|1 Katong and Geylang Serai|
|2 East Coast Park|
|3 Changi Museum|
|4 Escape Theme Park|
Katong and Geylang Serai
Katong is an enclave of Peranakan architecture and there are still streets of well- preserved shophouses and terraced houses in their original condition. Restaurants in Katong serve some of the best Peranakan food in Singapore, including delicious pastries and sweets.
Joo Chiat Road
, which runs south down to the sea, is interesting for its unchanged early 20th-century shophouse fronts and famed for its girlie bars. The extravagant façades, found both here and on Koon Seng Road, are an excellent example of the Singapore Eclectic Style which evolved in the 1920s and 1930s. This whole area was originally a coconut plantation owned by a family of Arab descent - the Alsagoffs. A portion was purchased by a wealthy Chinese, Chew Joo Chiat, after whom a number of the roads are named (not just Joo Chiat Road; also Joo Chiat Lane, Joo Chiat Terrace and Joo Chiat Place). While most of the traditional businesses here have closed down or moved out, there are still some candlemakers struggling to make a living and a few other craftspeople.
East Coast Park
Peter Wee's Katong Antique House
is well worth a visit if you are in the area, with its unsurpassed collection of Peranakan antiques and an owner who is probably the most knowledgeable person in Singapore on the Peranakan culture.
This popular recreation area has beaches and gardens, as well as a tennis centre, a driving range, a sailing centre and a food centre. The sand along these beaches was imported from nearby Indonesian islands. The
East Coast Recreation Centre
, in the park, has the usual array of crazy golf, foodstalls, cycling, canoes and fun rides. A good half-day excursion, especially if you are with children, is to hire bicycles and ride along the track that winds its way up the East Coast. There are no hills and lots of food and drink stops. It's more fun than battling with the crowds and cars and is also relatively quiet Monday to Friday.
, www.ski360degree.com, is Singapore's first cable ski park, with participants tied to a cable and pulled around a lake at up to 58 kph on skis or a wakeboard. It's brilliant fun and much cheaper than hiring a boat and skis or board. Visit on a weekday morning when you're likely to have the park to yourself; weekends can be hellish.
Singapore Crocodile Farm
, www.singaporecrocfarm.com, is a commercial set-up. Here, visitors can learn about skinning techniques and various other methods of transforming scary reptiles into quiescent handbags and shoes. This farm, with its population of about 800 crocodiles, has been on the same site since 1945, importing crocodiles from rivers in Sarawak.
Escape Theme Park
Changi prison, as featured on the 'Go to Jail' square in the Singapore version of Monopoly, is where Singapore's hangman dispenses with drug traffickers at dawn on Fridays with gruesome regularity. It was originally built to house 600 prisoners, but during the war more than 3500 civilians were incarcerated here. This museum tells the story of the prison and is
mostly visited by Second World War veterans. In 1944, POWs were moved into the prison, and 12,000 American, Australian and British servicemen were interned in and around it. There are reproductions of WRM Haxworth's paintings and the then 17-year-old trooper George Aspinall's photographs, which record the misery of internment. A replica of the atap-roofed
Changi Prison chapel stands in the prison yard. The memorial chapel's original altar cross, whose base was made from a Howitzer shell casing, was returned to the chapel in 1992.
This park features 14 rides that vary from the mellow to the gut-wrenching, with a few classics such as the Pirate Ship and Asia's highest water flume. The Inverter flips passengers over in 360 degree circles - not good after a solid Indian pure-veg lunch.
Next door is Wild Wild Wet, www.wildwildwet.com, a water theme park with a selection of rides including the Ular-lah flume, the Waterworks and rides for toddlers.
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