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Serangoon Gardens, Singapore: A resident’s guide to living, eating and shopping

 

Name: Clare Jenkinson

From: Brisbane & Sydney, Australia

Occupation: Mummy, wife, daughter, sister, auntie and marketing manager for Ronald himself

The Specifics:

What street do you live on?

Bodmin Drive

Exact words you tell a taxi driver to get home?

Me: Serangoon Gardens, please.

Uncle: Huh?

Me: Serangoon Garden.

Uncle: Uh?

Me: Sur-un-gooon Garr-denn

Uncle: What garden?

Me: Chomp Chomp

Uncle: Ah! Chomp Chomp very famous, everyone know Chomp Chomp.  Where you from? How long you stay in Singapore? How much you pay? What your husband do?

 

What’s the name of your neighbourhood?

I’m still not sure if it’s Serangoon Gardens, with an s, or just Serangoon Garden? I like the plural version. It’s affectionately known by the expats here as “The Goon”.

Closest MRT station?

They’re all a bit too far to walk without getting super-sweaty – Lorong Chuan is probably the closest, but it’s easier to catch the bus to nex shopping centre (Serangoon MRT station) or Ang Mo Kio.

How long have you lived here?

Eighteen months in “The Goon”, but nearly four years in Singapore.

Why here?

When we first moved to Singapore, we lived in Ang Mo Kio, which was great – but I found that I was in the car all the time. When we first arrived, our relocation consultant showed us Serangoon Gardens and said it was the closest thing to Australia in Singapore. I didn’t get what she meant at the time, but now I do. I love being able to park outside the shops and walk down the road for essentials or a night out – it has a real village atmosphere and a good mix of Westerners and locals. It’s also close to the Australian International School, where our two girls go.

The Scene:

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

Expensive parked cars. Our suburb is all landed properties with carports, but no one uses them. They all park outside, making the street an absolute obstacle course. The neighbours seem to have no issues parking their Ferraris on the corner and leaving them there.

The closest store to your front door is: 

One of many, many pubs. We did a pub-crawl once and visited 12 pubs in one night. And they all have the craziest names – Kool Pub, Message in a Bottle, Romance, BZB’s, Bulldog, The Chapter and O+.

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

A BMW, Ferrari, Porsche or Jaguar commercial.

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

Snorting, nose-clearing and piano-practising.

The unofficial uniform of your street is:

Dog-walking attire.

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

Head down the road to Chomp Chomp, the famous, smoke-filled barbecue seafood hawker centre. But my favourite place is Little India – I feel like I’m in a different country when I’m there.

If you’re missing home, you:

Head to PS Café at Dempsey Hill. It reminds me of the cafés in Sydney. Also, Boomarang – it’s a weird spelling of the word – gives me a good Aussie recharge.

 

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

Din Tai Fung at Paragon, a bumboat ride down Singapore River, Tekka Market and Mustafa in Little India, Arab Street and the Chinatown markets. My latest find for the “tourist tour” is the Indian breakfast at Saravanaa Bhavan on Syed Alwi Road. Ordering aapam, poori, masala dosa and idly makes for a very different Sunday breakfast – one that’s lots of fun. Another great place is Indian Wok on Syed Alwi Road, which is Indian-Chinese cuisine and really yummy, if you can handle the spice.

You’d swap houses in a second with:

Any of the brand new, gorgeous houses being built in “The Goon”. They all look divine, but I would prefer one with a lap pool and some frangipani trees.

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

It’s so quiet here – I’m only woken up by the kids’ scary dreams.

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

The many neighbourhood toddlers who keep later hours than we do. Plus, I’m still so surprised at how late people eat. Go to Chomp Chomp at midnight, and you’ll struggle to find a free table.

The Superlatives:

Your hands-down favourite neighbourhood joints are:

Chen Kang Foot Reflexology at My Village on Maju Avenue where I go once a week for a foot rub – I always have the best sleep afterwards. Dermamedic on Maju Avenue (upstairs from Happy Daze) for long-lasting pedis in comfy armchairs with complimentary iced fruit tea, movies and a big window for people-watching. The Straits Wine Company on Serangoon Garden Way has a walk-in wine cellar with indoor and outdoor seating; you can drink the wine there and have hawker food delivered! And Arbite on Serangoon Garden Way has fantastic Western food.

You won’t find better local food than at:     

Shop 26 at Chomp Chomp – I can’t explain how good their barbecue chicken wings are. Sometimes there is a one-hour wait to get them, so go when you have time to spare. R.K. Eating House on the corner of Kensington Park Road and Fairleigh Avenue is my favourite place for teh tarik in Singapore, and I have tested it at many places. Coffee Deli at the Serangoon Gardens Country Club has a great nasi goreng istimewa with fried rice, egg, satay, curry chicken, prawn crackers and pickled veggies.

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

Large cranes navigating the parked cars better than I can – it continually amazes me how they do it. I also don’t think I’ll ever get used to the weekend honking from the guys driving around collecting old furniture and rubbish.

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

The weekday $20 Premiere Class movie tickets at Shaw Theatres nex.

The guiltiest pleasure in your area is:

The cranberry walnut bun with cream cheese from Bakerzin at My Village. They don’t look very appetising, but they are so good.

One thing you’d never change is:

The Serangoon Gardens Country Club – the décor is stuck in a serious time-warp, but the pool and water play areas are great. We spend most weekends there. 

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

The cars parked on the streets. Park your cars on your properties please, people!

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

Make all the one-way streets into two-way streets. Our suburb is a real rabbit warren.

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