To satisfy my curiosity and to keep in touch with what’s new, hot and happening in Singapore’s suburban towns, my family recently visited nex, the biggest shopping mall at the Northeastern part of Singapore.
Nestled amidst the balmy seaside town of Pasir Ris, Downtown East has positioned itself as a playground for the average Joe, providing entertainment in all its forms to unionists, members of the public, and their families. The transformation of what used to be NTUC Pasir Ris Resort into this one-stop mecca of mass entertainment was pretty extraordinary, considering how sleepy and rustic it used to be. Many people now know that you can get a lot more than just chalets at this Eastern destination.
My family and I decided to check out Downtown East yesterday, after being away from it for a few years. Here’s our visual journey.
With a huge building looming large, the external facade of Downtown East has transformed dramatically from holiday resort to shopping mall.
The Mid-Autumn, Mooncake or Lantern Festival always carries special meaning for me. It is one of those occasions where you just simply have to be out at night to soak in the sights, sounds, scents and sweetness (mooncakes!) of that savoury festival where we commemorate the harvest of autumn. In Singapore, the celebrations inevitably revolve around the Singapore River, and that was where our extended family decided to venture after an awesome dinner (and fine wine to boot).
Every once in a while, you need to take a break from the frenzied pace of urban life and to slow down a little. A great place for this is the Lower Peirce Reservoir.
One of the oldest reservoirs in Singapore, the Lower Peirce Reservoir is about six hectares in size, and is the home to many primary and secondary rainforest species. Originally known as the Kallang River Reservoir, the water catchment area was first started in 1901, which makes it more than a century old. The scenic body of water was named in honour of Robert Peirce, who was one of Singapore’s municipal engineers.
Here’s a short photographic tour of a recent visit by Ethan and I.
We recently celebrated my nephew Isaac’s 6th birthday at Globetrotters Restaurant, a well-known joint which specialises in catering to families with young kids. It was our first time there even though we heard so much about it. Having experienced it myself, I can only say that this is one F&B outlet which pulls out all the stops in endearing itself to its target audience!
After escaping to the East (ie Changi) recently, we discovered that journeying to the West can be just as fun. It has been some time since we brought Ethan out, and we thought that it would be fun to go somewhere different from his usual Northern exposure at Lim Chu Kang. Besides, I didn’t want to risk the Chikungunya virus floating around those parts!
Here’s a short photo essay of our family frolicks.
First stop, Jurong Bird Park, where dinosaur descendents come alive.
Sometime last month, my family and I went for a short break in Club Med Bintan. For those who have been there, you would know that Club Med isn’t just an ordinary holiday resort but one that is packed chock-a-block with activities, comes with full-board (including free flow *hic* alcohol) and has performances almost every night by the Gentle Organisers (GOs). Incidentally, the GMs are the Gentle Members who are guests like us, not the head honcho running the joint.
One of the things which we enjoyed about the Club Med experience was that its GOs pay special attention in getting to know you. During meals, GOs are supposed to take turns to join guests at their tables and have a chat.
In a manner akin to Disneyland, all staff members acted like cast members and they even had to perform (nightly), do little funny skits during lunchtime, and generally help everybody have a ball of a time. Of course, I guess it doesn’t help that most of them are hard core party animals (or so it seems, from the way they did the “chi chi” dance at night).
As a botanist by training specialising in tropical ecology, I have always harboured a deep interest in nature. One of my favourite haunts was the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve – a small 410 acre area of lush primary rainforest, and probably the only place in Singapore where you can see tall towering dipterocarps in all their glory. Housing over 840 species of flowering plants and 500 species of fauna together with the Central Catchment area, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve was established way back in 1883 by the British Straits Settlement government. Dr David Bellamy, a renowned conservationist, once pointed out that the number of plant species growing in the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is more than that in the whole of North America! It is indeed a green jewel in our concrete jungle – a natural oasis in the hectic city.
To celebrate Shutdown Day (yes I switched off all computers and did not SMS or call for 24 hours) last week, I brought my wife and kid to Singapore’s highest hill (at a grand 164m tall) for a couple of hours in the morning.
Greeting us at the entrance was a visitor centre, which has fascinating specimens of animals, birds and plants on display.
Recently, after our regular visit to Ethan’s favourite goat farm, my family decided to drop by Bollywood Veggies for lunch and a quick look around. Located at the long and winding Neo Tiew Road at the Kranji/Lim Chu Kang area, this organic farm is opened by Mrs Ivy Singh-Lim and her hubby Lim Ho Seng. Ivy is a very well known and outspoken figure in our local social scene, and was previously the President of the Netball Association of Singapore, while Ho Seng used to be the CEO of NTUC Fairprice.
In a way, the farm cum restaurant (Poison Ivy Bistro) is a labour of love for both – a retirement gig which offers the promise of a more rustic laid-back lifestyle after slogging it out for the better part of one’s life in the corporate world. According to my wife Tina, rental for the entire plot of land is only about $5,000 per month, and much of the income derived by the couple comes from the F&B business plus farm tours (which goes for about $2 per head and includes a little snack).