Jerome Boyd-Kirkup from the UK, the chief scientific officer at Hummingbird Bioscience and Amber Mizerak, from the US, a media advisor to the US Embassy in Singapore, share with us why they are loving living in Jalan Rumia, part of Chip Bee Gardens in Holland Village.
What’s the name of your street? Jalan Rumia.
If it’s in another language, what does it mean? Great question! “Jalan” means road and “Rumia” is a type of tree that apparently produces a sweet to sour fruit that has a faint smell of turpentine.
What’s a common myth or misconception about your neighbourhood? That it is filled with expats. There are many, but our neighbours on both sides are Singaporean so there is a nice mix.
Exact words you tell a taxi driver to get home? “Jalan RU-M-I-A not Rumbia” (otherwise, you may end up on the other side of town…).
Closest MRT station? Holland Village mrt (yellow Circle Line).
How long have you lived here? We’ve lived in Chip Bee Gardens for three years out of the nearly seven years we’ve been in Singapore. Prior to this, we lived in Bugis in a remodelled shophouse, but it was quite noisy. Thankfully, I convinced Jerome to move to Holland Village before COVID and we love it! It’s so nice having an upstairs. Feels like home.
Before Singapore, we lived in China for six years, and while it was a fun adventure, my lungs needed a break. I wrapped up a terrible job in relocation (not my calling!) and I was willing to go almost anywhere in the world. Luckily, Jerome and his business partner were able to move their biotech company, Hummingbird Bioscience, to Singapore.
When you walk out of your place, what’s the first thing you see? Trees! Sometimes the occasional hornbill or yellow crested cockatoo.
What’s the closest store to your front door? Probably Arabica – great coffee, though not great “talkability” inside; you can’t hear a thing!
If your Jalan Rumia was chosen for a remake of a film, which would it be? Well, I did see a dinosaur being filmed walking down the street next to a person with a TV for a head, so looks like this street is already famous.
We’re sure your neighbours are great, but is there anything you wouldn’t mind a little less of? We love our neighbours dearly. They help water the plants if we are away and their cat likes to chill in our front yard. However, there are other neighbours who tend to burn a very smoky incense around sunset every day, which makes it hard to breathe. We’ve compromised and they agreed not to do it a few days a week when we are working out outside.
What’s the unofficial uniform of your Jalan Rumia? Flip-flops and yoga pants.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen in Chip Bee Gardens? The dinosaur I mentioned above. It gave me hope that random, wild things still happen on the mean streets of Jalan Rumia. Also, the other day a whole flock of hornbills made their way down the street, stopping at each tree.
What are your three favourite places to eat or drink near Chip Bee Gardens? Two Men Bagel House used to have the best coffee, but we returned from Christmas break to find they have shut down and the space is turning into a vegan restaurant so that is disappointing. Speaking of veggies, Original Sin has a decent lunch set. The Pit is our fave dive bar in the area, and Kamo Soba Keisuke has tasty ramen and a nice Japanese vibe. The waiter, Angus, is quite a character too!
What are the best places to shop at in Holland Village?
RedMart is our go-to for groceries, but we pop over to Cold Storage if we need anything – and recently a FairPrice Finest opened where Taste used to be, so that’s more functional with more useful items. Phoon Huat turned into Redman, which is convenient for little things for baking or for cheese.
What are some fun or interesting things to do in Holland Village? Walking around the rich area nearby is fun. You can make it quite far weaving through the mansion-filled streets. We also host our friend, Joey Lam, in our back garden for sound healing sessions monthly. Chip Bee Gardens has such a good neighbourhood vibe so friends pop over regularly for barbecues, dinner parties or outdoor movies! And sometimes you can find me wheeling and dealing free stuff around the neighbourhood like Steptoe and Sons. Jerome gets annoyed when I accumulate additional free stuff!
What’s one thing you’d never change? I love the greenery and that we are close enough to shops, but I mainly only hear the birds chirping.
How about one thing you would change? I am a little nervous about the large buildings going up in Holland Village and how that may change the ambience and the cost of living. However, if I had to choose one, I’d opt for the high-pitched pandemic dog to stop barking from the condo across the street.
If the city gave you a million dollars to soup up your street, how would you use it? I would plant more trees, ban parking, and knock down The Merasaga condo so I can see sunset and solve that dog-barking problem. However, that’s probably more like a 20 million dollar endeavour.
Beyond Chip Bee Gardens
What are your favourite Singapore spots for taking out-of-town guests? We like the view from the restaurants at Mount Faber. We also earned our boat licence during the pandemic so we can take friends out on the water.
When you’re in need of a dose of culture, where do you go? Underwater; we like to scuba dive once a month with Marlin Divers to Pulau Hantu. It’s a family-run business and great with small groups. We also like The Projector for weird and wonderful films.
If you’re missing home, what do you do? Listen to music, call our families, and plan trips to visit home.
DO YOU LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD?
Share it with others – just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Street Talk” in the subject line. Include your name and street, and we’ll be in touch.
This article first appeared in the March 2022 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
If you are looking for the right area in Singapore to call home, here is a guide to where to live in Singapore.