Time Out Singapore: Geylang After Dark

Home to endless supper spots, hip bars and plenty of late-night activities (some less savoury than others), the streets of Singapore remains a hive of activity long after the sun goes down. Here’s our guide to neighbourhoods around town that truly come alive after dark.

Geylang's steets come alive at night. Image courtesy of Morven Koh.

Geylang’s steets come alive at night. Image courtesy of Morven Koh.

30 Aug 2013: Famous for housing Singapore’s official (and legal) red-light district, Geylang consists of 42 perennially busy lorongs (streets) branching off the main Geylang Road – look out for the even numbered lanes, which is where the brothels are situated (from Lorongs 4 to 22). To ensure that patrons don’t go knocking on some unsuspecting family’s door, brothels are marked with large red numbers. For those not searching for flesh, however, there are plenty of other draws to the area at all hours – the main drags of Sims Avenue and Geylang Road host numerous restaurants and shops open 24 hours a day. Even in nearby family-friendly Kallang, games and activities are open late into the night – does anybody sleep around here?

EAT

There are plenty of late night cheap eats in the area – the most famous probably being island-wide favourite Wen Dao Shi (126) Dim Sum (126 Sims Ave, 6746 4757; Daily 24hr), which serves up its wares 24 hours everyday and is usually packed even in the wee hours. Its name puns on both its street number and the Cantonese phrase for ‘we’ve found food’, and once you manage to get a seat and order up (the menu is in Chinese, but has pictures), however, you’ll understand why there’s a perpetual queue outside. Cooking up everything from century egg porridge to all sorts of sweet and savoury ‘baos’ and much, much more, this is the ultimate place for late night comfort food.

For more cheap eats, seek out Liudama Charcoal BBQ (260 Geylang Rd, 6747 4744; Mon-Wed 4pm-4am; Thu-Sun 4pm-5am), which provides the popular Chinese street snack of chuan’r – meat sticks barbecued over a flame and seasoned with spices. You can even opt to grill the meat yourself – the pits are already built into the table and you can guarantee that each stick is piping hot. Make sure you add plenty of seasoning, too.

Alternatively, try Geylang Lor 9 Beef Kway Teow (237 Geylang Lor 9, 9388 0723; Daily 4.30pm-2.30am), which gets a full house and a drooling queue deep into the night, as loyal fans come for their juicy, tender meat-and-noodle fix – a common hawker staple. Prices have gone up by a dollar recently and a plate of it – which you can opt to have with kway teow or dry crispy noodles – will now set you back $6, but it’s still good.

There’s also non-streetfood options, such as The Tuckshop (403 Guillemard Rd, 6744 8441, http://www.thetuckshop.com.sg; Daily 5pm-1am), recently opened. Founded by five long-time area residents, the bistro-bar embodies the concept of East-meets-West in their food with a common Singapore-inspired thread running throughout.

DRINK

Drinks-wise, The Tuckshop is also a fantastic place to chill out over beer – it serves a wide range of artisanal and craft beers from around the world. Find a seat at any of the old school desks and funky chairs at the venue; otherwise a long communal table down the middle is great for larger groups.

For a cheap, cheerful and delicious way to quench your thirst – and satisfy your sweet tooth at the same time – get a bowl of silky smooth tau huay fromRocher Beancurd (745 Geylang Rd, 6748 3989, Daily 24hr). Opened round the clock, you can pick either the hot or cold version of their beancurd or have a cup of soya bean milk – all for less than $3. There are a few seats outside the stall if you’re lucky, but otherwise just get a bowl and slurp as you go. Other desserts such as egg tarts or dough fritters are available if you fancy something a bit more solid.

SHOP

Aside from the working girls, Geylang is also one of the best places to go for durians. Whether you think they’re the king of fruits or a smelly, spikey abomination, you’ll find that there is no shortage of stalls selling them as you wander around the Geylang area, each one lit by enough fluorescent light bulbs to recreate a bright summer’s day. One of the biggest and most reputable ones along the stretch is the reassuringly-named Wonderful Fruit Enterprise (147 Sims Ave, 6474 0191; Daily 5pm-late). It’s got plenty of seating and free water, but it is also one of the most expensive places around, with prices going up to $22 per kg for Mao Shan Wang durians.

And should you ever get the urge to buy a goldfish in the middle of the night, look no further than the 24-hour Se7en Star Aquarium (259 Geylang Rd, 8629 2904; Daily 24hr), which boasts of a selection of fish in all shapes, colours and sizes – it’s great entertainment checking them out, regardless. The ‘menu’ outside the store offers Catfish, the more exotic-sounding Baby Snake Head Fish, frogs – as well as a selection of baits such as prawns (‘live or frozen’) and crickets. Another branch of the same shop is located at Jurong East.

DO

There are plenty of family-friendly activities to do in the area as well. For a one-stop-shop of entertainment, the colourful Leisure Park Kallang (5 Stadium Walk, 6242 1220, www. leisurepark.com.sg; Daily 11-1am) has it all. While its shops and restaurants close at 10pm daily, there’s still plenty to do for night owls – you can catch a movie at the FilmGarde Complex (seewww.fgcineplex.com.sg for times), challenge your mates to a few games of bowling at Kallang Bowl (Sun-Thu 9-1am, Fri, Sat & PH eve 9-3am), or even go ice-skating until midnight on selected days at Kallang Ice World (Sun-Thu 10am-10pm, Fri, Sat & PH eve 10am-midnight).

If you fancy a game of football in the middle of the night, The Cage (38 Jln Benaan Kapal, 6344 9345, http://www.2009.thecage.com.sg; Daily 24hr. Weekdays before 6pm $54/ hr; weekdays after 6pm & all day weekends $96/hr; packages available) is your best bet. Founded in 2009, this is the first indoor football stadium in Singapore and has six five-a-side pitches – complete with FIFA- and UEFA-endorsed artificial turf, plus facilities such as showers. If footie isn’t your thing, you can also try cage cricket here (the same as normal cricket – just indoors). All equipment is provided, but you are welcomed to bring along your own music and blast it out on their boom box to get in the mood. Bookings can be made through their website or by phone.

After a workout, you might need a massage – and the two-storey G Spa (#02-02, 102 Guillemard Rd, 6280 8988, http://www.gspa.com.sg; Sun-Thu 11am-11pm, Fri & Sat 11am-3am) is your place. Open until the wee hours on the weekend, it’s billed as a ‘one-stop spa experience’, with everything from massage treatments to sauna, pool and gym facilities. The entry fee also allows access into the lounge, where you can enjoy free-flow food and drink. (Admission fees $58 for members; $78 for non-members. Spa treatments start from $98 for members; $125 for non- members. Membership packages start from $500.)

Time Out Singapore: Julia Abueva

At 17, Julie Abueva has already performed in musicals and entertained top dignitaries like Barrack Obama. Gwen Pew catches up with the Manila-born, Singapore-raised talent as she prepares for her first non-singing role in the French whodunit play 8 Women.

Julia Abueva. Photo courtesy of Sing'Theatre.

Julia Abueva. Photo courtesy of Sing’Theatre.

18 Mar 2013: She’s only a year away from finishing high school, but the Manila-born, Singapore-raised 17-year-old singing sensation Julia Abueva has already earned quite a few impressive feathers in her hat. After being discovered ten years ago by local singer Cat Ong, Abueva has performed in front of Lee Kuan Yew, Lee Hsien Loong and other foreign heads of state, including US President Obama. She’s also shared the stage with multi-award-winning Filipina songstress Lea Salonga (the singing voice of princess Jasmine inAladdin), and was invited to perform on The Oprah Winfrey Show as one of the most talented kids in the world at the age of 12 – although she had to turn down the opportunity as the episode coincided with her first sold-out solo concert at the Esplanade here in Singapore.

Abueva has previously been involved in several local musicals, including Into the Woods and Spring Awakening, but she will be making her debut performance in a non-singing role this month in Sing Theatre’s production of8 Women, the darkly funny whodunit (immortalised in the 2002 French movie starring Isabelle Huppert and Catherine Deneuve) about the murder of a lord in a mansion – and the eight women in the house who might have done the deed.

She plays Catherine, the feisty 15-year-old daughter of the murder victim, alongside local theatre veterans such as DBS Life! Theatre Award winner Tan Kheng Hua and Neo Swee Lin – both from the popular TV series Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd – who play the murdered man’s wife and mother-in-law respectively.

‘I have to admit that my comfort zone has always been music because it helps me “feel” more. Standing on stage without music will be a very new experience but I’m very excited,’ says Abueva, although she also notes many similarities between acting in a musical and in a straight play, such as the approach she takes to understanding her character. ‘The first thing I do is read the script to understand the story,’ she explains. ‘Then I try to imagine my character beyond the script – such as what songs she would listen to, what her favourite book is – and basically create a whole person in my head, because I can then understand her better and make the character more truthful.’

While Abueva admits that it does get difficult to juggle homework with rehearsals – she attends the Singapore American School and maintains the regular 11th grade curriculum – she believes it’s worth it and has big dreams for the future. ‘Of course I need an education, but I also know that I need to take advantage of opportunities that come my way,’ she concludes. ‘I’ve started to write my own songs so I want to start getting my music out there. I also dream of being on Broadway or West End someday. That’s still my biggest dream.’