The Singapore Night Festival 2017.

I just gave myself a new project.

Tentatively it’s being called Project I-should-stop-sulking-just-because-I’m-not-in-London. Sometimes I also refer to it as Project Self-reminder-that-Singapore-is-actually-an-awesome-place. (If anyone can come up with a better name, I welcome any suggestions).

Perhaps I also secretly/not-so-secretly want to lure some people into visiting me from the other side of the world. Hence, I have decided that I will blog more about my life in Singapore and what this tiny island has to offer.

(Also, I have a spare bedroom at my flat at the moment, and the public transportation here is a quarter of the price in Denmark, the UK and the US. AND, we have some awesome food in this side of the world. Practically a dream for travellers on a budget. Just saying.)

Ahem, but I digress.

When I returned to Singapore after my two-year stint all over the place, I was swept by a weird sensation of being back at a place that is both familiar and strange. I felt disoriented – small things that I had taken for granted would simply work did not. My transportation card that had never failed me for the past seven years didn’t work because it had expired. My mobile phone data did not work properly. I forgot that thunderstorms are permanently imminent and did not have my umbrella with me on my first night – I got caught in the rain as I was stepping out of my flat for dinner. I behaved like an awkward tourist while trying to order some food. And I got some stares when I ate by myself – I forgot how much of a taboo it is here to be seen having a meal on your own in public.

But as time goes on, I’m slowly tracing my old steps and a sense of familiarity starts to take over. After all, I still live in the same flat, and I am working in the same business district as I was before I left. It is taking a while but at least I can feel some progress in fitting back in.

The first time I felt that I found some of my footing was when I went to the Singapore Night Festival with these two friends who have not changed a single bit since I first knew them a few years ago.

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The Singapore Night Festival dates back a decade to the time when I was studying for my Bachelor’s in SMU. Being a student at a university with a campus smacked right at the city centre meant that we were at the heart of the festival that lit up the whole Bras Basah area. Visiting the festival also brought back memories from my Singapore university days which had ended, ahem, seven years ago.

The festival’s flagship display has always been the light show at the facade of the National Museum. This year’s performance boasted a fascinating 3D effect that certainly felt a notch above the previous editions’.

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We were lucky to visit the festival on its opening night. Even though most of the events had not started, the place was not swamped with people so we could still take our time to admire the various light installations scattered throughout the area.

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When I went back on one of the final nights, these misshaped cubes were completely covered with visitors. We did not even attempt to take pictures with them.

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A scented light installation

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Even so, we did not get to check out every single attraction. One, because the area was so vast it would take some time to walk from one site to the other. Second, because we had to line up for an hour to enter this LED-lit tunnel.

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When I visited the festival the next Saturday, the line was easily four times as long.

Even though that was the most popular spot among most festival goers, my favourite was this light projection of a wise old man at the banyan tree near the museum. It was out there in the open for everyone to see and there was no line, but it was the most captivating for me.

nightfestival8It looked rather eerie, but I found myself fascinated by it at the same time. It reminded me of the wise tree at Pocahontas – perhaps if he could talk, a lot of people would come and look for him for some advice.

That would certainly be handy for me at the moment to have a mystical old guru. I am in need of some advice on how I can make the two worlds that I can’t live without – the one here in Singapore and the one that I just left behind in Europe – collide.

Because at the moment it is hard, and I sometimes wish that this big beautiful world we live in is just that little bit smaller.

 

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