Meng sprains his wrist while working at his new job in a kopitiam. Soon after he is let go by the owner without reason. Seemingly lost and upset, he wanders along the wharves of Marina, comtemplating life. When it starts to rain, he seeks shelter under a zinc roof in an alley, reminiscing the day he left his shared apartment and the conversation he had with a flatmate.
The following morning, Meng has an altercation with a pimp in the alley and is pushed to the floor after accusing him of stealing his belongings.
Meng seeks out a public phone in a heartland neighbourhood and calls his son, Teck. Knowing that it is his Granddaughter's birthday that coming Saturday, Meng promises her a lavish present.
Meng scours the bookstore and comes across a dollhouse and looks to buy it, but is brushed off by a snobbish customer for his body odour. Instead of standing up for him, the store owner chases him out, telling him not to affect her business.
In order to save money for the dollhouse, Meng turns to eating leftovers at a zi char (stir-fry) restaurant by the roadside. People stop to stare at him, but he doesn't care. A couple tables across, Meng spots his daughter-in-law drinking with another man. They spot each other but pretend not to see one another.
Exhausted and troubled, Meng rests in a dark alley way, where two foreign workers are seated. Through a small misunderstanding, he starts interacting with them and they invite him to drink and dance with them.
Come Saturday, Meng steals the pimp's flowery shirt he sees in they alley, goes to an industrial office toilet to clean up. and heads for his Granddaughter's party at a Chinese restaurant.
After a long lonely bus ride to the family dinner, Meng presents her with the dollhouse, which he spent his last paycheck on. She is over the moon when she sees her present. Later in the night, the bill comes, Meng reaches for his wallet wanting to chip in to pay the bill, but Teck rejects. Before leaving the restaurant, Meng goes to the restroom, and Teck notices Meng's bag is full of clothing and suspects that he might have moved out of his joint singles apartment.
As Meng sends them off, he tells his granddaughter to be a good girl and to study hard so that she can buy a big house one day. She promises him that she will study hard and not let him or her father down. At this point, Teck insists that Meng come back to their home to stay with them, but Meng, being too proud, rejects the idea.
A storm starts to brew in the middle of the night, as the family part ways. His granddaughter puts a photo of all three of them into the dollhouse upon reaching home and Meng goes back to living on the streets, facing the harsh elements, in a "Cardboard House".