March 5, 2012

Punggol Waterway - Where it all started

It has been a grueling start to my running hobby. I was knocked out 6 months for 2011, thanks to my various aliments, virus attacks and near death experience. I figured that I should retire from doing any workout for a while. However a friend asked me out for a run and I thought, why not? a few klicks should be nothing for an ex athlete like me. To my embarrassment, I did 1km before feeling that heaven (hopefully) is beckoning to me again. After that episode, I went for regular runs and slowly trained back up from the bottom of the pit. 1.5km, 2km, 3km and when I finally could do 4km a few weeks later. That was quite an achievement for me given that I was one foot away from seeing my ancestors.

 Feeling slightly more confident, I decided to venture out of my normal nearby running area. It was a sunny Sunday and I read about this "exciting" beautiful Punggol waterfront and so I took a drive to see what's all the hype is about. The lane into the main carpark is a small road called Tebing lane which I missed twice and made at least 4 U-turns in order to find this elusive lane.

The small lane...

There are 2 main carparks in the area but both of them are not very big. By the time I got there at 530pm, the whole place is full of cars and if you are feeling rich you can pay $5 for a valor service, on top of the normal parking fee you need to pay to get in. After a 20 mins wait, I gave up and went to a nearby HDB estate carpark and it is a 10 min walk from there to the waterfront.

The usual start point has a Popeye restaurant, a couple of seafood and Japanese restaurant. The whole place is crowded with weekend family crowd looking for dinner. That explains the parking problem

Here is the route I took and the distance clocked and apparently, Google map is not updated yet as I seems to be doing a biathlon with a swim in the river based on the map. Apparently, I am not a fast runner as many of my friends are doing 5-6 min/km. Well I am taking it slow as not to strain my poor heart too much! This place is as bad as ECP on the weekends as there were many kids on bicycles and other dangerous wheeled toddlers with little knowledge of basic traffic rules. On top of that, the running and cycling tracks are quite narrow and It makes running in a straight line a big challenge as you need to dodge runners, cyclists, bladers, strollers and killer toddles on wheels.
The Starting point.
A map of the area. Courtesy NParks

From the start point, if you run towards the south, you should reach Punggol park towards the south and it is a nice 4km run towards Hougang. Heading north towards the waterfront,you will see a bridge leading to the east and I could see some buildings and maybe a garden from far. The temptation to explore that area was great but since I doubt my stamina allows me to do much exploring, I stuck to my route. Upon checking the map after the run, I do believe that it may link to Pasir Ris Park or something like that and vow to explore that area in the future.
The long bridge leading to dunno where. Pasir Ris Park my guess..
The landscape gets slightly more interesting as you turn into the waterway and rather than calling it a waterway, it seems more like a canal than a big expense of water which the word "waterway" may indicate. I guess the government is really working hard on the marketing to get people to move to Punggol. You can see from afar the HDB of Punggol, but other than that, the landscape is mostly made up of undeveloped, potentially profit making state land which the government probably will sell to developers to build even more expensive condos. One curious aspect of the waterfront is that you will see bubbles coming from the waterfront. Bubbles! Not gushing fountains which you will expect to see in a typical park. I figured that NParks are trying to save some electricity bills as fountains are definitely more expensive to maintain than bubbles bubbling on the surface of the waterfront. After running along the bubbly waterway, you will see a bridge leading to the other bank which will signal that you have done 2km. Cross that bridge and a slow run back will complete the 4km run. 

Its Green.. I think it will take some time for the flowers to bloom...
Went back to the start point and did some cool down and did some exploring to see why is there such a crowd at such a "ulu" place. There's a pretty decent prawn fishing pool, a pool club, a FUTSA court and a couple of restaurants a generous view of reclaim land.Not bad facilities for a new town. Here is the list of facilities.

Queue at a seafood restaurant.
Prawning area

Overall, I think place will offer variety for runners who are looking for short, medium and long distance. The problem is that the place is a bit raw since it is newly developed but the place shows promise in the long run and if not for the narrow paths and hordes of families and kids, the place will be a more interesting place for runners.

I started taking pictures on a whim to prove to my friends that I am indeed doing my workout and it started to become a habit. Its pretty hard to run and take pictures using iphone at the same time and since this is my first time, I think I will do a better job next time by capturing interesting sights and the route.

Here are some interesting facts which I thought will be interesting for readers:

Accessibility : Bus, LRT

Parking: 2 small carpark and side parking along the road. Lots of parking at nearby HDB. Free on Sundays

Type of tracks: Wooden, Asphalt

Elevation: Generally Flat

Location: 6 Tebing Ln, Singapore 828835


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