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Guide to Bristol Road

Looking to move to a new neighbourhood? Nothing would be better than to hear from the residents themselves. We speak to Amanda Dale, a Cycling Instructor and Master Trainer at Aquaspin from Los Angeles, about the ins and outs of living around Bristol Road,Bukit Timah.

Bukit Timah
Life around Bristol Road

Exact words you tell a taxi driver to get home?
“Uncle, across from KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, please.”

What’s the name of your neighbourhood?
The Cambridge Estates (very posh).

Closest MRT station?
We are smack dab between the Little India and Farrer Park stations.

How long have you lived here?
We moved in six months ago and plan to stay as long as we can!

Why here?
We love the quiet, civilised feeling of being in an older part of town – but we also like having the lively, active scene right across the park in Little India. Novena is also a 10-minute walk in the opposite direction, so we have the best of all things: peaceful, practical and party-going.

When you walk out of your place, the first thing you see is:
The Farrer Park Aquatic Centre, making us feel guilty about not swimming laps every day.

The closest store to your front door is:
A little NTUC FairPrice in the HDB flats down the street.

Your street would make the perfect backdrop for a remake of:
TV show The Jeffersons. All these older walk-ups make you feel like you’re really “movin’ on up…to a deluxe apartment in the sky”.

Your neighbours are great, but you wouldn’t mind a little less:  Smoking in the stairwell. You know who you are.

The unofficial uniform of your street is:
A taqiyah (Muslim headwear for men) and long linen trousers – we have a mosque just a few houses down, and men come all day to pray.

If a celebrity moves in next door, it will most likely be:
Chris Pratt, if I had my druthers! But it would probably be someone trying to stay out of the spotlight and go “low pro” to train for a role, like Johnny Depp or Joaquin Phoenix. You know, hipsters.

The hustle and bustle near Bristol Road

When you’re in need of a dose of culture, you:
Take the seven-minute walk to Mustafa Centre. It’s like a microcosm of all the wonderful, chaotic and odd things about Singapore all contained in one (giant) building.

If you’re missing home, you:
Order a Domino’s pepperoni pizza. They deliver here in less than 30 minutes.

A mandatory stop for out-of-town guests is:
L’Etoile Café on Owen Road for the biggest and tastiest helping of beef rendang this side of Indonesia.

You’d swap houses in a second with:
One of our traditional area’s many homes with authentic, detailed Chinese architecture – all very beautiful and unique.

A common myth about your neighbourhood is:
That we don’t exist! Seriously, without the KK Women and Children’s Hospital as a major landmark, about 90 percent of the cab drivers would have no idea that Bristol Road is a real place.

If you’re ever woken up at night, it’s almost always due to:
The barking of three very, very large dogs (two golden retrievers and an Irish wolfhound) that live two houses down.

A massive late-night rager on your street is likely to be:
Any Sunday night. Hampshire Road is closed from 2pm until midnight, and busloads of workers come here to spend (and party!) their day off.

The Superlatives:

Your favourite neighbourhood joints are:
LK Maju on Jalan Besar – for the best mutton murtabak in Singapore (sorry Zam Zam). Druggists on Tyrwhitt Road – my favourite craft beer spot in all of Singapore. Pacific Dry Cleaners on Cambridge Road– they do a great job and are so friendly. Heart Springs Spa in City Square Mall – their 90-minute facials are super-luxurious.

You won’t find better local food than at:
Pek Kio, for the best local breakfast (soft-boiled eggs, kaya toast and kopi) in town – ask any cab driver and they’ll tell you the same. For local meat, Joe’s Butcher in Tekka Market is fresh, cheap and reliable – and their rosemary lamb sausage is the best I’ve ever tasted.

The strangest thing you’ve ever seen on your street is:
Several multicoloured strings of Christmas lights that our lovely across-the-street neighbour keeps hung up in his front yard all year long. I guess he’s just… festive?

We love a good bargain. The best deals in your neighbourhood are:
The $1 black kohl eyeliner pencils sold in tear-off packs at any convenience store in Little India. Up and down Serangoon Road are little stalls selling sunglasses for $1.99 – great throwaways in fun, trendy styles. And my personal fave is Bugis Street – the only place to go for fancy dress costumes, cute clothes, and the old standby deal: 10 pairs of earrings for $10.

Great bargains to be found at the market stalls

The guiltiest pleasure in your area is:
The roti prata joint on the corner of Rangoon Road and Starlight Road; it has the most amazing selection – everything from banana to chocolate to cheese to mushroom. You could gorge yourself on 10 distinctly different kinds of prata! Not that we have, or anything…

One thing you’d never change is:
The fact that most of the buildings here are multi-storey walk-ups – very few lifts. We get our exercise here on Bristol Road!

But one thing you wouldn’t mind seeing go is:
The stray cats that wander the streets all day. I wonder, how do they get fed?

The city gives you $5 million to soup up your street. You use it to:
Upgrade our shaky front gate, feed and house all the aforementioned cats, demolish the grungy old building just across the street to improve our balcony view, and finally finish the “interim park” on the corner of Bristol Road and Dorset Road that they’ve been working on developing for nearly a year now.

Why should your neighbourhood be featured in a guidebook?
People think the Little India neighbourhood is loud and chaotic; in fact, where we live is the most peaceful part of Singapore I”ve been to yet. Our street is centrally located to all the great food and shopping, yet still cosy, and it feels genuinely Singaporean.


This article first appeared in the January 2016 issue of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy for the full article, or Subscribe now so you never miss an issue!

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