At the beginning of December I spent a week in Singapore, it was an immersive week into the culture, the history and the food. From seeing the historic document declaring Singapore’s independence in the National Gallery to eating $3 meals at one of the many Hawker centres, I was wowed by the spectacular skyline, impressed by the technology and the infrastructure and thought in the planning of the country and I loved the nature and how important that was to Singaporeans. I was happiest wandering back streets and capturing life unfolding, markets, shop fronts, architecture, the side of Singapore that contrasted with the beautifully modern. Pulau Ubin captured my heart, it’s a completely different glimpse into Singapore one I feel so lucky to have seen. I mention it here briefly but I’ll be dedicating a post just to it as it’s a story to be told in images.
I hope you enjoy the highlights from my trip.
MacRITCHIE NATURE TRAIL, MacRitchie Reservoir Park
A beautiful space, that when I visited on a Sunday was full of families, joggers, canoes and hikers. And incredibly it’s free to all, after a walk round the reservoir and taking 300 photos of monkeys, I insisted that my guide and I walk to the Tree Top Trail, about 20Km in total, unfortunately when I got there I remembered that I have vertigo – the trail has a strict no turning back policy – so although I made it across the bridge, I could not let go of the sides and couldn’t take any images of the view(!) Regardless of the vertigo blip, I really recommend the hike, the trail and views are beautiful.
GARDENS BY THE BAY
Opened in 2012, Gardens by the Bay has been created on 101 hectares of reclaimed land. You will continually catch glimpses of the domes and the Super Tree Grove whilst you explore the rest of Singapore. I couldn’t wait to visit and I was so in awe of what has been created. The tallest of the trees is 16 storeys high with a 22 metre high walkway, giving ariel views of the gardens. In the evening, don’t miss the Garden Rhapsody, it’s a dazzling display of music and lights. When I visited the Christmas Wonderland was on, with plenty of food and craft huts (flown in from the UK apparently), 67 Italian Luminarie (Sculptures of Light), ice skating and games and attractions for children are also on offer (for a small additional fee). After the Garden Rhapsody, you can enjoy a blizzard of (fake) snow (during Christmas time). Quite an experience when it’s still 25 degrees! At the top of the tallest tree is a fantastic restaurant IndoChine and a roof top bar which has panoramic views of the city and gardens.
The two conservatory domes are completely different, The Flower Dome, has a central part that is changed every two months, that means uprooting, replanting and creating a completely different visual treat. The rest of the dome replicates the cool-dry climate of regions such as South Africa, California and parts of Spain and Italy. The Cloud Forest is like stepping on set of Avatar. You are met with a 35 metre tall mountain covered in lush vegetation and the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.
Visit Gardens by the Bay
WHITE RABBIT, 39C Harding Road
Housed in a former 1930s church, this white walled, stained glass, cavenous space, with original floors, doors and holy water font is a delight. Out back there is the wonderful Rabbit Hole garden and bar. Caged stone rabbits, a swing, and even a rabbit hole feature. The bar is charming with Drink Me written into the tiles. Manager Kelvin, kindly showed me the herb garden and I smelt and tasted a variety of fresh herbs.
The menu was inspired by the wonder and whimsy of Alice in Wonderland and the speciality of the White Rabbit is their Gin & Tonic menu. Dissatisfied with the tonic waters availble they created their own foam version, I tried the Bluecoat which comes with a Gratefruit wedge & orange zest and is silky smooth with just the right amount of zing from the citrus fruit. Totally ‘Drink Me’
The menu has been curated with a nod to timeless classics. The absolute highlight was the Crepes Suzette, created and served at the table and was absolutely delicious. It was a real pleasure to visit and dine at the White Rabbit.
Visit White Rabbit
CANDLENUT, Block 17A Dempsey Road
This place is delightful not just because it’s recently gained a Michelin star but because the food, the staff and atmosphere was incredibly warm, friendly and welcoming.
Serving Peranakan inspired dishes, created from recipes of Chef Malcolm Lee’s, mother, grandmother and even great grandfather.
The yellow dish in the image is Blue Swimmer Crab Curry with Turmeric, Galangal & Kaffir Lime Leaf. This is the best thing I’ve eaten since arriving in Singapore. Just sublime. Aside from this, really the main thing is I’m grateful for them being kind enough not to judge my foot atire, I had to wear my flip flops (to a Michelin star restaurant) after hiking 20km round the MacRitchie trail in my more respectable pumps. Because pumps are what you wear hiking. And not minding that I photographed my food on my chair.
TOBYS ESTATE CAFE 8 Rodyk St
I love a concrete wall, natural light and good coffee. Although a little pricey $5 for a latte, I enjoyed it and if I could have packed up this wall in my bag it would have made my day.
Visit Toby Estates
CURIOUS PALETTE, 64 Prinsep St
A long narrow cafe, with an open preparation and coffee bar along one side, good coffee (again $5 for a latte) and these lovely little quotes on the water bottles. A place you could settle into for a few good hours.
Visit Curious Palette
MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS & INFO
The former police station turned communications & info HQ is one of the prettiest buildings I’ve seen. Well worth waiting 10 minutes or so for the traffic light gods to allign so you get a clear shot of the building.
KENKO, Marina Bay Sands
I brought my tired, tense body to Sammy who gave me the most amazing foot reflexology massage, the most pleasant pain I’ve experienced. The toes relate to the head, the ball of the foot to the shoulders and the main part of the foot to the stomach. All of which, I was told were stiff and tense! After a pummelling head, shoulder and back massage, my feet got further attention in the Fish Spa. Have you ever had your feet nibbled at by 300 little fishes? No, neither had I. After the initial squealing, shock and tickling, the sensation is actually really pleasant and relaxing. I was a little worried that the fish did not stop eating but after 15 minutes my feet where incredibly soft. Thank you so much for such a wonderful experience… now to fit that into my schedule, weekly!
MANHATTAN BAR, The Regent Hotel Cuscaden Road
On the second floor of the The Regent Hotel, just off the bustling bright lights of Orchard Road you’ll find the sleek and atmospheric Manhattan Bar. Recently ranking number 11th in the World’s 50 Best Bars in 2016 and Asia’s number 1 bar, we had high expectations. The menu is divided into boroughs of Manhattan, with corresponding drinks and food for Central Park, Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea etc.
I asked manager Roland for cocktail advise and he suggested the Aviation; Citadell Original Gin, Luxardo Maraschino, Blue Pea flower and Lemon – with Creme de Violette served in an Alice in Wonderland bottle on the side to be added to taste and turning my white drink, pink.
Sharp, strong and smooth. We sat at the bar, soaked in the atmosphere, snacked on popcorn (peanuts are so yesteryear) and enjoyed the relaxed vibe. I can see why this place has achieved so much. Definitely worth a visit if you are in the neighbourhood and tired from all that shopping!
LONG BAR, RAFFLES HOTEL, 1 Beach Road
The Long Bar is where the legendary Singapore Sling drink was invented in 1915 and this is the only place in Singapore that ‘littering’ is ok. Discarding your peanut shells on the dark wooden floor is part of the experience.
JANICE WONG, 93 Stamford Road National Museum of Singapore
The ingenious creativity that comes out of Janice Wong’s kitchen has to be seen to be truly appreciated. As well as a unique dining experience there is a range of desserts, edible paint and ice cream you can take away with you too.
Visit Janice Wong
Step behind the infamous blue shutters and red bikes into a world where vintage bike repairs meets coffee and good food. Communal seating, casual dining, Aussie inspired food and a range of coffee. Bikes are everywhere, the tables, ceilings and walls. Well worth the trip to find this hidden gem located along the Whampoa park connector.
Visit Wheeler’s Yard
Visit Lagnaa, Upper Dickson Road for Bare Foot Dining, traditional dishes served at low tables, leave your shoes behind and get comfortable on the provided cushions.
NATIONAL GALLERY, 1 St Andrew’s Road
The gallery houses the largest public collection of modern art in Singapore and Southeast Asia. Created by cleverly combining the former Supreme Court and City Hall with a spectacular roof that unites the two buildings. There’s also a beautiful gift shop and the cafe has wonderful views of the skyline.
Other Noteable Mentions
Visit Pulau Ubin
This unspoilt island is a 10 minute bumboat ride away, I loved this place so much there will be a post soon featuring just Pulau Ubin.
Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle
Billed as the cheapest Michelin star meal in the world, until very recently was at the Chinatown Complex but has moved from within the hawker centre to a shop on Smith Street just outside. Naturally the move has meant it’s lost a little of it’s charm but from what I’ve been told the queues and disruption to other stalls meant this was probably inevitable. The price of $3 for the famous award wining Chicken Rice dish was the same when I visited.
Visit The Corner House, 1 Cluny Road – Michelin Star dining within the Botanical Gardens, contemporary creations by Chef Jason Tan
Visit The Red House Seafood – established in 1976 this restaurant specialises in Asian Seafood dishes and Singaporean favourites. Try the Chilli Crab with Mantou bread – delicious!