Exploring Singapore on foot, and all that is of interest to those that feel that pedestrians (and cyclists) should be the top of the transport food chain for Singapore to be the best it can be.
Looking at the city for what it has to offer as a trailrunning habitat. Which involves a lot of out-of-the-box looking at running.
A site about running that isn’t only more of the same. A site about Singapore that isn’t only more of the same.
Those not interested in my verbose and meandering thoughts on running, urban life and the universe, but only look for running route suggestions, just go straight here.
My entry point is running, but there isn’t much that running as a subject of the Glassperlenspiel of thought isn’t connected to. So for some my ruminations may seem to digress far, maybe too far. Using the fancy German original rather than its official English translation (glass bead game) for what is one of my favorite terms for this kind of blogging (another being commonplace books/scrapbooks) is as indicative of the particular sensibility that underlies the choices of topics as is the sparsity of attention to what running blogs normally focus on, the sporty side of things like training regimes, races, injuries and gear. They may occasionally capture my imagination enough for a post, as I do off and on train, run races or volunteer at them, or feel the silly urge to add yet another voice to the madhouse of opinionated cyberspace chatter about running. But mostly this site is about other aspects of running, very basic aspects like the way it connects us with our bodies and our environment, and what individuals and societies lose when those connections wither away. Labeling my universe of interest pedestrianism is my way of flagging that running can be way more than many think.
I’ve blogged before, about everything that took my fancy. Closed that blog down for a variety of reasons but have mined previous writing for things that seem relevant for this new topical blog. So this site contains a fair amount of self-plagiarism, which shouldn’t really matter, as the old stuff is basically nowhere else available anymore. When it is, I’ll reference it. Exploring pedestrianism, opens doors to many seemingly unrelated pursuits. The crux is in the ‘seemingly’ because I’m very much of the persuasion that nothing can be fully understood without taking ‘everything else’ (the meaning of life and the universe – yes I agree it’s 42), into account. Obviously ‘fully’ is an ideal and I promise to make an effort to keep running in sight and stay within defensible limits. But be warned: I do enjoy pushing those limits. Too much mind game fun. But also, at least to me, revelatory and practically consequential. If I really go off the rails, please let me know!
The best quick intro I’ve come across about running Singapore is the below. Despite Andy being just a visitor I think that most local runners will agree with his pick of routes/areas. A major ambition of this site is to show or at least argue for more routes/areas being worthwhile, be it that for some you need to open what for most will be unfamiliar doors of perception (to use Aldous Huxley‘s great phrase), and some would need a willingness of Singapore’s authorities to (re)consider accessibility decisions and/or infrastructure preferences. This site hopes to offer both runners and planners persuasive and enticing arguments for some changes in perspective.
It is about Singapore because I recently moved here and most of my pedestrian explorations are now here. Running/walking this new habitat throws up a continuous stream of questions, ideas and comparisons, that are triggered by the running but by necessity digress into history, urban planning, social engineering, understandings of what makes for good and responsible living, and plenty other topics. The short teaser below emphasises Singapore’s continuous change. That is indeed a very prominent feature of the place. But I am as much interested in continuities, real or imagined, and possibilities, feasible or not yet, as in ongoing change.
Like pedestrianism can only be really understood by looking at all its variations (not only the prototypical federation-regulated and recognized sport-disciplines), and at the hybrids at its boundaries with e.g. walking, mountaineering, dance, acrobatics, (and where they cease to be hybrids and turn into avarage denizens of the neighbouring territory), no city can be really understood without going beyond its particulars. Whatever observations, insights, suggestions (undoubtedly including some misunderstandings and stupidities) I come up with about Singapore, all are rooted in my personal history of living and exploring a number of cities in Europe, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia and China, reading about them and comparing them. So my Singapore reflections go hand in hand with a fair measure of urbanism hobby-horsing and sometimes beyond. To repeat myself: if I really go off the rails, please let me know!
Urban running in Singapore often hits cycle-paths, especially its growing network of park connectors. For planners and residents thinking about how to make their city more livable its walkability & cyclability are eggs in the same basket. For me, coming from The Netherlands, the emblematic cycling country (and yes, I know, Denmark’s PR is better, but we beat them by a mile in terms of cycling infrastructure and culturally ingrained use of bicycles for commuting and transportation), cycling is a good thinking tool for looking at any car-centric cityscape. And Singapore is definitely car-centric. It may have turned the corner in urban planning philosophy or it may not yet, I am unsure. But lots of what can improve Singapore’s cyclability would also make it a better place for pedestrians.
A major exception to this last statement is that cycle paths are normally asphalt, tarmac, concrete, something hard. Thinking “cyclable” usually doesn’t imply having an eye for the importance of softer surface trails, and often goes hand in hand with the urge to turn everything into a smooth hard surface. Singapore’s technocrats certainly don’t seem to have much appreciation for messy, muddy, uneven trails, and even compromises like gravel paths seem unpopular in planning circles. I have a thing with trails, and am constitutionally unable to keep my mouth shut about the importance of feet being able to regularly feel something other than featureless, unresponsive hardness.
music, art & other diversions
Language is a powerful tool, but sometimes other tools work better or add something worthwhile to a verbal description, analysis, story, argument, whatever I’m trying to do. However, many of the embedded extra’s you’ll come across have no other ambition than to amuse, entertain and make your time on the site and with particular posts more enjoyable. However, the choices I make are always based on some kind of resonance that video or image has with what my writing is trying to convey. If you hear that resonance, all the better, if not, I at least hope that you share my taste. If not, bad luck.
Let’s kick off right away with this:
navigating and searching
This site is not optimized for mobile phones and best viewed on a laptop/PC/tablet (really! sorry for that).
Living up to my all-is-connected outlook on life, the site is a web of content the parts of which are often connected by various threads. I’ve made an effort to ensure that you can easily navigate its little universe of content, visiting any place following threads from any other, and back, without getting lost. Suggestions for improvement are very welcome.
Some pages are quite long. To support navigatibility they contain a clickable list of their content at the top. Also, as soon as you scroll down a ‘return to top’ button will appear in middle of the black bar on top of the page.
This site can be searched in various ways. The right column has four different search possibilities:
- Archives lists all posts by the month they were published
- Search offers a free text search facility
- Categories lists all posts by major theme
- Keywords list posts by specific key words
Many pages and posts refer to interesting resources and make them accessible by way of a hyperlink. Those that I find particularly interesting, thought-provoking, and relevant are also listed (with a short description) on the resources page. Not everything that I find really interesting for the exploration of (urban) running, Singapore, and the spiderweb of connections that these are embedded in ends up in a post. So the resources page deserves a visit on its own merits.
Anything I publish on this blog site invites comments and discussion. Please use the contact form toget in touch with me.