1 - Changi Airport
Rui Ming He sticks within easy access of Changi Airport, highlighting the many attractions of Singapore’s eastern district
Some 26 airlines serving Changi Airport offer early check-in, an especially appealing option with this airport, as it offers so much to do that even local residents come here at the weekend. Landside, there is plenty to do, including a 4D cinema with motion simulators in Terminal 3, and the world’s tallest indoor slide at an airport! For aviation buffs and frequent flyers alike, the Changi Aviation Galleries at Terminals 2 and 3 will shed light on what goes on behind the scenes during a flight.
Feeling hungry? A taste of the king of fruits can be had at Durian Mpire at T3. Run by one of Singapore’s most famous durian retailers, this outlet sells only desserts and pastries – so yes, you don’t need to get your hands dirty. And for a visual treat, walk over to Terminal 1 and marvel at its new Kinetic Rain sculpture, a stunning display made out of 1,216 aluminium droplets that move in sync. Visit changiairport.com
2 - Changi Chapel and Museum
There is also plenty to do around the Changi area. Take the Green line on the MRT for one stop to Expo station. From there, Bus 2 takes you to the Changi Chapel Museum for a reminder of a darker era, one of hard labour, torture and the Japanese occupation during World War II. It is believed that over 50,000 prisoners of war and 3,000 civilians were held in the Changi area and endured disease, abuse and unspeakable living conditions. Amidst their hardship, some captives looked to religion for answers, building several outdoor chapels which have faded away in time. The chapel that stands today is a careful reconstruction, but the artefacts and murals – you’ll be surprised by the artistic uses of brown camouflage paint – that embellish it are as real as they come and bear witness to the horrors of war. Come here for a truly humbling experience. Visit changimuseum.sg
3 - Loyang Temple
Five minutes and S$4 (US$3.26) away by taxi is a Tua Pek Kong (a Chinese deity) temple that has Taoist, Buddhist, Muslim and Hindu elements. According to (recent) legend, the first incarnation of this temple was a simple hut built in the 1980s by a group of friends to house an assortment of religious figurines they found washed up on the beach nearby. Not long after, it gained fame for apparently granting many a prayer. A fire razed the hut, though, destroying all the statues except for that of Tua Pek Kong, which was mysteriously spared. Today’s temple complex is named after the deity that survived the fire and thrives on generous donations from the public. The amount of funding is apparent – the huge statue of Ganesha, the elephant-headed god, that resides here is one of the largest in the world. Open 24 hours a day. 20 Loyang Way, tel +65 363 6633.
4 - Punggol Waterway Park
A taxi ride to Punggol Waterway Park will take about 13 minutes and cost you S$12 (US$9.8). Combining lush greenery with large open spaces, modern bridges and quirky fountains, this park is an odd mix. Tucked away far from the city, it provides a place of much-needed recreation for Punggol residents. This is not your typical park – instead, futuristic civil engineering and architecture blends seamlessly with nature. Imaginative touches include bright fibre-optic lights masquerading as water plants. Visit nparks.gov.sg
5 - Lorong Buangkok
Walk to Punggol MRT and take Bus 43 for 10 stops to arrive at Singapore’s last kampong (village), where traditional wooden houses are roofed with attap (a type of palm tree) and zinc. Today, one kampong stands alone in urbanised Singapore – Lorong Buangkok. Despite the land being worth over S$33 million (US$27 million), the owners have chosen to cling on stubbornly to their land. To walk amongst poultry and observe the laid-back villagers go about their daily activities is surreal – a portal to a simpler time.
6 - Joo Chiat Complex
Get a taxi and head to this 25-year-old shopping centre to purchase all things Malay (the ride takes 5-10 minutes and costs $$5/US$4). Have one of the many tailors measure you up for a custom-made traditional Malay costume (a baju kurung or baja kebeya). Curtains and tablecloths are also specialities.
While you wait to collect them, check out arrays of traditional herbs and spices, or feast on Peranakan cuisine. Take a short walk down Joo Chiat Road to shophouse restaurant Kway Guan Huat Popiah for what many claim to be the best spring rolls on the island. Joo Chiat Complex open daily from 11am–10pm; Kway Guan Huat Popiah, 95 Joo Chiat Road, joochiatpopiah.com