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Wellness Weekend itinerary — The East Side Edition

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Ask any Eastie in Singapore and you will hear solid proclamations that their side of the island is “the best side”. Much to the annoyance of West siders, who constantly find themselves having to defend their turf from being called “ulu” and “almost Malaysia”.

For some reason, East siders are fiercely proud of their area. Instead of treating this postal code debate like war, why not take it as interesting diversity? After all, Singapore’s made up of a melting pot of different cultures — Peranakan, Indian, Chinese, Malay, Eurasians — and diversity is what makes this place we call home special.

The East is most associated with the rich Nyonya culture. Once filled with coconut plantations, the Katong area was first populated by the English-educated middle class, including Peranakans and Eurasians. Today, it’s a heady blend of the old and new.

Let all preconceived notions melt away and immerse in the East’s heritage.

Saturday, Day 1: Be a tourist in the East for a day.

8 A.M. | Breakfast at East Coast Commune @ East Coast Park

Photo: East Coast Commune

Start the day bright and early (before the sun gets too hot!) with a hearty brekkie at East Coast Commune. This relatively new tropical café serves up fresh bakes, hearty nosh and specialty coffee. With a comfy and nature-y ambience to boot, you’d feel as if you’re eating in your own living room — a beautifully styled one at that.

Our food picks include the Bagels and Dips, $12, comprising classic hummus and garlic chive cream cheese and Fresh Sourdough Waffles, $12 for dessert. Besides coffee, they also have various teas like the Koku Yuzu Kukicha and kombuchas. Our pick: Oat Masala Chai by Chai Baba — it’s deliciously brewed; a must-try if you are a fan of chai lattes.

East Coast Commune
Location: 1000 East Coast Park #01-03, Singapore 449876
Hours: 9:00am to 6:00pm daily, except Tuesdays 

10 A.M. | #ootd at Koon Seng Road shophouses

Built way back in the 1920s, these residential shophouses are super distinctive due to their beautiful exterior facades in pastel tones.

There’s a lot of intricate detailing on the shophouses, featuring Peranakan tiles, floral motifs and breeze blocks that embody the Peranakan culture. Together, these shophouses look like our favorite Nyonya Rainbow Kueh Lapis.

You’ll want to take #ootd photos. A lot of it. So pick your outfit beforehand! We’d recommend muted colors for the colorful shophouses to pop.

Peranakan Shophouses @ Koon Seng Road
Location: Near the intersection of Koon Seng Road and Everitt Road
Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/mqbctq5SwniCQccG6

12 P.M. | Shopping at Cat Socrates

Photo: Cat Socrates

A quaint hole-in-the-wall lifestyle store, a visit to Cat Socrates is always a fun experience. Browse well-designed, quirky and locally-inspired zakka, books and paraphernalia, home décor and more.

It’s a store that is very much part of the vibrant Joo Chiat community — they also collaborate with local artists to present their work in stores.

Cat Socrates
Location: 448 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427661
Hours: 11am to 6pm; Mondays to Sundays 

1 P.M. | Vegan Lunch at Loving Hut

Vegan Mee Siam | Photo: ach

Going vegan in Singapore can be quite a struggle since vegan dining places are rare. A lot of times, you’d have to cook at home if you’re vegan.

Loving Hut is one of our go-to cafes for vegan local food — they serve up a mean Mee Siam and Char Kway Teow that would appease veggie haters. We also tried their Fried Ngoh Hiang and it was really good! Almost had us fooled that it was meatless. Anyhow, we’d happily gobble up healthier versions of our favorite hawker fare that don’t compromise on taste.

Vegan Char Kway Teow | Photo: ach
Vegan Fried Ngoh Hiang | Photo: ach

Loving Hut
Location: 229 Joo Chiat Road #01-01, Singapore 427489
Hours: 11:30am to 3:00pm, 6:00pm to 9:30pm | Mondays to Sundays

3 P.M. | The Cheese Shop

Take a leisurely stroll after lunch and visit The Cheese Shop — which is just a few shops down from Loving Hut. Boasting a plethora of cheeses like the Brie de Meaux AOC, Graton d’Areche and Camembert de Normandie, imported from overseas.

They also have a platter-ready selection packs which includes a large assortment of cheeses and delicious complementary bites like crackers, hams, olives, chutney — perfect for hosting a party!

 The Cheese Shop
Location: 267 Joo Chiat Road #01-01, Singapore 427521
Hours: 11:00am to 8:00pm; weekends | 11:00am to 8:00pm; weekdays 

4 P.M. | Visit the Intan Peranakan home

The Intan Peranakan Home Museum | Photo: ach

The Intan is a Peranakan heritage home which houses a collection of Peranakan cultural gems. We were invited by Alvin, the owner of The Intan, to visit the Peranakan museum — which is also his home!

Located in one of the terrace houses along Joo Chiat Road, The Intan celebrates all things Peranakan. Expect to see a variety of Peranakan collectibles, ranging from Peranakan porcelain vases, Nonya kebayas to beaded slippers. Being a baba himself, Alvin’s passion and love for the Peranakan culture shines through as he brings guests through the home museum.

Traditional weaved baskets that speak of olden days | Photo: ach
Host Alvin giving an introduction of the Peranakan culture. | Photo: ach

There’s also a simple tea break comprising Nonya goodies like love letters, kueh bangit and hot tea at the end of the tour.

The heritage home tour at The Intan costs $60 per pax. Singapore Rediscover vouchers available for use.

The Intan
Location: 229 Joo Chiat Road #01-01, Singapore 427489
Hours: 11:30am to 3:00pm, 6:00pm to 9:30pm | Mondays to Sundays

Book via Klook.

6 P.M. | Dinner at Guan Hoe Soon

Oldest Peranakan restaurant in Singapore. | Photo: Guan Hoe Soon

What’s a visit to the East without the taste of Peranakan food? Head to Guan Hoe Soon, Singapore’s oldest Peranakan restaurant and also known to be the late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s favorite Peranakan restaurant.

Order perennial favorites like the Ayam Buah Keluak, $16; Babi Pong Tay, $13.80; Kueh Pie Tee and the Nonya Assam fish Ikan Bawal Assam Nanas Pedas, $38. Make room for Nonya desserts as well — their Pulut Hitam, made of black glutinous rice and coconut milk, is rich and delicious. Or try the Bo Bo Cha Cha if you prefer something cold.

Ayam Buah Keluak | Photo: Guan Hoe Soon

Guan Hoe Soon
Location: 38 Joo Chiat Place, Singapore 427762

8 P.M. | Ice-cream at Birds of Paradise

A delicious treat post dinner, Birds of Paradise serves up a huge range of botanical and locally-inspired flavors such as Pandan, Strawberry Basil, Lychee Raspberry and more. Think: herbs, flowers, spices. Their ice-cream cones also come aromatically infused with thyme. Order a cone instead of a cup — you won’t regret it.

Birds of Paradise
Location: 63 East Coast Road, #01-05, Singapore 428776
Hours: 12:00pm to 10:00pm, Tuesdays to Sundays

9 P.M. | Home + journal before bedtime

Wind down the day of play and relaxation back at home in your best hygge spot, with a cup of hot, sleepy tea. Grab a notebook and your favorite pen and start penning down your thoughts and experiences for the day. Research has found that brain-dumping your thoughts before bed can your mind relax and help you sleep better.

Some journaling prompts to feel warm and happy before bed:

The best moments of today were…
Three things I am grateful for today and every day
Which part of my heritage or my roots do I care about, or feel most connected to?
What makes me feel connected and rooted?
What are the tasks I hope to accomplish tomorrow

Next, check out Day 2 of our Wellness Weekend itinerary!

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