We began at Oasis Terraces in Punggol, heading to Coney Island’s West Entrance after a quick MacDonald’s breakfast. The heat was just a wee bit unpleasant - unthinkingly, we had headed out around 11am - but the views were spectacular and made up for the sunny humidity.
Entering Coney Island, I felt a surge of excitement. Finally I was there! As a resident in Punggol, it’s been really weighing on me that I hadn’t visited the rustic, oft-talked-about Coney Island for 3 years, even though it’s right in my backyard. The West Entrance was quite crowded; more cyclists than pedestrians, and I wasn’t able to get a clean shot of the iconic gates. Something to try again for another day, at a less popular time.
The island isn’t as rustic as I imagined ‘rustic’ to be, but it certainly has charm and is beautiful. There are park signs at strategic places, and butterflies and casuarina trees everywhere. I was thankful I didn’t meet much of the sandflies that people talk about. Instead I found myself taken by the huge red ants that work steadily along the ropes tied to poles that demarcate the walking paths, as well as the fungi growing on fallen tree trunks.
Of course, as an island, Coney has beaches and we explored a few. They were generally quite crowded so we didn’t stay for long. I was surprised by how clean they were, and also how close we are to the Malaysian islands nearby. As I closed my eyes for focus, to zone out from the crowd, I breathed in the soft lapping of the waves on the sandy shore and the chug-chugging of a large cargo ship on the horizon. When I opened my eyes again, the scenery - the sky and the clouds especially - seemed that much more serene, and gorgeous.
I was a bit bummed that I didn’t see any animals. The closest I got to seeing animal life were the mangrove snails and a mudskipper below the sides of the boardwalk, where the government is trying to restore the mangroves. We’d spent an hour on Coney Island by this time, and spent the next hour walking on the main path towards the East Entrance. The main path is hot and somewhat boring, especially for us as pedestrians, but it does make getting from West to East Entrance very efficient. Occasionally we would still veer off to follow a promising path, such as a sign to a bird hide or particularly lush greenery, but today these paths didn’t lead to anywhere with the animals I was hoping for.
Exiting the island via the East Entrance, we still had a good 2km or so to walk before reaching Tebing Lane, where we chose Fat Po cafe, to rest our aching legs and have a drink. The drinks were a chilly balm to a scorching hot afternoon, and the seats were just what we needed after more than two full hours of walking on uneven, rocky ground. As my husband complained of his aching feet, I found myself quietly satisfied that we had finally conquered Coney Island. I hope to go back again, but will plan to embark on the walk at a cooler time of day.