Thursday one week ago the last stage on mainland Asia was ahead of me. My host Josyee drove me early in the morning to the railway station of Johor Bahru. Unfortunately, all the trains in the morning were already fully booked out, as all the people were heading to work to Singapore. Hence, I had only the option to take the train at 10:30 and wait 4 hours at the train station. This brought me a bit into trouble, as I wanted to hike along the old railway tracks in Singapore and due to that reason I already started early, to escape the heat a bit. Fortunately, METAR and TAF from Changi Airport reported quite good weather to hike:
WSSS 110100Z 05004KT 330V070 6000 FEW018 FEW020TCU BKN150 29/26 Q1011 NOSIG
TAF AMD WSSS 110155Z 1102/1206 20005KT 9999 SCT020 TEMPO 1106/1109 3000 TSRA FEW012CB BKN015 TEMPO 1123/1202 3000 TSRA FEW012CB BKN015
The clouds are reported to be broken, which is good, so I don’t expect to be exposed directly to the sun. Only, in late afternoon there is a probability of thunderstorm and rain. And due to the small spread between temperature and dewpoint I can expect a high relative humidity, but that doesn’t surprise me at all.
My last train ride was with 5 minutes quite short, it just crosses the Strait of Johor along the Causeway and the tracks are shortly ending after Woodlands border control. The Malaysian border check is on the mainland side, whereas the Singapore border checkpoint is in Woodlands. After a few minutes everything was done and I could start my hike pretty late. Unfortunately, shortly after the Woodlands terminal the tracks were dismantled and the remaining embankment is now the green lung of Singapore crossing from North to South. How long the shuttle train from JB to Woodlands will ride is also questionable, because in 2024 a new direct MRT connection is proposed between the JB and Singapore. And probably after closing down the main railway station, the government of Singapore realised that it was a bad idea to have no longer any long distance connections. Hence, there is now a new standard gauge high-speed train between KL and Singapore in planning, but now it’s delayed from the Malaysian government.
As there are no longer any tracks, I hoped to walk along them. The first kilometre can in principle be walked, but is forbidden by law and the bushes are waist high. So in essence it’s pretty unpleasant to do so. As it was a long way anyway I decided just to walk along the street. After the official start, the old train track is really an oasis in the city. As it crosses only a few streets, there’s not much interaction with other means of transport. What’s still confusing me is that the Sun is already north of me, even as I didn’t cross the equator yet. But this is due to the spring in the northern hemisphere. As the sun is at noon noeth of you, your shadow is pointing southwards. This you’ve to realise for navigation purposes. At about half of the way I made a short excursion to Bukit Timah, the highest point of Singapore. As forecasted it started slightly to rain and there were some lightnings in the background, but they didn’t come close. Hence, everything super fine for me. After the detour I still had about 3 hours with daylight and thought, OK easy go, just walk along the embankment for the remaining 11 kilometres. Well…if you go into the mountains, you make a proper planning of your route, have at least 1 or 2 backup plans, just in case something is going wrong or the weather changes suddenly. But in the city, you think come on, it’s only a walk along old railway tracks, what should happen? Construction Works! Yes, the second half is dominated at the moment by construction works of a new water pipeline. Hence, after a few kilometres, I suddenly was standing on a street, with lots of traffic and needed to find a way to nevertheless reach my destination. There was in the beginning a temporary path, but also this ended suddenly and for a few metres the construction works was already finished, but the newly paved way was really bad. Now I was running really short on time in order to reach my destination in daylight. There is also a large construction at the old railway station, as this will become a new MRT station for the circle line.
Shortly before sunset I finally reached, after walking for more than 30 kilometres with my large backpack, the destination of my 72nd stage of traveling from Berlin to Singapore along the railway in the last 12 years (by chance, today, exactly one year ago, I started my travelling back in Berlin). There is also another traveller he took the train from London to Singapore in just 40 days. The travel distance in the first six months were longer than in the last six months. Especially in Russia I had one of my longest stages of my current travel.