Insider: Piers Bourke's Singapore
PIERS BOURKE'S SINGAPORE
I've lived in Singapore for three and half years due to my wife’s career relocating us in 2014, as a destination it didn’t immediately ignite my imagination, but my mother lived there after the War in the early 1950's when she was a baby and it was nice knowing that I was headed somewhere with a connection(we even found her old house with some good-old-fashioned detective work!). It’s a city state of 5.5million people, the same size of the Isle of Wight in the UK - so pretty small - but it's an incredible success story and has developed in to a hugely dynamic and progressive city over the last 25 years.
Everything the country sets its mind to happen’s with maximum efficiency with a mindset, that it has to be the best. It’s a great philosophy to understand because it’s what we should all be doing in our everyday lives which spurs me on in my work.
The stereotypical view of Singapore is that’s its very sterile and clean which is true to a certain degree, but it's people really make the place; it’s so international and with art collectors to professional footballers you couldn’t wish to meet a more diverse crowd! The local passion for food was big surprise to me, Singaporeans don’t go anywhere unless it's on offer - so no gallery opening's without decent nibbles - you can eat like a kind for just a few dollars or pay through to the hundreds, so finding new places is great fun.
One of the huge benefits of living in Singapore though is being able to travel, and without doubt Japan is my favourite destination so far. Not only it home to Lee Ufan Museum (my favourite artist), it’s just a wonderful cultural change from anywhere I have ever been. Kyoto is superb and am going back in February, I can’t wait. There are a huge number of low cost airlines servicing the region with Singapore being the main hub so no frill airlines are the way forward; EasyJet and Ryan air take note - it doesn’t have to be that bad!
I've recently returned from a family holiday in Bali, next week I'm off to explore Yogyakarta in Indonesia, and we are spending Christmas in Luang Prabang, Laos. In between I'll be nipping back to London for some work with Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA which has a new lost cost service to London, you can keep up to date with my travels on Instagram. I'm hoping the photos will be truly spectacular.
WHAT TO SEE
Gardens by the Bay: 'where wonder blooms', these brilliantly designed indoor gardens are home to incredible plants and trees and feature fabulous sculpture form local and international artists like Mark Quinn.
Singapore City Gallery: situated in the URA Centre in Tajong Pagar visit and view the to-scale-model of Singapore, see how the island has grown and learn about the future plans and forward thinking ideas for it's future development. We always take visitors here, and they love it!
The botanical Gardens: I jog through here several times a week and just love it. It's so beautiful; go in the early evening when not so hot.
WHERE TO EAT
Por Kee: it's very local but serves brilliant Chinese food in a car park, it’s BYO too which makes for a great evening.
Super Loco: great margaritas. What more could you want?
Esquina: this tapas at Counter top eating reminds me of being back in London.
Blukouzina: a great fun Greek place very relaxed and good service, which can be a bit hit and miss in Singapore!
WHERE TO SHOP
Joo Chiat Road: cool, a bit off beaten track and there are lots of independent shops.
Orchard Road: is your best bet for the usual stuff, with a brand new Apple store complete with full grown trees inside!
Haji Lane:for a slightly different vibe.
WHERE TO HANG OUT
Tiong Bahru: my favourite area! It's very chilled and different to a lot of Singapore, perfect for the artist in me!
FOC Sentosa: this is a great weekend hang out, and great for families. The food's good, it's on the beach and it's got a pool too.
WHERE TO STAY
The Mandarin Oriental: with great city views and pool you can’t really go wrong. It has great Italian restaurant with an all-day brunch (and free flow booze). We had our 10 year wedding anniversary party there and was one of the best days I can remember !
Samadhi Hotel: an ultra-cool converted black and white house a bit out of the main town.