My Favorite Bars in Singapore: Nineteen80, Platform 1904, and Don’t Tell Mama

Singapore is not only home to the courageous Merlion, but is also a reputably safe country to go drinking in.  Like many big cities in Asia, Singapore has no shortage of unique night life places to explore until the early hours of the morning.  The plus is that almost everyone in this country speaks English among other languages and are generally helpful and willing to talk to you.  Most bars and clubs usually stay open until 1am-4am depending on the day.  Essentially whatever you’re in the mood for you’ll probably find here!

A lot of people enjoy drinking in the upscale Clarke Quay district near the heart of the city, but I did my best to venture off the beaten path and into the bars with unique themes and original cocktails.  Here are my top picks:

Nineteen80

When I was researching bars online, the name and theme of this one caught my attention right away.  Who doesn’t love a Nintendo-themed bar?!  Not only that, but they also have a number of Midway Arcade machines available to play, a worthy collection of cartridges displayed on the wall, and an original hand-drawn menu (my favorite was the shooters page).  There are also DJs that frequently play a handful of genres depending on the event.  I came during oldies night which wasn’t really my taste, but I still enjoyed the atmosphere of the bar.  Seeing “It’s on like Donkey Kong” written in the Sega font IRL in a foreign country was surreal.

The downside was the crowd was mostly drunken expats, and the music was loud so it was difficult to hear anyone.  Nineteen80 is definitely a “get up and dance” bar when they have weekend parties, so be sure to come here when you have properly pre-gamed (fortunately I had).  The cover fee was around 18 SD, but that included one drink so it wasn’t bad.  If the music was more my type, I’m sure I would have stayed here a lot longer.

This bar is situated near Chinatown, and is also in the gay district so there are a lot of interesting bars nearby.  I would recommend getting here before your main destination on your barhopping journey.

Platform 1904

IMG_4495
The deer seats add an interesting aesthetic to this Harry Potter cafe.

As someone who’s been a Harry Potter fan for more than half of their life, I could not pass up the opportunity to go to this magically themed cafe.  They not only brew magical potions filled with booze, but also have a full food menu with delicately crafted desserts.  I had previously gone to the Wizarding Worlds Cafe in Tokyo and had a great experience, so I wanted to see how this place measured up.  Platform 1904 has a more extensive menu and less of a wait time since it’s a permanent establishment (as compared to the pop-up cafe that I went to).  I enjoyed ordering a golden snitch cake and the Flaming Brew Cocktail because the presentation was very elaborate:

In addition to the golden snitch cake, there are many other colorful pastries for sale that all beautifully capture the Harry Potter theme:

The only downside of this cafe was the price.  I could buy a lot more food for a cheaper price at most restaurants around this area, but I came here once again for the experience.  One dish and one dessert are pretty filling, plus I mastered the art of potions class and took some neat photos in the process!

This restaurant is located Serangoon Road where many of the hostels are, so I was able to walk here.

Don’t Tell Mama

IMG_4463
What mama don’t know won’t hurt her.

First of all, I love the name of this restaurant–it truly stands out for being a Korean bistro.  Second of all, I love the shochu cocktails here.  They are absolutely gigantic and craftily tipped into a glass of margarita mix to create a wonderful flavor.  Though I’ve been to Korea twice, I’ve never seen a cocktail like this before:

IMG_4458
What happens in Singapore stays in Singapore.

In addition to this crazy concoction, they also have a ton of westernized Korean food available.  The kimchi fries caught my eye, but the downside of this bar was that all of the portion sizes were too huge for one person to finish.  Though I very much enjoyed my shochu cocktail, I was only able to get through half of it.  I looked around and nobody else at the bar was able to finish it either!  Though in this case it was worth the money, I wish they sold their food and drinks in smaller portion sizes so it wouldn’t get wasted.

This bar is located near Chinatown not far from Nineteen80.  I recommend getting only one drink here, else you will easily get full.

Overall I was extremely happy with my bar choices, because I had the chance to try so many crazy things that I’ll always remember.  I hope that those traveling through Singapore find my experiences helpful!

Sailor Neptune Nails from Nail Salon Glory (Tokyo)

sailor nept

Since I decided to cosplay a swimsuit version of Michiru Kaioh/Sailor Neptune for a photoshoot, I wanted the most suitable nails for this character.  I looked at various nail catalogs online, but no design fit the one I had in mind so I decided to create my own.  Fortunately, most nail salons in Tokyo are able to create original nail designs using stencils, hand-drawn art, studs, and various gradients of polish.

I booked an appointment at Nail Salon Glory through Hot Pepper, and these were the amazing results I got:

My nails were absolutely gorgeous!  Since I have short nails, I requested the scalp nail course that will extend your tip to a custom length.  The nail artist used a combination of beige and turquoise glitter polish to create a gradient that looks like an ocean.  After painting a shiny coat over it, she added sea shells and pearl studs, as well as hand-drew the insignia on Neptune’s mirror that I requested.  I was almost speechless when our session ended because I was so impressed!

Most fancy nail courses start at 10,000 yen ($93), but they are worth the price for the amount of detail and effort that is put in.  There are various coupons that can be used to lower the price, like the ones featured on HotPepper.

Scalp nails last for typically 3 weeks and are perfect for every occasion.  Not only did I use them for my photoshoot, but they also matched the color of the ocean when I was swimming in Thailand.  I’m sure I’ll be back in the future once I think of more anime-based designs!

Is Scene Kid Fashion Forever Iconic in Tokyo?

Traversing through the streets of Harajuku–one of Tokyo’s most iconic fashion districts famous for pastel, lolita, goth, and designer street wear clothing–one would not be surprised to see bright-colored styles in all sorts of unique forms.  However, one piece of clothing in particular caught my eye.  It was a bright pink sweater with a green dinosaur on it and felt strangely nostalgic:

51989158_10216401155772882_1374782197810069504_n
Myself modeling a sweater from the dinosaur line at WC.

Upon looking at it closer, the dinosaur had a very unique expression on its face.  Its lips were parted in an extremely derpy way, and it looked liked it was trying to say something.  Not “roar” like you would expect a dinosaur to say, but perhaps something less intimidating… like “rawr”.  When I noticed this, I immediately thought back to the Rawr xD memes that plagued the internet in the early 2000s.  And it got me thinking…  Is Scene Kid Fashion Forever Iconic in Tokyo?  Or does it just coincide with Harajuku fashion?

Similarly to how Harajuku fashion is influenced by music (especially Visual Kei), scene fashion was originally influenced by rock and other subgenres.  Both styles feature brightly colorful attire that is sometimes paired with excessive hair clips, intricate makeup, big bows, and sometimes piercings as well.  Just like scene lingo exists, Harajuku gyaru lingo exists too.  When you compare pictures of the two fashions side by side, they are slightly different but fundamentally the same:

harajuku one.jpg
Typical Harajuku Fashion.  Photo by Rebels Market.

Although Harajuku fashion started in the 1980’s, the gyaru and lolita subcultures started from 99′ – 00′, which was right around the time when scene kid fashion was starting to form as well.  Though it wasn’t until the late 2000s when the term “scene kid” was coined, a lot of people were wearing the style before then.  Regardless of when exactly they were formed, both fashions express a statement against conforming with societal norms and are designed to express individuality.

Though both styles have received both praise and cringe-worthy reactions from the public, I find that their connections are quite interesting.  Japanese fashion continuously uses inspiration from the west, and western countries often import and find Japanese fashion quite alluring.  I don’t think I’ll ever be a scene kid or a Harajuku girl, but I can appreciate both fashions for the uniqueness (and weirdness).  At the end of the day, I am extremely grateful to whatever influenced my derpy dinosaur sweater!