Jurong – more than just ‘ulu’
Singapore may only be 719.7 km² small, but that’s big enough for an East/West rivalry to develop. The evidence: West Sucks Stories – a Tumblr blog dedicated to proving East > West – and its rival, West Shiock Stories.
As a born and bred Eastie, I’m inclined to believe that the East is always better. But several estate upgrades and many new amenities later – including a smart bus stop and upcoming cycling network in Jurong Lake District (JLD) – maybe it’s time to admit that the West isn’t less great after all.
We paid a visit to one of the West’s signature neighbourhoods, Jurong, and found many underrated places worth exploring. I guarantee, these places – and the dope Insta shots you’ll be able to take there – will make your journey to the west worth it.
1. Find this uncommon trampoline playground at Block 221A
Most would have heard of trampoline parks, but trampoline playgrounds are less common. You’ll find one such playground at Block 221A, for the young and young-at-heart to jump to their hearts’ content.
This rock climbing structure proved to be more difficult than it looked
The more adventurous can climb on the 12-sided rock climbing structure or the rope netting. As someone who has a fond obsession with playgrounds and all things childhood-related, this place was one of my favourite Jurong finds.
2. Charge your phone at Singapore’s most spoil-market bus stop
When you’re at Project Bus Stop, waiting for the bus can actually be fun. This pilot smart bus stop has free Wi-Fi, iPhone/Android/iPad chargers, a swing, and even a mini library.
A brainchild of DP Architects to test out innovative technology in JLD, Project Bus Stop is their way of enlivening public spaces for the community to enjoy.
Because the library operates as a community book exchange corner, based on mutual trust, commuters are free to bring home the books and magazines whenever they want. Remember to replace, or return them, after browsing!
With these cool features, you’ll never have to resort to playing Candy Crush, or refreshing your Instagram feed for the 329482389th time to kill boredom again.
Don’t forget to try out the interactive smart boards too. Simply put, these boards are futuristic versions of our regular bus arrival boards. While the latter only displays bus arrival timings, Project Bus Stop’s smart boards also let you download e-books, help plan your journey, and tell you the PSI.
3. Go on a thrilling night karting adventure
Most might be unaware that Jurong is home to the first ever competition-length race karting track in Singapore. Besides that, Kartright Speedway also prides itself as the Singapore pioneer of flood light-lit night karting.
I’ve never had much of a need for speed, but I must admit, my adventurous side was attracted to Kartright Speedway’s go-kart facilities. Go from 0 to 100 real quick on the 750m long track. With its 7m width, you’re guaranteed enough space for thrilling overtakes and an instant adrenaline rush.
Address: 511 Upper Jurong Road, #01-05, Singapore 638366
Opening Hours: 11am – 7pm (Mon – Sat), 12pm – 7pm (Sun and Public Holidays)
4. Hide from the sun at a game of indoor baseball
Let’s face it: Singapore’s hot weather isn’t fun. So engaging in any activity away from the sun is always a welcome respite. Try your hand (literally) at Homerun Baseball’s indoor batting cage in Pandan Gardens.
Striking a 80km/h ball that’s pitched out every 7 seconds may sound daunting at first, but you’ll get used to it after a while. A combination of mental concentration, hand-eye coordination, and physical strength, this is one challenging, but enjoyable sport you should try.
Address: 200 Pandan Gardens, #01-01, Singapore 609336
Opening Hours: 1pm – 11pm (Mon – Thur), 1pm – 1am (Fri), 9am – 3am (Sat), 9am – 12mn (Sun)
5. Learn more about the neighbourhood’s history at J Link
Connecting JCube to the shops at Block 135 Jurong Gateway Road is J Link. With this 270m-long walkway, those walking from Jurong East MRT station to Lakeside now have an easier journey.
It’s part of a bigger plan to improve connectivity in JLD, which is being planned as a key growth area and Singapore’s CBD 2.0!
We checked out the heritage corner at J Link, and learnt a lot about Jurong’s rich history. Fun fact: some believe the name ‘Jurong’ was derived from the Malay word for ‘shark’, possibly suggesting that the Jurong River was shark-infested.
Also, did you know Jurong used to house Asia’s largest drive-in cinema? Big enough to fit 900 cars and 300 standing patrons, the cinema was many Westies’ favourite haunt until it closed down in 1985. Back then, tickets cost just $2!
There’s even a small playground!
6. Relive your childhood at the quirkiest shopping mall playground
Find out how sound waves travel with this colourful contraption!
Learning happens anywhere – including on the rooftop of a shopping mall. JEM’s rooftop playground houses Elements @ Play by Science Centre Singapore, where you can play with interactive exhibits to learn about the mysteries of Science.
Optical illusions – who’s really bigger?
Just be sure to handle the equipment with care!
When you’re done, head one floor down to the children’s playground. Most of the equipment there are more suitable for kids, but this rope structure gave us lots of fun too.
7. Marvel at the hospital with on point aesthetics
On first glance, this geometrically designed building looks nothing like the standard white hospitals we’re used to seeing in Singapore.
It might just look aesthetic, but bet you didn’t know that Ng Teng Fong General Hospital‘s fan-shaped structure isn’t just for show. The unique design improves ventilation and natural light, and can help to speed up a patient’s recovery.
The building is eco-friendly too. Making use of solar energy, harvested rainwater, and NEWater to run part of its operations, it’s commendable how the architects didn’t neglect the environment in the design process.
8. Take a dip at the west siders’ version of Wild Wild Wet
Most public swimming complexes just have pools, but Jurong East Swimming Complex ain’t that mainstream. This complex has three adrenaline rush-inducing water slides, a lazy river, and jacuzzi all under one roof, easily making it one of the coolest public swimming pools in Singapore. Think Wild Wild Wet, but 10 times cheaper.
Take a dip in the lazy river after zipping down the water slides
Address: 21 Jurong East Street 31, Singapore 609517
Opening Hours: 8am – 9.30pm (Tue to Sun)
9. Escape from civilisation to Bukit Batok Nature Park
When you’re at Bukit Batok Nature Park, a must-visit landmark is the picturesque quarry pool. Scenic and tranquil, this place channels zen vibes that will surely put any negative emotions to rest.
Just check out that symmetrical reflection in the crystal clear waters!
Besides that, look out for this transmission tower near the World War II memorial plaque. Take note: you’ll have to climb a whopping 120 steps to get such an unobstructed view.
But for a shot as Insta-worthy as this, I’ll gladly climb any amount of steps.
Photo opportunities don’t stop there. Walk through Bukit Batok Nature Park’s forest tracks, and take yourself some step photos. Literally.
Explore These Places And More!
Easties, it’s time to stop joking about needing your passport to enter Jurong. It might be a 1 hour plus journey from the East to the West, but Jurong’s no longer the underdeveloped industrial area of the past. These underrated places are enough to get me out of my crib and brave the long train ride. Exclusive to Jurong alone, you won’t find many places like these anywhere else in Singapore.
This post was brought to you by the Ministry of National Development Singapore.