Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Running the Malaysia railway

Sunday morning I woke up and waited until daylight to get out and run. I did not want to run the same old routes. Jakeb has told me about running along the railroad tracks of the train that goes from Singapore to Malaysia. There is a trail a safe distance from the track that goes from near our house to Bukit Timah Road.

I left the house right as it was getting light outside. I crossed Holland Road and ran towards Holland Link. Off to the left there was a trail that went into the woods and I took it. I was running in my glasses which I do not enjoy. It is much better to run with my contacts in. With the high humidity my glasses were fogging up and the low light made it hard to see the trail. Every stick on the trail looked like a snake to me and the running was slow. After jumping over trees and navigating drainage ditches I made it to the railway. The trail there was much easier to run and with the sun coming up I could see much better.

From what I understand the railway in Singapore is owned and maintained by Malaysia. Running there was like leaving Singapore. I felt like I was miles from town in a rural place. There were railroad ties scattered along the side of the trail. The grass was high in places and everything seemed more raw – something Singapore would never allow.

After about a mile I came to the Bukit Timah Railway Station. It is a small run-down building where people were waiting for the train. Again it was good to see something that had a touch of humanity to it – a building that had worn paint and old wood and character. I ran down a road that ended at Bukit Timah.

Back in Singapore I remembered that Jakeb said that the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve was not too far away and we should run up Bukit Timah Hill someday. I thought “today is that day” even though Jakeb was not with me. I turned on to Upper Bukit Timah and ran another mile to the base of Bukit Timah. The trail is very steep but paved. I ran about a third of the steepest part and had to walk. Someday I will run all the way to the top but my body will have to adapt to it.

I continued running when the trail grade was more runnable. Before I knew it I was standing on the highest point in Singapore (163 meters). Not nearly as dramatic as it sounds but fun to run no less.

I turned around and went back the way I came. The railroad trail was as enjoyable on the way back as it was on the run out. I found a way to get back to the road without running through the woods that was much less “snakey”.

It was good to leave Singapore for a couple of minutes. I will have to go back to Malaysia often.

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