Under Cover

It’s an all too familiar scenario in Singapore. It rains suddenly, you can’t get a cab and the thought of braving public transport is just too much. So what can you do besides wander around malls in a daze or sip endless lattes? Lots actually, from ducking into a museum to getting an instant makeover to shooting a round of pool. Here are some cool ways to stay dry.
Orchard Road/City Hall | Chinatown | Bugis/Arab Street
Holland Village | East Coast | Stuck at Home
Asian Civilisations Museum. 1 Empress Place, 6332-7798, admission $5 (adult), $2.50 (concession); and 39 Armenian St., 6332-3015, admission $3 (adult), $1.50 (concession). Free on Fri after 7pm. Open Tue-Thu, Sat-Sun 9am-7pm; Fri 9am-9pm; Mon 1-7pm. Between the two wings of the ACM, the cultures of the various ethnic groups in Singapore are covered. Empress Place houses galleries on China, Southeast Asia, South Asia and West Asia, while Armenian Street is dedicated to Peranakan culture. Through Apr 9, check out the stunning Power Dressing exhibition at Empress Place on courtly, priestly and military textiles.
Civil Defence Heritage Gallery. Central Fire Station, 62 Hill St., 6332-2996. Open Tue-Sun 10am-5pm. Free. In spite of this gallery’s fuddyduddy name, it is actually quite interesting—and it gives you a chance to take a look inside the architecturally lovely Central Fire Station. On the first floor is a museum that depicts the early days of fire fighting in Singapore, from the late 1800s, and on the second floor are displays that showcase the modern day. On Saturday mornings slide down the 4-storey fireman’s pole.
Singapore Art Museum. 71 Bras Basah Rd., 6332-3222. Open Sat-Thu daily 10am-7pm; Fri 10am-9pm. Admission $3 (adult), $1.50 (concession). Free on Fri after 6pm. You know what’s on offer here—cutting-edge modern and contemporary Southeast Asian art. Stroll through the galleries and enjoy both permanent and seasonal exhibitions. Look out for talks, demonstrations, workshops, performances and holiday specials. Through Feb 7, the art of Literature Nobel Prize winner Gao XingJian is on display, and includes never-before-seen works.

The Singapore Mint. #01-07 Starhub Centre, 51 Cuppage Rd., 6339-0886. Open Mon-Sat 11:30am-2pm, 3-7pm; Sun and public holiday 12:30-2pm, 3-5pm. Free. Coins and notes minted over the years are on display and make good gifts or collectibles. Limited edition coins are also available for collectors.
Singapore Philatelic Museum. 23B Coleman St., 6337-3888. Open Mon 1-7pm; Tue-Sun 9am-7pm. Admission $3 (adult), $2 (children below 12). You don’t have to be a stamp collector to appreciate this boutique museum. Permanent exhibitions show Singapore’s philatelic and postal heritage from when it was a Straits Settlement, while seasonal exhibitions feature unique local and international collections.
Good Causes
Network of Asian Women. #02-12 Stamford House, 39 Stamford Rd., 6734-1037. Mon-Fri noon-5pm. Pop into this place and support a good cause. This Japanese-run charity sells crafts from our neighbors in Bangladesh and Thailand, and includes works by survivors of the Asian Tsunami. Proceeds go to the Duang Prateep Foundation in Bangkok, whose mission is to help slum dwellers all over Thailand.
The Substation. 45 Armenian St., 6337-7535. Open daily 11am–9pm. This space dedicated to the arts is so underrated it deserves a medal just for surviving. January to June will see this venue host an assortment of classes, including kids’ yoga, digital photography and contemporary dance. In February, the Singapore Fringe Festival will offer theater, dance, music, art, photography and video. Give this space a chance.
Alaric’s Comics and Collectibles. #05-31/31A Funan The DigitaLife Mall, 109 North Bridge Rd., 6333-1262. Open daily from noon. Standing out from the electronic stores in Funan like a rebel with a cause, this store has an extensive range of figurines and miniatures of comic book characters.
The Forum at Ngee Ann City, 391 Orchard Rd., has a newly created section of the mall dedicated to art supplies. Check out Creative Hands (#04-20B/C, 6738-1690; open daily 11am-9pm) for a comprehensive range of fine art materials; and Art Friend (#04-20, 6733-8482; open daily 10:30am-9pm) for crafts and hobbies.
Portrait Studio. #02-24 Far East Plaza, 14 Scotts Rd., 6734-1127. Open Mon-Fri noon-8pm; Sat noon-5pm. Get a cute caricature portrait of yourself done on the spot for $15-30. Or one of your sweetheart—girl, boy or pet—whose photo you carry in your wallet.
San3 Bookshop. #02-15 Funan The DigitaLife Mall, 109 North Bridge Rd., 6339-3619. Open daily 10:30am–8:30pm. Literary types just love this used books store. Lose yourself among the likes of Chuck Palahniuk, Milan Kundera and Kazuo Ishiguro.
SpawnAsia. #01-13 Stamford House, Stamford Rd., 6334-3615. Open Tue-Sun from 2pm. Fans of twisted comic series Spawn will know what this store is about. Besides the expected array of Spawn merchandise, this shop also carries Corpse Bride and Wallace and Gromit collectibles. Wicked.
Spellbound. #02-11 Peninsula Plaza, 111 North Bridge Rd., 6337-8860. Open daily 2:30-7pm. Behold the wiccan’s haven. Quite possibly the only one of its kind in town, Spellbound caters to all your spell crafting needs. It looks the part too—its door is always shut and you need to announce your arrival before being let in to its realm of pentacles, wands and crystal balls.
Fun and Games
The Balcony. #01-K5/#02-03 The Heeren, 206 Orchard Rd., 6235-2325. Open daily 24-hours. As its name suggests, this establishment is perched on a balcony. It is a bar and café rolled into one, and is a lovely venue for enjoying a snack or cocktail at any time of the day or night.
Mambo Billiards. #06-48B Lucky Plaza, 304 Orchard Rd., 6732-5189. Open Mon-Thu noon-2am; Fri-Sun and public holiday noon-3am. Shoot some pool at one of the 16 tournament size (nine-foot) tables or play a less demanding game at an eight-foot table, of which they have six. Alternatively, challenge a friend to a game of miniature soccer at the football table. Prices start at $8.80 for two hours for pool tables.
Party World. #B1-00 Crown Prince Hotel, 270 Orchard Rd., 6333-6050. Open daily 11am-6am. Party World is a chain of KTV lounges, and this is their biggest. Mandarin and Cantonese hits are favorites at this karaoke joint. Groups of three to four warblers are usually found holed up in one of the cozy rooms, belting their hearts out.
Quick Fixes
City and Guilds Tamaris School of Hairdressing & Beauty. #01-11 Capitol Building, 11 Stamford Rd., 6339-2918. Open daily 10:30am-8pm. Trainees provide haircuts and styling at a slightly lower price than in full fledged salons. Let them work on you while you wait for the rain to abate and emerge with a brand new look!
Make Up for Ever. #02-06 Stamford House, 39 Stamford Rd., 6333-0678. Open Mon-Sat noon-8pm. Although this place looks like a boutique, it is really a make up academy. Step in and ask about their makeovers—be adventurous, on top of the usual beauty stuff they do special effects and stage make up too.
Soul Searching
Differ World. #02-05 Stamford House, 39 Stamford Rd., 6338-5669. Open Mon-Fri 9am-6pm. If you’re in need of an emotional overhaul, step into this center that offers motivational talks and courses. If there’s one on, there’s no reason why you can’t sign up on the spot. Differ World promises to help you “realize your potential, transform your life and design your destiny.”
Success Shop. #01-40/02-60 Peninsular Plaza, 111 North Bridge Rd., 6338-8829. Open Mon-Sat 10:30am-8:30pm; Sun 11:30am-6:30pm. All manner of motivational books are sold here, from Robert Allen to M Scott Peck of The Road Less Travelled fame. And success comes cheap here—books start at just $9.90.
U4Ria. #04-53 Peninsula Plaza, 111 North Bridge Rd., 6337-7463. Open Mon-Sat noon-9pm; Sun and public holidays noon-6pm. Spice up your love life indoors while it pours outdoors. This place has rubbery, slippery, feathery, and leathery stuff for him and her—get the drift? Whatever rocks your boat can be found here.
Tea Chapter. 9A Neil Rd., 6226-1175. Open daily 11am-11pm. You won’t find bubble tea at this joint. The art of tea is celebrated here, with Chinese, Korean and Japanese corners for different teas and tea drinking cultures. Have a cuppa and Zen out while you wait for the sun to emerge.
U Toys. #2-11/12 China Square Central, 18 Cross St., 6438-4326. Open Mon-Fri 11:30am-8pm; Sat 10am-8pm; Sun 10:30am-6:30pm. Transformers, Star Wars, and other character collectibles are stocked here, including the latest and most limited editions. There’s Blythe for the girls and Bandai for the blokes.
Quick Fixes
Living Space. 17 Hong Kong St., 6534-0340. Open daily 11am-11pm. Take your pick of quick fixes at this five-floor health and fitness center that does not require its customers to be members. There are face and body treatments, aromatherapy and a health bar and bistro too. Men have an entire floor to themselves. Prices start at $45 for a bees’ wax back treatment, and go up to $125 for a 90-minute body massage.
Soul Searching
Whatever. 20 Keong Saik Rd., 6224-0300. Open daily 8am-11pm. Comprising a bookstore, café, lounge and yoga studio, Whatever is a center for New Age spirituality. Check out its books, CDs, classes or just chill in the lounge.
Absolute Comics. #03-13 Parco Bugis Junction, 200 Victoria St., 6333-3193. Open daily 11am-9pm. Stocking imports from the US, Japan and Europe, this store has all kinds of graphic novels, manga, and board games. A good place to park boyfriends while the girls go get an instant makeover downstairs.
National Library. 100 Victoria St., 6332-3255. Open daily 10am-9pm. Apart from coming here for a good browse, you can also join in the literature, art and lifestyle activities the library holds regularly. On Jan 22 and Feb 4 are two discussions on the Chinese literary classic, The Dream of the Red Chamber. The talk on Jan 22 is in Mandarin. And on Jan 14 Adrian Tan, author of The Teenage Textbook, shares his thoughts on humor and the next big thing.
Straits Records. 43 Haji Lane, 9385-3211. Open daily from 2pm till late. Singapore’s own record label manages bands like MySquaredCircle and Plain Sunset, as well as regional act Love Me Butch. They also have a hip store specialising in rock music with recordings by the above artists.
Fun and Games
Pretty in Tokyo Neoprints. #03-08 Parco Bugis Junction, 200 Victoria St. Open daily 11:30am–9:30pm. One of the few remaining Neoprints outlets around, this one guarantees a few moments of fun as you stamp your image on cutesy stickers. Judging by the popularity of this shop, Neoprints might just end up sticking around.
Retro Muzique Café. 31A Bali Lane, 6296-5351. Open daily 6:30pm till late. Sink into a comfy chair or sprawl on the carpet and kill time with one of the many board games offered in this super chilled out joint.
Quick Fixes
Ros & Roy Pro Make Up. #02-41 Parco Bugis Junction, 200 Victoria St., 6337-8820. Open daily 11am-9:30pm. On the spot makeover and brow shaping are offered at these counters by the escalators. Instant beauty classes are also available at $80 for a 90-minute crash course.
Art Galleries
DLR Gallery. 17C Lorong Liput, 6466-3765. Open Fri-Mon, Wed 3-8pm. Functioning almost like a museum, this gallery showcases works by the art community and invites the public to view them. If you’re stuck in this neighborhood on a rainy Friday night, pop in for its weekly wine and cheese meet-the-artists parties.
Framehub. 46A Lorong Mambong, 6466-1147. Open daily 10am-8pm. Thai religious art and local contemporary art is presented at this gallery that is known for its silk frames.
Fun and Games
Settlers’ Cafe. #02-98 15 Holland Dr., 6464-0178. Open Mon-Thu 2-10pm; Fri 2-11:30pm; Sat noon-11:30pm; Sun and public holiday noon-10pm. Fifty card and board games are on offer here for both big and small groups of players. Take shelter and roll the die.
Quick Fixes
Ambrosia Nectar. 6A Lorong Mambong, 6467-0336. Open Mon-Sat 10am-8pm; Sun 10am-7pm. Metrosexsuals will like this place that offers aromatherapy at $80 an hour as well as reflexology ($30 for 40 minutes), and deep tissue massage ($65 for an hour).
Shen Nong Traditional Physiotherapy Centre. 36A Lorong Mambong, 6462-3372. Open daily 10am-9pm. Step in here for a quick and deep (as in often painful) Chinese massage. Half an hour will cost you $25, 40 minutes $35 and a full hour $45. Or go for acupuncture at $22 per session. No pain, no gain.
Wax Affair. 25 Lorong Liput, 6468-7965. Open Mon-Fri 11am-8pm; Sat 11am-7pm. Women have been coming here for their Brazilians for years. Men are welcome too. Walk in and try your luck. They may have an appointment free.
SilverKris Bookshop. #01-187/188 Blk 84 Marine Parade Central. Open Mon, Wed-Fri noon-8pm; Sat and Sun 10:30am-8pm. No, this store has nothing to do with our national airline. It’s much better. One of the neighborhood’s little gems, this used books store has been around for donkey’s years and stocks an excellent range of thrillers, sci-fi, fiction and erotic romance novels. You cannot give this one a miss—whatever the weather.
Fun and Games
Classic Pool. #10-05/07 Parkway Centre, 1 Marine Parade Central, 6345-3877. Open daily 10am-3am. You won’t see this pool hall from the street; it’s discreetly hidden on the tenth floor of a somewhat inconspicuous building. Your landmark is the Golden Arches on the ground floor. When you see Ronald MacDonald, take the elevator up. Classic Pool has about 30 pool tables at your disposal, and you might
end up staying here long after the rain has stopped. Take our cue, um, word, for it.
Internet Pioneer Club. #01-02 Parkway Centre, 1 Marine Parade Central, 6348-6578. Mon-Fri 10:30am-11pm; Sat and Sun 10:30am midnight. Boys don’t need wet weather as a reason to have fun gaming, but it is certainly a good excuse. Come here for a spot of CounterStrike, WarCraft, and other popular online games.
KBOX Karaoke. #01-5000 Blk 87 Marine Parade Central, 6243-3113. Open daily 11am-3am. These guys hardly need an introduction. Each of its 14 outlets span several shop spaces with numerous rooms for your private singing exploits. KBOX in Marine Parade is no exception, and has a good selection of both English and Mandarin tunes.
Quick Fixes
Speed Cuts. #01-503 Blk 87 Marine Parade Central, 6323-2312. Open daily 10am-9pm. Hair remedies here start at a bargain $10 for 10 minutes. Perfect for wet rat tails that need an instant pick me up.
Zhizule Reflexology. #01-03 Parkway Centre, 1 Marine Parade Central, 6344-1336, 6344-7665. Open daily 10am-10pm. Walk right in and get a half hour rub down on your feet or shoulders. Prices start at $25. Om … that feels good.
Stuck at Home

ORDER IN. Food delivery goes way beyond pizza these days. At www.cuisinexpress.com.sg, you can order food from a variety of restaurants including Original Sin, Paulaner Brauhaus, California Pizza Kitchen and other reputable establishments. Delivery hours are Mon-Sat 11am-2:30pm, 6:30-10pm; Sun 6:30-10pm. Minimum order of $25. Sakae Sushi delivers an array of sashimi and tempura (6388-8383; daily delivery noon-8pm. $10 delivery charge for orders below $50. Log onto www.sakaesushi.com.sg/delivery.htm); while Cantana dishes up Italian and Mediterranean cuisine (60 Greenleaf Rd., 6467-5413; delivery Mon-Fri 6-10pm, Sat-Sun 11am-10pm; minimum order of $25).
SOLVE A PUZZLE. Sprawl on the floor with a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle—it’s hours of fun. Get a puzzle from Jigsaw Puzzle World (#02-052 Suntec City Mall, 1 Raffles Blvd., 6336-9635).
DIAL A DVD. CineNow (www.cinenow.com.sg) is a kioskbased movie rental facility that has kiosks in several HDB estates. From a kiosk you can rent and/or return the latest Hollywood, Bollywood, Chinese, Korean, Japanese or Hindi flicks in VCD or DVD. Or check out www.hollywoodclicks.com, an online DVD movie rental service that will deliver your movie of choice to you in one to two working days.
PLAY A GAME. If you are all by your lonesome self, try online Cluedo (www.cluedofan.com/onlinegame.htm), a one-player version that keeps you guessing. For groups, there’s new DVD game Scene It. This movie trivia game tests your movie knowledge with clever and unexpected questions, and requires a minimum of two players. Or try Buzz: The Music Quiz game show and Spy Toy the ultimate undercover secret agent game, both on DVD by PlayStation2. Alternatively, if you’re really stuck, make up your own version of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, or go for it with a game of Twister.