In the TODAY newspaper published umm… today, you can read about some interesting snippets of information on various locations in Singapore.

1. Hope of a new life

Long before CHIJMES was a cool hangout with bars and restaurants, it was a safe haven for unwanted children. The Gate of Hope, located within the premises, was the dropoff point for many abandoned babies. The nuns made it a point not to watch the gate so that those who left the babies would remain anonymous. This gate was also the origin of the Home for Abandoned Babies.

2. A river runs through it

Along Bishan St 14 is a canal that used to be called Say Kai Hor (Dead Chicken River) in Cantonese. Village folk discarded dead animals including chickens, dogs and even pigs into the river.

Now it’s lined with trees and has a jogging and cycling track beside it, linking Bishan Park and Potong Pasir, and the only animals you see are either the odd stray crow or pet dog.

3. Days and nights of being wild

Chinatown was not always a touristy place with great food and cheap souvenirs. In 1887, it was known as Bu Ye Tian (Place of Nightless Days) due to the countless brothels as well as opium and gambling dens.

4. Ford Minor

Drop by Upper Bukit Timah Road for a bit of local history. The Old Ford Factory, now converted into a museum, holds many secrets from World War II years, and houses the room where Singapore was surrendered to the Japanese. One highlight of the museum is the garden dedicated to food crops grown during the Japanese Occupation, including locally-grown rice.

5. Pavilion town

Take a break at Bishan, which was named after Kampong San Teng, or Pi Shan Ting, meaning “pavilions on the green”. This name influenced the design of the town and its colourful roofs.

6. Sport the similarities

You could be living like a sports star. Four point blocks in the centre of Toa Payoh were used as the games village to accommodate the participants during the 7th South East Asia Peninsula (SEAP) Games held in September 1973, while the newly-completed library was used to house the Games’ Secretariat.

A two-storey building with shops and a restaurant was converted to dining and social halls. After the games, the four blocks consisting of 384 units of fully-furnished 4-room flats were sold together with the furniture to flat buyers.

7. A good flow of luck

Want some extra luck? Drop by Telok Blangah before heading to the lottery. Crowds of motorists gather at the foot of Telok Blangah Hill Park each weekend to wash their cars with water flowing from a stream with concrete banks there. Many believe washing their cars with the water brings them good fortune – besides, it costs them nothing. One car-owner won the 4D lottery after washing his car there. 34

8. Star gazing

Residents in one “VIP block” are probably less prone to being star-struck than the ordinary Singaporean. Visitors to flats in Block 81 Toa Payoh Lorong 4 have included Philippines President Gloria Arroyo, former Indian President K R Narayanan and former Chinese premier Zhu Rongji, to name just a few.

The block was chosen along with several others as they were the tallest ones built then. From the open terraces on the 25th storey, the VIPs can view all of Toa Payoh, as well as the rest of Singapore.

9. Bridging the age gap

Singapore’s oldest bridge in use is so old the signs in front of it forbid cattle and horses from crossing. Constructed in 1869, Cavenagh Bridge has switched from bearing cargo and coolies to allowing people to cross safely to and from the concert halls, museums and offices on the banks of the river.

10. Secret gardens

The first botanical gardens were at Fort Canning Hill. They were opened in 1822, closed in 1829, reopened in 1836 and finally abandoned in 1846.