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.
Pasir Ris : Easy : 3 hours, 30 minutes
Some distance between landmarks / about 10,000 steps in total
- Pasir Ris Park – coastal wildlife spotting (birdwatchers gather on a wooden bridge over Sungei Tampines, one of two rivers in the area, near Carpark B). Likely to see hornbills, herons and parakeets.
- Mangrove Forest – trees stand ankle-deep in brackish waters; kingfishers, crabs and macaques abound.
- Loyang Tua Pek Kong Temple – with glittering interiors, and welcoming of different faiths. Tua Pek Kong and other deities hold court in shrines that extend to the ceiling. There are also shrines for Ganesha and other Hindu gods, as well as a keramat to Datuk Kong, a local guardian spirit.
- A ‘nautical’ touch – the Housing Board flats in Pasir Ris Street II have walls with portholes or facades fashioned like light houses, and the Bumboat Playground features the eponymous boat with painted eyes.
Pasir Ris, a large neighbourhood, with beach holiday vibes was, as far back as the late 19th century, the site of the private coastal bungalows of the elite. Jewish tycoon Joseph Elias had a 12-bedroom house there which was later converted into the now-vanished Pasir Ris Hotel.
Bedok : Easy : 3 hours
Bus it if you want to avoid hilly areas / about a total of 13, 800 steps
- Estates: Frankel Estate, Opera Estate and Fengshan Estate (check out the Bedok 85 food centre here).
- Highlands of Bedok.
- Kubur Kassim Cemetery.
- Old sea wall along former coastline, behind 54 Nallur Road.
- Hua Yu Wee Seafood Restaurant.
- Kampong Bedok.
- Simpang Bedok, a dining enclave.
- Koh Sek Lim.
- Church : Our Lady of Perpetual Succour
Picturesque neighbourhoods, rich in history. Bauhaus-inspired buildings and colonial-era bungalows. Several dining enclaves.
Tampines : Easy walk for the Tampines Town and Religious Institutions trails : 1 hour 30 minutes each
Green Spaces is an hour-long cycling trail from Bedok Reservoir Park to Lorong Halus Wetland
Tampines Town takes two short bus rides of about 4 stops each, and Religious Institutions is a bus ride of about 5 stops / about a total of 4,200 steps and 4,300 steps respectively.
- Markets : Tampines Round Market & Food Centre – best visited morning or early afternoon, before the stalls shut for the day.
- Temples : Tampines Chinese Temple (9 altars housing various deities and a perimeter adorned with a 270m-long dragon sculpture) & temple cluster @ Tampines Link – the Jiutiaoqiao Xinba Nadutan Temple (houses shrines of multiple faiths) and the Kew Sian King Temple (founded by members of the Peh clan from Fujian, China).
- Former Hun Yeang Village named after the Penang-born businessman and plantation owner Khoo Hun Yeang – now a row of shophouses.
- Tampines NEWater Service Reservoir, with futuristic-looking inverted cones.
- Tampines Central Park.
Well-organised trails and heritage gems on the Religious Institutions one.
- 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.