to see the world and the living room

to see the world

This being the weekend when Singaporeans are busy booking their year-end packaged holidays at the travel fair, it is apt that J and I overheard bits of this conversation (well, it's more like a monologue) at the Kiliney Road Kopitiam -

Woman: Yah, when I was in Hokkaido last year, it was hard to find this ... [Sips her coffee, eats her mee rebus] I really enjoyed Paris. I mean, for me, that was the nicest city. The trip started at Denmark, stayed there for a few days, then the next few days we moved on to... [Sips her coffee, eats her mee rebus] Oh Canada! That was when I went for... [Finishes her mee rebus] But you know, Sengkang, Punggol, Jurong East*, I don't really know these places.

Hey, 700 square kilometers is pretty large an island to have to trek around for folks who prefer to lug around a suitcase.

Unfortunately, save for our rather obsessive bike rides to this, us amps cannot claim to have contributed much to domestic tourism this year as well. But Saturday evening, we overcame our inertia to find our way to a part of the island we seldom venture to - Bukit Timah. Or to be precise, Upper Bukit Timah.

If Katong was our genteel east, where old money built their seaside homes and breathed a little easier, then Bukit Timah is where they eventually landed their wealth. Unlike the east, whose refinement got reclaimed together with the shoreline, Bukit Timah continued to be where their grandchildren (or those aspirational families) continue to populate the bungalows and condominiums and patronise the fancy "specialist" grocers and butcheries. Well, it's therefore not surprising that ever since my junior college days and a brief stint volunteering at the old Salvation Army Store's sorting house, Bukit Timah is a part of the island J and I don't have much reason to frequent. But we found one to warrant a Saturday evening bus ride from Toa Payoh to Upper Bukit Timah Road.

Shears Bridge, a taxi ride
random shot off from a cab across the island.

We got off bus #157 at the Bukit Timah market and hawker centre. That was not the reason for the bus ride (at least not this time), and neither was it the old skool Beauty World Shopping Centre and Bukit Timah Shopping Centre. So we headed past both shopping mall relics classics down Upper Bukit Timah Road until we saw the large neon signboard for Courts. The air-conditioning from Courts was tempting, but we resisted. We continued our walk, away from the bright lights to the soft, residential glow of the condominiums and bungalows nestled against the nature reserve of Bukit Timah Hill. Once we neared the trees, the air seemed to drop a degree - quite naturally this time. Ah, even the air the rich breathe in seem cooler, J envied, even though such air was not reason enough for our visit. Instead, just when the darkness of a nearing nature reserve got us a little worried, we spotted it.

The cluster of low-rise buildings that used to be the Bukit Timah Fire Station was turned last year into another one of those hip "lifestyle" places, a la Dempsey and Old School. This one houses several offices, schools that teach stuff like photography and digital arts, a spa, a bistro called *surprise* Fire Station... and our destination - Raw Kitchen.

Housed in a single-storey unit in the innermost corner of the whole compound, Raw Kitchen is nothing if not charming. That night, all the chairs in this small, owner-run restaurant were placed in its backyard where Substation's associate artists, collective Mux were giving a performance. For more than an hour, we sat, sans dinner, just relaxing and listening to this group of very young, talented folks:

We shot this on the iphone, but you can watch a recording of their performance specially by Common People made in a living room by clicking here. If you want to get out of your living room to Raw Kitchen, it's at 276 Upper Bukit Timah Road. Warning: It's not a live music place, in case you are mistaken.

*Place names in Singapore


ampulets said…
we did it, we did it! :P - TOHA

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