Under the Canopy: Meet Aimee Chan of Suitcases & Strollers
Hi Aimee, welcome to Straits Canopy. We hear you have been calling Singapore home for some time now. Where did you hail from and how long ago?
My husband and I are from Australia and have been living in Singapore on and off for over 10 years. But my association with Singapore runs much deeper. Coincidentally my father actually grew up in Singapore so it has been a part of my heritage for a long time. I just never thought as a child that I would end up calling Singapore home too.
At Straits Canopy we love the idea of celebrating people and blending. We see that you have embraced it too with your amazing family. Please introduce us to your clan.
My husband, Dave, and I have been very lucky to have two delightful boys. Harry just turned 4 and we recently adopted Ted from Ethiopia. He is now 7 months old. We are very fortunate to live in a city which is truly multicultural and everyone has accepted and welcomed our family despite our unusual range of skin colours! It does make us quite a talking point but people always ask from a place of curiosity and interest.
That’s amazing! WE love what goes in Singapore and your family is truly beautifully blended. Besides being a fab mama we also know you are great writer and owner of Suitcases and Strollers. How did it all come about?
I love to travel and really noticed after having children that there wasn’t anyone providing independent and interesting travel ideas and advice for parents to travel with kids. I wanted a magazine-like resource that would inspire me personally but would also be helpful to other parents to encourage them to be brave, pack their bags and go out and have some adventures. Having kids certainly changes your lifestyle, but it doesn’t mean you have to stop experiencing and discovering the world around you.
What are your favourite things about Singapore?
It’s hot, hot, hot. I love that consistent warm weather. It’s a dynamic, busy place but it’s still green, clean and safe. And it’s the perfect place to be based to travel to see the rest of the world.
How has Singapore changed in the time you have been here and what does this say about Singapore’s cultural identity?
Singapore is a country that is constantly in flux. That’s what makes it such an exciting place to live and work. I have gone into a shop on a Friday only to come back the following Monday and the place had moved on. Or gone away for a long weekend and returned to find an entire building has been demolished. This makes Singapore a vibrant and thrilling city to be in – you never know what’s going to happen next – but it also makes me sad. When my father returns to Singapore to visit he wanders the streets for hours at a time, trying to find a house, a street or a landmark he can recognise as his childhood home. Rarely is he rewarded. This gives me a terrible sense of loss of history and identity. I wish there was a way Singapore could be both the booming Asian tiger and still hold on to a bit more of it’s heritage, but I know it’s an extremely difficult balance.
What would be the most useful travel advice you could give someone with kids coming to visit our little island?
Singapore is very kid-friendly so don’t deprive them of the experience. Sure, allow yourself a night or two on your own without the kids, but they will love eating fancy food like Peking Duck, hanging out at Marina Bay with you and walking around some of the cultural museums. Posh nosh or street food, expensive shopping centre or five star hotel, most places welcome kids and you’ll feel a little sad if you go sans children and realise your little ones could absolutely have been there too.
Can we get your inside scoop on what you think the best three places to visit on the little red dot are?
1. I have always loved Tanjong Pagar. When I arrived 10 years ago I used to deliberately arrive for work half an hour early so I could walk the streets and look at the gorgeous shophouses. I am happy the neighborhood is thriving now, but I am slightly miffed that the hipsters have found my hood!
2. I also like to just wander around Tiong Bahru. I don’t get much time to do it, but when I have a spare 10 minutes there I really cherish looking at the art deco housing where my parents once used to live.
3. Marina Bay really is pretty stunning. How amazing that a city can create it’s own iconic skyline in just a few years. When you’re at MBS or Gardens By The Bay or having a drink over the water, you really feel like you are in a world class city. I’m a bit sad that the Benjamin Sheares Bridge is being phased out because that gives such a magnificent perspective of the whole area. With kids…the touristy stuff works well for a reason. The zoo, the new children’s garden at Garden’s By The Bay and Sentosa are all brilliant kiddy attractions that shouldn’t be missed.
You have been here for a decade so no doubt you have your best go-to local dish – share with us please?
Anyone who has been to a hawker centre with me knows I am a bit obsessed with a good fish noodle soup. Milky, fragrant broth, those fresh bee hoon noodles they don’t make so well anywhere else in the world and some chilli padi with soy – that is one underrated meal.
As a travel magazine editor, what is your one hot travel tip?
In my experience (and the feedback I get from suitcases&strollers readers is consistent with this) parents and kids need a break from long haul flights. Stopping off for a few days in somewhere like Singapore is ideal to give everyone 24 or 48 hours to recharge. Even if you do nothing more than check into the airport hotel, let the kids splash in the hotel pool and stretch out on a proper bed, it will be a much-needed relaxing time for the whole family.
If you were to make up a dream Straits Canopy Ultimate Tote for a special girlfriend and you could put anything in it at all – what would you fill it with to entice her to visit Singapore?
A pair of colourful Havianas because she will be living in them non-stop. Sunglasses for days spent outdoors. A bottle of Champagne to celebrate her arrival. And a credit card gift voucher. She is going to need it for all the shopping and dining out we are going to do, especially since this is now the most expensive city in the world! Lucky we can visit the hawker uncle for some delicious, wallet friendly, fish noodle soup! Singapore and all its contrasts, what more could I need to bring her to our vibrant red dot.
Thank you for chatting with us Aimee – your tips are on Singapore and travel are excellent. We loved hanging out with your two munchkins and hearing about your history and love of Singapore. You can find more from Aimee at Suitcases & Strollers, the website she helms for parents who love to travel with their kids.
Aimee’s photoshoot was done at Rose Citron a beautiful boutique stocking the most covetable gift items. Rose Citron now stocks our Modern Nyonya jewellery as well as our Straits Canopy Ultimate tote. You can find Rose Citron at 23 Keong Saik Road, Singapore.