Tampines ( say ‘Tam-Puh-Knees’) is the name of my neighbourhood. Its strange name is derived from the large forest of Tampines trees that used to be here, which is of course way before I ever lived here. Now it is the second largest commercial and residential area, after Jurong Lake, in Singapore.
I have lived here for more than 20 years, so of course I am biased when I say this is a truly amazing place to live! But if you really want to know why Tampines is one of the best in the world, what I think sets us above the other towns in Singapore is that our town actually has an international World Habitat Award from United Nations that says so.
But yes, like you, I don’t need any external validation to love where I live…because you see, Tampines has that knack of constantly springing surprises on me to charm me. It’s really quite impossible to not love her. I have a million reasons why I love my Tampines which would be impossible to list here. So here are the 4 things I adore most about my Eastern home.
#1. An Urban Town with Kampong Charm
I am probably one of the few younger Singaporeans who actually grew up in a kampong – complete with chicken farm, outhouse, rambutan and durian trees. I lived with my grandparents during the week, and returned to be with my parents over the weekend. That Lim Chu Kang village was within the Ama Keng area which I recently learned was Singapore’s poorest area then.
My free-spirited kampong childhood days are probably why I crave greenery and space so much.
Tampines has so many little spots around where I can still see the kampong style about. Green thumbs lovingly tend to pots and pots of lush green plants, and flowers. Even benches, swings and rabbit hutches can be seen erected on ground floors.
But it isn’t just looking like a kampong that makes Tampines so endearing. There is also a kampong spirit that is very much well and alive in the estate I live in.
My neighbours are a lovely bunch of people from different races and religions. We don’t just exchange cursory courtesies, but we’re friends. We throw parties at our lift lobby area. We visit each other for afternoon teas. We share the goodies we make with each other, on regular days.
#2. Play Galore
In addition to the plethora of playgrounds (I count 5 within 2 minutes walk of us) found around, there are also so really neat play spaces for my children and I to play at.
In Tampines Central park near us, we have the last of the Singapore heritage playgrounds in the form of mangosteen and watermelon mosaic structures.
At Tampines 1, the newest suburban shopping mall we have, there is a cute little outdoor water play area with a small water slide, water bucket and fountains.
My favourite is my latest discovery you see pictured above – an outdoor adventure playground, tucked in an unseen corner of Temasek Polytechnic. Some things like the flying fox, and overhead log walk are out of bounds. But there is still plenty for kids and big kids to do. Made from simple wood, rope and tyres, there is nothing boring about the area. Our kids, and ahem, us big kids, had a blast going on the giant see-saw, using the tyres as swings, climb ropes and a bridge. There was a 5-metre long balancing log made from a thick trunk that I loved walking across. There is even a big permanent tent set up on top of that hill for you to seek respite from the heat.
#3. Natural Beauties in My Backyard
Honestly, if not for the pair of mating olive-backed sunbirds flirting along my corridor some months back, and if I didn’t have kids as curious as mine, I would not have noticed the sort of birds and biodiversity we are so blessed to have where we live.
So often, we decry the lack of nature and space here. But yet, if we only stop long enough to just be still or muster enough courage to brave the heat and go for a walk or cycle, we will be surprised with what we can find.
After a brief two-day courtship, those sunbirds disappeared. However, my boys and I discovered to our glee that we had a pair of cheery black-naped orioles nesting in the tree outside our window. Then we spotted more birds- the blue-collared kingfisher, egrets and herons – in the monsoon drains nearby.
We love cycling to the Tampines Eco Green to just be amongst the trees and shrubs. While this park may have been artificially created, there is no denying that there is still this ‘wildness’ to it. A wildness and quiet where we can enjoy the restorative and inspirational touch of Nature.
And then, there is this small-but-interesting Butterfly Park at Tampines St 11 that we enjoy visiting too.
#4. Food, Glorious Food
What Singaporean would forget to pay tribute to the yummy eats found here? Not I!
I grew up eating a lot at the Round Market at Tampines 11. It is not only an architectural landmark but it also is home to stalls that have garnered food awards from the local TV stations. This market has also been named “Singapore’s Favourite Hawker Centre” for two consecutive years (2008 and 2009) in the City Hawker Food Hunt awards, organised by Sin Ming Daily News and City Gas. Check out this recent Makansutra Top 5 foods to try at the Tampines Round Market.
Local hawker fare aside, Tampines also has a well-kept gourmet secret. I know I may sabotaging my own dining experience by revealing this location but well, good things ought to be shared right?
Foodies on shoestring budgets really ought to consider paying the Temasek Culinary Academy at Temasek Polytechnic a visit. During select weeks of term, students from the hospitality and food faculty as well as the Culinary Institute of America will serve up quality pastries and fine-dining meals at two on-location eateries. The cafe, Sugarloaf, has great pastry selections while the sit-down restaurant, Top Table, features fine-dining standard meals for a nominal price of $12+. Do call the hotline for opening hours and reservations before you visit!
And this my dear friends, bring me to the end of my love notes about my spot in Singapore.
Stay tuned for 16 more incredible love notes from 16 fabulous and proud-to-be Singaporean mummies in the days ahead! Here’s the Loving My Spot in SG party map.
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Tomorrow, Madeline from MadPsychMum will be sharing about the oldest neighbourhood in Singapore, where she has been calling home since 2001.
Madeline is a research psychologist and mom to a beautiful and intelligent little girl born in July 2010. She is passionate about child psychology and hopes to make a difference in the lives of children living in Singapore. Also an avid traveller and hardcore advocate of breastfeeding, she regularly documents her overseas trips and nursing room reviews with incredible detail on her blog, MadPsychMum @ University of Motherhood.