DAY 1: NOSTALGIC AND NEW

1 Tiong Bahru

“I love Tiong Bahru because it’s a mix of the old and new world,” Jahan shares. To fully experience Tiong Bahru’s charm, start at Tiong Bahru Market & Food Centre with breakfast on the second floor and a stroll through the fresh produce section on the first.

At the other end of the street, past the various cafes and independent art gallery DegiosArt, is the 95-year-old Qi Tian Gong Temple—the first temple in Singapore that’s dedicated to the Buddhist Monkey God. Devotees come from all over the world to offer incense and prayers.

Venture further southwest into the neighbourhood to join new-age hipsters in their hunt for vinyl and handcrafted curios at independent local stores like Curated Records and Strangelets. As Jahan puts it, “Tiong Bahru is hip without being too gentrified.”

2 National Gallery: 8,000 Art Pieces of Southeast Asia

Spend the rest of the afternoon immersed in the meeting of worlds at National Gallery Singapore. “The architecture and space of the National Gallery draws me in because it’s a mix of old meets new, and East meets West,” shares Jahan. Formerly the Supreme Court Building and City Hall, this gallery houses the world’s largest public collection of Singaporean and Southeast Asian art.
 

3 Clarke Quay

In the evening, go drinking and people-watching at Clarke Quay. This bustling nightlife hub is home to a variety of live music bars and clubs, including Singapore’s most iconic club, Zouk. In 2006, 2007 and 2010, Zouk was ranked number 10 on DJ Magazine’s list of Top 100 clubs in the world, and its reputation has helped Singapore to attain global recognition in the nightlife scene.

Having relocated to Clarke Quay in December 2016, this local nightlife establishment holds many memories for Jahan: “Zouk was a huge influence for me when I was growing up—[I was influenced by its] music and flyers. With the new Zouk, I’m reminded of how we can draw inspiration from the past, while still moving towards the future.”

DAY 2: INSPIRING NATURE

4 Bukit Timah

If, like Jahan, you need your morning cuppa to get your day going, take your first cup of kopi (traditional local coffee) bright and early at the Bukit Timah Market). “I have to have eight cups of kopi a day,” admits the artist who stocks up on prepacked local coffee when he travels.

“The kopi [at Bukit Timah Market] is stronger and more shiok (a colloquial term expressing extreme pleasure).” Round the meal off with Singaporean breakfast staples of kaya (a traditional jam made from coconut and eggs) toast and soft-boiled eggs—sufficient fuel for a hike, or two.

5 MacRitchie Nature Trail & Reservoir Park

Citing nature as his source of inspiration, Jahan regularly heads to MacRitchie Reservoir Park. Enjoy the lush greenery by cooling off on the water or taking a hike through the well-maintained trails.

“There is a lot of greenery here in Singapore,” Jahan observes, adding on how being in it contributes to his artistic processes: “I try not to look at art when I’m creating my work, because I don’t want to subconsciously absorb other people’s concepts.”

6 Singapore Botanic Gardens

Continue on your green streak to Singapore Botanic Gardens, the country’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located on prime real estate near the heart of the city, the garden park is a fine example of how concerted nature conservation efforts gave land-scarce Singapore its nickname, ‘The Garden City’.

This site houses several different gardens, including the National Orchard Garden, home to over 60,000 plants and orchids. “From travelling, I’ve come to realise that many countries don’t have green lungs anymore,” Jahan compares. “We have a lot of original, unspoilt greenery here in Singapore, and that’s something that’s very underrated.”