19 heritage trails have been collated by the National Heritage Board, (beginning 1999) … snapshots of the island’s history and geography. For those inclined to explore, this is a short overview on what’s out there.
Ang Mo Kio : Slightly challenging : 3 hours
At least 2 sets of 30 odd steps to climb for the Town Gardens which are located on hillocks / about 8,000 steps in total
Highlights : The Town Gardens, East and West and the Joint Temple (3 temples on the former Kow Tiow Kio village site), Block 259, AMK Avenue 2.
For nature enthusiasts, there is the luxuriant sprawl of the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, as well as two other parks. The Garden East has rubber and nutmeg trees, and the Garden West has the area’s original vegetation, including a tract of secondary forest.
Yishun-Sembawang : Flat terrain but challenging, and sprawling : 7 hours, 30 minutes
Driving required between landmarks / about 15,000 steps in total
- Masjids : Petempatan Melayu Sembawang, Ahmad Ibrahim and Assyafaah
- Temples : Hock Huat Keng, Sri Veeramuthu Muneeswarar, Sree Maha Mariamman, Cheow Leng Beo, Chong Pang Combined and Chee Hoon Sun Kong
- Church : The Spiritual Grace Presbyterian Church
- Nature : Sembawang Hot Spring and the Lower & Upper Seletar Reservoirs
- Beaulieu House
Nature buffs will delight in the reservoirs and the hot spring. Lower Seletar Reservoir has a small water park for families, Upper Seletar Reservoir has an Insta-friendly observation tower and heritage tree.
Heritage enthusiasts will enjoy Beaulieu House hand its beautiful sea view overlooking a jetty packed with anglers on Sunday mornings; and the views of the Sembawang shipyard. The Masjid Petempatan Melayu is nestled in a patch of secondary forest and Yishun’s abundance of religious institutions cover a range of architectural styles – the sleek and modern, onion domes, baroque facades, epic sprawls.
The friendship between the Chinese and Indian temples dates back to the early 1900’s when Indian workers worshipped Sreemuneeswaran, a protector deity, at a tree outside a Tua Pek Kong Temple. When the Chinese temple moved in 1996, it invited the Indian temple to come along and both institutions continue to share premises.
Hougang : Moderately easy : 3 hours, 20 minutes
Two bus rides of 3 to 4 stops each / about 16,500 steps in total
- Masjid : Haji Yusoff
- Temples : Tian Kong and Kancanarama Buddhist temples, Zi Yun Kai Ji Gong, Chee Tong and Hougang Tou Mu Kung
- Churches : Paya Lebar Methodist Church and the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
- Food : Neo Kian Guan Confectionary & Cakes (founded in 1932) and the 56 year-old Ah Seah Teochew Porridge outlet
- Ramakrishna Mission.
The active explorer can check out the three short trails – Landmarks of Hougang, Architectural Gems and Institutions of Service.
Photographers and Instagrammers will find the intricate gold engravings in the Thai Buddhist temples (hand-carved by the resident head monk over a decade ago) interesting, as well as the sweeping rainbow mural dating back to the 1980’s @ Block 316 Hougang Avenue 7.
- Dress comfortably (and for the weather), and carry sunscreen and an umbrella.
- Be mindful about dress and photography in the areas you visit, especially religious sites.
The content of this post is derived from the 6 December 2020 article in The Straits Times.