12 Amazing Hours in Singapore

12 Amazing Hours in Singapore

While booking my plane ticket to Bali, I was weighing the options of a 6-hour layover in the Singapore airport, or a 12-hour layover so I could leave the airport. As you can guess, I went with the 12-hour layover so I could do a bit of exploring in this humid cultural melting pot. I never regret opting for a lil adventure so it turned out well :D

Singapore at sunrise  Singapore at sunrise

I feel like I had two days in this city since I arrived at 3:30am. My initial plan was to cab straight to a park so I could check it out when it opened at 5am (most Singapore parks open at 5am). I’m glad I didn’t do that. Turns out the sun wasn’t rising until right before 7am so I’d just be sitting in the dark in a random park without cell service or anything, so that idea became less appealing. I figured I’d kill some time getting some work done at the airport, charging my phone and then figuring out the public transportation system. Their train system is SO easy to understand and luckily all the signage is in English so this was probably the easiest Asian travel experience ever (good intro for me since I’d never been to Asia). I did grab a map which proved to be a day-saver since I didn’t really plan anything and struggled to catch WiFi.

Train in the morning... nothing compared to the train packed at rush hour  Train in the morning... nothing compared to the train packed at rush hour The train card  The train card

I thought the trains seemed so big with so much empty space early in the morning, but by 8am when everyone was going to work we were packed like sardines. (Note—it seems like the days start later here. It was a ghost town til around 8:30am, and some coffee shops don’t open til 9am or even 10am!) I was taller than most people unless there was a tall Western boy nearby (I saw a good number of Americans here, more than in Sydney for sure. Or maybe they are just easier to point out here).

After a mere 12 hours in this awesome town, I have the slightest taste and can’t wait to check it out again one day—especially the museums, food and nightlife! What floored me was Singapore’s unique history and an obvious influence from so many cultures: Chinese, British, Arab, Indian and Malay (and even some American). It’s such a cool mix. Now that I have my bearings (and hopefully got my “taking the train the wrong way” thing out of my system (this happened more than I’ll admit), I’ll be able to fully jump in next time.

Here’s some things you should definitely hit up if you’re in Singapore -

1. Gardens By The Bay

This was amazing. The Super Grove Trees are giant tree-like structures and they are a sustainable system keeping the gardens alive, doing a multitude of tasks like returning oxygen to the air. It’s so cool. Go early in the morning — it’s so peaceful and beautiful. It brought me back to being on holiday with my family in remote towns. I just laid under the super trees for a while and pondered life. Twas nice.

2. Haji lane and other cool neighborhoods

This is a lively street in Arab town. Cool shops, street art and food. I imagine this place is fun at night. I obviously got a smoothie… I realised after drinking it that maybe that wasn’t smart because there was ice in it, and I’m not sure if Singapore's water is contaminated or not. I of course did not research this beforehand. Hmm. Time will tell.

There are some other cool alleyways I thought about visiting but chose this one — here’s the list of the other ones I consulted.

3. Walk around downtown and check out the museums!

The Esplanade Park is stunning. Also go check out the Fullerton Hotel—it is a gorgeous historic building. I did check off a ton of walking on my quick day in Singapore but the museums look amazing (and I’m not always a museum person so that’s saying something). Like I said this city obviously has so much history and cultural influences. I’m keen to learn more about it (am currently reading Wikipedia for Singapore history smh).

The museums I will check out whenever I am back here: Singapore Art Museum, Asian Civilisations Museum, ArtScience Museum, and National Museum of Singapore.

4. Check out a cool local spot (I went to a popular local coffee shop)

In general it was fun to get lost just a ~little~ bit to get a better sense for the city’s hustle beyond the beautiful show Singapore puts on downtown. Since I love coffee shops, I googled the best coffee shops in Singapore. This once called Chye Seng Huat Hardware came up with amazing reviews and it was a 22 minute walk from Haji lane, so why not.

I ended up having to find it using one Google Map screenshot that didn’t have street names. Useful. A quick rainstorm was upon us so I needed to find the place quick! To my relief I found it after walking through what seemed like an industrial area—lots of hardware stores and auto shops. I was getting a lot of lengthy looks from men and I was a bit uncomfortable, even though there were plenty of young people around obviously heading downtown for work. But being a tad uncomfortable can be good :) By the end I felt like a pro of the area (especially since I had to troll around the area and wait for the coffee shop to open at 9am).

This ended up being one of my favorite things! The coffee shop is actually near a hostel so I met some Americans at the shop, but it was mostly cool Singaporeans :P The coffee shop doubles as a bar and it is very ~trendy~ so you know I’ll be hitting that up for happy hour one day to get a true nightlife experience.

Oh, also, this is apparently a v Singaporean thing to do—get your kopi (coffee) in a little takeaway bag and drink it with a straw. I did this at the airport. Not into the plastic bag thing but I didn’t even know I ordered it…and I will admit it was fun to tote around my little coffee.

Image from leonefabre.blogspot.co Image from leonefabre.blogspot.co

5. Explore the nightlife

This city seems like it gets lit at night (both with spectacular lighting and the social scene), so I look forward to seeing that one day.

TL;DR: Bottom Line

I know other people have way more experience in Singapore than myself, but just as a starter—you’ll have a good time if you do these things: take public transpo, go to the Gardens, walk around the Esplanade, see the Parliament Building and one or more of the museums, go down a cool laneway (visit Arab town. Yum food), have a kopi, and get a little lost :)

Oh and apparently the Sands infinity pool is only $30 for a drink so it's probably worth going up there and looking super luxe ?

John's Music Website

I'm really excited about this project. My brother John is an insane musician and is applying for college now, and needed a website to show off his work. Figured he also should have a sweet logo to brand his talent... Click here to see the website of my amazingly talented composer/pianist/brother. First, I worked with his signature to make a logo unique to his musical capabilities. I love the idea of drawing and using real-life elements, and then transferring to the computer (Paul Rand speaks to this a bit). Then I helped fix (rather overhaul) the navigation. Brothers are easy 'clients' because you can be pretty straightforward about what looks great and what's dumb, but also it helps when his musical work really speaks for itself! 

Costa Rica Poster

This was a really fun and refreshing project. I designed a poster for a friend and fellow [way better than me] artist William Woodward (wheretowillie.com). William and his friend Shay (yogashay.com) are putting on an AMAZING yoga/photography/coolness retreat in Costa Rica and needed a poster design to promote the amazing experience. I loved this project for the great people and subjects involved (yoga, travel, photography, and beach vibes?!) and I love creating posters. At this point in my design career I accept pretty much any work but a poster that aligns with my passions? I'll take that with open arms.

I unfortunately can't go on the retreat because I have my annual family trip that week, but if you're interested (and you should at least be interested) check out the deets and contact info here. Also the deets are obviously on the poster, and check out the specs below too! We ran through a few iterations with cool backgrounds but in the end loved the palm tree vibes: 



Well now that my sister Claire is well into her 20th year of life and finally received her birthday present from me, I can showcase the top 10 essential items for her upcoming semester in Europe. And also the ten things I subsequently gifted her for living 20 years.

Claire, these are the things (I think) you need to study abroad:

1. First things first, you need a bag for to use as a carry-on, for daytrips, or even weekend trips if you’re actually a frugal packer. You need a well-made bag with pockets, that ideally has vogue detailing even more accentuated by a sharp instagram filter in your trendy abroad ‘this just happened to be taken behind me while i was looking at a cool mountain/ocean/tree/building/European-soccer-player’ type of pic.

Bannock Stamped Backpack - Swell.com
Bannock Stamped Backpack - Swell.com
Trendy detailing!!!
Trendy detailing!!!

2. THE MOST UNDERRATED TRAVEL ACCESSORY IN THE WORLD (that I still am too cheap to own myself): A quality neck pillow. Good God, the hours spent exhausted and/or hungover on a flight that could have been spent getting much-needed shut eye were instead spent squirming in scoliosis-esque positions trying to get slightly comfortable. My sister SHALL NOT deal with such distress.

I even tested it out for you! You can lay all sorts of ways. Sideways, forwards, and backwards!
I even tested it out for you! You can lay all sorts of ways. Sideways, forwards, and backwards!

3. (Mom will cringe at this one) Another abroad essential I didn’t enjoy the luxury of having when needed-- Flip flops. For the showers. In the hostels. For walking around your hostel room in general... EWWWW You need flip flops. Don’t lose them.

4. This one is important. The age-old conundrum of traveling the world as a budding 20-year-old is the crippling realization of two truths: One: OMG I DON’T HAVE TO BE 21 TO GO TO THE BARS HERE. LET’S GOOOOOO. Two: OMG WHERE’S ALL MY $$ WHY IS IT $10 FOR A BEER (at the cheap bar too?!?). The answer: A flask. Don’t get this taken. Don’t let strange European men fill it for you either.

5. You said this one yourself. Socks and underwear. “Not even trendy socks, Em, just normal athletic socks.” Probably a good point, and definitely one I overlooked. With all the traveling, there might not be time for as much laundry and you cycle through those smelly things every day! So here’s some socks (not the trendy kind). Didn’t get you underwear.

6. Word on the street is that planes, trains, and busses are germier than a toilet bowl (no clarification on the tested toilet bowl’s country of origin). Hence hand sanitizer!

7. Clif Bars are a perfect travel food. Easy to bring along, nutritious, tasty, and appropriate to eat wherever (almost--not the Sistine Chapel) and whenever (even in the wee obliterated hours they seemed great). But after I ran out of the five I imported to Australia, I really couldn’t pinpoint a new granola bar of choice (Ain’t nobody got time fo dat when you’re abroad). But I did find time to make some homemade Clif Bars that were pretty good...but I doubt anyone else is that crazy so I would just pack a solid amount.

8. You did say you need a journal to record this European adventure, and I think that’s totally necessary, but some peeps can get picky on what type of journal they want so I left that to you (or is that just me being picky because I’m a paper goods nerd?). But I also recommend bringing a disposable camera or two. Take it out every so often and snap a pic throughout your semester. We are accustomed to immediate gratification once the flash goes off. We can retake, reposition, adjust the flash, get another angle… Taking in an amazing scene to truly experience something new, for many, is robbed by the stress of getting the perfect picture. I love the concept that with these cameras, you can’t delete or retake. Nothing you take in on this journey is disposable so why have your photos say otherwise? Plus when you come home it’s the best treat to develop the film and see your one-of-a-kind sequence of pictures!

9. Bring American foods. Yes, while you’re abroad you better take in local cuisines and even embrace their snack culture (Tim Tams anyone??). But for those weak moments...you’ll want a taste of home. I left for Australia right before Valentine’s Day, and mom lovingly gifted me some Hershey’s kisses. I left them at home because please, chocolate kisses aren’t healthy (to be fair I was going to some top tier beaches). Yeah and about 2 days in I JUST WANTED A HERSHEY KISS. I didn’t want any weird-tasting candy or fancy chocolate. I wanted my Hershey kisses. At some point it’s really good to separate yourself from these comfort foods you don’t really need, but still...it’s nice to ease into it. Also how great is it that these Cheez-Its come in snack-size bags? The first thing I did when I got back in the US was down half a family-size bag of these crackers (the only size the airport sold) and pass out on the floor at Gate 35 of LAX in a cheez-it-induced coma. These snack-size bags should prevent such a coma. But I digress.

10. Studying abroad is going to be AMAZING. That’s not to say there won’t be a time you’re pissed off waiting for a bus to the airport at 4am and you HATE carrying your overpacked bag (although thank God for the aforementioned trendy backpack) and you JUSTTTT want to eat a damn cheez-it (or 70) and cuddle your puppy and talk to your mom-- know that it’s all worth it. For some reason your internal meltdown at the bus stop will be a part of your self-discovery. Your whole journey will definitely be filled with mostly highs (lol Amsterdam) but for those very infrequent lows, remember that your loved ones back home are always with you, and will be waiting to hear great stories when you return. But here’s a piece of home to hold close to your heart!




Hello and thank you for checking out my brand new website! I hope this helps me break into the Chicago design world, so I can connect even more with my new city. Not to say I’m not accepting work elsewhere…right now, my goal is to keep learning, keep designing, and keep pushing the boundaries.

Like many may say, the road to a finished website is a long one. I wouldn’t even say a website is ever complete. (PS- Please send over any feedback—good or bad). A ton of trial and error, research, inspiration hunting, avocado-shaped-stress-ball squeezes, and grit went into creating what lies on this domain now. My road went a little something like this if you’d like to know:

I needed a website. A good one. After heeding advice of a friend, I learned some coding, because it’s great to know, especially working in the digital world. I started at General Assembly. Very fun, easy-to-follow, interactive introduction to code. I really understand the way websites work now thanks to GA. I also looked at Codacademy—have only taken one course on it, also very informative, and would love to take more lessons when I’m less busy. From what I learned, I could create a simple and attractive website.

So I went for it. Bought a domain on a web-hosting site (I chose GreenGeeks for its great reviews and ‘green’ platform—it is 300% powered by renewable energy. Read more about that here). Turns out I could have created a pretty cool website on GreenGeeks, but with a full-time job and limited knowledge of coding (and all on my own) there was NO WAY I would be able to create the kind of website I wanted with the timeframe I set. I realized the whole point of making this website was to help me focus on my art and get my work out there. My intense preoccupation with website designing was a whole new world I wasn’t ready for.  So I flipped the switch, and (after extensive research...) moved my domain over to Squarespace (perfectly timed with their release of Squarespace 7, too). The customer service team was really helpful in answering my questions, and before I knew it I had this! Emigriff.com! I will continue to make tweaks and update, and will never stop looking for inspiration everywhere. So you'll probs see changes soon.