Joo Chiat Road is a special place for me. It’s home to Betel Box Backpacker’s Inn, the first of many hostels I stayed at when I started my Singapore adventure ten years ago. Earlier, my friend Greg and I were in the area looking for a café. I couldn’t help but look for the green door of the backpacker’s inn (200 Joo Chiat Rd). To my delight, it’s still there. I don’t know how they stay open during these times.
Ten years later and Joo Chiat appears to have more cafés. The Vietnamese bistros are still there. Bus 33 still plies the area. I used to wait up to 20 minutes for that bus. It takes you to the city… specifically Bugis and Bras Basah, where I’d meet up with my friend Vero. She was studying at NAFA at the time.
Leading into my tenth anniversary in March, I’m going to take you with me as I retrace my first steps. I’ll revisit the first hawkers I went to, the first neighbourhoods I set foot in… and I’ll speak with people who made similar journeys through the years. Today was a reminder that this city wasn’t just a dream, it’s my home. And all of that started on this one-way street.