A few weeks ago, I headed over to Singapore with some girlfriends for a Girls Only trip (no kids, no husbands!), where we hung out in cafes, boutiques, and just chilled out.
Here’s a run down of what happened on Day 2!
We woke up bright and early and on my friend’s recommendation, we headed over to Tiong Bahru.
It was love at first sight for me. I loved the 1930s streamlined architecture, the textures, the plants, the whitewashed walls, the way that the whole area had been cleaned up and revitalised, mixing old and new.
Only later, I looked up its history and discovered it was one of Singapore’s oldest residential estates, featuring 30 or so pre-war apartment blocks for the upper class — and now the area was one of Singapore’s “hippest and trendiest” cafe and shopping areas.
There were so many quirky, hipster cafes and eating places. We settled for fresh pastries and coffee at the Tiong Bahru Bakery.
We bought an apple crumble something, a matcha croissant, and a curry sausage pastry thing.
As you can see, we split our goodies three ways.
Most of the cute and quirky boutiques at Tiong Bahru opened at 12pm, so we popped over to check out the Tiong Bahru Markets instead.
It’s been more than 10 years since I’ve been to a wet market in Asia.
I loved the visual chaos, I loved how it was so unpretentious and raw.
I loved that all the Asian uncles and aunties didn’t care how their wares were presented, how they scribbled their prices on little bits of cardboard, how stunning strands of orchids were sitting in dirty plastic buckets!
I was so so so inspired by all that rough, raw, dirty loveliness… but I had no idea what to do with that inspiration, so I just soaked it all up and enjoyed it. And I took a few snaps.
Gorgeous bursts of colour.
They almost look fake!
Loved the clean, fresh smell of raw seafood.
I wanted to stroke the fish (to feel the freshness), but I don’t think the uncle would’ve liked a random woman touching his fish ha.
Chaos! Hundreds of packets of random dried stuff!
Next we walked over to Books Actually (9 Yong Siak St), a beautiful, artful, independent bookstore with a surprising selection of works.
There were lots of classics, popular modern titles, but I was mostly impressed by the amount of Singaporean authors and emerging writers (stacks of titles!) and the fact that they have their own publishing arm and supported local writers.
I found a book that was on my “Classic Stories I Must Read Before I Die” List and promptly bought it, even though it was a little more expensive than if I had bought it online. Happy to support brick and mortar bookstores!
Ok after that, we headed home – mainly because nothing else was open, and we had to get changed for our next engagement.
We jumped into a cab and went to the Boutiques Fair at The Pit Building for 12pm.
It’s a huge fair that hosts over 120 designers and independent sellers, all within one air-conditioned space. It features independent fashion labels for women, children, men, homewares, jewellery, bags, toys, art, trinkets and more. The brands and designers are from all over the world, and it’s all very girly.
There was so much good stuff to look at, but I didn’t buy anything.
Why? I don’t buy cutesy/designer/adorable things for my kids; I couldn’t afford $350 French designed earrings; I couldn’t fit bronze-painted concrete pots in my luggage; and I have already have zillions of screen printed t-shirts.
The only thing I wanted to buy was a 100% silk blouse from Catch.Com.sg.
Their silk shirts were freaking AMAZING for the price. I have an Equipment silk shirt and an Isabel Marant silk shirt, which are both eye-waveringly expensive (I bought them on sale though). The Equipment silk is strong and smooth (but not the exquisitely soft type); The Isabel silk is soft and delicate (but possibly too fragile). I think that the quality of the Catch Silk Shirts sit somewhere in between the two. It’s really good.
The shirts are also designed for smaller framed women, so there are lots of XS and XXS sizes.
Unfortunately I didn’t end up buying one, because er, I wanted to buy FIVE blouses – I wanted the navy long sleeve, white short sleeve, black short sleeve, black shirt sleeve with neck tie and navy short sleeve) – and I couldn’t decide which one to get and I didn’t want to make a rushed decision. Plus they sell their shirts online, so I was going to mull over it for a few weeks.
By 3pm my girlfriends had shopped up a storm, but we were keen to move on.
We made our way over to The Rose Veranda for high tea buffet at the Shangri-La Hotel.
I’ve never had a high tea buffet before. It was very posh, relaxing and the food was absolutely lovely.
It wasn’t the typical English high tea that I was used to. It was very different, but still yummy! I ate so much salmon sashimi. There was laksa too haha.
It was soooooo nice to sit around on beautiful chairs, nibble on small portions of food, drink amazing teas, talk to my girlfriends… for 3 leisurely hours.
Plus there was no rush to go home to cook dinner, feed and bath kids. Bliss!
THEN. After all that sitting and eating, we decided we needed a WALK.
We drove over to Orchard Road and had a looooong, meandering shopping session.
We bought tonnes of presents. It was a successful shopping trip.
The weather was unusually lovely, so we were happy to walk around outside and enjoy the Christmas lights too.
The photo above was taken in Robinsons, my feet were hurting and I needed to sit down again. My girlfriends were troopers though, they blitzed through that department store!
As all the shops began to close, we ended up at a food court, craving for something refreshing and sweet.
This ice kachang and chendol were not the best we’ve had, but it hit the spot.
Looking back on our day, it all seemed so indulgent, frivolous and girly… but hey, it doesn’t happen often! This is what we came here to do!
The following day? It was just as full of activity, shopping and eating! It’s kind of amazing what you can fit into a day when you break it up into 3 hour blocks :)