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6 Secret Spots In Singapore To Learn Unique Skills

Distinctive activities to try in Singapore

Travelling is a great way to keep your mind sharp. But here’s something else you can do to ensure that you’re maximising your time in an unfamiliar environment: learn something new.

“I try to learn something new every day or else the day is wasted,” says astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who certainly knows a thing or two about boosting his brain power.

If you are enjoying your holidays in Singapore, you have landed in the right place to broaden your horizons. From prata making to emotional first aid, discover unique skills to learn and things to do in Singapore to impress your loved ones back home.

1. Make Your Own Prata

Casuarina Curry
136-138 Casuarina Rd, Singapore 579526
Telephone number: +65 6455 9093
Opening hours: 7:00 am to 11:30 pm daily

One of the best things about Singapore is its food culture, but don’t merely settle for eating like a local. Instead, find out how you can prepare some of the most-cherished foods in the city, such as roti prata (“roti” means “bread” and “prata” means “flat” in Hindi). This popular South Indian bread is made by frying stretched dough in ghee. In Singapore, it will quell your hunger at any time of the day, from breakfast to supper.

Prata is usually served with fish or mutton curry—although you can opt to try it with sugar too, just ask! Due to intense competition, prata stalls have been compelled to diversify their menus. Many now offer novelty pratas in flavours such as chocolate, cheese, strawberry, and even durian.

You will find over 40 varieties of prata at Casuarina Curry, a veteran in the business. What’s more, they’ll also teach you how to make a decent prata, by showing you the right way to spread and flip the dough to ready it for frying. To sign up for a workshop, submit an online form with your preferred date and await confirmation.

To explore other local cuisines, book a day course with Jia Lei Cooking School to make dim sum, laksa, or nasi lemak.

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2. Attend A Free Exercise Class At The Mall

Address: Various locations

“Wouldn’t it be great if healthy living were as easy and enjoyable as shopping?” asks Singapore’s Health Promotion Board. To answer their own question, they have devised an ingenious plan to get more Singaporeans exercising: a series of hour-long mass workouts that anyone can join. The sessions are not only free of charge—they are conducted by qualified fitness instructors and held in malls around the country.

If you are looking for unique things to do in Singapore for free, grab this opportunity to try unusual workouts such as K-Kardio (based on Korean pop dance styles), piloxing (a mash-up of pilates, boxing, and dance), and Fight Do (martial arts set to music).

Busting out the moves in a public space may take some getting used to, but focus on having fun and you will lose those inhibitions in no time. To join a session, check the Health Promotion Board’s Mall Workout schedule for 2018.

3. Give Emotional First Aid

The Thought Collective
Address: 222 Queen Street, #04-02, Singapore 188550
Telephone number: +65 6334 8773

Do you know what it means to “be there” for someone in need? Many of us may fumble if we’re suddenly called upon to support a loved one in crisis. We may not know the right thing to say or do, and sometimes, that leads us to do nothing at all.

Organised by Singapore social enterprise The Thought Collective, “Introducing Emotional First Aid” is a full-day workshop to teach you how to respond to the people around you in a way that is most helpful to them, especially when they are at a low point in their lives.

Instead of jumping in to fix others’ problems, or worse, imposing judgement, you will learn how to “hold a safe yet brave space for others to heal,” and “embody a presence of... compassion and openness.” This may not be conventional first aid, but it is a skill that could save lives too.

Fun fact: One of the trainers for the workshop is Kuik Shiao-Yin, a local educator as well as a Nominated Member of Parliament.

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4. Breathe Well And Make New Friends

Singapore Botanic Gardens
1 Cluny Rd, Singapore 259569
Telephone number: +65 6471 7138
Opening hours: 5:00 am to 12:00 am daily

In 2012, a handful of friends in Singapore gathered to meditate at one of their homes. Six years on, the Singapore Breath Meditation Group has become a regular fixture at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, one of the most beautiful places in Singapore. These days, each session attracts about 15 to 20 regulars. However, anyone curious about breath meditation is welcome to join in.

Your objective here is simple: learn to calm your mind as you focus on your breathing. Some participants have observed certain physical sensations during meditation, such as a tingling in the legs. Everyone is encouraged to share their experiences and ask questions. The group does not charge for attendance and it is not affiliated with any religion.

For details about upcoming sessions, visit the group’s Meetup page.

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5. Ready, Cassette, Go!: Create A Souvenir Using Cassette Tapes

Store-bought souvenirs are a dime a dozen—why not create a meaningful keepsake of your own instead? “Cassette weaver” JJ runs her home studio rehyphen® (“with a breathtaking view”) in the suburban neighbourhood of Bukit Panjang. Together with her mother, she will show you how to weave cassette and video tapes into something she calls “MusicCloth®,” which you can then use to create a Singapore city map poster or a silhouette souvenir.

This cassette tape workshop could be one of the coolest things to do in Singapore. Be inspired by JJ’s uniquely Singaporean mission to be a changemaker and memory keeper during your two-hour crafting session. Afternoon tea will also be served, featuring the classic pandan chiffon cake, which some have hailed as Singapore’s “national cake.”

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6. Differentiate Between Local And Western Coffee

In the past, any respectable coffee drinker in Singapore would have a slab of butter stirred into their coffee. Ostensibly, this was done for two reasons. First, to supercharge the energy levels of the kopi (“coffee” in Malay), and second, to add a “cooling” element (butter) to a drink that the Chinese considered to be “heaty” (heat-inducing) for the body. Although this practice has mostly died out, there are still coffee shops in Singapore that serve their coffee this way.

If you are intrigued by Singapore’s coffee history and how it differs from Western coffee culture, sign up for a “East Meets West Coffee” experience, where you will visit a hawker centre to enjoy authentic local coffee.

Your host Wai Lei, a cafe owner, will explain how coffee is brewed locally in the heartlands, as well as the different ways that you can order your coffee. She will also take you to a mini-exhibition to see the tools of the trade. This is followed by a visit to Wai Lei’s cafe for an artisanal coffee experience, where you will brew your own coffee and have a go at latte art.

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