One of the few places you’ll get an eyeful of green in Singapore is the Henderson Waves. At 36 metres above ground, the Henderson Waves is Singapore’s highest pedestrian bridge. It traverses the hills of Telok Blangah Hill Park and Mount Faber Park, undulating across the forest canopies like the curved vertebrae of a snake. This illusion is created by a series of steel arches and curved ‘ribs’ that alternate above and under the deck. The ’curved ribs’ are essentially slats of Balau wood, a dense hardwood that is found only in Southeast Asia. Its undulating pattern creates hidden recesses and conch-like niches where pedestrians can sit and watch the day turn into night.
Standing atop the Henderson Waves bridge yields dramatic vistas of Singapore’s Western coast and offshore Southern islands, and wide-eyed watchers are often rewarded with sightings of a rich variety of tropical flora and fauna. By dusk, the bridge is illuminated by LED lighting, bathing the structure in a warm incandescent glow.
The best way to explore the bridge is as part of the Southern Ridges Walk, a five kilometre hiking trail that takes you through Kent Ridge Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park and Mount Faber Park.
Henderson Road, Mount Faber Park, Singapore 099203
By Bus: Take bus service numbers 131, 145, 176 or 648 and alight at the bus stop along Henderson Road before taking the staircase up to Mount Faber Park.
Parking is available at Mount Faber Carpark D (17 lots) and Telok Blangah Hill Park Carpark 1 (17 lots) & Carpark 2 ( 39 lots)
To access the Henderson Waves via the Marang Trail. Take Exit D from Harbourfront MRT to the start of the trail on Marang Road.
You’ve heard enough SG50 chatter by now to know that this year is a special one for Singapore. As the nation celebrates its 50th year of independence, the little red dot will be lit from within – ignited by a thunderous rave of festivities and special celebratory events. Naturally, all this flag-waving euphoria has us in the mood for some merrymaking of our own, so we thought we’d reveal the #So-Singaporean experiences we have wrapped up our sleeves.
We’re all too familiar with the common refrain: “There’s nothing to do in Singapore”. Hogwash. We’re here to dispel that gargantuan myth with 50 Truly Singaporean Experiences that the nation can jointly be proud of. Free from your average guidebook farces, we’ve included mainstream musts and off-the-beaten-track activities that locals approve of and tourists deign to discover.
Grab your camera and your walking shoes; it’s time to experience Singapore with brand new eyes.
Jakarta is a sprawling city with plenty of sights but none more majestic or visually impressive than the Istiqlal Mosque. A central tenet of life for Indonesia’s Muslim majority, the Istiqlal Mosque stands in stark contrast to its contemporaries with its modern and unorthodox dome and minaret structure. Its name, “Istiqlal” is derived from the Arabic word for “independence”, chosen to commemorate the fulfillment of Indonesian independence from centuries of Dutch colonial rule.
The 1978 opening of the Istiqlal Mosque marked the consummation of then-President Sukarno’s grand vision – a national mosque that would unite Muslim Indonesians and function as a symbol of statehood. It’s hardly conceivable, but the Istiqlal Mosque was designed not by a Muslim but a Christian by the name of Frederick Silaban, who won a national competition held to decide the mosque’s design. Standing adjacent to the Catholic Jakarta Cathedral and metres away from the historic Merdeka Square, Istiqlal Mosque is an extraordinary gesture towards Indonesia’s religious inclusiveness and tolerance.
Safe behind its marbled walls, we are freed from the oppressive heat. The prayer hall’s colossal dome hovers at an astounding height, supported by 12 formidable steel columns. Accessible only to worshippers, the prayer hall can accommodate up to 120,000 people, a statistic that is put to the test each time an Islamic holiday rolls around and the mosque swarms with devotees. Despite its austere appearance, a sense of repose permeates the complex, bridging the chasm between divinity and mankind.
Jl. Taman Wijaya Kusuma, Jakarta 10710, Indonesia
Nearest station | Gambir Train Station. Feel free to ask the security guard for information or a tour of the mosque. All footwear must be removed before entering the main area.
Ever wondered where Singapore got its “Garden City” moniker? Well, much of that credit should go to the Singapore Botanic Gardens, where many of Singapore’s current crops and plant species were first introduced.
Established in 1859, the 74-hectare botanical garden boasts a beautiful landscape of sloping hills, winding paths and lakes that entertain a steady stream of tourists, locals and nature lovers. Ask any local and they’ll probably be able to recall a childhood spent hanging from the garden’s century-old Tembusu tree or dancing round the water’s edge at Swan Lake, eagerly awaiting the appearance of the lake’s two resident swans. Framed by lush foliage, The Swan Lake Gazebo, nicknamed “The Bandstand”, conjures up images of ravishing summer romances. It’s little wonder the Singapore Botanic Gardens is a favourite photo shoot location for couples tying the knot.
A spectacular show of tropical flora beckons to anyone strolling through the various themed gardens – from the peaceful Zen of the Bonsai garden to the spicy aroma that pervades the Ginger Garden. The gentle meandering slopes of the Palm Valley seem made for lazy afternoons stretched out on a picnic mat – the perfect manner to enjoy a musical performance on the Symphony Stage.
The National Orchid Garden is home to the world’s largest orchid display, a prized species that includes Singapore’s national flower – the Vanda Miss Joaquim and a number of other orchid hybrids named after celebrities and honorary members of society. Within the sprawling perimeters of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, a rare pocket of primeval rainforest still stands. Its multi-layered ecosystem sustains over 300 different species of vegetation, many of which are extremely rare in Singapore.
Just minutes away from Orchard Road, Cluny Court and Dempsey, the Singapore Botanic Gardens offers some green, breathing space amidst the city’s choking grasp.
1 Cluny Road, Singapore 259569
Opening hours: 5am-12am
Admission: Garden admission is free
National Orchid Garden: S$5/adult, $1/student or senior citizen above 60. Free for children below 12
Constant as the sea it glides upon, The Star Ferry Hong Kong has been faithfully shuttling residents between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon in the mainland for close to 130 years. While both sides of Victoria Harbour are now linked by the state-of-the-art Cross Harbour Tunnel, many locals still choose the route well remembered, savouring the 7-minute joyride onboard Hong Kong’s iconic ferry as it glides across the still waters of Victoria Harbour.
Tourists and visitors hungry for postcard views of the world’s most photographed harbour are better served on the Star Ferry Harbour Tour. For their purposes, a custom-built vessel designed to look like the early ferries from the 1920s ply the route between the Wanchai, Tsim Sha Tsui and Central piers.
Standing on the upper deck, wind whistling in your ear, one is rewarded with sweeping vistas of the surrounding bay. Misty mornings shroud the city skyline in a gentle fog, making faraway vessels appear like ghost ships moored invisibly to their anchors. Looking out towards Hong Kong island, one is able to make out a sea of rectangular turrets crowned by the breathtaking outline of Victoria Peak.
Nightfall offers a completely different experience. Boats stop mid-harbour to allow pictures of the dazzling light and laser displays helmed by waterfront buildings on both sides of the harbour.
No trip to Hong Kong is complete without a ride onboard the Star Ferry, be sure to include it in your itinerary!
Runs from Wanchai / Tsim Sha Tsui and Central / Tsim Sha Tsui
Ticketing | The Star Ferry’s Harbour Tour tickets are sold over the Harbour Tour ticket counter at the Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry Pier and the Central Pier 7 on the date of departure on a first-come-first-served basis. No online booking and reservation is offered. Purchase tickets in cash of Hong Kong dollars.
Once regarded as vandalism and urban mischief, street art or graffiti is a topic that divides opinion. As the battle rages on in much of the developed world, San Francisco has declared itself friendly to this raw, unbridled form of creative expression.
There is no denying that some of the San Francisco’s best art can be found on the streets. Entire city blocks, like Balmy and Clarion Alleys have been transformed into larger-than-life canvases for aspiring artistic voices to give vent. Vivid and visually arresting, countless paintings and murals decorate the city’s weathered exteriors, bestowing a renewed vitality to the face of the city.
The city’s tree-lined streets and famous pastel “painted ladies” stand in beautiful contrast to its grittier “graffitied” facades. Splashed with political slogans, poetry and visual interpretations of life at large, the walls of the city depict the collective face of a community. Scenes and symbols of anarchy and rebellion, enlightenment, pop culture and diversity coalesce to form a living, breathing tapestry that moves with the people and the times.
As you walk the streets, parks and alleyways of San Francisco, be sure to take notice of the art that is all around you.