Finding the quiet in Singapore, Portsdown Road

Finding the quiet in Singapore, Portsdown Road

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Portsdown is one of those places I’m reluctant to share with others owing to the fear that it would lose its charm if too many people know of it. Reminiscent of a little English village, with street names like Wessex and Whitchurch Road, Portsdown is a less well-known cluster of old colonial-style houses located near Queenstown. My friends and I chanced upon it while were looking for a nice quiet place to steal away from the maddening weekend crowds.

Portsdown’s nondescript location right next to the AYE (Ayer Rajah Expressway) makes it very easy to miss, but for those who know of it, the obscurity of the place adds to its charm and quirkiness, making it a wonderful ‘secret hideout’. Aside from driving, one can also take public transport as there’s a bus, 191 from Bouna Vista Bus Terminal that loops around Portsdown road area.

From the fifties to seventies, the area was once home to British soldiers and their families. The residents of this area now consist mainly of expats who rent the houses and some designers and architects who use the houses as their work and gallery space.

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On the weekend we visited, Portsdown was quiet and peaceful, and the atmosphere very relaxing. The lush greenery of the neighbourhood made it perfect for a long relaxing photowalks.
As we ventured deeper into the heart of Portsdown, we found huge tanks obscured by the bushes, and swings dangling from trees. During the ‘golden hour’ or hour right before sunset, parts of Portsdown was bathed in beautiful gleams of golden rays.

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Tired after our afternoon of walking around the neighbourhood, we made our way to Whitchurch road, where a small dining place called ‘Colbar’, short for Colonial bar, is located. Originally built as a canteen to cater to the British soldiers, Colbar looks like a coffeeshop right out of the sixties. The eatery’s simple red-lettered signboard and blue counter and white walls have a vintage look to it. The menu consists of staples like fish and chips, tea and coffee, and prices are on the steep side.

To me Portsdown is an interesting and unique place as it gives one a glimpse into Singapore’s history of colonialization and gives one an idea of how a part of old Singapore used to look like.

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/// Written by Wenlin Tan, Singapore