Mention northern Singapore and a common response would be "It's so far away" or, to put it colloquially, "ulu".
But its residents like the north as it is - with rustic gems the rest of the island know little about.
One of these is the Woodlands Waterfront Park, which boasts one of the longest jetties in Singapore, views of Johor Baru and, in the distance, traffic on the Causeway.
Another tranquil spot is Yishun dam, which lies along Lower Seletar Reservoir in Yishun Avenue 1. Families and couples go there to enjoy the sea breeze, have picnics or even take wedding photos.
The park and dam are two of the places highlighted in an ongoing contest organised by The Straits Times. It calls for readers to name their favourite spot on the island via Instagram.
More than 300 entries, bearing the hashtag #myspotinthedot, have been submitted, since the contest began on June 22. Other popular choices are Sentosa, Pulau Ubin, East Coast Park and Marina Bay.
The north may have garnered only 10 votes, but it is not as ulu, or remote, as it used to be, said long-time resident and housewife Malini Retnam, 38.
In the past, most people did their shopping at the old Woodlands Town Centre, located just before the Checkpoint, she recalled. "That was the most famous place. Now, there is Causeway Point, Northpoint and Sembawang Shopping Centre."
However, she is concerned new developments and high-rise buildings are taking over the greenery.
Housewife Jaime Lee, 36, who has lived in Yishun for almost 10 years, enjoys the peace: "It's not as busy as the rest of Singapore."
While the north may not draw as many tourists, it has its award-winning attractions - the Singapore Zoo, River Safari and Night Safari at Mandai.
The Kranji War Memorial, dedicated to those who died defending Singapore during World War II, was listed among 50 iconic places to visit in Singapore by travel website TripAdvisor.
Mr Jason Tan, who has lived in Woodlands all his 25 years, said: "If I need anything, Causeway Point (shopping mall in Woodlands) has most of the major brands."
Of Woodlands Waterfront Park near his home, he said: "The pace of life here feels slower and the view is different. I don't need another East Coast Park."
This article was first published on July 6, 2015.
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