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  Straits Times 4 Nov 07
Kampung days: Want your urbanised kids to get back to nature?
Check these out.

Farm hopping

OUT in the boondocks - and we mean way out, not just the undeveloped bits of Punggol and Sengkang - discover the Kranji Countryside (www.kranjicountryside.com), made up of a cluster of 10 farms and nurseries that will put the kampung spirit back into any jaded cityslicker.

A Kranji Express bus departs from Kranji MRT station daily from 9am to 5pm, ferrying visitors to different stops in the area for a round-trip fee of $2 for adults and $1 for children. Get on and off as you like.

Of the lot, some places offer more fun for kids than others. The Jurong Frog Farm (56 Lim Chu Kang Lane 6, tel: 6791-7229, 7am to 6pm daily, free entry, www.jurongfrogfarm.com.sg) is Singapore's only frog breeder and boasts sights like mating ponds and a 6,000-strong bullfrog 'choir'.

At Hay Dairies (No. 3 Lim Chu Kang, Agrotech Park Lane 4, tel: 6792-0931, 9am to 4pm daily, free entry, www.haydairies.com.sg), you can feed the goats and observe milking sessions from 9am to 11am.

Bollywood Veggies (100 Neo Tiew Road, tel: 6898-5001, 9am to 6pm, Wednesdays to Sundays and public holidays, $2 per entry, www.bollywoodveggies.com) is a fruit, vegetable and flower plot co-owned by the colourful Ivy Singh-Lim. Worth a visit to stock up on organic farm produce, and to get kiddies to - hopefully - eat their greens. The Poison Ivy Bistro serves local favourites.

Farm lite

IF YOU prefer not to soil your Nikes, head over to Farmart Centre (67 Sungei Tengah Road, tel: 6767-0070, food outlets open 10am to 10pm (Mondays to Saturdays), 9am to 10pm (Sundays and public holidays), retail outlets open 10am to 8pm (daily, including public holidays), free entry, www.farmart.com.sg), a clean albeit sanitised showcase of various farm trades.

Buy wholesale produce and view educational exhibits like hornet's hives and koi ponds. Or try 'longkang' fishing, where you net tiny fishes darting across a man-made pond.

Look out especially for the famous Uncle William (tel: 6763-1966, www.unclewilliam.biz), a game bird farmer who also runs an educational tour business called Uncle William Edu & Agri Enterprises.

The affable man offers a series of interesting farm trails for groups, including a treasure hunt, but you must have a minimum number of people. He does, however, organise public tours on an ad-hoc basis during the school holidays, so call to enquire.

Grown-ups can also chill-out at wine shop AustWine for a slow tipple.

Animal planet

THE Animal Resort (T81 Seletar West Farmway 5, tel: 6338-7665, 9.30am to 6pm daily, free entry, www.rictedkennels.com) is not just a grooming school-cum-dog run-cum Club Med-esque hotel (one of the taglines on the website reads: 'So exclusive, we don't accept people') for the pampered pet. It's also a giant sanctuary of friendly domestic animals, some of which you can get up close and personal with.

Wander around the grounds for encounters with horses, chickens, rabbits and even cassowaries. Warning to parents: Oh-so-cute puppies are for sale so get ready your 'our- flat-is-too-small-for-pets' argument.

Croc your world

ADDICTED to Steve Irwin re-runs? The Tan Moh Hong Reptile Skin And Crocodile Farm (790 Upper Serangoon Road , tel: 6288-9385, 9am to 6pm (Mondays to Fridays), 9am to 5.30pm (Saturdays and Sundays), free entry, www.singaporecrocfarm.com) offers no croc-wrestling but you can view various species of the Crocodylus family here from a safe distance.

The farm was set up after World War II by a croc-loving businessman named Tan Gna Chua, who transformed one acre of land around his house into a reptile playground.

There's also a showroom of crocodile skin products like handbags, wallets and belts - which goes to show that some of the scaly friends you make eventually become, er, luggage.

Itsy bite-sy fish

LOTS of fishy business to be had at the Qian Hu Fish Farm (71 Jalan Lekar, Agrotechnology Park, tel: 6766-7087, 9am to 6pm (Mondays to Thursdays), 9am to 7pm (Fridays to Sundays), free entry, www.qianhu.com). Apart from oohing and aahing at the fish on display in ponds and tanks, try out its Fish Spa feature ($10 for first 30 minutes).

This unconventional remedy for skin diseases entails dipping your feet into a pool of bubbling cold water and allowing hundreds of tiny algae-eating fish - scientific name Garra Rufa - to chomp on your dead skin. Slippers and towels are provided.

If the retro horror movie Piranha comes to mind, rest assured that you'll only feel a pleasant tickling sensation.

The spa also offers manicures ($10 to $19.90) and pedicures ($20 to $39.90). Available on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays (noon to 6pm).

Ride a free shuttle bus there on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from Choa Chu Kang Interchange (Saturdays: 9am to 6.30pm; Sundays and public holidays: 9am to 6.45pm) and Boon Lay MRT (Saturdays: Noon to 6.40pm, Sundays and public holidays: 9am to 6.40pm).

Magic mushrooms

FIVE types of mushrooms - shiitake, hiratake, white oyster, willow and abalone - are bred at Mycofarm (9 Seletar West Farmway 5, tel: 6773-0377, 10am to 6pm daily, free entry, www.mycofarm.com.sg). Saturdays and Sundays are good days to visit as staff are on hand every hour from 11am to 4pm for a walk-through.

The farm also makes its own soups and sauces that you can buy to impress your friends at your next dinner party. Dining establishments like Italian eatery Buko Nero and steamboat restaurant Coca use produce from here so you won't go wrong.

Kids will love the mushroom muffins sold at the sales counter. They beat chocolate ones in the health stakes for sure.

The great outdoors

NATURE expeditions that include jungle trekking or bird-watching are easy to join if you know where to look. Check out groups like Nature Trekker (www.naturetrekker.org), Nature Society Singapore (www.nss.org.sg) or websites like Wild Singapore (www.wildsingapore.com).

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