Anita Sebastian – Adventures of the Island Girls

I am delighted to share a guest post by Anita Sebastian. Anita and I met in Singapore years ago when I ran the global ArtScience Prize and visited Singapore at least once a year to participate in their ideas festival. Anita is a writer and editor. She spends many hours in the forests and reserves in Singapore. Her books, the Ranger Anne series of children’s books is a reflection of her love for the animals and the natural environment. Sharing passions, inspiring more joy, love and laughter is the intent of everything we highlight on the blog. Please enjoy this delightful post by Anita – I sure did. xo, Carrie

There comes a time in your life where you feel the need to step back and take a fresh look at your motivation for your choices and decisions. Some may call it a mid-life crisis or more recently, the new normal.

If flights were not taking off last year and this year, and who knows what will come next year, this means for me the Camino de Santiago walk in Spain would also off the table. Again. So I decided to walk my Camino right here in Singapore in my own way, masks and all.

Initially I started walking home from work. It took about 2 hours with a stop for a drink. It was about 10-12km navigating through roadworks, strange roads and traffic lights. The most interesting part was the stares and questions, “Where are you from?” Answer: Oh, just walking home.

When a childhood friend suggested on Facebook that I walk up to Mount Faber, I was delighted to see other childhood friends interested to do the walk with me. And this sparked the beginning of the Adventures of the Island Girls.

Here we are at Bukit Timah Hill. A difficult uphill incline with so many steps.

Having grown up in the same primary/secondary school, we have shared memories of school and life in old Singapore. Other than wanting to walk our nature trails, we had another thing in common: searching out good old-style local food. This was added motivation to walk, walk, walk and make space for goodies! A win-win situation.

We walked through a reservoir-nature reserve, climbed a rather tough hill loaded with inclines and steps, walked on park trails that led to coastal waters, and traversed over our lovely Coney Island as well.

As we leave footprints in forest trails and mangroves, we are blessed to encounter an array of fauna and flora that come together to make up a fragile yet resilient ecosystem filled with a biodiversity that would thrill any zoologist, botanist or environmentalist.

All that is needed is a little patience and a sense of wonder. And let’s not forget – good people to share them with. The Japanese concept of Shinrin-Yoku is so true.

We’ve spotted numerous brightly coloured birds and spiders along the trails.  As well as so many varieties of mushrooms such as the brackets from the ganoderma species, mushrooms ala smurf from the lepiota species, and even the elusive stinkhorn with a lace skirt.

Keep your eye open for giant inviting ferns, lichens, and uber tall trees with trunks so wide and roots so strong that also serve as resting spots! Breathe in the fresh air and allow all your senses to re-awaken.

Hmmm and also keep an eye on your friends.
There are joyful photo ops everywhere you turn!

The Island Girls at their best!

The joy of shared experiences, the laughter, the wonder, the injuries, the lost trails… priceless.

I am still solo walking at other times. During these times, I look out for what ‘sparks joy’ for me: green plants, flowers, tall trees, birds, crickets, the moon and dinosaurs.

Left: The moon shines bright on my way home. Picture taken from an overhead bridge.
Right: With a dinosaur at a nearby playground on my walk home. Can you caption it?

With each walk, I can feel my mind and body changing:

  • my mood is better,
  • my energy levels increase,
  • I sleep better at night, and
  • I am able to focus and engage in good critical thinking and analysis the next day.

I am happier and also able to share this distinctive “green” joy with others. When the busyness takes over, I know I can put on my shoes and walk the trails again.

I hope you find your Island Girls too.
Let the adventures begin! <3

“And the moon said to me: my darling, you do not have to be full in order to shine”.