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Do you know YOUR Singapore?

Singapore’ celebrates its 45th birthday on 9 August! Think you know all about these familiar-sounding places? Well, here’s another side to them that reveals more fascinating nuggets about Singapore’s attractions and historic past. Better still, do some exploration this weekend and rediscover these sites with your friends and family.

altKranji

Do you think Strong Chaser or Happy Feet will win the race?
Cough cough… a bit dusty with all those factories there!

Think of Kranji and you might hear the pounding of galloping feet and the excited cheers of the crowd at the Singapore Turf Club. However, just a stone’s throw away from the Turf Club is the Kranji War Memorial, dedicated to thousands of allied servicemen across the world who died defending Singapore and Malaya against the Japanese forces during World War II.  Comprising the War Graves, the Memorial Walls, The State Cemetery and the Military Graves, this sloping pocket of green echoes a calm dignity and serenity, so different from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding estate and factories. Have a moment of quiet reflection as you gaze upon neat rows of grave markers of over 4,458 who died in military service, or walk among the name-inscribed walls of the War Memorial whose design symbolically represents the three branches of the military - the Air Force, Army and Navy.


Changi        
    alt

Is our luggage ready? We’ve got to leave for the airport!
Shall we pop by Changi Village for some nasi lemak?

Just a few minutes’ away from the popular Nasi Lemak haunt is the Changi Museum, which replaces the Old Changi Prison Chapel and Museum that used to be located in the Changi Prison Complex. Bring the kids here to know more about the Japanese Occupation through storyboard displays, videos about life as a Prisoner-of-War (POW), and showcases with POW-related artefacts. Visit a replica of a chapel in the original POW camp or see a replica of the Changi Murals painted by Bombardier Stanley Warren during his imprisonment in Changi Prison, and be inspired by the heroic and inspirational stories that unfolded there during the dark years of World War II.

 altFort Canning

Let’s get the blankets and picnic basket for Movies in the Park!
Isn’t that the hill behind the old site of National Library?

There’s so much more to Fort Canning than just a hillside venue for open-air movies and performances! The history of ‘Bukit Larangan’ (Forbidden Hill) goes back over 700 years. From a seat of royalty during Singapore’s ‘Temasek’ days, it moved on to house colonial officers and later became a military base. Go on a stroll at Fort Canning Park and discover a spice garden, an actual archaeological excavation site, underground bunkers that were part of the Malay Command Headquarters during World War II and much more.

 

Esplanade     

Why do I get a sudden craving for durians?alt
Great music, dance and theatre – what’s not to like!    

The mention of ‘Esplanade’ now conjures up images of the distinctive spheres (bug-eyes or durians??) that make up Singapore’s premier performing arts venue, but not too long ago, this referred to a seafront promenade popular with couples and families for an evening walk or a bite at the famous Satay Club, a collection of seafront
hawker stalls. The Esplanade Park, as it was then known, was renamed Queen Elizabeth Walk in 1953. The next time you catch a show at Esplanade Theatres on the Bay, cross over the vehicular bridge and take a stroll along this pleasant stretch where you can find several monuments including the Tan Kim Seng Fountain, the Lim Bo Seng Memorial, the Indian National Army Plaque and the Cenotaph.

 altAmoy Street

I’m hungry for some great char kway teow…
And a bowl of steaming fish soup too.
                      

The thought of the delicacies from the famous Amoy Street Food Centre is enough to send many tummies rumbling, but few know that just down the street lies a cultural treasure trove. When hunger pangs are calmed and you’ve eaten your fill, work off those calories with a walk down the street, filled with old shophouses of architectural interest and many historical buildings. Look up at the fierce dragons on the roof of the Sian Chai Kang temple, make a stop at no 70 - the original site of the Anglo-Chinese School in Singapore. You’ll also discover many other cultural sites including the Al-Abrar Mosque constructed by Tamil Muslims (known as the Chulias) in 1827, the Thian Hock Keng Temple, one of the oldest and most important Buddhist Temples for the Hokkiens, and the Nagore Durgha Shrine with its distinctive corner minarets topped with onion-shaped domes and spires.

Cathayalt

What’s the latest Hollywood blockbuster showing in town?
I can’t decide between burgers or dim sum!

If you linger at the porch of this popular multiplex cinema and shopping mall, you may notice a small maroon plaque on the exterior wall that marks this site as a national monument. Constructed in the 1930s, the building was the first and tallest skyscraper in
Singapore and in Southeast Asia, the island's first air-conditioned cinema and public building,and home to the British Malay Broadcasting Corporation before the Japanese occupied Singapore. When Singapore fell to the Japanese in 1942, it was used as the office of their Propaganda Division. When the kids clamour over the stations in the car stereo, tell them that in those days, people could only listen to Radio Syonan. Break this law and you could lose your life! When those dark days ended with the return of the British, Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, supreme Commander, Southeast Asia Command used the building as his headquarters.

What are some of YOUR favourite historical haunts? Do share with us.

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