We’ve known that Marina Bay Sands, Changi Airport, Merlion Park, Universal Studios Singapore, Jurong Bird Park, Sentosa Island are brands that Singapore owns. They are Singapore’s word-class attractions that brings millions of visitors annually. But do you know that Singapore despite being a young nation, still has a lot to offer to the world? It has more than 100 historic sites, complete with markers that tell the stories of days gone by. By taking the road less travelled, you will be surprised at just how close to your doorstep such adventures can be. Singapore National Day celebrates its 52nd Independence on August 9, 2017; let’s dig deeper into the nation’s very rich cultural and natural heritage as we present some of its hidden treasures.
1. Southern Ridges
The Southern Ridges is a beautiful 10km stretch of green open spaces perfect for walking trails, spanning the hills of some of Singapore’s most popular parks and gardens, connected by picturesque ridges and pathways. It crosses Kent Ridge Park, Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park, Hort Park, Labrador Park and Harbour Front on the Southern Ridge of Singapore.
At the top of the trail is the Jewel Box, a bar, restaurant and refreshment area. Southern Ridges is characterized by sheltered areas, rain forest and a variety of flora and fauna in their natural habitat. The place offers panoramic views and amazing sights and sounds of the forest.
2. Keppel Hill Reservoir
This is one of Singapore’s abandoned reservoirs that has been off the map and was rediscovered in 2014. The 2m-deep forgotten reservoir, reported to be dated as early as 1905, had appeared in the early maps. But by the fifties, it had vanished from the maps and its location was not officially marked for sixty years.
Remnants of the reservoir still exist today, such as concrete steps, an old diving board and a bathing area. New pipes and pumps, appear to be in fine working conditions, linking to the reservoir that is only about one-third of an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The reservoir still has a working water filtration system and houses many different types of wildlife.
3. Fort Siloso
Fort Siloso is a former coast artillery battery. It is the only remaining battery which has been restored, out of the twelve batteries placed in strategic positions which comprised “Fortress Singapore” at the beginning of WWII. Today the fort has been fitted with elements to bring history alive for the tourists. There are interactive exhibits recreating dramatic scenes from the part. Visitors are taken on a tour tram as guides describe the site and explain its role in the defense of the Malayan region. Visitors can explore the tunnels; see guns and cannons, film clips and historic photographs.
4. Orchard Road
Commonly referred to as Orchard, it is a boulevard that is 2.2 kilometers long and considered Singapore’s shopping and entertainment hub. It is locally called Tang Leng Pa Sat Koi by the Chinese Singaporeans and Vaira Kimadam by the Tamil people. Orchard Road gets its name from the numerous plantations and orchards that were present in that area in the 19th century and earlier. Popular legend also attributes the name to Mr. Orchard, the owner of many of the plantations in that neighborhood. Some of the numerous buildings from the colonial times that are worth checking out; are now luxury hotels. There are a number of cool restaurants and cafes to visit for some great food. It is also home to Istana, the official residence of the President of Singapore.
5. Pulau Ubin
Pulau Ubin which literally means “Granite Isalnd,” first appeared on a map in an 1828 sketch of the Island of Singapore as Pulo Obin and in Franklin and Jackson’s map as Po. Ubin. Simply known as Ubin, it is an island situated in the north east of Singapore, to the west of Pulau Tekong. Granite quarrying supported a few thousand settlers on Pulau Ubin in the 1960s, but only about a hundred villagers live there today. It is one of the last rural areas to be found in Singapore, with an abundance of natural flora and fauna.