Kelvin Ang spent his childhood in Queenstown, where his home was in one of the 12-storey blocks of flats that defined the neighbourhood. Subsequently, his family relocated firstly to Jurong East, and finally to the Sing Ming area. In between, he also spent much time exploring the streets of old Kreta Ayer and Telok Ayer, which perhaps helped to nurture a sensibility with regards to historic neighbourhoods. 7 years was spent in the 1990s studying and living in central London, which opened his eyes and mind further to the natural combination of living a ‘Modern’ life within the structure of a ‘Traditional’ city. While there, he also rediscovered how street life, markets and balconies for fresh air can bring a much needed personal touch and a sense of joy while living in a metropolis. He first reconnected with Tiong Bahru during one of his summer breaks back in Singapore, where he had a delicious bowl of yong tau foo soup in a kopitiam opposite the Monkey God Temple. In 2005, he eventually hunted down a walk-up apartment (yes, on a local street, with a balcony and near a market!) in the estate and the rest is history.
Jean Fung has been privileged to call Tiong Bahru home since 2008. While the estate’s demographic profile and commercial mix have changed significantly since then, she is grateful for the deep-rooted sense of community - kampung spirit - that still prevails. Jean left the corporate grind in 2015 to focus on living with passion, purpose and impact. This means spending time and energy on loved ones and the Tiong Bahru community, volunteering her professional skills with AWARE in support of gender equity in Singapore, and working her way through a long list of learning and fitness goals.
Cell Lim and his family have been residents of Tiong Bahru for three generations and counting. He has worked in the arts and mental health sectors in various capacities since the 2000's and is currently the festival programmer for THIS Buddhist Film Festival. Cell loves Lego and is a Certified Lego® Serious Play® Facilitator. He is often seen walking around the neighbourhood with his ferociously unfriendly sidekick, Diamond Hunter the Dog. Please maintain a safe distance from them.
Marie-Pierre Mol is an independent curator who has been based in Singapore for 20 years. As the founder of Intersections, an art gallery and art consultancy encouraging people to discover art in unusual places, Marie-Pierre enjoys living in Tiong Bahru as an everyday source of inspiration. Marie-Pierre was so taken with the estate that she organised a pop-up exhibition in her apartment in Tiong Bahru before she moved in. For Marie-Pierre, Tiong Bahru is a place with a soul, where she feels part of a rich community of people, united by the unique identity of the neighbourhood.
Alvin grew up in Tiong Bahru and studied at the now-defunct Tiong Bahru Primary school in the 80s. As a boy, he spent a lot of time catching tadpoles, playing marbles and running around what used to be a big field but is now the Central Expressway (CTE). All his children, too, were raised in Tiong Bahru and none has any intention of moving elsewhere. There used to be a guy who sold satay from a pushcart. He doesn’t anymore and Alvin misses him. Thankfully, Tiong Bahru still has some good food on offer. He loves the fish porridge, duck noodles and pig organ soup at the market, which make it necessary for him to run and cycle regularly to burn off all those calories.
Marc & Bernice Cheng
For Bernice and Marc, it’s the closeness of community and neighbourliness in Tiong Bahru that hold a special something for them. During their search for a first home together, Bernice and Marc looked nowhere else than Tiong Bahru. Having spent their dating days in the estate, café-hopping and strolling the coconut tree-lined paths, they hoped and (pretty much) knew they would end up here. They now call this charming neighbourhood home with Kaya the Golden Retriever - and self-proclaimed member of Pawliament - and their daughter, Sienna.
Rodney has lived and worked (not always simultaneously) in Tiong Bahru since 1965; incidentally, also the year Singapore gained independence. His favourite things about the estate are its friendly vibe and mix of local and international residents. He can’t quite decide what his favourite food is, so he’s lucky he has Tiong Bahru Market nearby; plenty to choose from. Rodney might not be able to name a favourite food, but he certainly knows what his passion is: motorcycles. His special one was a Harley Davidson that he had for about 10 years. “It was a fat boy with the brute force of a 1800cc engine* and an exhaust pipe that rang like a machine gun.” Fun fact (according to Rodney): You could ride a Harley from Singapore to China and back without the engine dying on you. *That’s about 40-45hp to regular folk.
Syed Ibrahim Sha
Syed Ibrahim Sha is a prata, biryani and mee goreng specialist. Having been in the industry for over twenty years, he opened a prata stall in Tiong Bahru Market in 2017, partly because he stays in the neighbourhood, in Boon Keng, but also because he loves the estate. His favourite food used to be his mother’s cooking, but now, his wife occupies pride of place in his culinary heart.
Victor has lived most of his life in Singapore's Chinatown, which is close to Tiong Bahru. This might explain his love for the estate; his favourite place to hang out ever since he was able to cycle. Victor has had the privilege of seeing Tiong Bahru evolve. With a deep curiosity about Chinese arts and heritage, Victor is particularly interested in Chinese temples, like the Monkey God Temple, Chinese opera and puppetry. Victor is a retiree and an active citizen historian.