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Secret Cities: Singapore

Up-and-Coming Model Chen Yu Reveals the Most Desirable Destinations in Southeast Asia’s Urban Paradise

Model Chen Yu explores the ultra-modern skyscrapers, Chinese Baroque pavilions and pastel European townhouses in her temporary hometown of Singapore along with photographer and creative director Shiraz Randeria. Hotly tipped to become the next big thing in Chinese fashion, the fresh-faced muse took on the palm-tree lined city state to develop her portfolio, which already includes shoots for Vogue and Elle China. Randeria’s images capture her enjoying the dynamic mix of cultures—predominantly English, Malay, Chinese and Indian—that inform Singapore’s architecture, cuisine and curious local lingo, Singlish. In the hybrid parlance “Basket!” is an exclamation of frustration, while referring to someone as “zai” means they know how to keep cool under pressure. “Singapore is a surprisingly relaxed city,” says Randeria. “Even though it’s rich and business-like, don’t go expecting the incessant global bustle of Central Hong Kong.” Here Chen shares her discoveries beneath the many roofs of the vibrant “Sin City” of the Southeast.

Ku De Ta
This DJ bar and restaurant sits on the 57th floor SkyPark at the top of the Marina Bay Sands. Singapore’s best place to go for a sundowner—they have great Asian-influenced martinis—and watching the city lights come on.
1 Bayfront Avenue, Marina Bay Sands SkyPark, Singapore 018971

Rasa Spa, Siloso Beach
Where I go for Thémaé tea facials and massages. It’s also right by the beach so I can go for a swim. I came here after last year’s fantastic ZoukOut music festival —a great relaxation session after an all-night party.
Shangri-La Hotel, 101 Siloso Road, Sentosa Island, Singapore 098970

Haji Lane
A small and colorful street full of modern independent fashion boutiques and Egyptian bars, this is in the middle of the Kampong Glam neighborhood, with the large golden-topped Sultan Mosque at one end. It’s a fun place to shop and browse, especially at K.I.N. at  51 Haji Lane, which stocks interesting local labels and fashion magazines. 
Haji Lane, Singapore 189244

Geylang Road Durians
Although it’s known for being the red light district, it’s also where you can get the best durian fruit—the creamy varieties you can get here in Singapore are the best I’ve ever had. I can easily eat two in a go. They range from S$2 to S$28 each and don’t stink at all—maybe just a feint whiff of marker pen. Eat them with mangosteens, they complement each other really well. I can recommend one large fruit stand, which also do fresh coconuts to drink.
Fruit stand on the corner of Geylang Road, Lorong 19

Lau Pa Sat
Unlike other Asian cities, Singapore has banned street food stands, so instead there are many quality controlled hawker centers. Forget restaurants—this is where to find real local Peranakan dishes—a fusion of Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisines. Lau Pa Sat is the city’s historic and beautiful Victorian wet market, now renovated with food stalls. My favorite are the amazing skewered king prawns outside on the side stands—numbers S7 and S8. It’s called Best Satay. 
18 Raffles Quay, Singapore 048582

One of Singapore’s best boutiques has two stores near each other, both close to Haji Lane. It’s a friendly place, and great for international street brands such as BOY, plus accessories and collections from local designers.
29A Seah Street, Singapore  188385 and 118A Arab Street, Singapore 199813

Gillman Barracks
A 10-minute taxi ride from the city center and you’re in these whitewashed army barracks, seemingly in the middle of the jungle. It opened in September as the city’s new contemporary art hub and there are galleries from around the world, although mainly from Asia. It’s a little quiet at the moment, but more galleries are moving in this month.
9 Lock Road, Singapore 10893

New Majestic Hotel
This boutique hotel sits in the middle of historic Chinatown down a quiet lane. The full glass front is always open to the street during the day—the lobby has a great pop-up bookstore and an elegant mismatch of furniture. Upstairs, each room is different, many done up by local designers. It’s chilled out, friendly and also a walkable distance to Club Street, the upmarket nightlife and bar area of Chinatown.
31 Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore 089845

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Conversations (4)

  • Arsh
    I live here & can say every model type person suggests these places, so lame & blasé in many ways. There are more to what is chic & desirable here,, such as farmers market at dempsy area, great curry at samy curry at dempsy, great restaurants at bukit pasoh area such as Andre & chopsuy at dempsy, trail running in bukit timah nature reserve, great variety of stuff at mustafa shopping centre etc,,,
    • Posted By Arsh
    • July 10, 2013 at 12:01PM
    • Share Comment:
  • jarred
    An enchanting island that has it all,lived there and loved it.Cheers from OZ......
  • alexlobov
    Ergh. Lau Pa Sat. I will never understand the enduring popularity of this place. There are many far better hawker centers in Singapore. Maxwell, Amoy and Chomp Chomp just to name three relatively central ones.
  • ColoredCloud
    "singlish" :) love it
    • Posted By ColoredCloud
    • January 30, 2013 at 6:12PM
    • Share Comment:

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    Break Line: Stephanie Gilmore

    Todd Cole Hits the Ocean With the World Champion Surfer to the Sounds of Liars

    Slicing her way through breaking waves, professional surfer Stephanie Gilmore stars in Trestles Forever, filmed on the Pacific Ocean by NOWNESS regular Todd Cole.  The 24-year-old Gilmore rose to international prominence in 2007 when she seized the Women’s World Title for the first time, an award she has regained in four of the five years since. “I love working with people from outside the world of surfing,” says the New South Wales native. “It’s so refreshing to see their take on what we do every day.” SoCal-based Cole turned to the famously ocean-adept cinematographer Sonny Miller to swim after Gilmore with a 16mm camera locked into some custom-made underwater gear and loaded with black-and-white reversal stock. “I wanted to create something emotionally true and elemental,” explains the filmmaker. “Light, water, and a strong, talented, beautiful woman, all dancing around.” Overflowing with saltwater bubbles and chiaroscuro the film is set to “The Exact Color of Doubt”, a new track by LA band Liars from their latest album WIXIW. “I’ve had the pleasure of surfing with Devendra Banhart, Megapuss and Unknown Mortal Orchestra drummer Gregory Rogrove,” says singer Angus Andrew. “They’re real surfers—none of that poser Beach Boys crap!”


    The Trestles, San Diego County.

    Shoot duration

    One day; a few hours in the morning, then off on a boat looking for clear pools of water, and then another hour of surfing at sunset.

    Number of waves surfed


    Number of surf choreographers used

    One: Sonny Miller.

    Two Arri 16mm film cameras in custom-made underwater housings.

    Food consumed on set

    Bagels and cream cheese, chips, guacamole and salsa.

    Drink consumed on set

    Water, coconut water and some tequila at the end of the day.

    Approximate calories burned surfing


    Surfboard used

    5’9 DHD (Darren Handley Designs).

    Kris Zero.

 and makeup
    Angelina Cheng.


    Bikinis by Zero, Maria Cornejo and Cali Dreaming. Wetsuit by Quiksilver.

    (Read More)

    China Cat Fancy

    Competitive Felines and the Humans Who Love Them Pose For Noah Sheldon in Beijing

    China’s most pampered cats await their moment of glory in front of the heavy red velvet curtain at the Jin Hui Hotel’s Grand Theatre in this series by photographer and NOWNESS contributor Noah Sheldon. Having traveled to North Beijing with their owners from the wide reaches of the country, these 144 participants were ranked by the world-class judges of the 15th annual China Cat Fanciers Association competition. Hundreds of small tents, adorned with frilly curtains or leopard print throws, filled the halls peppered with brushes, combs and long feathers, all to groom these top pets. Persians, Maine Coons, a hairless Sphynx, and an elfin Singapura were among the most striking breeds vying for the CFA’s coveted rosettes. As incomes continue to rise across China, the country's emerging leisure class is lavishing time and money on their furry companions with increasing enthusiasm, keeping the animals in custom shampoo and multi-vitamins. "We feed our show cats fresh red meat,” explains Wang Zi Jing, a breeder who raises American Shorthairs and Persians at a cattery in Northeast China’s Dalian. “My husband goes early to the slaughterhouse to get the freshest we can find." Her finest show cat, Zhu Zhu, or Pearl, has already visited 20 cities around China on the awards circuit. At the event, which took place in late October, Beijing breeder Shi Ming Ju proudly lifted the flap on her miniature tent to reveal a huge Maine Coon. “She’s going to be on a special set of postage stamps. She’s going to be famous.”


    Entry fee per cat
    800 yuan ($130).

    A top cat’s monthly costs
    3000 yuan ($480) including shampoo, conditioner, brushes, de-greasing lotion, food.

    Most valuable breeds
    Persian, Maine Coon, Exotic (up to 50,000 yuan or $8000).

    Most expensive stud fee
    40,000 yuan ($6,400) for the services of a male Main Coon from Beijing.

    Cat snacks
    Raw beef, cooked chicken, dry biscuits.

    Average age of a show cat

    From a few months to two years old.

    Celebrity judge

    Allan Raymond from Australia, a cat show judge for more than 30 years, can spot a winner at 10 paces.

    (Read More)


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