Johor Bahru, Malaysia May 2018: Today will be the last border run into Singapore from my base here in Johor Bahru. Although I’ve been to Singapore a few times, this trip has seen me cover new ground, digging a little deeper into some neighbourhoods that have previously gone unnoticed. Now though it’s time to quit while I’m ahead as the saying go’s. Yes, the Immigration authorities at Woodlands are stepping up interrogations ahead of the impending North Korean/American meeting and to have a foreigner like me going back and forth like a yoyo will undoubtedly fray some official nerves. So, for the last border run, Changi Beach is the destination.
Once again Google has worked out a route – Woodlands to Bishan to Macpherson and the final MTR stop at Tampines East beore transferring to bus 9 or 29 to Changi Village. The track to Bishan is elevated overground giving one a view of modern Singapore. A skyline of government built flats along with a handful of private condominium towers is not an entirely unpleasant scene. Tastefully constructed without the density one sees in Hong Kong or Taipei for example. Clearly the redevelopment planners of Singapore have put a good deal of effort into making pleasant surroundings for its population of flat and apartment dwellers. Yes, the days of living in wooden houses on stilts in village communities have since long gone.
Back in history, Changi’s first generation redevelopment was as a Royal Air Force Station with its main runway close to the small Changi village and pretty soon the whole area became a British Military enclave, 1940’s to 1960’s. Today the village resembles nothing like its origins, the airbase as was has long gone, but its where the bus terminates and its where one accesses the beach via a giant food court. Since I’m feeling a little hungry now is a good time to grab some noodles before hitting the beach. The prices are good, the food is good too and the choice is mind-blowing.
As one stomps across the creek bridge its clear that Changi Beach Park is another of Singapore’s gem’s. Well laid out, super clean with amenities like showers, changing rooms and of course a pretty good beach, natural too according to google. On the left is Changi point where small boats ferry people back and forth to Ubin Island (Google Map). On the right is the Changi Creek and a small collection of fishing boats and straight ahead, a queue of planes lining up to land at the nearby Changi International Airport.
Midweek is a good time to visit Changi Beach if one is seeking solitude. Here, its just me and a few locals facing the Johor River estuary, while a handful of old timers shuffle between the stone seats set underneath the trees. Its pretty much the perfect spot if one likes to combine a trip to the beach with some plane spotting! The place is also good for those with an ornithological interest – green and white parakeets flit around in the tree tops as a woodpecker pecks happily at lower levels. Then there’s the ships slipping silently by, giants creating waves along the shoreline.
A decent beach away from tourist crowds. For bird spotters, ship spotters and plane spotters its the ideal spot! Those with energy to spare can take a coastal path walk towards Changi Beach Club looping back through the former Changi RAF camp where there are still plenty of colonial relics to be found. Wikipedia has a comprehensive historical write-up of Changi and its British associations and is worth the read, here