A first-timer's guide to Changi Village ft dinner at the Coastal Settlement
14 March 2020 // Singapore
A beachy weekend exploring the coastal settlement of Changi Village, eating way too much in the heritage treasure trove of a restaurant, The Coastal Settlement + being introduced to the BeeGees.
It was the salty air that assaulted my senses first.
A welcoming scent after a rough week. A scent that reminded me of the beach at Penang Swimming Club which made up most of my happy childhood memories. The scent tiny me could smell all the way from the fifth floor carpark- the smell of sand castles, seashells and fish & chips, with an ice cream sundae to end.
Anyway, Changi Village was a coastal settlement, literally. It was very similar to 'pasar' (casual market) areas in Malaysia. But it makes a very quaint and pleasant stroll either in the early morning or the late afternoon.
A big hawker centre took central stage, with a performance area where passionate individuals belted their hearts out. Many casual Indian-Muslim eateries surrounded it. It was a very communal neighbourhood: rows of low-lying public houses with shops taking up the ground floor. These were typical local market style shops: the type with glaring, white LED light tubes that sold just about anything and everything.
It was a walk down memory lane browsing these shops. We found all sorts of candy and snacks that I used to buy for under RM1 in primary school ( Wang Wang Rice crackers anyone?); rows of gold biscuit tins selling Marie biscuits and all the 'those-will-give-you-sore-throat' crackers that I was banned from but secretly ate anyway; and - wait for it - hand sanitisers. Yup. Sold out everywhere in the Covid panic but these cornucopia of shops ain't having that. These shops sold antibacterial wipes, hand sanitisers and all sorts of disinfectant sprays.
- The Beach : Changi Point -
Just by the carpark, joggers and families were strolling along the boardwalk that lined the Northern Coastline of Changi Point. Occasionally, seagulls were interrupted by airplanes taking off from the nearby Changi Airport. The more rocky rather than sandy beach-scape was a platform where some were fishing, or just chatting.
I might have gotten a tad too excited running up and down the timber pathway. To glimpse and capture the scene of boats and ferries speeding down the coast from between the greenery. The salty breezy caressed my face. The pastel palette of the sky. The horizon. Unobstructed nature I didn't realise I was so disconnected from in the hard urban cityscape.
- Tips & What to Expect in Changi Village -
When to go:
The best time would be early morning or late afternoon (around 5pm) if you have a vampiric fear of the sun like me. I would recommend going in the evening for nice sunset pictures by the beach.
Casual summer wear. Most were in shorts and slippers because it'll most likely be packed. And hot. All outdoor with no air-conditioning.
Activities Around the Area:
There is a ferry terminal there where you can get a boat to Pulau Ubin.
Active activities (heh pun intended):
- Changi Point Coastal Walk for jogging or a nice evening stroll. There's a lot of food options in the hawker centre for breakfast or any meal really. Or for photos (its exercise to get that perfect shot, no?)
- Fishing. You can buy equipment from the shops around the area.
- There are quite a few sports clubs around the area.
Browse the shops! (These are NOT Orchard Road shops ar. It's the casual local market type. But it's interesting to browse for local goods and snacks. You can find anything under the sun.)
There's a beach and playground for kids.
If you are just going to visit Changi Village, we spent around an hour (including getting drinks and ice cream).
- Dinner : Hidden Restaurant for an Unusual Dinner Date -
The Coastal Settlement
200, Netheravon Road, Changi, Singapore
A short drive ( around a 20 minute walk ) away from Changi Village, this restaurant was a literal treasure trove of antiques that I used to see in my grandparents' house, paying homage to the site's history as the Changi Military Base and the local way of life during the British colony. Hidden behind a generous landscape/sculpture garden of sorts, it really felt like a treasure hunt. And it was such a treasure of a find.
- i n t e r i o r s & a m b i e n c e -
- m e n u -
The menu featured both Western and Local delights (prices are on the site!) . For starters, I would really recommend the portobello fries- thick and juicy spiced portobello wedges, which, in my opinion, tasted nicer cooler. I'm a veggie monster, so I also ordered the sambal kangkong which was a rather big portion. It was nice, but nothing to shout about for $14. The Otak-otak was the thick, grilled type rather that the custardy, steamed type in Penang. This was, as we called it, the 'atas' type of otak-otak with thick, visible slabs of fish in it. It went well with the side salad and bread. The highlight for me was actually the thin-crust pizzas, which you could opt for half-and-half flavours. The crusts tasted more like crackers, with less dough than even the authentic Italian thin-crust pizzas. Not very traditional perhaps but I liked it very much. Being a mushroom lover, I was surprised to find myself reaching for another slice of Hawaiian instead of the Al-Funghi one. So... get Hawaiian if you order the pizzas!
- Based on my opinions -
Ambience : 10/10
I know this is going to sound controversial, but I'm a sucker for dining in gardens and nature. As long as it is NOT HOT. Aha. Get the tables by the glass windows! Then you'll get generous views to the lush garden. And I love the interiors. A nice, casual place to bring friends and family for celebrations or any occasion really. Not really a place for solo cafe hopping though.
Coffee : 4/10
Not the best... but I did hear wonderful things about the milkshakes! ( we were both stuffed to the necks and had to pass on that )
Food : 6/10
The food is good but honestly, nothing to shout about. It's reliably good though for a nice meal.
Harder to get here by public transport. But if you drive, there is a parking lot next to the restaurant with valet on standby.
I would definitely want to bring a visiting friend or family here for the ambience. But it's not somewhere I would go alone, or often.
- Late Night Thoughts ft The BeeGees -
It was a lovely evening as we chatted into the night. The drive home was relaxing too- the roads empty, the night quiet, as the BeeGees' Greatest Hits blasted through the stereo.
I am bad with classics so it was my first time hearing of them. But I might've just found my new weekend/night drive playlist.
What is it about the coast and sea that stir up so many emotions and memories? All that openness, the infinite horizon, the sinking sun- its light lingering in the sky to the very end of its descend. Hope.
I had a rough week mainly because I am a very emotional person, and major worrier. There is so much uncertainty in the future, due to the Covid-19 outbreak. I mean, a few days ago, I would've laughed at the thought of my country being under a partial lockdown. But man, things are really getting crazy.
Being away from the confines of the concrete jungle allowed me space to reflect, even for just a few moments, of how fortunate I am. How selfish I have been for just focusing on my own inconvenience while so many others were having it worse, sacrificing so much more than I ever had to. An openness that grounded me, to remind me that life is never going to be a straight path. It is an obstacle course with no rules whatsoever, with infinite possibilities and endless risks, but there is always hope. Hope of a new day. And a shadow, no matter how dark, too shall pass.
So stay strong, and positive. Stress ain't gonna help anyone right now especially when health is key! It sucks now, but with every fall, great things will follow. Good times are coming.
Thank you for reading! Have a good week ahead :) *Sends positive vibes*