A few days ago I was talking with a friend about our mutual love of travel. We’re both from the New York/New Jersey area and were marveling at how far we’ve ventured from home. During our discussion my friend made a curious comment, “I’ve lived in New York all my life yet I’ve never been to the Statue of Liberty.” That set me off thinking…how many of us research, plan, and dream of travelling to other countries yet never look in our own backyards for interesting places to visit? After all, isn’t there someone somewhere in the world researching, planning, and dreaming of visiting our homeland? Have You Visited Your Own Backyard Lately?
I decided to find out if this phenomenon was a worldwide occurrence or just a Western one. Since my backyard resides in Singapore, I asked a few of my local friends how many of them had been to the attractions that most tourist visit. I was a bit surprised to find out that many of them, in fact, had not been to those attractions and even less of them had been to some of the lesser known treasures Singapore has to offer.
As many avid travellers know, most of us find it difficult to travel all year and often suffer from travel withdrawal…I know I do!! So, I set out to find some interesting and wonderful off the beaten track places right in my own backyard.
St. John’s Island
This pristinely kept little island is just 6.5 km (4 miles) south of Singapore. It’s accessible by ferry or private boat.
In the 19th century the island was used as a quarantine site for immigrants with cholera but is now a beautiful, quite getaway for beach, snorkel, and nature lovers. The island is also home to the Tropical Marine Science Institute, Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) of Singapore’s Marine Aquaculture Centre. For those who want to get away from the crowds of the city it’s a perfect day trip. The island is quite raw so don’t expect hotels or restaurants but there are very clean restrooms.
A famous Taiwanese architect named Prof Yuen-Chen Yu constructed this serene Chinese Garden in 1975. The 13-hectare garden is located in the Western region of Singapore. The garden was created based on the ancient northern Chinese imperial architectural design of the Sung dynasty (960 to 1279 AD). Many weddings and cultural events are held hear. It’s especially beautiful to see the Chinese New Year festivities each February.
Changi World War 2 Trail & Museum
Housed in the East Coast of Singapore near the Changi Airport is this World War 2 museum that has both a walking and coach tour.
If you’re interested in military history the 3-hour walking and coach tour takes the visitor through the stormy past of Singapore’s short history. Visitor’s will be surprised to know that this economic powerhouse and architecturally renown city was once a place of horror during the Japanese occupation.
The trail memorializes the battle men and women faced during the War and their imprisonment. It is estimated that more Australian prisoners perished during incarceration in the labor camps than died in battle itself.
Guests will visit the Changi Museum and Changi Chapel, explore Changi Village and visit a replica of a 15-inch gun battery at Johor Battery. Visitors will learn about the Selarang Barracks, the former Japanese Prisoner-of-War Camp and hear how Singapore fell out of the control of the Allies in 1942.
This moving, yet inspiring, tour helps visitors to appreciate the human suffering, while celebrating the spirit of survival against the odds.
These are just a few of the off the beaten track amazing places to visit right in my own backyard. I’m sure if you did a bit of research on your “backyard”, you too, will find that you live in a pretty interesting, entertaining place.