Looking for a house or condo near Serangoon MRT? This expat couple from India share their views on the area around Lim Tua Tow Road and their condo Casia Cambio.
Mangalika Ghosh – Senior Business Consultant and travel photography enthusiast (mangalika.com)
What’s the name of your street? Lim Tua Tow Road.
What does Lim Tua Tow mean? Tua Tow means “big head” in Hokkien. We came to know this from a cab driver who once dropped us to our residence; he lived here years ago, before the area was renovated with condos and cafés.
Exact words you tell a taxi driver to get home? “Teck Chye Terrace.” Built in 1928 by Chinese businessman Lim Teck Chye, this is a row of shophouses and a landmark of the former Lim Tua Tow market area. The area is still known as a little food paradise, offering local noodles, laksa, Korean barbecue, Malaysian hotpot, Thai food and much more.
Closest MRT station? We’re a five-to-eight-minute walk from Serangoon MRT (Circle and North East lines).
How long have you lived here, and why? Nearly five years. First and foremost, I’m a balcony lover and sunset chaser. We have two spacious balconies that offer beautiful sunset views. Being on the junction of two MRT lines means Serangoon is a strategic location for us as my office is on the yellow Circle line and my husband’s is on the purple line. It’s also a peaceful, residential area without any high-rise buildings; I’m not fond of skyscrapers as they block the view of open sky.
CASIA CAMBIO CONDO FACT FILE
Name of condo: Casa Cambio
Facilities: Gym, swimming pool, jacuzzi pools, barbecue pits
Size: 198 units
Age: Seven years old
Closest supermarket: NEX is 800 metres away
Condo vibe: “Pre-pandemic, the majority of occupants were expats; now there are more locals than expats.”
When you walk out of your place, what’s the first thing you see? The quaint and small landed houses (mostly one or two stories). I love how the owners maintain their lawns and tiny gardens. Almost everyone has kind of a zen corner. Back in India, I grew up in a similar type of neighbourhood. Maybe that’s another reason why I like this area so much.
What’s the closest store to your front door? 8 Degrees Taiwanese Bistro, at the end of Teck Chye Terrace.
If your street was chosen for a remake of a film, which would it be? Probably The Holiday – on a pleasant, sunny morning, the street looks like Amanda’s LA neighbourhood.
We’re sure your neighbours are great, but is there anything you wouldn’t mind a little less of? Construction noise from the flats undergoing renovation.
What’s the unofficial uniform of your street? Shorts and t-shirt with slippers or sports shoes.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen on your street? The landed houses look pretty simple and old fashioned from outside but if you ever get a glimpse of their interiors, they’re all ultra-modern and super luxurious!
What are your three favourite places to eat or drink in the neighbourhood?First choice is Amber Ember, a popular café close by; their jaffles are drool-worthy! The café was recently renovated and we love the new spacious arrangement and theme – plus, they’re generous with their servings! If it’s drizzling, we sit under cover outside and unwind over a cup of coffee.
Lam’s Noodle House at Teck Chye Terrace is difficult to resist for its yummy carrot cake and homely noodles! If we ever feel too lazy to cook at home, this is the place we visit for a simple light meal. I love the collection of vintage Singapore street photos too.
New snack bar Minus Six Degree sells hand-crafted gelato, waffles and ice cream. After years of prayers, finally an ice cream shop opened in the vicinity! We often go there to satiate our late-night sweet cravings while watching the cars whooshing past.
What are the best places to shop in the neighbourhood? NEX is less than a kilometre away, and has all the big and popular brands. For groceries, our go-to places are Cold Storage and FairPrice Xtra, while Hooga is good for cosy home items. It’s strategically located just above the Serangoon MRT station, so we can easily pick up stuff before heading home.
What are some fun or interesting things to do in the neighbourhood? If you’re a fitness enthusiast, the sprawling Serangoon Stadium campus is just a few steps from our condo. While I enjoy a slow jog outside the stadium, my husband likes to work his leg muscles on the running tracks inside. I love these evening routines even more during May and June when all the Tembusu trees surrounding the stadium get covered by millions of fragrant flowers. After a hectic day, it’s like a free aromatherapy session! We also have a couple of martial arts training centres in the vicinity – I’ve done a Krav Maga course in one of them. For relaxation, the bubbling pools and the hot tubs in our condo are enough for us.
What’s one thing you’d never change? I wish the fragrant Tembusu trees surrounding the stadium could stay there for many more years and get recognised under the heritage tree list of Singapore. Someday if I leave this little red dot and come back after years, I would like to relive the healing summer evenings they offer me today.
How about one thing you would change? Just as they renovated the old Funan Mall, I wish someone would do the same with the Upper Serangoon Shopping Centre across the main road. Built in 1981, this was once a bustling mall but it’s now sadly like a ghost town. Even on a weekend, the entire mall has an eerie feeling with most of the shops closed.
If the city gave you a million dollars to soup up your street, how would you use it? I like the street as it is except the fact it lacks colour, so I invite a few muralists to keep the stories of yesteryear alive through some street murals. I’ve noticed so many empty walls on the backstreets and side streets.
Beyond the Hood
What are your favourite Singapore spots for taking out-of-town guests? Gardens By The Bay’s Cloud Forest and Flower Dome are two iconic places that immediately reveal Singapore’s futuristic, tropical vibes to our guests. Most of our friends are outdoor lovers, so also like to take them on the nature trails at MacRitchie or the Southern Ridges.
Chinatown is also a great place to find a slice of old Singapore culture. Our guests love to visit the exquisite Buddha Tooth Relic temple and shop for souvenirs at the flea market.
When you’re in need of a dose of culture, where do you go? Definitely Chinatown. My family and I are ardent photographers who love to capture the street life around Chinatown’s alleys. We always find something new! We even know some of the odd vantage points that offer a great view of the area at different times. Even when I’m not taking pictures, I love noticing the elderly residents playing Xianqi (Chinese chess) around Pagoda Street or singing songs on the streets.
If you’re missing home, what do you do? Call my mother and talk for a long time! We also like to meet up with our Indian friends and colleagues living here. We often get together at each other’s place to cook and eat. On special occasions, we dine out at an Indian restaurant.
This article first appeared in the July 2022 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!