Jurong Port as viewed from Cyrene Reef at sunrise on Saturday. This view is possible for but a few minutes and only during dawns when the tide is low enough to allow land-lubbering ducks to set foot on the reef flats as they emerge from the waves. The cloak of cobalt and laden clouds that herald the end of the dark hours are shattered by the rising globe that illuminates the clicking meadows with a breath of gold dust. Still largely asleep, the city shimmers and looms like a phantom of turrets, a fort of respite from the forces of nature that lie so close to shore and so distant in the minds of its masters.
My duck is getting old and decrepit, so three consecutive days of waking up at 3 am, 4 am and 5 am for seagrass transects, plus additional extra-curricular activities involving hungry animals, have sucked me dry of juice. For now, evidence of ducky feet can be seen at my flickr galleries for Sentosa, Cyrene Reef and Chek Jawa/Kekek Quarry.
After a morning of seagrass monitoring and a lunch of lontong and mee siam (with multiple servings of soft drinks) at the makcik's stall right after the jetty, we took the lazy tourist route (i.e. hiring a ramshackle van with non-existent suspension) to Kekek Quarry. The way to the site runs through the northwestern part of the island, through dense secondary forests, muddy mangroves and a temple founded by a monk who walked all the way from Thailand. On the way we passed by countless daytrippers (including quite a few bare-back cyclists) attempting to toast themselves in the afternoon sun)
Also known as Tian-chi or the Heavenly Pool, the quarry will soon be more of a hellish place as the water and all that's in it (red-eared slider, green chromides, panchax killies and otters) will be pumped out and hosed into the nearby sea, giving the freshwater creatures a fatal saline bath and the marine species a sudden inundation of osmotic trauma. On the far side of the shore, a heron roosted on a tree while another perched on an exposed branch just above the water, fishing for snacks. The robust, bubbling song of a straw-headed bulbul rang through the foliage behind us, giving no hint of the din of dynamite that will soon drown out its liquid call. And with a heightened influx of humanity into the area, the birds will probably receive due attention and see fresh efforts to convert their public melodies into private serenades in gilded cages. We wondered if the ghosts of possible past mishaps might emerge from the depths as the pool's soul is sucked out by hydraulic pumps and its shadows laid bare to the light of spiritless drives.