I realize that I wanted to do these posts chronologically, but I was so excited to share the mums’ meetup with you that I forgot about this post! These shots are from our first morning in Singapore last January 12. Well, technically it’s not Ton’s and my first morning there, but it was Vito’s.
For my husband and me, being in our childhood home was quite refreshing. The last time I visited, I was in my 20s, but now that I’m in my 30s, married and a mom, I still feel like a kid in Singapore. Maybe because everything still somehow feels the same, although the city has grown more cosmopolitan, more global than ever. This has always been a melting pot of cultures — one of the reasons why I loved growing up here.
We decided not to have breakfast at the hotel, but in a food center (or hawker center, as we all know it internationally). Wanting to go back to the familiar, we decided we’d hit the food center we were both familiar with: the food court at Holland Village.
These days, Holland V. is a popular chill-out hub with an array of restaurants and gourmet dining spots. “Very trendy,” said the taxi driver who dropped us off that morning. I wouldn’t know, really. To me, Holland Village was the place we’d frequent when my mom wanted to go to the Chinese emporium, or buy fresh seafood, produce and flowers in the market place.
It’s been around 15 years since I last visited the old area. (We didn’t go here during our last Singapore visit.) There are more restaurants, more people on the streets, even at 10 in the morning. Still, everything looks relatively the same, if you peel back the layers of time and progress. I can still see remnants of the past, but everything is just cleaner, newer, more upscale.
We ate in the food center right beside the wet market — Vito’s first time to eat in a hawker center!
Me eating my breakfast: authentic nasi lemak! (Ton went right for chicken rice, of course.)
Ton was, in fact, more in tune with the local Singapore scene during his years here. Unlike me, he went to a local, Catholic all-boys school, and spent a lot of time taking public transport. When we were looking at bus routes, for instance, he remembered many of the buses by number and route. “Hey, it’s Bus 165!” he exclaimed when we were plotting our route to our old neighborhood on Mount Sinai Rise.
Bus 165 dropped us off at the Ulu Pandan bus stop at the corner of Mt. Sinai Road — just as it has been doing so for years.
The old road still looks the same. I might as well have been 15 when this shot was taken. (I’m 34 today, FYI.)
Walking down the street where we used to live was just like being a kid again! Everything looks the same, to me anyway. Well, not our old building! We had been used to this growing up:
That’s how I remember our old condo complex. It was quiet, simple, not pretentious at all. We owned one of the big units in the Sakura building (the tall one in this photo. Our unit is the one on the second balcony from the bottom — unit 06-01!) We had a view of the pool, which we were always in due to the famed Singapore heat.
Today, two new buildings stand in the place of our old home. They overlook the pool, too.
Hmmmm. OK, so this is the 21st century, after all, and homes built in the 80s should have moved on. Still, I’ll always see the peach colored building in my mind, no matter how shmancy these Trizon towers seem. (Actually, they’re pretty spiffy.) And District 10 will always be the best place to live, in my opinion. Maybe I’m just biased.
Every time I see this road, I’m reminded of Bus 31 — my old school bus from UWCSEA — chugging up the road. Despite how quickly things change in Singapore, what remains are memories. There’s a comfort in seeing the old Pandan Valley condo complex, and the neighboring Ridgewood Condominium. It feels slightly unfair that our old building no longer stands — hmph.
It was around 11 AM when we stopped by, and we were due to meet my friend and fellow World Moms Blog blogger, Ruth, at noon. We hailed a taxi, and asked if we could pass Dover Road on the way to the Singapore Flyer, where we were headed. I just wanted to catch a glimpse of one last spot before we headed back to our lives as tourists.
It was Saturday, so the UWC campus would be closed off to visitors anyway. I just wanted to whiz by, really. Some of my best years were spent here — and I sort of miss them! (UWC, by the way, stands for United World College. The Singapore campus is UWC of Southeast Asia, and was the first UWC in Asia.) I have good memories of after school hang-outs; the grumpy ladies at the canteen; parties at my friends’ places; the “tables” and the “stairs” near the Small Hall…. Goodness. I’m old.
Well, that was our runabout down memory lane. I’m pretty sure we’ll do more of it next time we’re in town. I suppose not being back here for over a decade kind of stirred up some longing for “home” — our childhood home, anyway. Sometimes it really just helps to go back to the old familiar places, even if the present has rendered it totally new.
Singapore, I hope you don’t change too fast.
Next: Food tripping, and our trip with Vito to the Singapore Zoo!