alive! It is quite amazing what a little space can do for your spirits!
 
The big expanse of the river...
 
Singapore parks
 
If you are fortunate enough to be free on a weekday morning, you might find yourself the only one along the path...
 
Singapore parks
 
But even as I enjoyed and greatly appreciated the space, and the greenery and scenery around me, I also felt that perhaps these things are also only temporary. That one day, and in Singapore it is always sooner rather than later, all of these will have to be sacrificed for “progress”. Perhaps these will give way to more flats, which we do not seem to build enough of always.
 
The competition for space between those of us who yearn for peace and quiet, and the need to build new flats and estates, are perhaps best seen in the current construction of the Waterway Cascadia public housing development in Sengkang/Punggol.
 
The flats being built line up right to the edge of the pathway of the Waterway Park itself. 
 
If you take the PCN from Riverside Park, eventually you will come into the Waterway Park, and this is what you see.
 
Singapore parks
 
Here is another picture:
 
Singapore parks
 
A once gorgeous – albeit artificially constructed – waterway is now being “eaten up” by the monstrosity of public flats. 
 
Soon, the quiet and tranquil space which many of us have been enjoying will be no more. In fact, the construction of these flats there now has punctured the serenity of the park, and scarred the beauty of the place.
 
Perhaps it is not fair to deprive others of enjoying the park, and we should allow as many as possible to partake its offerings. Nonetheless, given that most other areas in Singapore are already crowded, one can be forgiven for feeling selfish in wanting some space for oneself. 
 
There doesn’t seem to be any way out of this conundrum of Singaporeans’ yearning for more space, and the government’s need to cater to the housing needs of its people.
 
One thing is for sure, however: whatever little corner of Singapore which currently provides you a little peace, quiet, and breathing space, do enjoy it. You never know when that too will be crowded out. 
 
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