Just before sunrise is the best time to run in Singapore. Year around the sun rises at 7am-ish (and sets 12 hours later). The nighttime cools down the island and if you are lucky there’s a nice morning breeze or an early morning drizzle. Take a taxi to one on my fav running spots: East Coast and run along the coastline, Botanical Gardens and see many fit elderly folks doing their morning Qi-Gong or around the Marina Bay. MacRitchie reservoir is great for a 10K weekend run and the monkeys will join you, no kidding.
For a local breakfast go to any Hawker/Food center area and order fish porridge or a nasi lemak. The best porridge place I have found is Ah Chiang, corner Eng Watt and Tiong Poh rd in the retro Tiong Bahru hood. Walk around here and discover new coffee places, galleries. It’s like Singapore’s Miami style architecture. Jones the Grocer in Dempsey Rd area serves a good Western/Oz style breakfast and there’s a nice ‘off the beaten track’ coffee/breakfast place called Loysel’s Toy, off the beaten track at no. 66 Kampong Bugis
Try the St. Regis on Sundays and ask for the table in the alcove. Great experience, not just all buffets (thank you!), mixed with table service, including champagne and quality live music. PS Café at Harding Road is a more relaxed weekend brunch spot. Mind the parking area outside for the kid’s strollers though..
Visit the viewing deck (SkyPark) on top of the Marina Bay Sands hotel which gives you – on a clear day – a stunning view of the island. Entrance next to Tower A, note it’s just outside the actual hotel lobby; go down the escalators. If you follow the signs in the lobby you’ll be led across the shops and casino jungle. Once up (for like $15 or so pp) enjoy the near 360 views, there’s a drinks/coffee stand. Afterwards visit an exhibition you fancy at the lotus flower shape ArtScience museum or walk a bit further to the new Botanical Gardens at the Bay. However, if you are a casino hotel complex virgin…do follow the signs to the ‘Shoppes’ and upscale brand names will dazzle you, including the indoor and oh so fake…Venetian canal with gondola’s. And yes, you can take a ride as well. I really love the amazing giant swirling fountain, have a look it’s also in-doors.
My favorite lunch spot is right in the middle of the Botanical Gardens. It’s called Halia Restaurant and just a 15-20 min stroll through these magnificent gardens. You’ll appreciate the air-conditioning inside or the fans outside. Ask the taxi driver to let you out at the Cluny Road (main) entrance. If you are into flowers, visit the dedicated orchid garden, pretty close to the restaurant. If too much green is not what you fancy, go straight to a mall to burn a few dollars on those credit cards. See below for lunch spots.
It’s mall galore in Singapore. Many new malls have opened in recent years, like ION a shopping jungle, I always get lost. ION food: Marmalade Pantry serves great western fare and on the top floor a fantastic dumpling restaurant Paradise Dynasty serving a colorful palette from truffle to salmon dumplings. Mandarin Gallery with more boutique designer stores, eat at Wild Honey. However my favorite mall is Paragon, easy to navigate with just the right amount of quality brands and lunch at PS Café. Not into malls: grab a taxi to Haji Lane in the so-called Arab street area and navigate through this lane and the many side streets. A mix of fashion start-up type boutiques, lazy café’s and restaurants. Or go to Chinatown and stroll through Club Street and Ann Siang Hill, you’ll love this hood.
Give your feet a just amazing massage at My Foot Reflexology, in Forum mall in basement (just a 10min taxi ride from Paragon, next to the Hilton). Your feet will enjoy a soothing, yet strong relaxing treatment by well-trained visually impaired therapists from the local community.
There are so many fab places to enjoy a little dirty martini. Here’s a few: go up to floor 74 (or higher, I forgot) of the Swissotel Stamford to the small cocktail bar at around 6:30pm to watch the sun set. Service sometimes comes with a tad attitude, but you know how to handle this. Otherwise up to Asia Bar one floor up for a more relaxed style. The lobby lounge of the InterContinental hotel is a stylish place to meet up before dinner with a larger crowd, love the sofas. On top of Marina Bay Sands go to Ku-De-Ta. Yes, same name as Bali but yet not the same if you know what I mean. However the views at night are just spectacular. For a true mixologist experience go back to Haji Lane no. 57A on the second floor and enjoy the amazing bespoke cocktails prepared for you at Bar Stories.
Try a hawker center if you want to go local. My favorite is Lau Pa Sat. Located in the CBD area. Grab a table in ‘Sate Street’ next to the center, order a jug of Tiger beer and enjoy. In Chinatown, Maxwell food court offers all the Singapore fare you need to try. Just join the longest queues as these stalls typically offer the best food. Singapore offers many good western restaurant choices. In China town my fav’s: BROTH on Duxton Hill and PS Café in Ann Siang Hill.
I enjoy a great breakfast, love to meet up during breakfast and do believe it’s the most important meal of the day. The breakfast and coffee culture in Sydney and throughout Australia is just great. Many well established locations are loved by local clientele for years and there’s always that new ‘hole in the wall’ pop-up serving great strong skinnies and what have you.
Here a few of my favourites:
Probably my top favourite in middle of Potts Points and loved by locals, staff knows many by first name. Great breakfast porridge, fresh juices and amazing salads. Great people watching outdoor seating all year. You will not be disappointed. Also open for lunch or just coffee or a Sauv Blanc.
33 Bayswater Road
Always a good vibe, great crowd and friendly, fast service. I love their veg breakfast, poached eggs, spinach, avocado. Just the best. Also juicy lunch items. The other day I had a great lentil/carrot soup. Just a good relaxed place to come by yourself or catch-up with friends.
130 Victoria Street
Choose the home-cooked porridge for breakfast. It is just the best, with poached fruit and honey. Combine with a great strong skinny and you are ready to take on the day! Really nice little cafe, one man show in kitchen and service. Only open for coffee and breakfast.
197 Victoria Street
On my journey from Queenstown to Picton, initially I was planning to stay just for one night and ended up staying for three wonderful days. Janet & Paul are the live-in owners. They have created a very nice, welcoming industrial chic luxury B&B. The Factory is on the beachfront at Hapuku, 10 minutes North of Kaikoura. In the 100-year-old Hapuku Dairy Factory with dramatic views of snow-covered mountains on one side and the ocean on the other. Staying at The Factory is exclusive, with only one party booked at a time, three bedrooms, open fire place, heated tiled floors, fab stainless steel kitchen unit all included. Paul is always happy to make you a stiff espresso (or short black), or latte on his Italian steam machine. Janet & Paul treated me on a great home cooked dinner with red perch and blue cod I caught during the day together with Paul. The big octopus we let go..
Ahh..there’s three chickens providing lovely eggs for breakfast. A just magical place with wonderful hosts who provide just the right touches to make you feel at home yet let you be at ease in the well appointed guest area. I need to come back to write a book!
In my search for a stiff latte and a great breakfast, before driving from Christchurch to Oamaru, I found Seven Café. A bit away from downtown Christchurch, well.. only 10 minutes from Hagley Park and just had the best Eggs Benedict ever. I know, I forgot to take a picture of this master piece with fresh layers of spinach, chunks of nice salmon, organic eggs (not sure, but they looked very organic!) and sauce to die for. Ah, as per my picture I took from the menu board, the owner is Dutch as they serve “Bitterballen” all day. Those small fried meatballs, normally served with mustard accompanied by a beer or two. And, the strong skinny lattes were perfect too!
7 Hansons Lane, Christchurch
(03) 341 2417
After the November 2010 earthquake, Christchurch got hit by yet another quake in February 2011 and 180 people lost their lives. The central business district area was badly damaged and until now rebuilding is taking place. Close to the called ‘Red Zone’ area which is cordoned off for the public, a dedicated area has been set-up for business which had to close due to damage. All in temporary containers this “re-start mall” is now a cool vibrant colorful section with many fashion boutique and catering outlets. On a Sunday when I visited many street artists added a relaxed happy vibe to the scene. Stay at the George Hotel and run in Hagley Park!
It has been a long time ago I stepped into a bed and found two hot water bottles to keep me warm. That is what happened to me in this beautifully restored B&B house from 1889. James & James are the owners and are running a charming house with 5 bedrooms, a games room with a massive pool table, a lounge with a great open fire place, honesty bar and amazing food mostly sourced from their own garden. When I stayed, James & James were out of the country but I was well taken care of and Roy and Bernice went out of their way to make me feel at home. Great choice for a 1 or 2 night stopover. Seemingly Oamaru is a key hub for the ‘SteamPunk’ movement, a back to the future costume pageant and shows with amazing and very creative costumes. SteamPunk museum in the centre of Oamaru.
41 Towey Street Holmes Hill, Oamaru 9401
(03) 434 7939