Eat, Pray, Shop in SINGAPORE

The first store I set out to visit in Singapore was HIDE & SEEK located next door to Thian Hock Keng the oldest hokkian temple in Singapore.

I figured out how to get there by using GoThere, a location-based service provider whose map and directional search engine is steadily becoming the quintessential service for finding your way around Singapore.

Though I left the conference too late to be able to go inside the Thian Hock Keng, I was able to admire the beautiful temple from the outside.

Just a few steps away I found HIDE & SEEK. Singaporean designer and HIDE & SEEK owner Keith Png happened to be in the shop when I arrived and he graciously asked a shopgirl to give me a tour of the new space. After browsing the four floor, 200 sqm space, I found a a nice variety of fashion and lifestyle products ranging from Puma Black Station sneakers, to Etat Libre D’Orange scents and Karen Walker eyewear.

But, my favorite item in the store was SINGLISH, a book that makes for a great gift and souvenir. Singlish is how the locals describe their slang: a mix of Chinese (Mandarin) and English. As the Singapore government recognizes English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil as the official languages, it’s no surprise they’ve created some universal terms of their own!

SINGLISH at HIDE & SEEK in Singapore

After deciding on my purchases, I asked the shop girl for directions to the center of Chinatown. On our way to the register we she asked a colleague who happened to be leaving the store to meet a friend as was going the same direction. It was around 7pm and the sun was about to set. They lead me through a garden walkway up a hill facing a row of quant stores and bars. The girl from HIDE & SEEK turned out to be the store architect and co-owner of a bar on the street she led me to. Like most Singaporeans she was extremely hospitable and even invited me to join her and her friends at the beach that Friday. Unfortunately, I lost her business card while rushing in and out of the stores 🙁

Central Chinatown, SINGAPORE

Having heard about the fantastic food in Singapore I decided to explore the hawker stalls: cooking/eating centers where each stallholder has a little shop space to sell food. Since I eat seafood but no meat, I had to be especially picky. The place I chose was next to a main street, and after seating I realized that the waitress had a hard time understanding English. Fortunately, the group sitting next to me acted as my translators making sure that the waitress understood what “no meat” meant.

This was truly one of the best meals I’ve ever had. While I often order a dish of greens sautéed with garlic, I’ve never had lettuce served this way – and ordinarily wouldn’t think the naturally crunchy texture of romaine would taste good stir fried. It was perfect. I also ordered a seafood fried rice dish that included scallops that tasted better than my favorite seafood dish at Blue Ribbon. The total for the two dishes, a tofu appetizer, a drink, tax and tip was just $15 and I had plenty to munch on at the hotel later.