Meet a group of ladies who get together every week to guide fellow explorers on a guided walk through Singapore. What started out as a regular catch-up between good friends has today turned into a very cool program that gives back to a great cause.
Here’s their story..
How did this idea come about and what did it take to bring it to life?
Sandra and I walk every Thursday morning with around 20-30 (mostly Dutch) expat ladies through Singapore. Every week two of them guide the others through new areas and new routes are made regularly. But… It is inherent to expat life that at some point the expat will leave and with them also the knowledge of some of the best routes leaves. They kept saying to each other that “we really should write these routes out”, but it never went any further.
Can you tell us a little about this project and who exactly is behind it?
We decided at some point to put those words into action and started writing it all up. The ladies of the walking group donated the routes freely and helped by checking the instructions and making sure that everything was correct. One of the ladies in the walking group turned out to be a graphic designer. Kim [Scheepers] offered her help to do the design for the book, and when she gave us her ideas we knew it was going to look amazing.
The walking ladies also funded most of the first edition, by buying perks in an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. It really was an amazing collaboration of many different minds, and Sandra and I could not have done it without the ladies. Not only did they give us the routes, funded the first edition, but they also gave us tips and tricks and little bits of info that we could add to the book, making it fun to use while walking.
Who is the book designed to help – locals, foreigners or both?
The Book of Walks is really for everyone who likes to walk. We figured that mostly expats would be interested, but we got great reactions from Singaporeans as well who told us that they haven’t even been to all the places we go to in the Book.
What are some of the most popular walks we can expect, and how have you added more colour to them?
The book contains 15 walks that are between 8 and 12 km long, with point by point instructions and a map. The routes start and finish at MRT stations or give instructions on what bus to take to the nearest MRT station. The book also contains pictures of what to expect at the various walks and little bits of information so you know what to look out for, or of the history about a certain place. They even suggest which routes are great to take guests or tourists on. When you live in Singapore, you’d like to see different things than when you visit the place for a few days. So the City walk is excellent for guests or tourists, while the Yishun walk is not necessarily their cup of tea.
What are some of the walks we perhaps might not be too familiar with?
Singapore is so beautiful and so diverse. There is the quiet and serene Bukit Brown, the HDB heaven that is Punggol, from which you walk to Coney Island. And did you know there is a lot of jungle on Sentosa that hardly anyone goes to? And that Changi Village has a 2 km boardwalk that is amazing? How to compare that to the Joo Chiat walk with all the different quirky houses and the long stretch along the East Coast?
Where can we buy this book?
Sandra has already had to move to the Netherlands, so we decided to donate the books to the charities and they take care of the sales themselves. This has the added advantage that buyers know where their money is going. So at the moment The Book of Walks is for sale at the following locations:
• RDA: 5 Jln Mashhor, Singapore 299174
• NCA: Hollandse Club, 22 Camden Park, Singapore 299814
• online for NCA: http://www.nca.org.sg/shop/book-of-walks/
100% of the proceeds go to two charities: RDA and NCA.
Why did you choose those charities and not others?
Before we actively started working on the book, we realized it was going to cost money and going to make money. Since both Sandra and I felt it wasn’t our money to make, we immediately decided to donate the money to charity. Sandra was an active volunteer with RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association Singapore) and Pleun volunteered with NCA (Netherlands Charity Association), so that is why they chose those charities.
Can you tell us a little about the charities the proceeds will be going to?
NCA is an independent and non-profit organization established in 1968 and raises funds to support local charities, projects and initiatives and depends entirely on contributions from individual supporters, corporate sponsors and fundraising activities. Even though they have “Netherlands” in their name, they are a charity for all expats in Singapore. NCA is officially registered with the Registry of Societies of Singapore (UEN. S81SS0008A).
RDA was founded in 1982, with just five riders and whole lot of heart. Riding for the Disabled Association of Singapore (RDA) is the only charity in Singapore to provide free therapeutic and rehabilitative horse-riding for children and adults with disabilities. Since 1982, more than 6,000 riders have experienced the benefit of the therapy that our horses and ponies so lovingly provide. RDA is a registered charity in Singapore (registered under Charities Act UEN: S82SS0081H)
Will there be a Part 2 coming up? Perhaps in other cities?
A part 2 is not in the planning, but never say never ☺