Simei is a relatively small town with low housing estates. Buildings are typically no more than eleven storeys for safety concerns (presence of planes flying in and out of Changi Airport). What may be most impressionable about this district is Changi Business Park that is flourishing with banks and foreign talents. Hence, Changi Business Park is often joked to be “Changalore”.
What else is unique about this place? Surely there are some gems to be discovered.
1. Simei is named after China’s four great beauties
If you had not paid attention to the Chinese name of this place, you might not think too much of it. Simei actually means four beauties in Chinese. In fact, legend has it that the main streets of Simei New Town were indeed originally named after China’s four great beauties of ancient China (Xishi, Diaochan, Zhaojun and Guifei).
However, the hanyu pinyin of these street names were supposedly too difficult for the non-Chinese residents and hence were renamed as Simei Street 1 to 4 in the mid 1987. Historian Tan Teng Teng suggested that the name may have been given by Housing Development Board (HDB) when it was trying to pitch Simei as an attractive place to live in through leveraging the appeal of the ancient beauties.
Look beyond the beauty: The murals of the four beauties sitting at Simei HDB void decks have certainly altered the void deck scene by injecting this area with a little more culture and history. The portraits of Diaochan, Zhaojun and Guifei can be found at Block 146 (Street 2), Block 226 (Street 4) and Block 107 (Street 1) respectively, whereas two of Xishi portraits can be found at Block 116 and 123 of Simei Street 1.
2. Birds of paradise spotted at Simei
Are you a bird lover or into bird watching? If you are, Simei is THE place for you. There are many wonderful places for bird watching in Singapore and Simei is one of them – some residents in Simei have even encountered unique species of birds perching comfortably on the trees just right outside their window. Fancy having a Jurong Bird Park of sorts at your residence – every day is a surprise! Simei does not have as much flora and fauna compared to Pasir Ris where its surrounded by the beach and parks so it is really a mystery why birds love to flock to Simei.
According to the Singapore Bird Group, at least 65 species of birds were sighted around the Simei-Changi Business Park estate. Some of these birds are understood to be uncommon or rare visitors spotted during the migratory season! The recommended timing to spot some of these birds of paradise is in the morning around 7am to 9am.
3. Dine for a cause at Metta Cafe in Simei
Contributing to a good cause always makes us feel better about ourselves. Metta Cafe at Simei encourages one to dine for a good cause. The cafe was established in 2014 to offer F&B vocational training for Metta School graduates with special needs (mild intellectual disability and/or autism).
Metta School Graduates with ITE Skill Certificate will be given the opportunity to work as apprentices at Metta Cafe to hone their skills in a commercial setting. With more inclusive workplaces like this, Singapore will become a better place for people with special needs to live and work in.
Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals (halal-certified) are served at this cafe during lunch hours only from 11.30am to 2.30pm.
4. “Simei’s Little India” at Melville Park
It’s no secret that the majority of the residents in Melville Park are indians – locals, permanent residents and expatriates. This is one of the largest condominium in Singapore with 1,232 units! The Indian community is so huge that the home-run businesses in the condo are also catered to the Indian community. For example, there are henna hair treatments, indian snacks sold at the mini shopping mart stocked with all Indian food items and even Bollywood dance classes.
Melville Park is a convenient place for IT indian professionals who work at Changi Business Park (which is just round the corner).
5. Good old min jiang kueh at Simei
Traditional min jiang kuehs (peanut pancakes) are increasingly hard to find in Singapore. But thankfully, traditional pancakes are not extinct yet. If you are looking for thin pancakes that are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, you will be happy to know Jia Xiang Pancake, located right next to Simei MRT, is there to quell your pancake cravings.
The stall serves up mouth-watering pancakes in many renditions but you can never go wrong with a classic peanut filling. Do remember to savour it on a plate as the peanuts can get pretty messy.
What else do you love about Simei? Leave us a comment below!