Whether you’re already living in Singapore or moving here from overseas, nothing beats hearing from the residents themselves! Here, we speak to Canadian FRANCINE MARTINDALE-SHARP. She’s a management consultant in branding and marketing and tells us what it’s like living in Bukit Timah as a neighbourhood and about her particular condo. She’s right near the Nature Reserve for walking and hiking but also has some favourite restaurants nearby.
5 facts about Bukit Timah
- Bukit Timah Hill is the highest point in Singapore – not that it’s very high! (163 metres)
- The neighbourhood is home to a number of Good Class Bungalows (GCBs), the most prestigious residential property in Singapore; to classify as a GCB, a property has to be over 15,000 square feet.
- Bukit Timah Nature Reserve was one of the first forest reserves to open in Singapore (1992) and it includes the island’s biggest patch of primary forest.
- The Battle of Bukit Timah was a key confrontation in World War Two that saw Japanese troops advance further south across Singapore, albeit with heavy losses.
- Beauty World Centre turns 36 this year and is one of the island’s oldest shopping centres. There used to be an amusement park across the road from it.
Living in Bukit Timah: The Specifics
What’s the name of the street and neighbourhood where you live? Bukit Drive.
If it’s in another language, what does it mean? “Bukit” means “hill” in Malay. We’re right by Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, at the base of the hill.
Exact words you tell a taxi driver to get home? “Head to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve; yes, the big hill! At Courts, do a U-turn.”
Closest MRT station? Beauty World station (Downtown Line).
How long have you lived here? Eight years.
Why here? We have the nature reserve on our doorstep! So we can see wildlife from our home.
When you walk out of your place, the first thing you see is: Monkeys!
The closest store to your front door is: Unsprung Bicycle Shop.
Your street would make the perfect backdrop for a remake of: Gorillas in the Mist.
Your neighbours are great, but you wouldn’t mind a little less: Snakes. And people who feed monkeys; they have enough food to eat in the forest!
The unofficial uniform of your street is: Hiking gear and athletic wear.
When you’re in need of a dose of culture, you: Take the blue Downtown Line to Marina Bay Sands.
If you’re missing home, you: Order goodies online from home.
A mandatory stop for out-of-town guests is: Hindhede Quarry. It’s an easy walk for anyone of any age to do from the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve Visitor Centre.
A common myth about your neighbourhood is: That the monkeys bother everyone. They really don’t. While they’ll take food from homes or people if they can, if you don’t leave food out or carry it in plastic bags, they won’t bother you.
A massive late-night rager on your street is likely to be: It’s very quiet at night, other than night-time forest sounds. If you go out, you might see a wild boar sniffing around for dinner.
Your hands-down favourite neighbourhood joints are: Acqua e Farina Italian Restaurant and Spruce Bukit Timah. We love meeting people at Spruce for lazy Sunday brunches – we think they have one of the best burgers in Singapore! We enjoy everything on the menu at Acqua e Farina; my husband can’t get enough of the seafood linguine.
You won’t find better local food than at: Boon Tong Kee for the chicken rice.
The strangest thing you’ve ever seen on your street is: A rooster and his family crossing the road.
We love a good bargain. The best deals in your neighbourhood are: The $1 pratas at Al-Azhar.
The guiltiest pleasure in your area is: Spruce Bukit Timah’s Sunday brunch.
One thing you’d never change is: Being surrounded by greenery.
But one thing you wouldn’t mind seeing go is: The snakes!
The city gives you $5 million to soup up your street. You use it to: Build underground parking for visitors to the nature reserve and donate the rest to ACRES to look after the forest animals.
Condo Fact File
Name: The Raintree
Age: 12 years
Size: 315 units
Supermarket: FairPrice Finest, Giant and Cold Storage
Kid-friendly: Yes, perfect for young families
This article first appeared in the March 2020 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!
If you’re planning to live in Singapore or if you’re new to our sunny island, then make sure to read the digital edition of our latest CITY GUIDE.