To help you figure out the different places to live in Singapore we talk to German expat, Valeria Eliseyeva about living in The Skywoods condo on Dairy Farm Heights. Valeria is a photographer @valeria_eliseyeva_ph.
What’s the name of your street? Dairy Farm Heights.
Do you know the background of the name? There’s an interesting history to this area. In 1930, the first tropical dairy farm was established at Bukit Timah Hill, initially for pig farming. But, after an outbreak of swine fever, Fred Heron, managing director of Cold Storage, decided that there was a need for high quality, fresh milk in Singapore and he converted the area to a milk farm. Today, the cows are gone and the Dairy Farm Nature Park has been set up instead.
What’s a common myth or misconception about your neighbourhood? That it’s too far away from the city centre; in fact, I can get to Orchard in 20 minutes by taxi or 40 minutes by MRT. That’s a dream after having lived in a huge megapolis such as Moscow!
Exact words you tell a taxi driver to get home? “Dairy Farm Heights, please.”
Closest MRT station? Hillview (blue Downtown Line).
How long have you lived here? We moved here in December 2020, when we relocated from Moscow after having lived there for seven years. When we were initially researching areas to live in, we thought we might enjoy the sea views from Reflections at Keppel Bay. However, after moving to Singapore it was clear our son would go to preschool at GESS because we wanted him to speak German. We decided that a new continent, new country, two new languages, different climate, food, different everything was already enough stress for our three-year-old. We didn’t want him to use the school bus, so we decided to search for an apartment close to GESS.
When you walk out of your place, what’s the first thing you see? The jungle and greenery of the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.
What’s the closest store to your front door? A convenience store at the neighbouring condo. If your street was chosen for a remake of a film, which would it be? The Jungle Book.
We’re sure your neighbours are great, but is there anything you wouldn’t mind a little less of? Honestly nothing – it’s quiet and peaceful.
What’s the unofficial uniform of your street? Sports clothing. There are also lots of photographers around looking to catch photos of birds, so you also spot plenty of high-resolution cameras. They’re connected through WhatsApp chats. If someone hears a kingfisher, for example, they all race to the spot and stay there for ages to catch the best shots.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen on your street? Early each morning, at the same time and regardless of the weather, there is a man playing a stringed instrument for about an hour or so.
Condo Fact File
Name of condo: The Skywoods
Facilities: 50m swimming pool, jungle swimming pool, kids’ pool with fountains, tennis court, indoor and outdoor gym and kids’ play area
Size: 420 units
New or old: New (2016)
Walking time to supermarket: Five minutes
Community vibe: Peaceful, quiet and relaxed with kids playing outside together
What are your three favourite places to eat or drink in the neighbourhood? I like iO Italian Osteria at HillV2 – I believe it’s one of the best Italian restaurants in Singapore. It’s always full and I know people come from far to eat there. The vibe and the view are great as well. Hitoyoshi Yakiniku & Mart is a new Japanese restaurant where you can barbecue your food yourself. Then there’s the Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre, which offers a great selection of meals, and it also has a Western stall with pasta and steaks.
What are the best places to shop at in the neighbourhood? Hillion Mall and Bukit Panjang Plaza.
What are some fun or interesting things to do in the neighbourhood? Hiking or mountain biking in the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve or the Green Corridor. There’s more great hiking from Bukit Timah Nature Reserve to MacRitchie Reservoir, as well as from the Botanic Gardens to Dempsey hill.
What’s one thing you’d never change? The view of the jungle from my window.
How about one thing you would change? The construction works along the street on Dairy Farm Heights. When we were moving, we were so focused on finding somewhere with no property construction work around the house that we didn’t think of the road construction! Now we laugh about it because you are never safe from it in Singapore.
If the city gave you a million dollars to soup up your street, how would you use it? I would widen the nature reserve area and think of ways to have fewer driveways and less traffic close to nature.
Who was Wallace?
Dairy Farm Nature Park is home to the Wallace Education Centre (formerly a cow shed) and the Wallace Trail, a 2.2km looped trail through jungle that’s a nice option for casual hikers. Alfred Russel Wallace was a British naturalist who came to Singapore in the 1850s, using it as a base while studying the natural history of the Malay archipelago. (He apparently collected a lot of beetles from this particular spot as part of his research.) Wallace is also known for independently conceiving the theory of evolution, at around the same time as Charles Darwin.
This article first appeared in the June 2022 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!