August 11, 2012

Bedok Tampines PCN - Too Many Pace Disruptive Traffic Junctions!

The initial plan was to conduct our weekly run at the western end of Singapore: The Chinese Garden. However, all the westerners who were championing for that location pulled out on Friday, probably due to too much excessive National Day celebration. So the choice of where to run fell to BBG and me. We decided to do our individual location runs this Saturday. Since the need to commit to a certain timing had been eliminated from the equation, I had a late night on Friday and promptly woke up later than usual on Saturday. That was the first mistake!
Objective: Bedok to Pasir Ris!

The second mistake was in choosing the running route. I choose not to work out on my normal, round the reservoir run and decided to take on the challenge of running to Pasir Ris! It will be my first one way trip run where I will have to take a bus back on completing the run. I looked through the National Parks Board website and there seems to be a park connector leading all the way to Pasir Ris! With my EZ link card and $2 in cash nestling in my pocket, I set off on my Odyssey!
Singapore PCN Network. From NParks website
My starting point. Bedok Reservoir PCN
Starting from the Bedok Reservoir Park Connector, I ran along Bedok Reservoir Rd to Tampines Ave 1. That's where I met my first traffic junction. I had to do a slight detour due to excavation work on the Eastern Region MRT line and after running round the excavation work, I lost sight of any hint of the Park Connector Network (PCN). Normally, the PCN is marked by huge yellow PCN on the ground and along the way, it will be marked by distance markers or friendly signpost informing you where you are heading and how much distance left. For the next few kilometers, I failed to see no trace of any signs or markings.
Junction 1. MRT excavation across the road. Detour!
I figured the PCN should pass by the Tampines Sports Hall, since town planners should consider the fact that runners might want a change of scenery after getting bored of the 400m track, so the logical choice is to make my way towards the Sports Hall. After another 2 more pace disrupting traffic junction, I reached the Sports Hall. Circling around the Sports Hall, I still do not see any trace of the PCN!
2nd Junction
3rd Junction
Very nice red building, but where is the PCN???
Pausing for a moment and consulting my Google map, the next logical choice will be to look for a park. Well, that's what park connector is suppose to do right? Connecting parks? The nearest park seems to be the Sun Plaza Park and for now, and I am currently looking at it across from the road. But wait! Across the road is not a patch of green as indicated on Google map, but rather, grossing inflated and priced DBSS project Central 8. I have no idea how developers can get so uncreative and grossly untruthful about the naming of their residential projects. First, there are shopping malls in Orchard and Clark Quay with the name "Central" on them, and Tampines is to the East of Singapore and totally not centralized. So if you happen to take a taxi to visit your friend in Central 8 in the future, make sure that the Taxi driver knows which "Central" you are talking about, else you will probably get an impromptu tour of the entire Singapore and a very inflated Taxi fare.
DBSS Central 8. Totally not central. 4th Junction plus Jaywalk
Risking my ass by jaywalking across the 4 lane road, I found that I am standing in the middle of a piece of barren state land WHICH is suppose to be part of the Sun Plaza Park. Where the heck is this illusive park! Running around this piece of barren grassy land will probably add another few hundred meters more to my journey, so I opted to cut across it, praying that I will not step on any muddy patch, courtesy of our rainy tropical climate.
Across this barren state land I go
After cutting across the the state land, I saw a park like area, which is probably the real Sun Plaza Park. A simple yellow and grey concrete structure marks the entrance of the park. Another road junction bars my path and again, I have to jog to a halt and wait for the green light for me to cross the road.
5th Junction! AGGHHH.

Entrance to Sun Plaza Park. Looks boring...

 I was tempted to explore the Sun Plaza Park but I did not explore further because I saw this, across the street!
The sign I am looking for! Amen!

Woah, I found the park connector sign post at last! The road leading to the sign post looks like a regular pavement, without the usual markings and nicely paved asphalt path, I am used to seeing in other parts of Singapore. I probably missed a turn somewhere in Tampines, but my best guess is, the National Park Board probably did not mark this area that well, and mix this with a blur Easterner who is not familiar with his backyard, the result is just a mess of a run! Near the signage, I saw a lot of bicycles parked within an open gate, and I trotted over to take a look. It is actually a bicycle park! why in the world would cyclist want a park of their own, when they have the entire Singapore's PCN network to enjoy. I certainly do not see cyclists performing stunts in the park. They were just lunging about by their bikes and cars and having a good time guzzling coke and admiring each others equipment...

Tampines Bike Park, Still puzzled over its function.
Have free parking though.
Continuing along the narrow pavement, and crossing ANOTHER traffic light junction, I found the real, true blue, authentic Tampines park connector at last! The bad thing is, the PCN runs parallel to a huge canal, and it is emitting a real unpleasant odor that particular morning. I am quite sure that it seem better on other days, but this is probably one of those days which the canal became a natural mustard gas chamber, trying to poison all the joggers along the way. By the time I meandered my way to the Tampines Park connector, the sun is high up in the air and it is getting unbearably hot. Given the fact that I am in an oversized, black, freshman orientation T-shirt 2004, the heat wave was compounded. I should have woke earlier so as to avoid the scorching morning summer sun. However, I am determined to complete my goal and reach Pasir Ris before I quit. 

Narrow path to Tamoines PCN. This is not PCN!
6th Junction! Its killing me!
Tampines PCN and the smelly canal
After a short run along the PCN, I was faced with another obstacle: The overhead bridge across the Tampines Expressway. Across I went and I resumed along, this time, a much better smelling canal and not before long, I hit upon another road junction. Honestly speaking, I am pretty pissed with all the disruptive road junctions I have to cross today. It is totally killing my pace! I consulted my Google map and this point of time and realized that I am have officially crossed the boundary into Pasir Ris New Town! Yeah! I decided to stop at this point of time, refusing to wait another few minutes for the green man to come online. Crossing this junction will probably bring you to Pasir Ris Park and the Beach.

The Big Yellow PCN Wording at last!.
Up the overhead bridge
Across the zooming expressway TPE
PCN Zig zag across both sides of the canals
linked by bridges like this.
7th Junction! My pacing sucks! I give up!
Its too hot anyway!
My take on this route: Do not attempt, if you value your pacing. I counted 7 traffic junctions, an overhead bridge and a muddy field (an accident!) along the route and none of them are friendly to long distance runners. It is very disruptive when you have to stop every few minutes and wait a few minutes, just to continue onto your route. Also, the markings and roads between Tampines and Bedok Reservoir PCN is totally not clear, and you have to waste some time mulling around, looking at your google map, trying to figure out which is the best way forward. It's just too much effort if you are just looking for a relaxing, good paced run in the morning. However, I do believe that there could be a better route than the one I have taken, which will minimize all the traffic junction, but that is for me to try out on another day again. For now, a cold cup of 100-plus on rocks and a nice air conditioned bus ride back home will be the best reward I could ever ask for, at the end of the run.

Bye bye Tampines PCN. I will challenge you again!

Location: 515D Tampines Central 7, Singapore 524515


  1. The bike park has man made hills, rock gardens, etc for mountain biking. Where's the fun in riding on concrete pavements?

    Not sure how you got lost, maybe run looking up, and try not to memorise the route map. There are obvious signs everywhere (boards, tarmac pathways, wider pavements).

  2. I have to agree with you. I don't really consider it a "park connector" if I have to stop at numerous traffic lights. I want to attempt a run from Tampines to Bedok Reservoir one day but there isn't enough shade on the way...!

    1. I will suggest an early morning run (before 7am if possible) or late evening. But than again, it has been raining unpredictably for the last few days. Hate running in the rain and wet socks :(

  3. FYI, Central 8 is called so because it is in TAMPINES Central, and not to be confused with the Central of SINGAPORE.

    1. I was trying to be funny but thanks for clarifyinf :)


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