Above photo: istockphoto
For some, the approaching CNY holidays mean the chance to maximize your leave dates and take a break from all the drama in the office. For others, the clashing cymbals and familiar refrain of “dong dong dong chiang” have a far less auspicious significance: Family reunions with relatives whom you would rather consign to perdition, and for those without a wedding band around their finger; the very tedious Singleton Inquisition. Also, let’s not forget all those mahjong and karaoke marathons. Seriously, it’s enough to make anyone wish they were marooned on a deserted island. Fortunately, you don’t have to adopt such drastic measures if you know where to disappear this festive season.
Places where people are guaranteed to leave you alone
Above: Kranji War Memorial (Image courtesy of the Singapore Tourism Board)
Kranji Memorial: This serene and verdant tribute to the allied service men and women who lost their lives during the Second World War is a great place to be when you’re in an introspective mood. Also, considering that it’s bad luck to talk about death during Chinese New Year, you’ll no doubt have all the peace and quiet you want here.
Old Changi Hospital: Have you seen the pictures of this place? Singapore’s answer to those dilapidated hospitals in the Silent Hill survival horror video game series isn’t exactly party central (well, not for mortal beings anyway).
Above: Bollywood Veggies @ Lim Chu Kang. (Image courtesy of the Singapore Tourism Board)
Lim Chu Kang: One of the few places left where you’ll find a vast, unruly expanse of green dotted with various farms, including Ivy Singh-Lim’s Bollywood Veggies and Singapore’s first goat farm. There’s only one bus (975, if you want to know) servicing the entire area and it’s best not to rely on it arriving on time. Also, not many taxi drivers like driving to Lim Chu Kang, given that it’s such a long way from civilization and all, so if you’re planning on enjoying this rare patch of rusticity, make sure you drive or go with someone who does.
Places to go for a quiet repast
Wessex Estate: We like coming here in the afternoons because it’s like stepping into an alternate universe. No ugly concrete buildings, no rowdy crowds, no noisy traffic—in other words, bliss! Here’s our recipe for the loveliest of lazy afternoons: i) Arm yourself with a good book; ii) Snag a spot on the verandah of Laurent Bernard Café and Chocolate Bar); iii) Get a slice of their famous chocolate tart and your choice of poison and iv) Enjoy!
Above: Bronte @ Greenwood
High tea at L’Espresso: One of our favorite weekday indulgences, and not just for its English-style finger sandwiches and exquisite tea. It makes for a very civilized way of whiling away a weekday afternoon while the rest of your colleagues slog it out in the confines of their cubicles.
Notable mentions: Marina Bay (Cliffordis a must-go joint for brunch and you can marvel at the awesome views as well); Greenwood (head to Bronte for delicious Aussie fare); and Marina @ Keppel Bay (we recommend Prive).
Places to spend quality time with your Significant Other
If money is not an issue: Rent a villa at the gazillion-star, super chic Capella Singapore. The only noise you’ll be hearing is the gentle lapping of waves, and the occasional mews from the peacocks wandering about its grounds. Prices for a one bedroom villa start from $1,000 per night.
Above: View from Hoefer's yacht. (Image: www.hoefernet.com)
Alternatively, if you’re looking for an experience to remember, how about renting a schooner and exploring the waters of Asia together? Insight Guides creator and publisher Hans Hoefer’s 26-meter motor schooner, Rising Tide, is a sight to behold and is available to the public for charter. Rates start at $1,500 (for five hours), with $100 for every additional hour. Visit www.hoefernet.com for more information.
If you’re old-fashioned: Follow in the footsteps of other lovers and head to either Bedok Jetty or Labrador Park to watch the sun set.
Places where you can be at one with nature
It’s the de facto complaint among locals and expats here: Singapore’s all concrete and skyscrapers blah blah blah. Well, this much is true if your geographical knowledge of the country is limited to the CBD, Orchard Road and Marina Bay.
If you’re not going anywhere this CNY, instead of staying home and griping that all the shops are closed and that there’s nothing to watch on TV, how about spending some time at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and getting to know more about the plants and wildlife there? So you might be thinking: What is there to know? How diverse can the ecosystem there be given that it’s so small? Well, you’ll be surprised to know that not only does the reserve have more species of trees than Canada and the United States put together, it’s also remained untouched since the time of Sir Stamford Raffles.
Above:Sungei Buloh. (Image courtesy of the Singapore Tourism Board)
Tweet tweet: It may not be obvious to those of us who spend all our time indoors, but this island is actually home to more than 350 species of birds. If you’re an avid birdwatcher, head to Pulau Semakau, Sungei Buloh and the Kranji marshes, otherwise known as ground zero for migratory species such as the Asian Brown Flycatcher and Arctic Warbler. Want to learn more about the behavior of these birds instead of wasting your time wandering around aimlessly with your binoculars? The Nature Society Singapore (www.nss.org.sg) organizes regular walks and rambles to these nesting spots every month.
If for x number of reasons, all the places above fail to provide you with the peace and quiet that you seek, you can always seek solace by returning to your office. You can be sure it’ll be empty and work is always a good excuse to get out of social engagements you’d rather not attend.
Have a good one!