Rachel Teo, the founder of No23 Digital Marketing Agency, tells us what it’s like to live in a semi-detached house in Singapore on Jalan Naga Sari. A ten minute walk will bring her to the Sixth Avenue MRT station and to her favourite coffee joint in Greenwood.
Nationality: Malaysian/ Australian
About the Green Corridor
A ten-minute run from Rachel’s semi-detached house in Singapore, the Green Corridor (officially the Rail Corridor) stretches across Singapore for 24km from Tanjong Pagar in the south to Kranji in the north. It was closed in 2016 for rejuvenation works, which has seen improved trails, revitalised areas and the addition of activity “nodes”.
The central section near Bukit Timah is the most popular area for hikers, runners and cyclists to explore. This area includes the Bukit Timah Railway Station, which has been carefully restored and repurposed as a heritage gallery. The southern part includes Clementi Forest, an interesting stretch of jungle. In the north is the Kranji node, a 250-metre rustic nature trail, as well as enhanced trails that connect you to the central and southern sections, suitable for walking or cycling.
What’s the name of your street? Jalan Naga Sari.
If it’s in another language, what does it mean? Asking ChatGPT to tell me what the Malay term naga sari means, I’m told it refers to a type of fabric or textile that is decorated with a dragon (naga) motif. The word sari in this context means cloth or fabric.
The dragon or naga motif is often featured in Malay and Southeast Asian traditional textiles, and is believed to symbolise power, strength and good fortune. The use of dragon motifs in textiles is a longstanding tradition in the region and can be found in various forms of art and decoration, including batik, embroidery and weaving.
What’s a common myth or misconception about your neighbourhood? With four highly sought-after schools all in very close proximity, the traffic has a reputation for being horrible everywhere during school pick-up and drop-off. However, this is only partially true, as it’s fine on our street!
Exact words you tell a taxi driver to get home? “PIE, Eng Neo exit, please.”
Closest MRT station? Sixth Avenue MRT (blue Downtown line).
How long have you lived in your semi-detached house in Singapore? Seven years – it has everything we want! The Botanic Gardens is a ten minute run away in one direction, the Green Corridor a ten-minute run in the other direction. Our go-to coffee at Baker & Cook is a ten-minute walk over the hill at the charming Greenwood shops, and the healthiest café in Singapore, The Living Café, is on our doorstep right next to the Sixth Avenue MRT station.
When you walk out of semi-detached house in Singapore, what’s the first thing you see? Very often it’s our neighbour’s dog Kaya going for a walk; the neighbour is also a colleague of mine, and Kaya is often in our living room!
What’s the closest store to you? Beyond the Shell service station, our favourite, The Living Café is just a five-minute walk away. It’s a super-healthy café serving fresh, clean food, with a space for yoga classes upstairs that we attend weekly.
If Jalan Naga Sari was chosen for a remake of a film, which would it be? Jumanji (see the comment below about the strangest thing we’ve seen on our street!).
We’re sure your neighbours are great, but is there anything you wouldn’t mind a little less of? Not sure if this is defined as a neighbour or an actual resident, but we have bats who sleep under the roof of our front porch. We wouldn’t mind a lot less bat droppings each morning to clean up.
What’s the unofficial uniform of your street? Athleisure.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen on your street? We’re surrounded by wildlife on the street itself: bats, a family of civet cats, hornbills, squirrels, and some cats who’ve called the entire Jalan Naga Sari their own.
What are your three favourite places to eat or drink in the neighbourhood? The Living Café for the cleanest and healthiest eating options, Baker & Cook for our daily coffee, and Ka-Soh at Greenwood to satisfy our Asian food cravings.
What are the best places to shop at in the neighbourhood? Greenwood is a charming area with shops and restaurants, somewhere to buy groceries and more. Slightly further afield, Tanglin Mall has fast become our local for more choices, and the Pokémon machines that our kids love plus it’s only a 20 minutes train ride from the Sixth Avenue MRT station.
What are some fun, interesting things to do in the neighbourhood? We like to bike or skateboard to the nearby neighbourhood playgrounds with the kids, one of which is Watten playground with a flying fox that our kids gravitate to hurling themselves onto!
What’s one thing you’d never change? The peaceful, low-rise residential, suburban community feel of the area. How about one thing you would change? Less bats (or rather less bat droppings)!
If the city gave you a million dollars to soup up your street, how would you use it? I wouldn’t mind a tennis court on the street!
Beyond the ‘Hood
What are your favourite Singapore spots for taking out-of-town guests? You’ll find us at one of the restaurants at Dempsey. Right now, we’re loving Mr Bucket, a local Singapore chocolate brand that’s launched a café/shop there.
If you’re missing home, what do you do? We head to Changi Airport and go home! We’re fortunate to have our families come to visit us so we rarely have the opportunity to miss home.
Do you love your neighbourhood?
Share it with others – just email us at email@example.com with “Street Talk” in the subject line. Include your name and street, and we’ll be in touch.
This article first appeared in the May 2023 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
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