The Thomson Nature Park just officially opened today, where you can expect to see the ruins of an old Hainanese village (circa 1930s) and, maybe, spot a rare species of monkey along its trails.
This is the fifth “buffer” park – together with Springleaf Nature Park, Zhenghua Nature Park, Chestnut Nature Park and Windsor Nature Park – that rings around the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. The 50-hectare site is bounded by Old Upper Thomson Road and Upper Thomson Road.
See rare wildlife
The park is home to Sambar deer, Lesser mousedeer, Malayan porcupine, and the Straw-headed bulbul. It’s also home to the very rare Raffles’ Banded Langur (aka banded leaf monkey). These shy and elusive primates are black with white rings around their eyes. Discovered by Sir Stamford Raffles almost 200 years ago, they’re native to Singapore – only about 60 of them remain today.
The park’s freshwater stream is also a habitat for the Malayan box terrapin and, the cinnamon frog, and the near-threatened spotted tree frog.
Visit ruins of a Hainanese village
There are also remnants of a Hainanese village within the park – established by Hainanese immigrants who were the last of the Chinese communities to settle in Singapore back in the 1930s.
It once housed almost 100 residents by the 1960s, all of whom came from various dialect groups and ethnicities. However, due to housing development plans in the 1980s, the last of the residents left, and the land was eventually returned to nature.
Today, you can see vignettes of the villagers’ past, told through boards along the trails and elsewhere in the park.
How to explore the park
The best way is to explore the five trails spanning 3.8km – each between 0.15km and 1.5km long – around the former village’s road network, developed to provide insights into life during the kampung days.
The Ruins and Figs Trail (1.5km) lets you experience the heritage highlights of the Hainan Village, taking you past abandoned wells, pottery jars, building foundations and even old road networks.
The Stream and Ferns Trail (1.4km) takes you past the freshwater habitat where there’s a great diversity of ferns and aquatic animals.
You can also explore the Rambutan Trail (0.4km), Langur Trail (.15km), and the Macaque Trail (0.35km) to see other parts of the park.