Name: Olga Grant
From: The Netherlands
Occupation: Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations (a.k.a. stay- at- home Mum)
What street do you live on?
Exact words you tell a taxi driver to get home?
The first time, I pronounced “Depot” with the a French accent –with a t, (“de” as in “tea” – and ). The uncle had a case of mass confusion. So I explained added, “the Lego- blocks house on the AYE?”. To which he then lectured me:,“DEPP-oh, DEPP-oh, you must say DEPP-oh!” Now, I say, “Depot Road, the Lego- blocks house,”, to which the uncles reply, “Ahhh, Lego blocks blocks, yes, yes!”
What’s the name of your neighbourhood?
Alexandra and Queenstown.
Step into Olga’s neighbourhood in the West in the gallery above
How long have you lived here?
Ten months now; we arrived in July 2014.
It’s close to my husbands’s office on Pasir Panjang Road, and the condo, The Interlace, is big; we knew that we wouldn’t have to leave every weekend to go out and about all the time. Our three- and four- year- old kids tire easily in this hot weather, so on most weekends, we just want to stay close to home. The condo is a city in itself, with eight pools to choose from, two play areas, three tennis courts, a 1.1 km cycling and /running track, seven communal roof gardens, and lots more. With these facilities we just don’t have to go anywhere!
When you walk out of your place, the first thing you see is:
The closest store to your front door is:
The grocer located within the condominium; they are surprisingly well stocked for a small store.
Your street would make the perfect backdrop for a remake of:
Your neighbours are great, but you wouldn’t mind a little less:
Pollution. There is a dedicated dog- walking area in the condo, and dog owners have to be responsible and to pick up after them elsewhere but unfortunately not all everyone does.
If a celebrity moves in next door, it will most likely be:
Robbie Williams. There are’s plenty of play areas for his two kids; I snuck a peek inside the two-storey 23rd penthouse on the 23rd, level and that it would be perfect for him!
When you’re in need of a dose of culture, you:
Head to Stew Küche at Alexandra Food Court for pork knuckle, smoked sausage and $10 pints of German beer. At least the sausage comes close to Dutch food. An alternative is the meatball platter from IKEA, which is 700 meters metres from The Interlace.
A mandatory stop for out-of-town guests is:
The Alexandra Garden Trail. It starts on our doorstep, and ends either at the sea at Labrador Park, or on Mount Faber. The view (and the breeze!) from the Henderson Bridge is amazing – so is the breeze!
You’d swap houses in a second with:
Any of the amazing black-and-white houses on Bury Road, probably, as I love history. But I wouldn’t really want to live anywhere else, but as I love history, I could probably swap with any of the amazing black-and-white houses on Bury Road.
A common myth about your neighbourhood is:
That it’ is “too far out”. Actually, there is a free shuttle bus from The Interlace to Harbourfront, and from there the MRT takes me to Chinatown in under 25 minutes. Dempsey Hill, Holland Village and Tanglin Mall are less than a seven-minute drive by car.
If you’re ever woken up at night, it’s almost always due to:
The souped-up motorcycle that thunders down the AYE loudly at 5.30am each morning. He is my “30-minute snooze button”, but funnily enough I never hear him on his return commute.
A massive late-night rager on your street is likely to be:
The live band at Timbre every other Saturday.
Your hands-down favourite neighbourhood joints are: –
Elyon Cakes on Bukit Merah Lane is a friendly, family business making divine cupcakes and cakes. Their red velvet cupcakes and their sponge-y whipped cream sponge cake with fresh longans are to die for, and their coffee is delicious. The staff know all of the The Interlace residents, and if a newbie comes in, they will arrange for a “blind date” with another resident. More than one friendship in our condo has been struck up because of the ladies at Elyon.
Alexandra Retail Centre (ARC) at Labrador Park MRT, for outlet shoe stores. I’ have often found great children’s shoes and trainers for under $30.
Anchorpoint Shopping Centre for Charles & Keith, Typo, Cotton On and Giordano outlet stores. Plus Sakura Fish Market, not only sells the the type of favorite Japanese ice cream I cherish from my time while living in Kyoto in 1997; they also sell fresh slabs of fish which the chefs slice and seal at no extra cost. The Chinese manager overheard me speaking Dutch to my children and spoke Dutch back to me; turns out he used to work at a teppanyaki restaurant in the Dutch town of Hoofddorp for years, and picked up some of the language. I felt so at home!
Alexandra & Queenstown Fire Station HQ opens to the public every Saturday from 9am to 11am. Our kids love sitting in the emergency vehicles, holding the water hose and watching firemen slide down the pole using four different techniques.
A fireman will explain in detail, and with passion, how the station works.
Spuds & Aprons at Mount Faber. We got have annual passes for the cable car and often go over to Sentosa on a Saturday morning, have a coffee at Sentosa and return for ice cream at Spuds & Aprons. As a bonus, the kids can buy a bag of fish food from the souvenir shop and feed the huge koi carp.
FatBoy’s The Burger Bar on Pasir Panjang, where my husband often has lunch and I sometimes meet him there for a delish burger.
The Green Corridor runs right behind our condo, perfect for cycling, walking or to go for a ride, walk or running – one direction takes you to Holland Village, the other to or Tanjong Pagar in the other direction.
The Chop House in Vivo City, for their amazing sharing platter of reasonably priced spare ribs.
You won’t find better local food than at:
Alexandra Food Court on Bukit Merah Lane. Our favourites among the three rows of amazing food, are the pork ribs, chicken skewers, chicken rice and dumpling stalls in the middle row.
The strangest thing you’ve ever seen on your street is:
During my first month in Singapore, a giant African snail that I mistook for something else. One night, I was doing some laps on The Interlace walking trail when I nearly stepped in what I thought was dog’s dropping. Cursing under my breath, I avoided it, but after my fourth lap I thought I was going crazy. Wait, was that turd moving? I have since found out that the snails here are quite large.
We love a good bargain. The best deals in your neighbourhood are:
Shoes in the outlet centres around us. New Balance, Reebok and Bata in ARC and Charles & Keith in Anchorpoint. Also, the TYPO outlet store at Anchorpoint, where I can buy $1 cards, as I love to send cards to my friends all over the world.
The guiltiest pleasure in your area is:
Hands down the cupcakes at Elyon Cakes, and their coffee is outstanding.
One thing you’d never change is:
The view from our back garden, which overlooks our condo’s “Spa Valley” within the condo, with lush green trees set against the backdrop of the stunning architecture of The Interlace. After rain, you can practically see the trees growing taller before your eyes.
But one thing you wouldn’t mind seeing go is:
The building site next door. It used to be a lovely, empty plot of land, but they started construction on it in December. While our unit is not directly next to the site, the layout of the condo means the noise echoes far and loud.
The city gives you $5 million to soup up your street. You use it to:
Build a tunnel to block out the noise from the section of the busy AYE in front of the condo. I would cover the tunnel roof with a park and shaded playgrounds. If there was any money remaining (ha!) I would do up the pretty but derelict white house on Alexandra Road and turn it into a community centre with tea garden, yoga studio and neighbourhood museum.
This story first appeared in Expat Living’s May 2015 issue.