In early 2012, I visited Labrador Park a few times. My visits were mostly in the late afternoons for two reasons. One, I couldn’t wake up early, or perhaps it was more accurate to say that I refused to wake up early. It was the weekend and I would like to sleep in. I was also reluctant to step out of the house without eating lunch first, in case my fuel-deprived body could not take the physical activity. But I know certain people (you know who you are) would say that my body has enough reserves to last me until next year.
These photos were take over the span of several visits to Labrador Park.
There were several ways to get to Labrador Park but I felt the easiest way to get to Laborador Park is by alighting at Labrador Park MRT station. Right behind the station exit is the entrance to a path which runs along Berlayar Creek.
You could also walk from Labrador Park MRT or take bus 408 which stopped at Carpark A and Carpark B of Labrador Park. You could even walk from Harbourfront MRT if you felt like some exercise, but it is a long walk and not for those in a hurry.
It was low tide when I was there. There was very little water near the entrance and I could see the exposed roots of the mangrove trees. It was obvious from the dried watermark left on the tree trunks that most of the roots would be covered by water during high tide.
Perhaps because it was low tide, the waters in creek were muddy brown and not very appealing. I wondered if it would be better at high tide. I never got to find out because the high tide timings and my visits did not coincide.
Well, at least it was an easy walk even though there was not much to see along the creek, in terms of scenery or animal activity. One side of the boardwalk was lined with trees and the other side was a wire fence surrounding a field. The field was fenced up and not open to the public.
Sometimes I saw people trimming the grass but otherwise, the field was left pretty much alone. I wondered if there were plans to build something on the land but I hoped not. I like open fields and wide grassy areas. One day, I saw two stray dogs in the field. I thought they looked like they had big grins on their faces, which in turn put a smile on my face.
Along the path, there are two rest stops. The rest stops do not provide much shelter from the sun or the rain. But it was a good place for you to rest your feet and enjoy a bit of solitude. Few people visited the rest stops and those who did seldom stayed for long, maybe because there wasn’t much scenery to look at.
The Berlayar Creek boardwalk ended at the coast. On the left was the broadwalk which led towards Harbourfront.
On the right was what I privately called the “new Labrador Park”. It was obvious that it was a newer addition because the design of the facilities was modern and the garden was neatly manicured. A path cut across the “new park” and by following it, I soon reached the “old Labrador Park”. Here, everything looked more weathered, from the trees to the pavement.
I’ve always thought of Labrador Park as just a park, maybe good for bbqs and groups outings, but definitely not as a tourist spot. Then one day, I walked past a group of people crowding around the replica of the dragon tooth stone structure. A man was telling them the story of the stone structure that used to be at the mouth of the harbor. And I thought “Wow, there’s actually a tourist group here?”
I liked the “old park” better, especially towards the western end where the trees were big and shady. There was a wide path which ran along the coast. I liked walking here as there as there always seemed to be a slight breeze no matter how hot the sun shone. There are also bbq pits and a playground in this part of the park.
It seemed that whenever there’s water, there would always be someone fishing. I saw a lot of fishermen along the “old park”. Most of them were covered up from head to toe. I know they dressed like this to protect themselves from the sun rays but it looked really hot and stuffy to me.
At the “old park” were steps leading up to the forest to the top where some relics from World War II could be found. It was a bit of a climb and for a while, all I could hear was the sound of my own panting. The first thing I saw at the top were some information boards detailing the role that Labrador Park played during World War II. This area is also near one of the stops for bus 408.
I wondered along the winding and often intersecting paths. After a while, I realized that there were three paths: the nature path, the bunker path and the coastal path.
The nature path was marked by images of leaves on the stone tiles. I’m not sure if the path led to anywhere or if it was just meant for you to wander among the trees. I did not stay long on this path as I felt uneasy staying too long in the forest. I kept imagining that hordes of mosquitoes were stalking me. But in reality, I only got bitten twice.
I knew I was on the bunker path when the design on the stone tiles changed to a picture of a cannon.
After following the path for a while, I arrived at an old bunker at the edge of the forest. A tree was growing out from the roof.
Further on, there was a display of a 6-inch quick firing cannon with statues of WWII soldiers frozen in the act of loading the cannon.
If I remembered my history lessons correctly, the cannons at Labrador Park faced southwards to repel attacks from the sea. However during WWII, the Japanese attacked from the north so I wondered if the cannons were put to use at all.
Out of curiosity, I peeked into the cannon and all I could see was a white circle of light at the other end. I couldn’t even make out the trees that the cannon was pointing at.
The last stop was an old fort. Like the bunkers, the entrances were all sealed up. I climb up some stairs to the top but the forest was so dense that all I saw were trees and more trees.
Then I turned back and found the coastal path which lead downwards to the “old park”.
From there, I retraced my steps until I reached the point where Berlayar Creek meets the coast. I took the boardwalk which led towards Harbourfront. There was plenty of elbow room for everybody on the boardwalk. There was no shelter on the boardwalk so on sunny afternoons it could get incredibly hot.
One afternoon I saw a monitor lizard crawling unhurriedly on the rocky shore before it disappeared into a small opening between the rocks. Even though I kept my eyes peeled on subsequent visits, I never saw it again.
The boardwalk ended behind the condominiums, Reflections at Keppel Bay. From here, there is a small path which leads out to Bukit Chermin Road but I preferred to walk behind the condominiums. Like the boardwalk, there is little shade to protect you from the equatorial sun. As I walked between the rich people in their condos and the richer people in their yachts, I tried to think humbling thoughts.
Once I reached the end of the condominiums, Caribbean at Keppel Bay, I had to turn left and follow Keppel Bay Road out to West Coast Highway. From there, I walked along the busy highway to Harbourfront. I didn’t like this part of the walk. According to a map I saw at Labrador Park, in there future there would a link which would lead me from behind Caribbean at Keppel Bay directly to Vivo City. I looked forward to its completion as it meant that I could skip the walk along West Coast Highway.