I caught up with an old friend last Christmas and what he is currently doing for a place he loves so much has inspired me to want to share this with all of you. I’ve known Patrick for the longest time, close to 35 years I would think! We met in my second career stint in an ad agency called Ted Bates. We clicked almost immediately ‘cos we had so many things in common – the top three being the craft of advertising, the love for drinking, and the sharing of corny jokes!
After our career paths parted, Pat and I have been in touch on a sporadic on/off basis – he ventured into a dot.com start-up, he then started up a vegetarian eatery at Far East Plaza. After which he went on teach at a private educational organization before going back to dabble in a few online products.
When I invited him over for dinner at my home recently, he lost no time in relating to me so excitedly what he had recently done for an intimate and neighbourly precinct he fondly calls home – Holland Village! Pat and his wife Cindy love everything about this quaint and iconic spot in Singapore – the old shops, the arts & craft outlets, the small eateries, the new entries!
Much alike Serangoon Gardens, Katong, Seletar etc, Holland Village is one of a few nooks in Singapore that oozes a certain charm and eccentricity, and Patrick happens to be one of those folks who exudes a healthy dose of passion enough to want to tell the world about what it is that makes this rustic spot tick. He is a story-teller at heart – and his aim is for the bigger universe out there to be enthused about the novel and lesser-publicised snippets of this centrally-located eclectic lifestyle sanctuary.
Patrick has launched a website entitled Holland V [http://www.holland-village-singapore.com/]. He built it up single-handedly from scratch. He spends whatever spare time he has interviewing folks who he fondly refers to as “the village people” and penning down in-depth pieces about them. He takes his own photos and uploads them. To me, he is Holland V’s greatest evangelist.
You may ask – what is he getting out of this? The answer – nothing! Patrick did not start the website hoping to make money out of it. He truly believes that there is so much depth and potential in Holland V that it is worth putting in the effort to posture it well and in the right manner. Other than the big banks and chain restaurants that have taken up prime position in this locale over the last ten years or so, Holland V still has its fair share of interesting sole proprietor shops that survive due to the healthy support from a thriving expat community.
I, myself, have lived in Holland Village for a large part of my life and am still very much attached to this spot. The recent opening up of the Circle Line has made it even more accessible to all. I am told that many tourists who come into Singapore for the very first time know about Holland V.
If you are one of those who have not quite ventured into this territory, go check out the website and I’m sure you’ll find more than a few reasons to pop by. And even if you are familiar with the place, the stories on the website will accord you another perspective of this unassuming enclave I call my “bohemian rhapsody”!
Thank you Patrick for your devotion and dedication to this project! Singapore can definitely do with more folks like you!