Adventures in Tiong Bahru

by The Dreamer


I really suck at keeping up with friends. I’m the kind of person that unknowingly isolates herself and finds contentment in solitary activities, but at the same time guilt-trips herself while knowing that her friends are out there, having fun without her. So I guess I’m an introvert with an outgoing personality, because I genuinely like to bask in the laughter and company of people, but at the same time, I get tired easily and need to recharge with a night in bed, with a book and a cup of tea.

But recently, near to the end of the holidays, I felt this burst of energy and called out my friends Hui Qin and Su Lynn for an adventure in Tiong Bahru.

Tiong Bahru is a special area in Singapore where hipster clashes with history. It’s the hottest new area for hipsters to hang out at, because of all those Art Cafes popping out of nowhere, especially down Eng Hoon street. They’re hella popular, and decorated to be aesthetically pleasing and a visual excitement to those Instagram photographers. So we decided to check it out.


Took many turns and got lost multiple times before finally walking down a small alley which led us to our destination. DSC_9452

I guess the narrow corridors with those ancient-looking doors and gates got my friends and I really hyped up because it just felt very different from our urban grounds in Singapore.

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We wandered around back alleys on an empty stomach. The adventure bug had infected us all, definitely. DSC_9465

Old-school gates, must resist…urge…to take…photo…in front…of…it…DSC_9467

The old apartments. DSC_9468 DSC_9470 DSC_9474 DSC_9484

We went to Tiong Bahru Cafe, very very popular, especially among expats. That was the Lemon Tart I ordered at around $6.80, which unfortunately, is like tearing a hole in my wallet, because I’m a student.


Apple pie for $8, me thinks. HOW DO PEOPLE EVEN AFFORD TO HAVE HIGH-TEA?

Nice two-hour chat on life with them.

Free water, and classy decorations. DSC_9506 DSC_9510

The employees here were very young, most in their early twenties and so it gave off an ultra hipster vibe I guess. We totally couldn’t pull it off, and felt 10/10 awkward at that place. High class life is not for me, definitely. DSC_9513 DSC_9522

But the food tasted quite nice, though it doesn’t fill you up. So it’s great for tea and a quaint chat with friends or family. Just not for lunch (what were we even expecting, anyway.)DSC_9528 DSC_9535 DSC_9538 DSC_9541 DSC_9549 DSC_9552 DSC_9554 DSC_9560

And then we found one of those old moving vehicle toys that our parents used to put us in while they shopped for groceries. We knew these were vintage/antiques because it only required 10 cent to start up, and because it didn’t accept our new 10 cent currency. And because it didn’t work anymore. DSC_9571 DSC_9577 DSC_9578

Still had fun though. Too much fun that I started questioning my level of maturity. DSC_9582 DSC_9583 DSC_9585

Visit to the pet shop…that only sold fish. DSC_9586

And then visit to those shops that sold EVERYTHING. DSC_9588 DSC_9595 DSC_9596 DSC_9597 DSC_9603

In those cafes, we felt so out of place and didn’t fit in at all. But while we strolled along the old apartments and parks and the alleys, we felt like we blended right in, and comfortable silences stretched over us really perfectly. I really enjoyed that walk. DSC_9611 DSC_9612 DSC_9617 DSC_9619 DSC_9620

Then it started drizzling so we headed to the Tiong Bahru market where I spent alot of my childhood at, weirdly. And then when I grew up, I stopped going there. Dunno why. So when I stepped in, the smell of the wet market just hit me, and so did a wave of nostalgia.
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I always used to loiter around the florist shop.DSC_9643

We then headed to the dry market where I bought my favourite Tiong Bahru fishballs, fishcakes and of course, desserts. Ice Kachang for $1.20, this sounds more reasonably priced, haha!DSC_9655 DSC_9656 DSC_9660 DSC_9662

We all spotted this truck that transported all those good-ol’-childhood-biscuits and we started chatting about our favourite kind of biscuits that we used to buy and store in those tin cans. We all simultaneously agreed on the swirly icing kind. DSC_9669 DSC_9675

And then we went to Su Lynn’s house to bake a shit ton of cookies that tasted heavenly. That day was just truly fun, exciting and chill. We talked about everything and nothing, and I enjoyed my time alot. I started thinking about how much I treasured my friends, but sometimes didn’t make the effort to connect with them, sorta like I took it for granted that they would always be there for me. Then some started drifting apart from me, and while I was sad and mourned over it, I was also relieved because then I could solely focus on the ones that stuck by me and were genuinely caring towards me.

On a side note, I’ve been getting very horoscope-y alot, and I started researching about my personality, Aries way too much. I discovered that sometimes I could be blunt, straightforward and too honest. Like the time I saw this face in the Obituary page that resembled my dad and pointed it out to him, which flew him into a cussing rage (oops!). And when some thoughts nag and nip at me, I want to get it out of my chest once and for all, which is why I confront my friends sometimes a little too bluntly, lol. But whatever. It’s better than letting those thoughts devour you.

Why am I rambling, anyways. Well, tomorrow I’ll be receiving my results for my GCSE O Levels, and I’m apprehensive but glad. Finally the wait is over, but that means that I’ll be stuck in a vortex of self-doubt, confusion and what-ifs. That’s probably because I’ll need to fill up my choices for my further education, and at this point of time, the future is so unsure to me. Child Psychology or Journalism? Arts stream or Science stream? JC or Poly? How do I choose? It’s so much easier to go to the temple and ask for directions from the gods (Yep, I’m pretty superstitious.)

Wish me luck, guys.

钧 x x

j e a n x x