I had a great day out with the boys yesterday, taking them for a wander around Arab Street – one of my favourite parts of Singapore – and then out to a shopping centre in Tampines called Tampines 1, which has yet another water playground on the roof. I’ve wanted to do both activities with the boys for a while and decided yesterday was the day. The only slight hiccup was that Friday is prayer day for Muslims, and as such, the beautiful Sultan Mosque is closed to visitors from 9am-2.30pm every Friday. It wasn’t an issue for us, as it would have been a challenging place to visit with my loves, but a good thing to keep in mind if you do want to go inside.
I obviously did this by car, and it was easy parking up at Golden Landmark Shopping Complex right across the road from the Sultan Mosque. Also because we got there early, there was plenty of space available. Later in the day as we were leaving, there were definitely more cars waiting to park. Also at Tampines 1 there is a car park in the basement, however the line up to the car park was long and for such a massive shopping complex, I was surprised by how small the car park actually was. No car, no problem – you can do this whole adventure by SMRT, with the closest stop to Arab Street – I believe – at Bugis, and then the Tampines station backs onto the Tampines 1 complex, so it’s really easy. Buses, of course, are also a possibility. Here’s the map for the SMRT.
Arab Street has come a long way over the years, and while it’s famous for its textiles, there really is a lot more to it – including a lot of fantastic restaurants and cafes, as well as some really quirky little shops, selling beautiful Arabic inspired things. I also love the shop house architecture, and while that holds absolutely NO interest for my boys, having the closed off street directly in front of the Mosque (where we found that tree) gave them the space to explore in safety, while I looked up at the beautiful colourful buildings. There’s also lots of cheap touristy shops, so buying a cheap $2 colourful slinky at the start gave my boys something to do while I got to enjoy the area in peace.
We wandered around to Arab Street proper, stopped for frozen yoghurt, and then walked along the beautiful arched sidewalks, with lots of attention from the store owners to either buy fabric or just tell the boys they were handsome. There’s nothing much to do here if you’re not shopping, but I definitely enjoy the vibe of the area – it’s made me want to go back and spend some time exploring the shops AND I want to buy some of the beautiful fabric on sale. There is some gorgeous stuff in this area and the experience we had with the shop owners was lovely as well. The boys are sure to get big egos if they live in Asia for a long time.
After we got to the top of Arab Street, we went into the Golden Landmark Shopping Complex, which is a really quirky shopping centre, with a focus on Muslims – including maid agencies, tailors, travel agencies, religious bookshops, traditional clothing, and so on. We stopped by the water feature under the Arabic inspired lifts and had our sandwiches there. A great people watching spot.
We then piled back in the car for the drive out to Tampines and parked up under Tampines 1. We came up the escalator to the outside area and noticed a small market under the SMRT overpass. So we had a wander around there and while there wasn’t much of interest to us, the food court looked very good and was popular with the locals – no juice stall though. Then it was up, up, up to the roof of Tampines 1 where there is a relatively new water playground, based on an educational theme around wild-life. Essentially it’s all about encouraging kids to have fun and learn about conservation.
It was popular, the kids had a blast, and we easily killed about two hours on the roof. It’s also nicely shaded – which many of the water playgrounds are not – so it was pleasant for the parents to hang out as well. One other highlight for me was the lack of rules being enforced. As my monkeys went for a climb along the “ice walls” – which they were always going to do – I didn’t have to deal with any overly zealous security guard screaming at them. I really appreciate it when that happens, as I want my boys to explore in peace, because I’m already watching them and I know when they go too far for their own safety!
The water playground is a great option if you are looking for a new place to cool down, but in Tampines 1 there is also a Timezone – where we got some “bowling” in, an indoor playground called Kidzgo Playhouse – BUT it’s for 6 months to six years old and don’t forget socks, plus I found a fish spa – Kohong Fish Spa – that’s priced at $15 for 30 minutes, same price for all. Now that is a lot cheaper than our Kenko Fish Spa experience in MBS. There are plenty more options in the area that are worth exploring, but that gives you a flavour for a great experience with the kids in Tampines. We’ll be out there again for sure.
With that, we’d like to wish everyone a very very happy New Year and hope it’s a successful and adventurous time for all.