Sunday, January 7, 2007

Singapore: What Are You Doing New Year's, New Year's Eve?

On New Year's Eve I had a 22 hour layover in Singapore. Even though the Singapore airport is a really great place, I decided to get a hotel room, eat some local foods and go out on the town. A friend of mine suggested the Hotel Phoenix, which is a good, fairly inexpensive hotel located in the center of the shopping haven that is Orchard Road. When I arrived, they were out of regular rooms, so they gladly upgraded me to a suite with a massage chair, cozy living area and a great view of the city. The concierge helped me find a good Chinese restaurant, a nice bar in Clarke Quay and some Kaya toast for breakfast the next morning.

Clarke Quay is an interesting area on the river that is host to numerous bars and has fireworks for New Year's. There is basically every type of crowd you can imagine, so you're sure to find someplace you will enjoy spending your time. I ended up at a Blues Bar, the Crazy Elephant, which had live music, pool, ex-pats and plenty of Tiger Beer. Mean Jean & The Blues Machine was playing. Mean Jean is basically a refined version of the late Janis Joplin. Her voice is practically identical and only lacks the characteristic cracks that made Janis so unique. At the Crazy Elephant, I also had the opportunity to see stylish Singapore kids, get badly beat at pool and meet a few nice people that offered to show me the local perspective of the city the next day.

Singapore Must Do: Eat Kaya toast and drink Singapore coffee for breakfast, it's fantastically yummy!

On New Year's Day I spent most of my time shopping on Orchard Road. The majority of the shops are the same as what you can find in any large US city. But, there are some unique finds in the midst of it all, so don't worry. Here are some of the shops I liked best. Just keep in mind, nothing is really all that cheap in Singapore.

Takashimaya Shopping Center
This shopping center houses many upscale designer shops that you would find on 5th Avenue and Rodeo Drive. However, there are some stores that you won't find in the US as well and those are the best places to look for in this area.

Bin House, Indonesian Creation
This small boutique store has beautiful (and easy to wear) Asian inspired tops, skirts, pants and accessories. The store manager is extremely friendly and may offer you a snack. I found a lovely skirt designed like fisherman pants at the waist. You will be sick of seeing me wear it in the near future.

Une Nana Cool
I just found out this store is owned by Wacaol (figures!), but it still has some very tasteful, uniquely designed undergarments, pajamas and camisoles that you won't find at home.

The clothing wasn't very special at this store, but there are quite a few unique accessories, including necklaces, belts, headbands and shoes that are worth taking a look at.

Kinokuniya Book Store
This book store is quite large and has a great variety of English, Chinese and Japanese-language books. They had some really beautiful design books (my favorite was one on interior lighting) that are perfect for the coffee table. I was, however, a little disappointed in their selection of stationery.

Tax-free Shopping
Every time you spend more than 100 Singapore dollars ask for a tax form that you can turn in with your receipt at the airport for a reimbursement of the taxes you were just charged on your purchase. Without this form you will be out of luck.

Singapore Sling: New Year's Eve Mix
1. Paper Bag, Fiona Apple
2. Gold Lion, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
3. Fake Tales of San Francisco, Arctic Monkeys
4. Napoleon Says, Phoenix
5. This Charming Man, The Stars
6. Be Good, Tokyo Police Club
7. I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor, Arctic Monkeys
8. Just a Man With a Job, The Rakes
9. One Time Too Many, Phoenix
10. Battle Without Honor or Humanity, Tomoyasu Hotel

Photography by me.


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