Last weekend the hubs and I totally took the bait that the SMRT, with all its colorful posters and promises of carnivals, had been laying out for us and went for a ride on the newly-completed Circle Line. (I hate linking to Wikipedia but their page is a lot more informative than the LTA’s, so there you go. This story from the WSJ is also pretty good). We used it to visit the expat enclave of Holland Village, which we’d never quite managed to get to in our first six months here since it wasn’t train accessible.
I’ve never ridden on a brand new subway line before. I’ve seen subway lines become obsolete in New York (RIP 9 , V and W trains!), and I’ve gotten my hopes up when the MBTA in Boston made a huge deal about the new Silver Line of the future, only to discover it was nothing but a bus with a dedicated lane. (Seriously, I swear the MBTA totally acted vague on purpose and never made it clear beforehand that the Silver Line was a bus and not a train. Grrr). So I’ve never visited brand new train stations or anything like that. Thus it was very exciting to hop on the train from Buona Vista and see that it was completely driverless:
According to Wikipedia (ugh), it’s the longest driverless train line in the world. One slight problem with the Circle Line is that, given its circular nature, it’s not exactly the most direct train. We actually rode the green line all the way out to Buona Vista and just went one stop over to get to Holland Village, because otherwise we would have had to have gone in basically the opposite direction, or else changed train lines twice.
On Saturday (the day the extension officially opened) there was a big carnival at Holland Village, but we figured that might be a bit too chaotic for us. (I’ve just now read the flyer closely and seen that they gave away free beer and margaritas. D’oh!). While running errands on Saturday, though, I happened to ride one stop from Esplanade to Promenade (near my office), and was totally confused that the terminus was no longer Marymount, but instead HarbourFront. Crazy times in Singapore, I tell you.
So on Sunday we decided to check out the bar scene in Holland Village to watch the Rugby World Cup, since our stupid overpriced cable system has awful sports availability. (The “All Sports” Network that we pay like $10/month for doesn’t show baseball either. WTF?) One of my guidebooks recommended a bar called Wala Wala (no direct link but this is their parent company) so that was our target. From what I can gather Holland Village is comprised of a few densely packed streets filled with bars, restaurants and expat-friendly shops. Between Crust Pizza, Toni & Guy and Cold Rock Ice Creamery (in the grand Australian ripoff tradition of Wheel & Barrow, Whiteapple, and Bed, Bath & Table), I kind of felt like I was in Little Sydney or something. Plus, there seemed to be more Aussies around than any other nationality (going off my skilled eavesdropping and the number of dudes in tank tops and denim shorts). Other than when we attended the 4th of July Fireworks, I think this was probably the only time in Singapore where I’ve been in the majority as a caucasian.
Anyway, Wala Wala had a good beer selection and plenty of TVs set up to watch the game (New Zealand vs. Argentina). The crowd seemed split pretty evenly between Kiwi fans and Aussies (i.e. non-NZ fans), so it was a good time. I’m already super-pumped for this Sunday’s semi-final match between the All Blacks and the Wallabies. Although I don’t really like rugby (as you might have noticed), as a sports fan I can certainly appreciate high-stakes rivalry games. It should be a good one.
After the game we wandered across the street to check out two Mexican restaurants that were strangely right next door to each other, El Patio and Cha Cha Cha. After inspecting both menus and quickly checking HungryGoWhere reviews we opted for the former, which has apparently been there since 1985. I give a big thumbs up to their tortilla chips, spicy salsa, and fresh guacamole. The margarita also packed a decent punch. My turkey burrito (I was intrigued) was a bit too salty and bland, but I would definitely give the restaurant another go to try their tacos.
Before heading home we went to the Cold Storage near the train station. I figured since Holland Village is expat central it would be the biggest, shiniest Cold Storage yet. I was therefore a bit disappointed to discover that it was small, cramped, and didn’t have the full selection of somewhat douchey organic food that I’ve been able to find at the Bugis branch. What gives? Maybe there’s a bigger Cold Storage somewhere else nearby and we just went to the wrong one. Please feel free to elucidate in the comments!
All in all it was a fun afternoon adventure. I look forward to using the Circle Line on future occasions to access newly-opened stations at The Botanic Gardens and Haw Par Villa (sorry to have to link to Wikpedia yet again).