Verdant & Concrete Jungle | 14-200518

Landing at 6:30am. It almost feels like a blur, a dream, unreal, to drive through the humid heat of Singapore this early, after a 12-hour flight with minimum sleep. My brain feels a bit fried, but after a loving reunion with Sanoop and breakfast and coffee together at Plain Vanilla, I open my laptop and force myself to be productive all day, save a 2-2:30pm power nap. At 6:30pm, I close my laptop, and we meet at PS for a superfood salad, a glass of wine and a catch up with the cafe manager, who looked after our plants while we were away. Sanoop does most of the talking. Once we’re back home, I fall asleep immediately and stay unconscious for 11 hours. Wake up totally disoriented on Tuesday: where am I? What time is it? Oh, 8:30am, well, then I should get to work! All week, I go to bed late and wake up late, my internal clock still slightly on Europe time. Right when I landed, I felt so grateful for Sanoop’s presence, giving me an immediate reason to be here when my head was still tired and emotional; why did I leave Europe? Already on Tuesday, however, when cycling to work well-rested, I immediately recognise all these other reasons to be here: a special concoction of the heat, the soft morning light against the palm trees and papaya trees that frame the white Art Deco walls of Tiong Bahru. The excitement about the day ahead: back to sweet colleagues at the Singapore office, sweet classes and teachers at barre, sweet local friends, home-cooked meals…

Weekend Flow. Sanoop invites me out on a date on Friday night. He won’t say where we’re going. We meet in front of Vasco in Hong Kong Street after work, and then he leads me around the block to Fancy, which I’ve never noticed before. Seriously good cocktails in a quintessential modern cocktail bar with lots of minimalism, lots of calm, lots of white, lots of plants, lots of craft and effort gone into the herb- and flower-infused drink creations. Very impressive start! And nice to have a gilded opportunity to connect and celebrate together after our travels to Europe and Australia respectively. Next stop is deliciously fine and sustainable Sicilian dining in a stunning, romantic shophouse in bustling Tanjong Pagar: Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare. If you were out to impress your date with very special and refined sensory impressions and vibes, this would be a good place to go. Wow! On Saturday morning, after a lovely run through Tiong Bahru Park and along the river, I’m the one who invites him out on a date – brekkie at newly opened Straits Clan. This month’s instalment of his Christmas present consisting of one monthly breakfast at a place neither of us has been to before, possibly in a new town or country each time. This is the first Christmas Brekkie in Singapore. And it’s a well-chosen spot: the most beautifully and most excitingly designed space I’ve seen in a while, and with a very unique menu. Those crispy veggies and broths! That cold brew coffee! The homemade kombucha! Yum! From there, we drift over to Everton Park and seek shelter from a torrential downpour at favourite Nylon, where we hang out for a long time, huddled together on a wooden box with our coffees, just watching the cascading rain and reading out snippets of magazine articles to each other. In the afternoon and evening, we celebrate Harry and Meghan’s wedding at 1880 – an amazing party complete with Union Jack banners and flags hanging from the ceilings, waiters bringing around trays of champagne, gin-based cocktails served in tea cups, oysters, fish ‘n’ chips, mini Yorkshire pudding and scones. British soundtrack through and through, with a special appearance of the Spice Girls (Singapore version) performing all of their signature hits. We watch the ceremony on big screens and dance around wearing Harry, Meghan and Queen Elizabeth masks, haha. Sunday’s highlight is lunch in Little India (after fasting all morning), at our favourite Kerala-food place, Premaas. The fact that this place isn’t characterised by its great design, quite the contrary in fact, is just as important to its allure as the impeccable colour scheme and expensive material selection at Gattopardo and Clan. The modesty of Premaas makes the fresh, brightly green banana leaves on the tables stand out remarkably. To digest the delicious vegetarian dishes dotted around the banana leaves, we walk slowly through Bugis, stopping somewhere for a foot massage, and, later in the evening, along the river by Robertson Quay.


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