Saturday, November 24, 2018

Tiong Bahru Heritage Tour @ "Live Like A Local" with Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel

Starting from 1 December 2018, guests at Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel will get to participate in complimentary half-day tour that happens on every Saturday, and other fun activity lined up on the first Saturday of the month, which had been thoughtfully curated by team Grand Copthorne Waterfront. This is the "Live Like A Local" initiative by Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel.

The half-day "Tiong Bahru Heritage Tour" will bring guests to Tiong Bahru,which is one of Singapore's oldest housing estate and probably one of the hippest in town. Eh, so what do locals do in these tour? We get a chance to explore on nooks and corners that we may not notice in our day-to-day lives. With professional tour guide from Tour East Singapore, one could obtain nuggets of interesting information about the area as well as brief history on the place, plus it was a comfortable shuttle ride to get to Tiong Bahru from the hotel. Rain or shine, let's go explore!

On the morning of the tour, guests would congregate at Tour East Lounge at Level 3. At the appointed time, together with the tour guide, everyone would then board the shuttle towards Tiong Bahru.

Upon arrival, we spent the first few minutes listening to our guide regaling us about the tales of Tiong Bahru Bird Corner, one of the oldest in Singapore. In the past, we would have noticed elderly men taking their beloved singing birds in cages to such an area. The bird cage would be hung onto the available hooks and naturally, the birds would start to compete against one another.

Tiong Bahru Bird Corner
to Tiong Bahru Market
built in 1950 as Seng Poh Market, revamped in 1993 and renamed as Tiong Bahru Market

Tiong Bahru Market is well-known to the locals. I have fond memories of my aunt, who fetched us from the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station after an overnight journey and we headed straight to Tiong Bahru Market for breakfast. Our usual choice? The porridge and the fishballs. The Tiong Bahru Fishball stall has been there since forever (at least for me!) and is one of the originals.

Tiong Bahru Fishball Stall

Assorted fishballs and fishcakes from Tiong Bahru Fishball Stall

Of course, one of the iconic eats at Tiong Bahru Market would be Jian Bo Shui Kueh which has been featured in Michelin Guide 2017. Shui Kueh (水粿) or in local colloquial; chwee kueh literally means water cake. It is steamed rice cake topped with deliciously fried preserved radish and if you like spice, take the sambal chili which is usually served on the side. This is one oily dish but one that is worth trying. You could finish one in two-bites but it does fills you up pretty quickly. Good to share.

Jian Bo Shui Kueh stall
楗柏水粿 (Jian Bo Shui Kueh)
I like the steamed char siew bao from Tiong Bahru Pau. Fluffy, and of a traditional taste, the fillings were generous and flavourful. Not too sweet nor too heavy.

Tiong Bahru Pau
small pau and big pau
叉燒包 (char siew bao)

Tiong Bahru Market has lift, escalator and stairs to its eating place at Level 2. As the tour allows free time of about an hour for breakfast, do take some time to explore the ground level as there's plenty of things to see. As it is a wet market, one could get flowers, dry goods, fruits, vegetables, eggs and fresh meats. Many expats and locals come to this market for their weekend groceries.

flower shop
party shop
fruits stall
chicken stall

While waiting for the rest to regroup, I had a fun time watching Teddy, the friendly poodle who was brought out for a walk but got tired and was resting with his owner. Teddy was such a darling with kids.

Teddy, the poodle
After breakfast, we continued with the Heritage Walk and was rewarded with interesting sights and nuggets of knowledge. Bumped into a group of artists on their outing and they were painting the sights of the vicinity.

an artist and her painting
Sights encountered along the way.

nice colour, vespa
iconic spiral stairs

We also visited the Qi Tian Gong Temple, founded in 1920 and dedicated to the Monkey God (Sun Wu Kong  孫悟空). There are many statues of the monkey god in the temple with the oldest one believed to be nearly a hundred years old.

Qi Tian Gong Temple

Have you heard of the "Dancing Girl" sculpture in Seng Poh Garden? Most likely not, but fret not since this guided tour will bring guests deep into the neighbourhood to visit this interesting sight.

Dancing Girl Sculpture in Seng Poh Garden
"My Home" mural by Singapore artist, Mr Yip Yew Chong (photographed here is our friendly tour guide, Ms Faridah)

"Pasar & the Fortune Teller"
lookout for the poem

The wall murals and its corresponding poems were lovely as it depicts the actual scenes of  yesteryears and if you would like to know more about its other locations, here is the link.

After all the walking, we ventured into the hipster stretch of the cafes.

Tiong Bahru Bakery
Galicier Pastry

Guests were then treated to some pastries from Galicier, a well-known establishment that spans generations and is beloved for its nonya kueh, retro cakes, traditional cookies and pastries. We tried the kueh dadar and putu ayu and both were good. Loved the refreshing natural sweetness taste from the freshly grated coconut fillings of the kueh dadar.

kueh dadar
putu ayu

After the light snack, guests will then be ferried back to the hotel via the shuttle bus and the tour ends on a sweet note. Many thanks to Grand Copthorne Waterfront team and Tour East for the experience.

For more information and enquiries of the Live Like a Local experience, please visit the hotel link directly.

ps: any readers who type 'LOCAL' under the discount code when booking rooms through Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, gets to enjoy 3% discount!


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