Ever since I spent time in Singapore back in 2009, it has been on my list of places I'd love to live one day. I've always been torn between the desire to live in a bustling city, full of cafes, bars, a thriving arts scene, and pockets of peacefulness waiting to be discovered, and the pull towards the country, with wraparound verandahs, wind rustling through the trees, fresh eggs and milk, and a horse of my own. So it was really fun to spend a day living out my Singapore dream in a small suburb to the West of Chinatown, Tiong Bahru.
Tiong Bahru is the city's oldest housing estate, built in the 1930s, but has recently been gentrified and is now considered one of Singapore's hippest addresses. A far cry from an area previously known for housing mistresses of rich men! The quaint, art-deco style of the buildings is hard to miss and lends a hip, vintage feel to the streets alongside cafes, boutiques and more traditional supermarkets.
I was pretty hungry after catching the Metro there from Chinatown and a lovely 15 minute stroll through peaceful tree-lined streets. First stop for brunch and a juice was PoTeaTo, a brick-lined den on Yong Siak Street. I had a delicious brunch called 'A Taste of Summer', which was an avocado and tomato salad with an egg on toast and a delicious fresh juice.
A friend who recently visited had given me some tips on stores and cafes to check out while I was there, so I worked my way down the list, glad I had decided to spend a whole day exploring the area.
At Plain Vanilla Bakery, I ate the best cupcake of my life. No joke. This bakery is centered around a communal wooden table, where customers chow down on freshly-baked cupcakes, tartlets and slurp away at fresh juices, lemonade and coffee. I myself settled down with a plain vanilla cupcake (with a raspberry surprise inside!) and a fresh lemonade, while browsing the cookbooks and magazines they have for sale and dreaming of riding away on one of the Tiffany blue Tokyo bicycles they had out front.
Books Actually is a book-lover's paradise. Lined almost to the ceiling with literature, design books and quirky independent reads, the store stocks English language books to suit a range of taste. Hidden between the books are literary and Singapore-themed nicknacks, like pencils and postcards.
If you venture to the back of the store, you will find a small vintage shop. Here, the shelves are overflowing with treasures waiting to be bought, from old photographs to collectable glasses and old board games. They often run events, so make sure to check their website or social media before you visit.
Another great bookstore nearby is Woods in the Books. Unfortunately they didn't allow photos inside, but isn't this mural on their storefront neat? This is THE place to take kids after a leisurely brunch, with an incredible selection of books for children of all ages (even big kids like me!).
I nearly didn't make it to Bloesem, but my friend had guaranteed that it would be right up my alley...unfortunately I couldn't figure out where my 'alley' actually was! After a lot of aimless wandering around the streets, I made it. And it was so worth it. The store stocks a range of designer jewellery, homewares and notebooks, including these gorgeous pillows which I regret not buying.
There are many more places to explore in Tiong Bahru such as Nana & Bird, 40 Hands Coffee and Flock Cafe. I'm definitely going back to Tiong Bahru with a bigger suitcase and an extra couple of days up my sleeve next time!