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Guide to Emerald Hill Road

Looking to move to a new neighbourhood? Nothing would be better than to hear from the residents themselves. We speak to Jacqueline Chang Dunphy, about the ins and outs of living at Emerald Hill Road.

Name: Jacqueline Chang Dunphy
From: “Born in Shanghai, China; but Boulder, Colorado, is my hometown in my adopted country of citizenship, the US.”
Occupation:  “I used to make a living in marketing; now I hope my baby boy’s modelling career will take off, so I can be his manager!”

What street do you live on?
Emerald Hill Road.

Exact words you tell a taxi driver to get home?
“Emerald Hill Road near Orchard Centrepoint”; sometimes I’ll add “off Cairnhill Road”.

Closest MRT station?

How long have you lived here?
Two years.

Why here?
People may think we selected our house for its location; it’s close to downtown and Orchard Road. In fact, we fell in love with the shophouse. After moving in, we realised that the street is postcard-perfect and peaceful – a tranquil oasis compared with the busy excitement of Orchard Road.

When you walk out of your place, the first thing you see is:
The beautifully restored shophouse of my neighbour, Mr Andrews. His home is marked by elegant Chinese character signs accented with gold leaf. On any given day, it’s common to see tourists taking pictures of his house. I always find myself thinking, “Hmmm, what’s wrong with my house? Why aren’t you taking pictures of my house?”

The closest store to your front door is: 
The three popular bars at the end of our street that are filled with punters from early afternoon until 2am. Despite having  these bars just steps away, can you believe I’ve still not managed to find the time to visit?!

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

Your neighbours are great, but you wouldn’t mind a little less:
Odd, creative parking solutions! Our street is a small, tight lane and it doesn’t take much to disrupt the traffic flow.

The unofficial uniform of your street is:
Large, dangling cameras. Whether they’re tourists, or fashion photographers trying to capture the neighbourhood backdrop, we see the full spectrum of amateur to professional camera paraphernalia on display.

If a celebrity moves in next door, it will most likely be:
Martha Stewart, ready to tackle the Singapore edition of Living with Martha Stewart. Or Kim, Kanye and North, ready to make The Kardashians take Singapore!

When you’re in need of a dose of culture, you:
Skip off to the wet market in Tiong Bahru to capture the daily rhythm of local life in Singapore.

If you’re missing home, you:
Slip over to Chinatown for a quick dose of my hometown culture, as I was born in Shanghai. I also enjoy eating at Din Tai Fung.

A mandatory stop for out-of-town guests is:
The Singapore Zoo and its resident pandas. We end the day with a stop at Newton Circus Food Centre to sample Singapore’s diverse food culture.

A common myth about your neighbourhood is:
That it’s noisy and occupied by expats, because of its location off Orchard Road. Neither of these assumptions aligns with our experiences. While it is a little touristy at the junction with Orchard Road, if you keep walking, it is surprisingly peaceful. And more than half of our neighbours are Singaporean.

If you’re ever woken up at night, it’s almost always due to:
My restless 18-month-old son.

Your favourite neighbourhood joints are:
The Library at Orchard Gateway – time disappears when you indulge yourself in reading a good book; Sacha & Sons, a New York delicatessen in Mandarin Gallery;  and the Food Court in 111 Somerset.

You won’t find better local food than at: 
Noodle Palace in Orchard Gateway.

The strangest thing you’ve ever seen on your street is:
The professional photographers who organise fashion shoots on almost a daily basis; it took us a while to get used to them. The models are often dressed in outrageous outfits. On one day I saw three different photo shoots taking place at the same time.

We love a good bargain. The best deals in your neighbourhood are:
The food court on the ground floor of 111 Somerset Road; it’s very clean, has delicious food at affordable prices, and it’s never overcrowded. It’s a hidden gem.

The guiltiest pleasure in your area is:
The Cold Stone Creamery; who can resist the temptation of ice cream? There are so many pleasures here, but this is the one that makes me feel guiltiest.

One thing you’d never change is:
The beautiful heritage architecture of the shophouses lining our street.

But one thing you wouldn’t mind seeing go is:
Disruption from the high-rise construction on Cairnhill Road, because it’s the only vehicle access road to Emerald Hill Road.

The city gives you $5 million to soup up your street. You use it to:
Tackle two challenges: give all the shophouses, walls and gates a fresh and colourful paint job; and make the street more kid-friendly by adding some playground areas and installing more safety barriers to keep children safe from vehicles.


Click through the gallery above for all the snaps from around Emerald Hill Road.


This article first featured in the April 2015 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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