Explore Singapore like no other
For Mimi Minh Nguyen, creative director of eco-luxury resort wear label Leinné, traveling is one of her greatest sources of inspiration. “It’s all about exploring and commitment to being a bold spirit,” she shares. Born in Vietnam, raised in London and Paris, the creative director is very much on board with travel as a way of life.
Exploration is in the DNA of not only Minh Nguyen but also her brain child, Leinné. The brand started from Minh Nguyen’s love for natural materials, the unique appeal of craftsmanship and imagination of faraway lands. She believes that a hat not only is a go-to item for traveling but also holds an indescribable value to its owner, for it reminds of memories and symbolizes a life well-traveled.
Mimi Minh Nguyen shares her visual journey from a recent trip to Singapore. “My favorite thing about Singapore is the palette of colors around the city. You don’t have to venture too far to have an artistic exploration”. As one of the most colorful cities in South East Asia, Singapore boasts vibrant landmarks that seamlessly blend the old with the ultra-new. For an explorer at heart like Minh Nguyen, it is the colorful cultures, accented architecture, and diverse communities in the Lion City that nurtures her creativity. She reveals some of the colorful, photo-worthy spots that keep a vivid spot in her memory.
Urban Green Wonder
Known as a City in a Garden and one of the greenest cities in the world, Singapore sets a prime example of an integrated urban green space. There’s a park or garden to explore no matter where you are in the country, of which Singapore Botanic Gardens is a must-visit.
She embarked on a journey through the endless greenery, spent a tranquil afternoon in the fresh air this garden has to offer, and marveled at the colorful flora and fauna that were out in full splendor. It feels like an oasis where you reconnect to yourself and enjoy the precious tranquility only nature can bring.
Leaving Minh Nguyen amazed was the National Orchid Garden, which showcases the world’s largest orchid display of over 60,000 orchid plants award-winning hybrids, including Vanda Miss Joaquim - the country’s national flower. The 3-hectare ecological paradise offers a marvelous sight of enchanting blooms and intricate landscape.
While Singapore’s innovative urban landscape impresses, its thriving network of green spaces is nothing short of admirable. This small city-state is a clear demonstration that outstanding urban development does not compromise nature. In fact, it is the preservation of sustainable green space that has contributed to Singapore’s remarkable development.
Contemporary library space
Preferring quiet spaces, Minh Nguyen came to library@orchard. Designed in a minimalist style, the white walls, bamboo floors, warm brown ceiling and winding bookshelves make her impressed.
While the wealth of bibliography and unique aesthetics is undoubtedly the highlight, the creative director remained longer than intended because of the library’s precious tranquility. Behind the bookshelves were folks entranced in their books, getting things done or brainstorming new ideas. For someone working in the creative industry like Minh Nguyen, such provoking and inspiring ambience is a treasure trove.
The fashion designer chose to stay at The Fullerton Hotel. Beyond a hotel, this building carries a historical significance, having witnessed the ups and downs of Singapore modern history. Gazetted as the 71th national monument, The Fullerton Hotel provides a blend of luxurious living with a touch of elegance and the nostalgia of old. With neoclassical architecture, every corner of The Fullerton is a unique artwork, transporting guests back to the old days.
The East Garden and the Chess Yard are Minh Nguyen's favorite little corners at the building. Under the brilliant sunshine and among beautiful architecture, she chose elegant items with subtle details to make impressive photos.
Where and what to eat
Singaporean cuisine also left many impressions for Minh Nguyen. The country serves up a wide array of dishes with origins from around the globe, predominantly coming from Malaysia, China, India, and Japan.
She stopped by the Maxwell hawker center to experience a unique culture. There, you can find stalls selling sizzling dishes at affordable prices. And more importantly, the hawker centers are the gathering places for people from all walks of life to feast, communicate, interact, creating an extremely lively and colorful scene. This hawker center is the one that houses the Michelin-starred Tian Tian chicken rice, but the queue was so long (average 1 hour) she decided to look elsewhere. Her Singaporean friend who brought her around took her to another chicken rice place and brought her refreshing sugarcane juice at Maxwell hawker center.
She finally landed at Boon Tong Kee for chicken rice and it quickly became her favorite spot. The rice is at a perfect softness, with the lemongrass and ginger fragrance, while the chicken is freshly cooked, moist, and tender. The queue is a bit long since this is popular, but you can reserve a table.
Nearby, also in the Balestier Rd area, are Chinese-Singaporean eateries, including Bak Kut Teh which is famous for its rice dishes and the food which to our surprise is a bit like sharing plates similar to food in Vietnam. On the wall, there are many pictures of Asian actors and celebrities who have dined here.
A walking distance from The Fullerton Hotel, Jypsy One Fullerton offers tasty Japanese fusion dishes. Its beautiful space and excellent sake makes it a perfect place for night dates.
Another lunch option she experienced with my Singaporean blogger friend Little Luxury List is Putien, a popular Chinese restaurant chain whose one restaurant is Michelin-starred.
Cafes and walking along the Singapore River
The Singapore river bank boasts pretty cafes, including Publico Restaurant, which her new friend Mary from Switzerland recommended. It had good coffee and after a drink they strolled along the nearby riverside area.
Shophouses are among Singaporean iconic architectures. The colorful window frames and lovely corners were the little things that captivated Minh Nguyen. A classic shophouse usually features a narrow facade, with a covered walkway in front for pedestrians (also called a five-foot way). Among Singapore's typical residential architecture, the shophouse is a blend of traditional Malay, Chinese, Peranakan and European culture. The brilliant houses in Katong/Joo Chiat, Clarke Quay, Emerald Hill remind of Singapore of the olden days, and are typical examples of architectural beauty that has stood the test of time
Within a short stay, Mimi Minh Nguyen has slowly experienced a different Singapore. Already recognized as a very popular tourist destination, the city-state still hides many hidden charms that are waiting to be discovered. In a bustling metropolis like Singapore, slowing down a bit can take you to unexpected places of interest.