I love it when I read about hidden pathways and little gems tucked away in public places, places that we think we know well. Today let Evelyn from The Bottomsup Blog bring you to the Shunfu/Marymount estate! Go Evelyn go!
Hi, I'm Evelyn and I blog over at The Bottomsup Blog. I'd like to invite you to drop in on my neighborhood during the March school holidays. Why? Does fun, free, and fresh air (well, remember to check the PSI index before heading out) sound like a good deal? I thought so. Let's begin.
Make your way to Marymount MRT and get out at Exit A. Turn left and you'll soon see a playground that's pretty exciting by neighborhood playground standards--you can't miss the flying fox and you're likely to have it to yourself if you're there on a weekday morning. (More playground pictures here.)
If you're in the area on a Saturday and you haven't visited a fire station before, cross over to the Bishan Fire Station between 9 and 11am to chat with the local heroes on duty. They'll give you a quick tour of the premises, let you inspect their gear, and even show you a couple of ways to slide down a fireman's pole in style.
Next stop: Breakfast. Walk or take bus 410 to Shunfu Mart. (Unless it's a Monday, in which case you should skip this because most of the stalls will be closed.) The most-queued-for stall here is Chocolat 'n Spice, which is famed for its muffins but also offers a small selection of cakes and pastries. My personal fave is The Fresh Bread Shop, a family-run stall serving handmade buns. The buns aren't much to look at, so don't judge until you've taken a bite--I hesitantly bought some to try right before my daughter's birthday party last year and we ended up polishing off all the buns before the guests arrived. I've been a fan of this humble stall since, and their bun flavours include Ham 'n' Cheese, Curry Potato, Kaya, Butter, Cheese, Raisin, and Coconut. Two or three buns should fill you up nicely, although I've had more at a go. They're best enjoyed when hot.
When you're ready, head to the bus stop outside Shunfu Mart and get on 410, which will take you to Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park 1. (There are two parts to Bishan-AMK Park; I'm definitely biased but Park 1 rules!) I'm not sure what used to be at Park 1 before they revamped it, but back in the old days the crowds gathered at Park 2 for the dog run, skate lessons, and fancy restaurants. The park authorities flipped fortunes when they redesigned the park, and now Park 1 boasts an impressive three-section playground, a water play area, and its own trendy restaurant named Grub. Sometimes, life is fair. (Note: The children's water playground operates only on weekends from 8-11am and 4-8pm. Click here for Grub's opening hours.)
If you're looking for nature activity ideas, click here for my Bishan Park bird guide and here to find out exactly where the prettiest cones in the park are located, and what you can do with them. You'll also find bird, dragonfly, and wildflower guides for Bishan-AMK park on the National Parks Board web site, and for now there's a free eco life tour on Saturdays that you can sign up for.
Someone's going to be hungry at some point, so you'll want to consider the lunch options in the area. McD's over at Bishan-AMK Park 2 is two bus stops away. Blk 407 Sin Ming Avenue (across from Park 1, 7-10mins walk) has a cooked food stall and a tiny bubble tea cafe that also serves prata, hot dogs, and waffles.
Over at Blk 409 Sin Ming Avenue is the well-known Two Chefs restaurant. Reviews for Two Chefs are mixed and the standards are said to be inconsistent; I've tried it once and didn't like my ginger onion beef dish, but a friend told me her son loved the food so much he wanted a Two Chefs birthday party!
I'm not the best person to comment on this place, so this review might be of some help. If you don't mind a longer walk (15-20mins), head to 26 Midview City for some traditional bak kut teh at Rong Cheng. I haven't tried this but a friend who worked at Midview City has, and she gave it the thumbs up. (Click here for a review.) If you'd like tea and dessert after, the bake shop/cafe Cake Over Heels is also at 26 Midview City.
I'd be ready to call it a day after lunch but if you're not, make your way to Kong Meng San monastery at 88 Bright Hill Road. It's not too far off from AMK-Bishan Park 1; if you're at the park, you'll be able to see it across the street. This is the largest monastery in Singapore and a fine showcase of Southeast Asian architecture. (Click here for details on each of the monastery buildings.)
I hope you'll be able to tear yourself away from the dragons and demigods to spend some time in the part of the monastery that I really love--the garden. It's the perfect spot for resting, relaxing, and recharging; I've written about it over on my blog, and it's here that I'll leave you. Happy holidays!
Cheers, Evelyn. Thanks for taking us around your 'hood! And with that, I wrap up the March holidays itineraries. I hope you've managed to find out that tickled your fancy, and you're going to try one or more out during the holidays! Happy holidays :)