Have you ever wondered what life is like in a ‘real’ Singapore home? Singaporean life is unique in the sense that 80% of Singaporeans live in what are called ‘Housing Development Board Flats’, or HDB flats.
There are essentially government built apartments which are clustered into ‘new towns’, such as Clementi, Queenstown, Ang Mo Kio, Simei, Bukit Panjang or Bedok.
And that is where the ‘real Singaporean’ lives. Not in Orchard Road. Not in Sentosa or Marina Bay. But in the heartlands, where HDB flats reside. If you want a glimpse of how a typical Singaporean lives, step into one of the new towns and experience Singaporean life like it really is.
Ang Mo Kio New Town
One of the best new towns to visit is definitely Ang Mo Kio. You can easily get there by ttrain or by bus, or by can. Once there, you should first go to Ang Mo Kio Central and you will be greeted with a variety of small shophouses which are situated below the HDB flats. Now, these little curio shops sell everything from the latest DVDs to the most interesting accessories you’ll find in Singapore. So they are definitely worth visiting.
Photo by modery Some rights reserved
Another must try in Ang Mo Kio would be the hawker stall. There is a nice row of hawk stalls in every Singapore new town. These are the places I go to for everyday food and they are the places where you can find the most local cuisines. Dig into some Char Kway Teow or Roti Prata, or try some of the Nasi Lemak or Ice Kachang. These local dishes are hard to find in a typical tourist spot – and believe it or not, they taste better and more authentic too.
If you feel like shopping in a more modern complex, you’ll be glad to know most of the new towns in Singapore have modern amenities like your Delifrance, The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and Starbucks. There are also the Cold Storage or NTUC grocery stores where you can get everyday goods. You can find a Harvey Norman or Courts store if you’re interested in electronics. Many of them also have sports complexes, and a regional library if you look around. Bookstores are also common in the bigger new towns, usually run by a local book company called Popular Bookstore.
Photo by Thant Zin Some rights reserved
Catch A Movie
If you want to catch a movie, again, some the new towns have cineplexes. Tiong Bahru, Jurong Point, West Point and Tampines all have their own Golden Village cineplexes where they screen the latest movies.
Watch The People
In the new towns, perhaps one of the most interesting things to do is to just sit down and watch the passers by. Look at the kids playing in the playground, go up the HDB flats and see the old man or lady watering her plants. Such glimpses into Singaporean life are not easy to come by if you join a ‘standard’ tour package.
Rent A Room In A HDB Flat
Some of the rooms in HDB flats are also rented out. If you want to totally immerse yourself in Singaporean life and life in the new towns, you can consider renting a room or a week or two. There are definitely owners who are willing to rent their spare rooms out to you.
As you can see, life in a Singaporean new town is definitely worth experiencing – if just for the glimpse into how an average Singaporean lives. If you want to understand Singaporeans, go to their HDB flats and new towns, and I guarantee you will start to see what makes them tick.