SAFRA’s goal was to aid the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) enhance camaraderie and boost morale among National Servicemen. A network of 5 buildings were built around the island, with each club having their own specialities.
I like sports. In fact, I am in love with the adrenaline rush and the great sense of satisfaction I always get while achieving every little target I had set for myself. For the past years, I have been doing land sports until recently, I found my love wih swimming.
I am not a good swimmer and had only learnt with my friend. A side note, we did not learn with a teacher, but from observing others and trying out our own. (It's a new experience, if you cant't swim or is a weak swimmer, do try it out! haha). With my increasing hectic schedules, I hardly have the time to swim regularly. But I manage to squeeze time out on sunday night.
My few visits to Tampines Safra swimming pool was really satisfying (well, I managed to swim laps, insteads of random water playing). And guess what swam with me? I saw these little friends while trying to gasp for breath. Just as I open my mouth, they try to house in it... There were not one, but countless of them, everywhere regardless of the many lanes I switched to. There were not many swimmers, only about other 5 of them.
It's pretty funny to see all the swimmers swimming in a zig-zag manner trying to avoid them!
I suppose the presence of the little friends were dure to the fact that sunday night is the "last batch" of water to be used before pool maintenance on monday morning. So do avoid sunday night swimming if you can!
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Back in the army I subscribed to Safra for only 2 reasons, the Golden Village movie ticket discount and the free entry into their swimming pools. Now that the contract with GV has expired, Safra has paired up with Shaw and the new contract with Shaw doesn't look as enticing as the previous one. That is really one huge bummer.
Safra Tampines's swimming pool is well maintained, although it could get really crowded at times especially during the weekends. Still, I think it is much better than public pools so I ain't complaining. The best part about their showering facilities is that it comes with hot water; heavenly after a long swim.
SAFRA has been the hot buzzword for NSFs and NSmen alike when chatting about recreational activities. For me, I got to experience it a few weeks back as I visited Tampinies SAFRA for a game of soccer and bowling.
To start, it looks well-furbished and full of facilities from the outset. Eateries, gym and facilities like bowling courts fill the place adequately. But I main gripe is its lack of a pleasant or cosy atmosphere for one to really relax and rejuvenate. I felt that the place was a little too noisy and the walls do not have the inviting touch to them like how other recreational clubs do. As for the futsal courts, I guess a tight budget would speak for the lack of a roof over our heads while playing soccer during he day. In case you don't know, we got sunburnt.
Probably the best part of this place is the pizza shop. Go explore it yourself and you may realise the food they offer is rather piquant and simple. I am quite sure most of the facilities are only available, or at least free, to SAFRA members. Other than being rather huge in space, I would not recommend one to make a special trip down or set a memorable moment there.
One stop mart for all SAF items
Many NSFs or Pre-enlistees of the SAF will find themselves well acquainted with the different SAFRA braches in Singapore. Personally, I frequent the mount faber branch as the emart there is 3 times as big as any emart which exists in an army camp. There, I am also able to use my credits (don’t have to pay cash) to purchase my army items, instead of going to army market at beach road to purchase using cash. The mart literally has everything that a NSF will need in camp. It is a wonderful place for males to shop.
Also, other than the mount faber branch, the swimming facilities at the yishun branch are also very extensive. There are 2 giant water slides which members can slide down at top speed and benches for people to sun tan and generally relax.
This subsidized “country club” is a good hangout place, especially for guys.
Relaxing and enjoyable
I used Safra Mt Faber back in my younger days for swimming and thoroughly enjoyed it! That was a pretty big part of my childhood, although sadly, having grown older, (and having less free time for myself!) I seldom frequent it as often as before.
I especially adored the pool when I was younger, maybe it’s because I love the environment and the atmosphere at Safra’s pool. It wasn’t even that crowded during the weekends, and I particularly like that. I enjoyed the calm swimming alone amidst a scenic backdrop that it provided.
In addition, Safra has also room for other sources of entertainment and leisure activities (which include gym and billiards to name a few. There are also educational services and learning institutions (such as Kumon). Having such a wide range of activities, it’ll be a waste not to try them out.
I signed up for a SAFRA two year membership during the army. I frequent the EnergyOne Gym located within SAFRA Mounf Faber. To me, it is quite an exclusive gym similar to boutique gyms like TrueFitness with the exception of classes. If you are looking for a good workout, this gym is the place to go!
SAFRA also offer various courses that are useful in my opinion. One of the courses that is going to start is the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu class where it is a Brazilian self-defence.
If you are into sports and recreation, try SAFRA!
I am MR
Many years ago, SAFRA still send me letters inviting me to join them. But since then, I have changed my service status to "MR (MINDEF Reserve)" and they were no longer interested in me.
During the times when I still got the invitations, I had seriously considered taking up the membership but during that time, all the SAFRA clubs were too far from my home. Now that I had moved to Alexandra, I knew that Mount Faber SAFRA Club was near my house and with the newly opened Jurong West club, it had made it more attractive to join.
My consideration during that time was whether I would have time to make use of the facilities, the membership was not that expensive and during that times, the applications for the membership came with free gifts. In the end, I did not join their membership mainly because I realised that I seldom use the kinds of facilities that they provided.
SAF 1 Home-Team 0
Although I'm serving my NS with the Home Team, I've always been envious of my friends in the SAF for being members of Safra by default.
Compared to the Home Team, whose few clubhouses are all miles away from my eastern abode, a Safra clubhouse is relatively easy to reach from every part of Singapore. Accessibility is also what makes the Safra card more useful than its Home Team equivalent, because it offers a discount on activities at a location where it is convenient for both my friends and me to meet up. Safra also offer activities like KTV and bowling at pretty attractive rates, as well as being home to popular F&B outlets such as the Sakura buffet restaurants.
The Safra club has done an awesome job of providing civilian entertainment for everyone, not just it's uniformed personnel. It's just too bad that I'm not one of them ol' soldiers.
Fun and enjoyment
For the prospective NS men, there will indeed be many perks and privileges extended to you. One of which would be the SAFRA card, with which you can gain access to the SAF's many country clubs and facilities for an afternoon of enjoyment, in the company of friends and comrades.
For me, I visit SAFRA mainly for shooting, bowling and pool. The shooting facilities at SAFRA were indoubtedly the best in Singapore. With around 30 lanes fully equipped with lights, bays and other equipment, all you need to bring is your shooting suit (I was an air rifle shooter), your cards and your pellets. There are rifles and pellets available for rent but I always preferred my own as I had grown accustomed to its feel. Famous Singapore shooters such as Jasmine Ser can be occasionally seen at SAFRA too.
The bowling alley is also formidable. It is easy to get everything in a package price and the amount you have to pay is reasonable, even cheaper if you happen to wield a SAFRA card. Moreover, at the pool area, the atmosphere was perfect, not too bright and cool (SAFRA offers air-conditioned facilities for sports) and I enjoyed myself tremendously on each of my visits.
To top off your outing, visit the lounge where there are TVs, magazines and food available. A really great way to relax! For people who visit SAFRA Yishun, the cinema is just nearby, hence making it extremely convenient to catch a movie after a morning of sporting and a good meal.
Country club facilities at a fraction of the price
There are two factors that make Safra feel a little less special than an actual country club. First, it can get rather crowded over the weekends and second it does not have any golf courses. If these are factors that won’t bother you too much, than I’s reckon you should save all that thousands and get a membership here instead.
The facilities are really up to mark and comparable to most country clubs. Swimming pools are huge and well maintained; gyms carry the latest equipment while food and beverage outlets offer delectable food. There really is little more to ask for. Besides the 5 locations across Singapore also allow your work out to take place at almost every corner of the island.
I have fun whenever I go with my family to one of the many Safra clubs situated around Singapore as they have many amenities, as well as privileges for Safra card members. They have almost every facility one can think of, be it ballrooms for renting, restaurants and cafes, swimming pools, pool tables, rockclimbing walls, karaoke lounges and even tuition centres. Additionally, Safra card members usually enjoy privileges such as lower prices at the various amenities in the classily-designed club.
However, I do think that the main objective of SAFRA has been rather lost over the years. Though their goal is to 'enhance camaraderie and boost morale among National Servicemen', I don't really see this going on. I mean, it's not like I've ever seen NS men 'bonding' over a song at the karaoke lounges, or even at the various other facilities in the club. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy the said facilities, it's just that I can't really see them doing much for the supposed goal of SAFRA.