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By: Nessa Anwar
A rarely seen facet of Singapore, set amongst the scents and sounds of the countryside. We might not have a bounty of long, winding roads, or plenty of expansive fields and farms. But, we do have a few places here that are great for such an experience.
Kranji is named after the keranji, or the velvet tamarind tree, which grew abundantly during the early nineteenth century. Besides its military camp history, you would be hard-pressed to find sky-high properties or buildings in the area. It is mainly made up of low-rise residences, industrial areas, and a vast farming estate collectively known as Kranji Countryside. You can find popular haunts like The Farmart Center and even resorts such as D’Kranji Farm Resort for overnight staycations in a true farm fashion.
It is Kranji that we ride to, specifically Bollywood Veggies, an organic farm and resource hub. It was opened in 2000 by two larger-than-life individuals. Ivy Singh-Lim, also known as ‘The Gentle Warrior’ and Lim Ho Seng, who initially set up the farm for their retirement plans.
Stepping into Bollywood Veggies seems like a trip back to the past, to when Singapore was covered in lush vegetation of healthy greens and rich browns. The farm incorporates numerous elements, like a food museum, an educational centre, a restaurant called Poison Ivy Bistro and even a market, where you can take home your own organically grown local produce. Take a trip down and see how plants and vegetables are grown, from lemongrass, pumpkin, aloe vera, to even horseradish!
It is open to the public for walk-ins, but you can sign up for tours, workshops and even excursions for an all-rounded learning experience. If you do not have your own set of wheels, you can get here by the Kranji Countryside Express bus, which is available from Kranji MRT Station. Bollywood Veggies is only open Wednesdays to Sundays, so make a date with your families to visit one of the few remaining places in Singapore to offer a truly meaningful rural experience.
Next on our riding list is a place that is not conventionally known for being appealing. But, we found it just as delightful as any of the places we have visited on InstaScram. Just off Tampines Expressway, a long road leads us to Lorong Halus Wetlands, which is a constructed wetland that connects Punggol to Serangoon Reservoir, Singapore’s 17th reservoir. It was also a dumping ground for waste from 1970-1999. It is the first landfill turned wetland in our country.
Today, it is virtually unrecognisable from its landfill past. Officially opened on March 5, 2011, it has been transformed by the Public Utilities Board, and was built for the treatment of water before it flows into the reservoir.
Phytoremediation is the main method where the usage of certain plants is grown to absorb toxins from untreated water, thus rendering water drinkable. For Lorong Halus, this results in a landscape of plants uncommonly seen in Singapore. To add to that, delightful polishing ponds greets you as you wander around, with plenty of open spots to sit and soak up the winsome view.
There are ample signboards around the site to educate visitors about the water treatment methods along with the area’s history. And cyclists will tell you that they have “been there, done that”, as it is connected to the Punggol Promenade Riverside Park by the very instagrammable red bridge. The area has become increasingly popular amongst bird-watchers looking out for grassland birds, photographers and even those getting their wedding photography done. So, you can count Lorong Halus in when searching for a spot to get away from the crowds!