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Kombi Rocks: Peace, Love & Horfun

Kombi Rocks

Visiting a retro destination in my 60s flower child ensemble
Vintage Dress – Bazaar
Black and white vintage bag – Dustbunny Vintage
Flower necklace and flower ring – Forever 21
Handmade glass floral earrings – DIY
Golden woven flats – Siam Center, Bangkok
Hairband – DIY

Tucked away in a row of old shophouses opposite Serangoon Stadium, is a retro diner named Kombi Rocks which makes me feel like stepping into a time machine back to the sixties everytime I visit. It’s also a good excuse to put on my pretty vintage dresses and let the 60s hippie child in me loose.

Kombi Rocks

If you think you have stepped into another timezone, you are not alone ;)
Dining at Kombi Rocks is an adventure in itself, with its fleet of gleaming vintage automobiles parked outside and kitschy trinkets from the past displayed at the diner. All the cars have their own names too! Want to know what they are? Read on…
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks

Gathering place of all things old school
On a lucky day, you can see cute Vespas or Volkawagen Kombi vans from neighbouring countries gathering at the diner. I always get shutter-happy there.
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

This ain’t no novelty theme crap
If you are going to write Kombi Rocks off as another novelty theme restaurant in town, you can’t be more wrong. The restaurant has been around for over 40 years. It was first started by sailor-chef Lim Koon Kee as Koon Kee Restaurant serving Thai-Chinese cuisine (Mr Lim’s wife is Thai) at the Civil Service Club and then Hwa Chong Junior College.
After a restful retirement for 2 years, Mr Lim was coaxed out of retirement by his youngest son Chef Hai who now helms the kitchen. It was rebranded as Kombi Rocks in 2012, still faithfully serving Thai & Chinese recipes passed down three generations.

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Dining the old school communal way
Even the diners came in three generations, what a heart-warming feeling

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Being huge fans of vintage memorabilia, Chef Hai and his wife Pearl has since peppered the diner with loads of quirky trinkets and rents out their fleet of Kombis and vintage memorabilia collection as a second line of business. It also makes visiting the dining experience uniquely interesting!

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Icons of the good old 60s: Volkswagen Kombi & Beetle
The Kombi is also the vehicle where the diner got its name. The automobile fascinated me so much, I read up about it after my visit. I must say it’s a very intriguing read, to the point I yearn for one myself. More about the Kombi later…

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Fancy a vintage watch?
All the vintage items in the diner are for sale…well, almost all :)

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

I was quite excited by these retro telephones. I wonder if I can attach them to my handphone and use it as a receiver, cool huh?

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

If anyone says I look right at home amongst the pile of vintage items, I’m gonna kill you.

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Vintage refrigerators which apparently still work, but with the energy efficiency of the 60s as well.
Well, don’t you agree they make really cool bookshelves too? And I am so in love with the glittery gold helmet on the right.

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

We all live in a yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow submarine
Another icon of the happy 60s – the Beatles!
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

*Wolf Whistle*

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

I so dig this retro chair. Want!

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Kombi Rocks serves both Chinese & Thai cuisine. Its signature dishes include its wok-hei hor fun (freshly prepared and sold out everyday), mee goreng (which was inspired by a pasta dish in South Vietnam), fishmaw soup and red wine fried chicken.
Can’t decide what to order? Go for the Kombi-nation Platter!

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

My favourite dessert of all-time
And who says old school dishes can’t stay current – pair your retro yam paste dessert with moscato!

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

What’s old school without a giant Root Beer Float? BURP.

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Yummylicious Wok-Hei Beef Horfun
This was really goooood – it was love at first bite, smokey and chewy, soft & slurpy at the same time. I suddenly saw my childhood flashing past, such a nostalgic taste!

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Fish Maw Soup

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Red Wine Fried Chicken
Another love at first tangy bite. I can finish the entire plate on my own.

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Okinawa Red Spinach friend with Belachan
This was also pretty good, and I licked the whole plate clean. Recommended!

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Ngoh Hiang

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Thai style vermicelli salad with shrimps
This was not bad, but not as fiery spicy as me & D would have liked.

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

That’s Chef Hai with Mediacorp star Vivian Lai who was there to shoot a TV feature on the diner
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Kombi Rocks does loads of private parties – just tell them the occasion and they’ll decorate the diner accordingly. Can I celebrate my 21st birthday again? It wasn’t that many years ago, you know? *sheepish*
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

It’s also an extremely popular spot for retro weddings – Fancy getting married in a barber’s chair?
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

The quirky diner has also attracted fashion shoots – yes, even lingerie. Old-school definitely has its irresistible sex appeal!
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

It’s so irresistible even Batman popped by.
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

You’re never too young for retro
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Do take a peep at the garage just behind the diner after your meal – it’s full of vintage auto treasures such as this mini Honda motorcycle. I really want to take it for a ride!

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

The diner’s 1961 Kombi affectionately named Ang Bao, isn’t she a headturner?

The allure and fascination of a Kombi infused me after my first visit to Kombi Rocks – why its popularity? Why the cult following? Why would someone name his business after a vehicle? Why why why?

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Nothing screams “Let’s go exploring!” the way a Kombi does
Photo: Chris Vicars

The Kombi was first introduced by German automaker Volkswagen in 1950. Officially known by a very unsexy name of “Volkswagen Type 2,” it’s also known as a Kombi, Transporter, Microbus or Camper. It attained its iconic status as a symbol of hippy and surf culture that grew in the mid-to-late 1960s due to its utilitarian features – capable of carrying surf boards, musical equipment and various loads inside or on its roof – combining well with its cheap price (2nd-hand Kombis could be picked up for a few hundred dollars) and easy maintenance (it never really breaks down anyway).

More importantly, the Kombi exemplified the free spirit of peace activists, lovers, world travellers, campers and families moving about together across the world, and it was probably the only vehicle that transcended age, economic and social strata. The only other thing which came close to this is probably the iPhone.

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

I have never seen two Kombi vans which look exactly the same
The versatility of a Kombi goes right back to its name, which comes from the German “Kombinationskraftwagen,” a combination of passenger and cargo vehicle. I have seen it as a camper, a mountain bike hauler, a moving van, a diner, a construction supply truck and loads more!
Photos: Chris Vicars

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Spot the Kombi in this 1968 photo (Singapore)
In the past, you could find a Kombi anywhere in Singapore. Sadly, Singapore’s COE system is probably what ‘killed’ almost all of them and had them resold to the neighbouring countries. Now you can find them mostly in Malaysia and Thailand. Sigh.
Photo: Picture Archives Singapore

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

It’s no exaggeration when one says you can live life out of a Kombi. I would love to see the world in one, together with D.
Photos: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Fancy a retro drive? Hire a lovingly-restored one from Kombi Rocks Rides
Kombi Rocks rents these vintage beauties for weddings, novelty tours and photoshoots. All proceeds go toward sustaining the beauties to last many more generations.  From left: Sugar Baby Kombi, Scooby Doo Kombi, 912 Porsche, Black Bandit Beetle, Safari Kombi, Angbao Kombi. Front: Frogeye Austin-Healey Sprite. Which is your fave? Mine’s Ang Bao :)
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

The thing I observe about Kombi owners – they love their cars like a family member
They affectionately name their Kombis, treat them with more tender loving care than to their spouses, sleep with them, get excited when they see other Kombis, bring their Kombis to vintage car fairs around the world, and have loads of stories with their Kombis to share. They are such happy, shiny people!
Photos: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

These Kombis ain’t no country bumpkins, u know – they were at the opening of Singapore’s chi-chi W Hotel
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Sugar Baby decked out for a wedding beside a white 1964 Triumph Spitfire

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

All decked out for a wedding
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

I want to get married in a Kombi. Now I just need the man.
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Kombis also excel as car boot sale stalls – talk about versatility!
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Vintage cars and live music? Kombi Rocks support up-and-coming Singapore bands through Kombi Sessions, an online video series that capture them in an unique live acoustic setting – the backseat of vintage Kombi.

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Bubbles & Romance
I feel like falling in love.
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

What a cute wedding Kombi-nation!
Photo: Kombi Rocks

If I had a Kombi, that’s what mine would look like all decked out in fairy lights
Photo: Pinterest

Sadly, all production of Kombis will end in Dec 2013. Volkswagen is calling it quits because the vehicle won’t meet new safety standards set to come into force in 2014 in Brazil – the only country where the model is manufactured. Upgrading it with dual front airbags and anti-lock brakes was ruled too costly. For now, around 250 Kombis continue to be produced at a lone plant in Sao Bernardo do Campo daily. Will that mark the end of an era? Maybe, maybe not.

With the Kombi die-hards around, I am sure they are now even more committed to maintaining and restoring these babies, and I am sure we will still continue to see the Kombis for a long time to come. I will treasure each Kombi sighting more now; perhaps I should give them a kiss everytime I see one. I just hope I don’t corrode the paint :p

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Maybe the 60s never really went away
I can’t wait to visit Kombi Rocks again!

Kombi Rocks
66 Yio Chu Kang Road
Singapore 545568
(Opposite Serangoon Stadium)
Tel: +65 9008 6918
Website: www.kombirocks.com

Operating Hours:
Mon – Tue: 12:00PM – 3:00PM, 6:00PM – 10:00PM
Thu – Fri: 12:00PM – 3:00PM, 6:00PM – 10:00PM
Sat: 11:00AM – 11:00PM; Sun: 10:00AM – 10:00PM

Bus Services:
Serangoon Swimming Complex stop – 136
Serangoon Sports Complex stop – 43, 70, 70M, 103, 109, 147, 156, 317, 534, NR6
Nam Peng Center stop – 80, 81, 82, 101, 107, 107M, 153
Serangoon Stadium stop – 24, 76, 81, 82, 103, 317

Public car parking available at Serangoon Stadium

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This post was written as a themed challenge for the Singapore Blog Awards, Best Individual Blog category. If you like what you read, I would be most grateful if you could head over here and give me a vote: http://sgblogawards.omy.sg/2013/category/?cat=individual  You will need to do a simple one-time registration, and then you can vote once a day until 23 June 2013. There are prizes to be won for 5 lucky voters too (JBL Charge Stereo Speaker worth S$249 or JBL Flip Stereo Speaker worth S$195)! Thank you very much for your kind support :)

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Singapore Blog Awards 2013 – Woo hoah, I’m a Finalist for Best Individual Blog!

SG Blog Awards

I’m nominated for the Best Individual Blog in the Singapore Blog Awards! How on earth did that happen??

It came as a surprise that my blog made it as a Finalist in the Singapore Blog Awards, Best Individual Blog category *shy* Being a relatively new blog, it’s a great honour to be nominated in one of the Award’s main categories. And a nice milestone to commemorate the one-year anniversary of my blog which was started on 28 May 2012. Being the lazybum & scaredy-cat that I am, I dragged my feet for the longest time about starting a blog cos’ I really didn’t know how long I could sustain the momentum, if I would have enough interesting content to blog about, and whether I could understand the technical bits & jargon about maintaining a decent blog. That was until I met Darren.

Darren’s lust for life and humorous way of documenting his experiences on his blog greatly inspired me, and I found myself glued to his blog. And to him. As I hung out with him, I amassed more and more photos as well as stories to tell, which I didn’t know what to do with them. What the heck. That was when I decided to start my own blog so someone else other than my teddy bear could share my adventures, and also as a way of communicating with him (you know how someone can text a person just sitting across the room – cos’ that person is perennially transfixed on his mobile device?). So this blog was started with a target audience of one. Darren was ever so supportive, egging me on and helping me with the blog name. I’m so glad it didn’t end up to be “SPANKtitude” cos’ the naughty me is always irritating da hell outta him.

The more I wrote, the more I enjoyed sharing on my blog, and I realised it wasn’t as terrifying as I thought. I found myself on the lookout for more adventures (which has been never-ending since Darren came into my life), and eager to share them on my blog. Over the year I am grateful for people such as Mark Ong and Fran who have been following my blog and leaving me encouraging comments, and that really kept me going on. It’s really a lot of hard work and sometimes I get comments like “Why do you bother to write about this place? Are they paying you? If not, why are you so silly?” To me, staying true to myself and sharing what I enjoy remains the main motivation for my blog; it’s my online diary of adventures, of things I want to remember. So to those who are reading this, THANK YOU for being part of my journey. I am saying this first just in case I don’t win and never get the chance to thank all of you :p

Please vote for me! (until 23 June 2013)
Since I am blessed enough to be nominated, I shall do my part and try to win ;) Apart from 70% judging on content, 30% is on votes. Voting is on until 23 June 2013, and you can vote once a daily – so please show me your support! I am up against veteran bloggers, cute cartoons and even a bodybuilder, so I do need all the votes I can get. So this is what you can do to help me win:

1) Go to: http://sgblogawards.omy.sg/2013/category/?cat=individual
2) Click Vote on my photo
3) You will be asked to sign in or register an account in order to vote (one-time only). You can insert any number or your NRIC in the NRIC/ID field.
4) An activation email will then be sent to you. Click on the activation link, log in and you can start voting for me, and the rest of your fave bloggers. Voting ends 23 June.
5) You can vote once a day! 5 lucky voters will also stand to win a JBL stereo speaker each.
6) If you can, please help to share this and get your friends to vote for me too. I suck at campaigning (which is why I will never run for politics), so I am gonna need all the support you can give. *Fingers crossed*

Thank you in advance for your votes, and for making me feel special :) It’s my honour to have you on my adventures all this while, and more to come!