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Neighbourhood guide to Novena: What’s it like living on Akyab Road?

Name: Guy Turton
From: UK
Occupation: Insurance Recruitment (I’m a real creative type like that)

Check out all the scenes from  around Novena above, plus head here for heaps more guides on cool places to live around Singapore.

What street do you live on?
Akyab Road.

If it’s in another language, what does it mean?
It’s the name of a port in southern Myanmar.

Exact words you tell a taxi driver to get home?
“Do you know Akyab Road? No? Head to Jalan Tan Tock Seng, then second right before the hospital, straight over the… I’ll direct you when we get there.”

What’s the name of your neighbourhood?
“That residential bit between Novena and Balestier Road.”  

Closest MRT station?

How long have you lived here?
13 months, almost to the day.

Why here?
Because the lift opened straight into the lounge room with full-length glass doors onto the balcony. We’re easily pleased.

When you walk out of your place, the first thing you see is: 
A toy poodle. You can’t move for them nowadays; they seem to have become a standard family accessory. That’s a lot of chaps trying to delay children, if you ask me.

The closest store (of any type) to your front door is:
A lighting shop – pretty much every shop on Balestier Road is lighting-based. Which is awesome when you wake up on a Saturday morning with a hangover and all you want is a cup of coffee and a slap-up breakfast…

Your neighbours are great, but you wouldn’t mind a little less:
Company in the lift in the morning.

The unofficial uniform of your street is:
A hard hat.

When you’re in need of a dose of culture, you:
Go straight to Balestier Road wet market, pick up supplies for the week and then on to any one of the hawker stalls through the back.

If you’re missing home, you:
Go to the balcony, look at the pool, look at the sun (not directly, that would be most hazardous) and tell myself to get over it.

A mandatory stop for out-of-town guests is:
There’s slim pickings in Novena, but Tandoori Corner on Balestier Road usually features in most itineraries for guests. And we’re a 20-minute (power) walk from the National Park at MacRitchie Reservoir, where the monkeys are always a crowd pleaser.

You’d swap houses in a second with:
The family in the cosy black-and-white house we overlook, who only ever seem to be having an awesome time.

If you’re ever woken up at night, it’s almost always due to:
Our five-month-old puppy Peggy chewing my toes off.

Your hands-down favourite neighbourhood joints are:
• DaLuca – the single best burrata I’ve ever had.
• Pig’s Fly – a whole world of food on offer, plus Kopparberg cider and live football. Easy.
• Tandoori Corner – great curry served quickly, and casual enough that you can turn up in your gym kit (as you do).
• BJ’s American Diner and Grill – brilliant hot dogs and brilliant-er happy-hour mojitos.

You won’t find better local food than at: 
Founder Bak Kut Teh Restaurant. Not my thing, but the huge queue every evening suggests the food is top-notch.

We love a good bargain. The best deals in your neighbourhood are:
I assume the stiff competition among lighting shops means that you get a decent deal on a chandelier.

The guiltiest pleasure in your area is:
Unfortunately, the one thing that Novena lacks is personality, and pleasure (unless a brothel on Balestier Road is what you’re looking for). There are no great coffee shops, quirky boutiques or casual chill-out spots. Put it this way, if you didn’t live in Novena, you probably wouldn’t go there for the afternoon.

One thing you’d never change is:
Our view of the city and the quiet. There’s a bunch of hospitals in the area, so the government is pretty good with restricting the noise – the use of sirens seems to have been vetoed.

But one thing you wouldn’t mind seeing go is:
The construction site threatening our view of the city.

The city gives you $5 million to soup up your street. You use it to:
Set up a decent coffee shop (there’s a killing to be made), run a mailshot to taxi drivers about the existence of Akyab Road and replace the construction sites with some sort of nice pond.

Why should your neighborhood be featured in a guidebook?
Because lamps make brilliant holiday mementos.