South East Asia 1

Isabella Grandic
6 min readJan 13

A filtered list of my favourite moments/places/insights as a first-timer in Asia (📍Singapore) — Week 1!

  • @koreanair impeccable experience for my first 12h flight! Details + simple luxuries that shaped my entryway into Asia (especially ultra-mini toothpaste, slippers, guava mousse and pineapple juice)
  • After 35h of travelling, I got myself a cozy hotel room. It was right across Changi’s indoor waterfall. Absolutely incredible… maybe my best’s night’s sleep.
  • Then, I took my first real stop outside of the airport… to @ikea. IKEA does a great job of keeping its brand consistent across markets and localizing in the restaurant. Always nice to visit my favourite fortune 500 company!!
  • @nus is the most beautiful campus I’ve seen. I made new friends in the canteen and ate a tasty $3 meal with them while organizing a spontaneous plan to go to China Town. We ate at the first Michelin star street food spot, indulged in an inappropriate amount of free mochi, jelly + fruit samples and befriended a pair of 70-year-old brothers. This agenda is how I beat my jet lag on day 3.
  • My personal favourite to-do has been memorizing the landscape of Singapore (I’m so lame, I know). I take the subway (the ‘mrt’) everywhere. I’ve enjoyed getting off at different stops and just looking around. I then compare what I see to the model of the map. It’s like a city-sized version of fill-in-the-blanks!
  • Little India + Arab street + China Town were certainly visual highlights. All of them had such colourful and characteristic buildings. It’s also amazing how many temples are casually in the middle of the city. I find myself staring at buildings for minutes at a time.
  • Something very exciting for me is the discovery of hawker centres: cheap but phenomenal food!! I have never heard of 90% of the things on the menu. Life in North America collapses Asian culture into a few staple meals (’pad thai, Chinese noodles, sushi’), but even then, the food scene is mainly inundated with bland fast food. Suburb mall strips and towns are all the same overwhelming shuffle of franchises… that serve carbs and meat in varying fried ways. To live in a place where most people eat lunch at a stand you’ve never heard of, a meal you haven’t had a billion times, and a place that represents a unique sliver of culture… that is refreshing to think about.
  • Hailing cabs!!! Paying cash!!! These are simple activities I didn’t know I had missed. I find…
Isabella Grandic

Aspiring healthcare infrastructure designer, technologist and scientist.