There’s been much ado about Crazy Rich Asians, the romcom based on Kevin Kwan’s 2013 bestseller of the same name. The film’s depiction of privilege and excess among a small group of well-to-do Asians captivated audiences worldwide.
The plot has enough twists to keep you hooked – girl (Rachel Chu played by Constance Wu) meets boy (Nick Young played by Henry Golding), girl follows boy home only to find out he is the scion of one of Singapore’s wealthiest families, girl has to face off with his frosty, disapproving mother (Eleanor played by Michelle Yeoh) – but the real star of the movie is its stunning locations.
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There’s no mistaking Moshe Safdie’s masterpiece, the triple-tower Marina Bay Sands topped by a surfboard-like sky garden. Crazy Rich Asians gives it star billing from the start, showing its 57th floor Sands Skypark Observation Deck, with repeat appearances culminating at Cé La Vi – the setting of Rachel and Nick’s farewell party.
That Rachel and Nick head straight from the airport to a hawker centre is a given: many returning Singaporeans (billionaires or otherwise) visit their favourite hawker before seeing their own families. Catch a taxi to Newton Food Centre, grab a table in the uncovered area and put down a tissue packet to reserve it (don’t worry, there’ll be someone to sell you one) then let your nose lead the way. Top off the experience with ice-cold Tiger Beer, preferably by the bucket, and remember your table number.
Escape to the same white sand beach at the Four Seasons Resort Langkawi , where Araminta enjoyed her bachelorette party, and where the film crew was stationed for six weeks. Aside from soaking up the sun on its 1.8 kilometre stretch of beach, luxuriate in the Geo Spa overlooking the Andaman Sea (where Rachel and the girls get a massage) or settle into the Malay-style Royal Villa, also the scene of the (spoiler alert!) gutted fish prank.
Featured as the fictional Kingsford Hotel, the real grande dame of Singapore is currently being refurbished, but visitors can still enjoy a slice of its colonial-style heritage glamour at the Long Bar. Settle into a wicker chair and knock back a couple of cherry-red Singapore Slings.
Credit: Marek Poplawski / Alamy Stock Photo / Argusphoto
Of the numerous showdowns between Rachel and Eleanor, the most memorable takes place over a game of mahjong shot at Penang’s ‘Blue Mansion ’. To really live out your CRA dreams, book the entire mansion and enjoy a red carpet welcome (we can’t promise the stuffed tiger), private guzheng (Chinese zither) concert and of course a few rounds of mahjong.
Kudos to production designer Nelson Coates for turning Singapore’s historic gothic building – formerly a convent and a school – into the movie’s US$40 million dollar wedding venue. The lush setting, complete with bamboo fans, handpainted Chinese lanterns, soaring arched ceiling and 19th century stained glass panels, is the stuff of brides’ dreams.
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