A girl’s got to do more than run if she’s to enjoy life’s other pleasures, so when I’m not sprinting around or working out, I like to discover new and unusual places.
As a newcomer to Singapore, my motives are selfish: Not only do I want to check out places that delight my eyes, ears and palate, but when family and friends come on holiday, I want to take them to places they won’t see anywhere else.
Here are my current top picks:
Location: 81 Lor Chencharu; northern Singapore
How to get here: Take bus 39, 85, 851, 852, 853, 854, 855, 857, 858, 965 or 969 to Yishun station. Driving? Exit the SLE at Exit #3 (Lentnor Avenue); turn left at Yishun Avenue.
Why I visit: Because nature calms me down and ORTO has the mother lode of nature: seven football fields-worth of lush greenery within the nation’s first multi-recreational park. It’s open 24/7 and when I can’t sleep, this is where I come for my tranquility fix. When I’m awake, I drop by for concerts, events and great eateries!
Location: Bedok Reservoir
How to get here: If you’re driving, take the PIE Changi, Exit 6 Bedok North Avenue 3. Buses 5, 18, 21, 22, 28, 59, 65, 67, 69, 168 will get you here; exit Clearwater Condo or opposite Clearwater Condo.
Why I visit: This is where I overcame my fear of heights! I usually do the Grand Course because it frightens me most. There are 35 obstacles to be surmounted in addition to a zip line experience. I’ve taken the safety briefing repeatedly. My pulse still skyrockets. Perhaps I’m a glutton for punishment, because I keep going back.
Location: The top storey of Bugis at 201 Victoria Street #07-07.
How to get here: Ask any teenage girl how to get to the mall on Bugis!
Why I visit: I tried taking my kitty to cat cafes and suffered the consequences: he freaked out. Instead, I take Meatball, a friend’s dog, to We are the Furballs, a dog café. I chase him like crazy until our tongues hang out. No kids allowed; it’s just me, Meatball and pooches of other café patrons. We’ve been known to share a beverage, but I keep this information private. If my cat finds out, I’m in deep trouble.
Location: 10 Bayfront Avenue
How to get here: Hire a taxi. If you can afford to swim here, forget buses.
Why I visit: I’ve got one rich uncle who can afford to stay at this 55-story resort with a swimming pool that’s 650-feet in the air. Were it not for him, I wouldn’t be able to report on the “vanishing edge” pool that made me feel I was going over a waterfall, but without a barrel. Unless you’re a guest or a guest’s guest, you’ll be booted out – if you even make it off the high-rise elevator in the first place.
Location: Near Ketam Quarry on the west side of Pulau Ubin on the Singapore coast
How to get here: Follow the Ketam bike trail and signs to the shrine.
Why I visit: When I need an excuse to take a long bike ride, I visit the German Girl Shrine because it intrigues me. Supposedly, a German girl whose parents owned a plantation was about to be captured by conquering Brits when she escaped and promptly fell off a cliff. Nobody’s certain she’s buried beneath the shrine, yet pilgrims flock here anyway and leave incense, idols, dolls and nail polish on the shrine’s altar.
Location: 262 Pasir Panjang Road
How to get here: Take the new Circle line and get off at the stop bearing the name of this scary location
Why I visit: When I feel guilty because I ignore my regular run schedule, I go to hell to repent — actually, I go to Haw Par Villa where the Ten Courts of Hell scare me back on my regular training schedule. One travel blogger describes the place as Chinese folklore meets Alice in Wonderland. I must agree.
Location: Sembawang Rd, Singapore
How to get here: Simpang Kiri Park Connector begins at Yishun Ave 2 and runs along Yishun Industrial Park
Why I visit: Kayaking makes a fun diversion, but since I’m not a member of the Nature Society, I’m not usually allowed to kayak here. That’s why infrequent “open to the public” days always grab my attention. The next one is scheduled for 28th August, but registration is limited and must be sorted by 14th August, so if you put this off, you’ll literally and figuratively be up the creek without a paddle. For information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Location: 28 Maxwell Road
How to get here: To reach the MAAD Market at the Red Dot Museum take the MRT to Tanjong Pagar.
Why I visit: Friends expect more from me than a nice card and a gift culled from the mall when their birthdays roll around, which is why I prefer offbeat and downright quirky flea markets to those shiny emporiums. My favourite was the decades-old Sungei Road Thieves Market (Jalan Besar and the Rochor Canal Road)— but sadly, it’s closed due to construction, but I still have the MAAD Market at the Red Dot Museum to turn to when I search for something unique.
Location: On Sembawang Air Base grounds; a short walk from Gambas Avenue.
How to get here: Park the car at Block 114 and walk to Sembawang (a 15 minute stroll)
Why I Visit: Because before I ever heard of this place, I was convinced of the healing and therapeutic properties in hot spring water, and I wanted to see for myself how it worked. Since the springs are open from 07:00 to 19:00, I went late and enjoyed soothing my aching legs. Had I come early, I would likely have found myself in the company of families who bring eggs with them to conduct science experiments with their children!
Location: Ang Mo Kio corners and elsewhere
How to get here: Check out the aforementioned club site to see where events are being held
Why I visit: Until I witnessed this gathering of caged birds on poles on Sunday competition days, I thought this was a joke. Don’t tell that to bird owners whose caged pets are on display at pre-announced corners so judges can decide whose bird sings and dances best. You read that right. Judging from the number of trophies being given out to bird owners, this is serious business, but don’t show up if you prefer not to be engaged in a heated discussion with Singaporeans who take their singing and dancing birds very seriously.
Have you visited any of the sites I mentioned in this article? How about adding to my list by sending me your own favourites?