ask Frances about
museums • soul food • theater • beaches • hiking • farms • forest
What do you do and why do you do it?
I'm a Programme Coordinator with Conservation International (Singapore) because I love foliage, food, and folks — and CI works to protect all three by protecting nature. Outside of work, I have fun with revitalising the endangered Kristang language in Singapore with a group called Kodrah Kristang I also like to take walks and connect with nature in its myriad forms, usually through a group I started called Little Green Men (facebook.com/littlegreenmensg). I'm incredibly attracted to the natural and cultural heritage of this land — and they do require quite a bit of detective work to discover!
You’re broken hearted - what tracks does your heartbreak playlist consist of?
On Hold, by The XX
What are the best TV shows of all time?
The Nanny Named Fran
Name some spots in Singapore that are good for a Tinder date.
Coffeeshop on Geylang Lorong 23; Eco Gourmet Cafe in Labrador Park; Derwish Turkish Restaurant on Arab St; Mustard in Racecourse Road; East Coast Lagoon Food Village; Greenwood Ave;TamarindHill
Who’s your hero and where in Singapore would you take them out for a serious hang?
Zero Waste advocate Lauren Singer is my hero! I'd take her to Kusu Island and Cyrene Reef during low tide to hang with marine mates.
Where do you buy those fabulous clothes of yours?
I haven't bought anything in a while since I'm trying to go zero-waste, but I go for clothes swaps and often mend/upcycle my clothes.
What’s the area/ spot in town you’ll never be caught dead in?
Shopping mall along Orchard Road — packed to the gills with tourists and pretty much the same stuff in every mall.
What’s the thing you LOVE to do in your city that you never get to do?
Go out to the mudflats and shores of Singapore just minutes from the city centre to observe corals, horseshoe crabs, monitor lizards, anemones, sponges, tree climbing crabs, sea cucumbers, octopi, etc. That's something you wouldn't find in another country.
What’s the most decadent / extreme dish you ever ate in Singapore and where did you get it?
Whale sperm at Yoyogi
Is there a hidden bar / hole in the wall in Singapore that you particularly like?
Ah Sam Cold Drinks Stall
What’s the most expensive restaurant / spa / hotel you’ve ever been to in Singapore? How much did it cost and what did you get there?
Iggy's at Hilton Hotel. It cost hundreds a head for a dégustation with seasonal seafood and vegetables, which I really appreciate. Surprise surprise, I left the table filled to the neck.
What restaurant in Singapore looks crap, but the food’s amazing?
Thai restos in Golden Mile Complex, where I usually eat before watching a film at The Projector.
Where can you get the best cocktail in Singapore? Which one do you like?
Ah Sam Cold Drinks Stall. The surprise cocktails are the best: Just tell the bartender what types of tastes/ingredients you like and he'll whip up something experimental for you.
Where would you take your partner in Singapore if you wanted to really pamper them?
Xie Kee Hokkien Mee in Bukit Timah Food Centre. But also probably Angie's Oyster Bar with a nice view, seafood, and fries. To really pamper though, I'd take my partner home and make something. ;)
Which snacks can you only get in your country, and which ones do you recommend?
Malay and Peranakan kueh-kueh (cakes, biscuits, desserts). I like kueh salat, pandan chiffon cake, ban cheang kueh, ang ku kueh, tu tu kueh, ondeh ondeh, kueh dadar, kueh lapis, nine layer cake, haru manis, lemper udang, talam ubi. Oh, and durian!
What’s the one place you think is overrated in Singapore?
Marina Bay Sands — it now features on just about every iconic image of Singapore's city skyline, but it's really just a hotel built over reclaimed land.
What’s the one place you think is underrated in Singapore?
Pulau Ubin's Chek Jawa just a short bum boat ride from Changi Point Ferry Terminal, costing SGD 3 each way. It's a good peek into old village life in Singapore and you get to see some awesome marine creatures and terrestrial critters. Plus, there's great, fresh-caught seafood in eateries on the island that really get you thinking about the food chain in the mangroves — where it all begins.
What are the Singapore spots a first-time visitor can’t miss?
Intertidal spots at low tide on mudlfats i.e. Kusu Island, St John's Island, Chek Jawa on Pulau Ubin, Pasir Ris Park. And for more refined gardenscapes, Singapore Botanic Gardens, Pasir Ris Park.
Tomorrow’s your last day in Singapore. How do you spend it?
I'd wake at dawn and head to the Jurong Fishery Port to check out the day's catch and operations there, then walk to Chinese Gardens, Little India, Club Street, Botanic Gardens, through the central business district, and Marina Bay, before finally taking a bum boat to Pulau Ubin to watch the sunset. Food galore all day too!
What’s your favorite vacation city in the world and why?
Singapore, because it's the place I've spent most time in and explored all my life!