Sunday, January 25, 2015

Top 10 Highest Natural Points in Singapore

Bukit Timah Hill. Standing at a height of 163 metres, it is deemed to be the highest point in Singapore. The second highest point should be Mount Faber then with all of its 106 metres in height. Singapore must also be quite hilly with place names starting with Bukit (Malay word for Hill), Mount and others that are called Hills.

I was also intrigued by the topographical maps that was on display at the National Library of Singapore. So I did a bit of research online and was totally surprised by what I'd found out.

You mean that Mount Faber is not even listed amonst the top 10 tallest location in Singapore? You mean that most of the Bukits. i.e. Bukit Panjang, and even Pearls Hill are not even 100 metres tall? Well, Mount Faber stands at 97 metres while Fort Canning with its rich history that underpins this hill is only about 60 metres.

So where can I find the tallest points in Singapore? Well, here're the top 10 places starting from the lowest.

10. Upper Peirce Hill (129 Metres)

Well, the number 10 hill is located deep in the jungles of the Upper Peirce Reservoir. At the perimeter of the hill are military installation. This makes it pretty impossible to access this hill.

9. Bukit Gombak (132 Metres)

Why does that name sounds so familiar to the army boys? Well, this is where the well fenced-up Ministry of Defence is based. Heritage blogger James Tann 1 has written a wonderful piece about Bukit Gombak. As the most secured hill of all hills, this is surely one that we will not have the opportunity to climb in the near future.

8. Hindhede Hill (134 Metres)

I don't think there's a name for this hill. But We will call it Hindhede Hill  since it's located close to Hindhede Drive. This hill is part of the Bukit Timah Hill range that sees other taller hills standing tall beside it.

7. Sime Road Hill (145 Metres)

Sited in midst of Singapore Island Country Club is 145 metres tall hill. I dubbed it Sime Road Hill as this road hugs the foot of this hill. This hill has seen evil squarely in the face. During the Japanese attack of Singapore in 1942, both the Allied and Japanese troops fought fierce battles here. When the Japanese won the war, the Europeans were interned in a camp along Sime Road. The Sime Road Camp was designated as a heritage site in 2003. 2

6. Singapore Quarry Hill (162 Metres)

Coming in at number 6 is a hill that one can see without needing to climb. This hill forms part of the disused quarry that is now called Singapore Quarry. Granite was extracted by blasting dynamite and the rock face that you see here was once a continuum of Bukit Timah Hill. This place has now been made into a Nature Park.

3, 4 & 5.  Bukit Timah Hill (180 Metres, 170 Metres and 166 Metres)

This is the actual Bukit Timah Hill where climbers will trod their way up the hill and shout hurrah upon reaching the top of the peak, and so I thought it was the peak. Actually, the top of the hill is at 166 Metres and close by, there lies two other peaks ranging from  170 to 180 Metres.

2.  Mandai Hill (180 Metres)

This hill is one of the more inaccessible hill. Locked in by an Expressway and the Upper Seletar Reservoir, you can only enter by walking. BUT! This hill has been set aside for military use and public are not allowed to enter. Talk about wanting to climb the top 3 hills in Singapore! Hmph.

And the number 1 Highest natural point in Singapore is...

1. Chestnut Avenue Hill (190 Metres)

Smacked in the middle of Diary Farm Road and Upper Pierce Reservior, this hill is the tallest that Singapore has to offer. To get to the hill, you will need to access from Chestnut Avenue. From there, it is a pretty long walk in.


1. Bukit Gombak Hill. Tann, J. July 21, 2012. (Retrieved on January 25, 2015).

2. Sime Road Camp. Zakaria, F. (Retrieved on January 25, 2015).

3. ArcGIS. Topographical Map of Singapore. (Retrieved on January 25, 2015).

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Geo|Graphic: National Library Exhibition on Maps

I've always been fascinated by maps. So when I saw on internet that Singapore's National Library Board's running an exhibition on maps, I knew that I'll find myself at the exhibition. Called Geo|Graphic, this exhibition runs from 16 Jan to 19 July 2015. The maps came in various sizes, and also different centuries.


This exhibition spans five levels and there are many fascinating maps on display. Amongst the full display of maps, the 1924 topographical coloured map was the one that caught my attention. Found on Level 1 of the National Library, the 1924 map is placed on one large wall panel. Nicely drawn out coastlines; old road names and also, the hills and their gradation.

From here, it had led me to ponder, is Mount Faber one of the tallest point in Singapore? Well well, all will be revealed in my next post on - the Top 10 Tallest Points in Singapore. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Good Morning Yesterday


"Everyone has a story to tell and you can learn for it only if you listen".

Well, I came up with that saying. There's much we can learn from books.

The writer of the book "Good Morning Yesterday" - Mr Lam Chun See, brings to life images and words that are fast disappearing.

Let me pose you a couple of questions where the answers can be found in the book:-

1. Where is Ang Sar Lee? 
2. Have you heard of the brand Brylcreem
3. What is 'chow ta' loti?

These are just some of the many nostalgic look-back to the 1950s and 1960s. Mr Lam's book has inspired me to continue my quest for everything Singapore. Looking out for decades-old eateries; Picking up old products such as Brylcreem; Finding out the many roundabouts there are in Singapore.

So read his book and get ready to be zap back into history! You can also check out his website.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Bendemeer Housing Estate: Old World Charms

Bendemeer Housing Estate - One that saw the housing of families in the 1970s where many found jobs within the nearby Bendemeer Industrial Estate. In 2007, the government put the housing estate through an upgrading programme to spruce it up. (1)

Still, the housing estate has somehow managed to keep some of its original charm. Located just a stone's throw away from Boon Keng MRT station, here're 5 good reasons why you should visit this housing estate.

1. Are You a Heritage Buff?

Stepping out of Boon Keng MRT, one of the first things that will catch your eyes would be an information board to start you on your exploratory journey. Read about the famous Whampoa and go on a search to locate the original site of the once-famous Nam Sang Fu Un. After the passing of Whampoa, the property was purchased by a prominent Teochew, Seah Liang Seah and he went on to re-name the building Bendemeer House.

2. Teochew Restaurants Galore

This brings us to another reason why you should visit Bendemeer Housing Estate - The Teochew food. In this Teochew enclave that sees only 12 buildings, there are three Teochew restaurants.

Yuan Xing Teochew Restaurant - The business first started at Wayang Street in the 1950s. They moved to the current site in 1972. (2)

Liang Kee Teochew Restaurant - A restaurant that started in the 1968, this restaurant has been given a pretty good rating by a famous food blogger, Dr Leslie Tay of the ieatishootipost fame. (3)

Ban Heng@Boon Keng - This is a Ban Heng group of restaurant that also serves Teochew cuisine.

So there, three 'branded' teochew restaurants for you to choose from.

3. Knick-Knack Shops

From rice dumplings, to banks to coffee shops, there is an entire range of shops, 200 metres of shops lining both sides of the walkway. You can really shop till you drop! If nothing else, you can still take some time to soak in the atmosphere. Listen to the shopkeepers call out to potential customers; eavesdrop on the interesting conversation of the elderly men - Reads like a Chinese tabloids. 

4. Get a Hair-Cut on the Go

Other than the many Teochew restaurants, there are also many barbers and hair-dressers. Just take a look at the picture above - Louisa Permanent Wave. The word Permanent Wave just conjures up the image of that cylindrical contraption that give you the hardest perm you can ever have. This shop still retains the old unit number where it does not list the level. i.e. 673 instead of 01-673. "One karipok haircut, please!"

5. Food, food, More Glorious Food

If you want good food, you get good food. All at the Bendemeer Market and Hawker Centre. The variety of food is just mind-blowing. I had a go at a plate of carrot cake but as soon as I sat down with my food, my eyes started to rove around for other good spoils.


1. Bendemeer all spruced up now. January 15, 2007. The Straits Times. P28.

2. Yuan Xing Teochew Restaurant. October 3, 2009. Today. P41.

3. Liang Kee Teochew Restaurant: Teochew Chef Behind the Wok. Retrieved on: January 11, 2015.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Hawker Centres and My Prawn Mee Experience

Today in Singapore Trails, I started with the desire to do a piece about our wet markets in Singapore. I made my way to the far North of Singapore. Determined, I walked towards the market. But instead of researching and talking to the vendors at the market, my eyes and nose led me towards the hawker centre over at Blk 20, Marsiling Lane.

In the past, there were hawkers with their pushcarts. They set up stall along the roadside and though food were pretty delicious, the food preparation was rather unhygienic. My parents vouched that this was the reason for food being tasty. The government thus decided to put these hawkers all under a one roof. (1) Usually, hawker centres are located beside a wet market.

The first mention of hawker centre in the newspaper was seen in The Straits Times, June 24, 1966. It was a tender calling for the building of a two-storey hawker centre along MacPherson Road. (2)

Hawker centres are integral to how Singaporeans eat and live. Singaporeans are never found too far away from food. It's a discussion topic at many office pantries, a hobby for some who will go around taking photos of good eats, and a religion for a few who cannot live without hawker food.

The government had even seen hawker centres as tourists attractions. (3) Now, there are more than 100 hawker centres that are spread out across Singapore. (4)

My Prawn Mee Experience

Ok, now back to my Prawn Mee story. For one I'm no food connoisseur. So when I arrived at the Marsiling Lane Hawker Centre, I looked around for the stall with the longest queue. That honour went to Lai Xing Prawn Noodle stall.

I contemplated about queuing as I really detest waiting in line for something, no matter how good they are. But since it's the New Year, I thought, "Why Not?"

The queue was 17-person long. 17-PERSON? That's crazy! I start to scramble for my mobile phone while getting into line. I'd wanted to find out if this was truly worth the wait. What I saw from my Google search was not too affirming. Other than its address listing in a few websites, nothing more could be found about this prawn mee stall. My instinct kicked in and I decided to be a good Singaporean and stay in the queue. IT WAS A 30-MINUTE WAIT! By the time I got to the front of the queue, I felt really accomplished!

 Lai Xing Prawn Noodle 

Since I'd already queue so long, why not make the full use of my time and have a chat with the stall owners. They looked so busy that with every question that I asked, I felt daggers of stare from the back that seemed to be saying that I'm delaying the serving of my bowl of noodle. In truth, I had only about 45 seconds with them. Still what they shared intrigued me.

- They started selling food in 1975 but were selling other stuff and not prawn mee
- When they first started, the entire swath of land in front of the hawker centre were swamps
- There were lots of mosquitoes
- Lai Xing Prawn Noodle stall came into existence in the early 1980s
- They have now been around for about 30 years

Finally, How did it taste?

By 10am, they have ran out of bee hoon. So I told them to mix mee with kuay teow. The gravy was light and the noodles, tasty.

Ingredients included prawns, layered pork and chunky pork meat. So this was what the people were queuing up for. Worth the try. What's more, this stall has 30 years behind them.

Blk 20, Marsiling Lane
Singapore 730020


1. Hawkers off the streets by 1975. August 5, 1970. The Straits Times. Page 1.

2. Housing and Development Board. June 24, 1966. The Straits Times. Page 16.

3. The Straits Times. May 27, 1968. Our food can attract tourists.Page 6.

4. National Environment Agency. Managing Hawker Centres and Markets in Singapore. Retrieved on January 3, 2015.