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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Continue reading “The Singapore Night Festival 2017.”

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10 photos from Marina Bay, Singapore.

Sometimes you wander all over the world and forget what you have at your doorstep.

Almost two months ago, I came back to Singapore (not for good) after living abroad for over 10 months. Over that period of time, I saw many sights that left me in awe and took countless pictures of landscape and architecture in other countries.

I was so absorbed by the beauty of faraway land that I almost forgot the breathtaking views that Singapore has to offer. One of Singapore’s most prided sights is Marina Bay, a waterfront enclave made of reclaimed land and surrounded by an impressive line of skyscrapers. And honestly, it is way up there among the world’s most beautiful.

It of course took two friends visiting Singapore for me to remember and appreciate what I used to have literally at my doorstep for the three years I was working at Marina Bay. While showing them around Singapore, I took the opportunity to retrace the steps that I took hundreds of times previously, sometimes walking on my own, sometimes jogging or sometimes strolling around the Bay while chatting for hours with a friend.

And of course, this time round, I brought my camera with me to try and capture the lovely walk we had. The weather was great that day, albeit very warm and stuffy, with clear night sky and the moon shining brightly.

So here are 10 photos from that evening.

We started with the Gardens by the Bay in the late afternoon.

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And I was quite taken by these heart-shaped leaves.

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Continue reading “10 photos from Marina Bay, Singapore.”

SEA Games 2015 Opening Ceremony, a consolation.

I should be in San Francisco right now, getting ready to witness one of my best friends getting married to the love of her life. I should be hanging my dress in the wardrobe of my room at an ‘Amazing Apartment by the Seaside’ (according to my Airbnb description), rehearsing what I’m going to say during the wedding dinner tomorrow as part of the bridal party, and generally looking forward to an extraordinary day in a beautiful city with my beautiful friend.

But life has to deny me all that, because I have no means to travel. I shall not go into detail because it would simply upset me even more, but let’s just say this time, I have to begrudgingly bow down to limitations of rules and not travel.

Which I have to say is very unlike me. I don’t let rules tie me down from doing what I want, especially if I have set my mind to it. I mean I wouldn’t necessarily break the rules, but I would push pretty darn near the edge of doing so to get what I want (as long as the possibility of going to jail or getting deported is nowhere in sight).

Like that one time when my family was in NYC for New Year’s Eve and we were planning to watch the ball drop at Times Square. My mom, having a true blue tropical blood, can’t stand the cold, so we were not able to simply stand at Times Square from 7pm in 0 degrees waiting for midnight. So we decided to take our chance, and rushed to Times Square from our hotel 15 minutes into midnight and understandably, all the roads to Times Square have already been closed and guarded by burly NYPD officers. We tried street after street to no avail, and I was on the verge of giving up

Until I saw a group of girls being let in because they danced to the officer.

Fuming mad, I did the only thing I could think of. I went up to the police officer and showed our hotel key and said that our hotel is located along the street and he should let us in. And he did. I got in to Times Square by LYING TO AN NYPD OFFICER. We got in just in time when the song ‘What a Wonderful World’ was playing, and the tune had never sounded more welcome.

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And here is a picture to prove our achievement!

Continue reading “SEA Games 2015 Opening Ceremony, a consolation.”

Remembering Mr Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore.

Last week was a very long and emotional week in Singapore.

Eight days ago, the country woke up to the horrible news that Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the Founding Father of Singapore has passed away at the age of 91.

To say that the whole nation was struck with grief is an understatement. Eulogies after eulogies filled my Facebook news feed. I know of friends who cried to their sleep every night since the fateful Monday. I teared seeing the Prime Minister of this country almost broke down in tears during his speech at the state funeral.

Nevertheless, it was a memorable week, one that I would even say I was very privileged to witness. I can’t think of any other political leaders who seem to be so well loved by his people, that they attributed the success of a whole nation to him. The commendations were very well deserved, in my opinion, and there truly aren’t that many people who have successfully brought a tiny little island in Asia from being a third world nation to a first world country.

Continue reading “Remembering Mr Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore.”

Header of the Month: Marina Bay from Lantern.

February marks the end of my four-month travel drought, and I feel it is only right to attribute spotlight of this month to this million-dollar view of Singapore, a place that has been my anchor when I couldn’t travel.

I would say it time and again, Singapore is a really magnificent place. Take this view of Marina Bay Sands for example. It still leaves me in awe every time I stare at it, the grandness of it all, coupled by the fact that this cavernous structure that is enough to fit a Boeing plane was built on top of a piece of reclaimed land.

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One of the best places to have an unobstructed view of Marina Bay is from Lantern, a rooftop bar on top of Fullerton Bay Hotel. I have been to the place three times now (once in a pouring rain), and loving the place more with every visit.

Continue reading “Header of the Month: Marina Bay from Lantern.”

Header of the Month: Christmas Wonderland in Singapore.

I love Christmas markets. There is something very charming and romantic about those rows of little wooden huts with slanted roofs, fairy lights tracing their edges, selling everything from warm wine to cakes and earmuffs.

Over the years, I have visited Christmas markets in Copenhagen, London and Paris and never seemed to get enough of them. They are definitely one of the things that I miss the most from being in Europe.christmasmarket1

So imagine my thrill and excitement when I found out that Christmas market has finally come to Singapore. I love it so much that I have been there not once, not twice but three times over the past week!

The Christmas market (or Christmas Wonderland as the official name goes) is located at Gardens by the Bay’s Supertree Grove. The Supertrees on normal days are already very impressive if not somewhat menacing (a lot of people have mixed feelings about the veins sprouting everywhere from the ‘trees’ and I do agree that from afar it looks kind of odd). I always compare them to scenes from the movie Avatar.

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Supertrees!

Continue reading “Header of the Month: Christmas Wonderland in Singapore.”

Geylang, and its hidden charms.

It is now officially 97 days (ninety seven!) since I last travelled. I did not know how I have survived without travelling for this long, but that is not to say that I have been sitting idly doing nothing. A lot has happened in the past three months, and in fact, as I have said many times previously, I have been very busy. I was leaving my previous job, and now have somewhat settled into my new one after a period of steep learning curve. Just last week, I said bye to the only steadfast in my Singapore life for the past eight years: the flat I have been staying since I first came to Singapore. It was part emotional, part stressful trying to move and throw away some eight years’ worth of junk. I can’t believe how much of a hoarder I am, but I really am one.

ANYWAY, I’m not here to discuss my habit of keeping-things-just-in-case-I-have-a-use-for-them-in-the-future. Rather, it just feels a little weird that it is December and this time last year I was getting ready to go for an epic trip to Myanmar. But here I am, in my new flat, wifi-less (I’m attempting to publish this post using Wifi hotspot from my phone plan) and travel-plan-less, and I have to say I did feel a little miserable earlier today.

Which is a bit unfair of me to say that I feel miserable to be stuck here in Singapore. It is after all a very cool place to live, and my friend just told me of a Christmas market at Gardens By the Bay which I’m going to check out next week. And to remind myself that it is not such a bad thing to be stuck here and to appreciate things around me more, I decided to write a post about one of my favourite places in this island: Geylang.

I know that Geylang isn’t a place where most people would consider their favourite. It is after all labelled the red-light district of Singapore, and it definitely does not look glamorous nor does it sparkle with the city lights that this country is so proud of. However, it is at the same time the least pretentious part of Singapore where things happen when they happen, and clearly no one seems to think there is anything wrong with a brothel and a Buddhist temple to be situated side by side.

To be honest, the street full of brothels does not seem that interesting.
Let’s be honest here, the street of brothels doesn’t seem all that interesting.

Continue reading “Geylang, and its hidden charms.”