The Filipino/Singapore Spirit

The best airport - Changi

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Today is the start of my 2-year sabbatical. I call it a sabbatical even though a friend of mine said to me while we were in a pub that the term is only appropriate if I have a confirmed position … Continue reading

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Tiong Bahru – Second Wave

After writing my tiong bahru blog, I became more keen in looking for new places (and old ones) that I have missed when I blogged about my neighborhood. This blog may not be the last one, I hope. A more vibrant community will benefit us all, a bit of chaos, art and business will not hurt and destroy the charm of Tiong Bahru. It will probably enrich our environment making the place a more exciting place to live in. Check out the feature by Razor TV about the changes that have been happening in the neighborhood.

Nana and Bird is described to be a weekend multi-label boutique that sells jewelry, clothing, etc. It is an interesting idea. Popping up over weekends just to get unique pieces which is a complete opposite to the chaos of H&M’s every tom, dick and harry queue in orchard road. When I walked pass it last saturday morning, I wasn’t able to figure out what time they opened. Apparently they start at 11am and closes at 7pm. Looking at their website, the designs look interesting and cool but it is more tailored for women. Hopefully they get to have more stuff for guys for me to check out.

Wine Wise

Wine Wise – This place is not new in Tiong Bahru. It is probably one of the first risk taker companies that tried its luck in finding niche places of interest in the neighborhood. It is located in Eng Hoon Street which, similar to Yong Siak Street, is the focus of new retail development. The place is full of barrels of wine. It has its own rustic charm that is a different genre from the new shops that have opened in the area. They don’t serve food here but they do allow you to bring your own food to enjoy the laid back atmosphere.

Centre PS

Centre Ps – This specialty pastry shop does look bright. It has a very bright pink sign which I thought was quite kitsch but apparently, there are amazing pastries inside. From outside, you would think they are one of those run off the mill Bread Talk type places but from my research in the internet, well this place seems like a special place for desserts and macaroons. Established in 2007 by Chef Patissier, Steven Ong this is one of the pioneers here. Time to check it out and have a bite of that dessert!

Bhutan Shop

Bhutan Shop – Located at the start of Yong Siak Street and in front of the soon to open B.A.L.L.S, Tiong Bahru Commons, this shop is not a very commercialized shop. The Shop is a place that offers everything Bhutan, paintings, clothing, books and unique items of interest. The lady who runs it, Ms. Pin is a kind, soft-spoken woman who is obviously passionate about her work to showcase Bhutanese culture. I can’t pinpoint my finger to it but there is a feel of a corporate atmosphere inside the shop, maybe the lighting or because they also offer tours to Bhutan which is alright by me. I want to go there someday, but not this year though and not too convinced that I want to do it next year either. Bhutan is a magical place as what I have seen in Channel News Asia, hard to get to, expensive to organize but I have a feeling that it is a life changing experience. You don’t get to see places with Gross National Happiness as its main determinant of wealth anywhere else, only in Bhutan.

Thrive by Metaphysic Fitness

Thrive by Metaphysic Fitness is a small gym in Seng Poh road. It is a small gym that doesn’t have fancy equipment but I saw ball-shaped dumbbells called kettlebells and TRX type of training facilities. As the website describes, MetaPhysic Fitness is a holistic approach to fitness, strength, and health. They focus on training using natural human movement patterns, free from the restrictions of machines and monotonous fitness regimes. Cool.

Orange Thimble

The Orange Thimble is a cafe with art in mind. In its website, it is described to be a corner for creativity fueled by passion and espressos. It’s a slot between the walls for thinkers, believers, individuals, travelers and neighbors. A place dedicated to ideals of honest neighbourhood living supporting the creative community. I will check this out tomorrow after church and see the difference between Forty Hands. I know I shouldn’t compare but the proximity and the ideals are somewhat similar except this one is owned by the wonderful Maria Ng, who owns White Canvas Gallery. I would imagine that this is her own interpretation of what Tiong Bahru is meant to be and from the pictures I see, I feel that this will be a destination in itself.

Wangz Hotel

Wangz Hotel – I am not fully sure if I should have added this in this list. Its gigantic, commercial and mainstream but the thing is, this hotel and the two others at the fringes of Tiong Bahru (Hotel Nostalgia and Link Hotel) adds to the value of our community. These boutique hotels respected the history of the neighborhood. It blends well with everything, it is somewhat low key and it brings about hotel guests, probably from all over to explore Tiong Bahru’s grounds. The boutique hotels solidifies the dreams of this neighborhood – to become an integrated, interesting place where history is the foremost capital.

P.S. I hate the fact that there is also a Hotel 81 in Tiong Bahru. Yes it is a hotel, but a hotel with a bad connotation, but okay, it still may have a pinch of the idea of Tiong Bahru neighborhood. Hmmm… Probably not.

Tiong Bahru is waking up

I was walking around the neighborhood a few days ago and saw that there is a new boutique store opening so near our house here in Tiong Bahru. It is amazing how many new things have sprung up for the last few months in our small unknown corner here. It makes me wanna just walk a little more slowly and enjoy our neighborhood more. I think that this transformation is something refreshing and exciting. As I have had some classes about new urbanism back in the university, Tiong Bahru fits that idea of giving people many choices for living an urban lifestyle in sustainable, convenient and enjoyable places that is culturally diverse and historical in nature. Its becoming more and more, a cool place to live in.

I have found the websites of some of the cool places I’ve seen:

Fourty Hands Coffee – A place to hang out for brunch with some friends and drink some slightly more expensive but rich flavoured coffee. It is a favorite of a lot of expats who enjoy those rare finds, not too commercial suburbs coffee. I wish it was a bit bigger though, it is packed on weekends starting 10 am.  Maybe they could buy the furniture store right beside it and use the furniture as part of their eclectic decor. I like the graffiti art in the wall at their all fresco restaurant  – cool.

Books Actually – Right across Fourty Hands is an independent book store that sells vintage books, hand stitched notebooks, stamps and some amazing stuff. I like their old cameras and  quirky home decour. I can buy the whole shop and put it in our house! Okay, not all the books there but more of the idea of the decor. I haven’t really checked the full collection of books yet but it has a certain feel that you can discover some piece of unknown but memorable literature.

Tofu – The Good Creative Block. As what their website mentions,  “Tofu is a small creative shop, big on ideas.We tell stories and build brands through design and advertising.Our work is simple, honest and fresh. Just like our namesake.From corporate doodles to pop-up installations, we do it all.”  So this is an Ad-Agency. It recently moved to this studio that I always felt curious to look into because of its minimalist interiors. Well, its a private office now but I can’t help but look once in while. I am always interested in meeting people in the creative industries.

Tiny Dot Photography – This is Very near our unit. It is a studio that just opened as a few weeks ago. I’ve seen some photos in the internet of his works  and checked out his website. He takes amazing shots with a certain vibrancy that I feel part of the weddings he takes photos of. I had a glimpse of his studio and it looks spacious and cozy. Not open for the public though, I think its a place for invitation only.

Tiny Dot Photography

Back On The Mat – This yoga place very near 40 Hands is a hidden yoga  studio which offers ashtanga classes focusing on the Mysore-style of practice. The students practice at their own pace to improve their form and technique. I’ve seen their facebook page. It’s a bit pricey for me but I think specialized training in small groups is the best way to learn yoga.

White Canvas Gallery – I must say that this is the gallery that started the whole trend. A gallery always brings with it its sister artistic friends of designers, literary enthusiasts, photographers and bohemian lifestyle aficionados. I was there when the gallery opened where my friend Danicar was a friend of the curator. The sketches of tiong bahru was still the most memorable exhibition for me because it drew up images of familiar places in an artistic perspective. Paul, one of my church mates was one of the featured artists. I believe White Canvas has a sister gallery a few meters away from it. It is more of a private gallery but I’m very much interested to check it out one of these days.

Jo Wong’s Creations – Right beside White Canvas Gallery is the private studio of Jo Wong.  Her works specialize in landscapes and sceneries, observations of idyllic life in the countryside. Her main medium is watercolor and her works has a nostalgic feel to it. She travels to many countries to get inspiration to her works – some sceneries were taken in Italy, the UK, Switzerland, and some nearer places like Malaysia and of course Singapore. Her unit renovation caught my eyes as the two french doors open to her long and beautifully done house / home. Its partially obscured by Eugenia hedges that she and White Canvas Gallery planted.

Strangelets – This is the new kid in the block. Right beside Books Actually is this new shop dedicated to house furnishings. This is what they said in their website  “As interior designers and architects, we discovered that we were rarely able to find furnishings to add focus to our projects…So we took the matter into our own hands. We traveled the world to bring back a different kind of quality: the quality of uniqueness. An escape from the dullness of hyper-mega mass production. In various studios in various cities, we found makers and suppliers of singularly charming and clever items, who impressed us with a new take on old problems.” Nice idea. I have to check this out.