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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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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Book Review: Colouring The Lion City

When I travel I try to find colouring books that are unique to that country. Sometimes I  don’t have any luck, however, while I was in Singapore I came across a quirky book that represents this country very well. Colouring The Lion City: A Sophisticated Activity is illustrated by the Singaporean artist William Sim.

This colouring book is full of whimsical line drawings of Singapore, portraying popular places, cultural icons, and everyday life of this island metropolis. William uses his unique style and imagination to bring these drawings to life. Each drawing features a little robot man and his cat. Some drawings include mechanical flying fish ships and others depict futurist machines fused with iconic landmarks. I imagine that the little robot man is travelling around Singapore and enjoying the sites. I also assume that the futuristic machines represent the unique combination of technology and natural beauty that Singapore has to offer.

The author and illustrator, William Sim, is known for his distinctive drawings, paintings and sculpture. His paintings are dreamscapes that explore the unique blend of nature verse mechanical objects. He artwork has been displayed and several exhibitions. One of the most recent was the Happiness Private Limited 2017: Memory Houses. You can also see his artwork on his Facebook page.

William Sim has authored a few colouring books and postcard colouring books to date.  He also released Colouring the World: A Sophisticated Activity (2015) at the same time he released Colouring the Lion City. He later released Colouring Chinoiserie (2016), Colouring Singapore Postcard: Book 1 (2018) anColouring Singapore Postcards: Book 2 (2018). I believe all the colouring books are formatted and illustrated similar in style and all feature the little robot man and futuristic machines. I assume the postcard books are images from Colouring the Lion City, but I haven’t seen them in person or seen a flip through video.

This colouring book is about A4 in size and has a soft cover displaying one of the images and gold foiling for the title. There are 96 line drawings to colour in the book that are all one-sided, so its idea other mediums such as watercolour and markers, that may bleed through. All the pages are fixed to the book, so you can’t remove any of the images unless you are very careful. The paper is high quality thick bright white, very smooth and has a bit of a shine. The selection of images really is quite a variety of landmarks and natural scenes and other manmade structures. As far as I know, all of these images are unique to this colouring book, as I didn’t come across the exact same image when looking up the artist’s other artwork.

I actually really like this book. The imagery is very different to any other books that I have and perhaps the closest book that it reminds me is Lizzie Mary Cullen’s The Magical City. So if you love colouring with Inktense and watercolour in that book, I’m sure you will appreciate this book as well.  I love that the pages in this book are one-sided, as I often get a little worried about using watercolour mediums in my books. I found that that the pages didn’t buckle much at all, so I think it is ideal for this usage. I only have a couple of cons for this book. I would have loved to have the names of the places and landmarks in this book written on the page somewhere. Although my visit to Singapore is still fresh in my mind I was not able to tell exactly where all of these images were representing. I also found the paper had a shiny quality, which was a little annoying at times when using pencils. Perhaps this is because I am a harder handed colourist, and I had to be careful that I didn’t leave the images looking a little streaky. You can probably see from the images that I coloured with pencils that I did struggle with this.

The images below have been listed in the order in which I coloured them. I chose images that were quite different from each other and used different mediums for each to see how they reacted on the paper.


 

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Singapore Zoo: animal wonderland, rainforest oasis

On the third day of our holiday, we planned to have a break from site seeing in the city and visit the Singapore Zoo instead. The weather was meant to be perfect and Octavia was really excited to see all the animals.

Before we made our way to the zoo we thought we would have breakfast close to our hotel. I found it hard to find any cafes that were opened before 10am. Luckily attached to our hotel there an arcade with some restaurants and cafes. This is where we found the cafe Killiney Kopitiam.

This Hainanese coffee shop was originally opened in 1919 in Killiney Road, in the River Valley district of the city. It was known for its famous charcoal- grilled toast and hot coffees and teas. It was bought by a regular customer, Mr Woon in 1993, renamed and later franchised in 2001. You can now find Killiney Kopitiam locations throughout  Singapore, Asia and even in Melbourne, Australia. They offer classic Singaporean breakfast sets, such as kaya toast, french toast, soft boiled eggs and chee cheong fun. They also offer classic dishes including Chicken Curry, Mee Siam, Laksa etc.

For breakfast, I had a Kaya Toast set which included soft boiled eggs and Chinese Tea. Marco had the French Toast set with eggs and Kopi. This was my first time ordered kaya toast and I really liked it. The kaya was delicious and tasted like a coconut custard and the butter was nice and thick and melted nicely between the toast. My Chinese tea was also very nice and tasted like English Breakfast. Marco also liked his French Toast which is a nice variation.

 

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Restaurant Review: PappaRich, Garden City

Since I got back from holidays I have still been craving Singaporean food like crazy. I love the flavours and variety of the cuisine. Kway Teow, Laksa, Satay, Nasi Lemak, Roti, Kaya, Kopi…all so good. So when I discovered a new Malaysia restaurant serving all of my favourites I was over the moon. PappaRich recently opened a restaurant at Garden City Shopping Centre in Brisbane.

Pappa Rich is a Malaysian chain restaurant. They have locations in Wintergarden (Brisbane CBD) and Gold Coast. They have more locations across many cities in Australia, New Zealand, United States and Asia. Although PappaRich is a chain,  it doesn’t serve mass produce food. From what I could gather,  they are consistent with their quality and authenticity of Malaysian cuisine and the food is all cooked freshly on site.

The menu consists of multiethnic dishes from Malaysian, Chinese and Indian cuisine “with a twist of South East Asian flair”. So there are many of the classic dishes that I saw in Singapore, which also features all of these cuisines. The menu is broken into breads (eg. kaya toast), dim sum, noodles (eg. fried noodles, noodle soups), rice (eg. Hainanese Chicken Rice, Nasi Lemak), roti (pastry with curry), satay (sticks), sharing (meat and vegetable mains), vegetarian, signature dishes (best sellers), desserts (eg. puddings, iced kacang), and beverages (eg hot or cold teas and coffees).

 

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Chinatown: preserving the heritage of yesteryear

Our next destination in Singapore was the vibrant, historical (and touristy) district of Chinatown. This was actually one of the places I was most excited to visit. That is because we were visiting close to the time of the Chinese New year and this is the year of the dog (Octavia’s favourite animal). I was also excited to try some good-quality Chinese food and visit the old temples.

Chinatown is historically a Chinese ethnic-centric area in the Outram district. It was actually named ‘Chinatown’ by the British. However, it was originally known as Niu che shui (Mandarin), meaning “bullock water-cart”, because the water supply was primarily transported by animal-driven carts in the 19th century. Chinatown features post-war historical shophouses, street hawking scenes and markets of yesteryear and is the only district in South East Asia that houses three different religious places of worship (Hindu, Muslim and Buddist). Although it is a very touristy place, where you can find plenty of souvenirs, it is also a part of the city where the heritage of yesteryear has been well preserved.

 

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Little India: colourful, bustling and spicy

This is my first post for my travel adventure series to Singapore. As I mentioned, I had ten wonderful days in this amazing island nation. I only got back last weekend, so I’ve still been unwinding, getting back to our normal routines.

This was my second visit to Singapore. I think the last time I actually spent time here was eight years ago. So it was lovely to revisit this country (and city). Singapore is actually tiny in comparison to other countries. You can drive from one end to the other in less than an hour, depending on the traffic of course. Ten days may seem like a lot of time to spend in such a small place. However, there is just so much to see and do here. I tried to make sure we saw most of the major neighbourhoods, sectors and sites. I’m sure there are plenty more things we could see or revisit the next time we return. There are definitely plenty more places to eat and foods we that didn’t have the time or appetite to try. This is because this tiny country has a lot established culture and cuisines. Nearly every Asian countries food is represented, as well as different cuisines within their cultures. That’s not including all the other ethnicities from the Middle East, Europe and Africa. It’s just an amazing mixing pot of people from a variety of cultures, religions and walks of life, who all live in harmony.

For this trip, I organised an itinerary that kept us busy for the whole 10 days from morning until night. To make commuting more convenient we decided to book two hotels. Our first hotel was the One Farrer Hotel & Spa in Little India. I was really happy with this accommodation. The staff were lovely, the rooms were large, beds comfortable and facilities were gorgeous. So it was a nice surprise when we arrived from our eight-hour flight.

 

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3# Life Update: home again, Singapore buys

Hi everyone, I’m finally home again after our 10 days trip to Singapore. I got back a couple of days ago, but I’ve been too burnt out to do much. The time difference to Brisbane is only two hours, so I’m more exhausted from the trip in general rather than jet lag. I was a bit disappointed to come back home to real life. I was enjoying having my bed made, my meals prepared and exploring new exciting places every day. However, I missed my bed, my colouring pencils, soy cappuccinos and my family (in no particular order).

So before I share some of my travel adventures and stories, I thought I would show you some of the stuff I came back with. I didn’t do that much shopping really. I planned on coming back with a lot more. Marco, on the other hand, thinks I came back with more than enough. He only came back with a couple of pairs of shoes. I guess for the amount of time I allocated to shopping I thought I would have found more things I really wanted, but I guess I’m more sensible these days. So I’m happy with all my buys.

 

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