20 June 2010

"Wetland in a City" - NEW book by Dr Chua Ee Kiam

Oh what a gorgeous work of art Dr Chua has created! I think it is his best book ever!
Although I have been to Sungei Buloh countless times, Dr Chua shares awesome images of my favourite place that I cannot imagine, or have simply failed to see!

The book was launched yesterday together with the Sungei Buloh Master Plan. And I deeply regret not being there. Thus another reason I hurried to the Reserve this morning and pawed through a public copy of his work.

Nothing stops Dr Chua from getting the FULL story. He even got a helicopter to take aerial shots!
Beyond the physical helicopter, Dr Chua also gives us the historical helicopter view and inside story of how our Sungei Buloh came to be. All the heart, heartache and hard work that went into things that we now take so much for granted. I did not know, for example, just how difficult it was to build the Main Bridge!
His labour of love documenting Sungei Buloh for three years shows us this glorious wilderness in our city in its full variety. We often think of mangroves as boring, mosquito-infested muddy places. But it is full of wonderful plants in amazing colours and shapes, brought to life by Dr Chua's images.
He shared with me how difficult it was to photograph tiny skittish crabs. But the gorgeous photos of these delightful jewels I'm sure made it all worth while.
He truly has a stunning selection photos of even the common creatures of Buloh. We see these in a new light with renewed love and respect.
And of course, plenty of great images of our favourites. With fascinating stories and information about them.
Sungei Buloh is home to a wide range of rare life. This spider has been the focus of much search and I'm glad to see that it has made it into the book!
Sungei Buloh is a paradise for birds and there's lots of photos of shorebirds from afar including the many rare ones that have dropped by the Reserve.
Even common sights of Buloh are revealed in a new light by Dr Chua's awesome eye!
Of course, Buloh is also about people. Especially about the people who make it possible. Dr Chua shares their stories and contributions, from the volunteers to the scientists and students, to the ever dedicated staff of this magnificent Reserve.
I am particularly delighted to see that Keith Hillier is featured too. Sungei Buloh was where I first started nature guiding. And Keith was the one who took me in and helped me to get started. It was at Buloh when I first learnt about Chek Jawa before reclamation was deferred. After which, I slid down the slippery slope to where I am today. So, in many ways, Sungei Buloh is very special to me.

It was a most unexpected treat to actually meet Dr Chua himself today! He was at the Bliss Cafe at the Reserve, having tea with Kim who runs the Cafe. Under his tutelage, Kim had taken this gorgeous photo of a sunbird daddy feeding his chicks! I am not surprised as Dr Chua is a generous teacher. I learnt enormously from him, about publishing books, taking images (though I still fail miserably on that account), and about life in general.
It is just like Dr Chua to use every opportunity to bring people together for the love of nature. His book showcases not just his own inimitable photos, but also images by many others including ordinary photographers. He always finds ways for everyone to join hands to celebrate our wonderful natural riches!

Where can I get the book?!
From the NParks media release:
A new coffee table book called 'Wetlands in the City' was also launched at the event. It is a joint collaboration between NParks and Dr Chua Ee Kiam, a prolific nature photographer cum writer, and a long time volunteer with NParks.

Featuring 360 vivid and stunning photos of the wetland reserve, the 176-page publication aims to showcase the wonders of mangroves, captured from various locations in the reserve such as boardwalks, trails, the observatory tower and the Main Bridge. Dr Chua has also documented the key milestones of Sungei Buloh, from its early days as an area of prawn farms and fruit orchards, to today's wetland reserve of rich biodiversity.

'Wetlands in the City' can be purchased at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, the Garden Shop and Library Shop at the Singapore Botanic Gardens from today onwards at $48 each. It is also available at major bookstores from mid July onwards.

More about Dr Chua and his book in the article Dr Chua Ee Kiam: Face-off with a cobra Magdalen Ng Straits Times 28 Nov 10;

While catching up with Dr Chua and Kim at the Cafe, we never cease looking at the amazing wildlife that pop up everywhere. In the trees, all manner of birds. In the water, a very lazy Malayan water monitor. So easy to photograph even with lazy Sneaky Cam.
The monitor is so lazy, it didn't even budge when the gianormous Arowana fish nearly slapped it in the face with its tail.
This, just after Dr Chua was sharing an exciting story about marauding otters, chomped up arowanas and scavenging monitors. Sungei Buloh is an amazing place, and I'm so glad that it will be bigger and better, and possibly be better connected with the wetlands in Johor! Awesome!


  1. Ria, thanks for sharing information of the book on your blog. The book took 3 years to do and there are no white pages! I was hoping that the press will write a book review soon. SB needs a rest from me!

    Hope not to stress you any further but I am actually looking forward to your new guide book. You obviously have enormous talent based on the design of the CJ guide book.

    best wishes

  2. I'm in awe of your book Dr Chua and I'm sure the media will cover it soon.

    Yes, I know I need to do a new guidebook, but it's so hard to find the time to do it. The field trips take a lot of time and energy. But will try my best to squeeze out some time especially after the exhausting morning tides are over.

    You're a great inspiration to me!



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