Clarke Quay: River Cruise

After visiting Tiong Bahru, we made our way to glitzy hot spot, Clarke Quay. We had intentions of doing the River Cruise, a bit of shopping and dinner there. This is actually my second visit to the quay. Its been about 8 years since I bump into a friend from back home while on holidays and went out to dinner with her and some friends at a fine dining Chinese restaurant. I just remember pretty colourful riverfront, the hoards of people and the extra $35 tea tax on top of our dinner bill.

Clarke Quay is a pedestrian mall that runs along the Clay Quay Jetty, on the Singapore River. In Colonial times, Boat Quay was the commercial center and Clarke Quay was where the warehouses were located and bumboats were moored. However, the Singapore River became so polluted that in the 1970s and 80s government moved the cargo services elsewhere and clean up the river. Later Clarke Quay was redeveloped into a commercial, residential and entertainment precinct. The Clarke Quay Festival Village was open in 1993 and Clarke Quay was continued to be revamped over the next 10 years. Today it is a bright and glitzy mall with colourful shop facades and riverfront dining, restaurants, bars and night clubs.

The best time to visit Clarke Quay is in the evenings, when everything is open and people are walking the strip. However, you can still visit during the day, like we did. If I were to revisited Clarke Quay I would definitely visit at night, unless I was in the area to see Fort Cannon Hill (behind Clarke Quay) or visiting the Asian Civilisations Museum and National Gallery Singapore (further down). If you do visit during the day there plenty of lunch deals.

 

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Tiong Bahru: hipsters paradise

On day 6 we visit one of the hippest neighbors in Singapore, Tiong Bahru. It’s not a really touristy hot spot and it was had a very different vibe to what I had seen in the city so far.

Tiong Bahru is actually the oldest housing estate in the country and was built in the 1920’s. It’s name actually stands for ‘new cemetery’ (thióng in Hokkien for “cemetery” and bahru in Malay for “new”), since there were a few cemeteries in the area. It  became quite a polluted and shabby part of town, so in the 1930s it got a face lift. Before I tell you about the interesting architecture, I first have to tell you what we had for breakfast.

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Gardens by the Bay: Garden Rhapsody

After visiting the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest, we made our way to the SuperTree Grove, in Gardens by the Bay. This area features 12 Supertrees (out of 18) and is located in the center of the park. These special trees are man-made vertical gardens that are designed like large canopies. They give shade during the day and come to life during the night.They measure between 25- 50 meters, the tallest being 16 stories high. You can take a trip to the top of one of the trees or walk along the OCBC Skyway for an 128-metre aerial walkway. The trees contain up to 162,900 plants of over 200 species, including  bromeliads, orchids, ferns and tropical flowering climbers.

 

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Gardens by the Bay: Cloud Forest

After visiting the Flower Dome, we made our way to the equally amazing Cloud Forest. This dome features a 35 metre tall mountain, shrouded in tropical highland plants and ferns. Spilling from the peak of the mount is the worlds tallest indoor waterfall and a cloud of mist. This dome is 0.8 hectares, making it a bit smaller than the Flower dome. Within the dome there are nine unique zones, which can be enjoyed as you make your way to the top and back down again.

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Gardens by the Bay: Flower Dome

After a big day of shopping Downtown at Marina Bay Sands and Marina Square, we made our last stop for the day at Gardens by the Bay. This is nature park is adjacent to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel (boat building) and is convenient attraction to see when  your in the area. We were recommended to visit the Gardens after 3pm, so that we could take our time enjoying the variety of gardens and the Domes and be finished in time to see the evening show, Garden Rhapsody.  Due to bad weather we didn’t get to see everything the Gardens of the Bay had to offer, but enough that I have to cover this attraction over a few posts.

Gardens by the Bay is a  multi-award winning horticultural park, which covers 101 hectares. The park is divided into two areas, the Bay East Garden, along the waterfront promenade and Bay South Garden, which is the bulk of the garden and is shaped like a orchid. This part includes a Heritage Gardens, Supertree Grove, the Flower Dome, the Cloud Forest, the Canyon, World of Plants, Sun Pavilion and Children’s Garden. Gardens by the Bay is free to visit and the majority of the gardens are open from 5am until 2am. The Domes and the OCBC Skyway, are the major attraction, which operate 9am-9pm and do cost a fee.

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Downtown Core: Marina Bay Sands and Marina Square

I’ve been busy with uni (and colouring) recently, so  I haven’t had a chance to continue the rest of my Singapore Adventure. We are up to day five, when we visited the Downtown core. We did some window shopping at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands and some real shopping and lunch at Marina Square. Later on we also visited the Gardens by the Bay, but since we covered so much there I will write another post dedicated to that.

On this day we got up bright and early visit the spectacular Shoppes and have breakfast. The Shoppes houses the largest collection of luxury and premium brands, including a huge range of stores dedicated to luxury children’s wear. We didn’t come just to gawk at the beautiful shop windows, but also to see the amazing architecture of Marina Bay Sands. Below are some of the photos we took as the shopping centre began to open,  as well as a few later at lunch time. The food court is quite large and offers a huge range of hawker stores. We didn’t eat here since we were between meals when we saw it.

 

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O’s 3rd Birthday Celebrations

Last week was O’s birthday week. My little baby has just turned three. I can’t believe how fast time has gone since I brought her into this world. It’s been amazing seeing her grown and become her own person. More often she is coming out with funny and interesting thoughts and questions and I am realising that she is becoming who she is separate from myself. In some ways dealing with a 3-year-old is easier, but it also has its own set of challenges that means having more patience than ever.

O was extremely excited for her birthday for a while before it came. She had many, many toys on her birthday list and a recently new obsession with ginger cats. Cats are seriously all we talk about at the moment. She has acquired a clowder of toy cats, but we don’t have plans of buying a real one at this stage. Something else she really wanted was a bike and a Frozen birthday party. Since her birthday is during the week I took her out to brunch on the day, had a little family party and other big Frozen themed party over the weekend.

 

For the small family party, I made afternoon tea. Since Octavia had pancakes for breakfast I thought I better serve something savoury as well. She prefers snack plates, so  she eat different things and keep going back for more. This worked perfectly and I was surprised how much she ate from this platter. I did keep replenishing the platter since there was about 10 of us. I made homemade sausage rolls with organic pork sausages, homemade ham and pecorino cheese pastry rolls, sushi with leftover homemade organic crumbed chicken and avocado, baked pecorino and added ajvar, spelt crisp bread, oranges, vegan cheddar and nitrate-free free-range leg ham.

The cupcakes I made were from my trusty Chloe’s Kitchen’s recipe book. Whenever I have to make desserts, I usually consult my Chloe Coscarelli collection of recipe books. These are Banana Cupcakes with Lemon Icing (see recipe). They are extremely quick and easy recipe to make when you have leftover bananas. They are spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves and are topped with icing made with lemon juice and zest. They were a big hit and left everyone wanting more, but I made sure there was only one per person to make sure the kids and the prediabetic seniors didn’t get a sugar high.

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Bugis: a shopper haven

Last time I wrote about my Singapore trip we were visiting the amazing Muslim quarter, Kampong Glam.  I also mentioned in that post that the same day we the Bugis area. It is only a short walk from Kampong Glam, so a great way to fit in two neighbourhoods in one day if you’re strapped for time on your trip. It’s also a great place to do some shopping, which why I was so excited to visit this part of the city.

Bugis has an interesting history before it’s redevelopment as a retail district. Prior to the arrival of the British, there was a large canal which ran through the area. Indonesian peoples known as Buginese would sail up and trade with Singaporean merchants. Later it also became home to many hundreds of Japanese Karayuki-san (prostitutes). During this time there were issues with overcrowding and terrible hygiene, leading to many cholera outbreaks. As a result, the slums were cleared and many buildings were demolished and rebuilt. After the Second World War, the area became known for the trans woman that would gather in the area in the evenings. This was a popular tourist stop for Westerns, who came to drink, eat out, night market shopping and gawker at the trans woman. It wasn’t until the 1980’s the area had a major makeover, which included modern shopping malls, restaurants and nightclubs.

 

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Brief Gold Coast getaway

Last weekend we had a little getaway to the Gold Coast. It was only for one night, but it was nice to get away even for this short time. We booked it before we realised I had extra homework and an assignment to prepare for uni. So I had to bring some of my work with me to the beach and didn’t get to see as much as I would have liked. I thought I would still share some of the highlights from our little trip.

When Brisbanites want to go to the beach they usually head to the south to the Gold Coast or north to the Sunshine Coast. The Gold Coast is only about an hour from the centre of Brisbane, so it’s a popular choice. There are quite a few neighbourhoods in the Gold Coast region, so you can always see a different beach and discover a new restaurant.

On this trip stayed at the Sheridan Grand Mirage Resort at Main Beach, Southport. This strip of coast features SeaWorld, Marina Mirage Shopping Centre, Federation Walk Coastal Reserve and theirs a stack of touristy activities and restaurants there.

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Kampong Glam: eclectic, spirited Muslim Quarter

On day four of our Singapore trip, we went to explore the eclectic and colourful neighbourhood of Kampong Glam. It is named after the Malay words for ‘village’  ‘gelam tree’ (Paperbark tree), since these trees used to grow in the area. This neighbourhood was formerly the home of the Malaysian aristocracy, prior to British colonisation. However, after the treaty was signed it became the designated settlement for the Sultan and his court as well as the Malay and Arab communities. Today it remains the Malay and Muslim enclave a and is known for being a trendy neighbourhood, rich in history and culture.

We arrived in Kampong Glam in the morning to have breakfast. Then visited the Sultan’s Mosque, did some shopping at Bussorah Street and Haji Lane and later returned for dinner and dessert. In my next post, I will detail our visit to the Rocher (Bugis) area, which we also did the same day.

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Tanjong Pagar: Koreatown

Last time I left you we were at the Singapore Zoo (day 3). Well after a big day out,  we decided to do a low key dinner in the trendy in the neighbourhood Tanjong Pagar. This is a historic area within the Central Business District. Its name means ‘cape of stakes’ which references the wooden stakes that held up this former fishing village. Today it is a colourful thriving area where you can find great nightlife at Tras Street, best Korean food in Koreatown, great hawker food at Maxwell Food Centre and Tanjong Pagar Plaza Market and amazing views at the Pinnacle@Duxton.

 

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Serbian Slava Celebration

Over the weekend Marco’s sister’s family celebrated their annual Slava. This is a Serbian Orthodox tradition, which venerates the family’s patron saint. We were invited to a family lunch to celebrate the day. This year we are unable to attend their big Slava, that they will host for their friends. The date and day change every year, so if the family can’t make it to the big party, there is always usually a small family lunch.

I have been attending most of their Slava’s for nearly 10 years now and I always look forward to this special lunch. The last time I wrote about this celebration was in 2013 (on Live Blissful), so I thought it would be nice to give you guys a bit of a taste of what it’s all about.

Although I have been attending these celebrations for a long time I really don’t know much about it. I am not Serbian Orthodox and Marco doesn’t really follow the religion either. Similar to being an Italian Roman Catholic,  you are kinda born into the religion, typically baptised when your little and it’s up to the individual to keep the faith going. I usually ask the same few questions every year and then we start talking about what we are going to eat. So I thought I would ask some questions to Marco’s sister, Maria directly so she can explain to you all about her Slava.

  • Why do you celebrate Slava?

We celebrate it because it is Milan’s [my husband] family tradition and a great excuse to get together. Every slava or saint has a little story as to why people started celebrating them. People then like to make a big feast and invite friends and those people they go to slava to during the year.

  • Who is your families patron saint?

Milan’s family patron saint is Saint Theodore. The date of the Slava is by the Orthodox calendar, which can change depending on when Easter will be.

  • What are the rituals that you follow for your Slava?

We make the bread and zito (boiled wheat flavoured with nuts, spices and honey) and take it to the Serbian Orthodox priest, on the morning of the Slava. He blesses the food we made with red wine. After we spending the day with our closest family and friends and remembering the good that the particular evangelist did. 

  • What are some typical dishes served on Slava?

Typical dishes are sarma, pig or lamb on the spit, bob (broad bean paste), prebranac (baked lima beans), punjene paprike (stuffed peppers) or anything really, there are no rules about that. If a Slava falls in one of the fasting periods in the year, the Easter or Christmas fast, then you have to eat and serve only vegan on that day but if not, you can serve anything you like. Our slava is during a fasting period so we can’t use any animal products, except fish. So we make similar dishes but veganised. 

  • Do you hope that your kids will continue celebrating your Slava?

We hope Stefan continues to celebrate with his own family when he is older. The girls can too if they wish, there are no specific rules about that.

  • Can Marco and I pick a Saint and start our own Slava or is that against the rules?
You can pick up a Slava. I think it would be great to keep the tradition going. Marco’s slava is St Luka, that Victor’s father (Marco’s grandfather) used to celebrate. Zoran (Marco’s uncle) in Serbia celebrates St Luka as the oldest son and Dusan (Marco’s cousin and son of Zoran) will continue on. Victor (Marco’s father) could have here but he never really thought about it. It is on 31st of October and it’s called Luke the Evangelist in English, you can search it up
  • How many other Slava’s do you attend during the year? 

We attend a few in a year, almost all our friends celebrate a Slava. The slava outside the fasting period is usually the best. 

 

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