ARTBOX Singapore is finally here in Singapore and it officially opened on Friday to much fanfare. Artbox originates as a pop-up creative market in Bangkok, housed in giant mobile containers.
The news for the local event was released near the end of last year and many Singaporeans (and myself too) were looking forward towards it. Many people were talking about it and planning to jio their kakis down for a ‘Bangkok experience’ without having to pay a single air ticket fee.
Apart from bringing the ‘container market’ concept to Singapore (although containers played a bare minimal role in the setup because “getting the entire event to be fully decked out in shipping containers is (logistically) impossible“), it serves not only as a new event-based tourist attraction, but also to provide a platform for young entrepreneurs to showcase their works. There is no surprise when you realised almost all of the stall vendors looks really young. (There’s also no surprise when you realised the majority of the crowd to visit the pop-up market are youngers.)
For those who are planning to head there this coming week (April 21-23) – the last weekend of the event – be prepared to squeeze through the crowds. With all the marketing done right, the opening day of the container market saw an overcrowding situation happening, and visitors were basically brushing shoulder-to-shoulder. That is the most crowded pasar malam I’ve ever been too since the CNY market in Chinatown during the Chinese New Year period.
I’ve taken a shot each at 5pm, 6.30pm and 7pm (just take the timing as a rough guide because I don’t remember exactly what time I took the photos but obviously during different timings) to document the building up of the crowd size.
Despite there being not many Thai delights being sold, to the disappointment of some people, most of the food and beverages stalls were all filled with long queues in front of them. Some of the queues even seem to converge to the point where you don’t know who is queuing for which stall and who is just trying manoeuvre their way through the crowds. So in all seriousness, expect a lot of people and pray that the weather is cooling (not wet or humid weather condition because it will surely be a major turning off point for many of us).
For those who are want to experience Artbox because, like me, we haven’t travelled to Bangkok for the ‘authentic experience’, I shall introduce some of the highlights of the market so that you won’t need to queue at every single stall – you are going to spend 80% of the time queuing and being stuck in the crowd anyway.
1) Dragon Breath
This dessert featuring some sort of biscuit dipped in liquid nitrogen is gaining popularity among hipsters Singapore and there is no surprise this is coincidentally one of the main reasons visitors and flocking to Artbox for. It is difficult to squeeze walk through the crowd without spotting at least a few visitors exhaling smoke through their mouth and/or nose. No, there are not smoking or liable to a $200 fine, those ‘smoke’ are actually nitrogen.
In fact, it is so much in demand that more than one stalls are selling it (just like how there are always more than one honey-glazed chicken chop stalls at your neighbourhood pasar malam).
The colourings of the biscuits definitely added some artistic elements to the dessert.
2) Coconut Soft Serve
If there is one thing that you shouldn’t miss out, especially when you are on this tropical island, that’ll be a soft serve. Soft serve is the perfect dessert in Singapore, anytime and anywhere. But what makes this soft serve from Cocoloco special is that it is being served in a coconut, and a small flower added on top of it as a topping provide a perfect tropical finish to the dessert.
Given that their service is faster than most of the other stalls around (from my personal experience, unless they need to replenish their stocks), this will definitely be the stall to go to if you want to save time. I wouldn’t say “No” to soft serve anyway.
3) Fresh Fruit Juice
These Instagram-worthy looking bottles of juices reflected that we are also seeking for the aesthetic aspect in food and beverages apart from their taste. The colourful looking beverages are attracting a lot of visitors to flock to their stalls for some very good reasons but remember to get it fast because they ran out of stock when I was there – on the first day.
4) Thai Milk Tea
5) Gluten-free Snacks
6) Chill with Chang Beer