Physiotherapist Declan Halpin and AIS teacher Kim Halpin share the ins and outs of living in Minbu Road.
Where do you live? Minbu Road.
Exact words you tell a taxi driver to get home? “Minbu Road, off Mandalay Road, near Balestier.”
What’s the name of your neighbourhood? We’re on the Balestier side of Novena.
Closest MRT station? Novena.
How long have you lived here? One year. Why here? In a desperate attempt to be halfway between each of our workplaces, we thought this location would make our commutes a similar distance. In the end, I think both of us would prefer a shorter commute!
When you walk out of your place, the first thing you see is: Balestier Road, which is billed as the next Tiong Bahru (maybe).
The closest store to your front door is: Balestier Road Shaw Plaza, which has a FairPrice supermarket, and possibly Singapore’s grimiest cinema complex.
Your street would make the perfect backdrop for a remake of: Fast and Furious 9: Singapore Drift. We’ve got a few tight corners around here that the taxi drivers like to take at speed.
Your neighbours are great, but you wouldn’t mind a little less: Children’s birthday parties: I’m all for fun and games, but when did kids’ parties involve fully catered events for 30 to 40 people?
The unofficial uniform of your street is: The business suits worn by people climbing into taxis on their way to work in the city.
When you’re in need of a dose of culture, you: Does heading to Little India for a meal count? If so, then we are true culture vultures!
If you’re missing home, you: Spend an afternoon baking on a sun lounger next to the condo swimming pool, and then post the obligatory smug Facebook update to my freezing friends back home.
A mandatory stop for out-of-town guests is: The 1-Altitude and Lau Pa Sat combo usually does the trick. We head to 1-Altitude, a rooftop bar at One Raffles Place, for sunset drinks and to show off the city. Afterwards, we eat satay at Lau Pa Sat food hawker centre, which reminds guests that they are actually in Asia.
You’d swap houses in a second with: One of the black-and-white houses along nearby Mount Pleasant; it’s a beautiful, leafy road where we often jog and daydream about our next house move.
A common myth about your neighbourhood is: That it’s all condos. Balestier Road is quietly sorting itself out, with a few cafés and restaurants starting to pop up to complement the supermarkets and cinema.
A massive late-night rager on your street is likely to be: Another impressive Southeast Asian thunderstorm!
Your favourite neighbourhood joints are: Wheeler’s Yard, the hipster choice; it has an awesome setting, although it’s somewhat overpriced – but then where in Singapore isn’t? I’d also like to give a shout-out to Tandoori Corner, a great little Indian place that has come to my rescue on many a Sunday night!
You won’t find better local food than at: Little India, a 15-to-20-minute walk away.
We love a good bargain. The best deals in your neighbourhood are: Whampoa Wet Market around the corner, and if you brave the crowds on a Saturday morning you can cut your weekly grocery-shopping bill in half!
The guiltiest pleasure in your area is: Awfully Chocolate, just outside the Novena MRT station; it calls out to me every time I walk past!
One thing you’d never change is: Our condo apartment and pool – we love it here!
But one thing you wouldn’t mind seeing go is: The 15-minute walk to the MRT station in the morning.
The city gives you $5 million to soup up your street. You use it to: Build an MRT station on Balestier Road – and a nice big park nearby would be very welcome, too.
Are there any good fitness routes you recommend? The run around Mount Pleasant Road is a good option, and you can enjoy a lovely jog along the canal at the back of Wheeler’s Yard (28 Lor Ampas) – just follow the Whampoa Park Connector all the way down the river to Kallang. However, we mostly stick to the condo pool and gym for our fitness fix!
Why should your neighbourhood be featured in a guidebook? Probably for nothing more than a few budget hotels along Balestier Road, though it used to be a large sugar cane plantation owned by an American called Joseph Balestier. As with most places in Singapore, the history is slowly being forgotten.
This article first appeared in the October 2016 edition of Expat Living. Subscribe so you never miss an issue!