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FRESH FACES: Singapore Tourism Board’s Oliver Chong

What’s ‘zi char’ and why do Aussie travellers need to know for their next trip to Singapore? New Singapore Tourism Board Executive Director Oceania OLIVER CHONG answers this and more...


Where is the last place you travelled and where are you going next? 

My last holiday was in Provence [France] and I shall be heading to Japan at the end of the year.


Besides your passport, what’s one thing you always take with you on your travels? 

My iPad, which serves as my connection to work and the wider world.


Why did you move to this role? 

It was an unexpected opportunity but I took it up as there are new challenges that will take me out of my comfort zone.


Tell us something travellers might not know about Singapore 

A lot of people are still not aware that Singapore has some of the best bars in Asia, if not the world. From decked-out full-on spectacles to hole-in-the-world speakeasies, you will not fail to find something that suits your taste.

I am also keen for more visitors to discover our zi char tradition. Literally meaning “cook and fry”, zi char is several made-to-order dishes prepared by one hawker stall or eating establishment, unlike many hawker stalls that trade in only one or two particular dishes. Zi char stalls offer a menu of dishes to select from, usually Chinese food, and some with their own take on iconic dishes, all cooked on the spot and are best for sharing. Zi char is as ubiquitous as our hawker centres and are much loved by many Singaporeans and residents for simple great-tasting food at very reasonable prices.


Tell us one thing that’s coming up in Singapore that’s really got you excited. 

I would love to spend a few nights at the eco-lodge by Banyan Tree in the Mandai Safari Park; it will give me a chance to feel what’s it like to be immersed in a rainforest environment without having to travel too far.


What’s your top travel tip? 

Arm yourself with just enough information so that you leave room for yourself to be surprised when you are actually in the destination. It makes for a much more memorable experience, especially if you’re open to exploring and trying something different.


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Written by: Oliver Chong as told to Traveltalk
Published: 25 October 2019

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