#43 Saturdays Are For Coffee + Hiking – Labrador Park

Saturday. Time for something that excites the taste buds, and yet something fun to do that can burn the calories directly off without keeping it in the system. Zero guilt, double the fun. Let’s go!

I wanted to create an itinerary where I’d start off by getting a coffee (to wake up and get a boost) and some dessert (to please my tummy), and then sweat it all out in a satisfying way. So in my search for a start-off fuelling point to grab my cuppa joe and sugary treat before hitting the road, I stumbled upon this café. Just minutes away from one of the starting points of the Mount Faber Trail, it was not only convenient for our coffee-and-hike mission, but also unique in its own way.

That’s how we began with gusto at at Old Habits (Block 38 Telok Blangah Rise) for our obligatory sugary top up of energy. The name of the game here is all things vintage… except their menu which is refreshingly contemporary.

Chock-a-block of old-school stuff

We ordered the signature dessert item which required us to be patient and wait for it to be freshly cooked. But fret not, the café is chocked full of strange knick-knacks and colourful curios – from vintage posters to decades-old Nintendo cartridges to phased-out old road signs plucked from the middle of nowhere to a plastic purple Grimace toy (those that came with a Happy Meal) next to the cash till, there are plenty of things to poke around at while you wait for your food to arrive.

Coconut & vanilla - decadent match!
After a rather long and worthwhile wait, we dug into the Coconut Kueh with French Vanilla Ice Cream – which tasted pretty much like crème brulee spiked with a huge dose of coconut. Melt in the mouth and fragrant – omm nom nom. The portion is too small for sharing! Or maybe it’s so good that we could eat more than our half?

Classic to a T

Since we couldn’t get enough, we went for the Dark Chocolate Walnut Brownie Torte with a scoop of Just Cookies ice-cream. En pointe and classic without a fault. Brownie lovers shall approve of this. And then we washed it all down with coffee which delivered our caffeine fix but nothing to write home about.

The owner gave us some View-Master toys to play with – for a few moments, it was like pressing a Rewind button to playback carefree childhood times. I particularly enjoyed this as it really enhanced our experience here – not just a cake-and-coffee stop but the unique and quirky out-of-the-world setting provided a wonderful respite from the boring chain cafés in every shopping mall. Even the mister had a fun time, that says a lot.

Our mission has only just begun – and with yummy things in our tummies it was definitely easier to get going.

We turned right upon exiting and crossed the small road – Telok Blangah Rise – and walked towards Block 32. It is directly across the street, where there is a grassy forested slope next to it. Google Maps clearly indicates where the beginning of the trail is – we used part GPS and part hunting to find it on the ground. (Remember: Google is your friend.)

A long flight of steps and a brown sign saying Mount Faber Trail marks the start of the trail. It’s a bit hard to find, and out of the way – at the side corner and facing the back of a HDB block. Here goes nothing – we took a deep breath and finished the flight of steps in one shot.

Can see all the way to the city centre

Up here, standing on a narrow gravel path at a vantage point where we could see all the way past Block 39 from the Telok Blangah Housing Estate to the iconic cylindrical tower of Raffles City/Swissotel in the city centre and beyond. Mosquitoes were beginning to attack us so we kept moving.

Arriving at yet another viewpoint – this time on top of the Mount Faber ridge with the housing estate behind us – we could see the panoramic view of Sentosa and the huge cranes at the Pasir Panjang port. Here, you would also see a string of colourful cable cars going to and fro Sentosa island.

Cross the vehicular road and enter the Marang Trail that goes southwards and downhill, toward the port and Harbourfront MRT station. Basically the trusty trail will take you there. Sometimes you might encounter monkeys. We didn’t see many, just one scuttering away high up in the treetops.

We reached the main road, where we saw Vivocity in front of us on the other side of the road. Cross to the other side and turn right, moving away from Vivocity.

We continued walking until we hit the junction to Keppel Bay Drive, crossed to the other side of this side road and then turned left by following the side road. With the condominium apartments on our right side as a guide – we walked all the way till the end till we hit the waterfront.

Boardwalk at low tide

Here we reached the board walk promenade at the Reflections at Keppel Bay, near the Bukit Chermin trail, flanked by modern apartments set next to Venetian-inspired canals and a yacht parking lot. This place reminded me very much of Battery Park on Manhattan and a bit of St Katherine Docks in London – basically not much personality and ultra chichi.

After the chichi zone, a fork in the road greeted us – you can choose between joining the Berlayer Creek trail to check out some mangroves (beware the mosquitoes) or keep left and take the much longer but more scenic route next to the waterfront.

A quintessentially Singaporean waterfront view...of our bustling container port

We chose the scenic waterfront stroll. At sunset, it’s a particularly lovely walk. There’s plenty of people watching to do here, since there’s enough space for everyone to do their thang – jogging, roller blading, skate scooter-ing, having BBQs, and picnicking on the grass. It’s also a great alternative chill out place for those used to going to East Coast Park, the crowd here is less hectic as there are way lesser cyclists, and somehow it’s also cleaner. In fact if you cycle here, you might struggle as this park doesn’t have a dedicated lane for bicycles. We even saw a wedding reception about to take place at a breezy sea-facing pavilion. That’s how much cool factor this park has.

To head back to Labrador Park MRT,  you have to double back a bit and cut through the heavily forested trail – check out the location map in the park and head toward Car Park A, and follow the sign toward the car park. Once you reach the toilets next to the car park, follow the sheltered walkway and walk out. You will see the bus stop for you to take the Bus Service #408 out. If you want to just walk out, keep going on the road and take the left when you hit the T-junction. Along this road, you’d see a fenced up green field on your right. At the end, you will see an elevated carriageway up ahead and to your 2 o’clock is the Labrador Park MRT station, which is partially hidden from view.

And that’s my little tour to a part of Singapore I had not been before. Whether you’re from overseas or have lived here in Singapore for some time, there is always some little nooks yet to be explored. Hope this post has sown a new seed-idea in your head about what to do for one of the coming weekends! ♥

Old Habits | Block 38 Telok Blangah Rise #01-315


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