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Jalan Raja Udang, Singapore: Guide to living, eating and shopping in Thomson and Balestier

 

Name: Sarka Kocicka

From: Vancouver, Canada

Occupation: Writer, drummer and thrill-seeker

The Specifics:

What street do you live on?

Jalan Raja Udang.

What does it mean?

It means King Prawn Street in Malay.

How do locals pronounce it?

Better than I do.

Exact words you tell a taxi driver to get home?

Please take Scotts Road to Thomson and Balestier. Left on Thomson. Yes, left at Thomson. Yes, left here. Now go straight, and take a right on Balestier. Yes, right, no, no, back up. Then, take your first left. LEFT! Thank you so much.

 

What’s the name of your neighbourhood?

Thomson and Balestier.

Closest MRT station?

Novena.

How long have you lived here?

Six months.

Why here?

My husband and I wanted a brand-new, white marble condo with four bedrooms, so we could have separate offices and a guest bedroom. We love the floor-to-ceiling cupboards in the kitchen, oversized balcony and condo shuttle to Novena Square (so we don’t have to walk ten minutes). We needed space, and this was the place.


The Scene:

When you walk out of your place, the first thing you see is:

A red, pink and white building that I swear is unoccupied but refuses to be torn down.

The closest store to your front door is:

Five lighting shops.

Your neighbours are great, but you wouldn’t mind a little less:

Of the sound of bouncing marbles every day after school and finding long, black hairs on our balcony that have been swept down from above.

The unofficial uniform of your street is:

Grey and orange moving company attire.

When you’re in need of a dose of culture, you:

Book a trip back to New York, Vancouver or my grandmother’s house in the Czech Republic. 

If you’re missing home, you:

Skype with my girlfriends in Vancouver and immerse myself in New York real estate listings for our imaginary move back.

A mandatory experience for out-of-town guests is:

Club Street, Arab Street and a late night falafel and shawarma in Clarke Quay.

You’d swap houses in a second with:

A big house on Chancery Hill that has seven bedrooms, because we need our own dressing rooms and a place to play my drums.  

A common myth about your neighbourhood is:

It is the only place in Singapore to buy lights and find the best chicken rice.

A massive late-night rager on your street is likely to be:

A dinner party at our house.

 

The Superlatives:

Your hands-down favourite neighbourhood joints are:

Ichiban Boshi Japanese restaurant – they take lunch reservations, and the sushi is delicious – and Barcelo’s for the juicy grilled chicken and veggie wraps.

When you need a quick fix, you head to:

7-Eleven when I’m craving ice cream and gummy worms.

You won’t find better local food than at:

Loy Kee Best Chicken Rice.

We love a good bargain. The best deals in your neighbourhood are:

The weekend wet market at Whampoa Food Centre – there are rows upon rows of fresh meat and seafood, plus a large selection of vegetables, fruit and hawker stands. Get there by 6am on the weekends to beat the rush. Also, vendors offer great bargains in the main atrium of Velocity@Novena Square on the weekends – we call this our dry market.

The guiltiest pleasure in your area is:

A Magnum double caramel ice cream bar.

One thing you’d never change is:

The five bus stops located within a five-minute walk from our apartment that take us all over Singapore within 20 minutes.

But one thing you wouldn’t mind seeing go is:

The construction, and the dust it blows onto our balcony.

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