Describe Singapore in 3 words.
Efficient, clean and my HOME (after living in FIVE other cities around the world, this is definitely my favourite, in terms of quality of life)
Best hotel in Singapore when travelling with kids?
Festive Hotel Resort World Sentosa
Your favourite place to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner? Why?
Breakfast at Wild Honey, wonderful menu + they serve breakfast all day!
Lunch at Marmalade Pantry – delicious crab Caesar salad and the lemon meringue cake is to die for!
Dinner at CUT, best steak in town, or L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon at Resorts World Sentosa
What is your favourite thing to do with your kids in Singapore?
I still love taking them to the zoo. Singapore has one of the most beautiful zoos in the world and there is something for every age (my 4 kids range from 11 to 2 years old!) The children love the fantastic sealion show, feeding the elephants and splashing about the water slides to cool off. But the highlight at the zoo is staring down the huge python snakes in the reptile garden and walking bravely through the “Fragile Forest” with iguanas, bats and lemurs roaming freely.
Kid friendly museum?
The new ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands has fantastic exhibits. The last time, I took them to see the Titanic exhibition, and this week for instance, they have a great Andy Warhol show on.
Best outdoor activity?
Cable Ski: Cable skiing, is water-skiing or wakeboarding where the participants are not pulled by a boat but by an overhead cable, very similar to a snow ski lift, but erected around the banks of a lake.
Favourite time of year in Singapore, why and what do you love to do?
The rainy season from November to February: It’s the coolest time of the year and there is something really cozy about rainy tropical or equatorial days. It reminds me of my childhood in Manila during the monsoon season, which is where I mostly grew up. This is also the start of the festive Christmas season and the lights on Orchard Road are always spectacular, followed by the Lunar New Year in January or February. During Chinese New Year, Chinatown goes into a decorative frenzy of stunning lights and ornaments – a photographer’s delight, with streets filled with stalls touting their wares – foodstuffs, clothes, pottery, plants and many other household items.
The Spa Botanica in Sentosa
I get my hair done at…
Casey’s at Palais Renaissance
I get my manicure pedicure at…
The American Club or at Snails Nails at the Mandarin Gallery.
The three shops I can’t live without are:
Kinokuniya bookstore: I love to read, so this wonderful bookstore which is at the heart of town, is always a place I spend time in, browsing around and looking for interesting new titles to devour.
Bebe Boutique at Ion: I always seem to find a sassy (and not too expensive) little dress for any occasion.
Perlota Fine Jewelry: Located at #1 Nassim road, it’s the most elegant and beautiful hand-crafted fine jewelry in town.
Who I have on my Singapore speed dial…
My husband, my nanny and my best girlfriends.
Best place for sweet treats?
Dark chocolate champagne truffles at Teuscher Chocolatier, Palais Renaissance
An unforgettable moment?
Meeting my husband here in Singapore. I can still picture it very clearly, what he was wearing, how he was standing and how he was looking at me.
Can’t live without…
My pain au chocolat or croissant on the weekends, from either Culina or the new Paul Bakery in Ngee Ann City.
Spicy Chili Crabs or Black Pepper Crabs at Jumbo East Coast Seafood Restaurant.
The Peranakan Museum: This is the only museum that showcases the arts and culture of a distinct ethnic group that was shaped and continues to influence Southeast Asia. The Peranakan, which means “locally-born” in the Malay language, usually refers to the descendants of Chinese traders who settled in the straits Settlements of Singapore, Malacca and Penang in the 14th century and married Malay women. This intermarriage produced a fusion of cultures, and is reflected in the colorful cuisine, architecture and fashion that form the multicultural mix of Singapore and Malaysia.
What advice would you give families visiting Singapore?
Stay at least one week or more if you can. There is so much to do here for families, with children especially, from Universal Studios, the zoo, the night safari, the museums, the wonderful restaurants and hawker eateries, the Botanic Gardens, the theatres and shows, and of course the incredible shopping, spas, temples, street markets etc…etc….the list goes on!
Of all the shopping spots Singapore has on offer which would you try not to miss?
All Dressed Up @ ION or Paragon.
Giuseppe Zanotti @ Ion – Sexiest shoes!
Haji Lane – Dulcetfig & Loft (for vintage or for something out of the ordinary)
Pagoda Street Chinatown for trinkets and little gifts to take home.
Ann Siang Road – This neighborhood is a boho-creative hub of designer fashion boutiques, French patisseries and niche bookstores. The area is lined with delightful old shophouse façades with wonderful restaurants and bars.
Adults should check out…
The Singapore F1 in September, most exciting Singapore party weekend of the year – the views of the track from the Swiss Hotel balconies are the best by a long way, and Pangaea Club at MBS.
And on the cultural/historical side of things: these museums are wonderful to learn more about Singapore’s history during the turbulent World War II years: Changi Museum, Johore Battery and Fort Siloso on Sentosa.
Tell us one thing about Singapore we don’t know…
Virtually everyone in Singapore is at least bilingual, and many people speak three or four languages. Although around 70 % of Singaporeans are of Chinese descent, there is no dominant mother tongue in Singapore. The medium of instruction in Singaporean schools is English, but an amazing seven languages are spoken as a mother tongue by more than five percent of the population.
Christine Amour-Levar is a self-described “work-in-progress” Mum, Wife, Freelance Writer, Editor, and Marketing Consultant. Mother of Yasmine, Malcolm, Louis and Angeline, Wife of Steven and Author of The Smart Girl’s Handbook to Being MUMMYLICIOUS – a motivational and practical guide to getting your body (and your GROOVE) back post pregnancy – which is launching in Singapore mid-April 2012. Learn more here: www.thesmartgirlshandbook.com.