Singapore 2015 - Tiong Bahru

Singapore used to be just Singapore - but nowadays you can't talk about Singapore without talking about its neighbourhoods. This is partly due to the emergence of hipster culture - young urban trendsetters who are constantly on the lookout for the next in-thing. These hipsters who speak with their wallets are the main contributors to the rise and fall of a particular neighbourhood. In the past 5 years or so, several distinct neighbourhoods have become very popular - Little India, Kampung Glam, Keong Saik Road, Tiong Bahru, and one of the latest up-and-coming hipster hangout - Everton Park.

It was a nice clear day and I decided to visit Tiong Bahru which I haven't been for decades. I was mainly drawn there by the famous Tiong Bahru Bakery - but also curious to revisit this neighbourhood and find out why it was so attractive to the local hipsters.

Tiong Bahru is an urban housing neighbourhood built in the 1930s. Here you find some of the rare examples of Art Deco design in Singapore. In the old days the buildings might have looked utilitarian - but today the small Art Deco touches give the neighbourhood its laid-back charm.

After wandering around for a bit I finally found Books Actually - one of the first ventures which kick-started this area as a hipster hangout. It is a very charming bookshop packed to the brims with books you don't normally find in chain bookstores. They even have their own imprints - it is good to know that the printed word is not dead yet in this digital age.

Tiong Bahru is a little paradise in Singapore - very quiet and serene even though it is just a stone's throw to Chinatown. There are lots of quirky shops and cafe to hang out - its easy to understand its charm.


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