Shawn Heng left the corporate life as a consultant at Bain, to the start The Merry Men Collective, a group of several popular dining and drinking spots around Singapore. He shares with us the way he travels, and the places that have influenced his own establishments.
What kind of traveler are you?
I’m generally a laid-back traveler that likes to hit a city then figure out what to do as it’s less stressful, which is the whole point of a holiday!
I tend to have a list of places I hope to visit based on recommendations from friends but am very flexible about my plans and will change it at a moment’s notice if I find something new and interesting to see.
What are your 5 travel essentials?
- Travel adaptor
- Comfortable pair of shoes
What is your favourite city in the world?
For me, it is Bangkok. I lived there for 3 years and still go back at least once a year. Read more about my recommendations for Bangkok here.
Which places have you traveled to that have served as inspiration for your own establishments?
In Bangkok, a bar called The Iron Fairies definitely had some influence on my input into The Mad Men Attic Bar concept. It is designed like an ironsmith’s workshop with iron spiral staircases, exposed pipes, and a lot of brick/timber, it’s almost magical when you step in. It also has a live jazz band that plays every evening. The end effect it gives you is of being ‘unexpected’ and a ‘pleasant surprise’ once you step through their doors. A very similar effect we were aiming for when we thought up The Mad Men Attic Bar.
I last visited Beijing in 2011 and had the chance to visit Houhai. The whole area was filled with interesting small bars and many of them had a lot of character. I didn’t have any particular favorite and just bar-hopped the whole evening, but what really made an impression on me was that many of them had a 2-3 piece live acoustic Mandopop band. I really enjoyed having drinks while listening to Mandopop smoothly and calmly playing in the background. This experience became a major inspiration for the musical line-up at The Men’s Room which is a small hidden bar with a wide selection of Whiskey and Gin but also has live Mandopop music every night of the week.
What are some of your must do's when you travel?
Being in the nightlife/F&B business, I always make an effort to visit restaurants and bars on my trips.
I’m quite a shopper too, and am probably one of the few guys that can outlast his girlfriend at shopping.
Where are you planning to travel to next that you'd like to rent a vacation home?
I would like to stay in a beautiful villa in Greece soon!
Beautiful Villa in Crete, Greece
Which celebrity's vacation home would you like to live in for a week?
It’s not his vacation home, but would I love to live in Josh Hutcherson’s treehouse in LA. I’ve always loved the idea of living in a treehouse!
Still wanderlusting? Check out Shawn's Bangkok recommendations of where to eat, drink and party.
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