Located on the left bank of the Singapore River, the Padang (Malay for field or open ground) represents the very essence of colonial Singapore. It was selected by the founder of modern Singapore, Sir Raffles, as a recreation area when he laid out the plans for the city and is surrounded by some striking colonial architecture.
A long stretch of flat green land, the Padang was the hub of colonial life, used primarily for sporting events and recreational activities. In 1834, the Europeans began hosting a New Year Regatta at the Padang, which soon expanded into an annual sports day.
Today the Padang is the site of the Singapore Cricket Club and the Singapore Recreation Club. It’s a place where the locals still gather to walk and socialise together and where sporting and social events take place.
The Kranji War Memorial, located in northern Singapore, is an impressive structure built in 1946 immediately following the Second World War to commemorate the soldiers from the allied and regional countries who fought and died protecting Malaysia and Singapore from the invading Japanese forces.
Made up of a cemetery of nearly 5,000 servicemen and a separate memorial bearing the names of more than 24,000 others, the war memorial is divided in three segments to represent the different branches of the military, the Air Force, Army and Navy. Of the tombstones, about 850 remain without names.
Upon entering the memorial, there is a large bronze door nearby a reference book for each of the names within. On Remembrance Day, which is typically held in November, there is a rather large service at the memorial to pay tribute to those who lost their lives.
At approximately two miles (3.3 km) long, Changi Beach is a gorgeous stretch of beach that is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. It’s one of the oldest coastal parks in Singapore and has managed to retain a laid-back feel that is refreshing in the hustle and bustle of this very modern city. From the beach you can see Palau Ubin, one of the few undeveloped places left in the country.
From barbecuing on the beach to jogging or cycling on the wide recreation path, this stretch of white sand is a popular place to gather on the weekends to catch up with friends or simply enjoy the sunrise or the sunset. Along with the recreational activities, Changi Beach is also a location of interest for wildlife lovers. Several types of seahorses and pipefish are monitored in the waters off of Changi Beach and many different species of birds have been spotted from the land.
Armenian Church of Saint Gregory the Illuminator is the oldest Christian church in Singapore, completed in 1835 by an Irish civil architect key in the construction of the country’s overall infrastructure. A towering all-white structure, the church is adorned with numerous crafted pillars and features an entrance framed with classical pediments.
Aside from admiring the exterior façade, the church is surrounded by an open garden and at the back a peaceful cemetery that was never used as a burial ground. The tombs there were brought over from a site in Bukit Timah when it was exhumed. Even though the last regular services in the church halted in the 1930s, the interior still has alters and between them, a royal red carpet leading up to the nave.
Overall, the church is a standalone example of tranquility in busy Singapore. Every now and then the church is the site for art exhibitions, but other than that it is open for visitors to see.
Having moved from the prison site to its new location directly across the Changi Gaol in 2001, the Changi Memorial and Chapel is a testament to those prisoners of war who were made to suffer and perish during World War II.
In the memorial, several artifacts from the period show how Singaporeans, particularly those prisoners being held in the Changi prison, had suffered under Japanese occupation during the war. Boasting tons of personal affects including emotional letters, drawings and photographs, the memorial tells the stories of more than 50,000 people who had been there between 1942 and 1945.
Entrance is free or for a nominal fee, visitors can elect to embark on a one hour guided tour of the complex that goes through paintings made years later by several internees who recreated what life as a POW was like inside the prison. Visitors can also purchase an audio tour or stop over to watch one of a few informative videos with footage from the era.