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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tiong Bahru, Singapore

I recently spent some time in Singapore for work, which game me a chance to explore parts of the city that didn't make it into my usual weekend-in-Singapore itineraries.

As Thais we think we know Singapore, same with Singaporeans in Bangkok. When I asked my Singaporean co-workers what they did for fun or where they shopped, the usual reply was "Bangkok."

Singaporeans love the cheap shopping, food and nightlife in Bangkok. Thais go to Singapore to shop at brand name stores and see touristy places like Universal Studios or Marina Bay Sands. And Singapore is the destination our companies ship us Thais off to every few months because it's the Asian headquarters for pretty much every company.

Singaporeans and expats complain about a lack of culture in Singapore, but I disagree. Sure, Chinatown is more like a movie set than a place of real business and history, and Clark Quay reminds me of Disneyland with alcohol, you can practically cross the city without leaving the confines of a mall...Wait, where was I going with this??

Anyway, I decided I wanted to find at least a few unique places in Singapore, and in my friend's neighborhood of Tiong Bahru, I did.

I've heard it described as the Brooklyn of Singapore, where hipsters sip soy lattes and young gay couples open furniture stores, while trendy expats find NYC-style loft apartments. Sadly, this means the elderly generations of Chinese aunties and uncles who've lived here forever are being slowly forced out. The lucky ones will rent their now stylishly renovated flats out for a small fortune.

Still... here's a few interesting boutiques and cafes in Tiong Bahru to try next time you're in Singapore:

Nana & Bird 
What: Features clothing and accessories by Singaporean designers like Aijek.
Where: Boutique - 979 Chay Yan St  Tiong Bahru Commons #01-02, Singapore
When: Wednesday to Friday: 12pm-7pm / Saturday, Sunday & Public Holiday: 11am-7pm

Books Actually
What: Pick up your guide to Singlish here - it specializes in works by Singaporean authors. In the back is a room full of vintage treasures from all over the island.
Where: 9 Yong Siak Street, Singapore, 168645 T: +65 62229195
When: Mon-Fri 11am-9pm, Sat 10am-9pm, Sun 10am-6pm

Fleas & Trees
What: Vintage and second hand clothes, fashion magazines, accessories, homehold wares and decor.
Where: 68 Seng Poh Lane, Singapore, 160068
When: Tues-Fri 5-10pm, Sat-Sun 11am-10pm

Tiong Bahru Bakery
What: Founded by renowned French chef, it's not exactly the epitome of Singaporean culture... or maybe it is? Expect to queue up on weekend mornings.
Where: 56 Eng Hoon St #01-70, Singapore, 160056
When: 8am-8pm daily (Closed Tuesdays)

Forty Hands
What: Supposedly the best coffee in all of Singapore. They do brunch, steamed buns and desserts.
Where: 78 Yong Siak St, #01-12, Tiong Bahru, Singapore, 160056
When: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday: 8am-7pm / Friday, Saturday: 8am-10pm  (Closed Mondays)

Books Actually
Books Actually

Nana & Bird
Nana & Bird

Fleas & Trees
Fleas & Trees

1 comment:

Shannon Valle said...

This neighbourhood reminds me of Bangkok with the store names like "Nana & Bird" lol. I guess it would be a little similar.