An interview with Anna Chittenden, author of Lost Guides: Singapore.
What inspired you to write the Lost Guides?
I decided to start Lost Guides after becoming increasingly frustrated with trying to find trustworthy and useful travel recommendations! I say the books are for those that don’t require over-the-top extravagance, nor have the budget of a backpacker – but are in search of those special places in-between. I describe Lost Guides as Unique, Stylish and Offbeat Travel Guides for Asia.
What’s new for the Lost Guides, what else should we know?
I’m currently working on a travel guide book on Japan, which will be called Lost Guides – Tokyo & Beyond. It will be out in 2019, in time for the big events going on there, such as the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. The book will be focused on Tokyo and places that are within easy reach of the capital. The Tokyo part will reveal the spots for the tastiest ramen, to hidden neighbourhood public baths. The ‘Beyond’ part of the book will feature all those quick trips, such as to the snowy mountains in Hakuba to the cultural centre of Kyoto.
Where do you currently live, how did you end up there?
I’m originally from the UK but I now live in Singapore, which is in Southeast Asia (neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia). My then boyfriend, now fiancé was transferred from London to Singapore for work. We’ve been here nearly 5 years now. I love living in Asia – the delicious food, the easy travel, the great weather. Every day I feel like I have a cultural experience, whether that’s going to the local market or eating at a ‘hawker centre’, so I feel very lucky!
Favorite place you’ve been?
In Asia, I’m obsessed with Bangkok! It’s funny because I went there backpacking as a 19-year-old and mainly stuck to the tourist trail. Now living a short flight away I love going there to properly explore the city – it’s vibrant, creative, with a mix of old and new. I like to stay at a lovely boutique hotel called The Cabochon Hotel, sample the street food in Chinatown, and pick up trinkets at the vast Chatuchak market, and hop on a riverboat with views over the temples.
I like to pack really lightly, ideally just with a carry on, so I can get in and out of the airport quickly and travel around with ease. Small and easy ways to update your outfit is with statement earrings and bright lipstick; I like Mac’s ‘Runway Hit’, a warm coral-coloured matt lipstick. I generally do most of my shopping when I travel – vintage jeans from a buy-by-the-kilo-store in Tokyo, freshwater pearls from the Jade Market in Hong Kong, silk dresses from my favourite store in Bali, Magali Pascal.
Why do you love Singapore?
I love the lush, tropical landscape. Singapore is small, so you can easily escape from the city and be roaming around the jungle, with monkeys swinging from the trees.
One of the best things about Singapore is the food. This can range from anything from a $1 BBQ honey pork bao, $4 roti prata to more high-end sushi (there are a lot of Japanese in Singapore), to western places – Italian, Greek, you name it.
Where to eat/Must eats?
1. You can’t come to Singapore without visiting a hawker centre. I like Tiong Bahru Market – try the char kway teow, popiah or char siew wanton noodles. Nearby is Loo’s Hainese Curry Rice which is also a must.
2. National Kitchen by Violet Oon is a stylish restaurant in the National Gallery serving Singaporean and Nyona food, or Peranakan food, which is a heritage cuisine specific to the region.
3. Imperial Treasure Super Peking Duck does the most divine crispy duck pancakes.
Perfect day out?
A really fun day out, which is a totally different vibe to the modern city, is to do a day trip to Pulau Ubin, a tiny island with no cars, located off the east of Singapore. The best way to venture around the island is by bicycle, where you’ll see traditional ‘kampung’ villages and mangroves filled with local wildlife.
Where to go for RnR?
I like doing yoga at Yoga Movement, which has a few studios in Singapore, in calming, relaxing spaces.
A lovely walk is the Southern Ridges trail, which is a gentle hike close to the centre of the city, weaving in and around ancient trees with views over the South China Sea. The Henderson Waves Bridge is a highlight of the walk!
Where to shop/ Favorite local designer?
1. Ong Shunmugam is hands down the most inspiring local designer in Singapore right now. (I interviewed the founder Priscilla Shunmugam in my book Lost Guides – Singapore!). She takes influences from around Asia, such as from Japanese kimonos to Indonesian kebayas to create modern pieces for both the Asian and international audience.
2. A few doors down the road from Ong Shunmugam is the stationary shop Bynd Artisan ) where you can get the most gorgeous personalized notebooks and leather purses.
Where to shop/ Favorite local designer?
Junkie’s Corner is an amazing warehouse filled with second-hand furniture and antiques from Asia. Think ceramic garden stools, marble-topped tables, carved wooden mirrors, and Chinese vases.
BooksActually is a wonderful independent bookstore in Tiong Bahru, selling a curated selection of books from global authors, as well as publishing novels and poetry from Singaporean authors.
Dilip Textiles is a fantastic fabric shop on Arab Street selling beautiful Indian hand-printed block print fabric, from tablecloths to cushion covers and bedspreads.