Today is Day 2 of our Wellness Weekend — The East Side Edition, and we’d be exploring the oft-forgotten Paya Lebar neighbourhood (See Day 1 itinerary here). When compared to the nearby Katong/Joo Chiat area, Paya Lebar is frequently overlooked as Joo Chiat is so colorful and rich in history and also home to many Peranakans — Chinese migrants in the Malay Archipelago.
Also read: Wellness Weekend — Sentosa Edition
Paya translates to “swamp” and lebar to “wide” in Malay, hence meaning “wide swamp”, a tribute to the area’s origins. Paya Lebar was a squatter district in the past, where pigs and poultry were reared and sold. Later on, the area began to become more developed, with the opening of the Paya Lebar Airport, along with housing estate and factories.
Today, these housings and factories still remain. Paya Lebar is both a residential and industrial area, sans the pretentiousness of fancier ‘hoods. With Singpost Centre and relatively new Paya Lebar Quarters as central landmarks in the area, the neighbourhood gives us major down-to-earth vibes. It is also now home to many local cafes and businesses eking out a living in the community.
7 A.M. | Morning work-out
The air’s also fresher, and you’d be starting your day with so much feel-good endorphins — what’s not to love? Just try sleeping earlier the night before so you can rise early without feeling like you’ve been hit in the head.
8 A.M. | Make an easy Sunday morning breakfast
There’s something about cooking a lazy Sunday morning breakfast that feels so hygge. Put on some Sunday morning tunes and get cooking — either spending some me-time or with your other half.
This Middle Eastern Shakshuka dish is our go-to weekend brunch because it’s so quick, tasty — and so easy to clean up since it’s one-pan only. It’s also wholesome and filled with sirtfoods — foods that are rich in sirtuins, i.e. proteins that are scientifically known to combat things like obesity and ageing and boost energy. Remember to mop it all up with some freshly baked sourdough toast. Plenty of it.
One-pan Shakshuka recipe
- Heat olive oil in large pan (big enough to crack four eggs in it!)
- When the oil is hot, add chopped bell peppers and onions and cook until translucent (about 5 min).
- Add the chopped baby tomatoes and let them grill on the pan for 8 min, tossing occasionally, until tomatoes are blistered.
- Add chopped garlic and red chilli, fry for a few seconds.
- Pour the can of tomatoes into the pan, stir. Season with black pepper, salt and paprika. Heat through until the sauce is simmering, about 5 min.
- Using a large wooden spoon, make a small well in the sauce and crack an egg into it. Proceed to make the other three wells at each corner of the pan, cracking an egg into it.
- Garnish with chopped parsley and cilantro.
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- ½ red bell pepper, deseeded and diced
- ½ green bell pepper, deseeded and diced
- 1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced
- 200g baby tomatoes
- 1 can Hunt’s natural tomato paste/puree
- 4 large eggs
- Garnish: Parsley and cilantro, chopped
- Spices: Black pepper, salt, paprika
1 P.M. | Coffee at Komma
After a slow hearty brekkie, head to Komma for some retail therapy and coffee. A social space at PLQ dedicated to people and the community, Komma also carries lots of local artisanal products that’s handmade right here in Singapore. They also hold workshops and events like crafting, so if you’re into that sort of thing, check out their events calendar!
3 P.M. | Pottery class at The 8th Floor
We arrived at The 8th Floor pottery studio, located in an industrial building in Paya Lebar. Calming tones of grays and whites greeted us, as did a huge array of pottery works displayed on white metal rack shelves.
The studio was also filled with wheel-throwing potter apprentices so absorbed in their work that no one really glanced up at us when we walked in. Hands deep in clay and faces donned with masks, they looked like the exemplar of profound focus.
We met with Alvin and Shirley, the founders of The 8th Floor pottery studio. “I can really sit there for one whole day with my clay,” Shirley confesses. “It’s just therapeutic.” Indeed, studies have shown that pottery making can help reduce mental stress and even promote emotional healing. We were excited to experience the therapeutic effects of pottery for ourselves as it was our first time trying out wheel-throwing!
We were brought to their second studio space located in that same building, as demand for wheel-throwing and pottery classes have skyrocketed post-Covid. To keep up with the sudden surge in interest with pottery in Singapore, the duo has been working tirelessly late into the night on a daily basis.
As Alvin explained to us about clay and pottery making, his love for the medium and craft was clear. Previously a full-time lecturer at NAFA teaching fine arts (ceramics), Alvin has dedicated his life to this traditional craft of ceramics art and is glad that more and more Singaporeans are embracing it amidst our fast-paced, anxious modern lives.
“Pottery cultivates patience, because it’s such a slow, long-drawn process,” Alvin says. After patiently shaping and molding a piece of pottery from clay, the work is far from done. The wet clay has to rest for a day, before trimming takes place. The process of trimming each piece of pottery work in itself can be rather arduous and time-consuming, too.
After that, each pottery piece is fired in a kiln twice — the first at 950 deg Celcius to set the pottery piece, and the second at 1,200 deg Celcius. The final step — glazing — then wraps up the entire process.
It was now time for us to sink our hands into the dirt, and make something beautiful (hopefully) out of that unassuming wad of clay.
After three hours of being knee deep in wheel-throwing and pottery making, we finally molded our first pottery pieces ever in our lives. It was fascinating to be actually making something with your hands — and unlike most things that require us to use tech, pottery brings us back to the basics — and back to Earth. No wifi required.
It was definitely more difficult than expected though, as you’ve to multi-task between being in control of the speed of the wheel with your foot and molding the clay with your hands. But it was a fun first attempt, and it helped that Alvin was patient with us, stepping in to calmly guide us when our clay started spinning out of control.
Before you leave, don’t forget to give Latte a friendly pet! Latte was soo friendly and playful we were tempted to scoop him up and bring him back with us for a day or two.
They specialize in progressive wheel throwing courses for people who want to grasp the wheel-throwing techniques and acquire the ability to make ceramic objects for the home. A beginner’s course comprises 10 lessons of 3 hours each and costs $599 per person. A one-off wheel-throwing workshop costs $120, but this sells out quickly so get the first dibs by following their social media pages.
The 8th Floor Creative Space
37 Lor 23 Geylang, #08-03 Yu Li Industrial Building
By appointment only.
7 P.M. | Dinner at Tipsy Bird
After a satisfying, mind-cleansing pottery session, it’s time to refuel. Anyone who’d done wheel-throwing before would know that it’s pretty hard work, so we’ve earned ourselves a drink (or two)!
Head to Tipsy Bird, a gastrobar that beckons good vibes and good grub. Declaring themselves suitable for health-freak birds and cheeky birds alike, Tipsy Bird’s menu is pretty extensive — ranging from freshly shucked Japanese oysters, $24 for 6 pieces, Porcini Mushroom Soup, $8 to local delights with a twist (Moonlight Truffle Beef Hor Fun, $23) — with a good range of red wine to boot.
For dessert, order up a healthier version. Their Collagen Acai, $15 comes with cacao nibs and buckwheat granola that are organically grown and harvested here in Singapore.
9 P.M. | Wind down and detox your skin
Back home, it’s time to some pampering me-time as we wind down for the night. After playing with clay in the day, why not extend playtime a little longer and put on a revitalizing clay detox face mask before bed?
After all, clay has been used for its healing properties since ancient times, especially as a cleanser and a detoxifying agent. Natural clays also have antibacterial properties and have been used to heal skin infections, ulcers and other skin ailments.
Our picks: Revolution Beauty Pink Clay Detoxifying Clay Mask, $14.50 (purchase here); Fresh’s Umbrian Clay Purifying Mask, $88; and cult-favorite Aztec Secret’s Indian Healing Clay (purchase via Amazon here).
Make your clay detox a weekly ritual — it’s intense and feels just as gratifying as deep cleaning your home. Grant yourself idle time to reflect, or just do nothing at all. Sometimes, the most productive thing you can do is relax.
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