These are Not Your Typical Singapore Pictures

This is the typical image of Singapore that is seen on postcards: glassy skyscrapers and post-modern malls, interspersed with colonial landmarks and ethnic architecture, a sterile playground for the wealthy. It defies the expectations of the backpacker in Southeast Asia who is used to rustic towns, dense tropical forests and undeveloped beaches.

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#Singapore #cityscape #skyscrapers by @ramblingfeet

Such sights can still be found in Singapore though, albeit in corners that only intrepid visitors would seek out. Given the country’s small size, they have been developed more than their counterparts elsewhere, but if one finds the right angle, pictures that look like they were taken in other countries are the result.

A village in Indonesia?

typical singapore

These are Not Your Typical Singapore Pictures 6
I can finally say I’ve been here, but change is afoot. by @ramblingfeet

No, it’s Kampung Lorong Buangkok. It is the last traditional village on the main island – and development is fast closing in on it. The residents may own shiny cars but their fences are low and they welcome curious visitors to their backyards, which are full of free trees and herbs.

One of the ways to get there is to take bus no. 103 from the Serangoon bus interchange (just above the MRT station of the same name), get off at the 13th stop (after a church and before a Shell pump station), cross the street and the canal, turn left and follow the road for about 100 metres.

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The beach of a Thai resort?

typical singapore

Not quite, Lazarus Island is a short $18 ferry trip from the Marina South Pier. The trip also takes in St John’s Island (which is connected to Lazarus Island) and Kusu island. There are many similar islands that are even less frequently visited off the south coast. Not all can be visited but the likes of Pulau Hantu also boast pristine beaches and even coral reefs. You won’t find a single shop on these islands, let alone a beach bar – there’s Sentosa for that sort of thing.

Are we in Taman Negara?

Singapore treetop walk

The MacRitchie tree top walk looks like a mini version, doesn’t it? The trail takes visitors through the forest around the water catchment areas of the city. It’s fine for people who want a ‘lite’ version of jungle trekking that they can complete in a day. The gravel-lined paths and frequent signposts make it feel safe, even sanitised, but it’s about as wild as a legal trail gets.

There is a 2-hour loop and a longer 5-hour route which overlaps the former; Marymount is the closest MRT station to the start of both – take a bus to Venus Drive to get to the short loop.

*Check this for the less-than-legal trails. Leech-free experiences not guaranteed.

Another cool place in Singapore, eh?

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#nofilter necessary. #kayaking #macritchie #igsg #singapore by @ramblingfeet

Not really. This is just another part of the treetop walk, at the start of the long loop.

This unsealed road leads to the village, right?

Green corridor Singapore
The Green Corridor. Who says #Singapore is all concrete and glass? #greencorridor #igsg #nofilter #nature by @ramblingfeet

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Not quite. The Green Corridor is what is left after the old railway tracks running from Tanjong Pagar to Bukit Timah were removed: nearly 20km of unsealed trails, perfect for uninterrupted runs and bicycle rides. Entry points can be found all along the route, though they are rarely marked. Use this list to find a suitable one for your visit.

Looks like your uncle’s orchard in Malaysia, doesn’t it?

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The fifth and final day of the #blackandwhite challenge: The Kranji countryside will soon be inaccessible to ordinary people. Go while you still can. by @ramblingfeet

It’s really Bollywood Veggies, a farm that is part of a cluster tucked in the northwestern corner of Singapore. It’s not the most accessible place (the cheapest way to get there is to take a $3 shuttle minibus from the Kranji MRT station) but an excellent restaurant on the grounds makes it completely worthwhile. Don’t dilly-dally, however; the farm has to move out in a few years to make way for military training grounds.

Poison Ivy Bistro
The dessert platter from Poison Ivy bistro, featuring sweet potato, cassava and banana puddings.

Lastly, a trip back to the Old Continent – almost.

St Joseph's Tridentine
I find myself attending the Mass in the extraordinary form more often lately. It’s hard not to be drawn by the chanting, the incense, the history and the mystery. by @ramblingfeet

The Extraordinary Form of the Catholic Mass is also celebrated on Sunday afternoons at the St Joseph’s Church in downtown Singapore. It feels like a trip back in time, to the years before the Vatican II Council. Beautiful hand sewn vestments, women in veils, the sweet smell of incense and the chanted prayers all evoke an atmosphere of reverence.

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(Update: St Joseph’s Church closed in August 2017 for renovations. The Mass in the Extraordinary Form takes place at the Church of Sts Peter and Paul just up the street)

Where else can you go in Singapore? Check out my Two Weeks in Singapore itinerary and why I like life here.