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Driving round the mountain
IT MAY BE NAMED Mount Faber, but this 105-metre high hill is hardly the highest point in Singapore. (It loses to Bukit Timah Hill which is about 163m and Bukit Gombak's two hills that stand at 133m and 113m.
In fact, it used to be known as Telok Blangah Hill until 1845, when it was renamed after Captain Charles Edward Faber of the Madras Engineers. He was the superintending engineer in the Straits, and the person responsible for the narrow one-way road that goes around the hill, which you can cruise along with a view of the city.
Mount Faber is perhaps most famous for being the start of the cable car line that leads to Sentosa, which was launched in 1974 and went through multiple transformations over the years. Its current name is Faber Peak, and the building now houses two eateries - the Faber Bistro as well as Spuds and Aprons - and both offer great views of the cable car line and HarbourFront area.
After the Indian Mutiny of 1857, there was a move by the Straits government to convert Mount Faber into a fort, and defence installations were made such as two 56-pounder guns. They only made it halfway up the hill however, and Mount Faber never officially became a fort. Instead, an observatory was built there in 1905.
If you're a hiker, Mount Faber offers plenty of sights to explore, plus free open-air carparks to leave your car. One good spot to visit is on the climb towards Faber Point, where a series of carved wall murals goes around the base of the summit's platform. Each mural features a snapshot of Singapore's history from the 14th century till the present, including Sang Nila Utama's encounter with a lion, Sir Stamford Raffles and the founding of Singapore, World War II, and even beyond gaining independence.
Another idea for the more serious hiker would be to start off at Mount Faber, and walk cross the Henderson Waves (the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore at 36m above Henderson Road) over to Telok Blangah Hill. From there, you can go even further to cross the Alexandra Arch into Hort Park, which then connects to Kent Ridge Park. This entire route is part of the Southern Ridges, a seamless 10-kilometre walking trail.
Near the base of the hill, there stands a lesser-known landmark called the Golden Bell Mansion, which was completed in 1910 and originally owned by Straits Chinese Tan Boo Liat (great-grandson of Tan Tock Seng). It was designed by architect Wee Moh Teck, and features some elements of colonial and Edwardian style, and even a Thai stupa (the dome).
The mansion was sold after Tan's death in 1934, and now houses the Danish Seamen's Church, which was founded in 1984 and is a non-profit organisation that is part of the Danish Seamen's Church Abroad. It provides support to Danish people living or passing through Singapore, but is also open to the public especially during its annual Christmas markets.
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