I was spending my weekend in Singapore recently and this time, the getaway was kinda different. Instead of hanging out in the Orchard Road area and back to the hotel nearby, I decided to call up a local friend this time. I’m not sure about his full name but I called him Ah Hock. He is attached to Singapore Post as one of the executives there. That weekend he was available so we made a plan to spend time together. I touched down Changi Airport late that Friday night, so I took a cab and went straight to Marina Mandarin, where I stayed. That day was a long one for me so I hit the sack right after shower.
The next day, I had an early breakfast with Ah Hock. He wanted to spend the weekend and bring me around to places I’ve never been. True, I come to Singapore quite frequent but hardly go to places where locals are going. Travel doesn’t seem to be enjoyable if we continue to go where every tourist would go. Below are the places he brought me which majority of them are out of the tourists radar.
“Travel doesn’t seem to be enjoyable if we continue to go where every tourist would go.”
MacRitchie Reservoir. We came here for a jog right after the light breakfast at the hotel. Aside from being a beautiful location for a jog, this reservoir owns 5 scenic hiking trails through the forest. Obviously I didn’t go to all, yet one of the path I went along gives a magnificent view of the reservoir and its surrounding trees.
Chinatown. Then we went to Chinatown as he wants to pick up another friend who is going to join us for a food fiesta of our own later. The busy alleys and shophouses of Chinatown are ripe with Chinese heritage, and a great place to load up on souvenirs too. We stopped by the hawker stalls and eateries along Smith Street for a quick drink. I could see prominent places of worship, including the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple to the Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple nearby.
Little India. We went for a brunch as lunch is too far away. He drove us to Little India. This area has lots of interesting lanes to explore. We had a little food adventure at Tekka Centre with authentic thosai and teh tarik. The place is like a food centre which also houses the wet and dry market sort of. Nearby, there are beautiful temples, sari shops and other shops that offer cheap eyebrow threading and intricate henna tattoos. Revel in the strong aromas of jasmine flowers, and an array of spices and herbs while you set your sights on the many quaint shops selling anything and everything from prayer items, flowers, Indian sweet treats to gold jewellery. Ah Hock told me that if it’s a kooky late night experience I’m after, try shopping at Mustafa Centre – the 24-hour shopping mall sells everything you could possibly want.
“Kampong Glam district has rows and rows of vibrant shophouses hiding quaint cafes, trendy boutiques, laidback bars, Middle-Eastern restaurants and more.”
Kampong Glam. Later that evening we had a short walk from Bugis MRT to this area. Kampong Glam district has rows and rows of vibrant shophouses hiding quaint cafes, trendy boutiques, laidback bars, Middle-Eastern restaurants and more. I went for a visit to the stately Masjid Sultan Mosque, truly a cultural building it is. Kampong Glam is a food haven for those who craves Malay and Arabic delicacies.
Pulau Ubin. Come Sunday morning we catch an early boat from Changi Village to Singapore’s biggest island. Pulau Ubin is like taking a step back in time – local villagers still live on the island and offer an insight into what life was like before Singapore became a busy city. We rent bikes near the ferry point and made our way around the rural island for a few good hours. We also head to a place called Chek Jawa. Chek Jawa is actually situated at the edge of the island, a great area if you want a short getaway from busy city life that costs next to nothing. Pack lots of sunscreen, homemade sandwiches, and bottled water and you’re good to go! Explore this pristine area teeming with biodiversity and embrace all the goodness of nature. Remember the cardinal rule: leave nothing but footprints, and take nothing but memories. I might come again to Pulau Ubin with my family!
Labrador Nature And Coastal Walk. Ah Hock told me about this place which we couldn’t make it that day. Consisting of Alexandra Garden Trail, Berlayer Creek mangrove trail and Bukit Chermin Boardwalk, Labrador Nature and Coastal Walk is a 2.1km trail under the purview of NParks. It is a great place to chill with friends and families, check out some nice fish there at Bukit Chermin Boardwalk, and look out for Giant Mudskippers (the largest mudskippers in the world) at Berlayer Creek!
Singapore River Cruise. Coming back to the city from Pulau Ubin, we took a quick shower at my hotel room then we went for a tranquil tour of Clarke Quay, Boat Quay’s colourful shophouses and historic bridges, plus Marina Bay’s modern landmarks by boarding a traditional bumboat. Here, I had the best view in town while learning about Singapore River’s long history. They said the boat ride is best done after sunset for an incredible view of twinkling city lights and the laser show. Pity, we were there early!
“Hey this joint is more than just a shop – it is a gathering place for people united in the love for comics.”
Atom Comics. I am a comic junkie, and Ah Hock knows it. So he brought me to Atom Comics. Hey this joint is more than just a shop – it is a gathering place for people united in the love for comics. It’s a comic haven for people like me. I strongly recommended for anyone with the slightest bit of interest in comics, as you’ll find all type from old-skool to the latest gig of comics here. If you want to come, find Atom Comics at The Cathay, nearby Dhoby Ghaut MRT.
Time to head home. I wish weekend has more days rather than Saturday and Sunday so that I can explore Singapore further. Well next time I will definitely ask Ah Hock for tips when I’m in Singapore again. For the first time in my life, I managed to ditch standard sightseeing for a true adventure!