Things To Do

I Let My Dog Take Me On A Walk In My Neighbourhood & Here’s What We Discovered Along The Way

Dog walking in Toa Payoh

Standing at just a foot tall is Coco, my family’s beloved mini poodle. Some of her favourite things in the world are stuffed animals, bites of watermelon and going for walks.

In the past seven years that she’s been with us, we’ve always taken the same route around our neighbourhood – the playground downstairs and then a walk around the block – much to her chagrin. Because anyone who’s familiar with mini poodles knows that they like veering off course whenever something piques their curiosity.

Today, however, I had quite a bit of time on my hands, so I thought I would finally let Coco do what she’s always wanted to do. I let her take me on a walk in my neighbourhood and discovered interesting nooks I hadn’t noticed before.

Sniffing around Toa Payoh Town Park

We started our walk at Toa Payoh Town Park. Occasionally, this was where my family liked to bring Coco for extended walks and play time. Today, I let Coco sniff around and decide where we should go.

1. Observation Tower

The first place that Coco pulled me towards was the Observation Tower in the middle of Toa Payoh Town Park. When Coco and I were much sprightlier, we would climb up the tower to play “house spotting”. It was a game my family invented to see who could spot our flat from up here.

Due to our busy schedules, it’s been a while since our family has brought Coco to this spot. I wonder if Coco led us here to relive some of that nostalgia. The stairs to the top were closed off today, so we weren’t able to climb up to play our usual game. But otherwise, Coco’s wagging tail showed me she was pleased with her chosen route.

2. Hexagonal Bridge

After we left the tower, Coco started pulling me towards the Hexagonal Bridge. Upon walking over, I immediately realised why – she wanted to take a look at the fish in the pond, her favourite critters to observe.

Coco and I had walked over this bridge a number of times before, but this was the first time I had noticed there were actually fish swimming around in the water. I watched on in delight, as Coco yapped at the koi whenever they popped their heads above the water to say hello.

3. Park benches

I knew Coco was starting to feel a little hot under the sun because she kept trying to nudge me to walk in the shade. This seemed like a good time for a short break at the park benches, where she plopped herself down after a drink of water.

This rest stop was an opportune place to daze out for a moment and take in my surroundings. Although this park was a haunt our family went to occasionally, we rarely took the time to observe the area. In the distance, Coco and I spotted birds trying to build a nest and a couple of squirrels scurrying around from tree to tree.

Following strangers around the heartlands

We soon made our exit out of Toa Payoh Town Park, and instead of heading home, Coco seemed to still want to explore the Toa Payoh heartlands.

4. Dragon Playground

Coco led me eastwards. I had a hunch where she wanted to go – the nostalgic Dragon Playground. Coco is quite the extroverted pup who loves getting pats from strangers – kids especially. She enjoys the attention young ones give her and will flop over for belly rubs whenever they’re near.

I guess she was hoping there would be kids to play with her today. Unfortunately there were no kids today, but there was a guy taking photos at the playground. I approached him and asked if he could help snap photos of Coco and I. My superstar of a dog gamely posed for her portraits.

5. Toa Payoh Vista Market

The guy, whom I got to know as James, and I started talking. I found out that he lived near the Toa Payoh Vista Market. He was heading back, and Coco, possibly enamoured by him, took the cue and followed him. I guess that’s where we were headed next.

James let Coco and I tag along and we started talking about the one thing that unites Singaporeans – food. He shared that one of his favourite Nyonya kueh stores was at this market.

I thought I would give their ang ku kueh a try, and bought a couple for us as a tea time snack. I wasn’t one for Nyonya kuehs, but this was actually tasty without being overly sweet. Without the help of my newfound friend, I would never have thought to try this in my own neighbourhood.

Exploring other parts of Toa Payoh

We said our farewells and parted ways after this. It was getting late and Coco and I had to make our way home soon, but not before making two more stops in our journey.

6. Toa Payoh Sensory Park

Perhaps to get her fill of belly rubs, Coco walked me over to Toa Payoh Sensory Park. The park is made for little ones with its sculptures and playthings built to engage the senses. As it was close to dinner time, kids were already making their way home. But Coco and I got to experience the park for ourselves.

Coco and I had a lot of fun here. I got to see things like optical illusions, while Coco enjoyed smelling flowers and playing fetch with sticks. She also got distracted by her reflection in the mirrors, but I don’t blame her. She’s a cutie and if I looked that good, I would spend time looking at myself too.

7. Dinosaur Playground

Our last stop for the day was the Dinosaur Playground, which Coco serendipitously led me to. Perhaps it was her final attempt to find kiddos to play with.

Despite her small stature, Coco enjoyed running around the playground, chasing her tail and barking at the dinos, until she tired herself out. She tugged at her leash, leading me towards home. We made it back, and Coco promptly fell asleep in her favourite spot.

Walk, cycle or ride around Singapore

My walk with Coco around Toa Payoh may have been a lengthy one, but it led me to rediscover places within my neighbourhood.

Singapore is so well-connected that you can easily get around on foot, bicycles and public transport. Plus, these are all sustainable ways to travel. By walking, cycling or hopping on a bus or train, you cut your carbon footprint by up to 75% as compared to driving the same distance.

Getting around like this also gives you unique experiences, like the ones Coco and I had on our walk. If you’ve been inspired by our journey, you can follow our route above to discover the heartlands. Or head down for a walk or bike ride through your own neighbourhood for precious moments you might otherwise never get to experience if you were driving.

Plus, creating new memories with your loved ones or reliving nostalgic moments like Coco and I did might just get you $100 in CapitaLand vouchers. Land Transport Authority is encouraging the public to share their #OTWstories (on the way stories). It’s about discovering the little moments in our daily commutes – be it through walking, cycling, or taking a bus or train ride.

If you’ve got a story to tell about your journey, post it to your Instagram feed or reels with the hashtag #OTWstories, and tag @ltasg. Do be sure to keep your account public to enter. 10 of the most creative and relevant entries will get to win the vouchers.

Now, get out there and explore Singapore with these greener transport modes. You never know what you’ll encounter next.

Find out more about the #OTWstories contest here

This post was brought to you by Land Transport Authority.
Photography by Zhou Jinquan.

Raewyn Koh

Old millennial.

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