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McNair Road, Singapore: Guide to living, eating and shopping in Kallang


Name: Heike Friedrich and Bjoern Kroog

From: Germany           

Occupation: If we were chocolate bars we’d be “Number Crunch”

What street do you live on?

On the back lane behind McNair Road.

Exact words you tell a taxi driver to get home?

“McNair Road please.” Eighty percent of the time they know where it is, because they all seem to spend their lunch break at Bg Café.

What’s the name of your neighbourhood?

Kallang, which is next to Little India and the up-and-coming Jalan Besar area.

Closest MRT station?

Boon Keng.

Why here?

Because we fell in love with the house. And the area is quiet, yet really close to Little India.

How long have you lived here?

One year.

Condo, house, terraced home?

It’s a terraced conservation house, part of the Townerville development.

Number of places you viewed before picking this one?

We probably looked at 15 to 20 places. But when we did internet research back in Germany this was the first one we loved, and it remained our favourite in the actual “live” search.

Favourite things about your building?

We love the fact that it is a conservation house and  is unique in style. It’s spacious, has four-metre-high ceilings and is built to catch a natural draught; we rarely have to use our airconditioning. Also, the cats love it! We all hang out on the front porch and watch the street life.

Favourite things about your space?

We’re into Asian-style furniture and fake antiques, so the house is the perfect place to display these appropriately.

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

HDB Block 120 McNair Springs.

The closest store to your front door is: 

Saru’s Mini-market, just round the corner.

Your street would make the perfect backdrop for a remake of:

The Quiet American.

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

Leaving the car engine running while having a smoke.

The unofficial uniform of your street is:

Shorts and T-shirts for women; long trousers and vests for men.

If a celebrity moves in next door, it will most likely be:

Michael Caine shooting the remake of The Quiet American.

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

Walk around Little India.

If you’re missing home, you:

Skype with friends and family. Once we see them in their winter sweaters (during April) we forget about missing home!

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

The Teesri Manzil at the Singapore Khalsa Association, and Mustafa Centre.

You’d swap houses in a second with:

Either the corner house on Towner Road, which has a garden where we could string up a hammock; or, we’d pitch a tent in the garden of the Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital.

A common myth about your neighbourhood is:

That it’s “nowhere” and you can’t play sports nearby. This is not true at all. In five minutes you’re at the pool of the Tessensohn Club, and it’s an eight-minute jog to Kallang Basin.

If you’re ever woken up at night, it’s almost always due to:

Our cats fighting.

Your hands-down favourite neighbourhood joints are:

Teesri Manzil, Khalsa Association: we love the food and tacky ambience.

Loysel’s Toy, Kampong Bugis by Kallang River: great coffee in lovely surroundings.

Mountain Dew Café, Bendemeer Road: mock meat rules! No English spoken here though – well, not much.

Bg Café, McNair Road: you can’t beat $2.50 for rice and vegetables.

Chye Seng Huat Hardware, Tyrwhitt Road: it’s cool and serves great coffee and cakes.

You won’t find better local food than at:

Lavender and Bendemeer food courts.

The strangest thing you’ve ever seen on your street is:

The guy who has a custom scooter, decked out with bright blinking lights and a sound system blaring soppy songs.

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

Bg Café for a budget lunch, and only $3.90 for Bjoern’s haircut in Bendemeer Shopping Mall.

The guiltiest pleasure in your area is:

Coffee and cake at the Chye Seng Huat Hardware store.

One thing you’d never change is:

Our front porch.

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

Nothing really. We like it just as it is.

The city gives you $5 million to soup up your street. You use it to:

Turn the grassy area into a public park and build a solid (and free) soccer pitch for the kids.

Why should your neighbourhood be featured in a guidebook?

To experience a true sample of Singapore, this is where you need to live. It has HDBs next to conservation houses, and foodcourts as well as cool, trendy cafés. Little India is just around the corner and the waterfront at Kallang Basin is lovely. Also, the North East MRT line and the amazing bus #145 will take you everywhere.