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Many Sides of Bukit Timah
Bukit Timah has had its name from as far back as 1828. Literally translated as "tin hill" in Malay, it has nothing to do with the industry. Instead, "timah" came from the name of the pokok temak trees that grew on the slopes of the hill, garbled by foreign tongues.
It's well known for having one of the highest densities of private property in Singapore, and given its central location, also some of the most expensive. But beyond its property, there's so much more to this area. Just hop into your MINI Cooper S Countryman, turn on the swanky MINI navigation system Professional, and take it for a drive.
For instance, if you're still mourning the closure of the Sungei Road flea market in July, then you'll be happy to visit the row of antique shops hidden away in Bukit Timah - fondly dubbed by some online websites as the "Antique Row" or "Antique Alley". These three shops are housed in an old warehouse that used to store horse feed, and the owners of each individual shop make a living by buying, restoring, and selling second-hand goods such as furniture, paintings, statues, and even tableware or old toys.
The street's official address is 2 Turf Club Road, but the actual warehouse is a little hard to find because the building doesn't have an official name, nor does it exist on Google Maps. Look out for the private carpark of the Blue House Nursery & International Preschool, and you'll find the warehouses just around the corner.
When you're done with the past, dive head-first into the present at The Grandstand, located around the corner past the preschool. Billed as the "largest family lifestyle destination in Bukit Timah", it houses a number of restaurants and kid-friendly activity centres. This large structure first opened in 1933 as a racecourse, where the Singapore Turf Club used to hold horse races back in its heyday.
Another significant point of interest in Bukit Timah is the Former Ford Factory that sits at 351 Upper Bukit Timah Road. It was completed in 1941 as the Ford Motor Company's first automobile assembly plant in Southeast Asia, but is more notable as the location where British forces had officially surrendered Singapore to the Japanese during World War II.
It was handed back to the National Archives of Singapore in 2004, and gazetted as a national monument two years later. The building currently houses an exhibition titled Surviving the Japanese Occupation: War and its Legacies which opened in February this year.
Just down the road from the Former Ford Factory are two more points of interest - Singapore's primary rainforest reserve known as Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, and Beauty World Centre at 144 Upper Bukit Timah Road.
The latter occupies a site that was once Tai Tong Ah Amusement Park, filled with coffee parlours, stages for performances, a dance hall, and a large gambling hall. As its popularity waned, the park was converted into an open-air market in 1947 and renamed Beauty World Market. It caught fire a few times, before the government acquired the land to build the four-storey complex now permanently known as Beauty World Centre.
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