This post will be primarily of interest to non-Singaporeans. I thought it might be fun to share some of what I see every morning on my commute to dropping the girls and Ravi off since most of my US friends/readers won’t get to see it in person.
I live on River Valley Rd, so our journey starts here. I drive past mostly other condos, and then shophouses. Shophouses are the older architecture of Singapore, and are becoming more and more rare in the Central Business district.
I pass about a block away from Sri Thendayuthapani Temple, although I can see it as we pass. It is a Hindu temple, and where the Thaipusam procession ends (my pictures of Thaipusam here).
I next pass part of Fort Canning Park, which is one of our National Parks. There’s a great deal of history associated with it, but I visit it primarily for Ballet Under the Stars. They also do movie screenings, Shakespeare in the Park and the occasional concert.
I pass beneath the first of two ERP gantries and pay the road tax using the transceiver in my car. These charge different rates depending on what type of car you drive and what time of day it is. The idea is to dissuade drivers from driving in the most clogged parts of the city during peak hours. Every vehicle has a device mounted on the dashboard, and you put money on the card you insert into it. ERP gantries and parking garages sense your device and autocharge you. If you don’t have money on your card, I assume you get a ticket.
I make two fast turns before I turn onto Orchard Road. The first thing I pass on Orchard Road is the Istana. The Istana is the official residence of the President of Singapore (Tony Tan as of 2014) and houses the office of the Prime Minister (Lee Hsien Loong as of 2014-son of Singapore Founding Father and first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew). Originally it was a nutmeg plantation, which was bought by the British in 1867. It served as the residence of the British Governor during the colonial years, and has been the President’s residence since independence.
I can’t actually see the Istana from the road–I can only see the gate, of course. On public holidays they open the grounds, but we’ve yet to visit.
Next I pass Plaza Singapura, which is 7 story mall–my picture was taken inside, looking down from the 7th floor (sorry, it’s a bit blurry–cell phone pic, and my phone isn’t great in low light)
In the basement of Plaza Singapura, next to Plaza Singapura and across the street from Plaza Singapura are entrances to the Dhoby Ghaut MRT station. Dhoby Ghaut is the interchange for three of the four subway lines, so it is crowded, even chaotic to be there. (There are also several buses that pick up in front at the road).
I pass through another gantry, and turn onto Prinsep Rd. On one side of the road there are some shophouses, which are mostly occupied by restaurants. On the other is a mall. I then turn onto Sophia Road and pass a number of condos. Around St. Margaret’s Primary, I have the school on one side of me, and the Istana grounds (the white fence) on the other side of the road.
I turn onto Wilkie Road and pass by the front of St. Margaret’s before I make my first stop. Rhiannon’s school is on the grounds of Gudwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha-a Sikh Temple. The building to the right has been completely redone since the streetview photo. The square in the bottom right of the corner has been turned into a playground. Rhi gets upset if I park after the entrance because then she doesn’t get to walk by the playground. Every day she says “BYE MY PLAYGROUND!”
From there, I go back down Wilkie Road past more condos and turn left onto Selegie Road. I cross Bukit Timah Road and enter Little India. Little India is one of my favorite parts of Singapore, and I’m genuinely happy to drive through it every day even though it’s only for a few seconds.
I turn and pass Tekka Market–the Hawker Centre/Wet Market for Little India. The wet market is the traditional way to grocery shop–there are stalls of produce, meat and seafood–and it’s far cheaper than the grocery store. Even that early in the morning, many shops are open for business (traditional malls typically don’t open until 11am in Singapore), and there’s vibrant color everywhere.
I then drop Ravi off at the Little India MRT stop
I drive down Race Course Rd, which is home to many yummy Indian restaurants (although really, you can’t go wrong anywhere in Little India, food wise). On Sundays, construction workers and maids who have the day off often picnic on the grass. One of the most famous (and a favorite of mine) is Banana Leaf Apolo, which serves their food on a banana leaf (hence the name).
I take a side road and come out opposite KK Women and Children’s Hospital. While Ravi and I go to private hospitals, KK is the best place to take a sick kid. When Ellie cut her finger badly by poking her finger into the locking mechanism of my car door, I rushed her there. They got us to a doctor super fast, fast tracked an x-ray, and then stitched her up (after knocking her out–something that wouldn’t have happened in the US, and I was happy that we were in Singapore for that). Rhiannon had her lymph node surgery here too. I can’t recommend them highly enough for emergency and specialist care for kids. (my post on KK is here)
Next to KK is a police station.
Finally we arrive at United Square, which is where Elanor attends school, and where I have spent more time than any place (other than my apartment) in Singapore.