July 27, 2013

Holland Village to Dempsey Hill - Exploring the Ex Military Base ofSingapore

Early Morning at Holland Village
As usual, the group brainstormed over where new locations can we run this week. The parameters are as follow:

1) Not at the extreme ends of Singapore - This rules out Changi, Pasir Ris, Sengkang, Woodlands, Chua Chu Kang and Jurong.

2) Easily accessible by the ladies/mummies of the group - They need to wake up earlier as their preparation time is longer. So anywhere too far will lead to protests of unearthly waking hours.

3) Must have good breakfast spots at the end point - A good breakfast after a run is very important!


As usual, the most creative idea came from me. I was thinking of Dempsey Hill. We have all visited the place in the evenings when the bars and restaurants in the area comes alive, but we have never visited the place in the day. Everyone agreed that it was a pretty good idea!

We assembled at Holland Village MRT station at our usual 7am Saturday morning and made our way towards Tanglin along Holland Road. The initial route is a very typical Singapore running trail: Run along a pavement with cars zooming along you on a six lane road. After crossing the major Farrer Road junction, the run becomes much more interesting as we turned into Dempsey Hill.
Dempsey, in the day, is indeed very different from Dempsey at night. Normally at night, we will take a drive to one of the restaurant there and there is usually nothing to see in the pitch black, other than the dim lights from the sparsely located restaurants and their classy lighted billboards. We get to see the buildings and the architect in the full glory of a lazy Saturday morning.
The trail along Holland Road.
Lots of Vroom Vroom...

Phantom of the Opera is Showing in Singapore!
Most of the buildings were military barracks and housing for the British military during the colonial era. After the British left, it became the HQ of the Central Manpower Base (CMPB) of the Singapore Armed Forces. After the relocation of CMPB to Depot Road, the area was neglected for a long time until a bunch of boutique restaurants and pubs decided to reoccupy the empty barracks and colonial era buildings, offering an alternative watering hole in a more exclusive secluded area as compared to the crowded areas of Clark Quay and City Hall. 

It was one of the more interesting runs I had for a while in Singapore as this is a pretty different scenery from a typical Singapore jogging trail. There is almost negligible vehicle traffic so early in the morning and you have the entire road to yourself. There are some slopes here and there (It is called Dempsey Hill after all!) but the slew of interesting buildings and interesting stuff to be discovered makes this all worth the while. It is not a big area but you can always build your mileage by starting your run in the nearby Botanical Gardens or from Holland Village and you can cover a reasonable 10KM with minimal traffic junction crossing. 
The Entrance to Dempsey Hill

There is no cars around! You have the road to yourself!
Antiques anyone?
A Map of the area
If you are going for Church Service, you got the wrong place!
Museum of Contemporary Art. Opens 11am-9pm Mon-Sun
There is even a mini driving range there!
Ahh, a real church time round. Appreciate the architecture
Touch the signboard and you have reached the top!
(Courtesy of Big Bone Guy. I missed the signboard!)
I strongly recommend this area for those who are looking for a new and interesting place to jog in Singapore. It is one of the hidden gems for runners in Singapore, whereby you can get to enjoy your surroundings without risk being run down by hordes of joggers, kids on bicycles or angry Singaporean drivers.  


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