While Singapore is mostly famous for its touristic landmarks like Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay, Sentosa island, and others, residential and urban areas remain largely unexplored by foreign visitors.
This is a mistake.
Wherever you go, non-touristic areas have always the most authentic feeling and atmosphere. They are “the real thing”.
One of such areas in Singapore is Hougang in the northeastern part of the city. As the geographical location suggests, it can be easily reached by MRT (local name for metro) via the North East Line (Hougang MRT station).
I go to Hougang on Saturdays for my evening takedown-do class. Let me share just a few highlights of this charming suburban zone.
My mom has learned how to use Google Translate (she always learns something new), so now I can afford to post in English only instead of English and Russian.
Entrance to the Hougang MRT station. A journey by MRT from Marina Bay, for instance, takes a bit more than 30 minutes.
On the left side there is Hougang Central Bus Interchange.
A typical two-level bike storage next to the MRT station. Singapore is the first country where I have seen such bike parkings.
People are mingling at the mini-stage. Whenever I come to Hougang, there is a man playing saxophone here.
Hougang Mall. There are shopping malls at nearly all MRT stations in Singapore.
A cute arc connects the MRT station and the shopping area. It serves three purposes: protection from rain; protection from sun; element of local design.
And this is the entrance to the market zone.
A local hawker centre. Hawker centres, or open-air food centers, are quite common located near transport hubs, and cook great inexpensive food for public. You can either enjoy tasty and cheap food at a hawker centre, or join the consumerist crowd in a mall. There is always a choice!
Prices are very reasonable according to local standards. I had my chicken noodles for dinner this Saturday accompaied with a cup of tea. It was super delicious.
I also met Lilly Sim at dinner, a local Singaporean retired lady who had a music jam session that night. Lilly plays the piano, and has two children. Her son Gerald Sim (in the photo above) is a professor of film studies at Florida Atlantic University.
Like at every market, you can buy fresh fruit at Hougang.
Look at this freshness ad juiciness.
The famous durian which I’ve never been able to try yet due to its very specific smell.
A market stall full of durians. Durian is really liked by Singaporeans. There are even desserts (like ice-cream) with the flavor of durian.
Black Talent bakery at Hougang. Sounds like black magic.
There is also a third food choice in addition to malls and hawker centres. Do it yourself! In the photo: Dum Aloo, a Kashmiri delicious gravy with potatoes cooked with Indian friends on Friday night.
There are simple and nice lanterns on the trees along the street going from the MRT station.
Winter holidays greetings are still around.
A few weeks later the greetings changed to the Chinese New Year’s ones. Multiculturalism in action!
Not far from the MRT station there is a Catholic church called the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Our taekwon-do class is held behind the church.
There is a mass every Saturday night. I was invited once too, but prefer to stay a free thinker.
Local men out on Saturday – everyone is sitting with his phone and/or listening to music :). Where are the ladies?
The colours of Hougang at dusk: don’t miss it!