Posts tagged ‘orchard road’

April 30, 2012

Singapore, Singapore

A few weeks ago I was in Singapore for a work-related conference. That was my first time in the Asian continent — an impressive one I must say, even though many will declare “Singapore is more like an introduction to Asia — you haven´t seen nothing yet”. I guess the details were the most striking discoveries: I was very impressed that everywhere I went that served breakfast had options such as noodles or fried rice (that will do as their light afternoon meals too).

The expats in Singapore mostly find the city very safe and comfortable and fine, but lacking entertainment and cultural choices. I might be able to concur with that sentiment, not without adding there is clearly heavy investment going on in contemporary art to fill in that gap. Anyway, the little over a week time I spent there was filled with great discoveries and memories, which I share with you as recomendations for the globe-throtter ladies:

food – I was not in a foodie vibe at that particular week — ate mostly cheap local food, including plenty of very spicy seafood soup. Asia is not for the weak tongues — they will set your mouth on fire if you don´t choose very carefully. As I myself am a fan of (heavily) spicy food, no problems in experimenting freely.

I was however careful to do some research and discover one of Singapore sweetest jewels – Royce Chocolates, a japanese chocolate factory that has spread to many a city in Asia, but has not yet reached the West. In Singapore, you will find stores at both Ion Orchard and Suntec City malls. Their chief products are:

(i) the Nama Chocolate boxes – delicious melt-in-your-mouth fresh chocolate mixed with fresh cream and liquor: must be constantly refrigerated at approximately 10 degrees (Celsius), for a French truffle-like consistency. I purchased the Maccha flavoured ones: amazing, amazing. Amazing.

(ii) the chocolate-covered potato chips. A very exaggerated approach to sweet-n-sour, interesting in its boldness and great presentation, with a nostalgic touch of, you know, those times when you were a little child and you dreamed of eating chocolate and potato chips at the same time while knowing none of the adults responsible for feeding you would ever cater to that crazy desire of yours.

art & architecture – there is a lot going on in that field when it comes to fast-growing Asian metropolitan centers, and Singapore is no exception. I was mostly amazed at the Marina Bay Sands complex, with its incredible giant banana-boat hanging over the top of three very tall towers. I think the best picture I have taken of Singapore was that of the Marina Bay Sands complex in nightfall, having by its side the brand-new ArtScience Museum, all lit up with amazing colorful projections as part of the i-Light Marina Bay Festival, and the lovely Helix Bridge.

I think art and architecture are particularly mixed together in this, say, Asian model of urban development. Take a look at those (poor quality) pictures of some of the nicest spots I discovered:

(i) UOB Plaza: a delightfully powerful Botero sculpture of a Bird lends its strong and slightly quirky tridimentionality to Friday night hotspot Boat Quay. A little closer to Raffles Place MRT Station, just around the corner, you will find an amazing Homage to Newton, paid by surrealist master Salvador Dalí. Such amazing, talented good humor and  incredible knack for symbolic imagery.

(ii) The art collection at the Ritz Carlton: the way such powerful pieces of work are blended into the hotel´s routine kind of mesmerized me. How many business men and women realize they are having their “networking” coffee break beside an early example of Andy Warhol´s work? And how do the people working at the reception balcony deal with the curious art-lovers gazing behind them at the Henry Moore drawings hanging from the walls. At the same time, more powerful works, such as Moby Dick by Frank Stella, are displayed in a more gallery-like fashion. Truly worth your time. Don´t forget to ask for your complimentary booklet and iPod audioguide; they will accept the art-loving visitors until as late as midnight, daily.

fashion – of course you have Orchard Road with all those amazing choices of well-furnished malls, all packed with the likes of Louis Vuitton, Prada and Botega Venetta boutiques; however, for that great feeling of under-the-radar findings, you should try the Haji Lane — a lovely little street near the corner of Arab Street x North Bridge Road with many gorgeous, fashion-forward and relatively low-cost local shops, plus some sample sales stores with incredible designer bargains – got a Stella McCartney treat for myself for about 100 US dollars — probably retailed at 300-400 Euros.

So that´s all from me for Singapore, Singapore, although there is much more to it. I did visit Chinatown — do recommend it, as well as the lovely mosques and hindu temples around there and in Little India. I also checked out the Night Safari — I was pretty damn tired the day I went there and in sort of a very bad mood, but I think it may be a great place for kids and young-at-heart grown ups. It´s a very well structured zoo with well-fed animals, a nice environment in general and some cute shows including trained animals and fire-swallowing. Although it is far from the city center, it´s very easy to get there, as they offer rides from an ample choice of pick-up points.

OK, one last (poor quality) picture from Chinatown:

And now is time to bid you farewell, my non-existent readers… Until our next encounter.

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