On the Road with Boon Sim

February 15, 2018
Boon Sim

Most memorable place you’ve been
Walking the Himalayan range and viewing Mount Everest from both the Nepalese and Tibetan side. The area combines sheer physical beauty with a rich historical culture steeped in spirituality. There is also the constant juxtaposition of the physical malevolence of nature when the weather turns, and the resilience of human habitation set against this. The beauty and simplicity of the resulting architecture and cultural artifacts inspires me.

One place everyone should visit at least once
The Sumida Hokusai Museum in Tokyo; exquisite modern architecture designed by Pritzker winner Kazuyo Sejima. It’s a small museum that leaves a powerful impression and manages to [combine] art and history in a thoroughly modern package.

Favorite hospitality space you designed
The great dining room at Bawah Island resort [in Indonesia]. It is an enormous pavilion built entirely of bamboo perched halfway up the hill and looking down on two lagoons. It was informed by the ‘men’s house’ that is featured in many Papua New Guinea tribal cultures. The space is filled with large lanterns that resemble jellyfish with tentacles that chime and sway with the slightest breeze.

The 35 villas at Bawah Island, including overwater bungalows, are made with bamboo, driftwood, and recycled teak

Best dining experience in Singapore
Smith Marine, a little seafood restaurant set on a floating fish farm just off the coast of Singapore. It is run by an old couple that cooks up seafood in a local style and serves up wild boar curry when they get [their] hands on some. You get picked up at dusk from a jetty in a motorized dinghy with no lights. A strange combination of good food and surreptitious adventure.

Hometown off-the-grid spot
The wetlands of Sungei Buloh in the north of Singapore. It attracts migratory birds, riverine crocodiles, and sea otters. You wouldn’t believe such an area exists on the edge of a metropolis, and it shows how nature can happily coexist with an urban environment.

On your bucket list
I would love to do a river trip down the Baliem Valley river in the highlands of Western New Guinea. It is the last area on Earth where primitive tribal communities still thrive. That combination of dramatic landscapes and old human habitation have led to amazing primitive art that possesses an aesthetic energy that contemporary art strives to capture.