The Southern Ridges Trail and the Alchemist! 

Today I walk alone, I walk down the trail that I once walked with my dearest Friend. My first step and I miss her terribly. She is heading back home as her work here comes to a close.

Climbing up to Alexandra Arch (the bridge over the road) to start the trail.

In her company with constant chatter as we shared our views and our reviews. She shared her wisdom with me and I shared my problems with her. There was so much to share. Our struggles, our challenges, our friends, our acquaintances, our fears, our dreams, our plans, husbands and kids. Everything we shared.

The Forest Walk – the part of the trail which takes you above the trees

In all this sharing I had never noticed how quickly we walked through the trail. The scenery with its beautiful green trees were like the colours on a canvas in my mind. Maybe I had never even noticed the trees, something like riding a train and watching the surroundings zoom past.

The empty trail not a person around
So quiet – as not a soul around.

Today I felt every moment. As I pushed myself to go faster on the trail, maybe to distract my mind or maybe to get home early to finish the cooking. The trail was quiet. As I walked up the steel ramp, over the trees, the crickets and their constant sound welcomed me. I was in middle of the city close to the busy roads but no sounds of modern life. The tall buildings were the only reminder that I was in a city.

The tall building the only reminder of the modern city around lest one forget in the tranquility of the forest around.

My thoughts wander to the book I had been reading the night before. “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho.

He writes:

“We are travelers on a cosmic journey, stardust, swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.”

The trail slowly climbs higher as above the forest and ends at the Telok Blangah Hill Park.

I ponder over his words and I ponder over my relationships. They make so much sense. In my journey through life I had met many people- my partner, family, friends, the acquaintances and the strangers that criss-crossed my path. Some I even saw daily; nodded and smiled but no word was ever uttered. I feared the interaction thinking it to be ephemeral. Did I really want to know this person if she was gone tomorrow? Will I ever know how precious the interaction was that I never made.

The green vegetation on the hill.

As I walk I see stairs on my left, leading up. Today I know that they take me to the same place that the trail does but what about the time I didn’t know. I never took the unknown path fearing where I will end up. Many beautiful paths I missed to take as many beautiful interactions I missed to make.

One of the many stair paths that will cross you in the trail. Surprisingly they all go the same way as the main trail but offer a breathtaking detour. Do take them and fear not.

Paulo writes:

“I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living now.”

The trail continues to climb up to the ‘Henderson Waves’ bridge.

These words ring in my mind as if I could hear Paulo speak to me. The “present” I think. Do I really live in present? The constant quest for the next experience, for the better-than-today-moment. The desire for certainty. So many distractions and so many worries. The moment lost in troubles of the past or worries of the future. “Life is the moment we are living now”. So true! Yesterday is gone and we don’t know what the tomorrow will bring.

This adorable thing just sitting in a picture perfect pose, was not to be ignored

Paulo writes in another place in the book:

“The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And, if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better.”

The Henderson Waves- the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore.

I continue my walk as these thoughts flow through me. I pause and look around at the lush green trees. I pause to let in the sounds. I pause to look at the tall buildings of the city. I pause to enjoy the moment.

The stunning Singapore Skyline as one comes to Mount Faber.

The walk today seems more like a dream. There were clouds in the sky, a cool breeze blowing around me. The lush green but silent forest. I felt at peace. A dream like tranquility. I ponder over my dreams.

Paulo writes:

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”

Another staircase, another detour, another chance to enjoy the beautiful view.

I think back to the bygone days, the dreams lost and dreams I’m still trying to live. Many a dream I had dared not to dream. Many a dream never left my heart but stayed a dream as I never pursued it. Many a paths were never taken.

Paulo writes:

“People are afraid to pursue their most important dreams because they feel that they don’t deserve them, or that they’ll be unable to achieve them.”

At the Mount Faber point.

When did I stop pursuing my dreams? When did my childhood of interesting thoughts and theories, desires and things-to-do become the mundane. The everyday “ordinary”. I search for answers in my soul.

Looking down from Mount Faber.

Paulo writes:

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

Was I afraid of failing? Was I ever scared of my dreams? Maybe I was. Maybe I still am. My heart flutters and feels sad. Time gone by is the time lost. Never coming back. I let out a sigh.

In the far side is the Sentosa Island, the developments and the beautiful sea.

Paulo writes:

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”

On the Henderson Waves as I finally head home.

“It’s never too late and never is all lost” I tell myself. I can still dream, I can still search for myself. I can still continue the journey and I can still enjoy the moment. I can be whatever I choose to be. I can chart my own destiny. People come and people go but I must continue on my quest.

Paulo writes:

“Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him.”

I truly believe him and wonder what my treasure is. What is that awaits me in my destiny? Do I go on the hunt? Will I ever find it?

The view from the Henderson Bridge. The famous building structure called “the Reflections”. The many tanker vessels far out in the sea so clearly visible, the signs of the economic activity.

Paulo writes:

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”  

See who came to say “Hello” to me. My treasure for the day!

This sentence is engraved in my mind. I must have read it a few zillion times. It rings true. Strangely I believe in it. I’m almost near the end of trail. I pause for a moment to repeat this sentence to myself. With a smile I jog the remaining way home.

At the end of trail – as I finally head home.



Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist,” a fable about following your dreams, has sold more than 65 million copies worldwide, in more than 50 different languages, making it an international bestseller. It follows the story of a shepherd boy named Santiago who travels to Egypt after having a recurring dream about a treasure that awaited him there. If you haven’t read it please put it on your reading list. If you have read I suggest a reread. 



  1. This is beautiful.. stunning photographs and a very moving and powerfully introspective train of thoughts.

    “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

    Those are words etched onto my conscience…I have never doubted this truth for a second 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is so sad I almost cried while reading it.

    Your Heart still soaked with apprehension and trying to cope with a change after a loss of a friend.

    I guess, never keep hold of your feelings, speak what heart says let the feeling out.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My!! what a beautiful journey through your thoughts spectacularly interwoven with quotes and beautiful pictures! Loved it… I would so want to walk this trail one day inshaAllah

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Loved this post so beautifully written❤
    I have to buy Alchemist & have not read it yet but I will definitely in few days because I’ve heard so many good things about this book.

    Liked by 1 person

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