This area of Singapore is mostly known for its eponymous road. It is more than that however, with some of the most iconic and interesting places on the island right on its doorstep. It is also a great place for those with an interest in history. Located on the southern slopes of Kent Ridge park, it is easy to see how it got its name. Buona Vista is Italian for good view. That moniker may have been given to it before the Pasir Panjang Terminal was built, but it still holds true today.
We will start with South Buona Vista Road, one of the most notorious in Singapore. The stretch of road between the National University Hospital and the West Coast Highway is only 1066 metres in length, but it features steep slopes, tight and blind bends has ditches that drop steeply away. It is these curves that give it its name gao zhup gao wan, which means 99 bends in Hokkien. Local drivers, many whom over the years have treated the road as a racetrack often with disastrous consequences, also refer to the road as the gap, either as a result of a shortening of the Hokkien phrase, or as a nod to the way it cuts through the tall trees that rise up on both sides of the highway.
Kent Ridge Park
Part of the Southern Ridges, Kent Ridge Park has a lot to offer. Its star attraction is the canopy walk, a 280m boardwalk that winds its way through and above the trees. It is a great place for bird watching or simply getting a bird’s or monkey’s eye view of the lush vegetation all around and below, as well as the islands off Singapore’s southern shoreline.
Memories of WWII
South Buona Vista was the location of one of the most famous battles of the second world war to take place in Singapore. The battle of Pasir Panjang was fought between the defending Malay Regiment and 13,000 invading Japanese soldiers between the 12thand 15thof February 1942. Though eventually defeated, Lt. Adnan Saidi who led the Malay troops, is credited with incredible bravery and is rightly considered a hero for his courage and leadership. Adnan was captured and killed, and shortly after the defeat, the British were forced to surrender the island.
The Reflections at Bukit Chandu is a small but fascinating museum housed in a restored black and white bungalow set among pleasant grounds. It deals with the battle and the stories of those involved and is well worth a look.
Haw Par Villa
One of the most bizarre attractions in Singapore, Haw Par Villa (or Tiger Balm Garden as it was originally known) has delighted, puzzled and terrified visitors since it opened to great fanfare in 1937. Paid for and inspired by Aw Boon Haw, the cultural park is the last surviving one of its kind anywhere in the world. Its red brick road takes visitors on a journey through Asian culture, religion, philosophy and history, a journey that may not be instantly easy to understand but one that never fails to enthral.