Moments Before Exchange Part 1

It’s the time of the year for some introspection again. Home is where the heart is. Cliché, but true. Home is where friends and family are, where I can chill for hours on end with my favourite people. Home is where shit happens, but there will be people there for you and people to understand you. It’s where life comes back in one full circle and you realize that it’s really the closest ones to you that matter. No matter how far you are.

Perhaps it is human nature, but the need for identity and belonging strikes in most people. There will be at least one person we love, whether friend, family or life partner, and that’s where home is. 

Something to remind myself especially when exchange is round the corner. Countdown: less than one month to departure.

It’s real, it’s happening. It’s finally happening.

I thought I’d document the things I’m doing this holiday before I fly off. While it involves some travelling in Hong Kong, lots of chill sessions and meeting up with all my friends, I’m happy. I’m glad to be safe to say that I’m happy with where I am now. Despite the shit that occurs. Life is full of shit, after all.

This is the Japan Rail Cafe in Singapore, which newly opened an outlet in Tanjong Pagar in December. I heard that their working hours are short; they don’t have dinner, and their food sells out by 2pm. I was lucky to be early with my friend at around 12pm and fortunately there were seats then, because a long queue formed afterwards and it was all people from the lunch crowd. Tanjong Pagar is where the office buildings are anyhow – think Anson Road and the International Plaza.

It was hard to locate this cafe because it was totally blocked by a construction site. We went in rounds before we found it. But I’m glad we did, because it was a nice and quaint environment I enjoyed.

It was a little strange to be eating in the middle of the construction site. I say this because the cafe is enclosed entirely by glass walls that allow lots of sunlight to come in. But it also means that it allows everything outside to be seen, and since the area was under construction, I felt like I was eating on an island. When I looked out, I literally saw construction workers carrying slabs of concrete in beside me, nearly touching my shoulder save for the glass wall that divided between the different levels of society. It was not something I was comfortable with.

The service was not that great for a cafe standard. It was definitely better than any service I encountered in Hong Kong,  but they could be better. They were slow and didn’t seem very sure of what to do. It felt like there was a language or communication barrier although I’m sure the staff are locals.

Food wise, it was on the pricier end for cafes, but it was good. I liked the food there. The portions were also big so it was worth the price. It was a pity I couldn’t finish it.

But as mentioned earlier, they sold out the food pretty fast, so make sure to come early. I didn’t get to try some drinks because they were already sold out by the time I went there.

I had the Twin Flavoured Crispy Chicken Don. There was also a choice of soup between original and dashi, which was then served in a teapot, which you can see a little in the above photo. That was unique since I’d never seen soup served in a teapot in most cuisines. Some uniquely Japanese, perhaps?

It was an absolutely chill day, so since my friend and I were in Tanjong Pagar, which is a place with quaint, quiet cafes in the afternoons and lots of Korean food, we set out in search of dessert. There were varieties to choose from, such as Cake Spade, Drury Lane Cafe (their chocolate drink was the bomb), and 5 the moments cafe. We chose to go to 5 the moments cafe.

5 the moments cafe is a cafe for the photography enthusiasts. It has a vintage vibe and lots of photogenic spots within the cafe, as pictured above. I thought of how difficult it was to clean everything.

Nevertheless, it was pretty. There was an extremely old television set, brick walls with words, polaroids and a world map painted on it, a chair on a wall (I wondered why), and dried flowers. Visually pleasing.

For dessert we had ice cream with waffles. My friend and I chose strawberry sorbet and fererro rocher for the two scoops of ice cream. It was delicious. I liked how the chocolate sauce dribbled on the waffles wasn’t too heavy, and we could finish it. However, I preferred mixing the two scoops of ice cream together to eat them. Fererro rocher was thick and sweet, while strawberry sorbet was slightly sour.

It reminded me why I enjoyed cafe hopping. It would be heaven to try cafe hopping in Europe, but it is an expensive and unsustainable hobby and I know that I will be visiting few cafes if I can help it. I do want to try some famous ones and I’m going to soak in them.

Exchange does not have to be too foreign from home. Exchange can be made to be comfortable and familiar. After all, there are familiar routines to follow, and once settled in everything will be familiar and much more comfortable. The only visible absence would be the familiar faces and company one is very used to.

Exploring is exciting. We chanced upon these two cafes through exploring Tanjong Pagar with nothing particular in mind. I recommend these two cafes to try out if you enjoy trying new places and you like photography. They are beautiful spots to get shots of and to soak in their vibes.


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