Green, Lush, Creative Bounty | 3007-050817

Proud Flash of Nationalism. These days, the Singapore flag and multi-coloured pennants are fluttering from buildings, trees and cars in preparation for next week’s National Day, when Singapore celebrates its colourful rise to independence and beyond – emerging as a major commercial hub, financial centre and global player – with an energy and electricity that’s usually thought of as very foreign to Singapore. On 9 August, the Red Dot is on fire: thousand people are out and about to experience spectacular military parades, multicultural song and dance shows and aerial high jinks capped by a firework frenzy set against the glittery cityscape framed by the Marina Bay waterfront, a spiel the authorities have been rehearsing for weeks now. As a spectator, you can’t help but being moved by the proud, happy, creative extravaganza played out by a nation eager to stand out. S’pore, SG, Singa, Singers, Singapura, the Red Dot, Lion City – check out this neat note on the many names of this island state. A dear child has many names, as we say in Danish 😉

Tanjong Pagar Park. This country just continues to impress and delight us! It’s been a few weeks since we last left it, and we keep finding wonderful things to do and see here, without making an actual effort, day after day, ranging from hipster rustic to sleek splendour, and always with a lot of lush greenery, usually vertical in design, thrown in the mix. And sometimes it’s just in front of us… On Monday night, Sanoop and I meet in front of the Oasia, just down the road from my office, and pick up delicious salads and organic iced tea made fresh from Kipos and have a little picnic by this impressive green labyrinth that I’ve never preciously noticed. An oasis among many in the CBD…

More Green Foods. On Tuesday, Sanoop spontaneously picks me up from work in the grey, chilly drizzle (yup, it’s colder, rainier, darker and stormier in the tropics than in Europe these days!) and gets me (after a quick, delightful salad from Shake Farm, which we eat in the small, picturesque park between Amoy St and Telok Ayer St) quite the acquired-taste-infused (but admittedly instantly and stably energising!) almond milk/dandelion/chicory bulletproof flat white and half a slice of creamy, crunchy and truly delish vegan avocado/lime/nut cake at Kitchen by Food Rebel. Maybe my new favourite downtown eatery, its visually very appealing meals and drinks are prepared from scratch onsite, using organic, locally sourced all-natural ingredients in a combination of Asian and Western influences, and with lots of vegan options. Creative, inviting decor – not too identikit hipster sterile, just a really cool cosmopolitan vibe. In the narrow walkway of a charming CBD shophouse.

Honeymooners Stopping Over. That evening, a couple of our friends, the ones whose wedding we attended a few weeks ago in Denmark, have 9 hours in Singapore, on their way home from a combined family holiday with their parents, siblings, kids and nieces and nephews and honeymoon, i.e. a few of the days, the couple left their son with the rest of the clan and checked themselves into a romantic resort, in Bali. After work, we give them a tour of Tiong Bahru and have dinner at a local restaurant before they head off again. Short and sweet!

Good Start to the Day. 8am on Friday morning, sporting wet hair and a tote bag carrying laptops and other essentials, two of my Tiong Bahru girlfriends, an Aussie and a Dane, and I meet for breakfast, coffee and a catch up around a small wooden table in Plain Vanilla’s plant- and herb-filled outdoor section. Light morning sun, quiet morning energy, the place to ourselves, good coffee, crunchy toast with thick layers of Vegemite, sharing intimate stories and laughter… I tell myself to really soak in the moment and enjoy the preciousness of this wholesome start to the day, the neighbourhood feeling. 40 minutes after we meet, I head off to a barre class with a sweet newly hatched teacher, who I first got to know as the creator of cute, hilarious Tinee Dino, a tiny dinosaur who tries out lots of hip and healthy things to bring some positive energy into the world. She herself has a remarkable positive energy about her as well, and after her class, and a cup of coffee with her at Ronin, I walk over to my office for a positively productive day!

Instagram Lunch, Literally. A friend of mine recently started working at Instagram, and this Friday she invites me over for a tour of the Facebook office and lunch at their new Marina One quarters, a pretty spectacular building with a pretty spectacular view of the CBD, the Marina Bay, Sentosa…

Jypsy. Meeting on the Alkiff Bridge after work, Sanoop and I walk over to the new contemporary Japanese spot on Martin Road, whose decor – casual, coastal, nautical, minimalist, cosy, romantic, elegant, with, of course, lots of lush greenery sprucing out from pretty vases on the tables and from rustic wooden boards in the windows – is as fresh and delicious as the flavoursome menu. The right balance of healthy and comfortable – we share a huge pile of thinly cut raw cabbage drenched in a light sesame dressing and paprika oil, small crispy seaweed tacos filled with king salmon sashimi, avocado, wasabi mayo, tomato salsa and ikura and a truly colourful rainbow sushi roll. A bottle of kombucha from Byron Bay to share. Leaving the place feeling satisfied, energised and light, we cycle through River Valley to Orchard and pick up smoothie bowls from Project Açai to eat on the stairs leading from the mall to the broad pavement. Sitting closely together, enjoying our dessert, watching people pass by, feeling like teenagers hanging out by the malls on a Friday night, hehe.

Saturday Flow. Morning run. Morning coffee with friend at Forty Hands. MacRitchie hike with Sanoop – still (after 2.5 years of frequent weekend excursions) marvelling at the lush serenity of this 12-hectare haven full of wild flowers and tame (i.e. too blissfully preoccupied with jumping from palm to palm, playing with each other and munching on rambutan and durian to care about humans on the paths) macaques, a mere 15-minute car ride from downtown Singapore. Pick up organic vegan ice cream made fresh from brown rice, hazelnuts, passion fruits and other natural ingredients at Brownice Vegan Ice Cream, just east of the nature reserve. Summer fête in Tiong Bahru – three sweet girls have combined efforts to display their creations and get a bunch of girls together to hang out in the florist’s studio, just opposite my flat – elegant lingerie by Perk by Kate and a colourful Esse the Label capsule, beautifully accompanied by Ask a French’s flower arrangements. I hang out for a while, meet and chat with the girls’ sweet friends (yogis, sailors, designers!), buy a jumpsuit and a genially designed strapless bra, get a beautiful bouquet of flowers as a thank you for my support. Towards evening, I cycle to the Esplanade Theatres to experience an incredible performance by the American dancer, Shamel Pitts, BLACK VELVET – Architectures and Archetypes, with my friend who is a professional dancer. She took one of his classes earlier in the day. Apparently, that’s something the theatre makes sure to do whenever a great dancer in town – urge them to give classes as well as perform… so cool! I mean… I obviously don’t know anything about what it requires and feels like for the artists in question, but I’m just thinking that it must give them a valuable opportunity to really show and share what they’re working on and connect with the people who are going to be in their audience the following evening…

Sunday Flow. Sketch and read in bed. Invigorating yin yoga class at Yoga Inc with Sanoop and a friend. Bounce barre class. Late breakfast at The Social Space. Love a cafe with a comfy window seat, a picturesque view of a pedestrian-frequented colourful shophouse street, (not terribly ergonomic but very neat) ear-shaped mug handles and a wonderful ethical boutique section (eco-friendly fashion, accessories, home wares and snacks) … not to mention these roasted Brussels sprouts on tahini-drenched sourdough toast! Yum! Home, read, write, chill. Evening: Open-air cinema at Fort Canning Park, one of my favourite activities. Nestled on blankets and cushions on the huge sloping lawn, picnic treats in hand, we watch the moving, beautifully shot and based-on-a-true-story thrilling Adrift, as the sun sets on the park canopies and cityscape in the background.


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