My City: Geraldene Lowe-Ismail
The perfect day in Singapore for the creator of Geraldene’s Tours and recipient of the Singapore Tourism Board’s 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award.
What makes Singapore’s heritage and culture so unique?
It’s very accessible, all of the ethnic areas. Even from the early days, it was very safe for people to go around exploring on their own. Tourists also tend to feel safer here compared to other parts of Asia or even some cities in Europe or the US. Plus, most people here speak English and are usually friendly, helpful and proud of the city. Having grown up during colonial times, I also love that we treasure many of our old buildings, as well as the unique black and white houses.
What’s your favorite landmark in Singapore and why?
Gardens by the Bay (18 Marina Gardens Dr., 6420- 6848, S(018953), MRT: Bayfront) is really wonderful, even though it’s man-made. But my favorite has to be the Botanic Gardens (1 Cluny Rd., S(259569), MRT: Botanic Gardens). I’ve created many different walks there, pointing out different plants that are used medicinally by different ethnic groups and for different seasons— which have inspired people to write books about it.
What’s your favorite local dish?
I love murtabak. We always go to Zam Zam (697 North Bridge Rd., S(198675), MRT: Bugis) on the corner of Arab Street. I’ve been going since I was a kid, and I guess once you go to a certain place and people know you, you just stick to it. We usually end up there on my tours and they’ll have a table for us upstairs. You get a nice view of Sultan Mosque, the ambience is very local and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg!
My Perfect Day
6:30am - Get breakfast along Killiney Road.
My husband and I are usually up by 6:30am and would dine at one of the eating houses here (some open very early). He likes curry puffs, spring rolls and teh tarik, while I generally prefer starting the day with cereal and fresh fruits.
1pm - Break for coffee.
I conduct a lot of tours with the expatriate community and there’s a wonderful coffee place, called Highlander (49 Kampong Bahru, 6226-1686, S(169362), MRT: Outram Park) where I would bring them to. Expats like to go back to places where they can take their kids and their family.
3pm - Relaxing at home.
When I’m home, I read the local newspapers and update myself on the activities at museums and libraries or events that I would like to attend and prepare for the following day.
7pm - Catch up over local food.
I’d spend time catching up with friends and colleagues at one of my favorite restaurants, Bumbu (44 Kandahar St., 6392-8628, S(198897), MRT: Bugis). There’s a great choice of local dishes and it’s set in an old shophouse. The owner is Peranakan so he has a huge collection of all things Peranakan—it’s very atmospheric.