Roof Top Brekkie. Meeting my parents for breakfast at the sunlit restaurant at the top of their hotel. Panorama view of CBD, pale morning light, soft classical music playing, sleepy chitchatting, fresh fruit, thick slices of sashimi, crispy salad, eggs any style, dim sum, strong coffee. Joyful to my bones at the prospect of a whole week’s worth of mornings like this – chilling with them before walking to the office while they explore the city, using the itinerary I’ve curated for them (Gardens by the Bay, ArtScience Museum, National Gallery, Botanic Gardens, Dempsey Hill, Holland Village, Labrador Park, Southern Ridges) or doing what they feel like in each moment – gazing in amazement at the spectacular buildings, observing foreign behaviours, taking a coffee break here and there.
Roof Top Lunch. On Monday we meet 4-5 hours after wishing each other a good day, on level 57 of Marina Bay Sands, in the sophisticated and inviting atmosphere of Spago’s terrace lounge overlooking the infinity pool, for a light, tasty lunch. The most beautiful rainbow bowl of a sashimi salad I’ve ever seen or tasted! Washed down with freshly pressed apple juice! Yum.
Longan. This week’s healthy snack at the office is dried longan berries. Known, apparently, for their health beneficial qualities. In the world of Chinese medicine. Never had them before. Very sweet but with a tangy note, sort of cranberry-like. I chew them in the late Monday afternoon, impatient for –
Being Picked up from Work. By my parents. That’s never happened before. Nor did they pick me up from university. High school, maybe? Anyway, it’s a nice feeling. Coming down in the lift and seeing that happy, smiling, loving pair in the lobby. My dad slightly uncomfortably – feeling underdressed in his khaki shorts and white linen shirt as we’re surrounded by suits. They both look lovely, though. I show them around the office, introduce them to my team (one girl has taught herself to say ‘lovely to meet you’ in Danish, but unfortunately, slightly awkwardly, my parents don’t catch it) before we head over to Grain Traders to pick up a salad to eat in the little garden between Telok Ayer and Amoy Streets. We were supposed to have eaten at a fancy tapas restaurant, Esquina, but everyone is slightly groggy after last night, so we decide to just do this – and then relax at the hotel.
Wangz Chill. For staying close to Tiong Bahru, Wangz is a good choice. Nothing fancy, no pool, modest gym, okay but not extravagant breakfast, kind service, clean and neat, full of replicas of Danish mid-century furniture, very cool modern art. The rooms are light and bright, with nice bathrooms and balconies full of plants. Definitely recommendable if you want to be close to hip and happening cafes, galleries and boutiques in the art deco streets across the road, and at the same time only a 10-minutes taxi drive from downtown.
Sunset in the Rooftop Garden. On Tuesday we repeat the lovely ritual – they pick me up from work. This time, my mum’s wearing a lovely summer dress and my dad his nice reddish trousers and a crisp blue shirt. We go next door to eat in yet another sky garden, this time on top of the CapitaGreen building, 40 floors up, where there’s a grand olive tree in the middle of the bar. Splendid views of the bay. Splendid dinner of freshly baked bread with good quality olive oil, balsamic and tapenade, smoked octopus, well-prepared and -arranged fish and meat mains, finished off with an artistic display of summer berries and sorbet. Great bottle of Tempranillo. Extraordinary good service. Beautiful surroundings – we’re seated in a rounded sofa against a glass wall, in which the sunset is mirrored. Out to have a look across the bay before we leave – darkness has fallen; the millions of lights are shining up towards us.
Waterfall Pilates. On Monday and Tuesday I feel exhausted and take it easy; Wednesday-Friday I’m my normal energetic self. Every day I go for a jog just before the break of dawn – with increasing speed and power as the week progresses. It’s dark, it’s sort of cool, there’s no one else around. Up to the river, along the river, stop at the end of it, by the waterfall, to do a bit of pilates – again, more and more as the week progresses. Sweat is running down my hair, face and body as I jog back towards TB, in the sunrise, listening to Monocle’s Pacific shift.
Sunrise Soap. On Wednesday, a girl from my team comes back from holiday in Thailand with a small gift for everyone – small orange soap bar, ‘a nice lemony blend with an uplifting scent to promote happiness, lemongrass essential oil that acts as a deodorant and orange essential oil to revive wrinkled skin’. Theme of the day is benevolence; the first email I see is an announcement from our CEO that the company is giving $5 million to the refugee crisis in Europe.
Bespoke Cocktails for Liquorice. That evening we meet at the anonymous-looking facade of the cocktail bar, D.Bespoke, in Bukit Pasoh Road, where the son of some of my parents’ best friends works as a bartender. My mum’s carrying a bag of salty liquorice from his mum. We step into the dark, sophisticated space. Smooth dark wood, dark leather chairs, so many whiskey bottles. English gentleman’s club in 1960’s Tokyo style. All bartenders are Japanese except for our friend. We’ve known him ever since he as a tiny boy was mixing Danish and English (his mum, Danish, and dad, English, met and had kids when they were both working in Bangkok, and then moved to North Zealand to raise the kids), and it’s fun seeing him here and now, formally dressed with a bow-tie, proudly telling us all about the bar, the concept, the spirits and mixing each of us the perfect cocktails based on our preferences.
TB Local Food. As most of the week is pretty Western, I was going to take my parents to Ting Heng Seafood in Tiong Poh Road (which I walk past every day but still haven’t been to, although it looks so lovely with all the Singaporean families gathering around the round tables here every night) after the handcrafted drinks, but as it’s getting late, we’re getting tipsy and we crave something comforting, we opt for the bland, but still pretty atmospheric Italian-styled Chapter 55 right across from Ting Heng, and tuck into thin-crusted pizzas, mine without cheese and covered in yummy seafood. Oh well. It is just perfect.
And Lokal. On Thursday, we meet the bartender from last night for lunch at Lokal, another non-local favourite – nifty Australian dishes. Dressed in his civilian clothes, our friend looks a bit more like his old self. Lovely to chat with him – I promise to stop by the bar after my trip home next week with some more licourice.
Raffles Classic. After work on Thursday, a few friends of mine, my flatmate and I meet my parents for a tourist classic I haven’t even had yet – Singapore Slings at Raffles Hotel’s Long Bar. Colonial atmosphere, peanut shells on the floor, that ridiculously tacky drink served in a hurricane glass. Lovely conversation, laughing.
Chinese Italian Pasta. After the drink, we all go for pasta of the day at nearby Ah Bong’s Italian. One of those places none of us would go to if it hadn’t been recommended – and once you’ve been there, you’ll definitely recommend it to others. Digest the scrumptious fresh, flavourful dishes with a lovely little walk down Haji Lane, listening to the live music.
Celebrating New Adventures. On Friday I have breakfast with my English friend who’s leaving for London. We first met at a party 4 months ago, but our first 1:1 date was at 40 Hands, so that’s where we meet now. Breakfast, coffee, sentimental chat, photo shoot in the mews just outside the cafe, walk down to Wangz so she can meet my parents, loving hug, we’ll see each other in London next week, she’s set me up with her childhood friend who just moved here a month ago, and so the story continues.
Parents on a Plane. Later on Friday, my parents and I fly to Langkawi, the big Malaysian island in the Malacca Strait. My mum so cute with her sun helmet, my dad so elegant in his navy blue jacket, all of us so excited to be going on holiday together. Following the 40 minutes’ hop on my dad’s Rocket Route app.
All Four. Meet my brother in the tiny island airport. Happy reunion. Last time we were all together was for Easter in Spain. Taxi to our seaside resort; designed as a traditional Malay village; cute wooden cottages amidst lush tropical greenery; a big pool at the centre, the resort is set right on the beach; our chalet is right on the edge of the wide white expanse. It’s the end of the season – the resort is nearly empty – perfect – it’s still 30 degrees, with a clear blue sky and a burning sun, and we don’t want to socialise with anyone but ourselves anyway.
Al Fresco Dining and Bedtime YouTube. Late dinner at a Malay restaurant right by the beach, to the sound of a live band playing old American tunes, and, much to prefer, the waves, eating fresh fish, toasting in Italian wine, chatting, my brother talking excitedly about his job in KL. Bliss. Followed by more bliss – straight back to our en suite bedrooms, to watch clips of old awards shows, comedy shows, cute dog videos, on a laptop, like last summer onboard QM2 sailing across the Atlantic.
Good Start to the Day. One of my most favourite activities in the world – waking up, hopping in my running gear and going straight down on a beach to jog along the water. 8k the first day, on Saturday, 6k on Sunday, passing groups of burkini-clad girls sitting in circles in the shallow water, fishing boats, piles of pink buoys. Come back and pick up my brother to go to the gym together, where we each do our thing – weight and pilates respectively. Back for a cold shower, and then meet our parents in the high-ceilinged breakfast room. Treat yourself to everything from rice porridge with shredded chicken, herbs and chili oil to dried anchovies to century eggs to Vietnamese omelettes to artisan bread to crepes suzette to bircher musli to big juicy slices of fresh watermelon. Sweet kopi or strong black coffee. Thin, pale Chinese tea or English breakfast tea.
Langkawi. Natural landscapes, expansive parks, iconic structures… one of Malaysia’s most popular beach destinations, the island is home to historical attractions, excellent diving opportunities and exciting nightlife. Langkawi’s pristine beaches – Datai Bay, Pantai Cenang, and Tanjung Rhu – are rated among the world’s best, while vast roads provide easy access to its vibrant beach towns. This is my third island trip after moving to Singapore, and as with the other trips, I go for total relaxation and not so much authentic, original cultural exploration. Bali was all about travelling alone – surfing, yoga, smoothie bowls, Aussie cafes and beach walks. Lombok – volcano climb and beach relaxation. This time the theme is total beach relaxation. As mentioned, next year, I hope to dig a little deeper, or at least be a bit of a more cultured, adventurous tourist. This weekend, what we want is just to chill on a white beach. It’s the first time we’ve had a tropical beach resort as a family holiday destination. Earlier we’ve gone sailing and skiing, explored big cities, done roadtrips through Europe and America, while we’ve had the beaches at home, in Juelsminde and Altea. Now we’re here. We just are. We talk or we don’t talk. We laugh or we don’t laugh. I’m with the three people with whom it’s easiest to do just that – besides an extensive company board meeting, we just relax completely:
Jet Skiing. Complete happiness, out on the waves, with my dad and brother, sun, salt water, speed, like in Juelsminde and Altea; fun to try it out here, among white paradise beaches.
Pool Hang. All four, in sun loungers, surrounded by lush shrubs, palm trees, frangipani flowers. Tanning. Reading. Listening to music. Watching cute dog videos. Chatting. Drinking g&t’s. Occasional lazy laps in the cool water. Gazing up at the blue sky, the myriads of shades of palm leave green. My dad’s smoking a cigar. Loving life.
Sea. Jumping into the waves, my parents in sparkling blue swimwear, I in my orange and pink bikini, my brother in his pink shorts. Collecting thin, flat, circular shells – gold, silver, bronze. Sunrise, sunset. Lying in sun loungers under umbrella-shaped tree crowns, in the wonderful breeze, a Margarita in hand, spotting a white bellied sea eagle (rarer than the smaller reddish brown eagle, after which the island was named, as ‘helang’ means ‘eagle’ in Malay and ‘kawi’ maroon), the subtle changes in light, the sunshine dancing in the waves, reflections, the clouds above the mountains to the right behind the airport, wishing the weekend would feel a bit longer.
Reading. Finishing the Joy on Demand book by the pool, reading so much slower than when I was a child and teenager, getting distracted to easily. Danish magazines brought here by my mum – Femina, Bo Bedre, Costume – taking me back to school days when I used to read them when coming home in the afternoon, lying on the bench in the kitchen, before the invention of smartphones.
Spa. Walking down behind the lake in the furthest end of the resort, crossing a walkway of stones laid out across the water, getting to the cute little spa cottage, where I’m served a glass of tamarind juice to cool me down, before I have an hour of the best reflexology of my life, very strong, to the calming sound of soft classical music.