The weekend. Time for some R&R. A good weekend involves something more exciting than binge watching TV on your sofa, and better for your bank balance than another trip to the mall. Here are our top picks for easy road trips in Singapore. Happy weekend to you and your car.
1. Katong and Joo Chiat
Once filled with coconut plantations and used as a weekend retreat by wealthy city dwellers, Katong developed into a residential suburb by the early 20th century. It became populated by a growing English-educated middle class, including Peranakans and Eurasians.
Neighbouring Joo Chiat area is named after Chew Joo Chiat, a wealthy Chinese landowner in the early 20th-century. The area’s identity is especially shaped by its unique pre-war architecture – colourful two-storey shophouses and terrace houses with ornate facades, intricate motifs and ceramic tiles.
The plantations have since gone, but you can still admire this vibrant neighbourhood’s many well-preserved Peranakan shophouses and a scattering of colonial bungalows.
Explore cool cafes that sit next to old-world coffee shops selling the famous Katong 'laksa', 'kueh chang' (dumplings) and other Nonya delicacies. Snap up a traditional Nonya outfit – 'kebaya' and 'sarong', beaded slippers and accessories, or poke about in the little shops offering Peranakan wares and handicrafts.
2. Off The Beaten Track
Nestling in the district of Kranji, the Sungei Buloh wetland reserve is a great place to find monitor lizards, otters and herons. You may even spot migratory birds from Siberia or China if you visit between September and March.
For great food and value for money try the famous Bollywood Veggies, serving a beautiful nasi lemak, salads, curries plus daily specials. For something sweet, the Gulu Melaka Crème Caramel does not disappoint.
3. Animals Galore
If you love animals, Animals Galore is the place for you. You can make an appointment to visit, or volunteer to help some of the animals that have been rescued by ACRES Wildlife Rescue Centre. Another good place for animal lovers is the Farmart Centre. Visit the Animal Corner, join an educational Farm Tour or relax & feed Koi fishes at the pond. If you are hungry, tuck into a wide variety of delicious food like Chinese Tze Char, Muslim Satay, Seafood BBQ and more!
4. Get Your Game On
Whatever your sport, Singapore has something for you, and it’s often free to play. Check out these 12 group sports you can play in Singapore or head to public parks such as East Coast Park come evening time (5.30pm onwards): odds are you’ll find a friendly scratch match. If you’re not the sporty type, head to the front of the Chinatown Market for pick-up games of Chinese chess.
5. Craft and Heritage
Singapore had about 20 Dragon kilns built by immigrants from Southern provinces of China in the last century. By the 1990s only two of them survived: Guan Huat and Thow Kwang Dragon Kilns, both in Jalan Bahar.
“Both of them are now protected by the government and only fired up three or four times a year, on special occasions. You can visit them anytime though, and the potters there will be happy to show you how things work.” Gwen Pew, Feb 6 2015, theguardian.com
Try learning basic clay forming techniques to create your own functional piece. Your piece will then be glazed and fired for you. Walk in registration. Jalan Bahar Clay Studios, open Mon-Sat 8am-5pm. Hands-on Clay Session, First Saturday of the Month, 2 – 4pm.