This article has been written by Andy Tay
The Singapore Zoo, A swim in the Infinity pool at Marina Bay Sands and poses with the Merlion….*YAWNNNN* Singapore is NOT just iconic buildings and themed parks you know? Show your visitors something new, something different, something uniquely Singapore. And hor, I guarantee you some readers probably haven’t heard of these places either!
1) Durian Eating Tour in Geylang
The King of Fruits has to be introduced, no matter the reaction. But if it ain’t your friends’ cup of tea, there’s always other great food and sights around Geylang to indulge in.
Maybe after the durians, you might bring your visitors to have a tour of the lorongs?
(You know what we’re talking about… it’s all implied…but you know what we’re talking about…)
2) Bukit Brown Cemetery
To not visit the largest Chinese cemetery outside of China, is a grave mistake. Thousands of tombs belonging to prolific pioneers and business people of Singapore’s yester-years lay at sleep here. Its been named on the “World Monuments Watch 2014”, a first for any site in Singapore. Controversially, a part of Bukit Brown will be cleared for modernisation.
If history, culture, nature and insects are your cup of tea, you won’t want to miss this place. Volunteers (affectionally know as “brownies”) organise free tours regularly. Do hook up with them as they enchant you with stories of Singapore’s glorious past.
3) Back-Street Barber
This is Uncle Goh, one of the last remaining barbers in Singapore who still operates on a road side. Get a haircut and a shave, al fresco style. The man has over 35 years of hair cutting experience and he snips faster than you can say “Edward Scissorhands”.
Goh is not the only backstreet barber in Singapore. You’ll find him at Aliwal Street. Other backstreet barbers can be found perhaps in Tanjong Pagar or Siglap. We say “perhaps” because at the pace Singapore is growing, these trades will soon be a thing of the past.
4) Ministry of National Development – An overview of Singapore
Yeesssss…. bet you’ll never thought a Government building would make for an interesting place to visit! The MND hosts wooden architectural models of different parts of Singapore. The main one sits in its lobby and shows you a bird’s eye view of the city centre. Quite fascinating if you ask me. Once you’re done with the building, the surrounding streets play host to hawker centres, Korean restaurants and the Red Dot Museum (which was once the old Traffic Police Headquarters).
5) Soup Kitchen Volunteer with Willing Hearts
Would you like to contribute in some ways to the less privileged people in Singapore? How about joining these group of volunteers in the morning as they help prepare food which they serve free to the poor and aged? Whatever your ability, you’re always welcome! The Willing Hearts soup kitchen operates every day so go on, be of service!
6) Pulau Ubin and the Chek Jawa Wetlands
Pulau Ubin is a 10min boat ride from Changi, and you have to come and pay a visit. Step off the boat and you’re taken 40 years back in history. Time stands still yes. Much of the island is undeveloped, left the way it was. Rent a bicycle and spin down to Chek Jawa, dodging wild boars and cruise in the shade of magnificent bamboo trees along the way. During low-tide, you can walk on the mangrove beach and spot lots of cool flora and fauna too.
7) Kranji Countryside
Now who says that Singapore is all city and no country? Be surprised – goats to frogs, fishes to quails, even crocodiles and banana farms! You’ll want to visit Gardenasia for a good lunch, go to Bollywood Farms for a banana cake and visit the many, many ornamental fish farms along the way. Kranji even hosts one of Singapores (perhaps only?!) pottery kilns. There are pockets of surprises everywhere, go hunt them out!
8) Hot Spring in Sembawang
This is not the hot spring you would expect like in Japan or Taiwan. Like all things modern and Singaporean, even a spring has to be pumped via a tap! It’s the only natural hot spring on the main island of Singapore and is believed to have healing properties. Very popular during the weekends as people bring buckets and soak their weary feet in.
9) Kampong Buangkok
As the last surviving “kampong” of Singapore, this is really a treasure to behold. The “Kampong” is Malay for “village” and you can catch a glimpse of how Singaporeans lived before public housing or HDB flats came about around 1965. Better Instagram the place before the Government gets to it!
10) Haw Par Villa
This mythical themed park is definitely one of Asia’s weirdest. No, you won’t find unicorns spewing rainbows. You’ll find demons cutting off tongues of sinners in the afterworld. Oh yes. And you’ll also get to see what happens to philandering husbands whom cheat on their wives. (Hint: it involves big knives, rabbied demonic dogs and sockets where eyes are supposed to be)
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