Come this February will be three years since I moved from my long-time residence in Bukit Batok to Bukit Panjang. Although both are technically in the Western part of Singapore, each of them has their own distinct personality. As a newer town, Bukit Panjang (henceforth BP) may not have a public transport as well-integrated as Bukit Batok yet (looking forward to the new BP MRT station!) but it has certainly come a long way in the last 20 odd years. From a secluded or ulu estate in the early ’00s along with a lack of amenities, it is now a vibrant self-contained town with many bus services connecting to the city, complete with at least two community centres, a swimming complex, dozen of eateries (not forgetting the newly-built BP Hawker Centre and Market), two pretty decent malls and a few HDB heartland shopping centres scattered all around the neighbourhood to cater to the diverse needs of BP residents!
“Eh, what are HDB heartland shopping centres?”
Unlike urban malls, these smaller-scale shopping centres house a cluster of everyday shops and are normally located within a community to serve primarily the residents living around the area! They are not air-conditioned, however, but maybe that’s how rents are affordable and prices there are kept to the minimum, right? 🙂
In fact, these HDB heartland shopping centres have been a commonplace around Singapore. You may not know it, but there should be at least one in the vicinity of your house. Not sure where? Check this list out!
In my case, the nearest one is Fajar Shopping Centre which has served me well during my considerable length of stay here. So without further ado, here are 6 reasons why you should go to Fajar Shopping Centre.. and perhaps why moving to Fajar/Segar isn’t a bad idea after all (property agents marketing BP flats, you can quote me on that).
1. It is more convenient than you think
Directly next to Fajar LRT station (like, literally beside it) and accessible by 2 city-bound and 1 feeder buses (bus-stop just smacked right in front), it is easily the most convenient heartland shopping centre in the Bukit Panjang housing estate. There’s also ample parking space if you’re driving, both within the compound of the shopping centre (multi-storey carpark) and the HDB flats around it. What’s more, parking is FREE at Fajar Shopping Centre during lunch time from Monday to Saturday, 12 noon to 2pm. And yes, there are good eats there as well! I will touch more on that in a bit.
2. There are THREE 24-hour shops for your late-night needs..
That’s right, folks. THREE.
They are McDonald’s, 7-eleven and mini GIANT supermarket, all conveniently located on the ground level.
I think it is very essential to have convenience shops or eateries that operate all day and night in the neighbourhood because they help to save on delivery charges (and that unnecessary money you have to spend on more food just to hit the minimum order amount) when midnight hunger pangs strike! Furthermore, if you’re not too perturbed by the lingering food smells, McDonald’s is actually a great place to study (and snack when time comes) after midnight because it’s usually rather quiet by then.
3. ..and many specialty stores to accommodate every other shopper
Whether you’re an aspiring musician, a bargain hunter or a stationery hoarder, Fajar Shopping Centre has got you covered! Apart from the usual apparel shops (many pushcarts selling accessories around!), salons and whatnot, there are also a reputable music school, a value shop and a huge stationery shop that spans across two units!
If you’re a tertiary student, their printing services might be of importance to you (think all the reports and lecture notes you have to print).
If you’re feeling lucky, you can also purchase lottery tickets at Singapore Pools on the second level! Too stressed out at work? House of Tui Na is just a few shops down the row. In addition to that, parents can drop off their kids at Carpe Diem Young Joy and then leave to do their grocery shopping! And that brings me to the next point.
4. You can grocery shop at any time of the day
Not only is there a supermarket but also an indoor wet market for the early risers. I didn’t know there was a wet market the first time I went to Fajar Shopping Centre because it doesn’t look like it from the outside (and somehow I failed to notice the big “Fajar Market” lettering on the wall). With glass doors leading to the market on both entrances, it definitely looked more like an office building to me (I honestly thought it was the Town Council la).
As hygiene and cleanliness become the top priority these days, the wet market is relatively clean and spacious! The floor was perfectly dry when I was there on two occasions.
5. There are plenty of food choices under one roof
Of course, no shopping centre is complete without a food court! While most urban enclosed malls have just one, Fajar Shopping Centre has TWO – one with air-conditioner (Koufu) and another without (Astar). Impressive or not?
I haven’t personally tried the food at Astar kopitiam but people living in Bukit Panjang have been raving to no end about the vegetarian food, which attracts a long queue of customers every time!
If you’re not in the mood for a heavy meal, there is a Mr Bean joint right next to Koufu that offers a dine-in area for patrons to enjoy their famous pancakes or soya beancurd!
6. Festive activities are planned for shoppers
To further enhance the shopping experience of residents and encourage family cohesion, the Housing Development Board (who operates these HDB heartland shopping centres) would also have programmes and activities lined up every now and then, especially during festive periods! The last time I was at Fajar Shopping Centre, there was an event specially organised to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival!
Due to the haze from the Indonesian forest fires shrouding Singapore for the past few weeks, many outdoor activities were cancelled so I was worried that this would be scrapped too! Fortunately, the haze miraculously cleared up on that day (and came back with a vengeance the following day) and the event went off without a hitch.
Shoppers who spent at least $20 at the shopping centre were also entitled to redeem a doorgift consisting of a mooncake and a toy, or to participate in the activities such as the lantern decorating competition!
All of the participants were kids but were mostly aided on the artistic and creative direction by their enthusiastic and supportive parents. Seeing how much fun they were having, the child in me couldn’t resist not partaking in the activity! 😀
I submitted my lantern to the panel but decided not to participate in the competition eventually because it would be so unfair to the young kids if I won. There were 10 winners but the top 3 winners got to walk away with some household items. The grand winner, if I remember correctly, received a rice cooker. Whoa, not bad for such a small-scale competition leh! Kinda regret not joining in the end 😆
Having said that, my favourite part of the event still has got to be the caricature artist because.. who doesn’t like to be sketched?
The event concluded with a meet-and-greet session and lantern walkabout with the HDB mascot, Wisely! He was so popular among the children who kept groping him. Parents were also hounding him for a picture with their kids 😆
Missed out on the event? Fret not!
The Mid-Autumn Festival may be over, but there are still ongoing activities for you to partake in while standing a chance to win some attractive prizes for yourself!
- Vote for your Top 50 shops
Acknowledging that retailers at the HDB Shopping Centres addresses the needs of the residents while being an important part of the community, HDB will be rewarding these neighbourly retailers this year with a decal and commemorative plaque for display in their shops as testament of their popularity.
Starting from 1 July 2015 till 31 October 2015, shoppers can nominate and vote for their favourite online via the app myfavHDBmall (currently available on Android and iOS) and stand a chance to win prizes in the Top 50 Favourite Shops contest.
- #myfavHDB Photography Competition
The #myfavHDBmall Photography Competition is already launched. HDB Shopping Centres form an integral part of the residents’ daily lives by being a place for leisure, shopping and community bonding. This competition aims to collect these precious moments that are captured by residents at the 24 HDB Shopping Centres.
Residents can submit their photos here and stand a chance to win attractive prizes. The winning entries will also be exhibited at 888 Plaza in 14 November 2015.
- Enter the Book of Records
To mark the momentous year, an attempt is underway to create the largest SG50 logo made from stamps to set a new record in the Singapore Book of Records. Starting from May till end October, residents can play their part and donate their used and unused stamps for this record-breaking initiative.
To participate, residents are to “post” their stamps at the specially designed post boxes at various HDB Shopping Centres and all submissions will qualify for the Lucky Draw. A total of $2,000 cash vouchers will be up for grabs. The finished masterpiece will be unveiled with great fanfare at 888 Plaza on 14 November 2015. Shoppers can expect an evening of games, activities and snacks.
And that’s about it! Do share with me your thoughts about your HDB heartland shopping centre in the comments below! And don’t forget to join the aforementioned contests! 🙂
Thanks for reading!