THE ZOO, THE HEARTLANDS
& NEWTON FOOD CENTRE

HDB Hub

THE SINGAPORE ZOOLOGICAL GARDENS

The open-concept Singapore Zoological Gardens is probably one of the best zoos in the world. See 2,700 animals from 216 species spread over 28 hectares of land.

The zoo is open from 8.30 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. daily, with many feeding sessions with live commentaries and entertaining animal shows in between. The first feed takes place at 9.30 a.m. and the first show at 10.30 a.m.

Admission is S$12, and an additional S$2.50 for the tram ride around the zoo. To cut costs, walk instead! Consider bringing your lunch with you, as eating at the zoo is pricey.

To get to the zoo, take the MRT to Ang Mo Kio MRT Station, then take Bus No. 138. The bus ride will take 30 to 40 minutes.

TOA PAYOH CENTRAL

A trip to the zoo will take up the entire morning and a good part of your afternoon. Go off the beaten track into the heartlands of Singapore after visiting the zoo.

Almost 90% of the population in Singapore live in flats constructed by the Housing Development Board ("HDB"). These flats are located in the suburbs and are grouped into various satellite towns, each with their own town centre.

Few Singaporeans will think of taking a day trip to the suburbs, let alone foreigners. But, this is the only way to experience the "real" Singapore.

Journey to one of Singapore's most mature town centres, Toa Payoh Central. Toa Payoh Central is also home to the HDB, which recently shifted its headquarters to a spanking new building called the HDB Hub, located above Toa Payoh MRT Station and the much-debated air-conditioned bus interchange. The decision by the authorities to air-condition bus interchanges then increase the price of public transport caused quite a stir amongst commuters, who prefer to pay less for their transport than to enjoy a few minutes of air-conditioned comfort.

With the sudden influx of a few thousand HDB employees, the already bustling Toa Payoh Central is now bursting at its seams. The coffee shops, hawker centres and shops are very crowded, especially during lunch time.

Shopping here is excellent because almost everything is cheaper than in the city, and there are plenty of interesting buys too. At Cash Converter, a queue forms to sell their used items, which are in turn displayed for sale to others hunting for cheap, used goods. The S$0.80 and S$1.00 shops (i.e. shops selling everything at S$0.80 or S$1.00 apiece) are so well-stocked, it makes you wonder why you ever shopped anywhere else. Try a cup of bubble tea, an iced tea drink (with or without milk) with big, black, starchy pearls. It's pretty addictive!

Take a look around you and you'll see bamboo poles with wet laundry sticking out of the flats, housewives trading gossips, residents sipping their kopi-o ("black coffee") and exchanging their views on the latest news.

Take a break at the Toa Payoh Community Library. Browse through the travel guides, books on Singapore's history, or works of local writers. You'll definitely learn something new. Or you could stop by Toa Payoh Entertainment Centre to catch a movie or amuse yourself at the games arcade.

To get to Toa Payoh Central, take the MRT to Toa Payoh MRT Station. It's just 3 stops from Ang Mo Kio MRT Station.

LIAN SHAN SHUANG LIN SI

Within walking distance of Toa Payoh MRT Station is the Lian Shan Shuang Lin Si ("Twin Grove of Lotus Mountain Temple"), located at 184E Jalan Toa Payoh.

Whilst the rest of the temples featured in this website have Taoist origins, this temple commemorates the birth and demise of Buddha. Construction of the temple took about 11 years to complete (from 1898 to 1908) and it was funded by a Hokkien merchant by the name of Low Kim Pong, who was a devout Buddhist .

The temple sits on 2 hectares of land. It has an elaborately decorated gateway which opens in a courtyard with exquisitely carved Buddhas. This is THE temple to visit in Singapore.

During the Second World War, Abbott Pu-Liang allowed the temple grounds to be used for the training of pilots and technicians for the Japanese Resistance movement in China. During the Japanese Occupation, he was by the Japanese and never returned.

In 1948, Abbott Pu Liang was succeeded by Abbott Shi Gao Can, a well-known exponent of the martial arts school of Shao-Lin Temple. He shared his expertise with the temple monks and residents of Toa Payoh. Together, they protected the temple and the surrounding area from gangsters.

The temple's layout incorporates several Buddhist principles of architecture, namely, Jie (precepts) represented by a pond, Ding (stability) represented by one of the main halls Tian Wang Dian, Hui (wisdom) represented by the courtyard, Fo (Buddha) represented by another of its main halls Da Xiong Bao Dian, and Fa (Dharma law) represented by the Dharma Hall.

After undergoing a decade of restoration works amounting to S$40 million, the temple reopened its doors in 2002. During the restoration works, 2 of its main halls were taken apart and painstakingly reassembled by 80 specialist craftsmen from the Hokkien province in China. A new 7-storey Dragon Pagoda was also added to the compound.

NOVENA SQUARE

One MRT stop away from Toa Payoh MRT Station is Novena MRT Station. Novena MRT Station is reputed to be haunted by a headless apparition. Late at night, people avoid alighting at that stop because of the ghost stories that have been circulating. I don't know if any graves were disturbed in the course of construction of the MRT Station, but Tan Tock Seng Hospital's mortuary is not too far away.

Just above Novena MRT Station is a new suburban shopping mall called Novena Square. The cafes and smoothie bar at this mall are ideal chill-out corners. The mall itself has its fair share of interesting shops. There's a gift shop on the third floor which sells very unusual knick knacks, a diving centre, and a furniture store with a cozy feel.

NOVENA CHURCH

Next to Novena Square is the popular Catholic church called Novena Church (also known as the St Alphonsus Church).

The first novena devotion at the church took place in January 1949 with a congregation of 81. Nowadays, some 20,000 devotees pack the church to seek answers to their prayers each Saturday. There are 10 services each Saturday, from 9.00 a.m. to 11.00 a.m. and from 1.00 p.m. to 7.00 p.m. It's been said that miracles are known to happen here.

WEE NAM KEE CHICKEN RICE

It should be dinner time by now and you're in the perfect location to taste one the best chicken rice (tender chicken on fragrant rice) in Singapore. Wee Nam Kee Chicken Rice is located directly opposite Novena Church. Walk across the overhead bridge to get there.

You can order individual portions of chicken rice, or half or a whole chicken with rice for a few to share. On each table, you'll find bottles containing chili, ginger, soy sauce and the works. That stuff, especially the chili and ginger goes really well with the chicken.

They've got a menu for dishes other than chicken rice. Try a meat dish on a hotplate. It's really good!

NEWTON FOOD CENTRE

Tonight, it's time for supper at Newton Food Centre.

To get to Newton from here, take the MRT from Novena MRT Station to Newton MRT Station. It's just 1 stop away.

To return to the Hostel from Newton, take the bus from the opposite of the road down Bukit Timah Road. Buses Nos. 170 or 960 will deposit you at the bus-stop just after Clive Street in Little India. It's only 4 bus-stops away and the fare is S$0.80.

~ Have Fun! ~

 

Controversial Air-Conditioned Bus Interchange

 

Stop by the Florist

Neighbourhood Medical Store

   

Neighbourhood Baker

Chill out at the kopitiam (coffee shop)

   

Plenty of Good Bargains

Community Library

   

Lian Shan Shuang Lin Si

"Chimneys" lessen pollution caused by open burning of joss paper

   

Offering incense

Ornament Stall

   

One of the prayer halls

Wood Panel Doors

   

Rich in red

Tian Wang Dian

   

And......the Buddha within

Make a wish

   

Da Xiong Bao Dian

Bonsai

   

Courtyard

   

Ornate woodwork

Michi & Ellen from Germany

   

The Pagoda

   

Peace

Newton Food Centre


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