Exposed concrete and metal ducts, hopscotch painted on the floor, large wooden beams, open floor plan, shiny coffee machines, and rows of pastries greet you as you walk into this quaint café.
Walking in makes me instantly feel like I’m home in Oregon, in some hipster neighborhood in Portland, at a little coffee shop only the locals know about. Alt J plays in the background as we marvel at the clothing people are wearing… err umm I mean the pastries on the shelves (TJ marvels at the pastries as I swoon over all the fancy clothing the locals are wearing. Beautiful dresses, tall heels, fancy suits, fun hats, and exquisite cufflinks. It’s been a while since I’ve seen such fancy clothing)!
Traveling to Singapore after being on the road in SE Asia for a few months was a bit like traveling to a different planet. We typically refer to cities as concrete jungles and much prefer feeding our nature loving souls with something green and lush. Singapore though was a bit different. The first thing you notice is that unlike most cities this one is very green. Skyscrapers are covered with natural forests. You will see trees and plants that appear to grow out of the buildings themselves. The medians and outsides of buildings are full of lush plants, there are enormous parks spanning hundreds of acres and two amazing indoor conservatories that are two of the largest in the world. Plus, it’s one of the most modern looking cities on the planet!
Heading over to Tiong Bahru was no different; there are plants, trees, grass, and flowers most places you look. What was established as Singapore’s first public housing estate has turned into a hipster neighborhood where you can see remnants of the past mixed with modern living. We wanted to head off the beaten tourist path and explore new places and this sounded like just the spot to do it. As the tea snob that I am… I also wanted to find a nice café to settle into and enjoy some tea and pastries after an afternoon of exploring.
Tiong Bahru Bakery ended up being the perfect place! Roughly three months into travel, at the time, I was feeling a bit homesick and it was lovely to be somewhere that reminded me of home. Typically when you go places or eat food that is Western in nature… you end up surrounded by a bunch of Westerners. Makes sense, right? Not this time! We walked into the delightful bakery and were greeted only by locals. Locals working, locals ordering to-go, locals sitting and chatting, and all of them dressed so well! We’d found a beautiful little place that reminded me of home, and had somehow still managed to stay off the tourist path.
Needless to say, our afternoon sitting and enjoying our treat was delightful! One Flat White, one Earl Grey Lavender tea, one chocolate croissant, and one jasmine scone coming right up!
The truth is, you simply cannot pass up on spending an afternoon (or several!) strolling through the Tiong Bahru neighborhood. With its old-school charm, new-school attractions, and surprisingly quiet streets, this hip and happening part of town is also where you’ll discover some of Singapore’s best cafes, restaurants, and stores. For an in depth look at all Tiong Bahru has to offer, check out this guide of all the hip hotspots!
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