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Leong San See (long shan si) is a Buddhist temple along Race Course Road

As Singapore Tourism Board is encouraging Singaporeans to rediscover Singapore, I thought it would be cool to share a fun evening culture walking cum food trail at Race Course Road and Little India Area.

Since I cannot travel now due to COVID-19, and have partially lost my job, I have been taking more time to discover new things around me, instead of rushing through. To exercise more, I have been taking detours and amazingly, I found a lot of interesting sights around me which I never took note of.

This is just a short 1-1.5hour with dinner and dessert stop along the way.

Starting Point: Farrer Park MRT.

For those who are too young to know, like me, City Square Mall is the site of former New World Amusement Park. The only evidence of it is the Lion gate leading to the mall, which says “The New World”.

The New World Amusement Park was first opened in 1923 by the two Straits Chinese merchant brothers, Ong Boon Tat and Ong Peng Hock, who were sons of prominent businessman, Ong Sam Leong.

The New World Amusement Park attracted visitors from all walks of life. Whether they were Europeans and affluent local merchants to labourers,
families and local residents, New World was a destination of fun and entertainment until the 1950s. It featured many exciting programmes and attractions from boxing and wrestling matches to variety shows (like Huang Sa Ye Fung), operas from various ethnic groups and even striptease!

In the mid-1930s, Shaw Organisation went into a 50/50 joint venture with the New World’s parent company, Ong Sam Leong Ltd before later taking on full ownership of the amusement park. New World closed its doors in the mid-1980s when it was sold to CDL.

2nd Stop: Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple

Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple
Sri Srinivasa Perumal temple

Walk along Serangoon Road in the same direction as traffic and you may see the decorations which deck the road since Deepavali (An Indian Festival) is round the corner.

The history of Sri Srinivasa Perumal temple dates back to the late 1800s when influential community leaders like Mr Arunachala Pillay, Mr Cootaperumal Pillay, Mr Ramasamy Pillay, Mr Appasamy Pillay, Mr Chockalingam Pillay and Mr Ramasamy Jamidar, all of whom had close working links with the East India Company, wanted to build a Hindu temple for Vaishnavite worship.

These men got together and purchased a piece of land measuring 2 acres 2 woods and 24 poles from the East India Company in 1851 for 26 rupees and 8 annas (at that period of time Indian currency was still used in the Settlement of Singapore). The temple they built in 1885 was referred to as the Narasinga Perumal Kovil.

This grew as more devotees donated land to the temple.

The 20-metres-tall impressive Gopuram is a relatively recent addition, built in 1966.

3rd Stop: Hokkien Mee for Dinner

Original Serangoon Fried Hokkien Mee
Original Serangoon Fried Hokkien Mee

You will find a coffee shop selling the Original Serangoon Fried Hokkien Mee. As a frequent eater of the Whampoa market Hokkien Mee, we had some expectations.

At $5, $1 more than the Whampoa’s, it didn’t disappoint us. The Serangoon’s favour has more ‘lard’ and more texture for its noodles, because it uses thick bee hoon (the one used for laksa). On comparison, Whampoa’s has more seafood taste. The dish wasn’t serve on the opeh leaves, unlike if you were to do a takeaway.

Surprisingly, there is no queue and we got a table immediately. (We hate to queue!)

For my foreign friends, you are sort of eating by the roadside, without air-con, so it probably quite an interesting experience.

Add: Long San Eating House, 566 Serangoon Road, Singapore 218181龙山咖啡店
Price: From $5 upwards ($6 upwards for takeaway.)

4th Stop: Leong San See Temple 龙山寺

 Leong San See Temple 龙山寺
Leong San See Temple 龙山寺

Just across the coffee shop, you will see a Chinese gateway with a small road. Looking further you will notice a Chinese temple, and Leong San See is our next stop.

Leong San See (long shan si) is a Buddhist temple built in 1917 by Reverand Zhuan Wu, who brought the statue of Guanyin from Nan’an city of Fujian province. The original temple, known then as Leong San Lodge, was a modest building until it was rebuilt in 1925 by philanthropist Tan Boon Liat.

5th Stop: Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple

Right beside Leong San See, it is Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple. If the leopard and tiger at the front of this Buddhist temple remind you of Haw Par Villa in Singapore, you are right.

This temple building was constructed in 1930 with a donation from Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par, brothers best known for developing the Tiger Balm ointment. They are, of course, the brothers who also built Haw Par Villa.

🪔The temple is 15 metres tall and houses a 300-ton statue of Buddha.

🪔The statue is surrounded by a seemingly endless chain of lights, leading to the temple’s popular name, “Temple of a Thousand Lights”.

🪔 it houses an ebony and mother-of-pearl replica of Buddha’s footprint and a piece of bark from the original Bodhi tree under which Buddha sat. This replica of the footprint was found on top of Adam’s Peak in Sri Lanka, a mountain named after the belief that its summit housed the first man Adam’s crypt.

🪔The temple’s architecture reflects an eclectic mix of Chinese, Thai and Indian cultural influences.

6th Stop: 福寿堂 Hock Siew Tong Temple

This Straits Eclectic style building is actually a Chinese temple. Very little information is available for this but I am guessing it is also a pre-war house building during the 1930s.

This Buddhist temple is dedicated to Guanyin, the goddess of compassion. A small stop is worthwhile. Take a look at the exterior panels that relate 6 of the 24 examples of filial piety, otherwise known as 24 paragons, used to teach the values of Confucius.

7th Stop: Back to City Square Mall

Frankly, as a local, City Square Mall is quite a typical heartland mall. Probably the stall which stands out, and great for dessert is a kisok which sells sugar cane and coconut drinks and desserts.

I love the coconut freeze which is refreshing after a walk in Singapore’s weather!

I hope you like my Singapore trail. No sponsored post, just an experience which I hope to share.