A Love Letter For The Lion City
Dear Singapore, here's a confession: I don't exactly know how I should start writing this. Like a giddy lovesick girl writing to her high school crush, I'm choosing my words carefully. I even thought of not writing at all because I feel like words will fail me. But I simply couldn't contain this happiness. I have to at least try. So here's my silly attempt at expressing how much I've enjoyed exploring you.
I've admired you from afar (literally and figuratively) for god knows how long. Stories, photos, and videos about you played on TV or sometimes I stumble upon them on the internet. People who have seen you in person had different opinions and I liked reading and hearing all of it. It made me wonder about how my experience will be. Finally, the time and opportunity came. My wondering has reached its end.
Last November 5, I arrived a little past two in the morning; dragged my black luggage behind me; had my passport stamped and went straight to the comfort room. I wasn't going to wait until I arrived at my hostel and see my friend before I burst into happy tears. I couldn't handle the fact that here I was, ready to experience what you are.
As my Grab car drifted through the well-lit roads from the airport to my hostel, I immediately noticed how different you are compared to many cities I've been to. People drive on the left side. There are tons of street cameras. The roads are wide and lined with tall trees. I could go on talking about this but it would get too political. And we know that's not a good topic to explore right now.
For our first full day, I had just about enough rest to keep me awake and walking. The first place on our list was, of course, the famous Haji Lane. We were staying somewhere in Serangoon so we had to take the train. My god, I was blown away by how convenient, fast, and clean it was. You've already surpassed my expectations.
Walking through Haji Lane and its neighboring roads felt surreal. I've only seen photos and videos of this place from people's Instagram stories but there I was, looking through racks of vintage clothes while reminding myself to not blow away all my money in one shop.
The street was lined with vintage shops, cafes with specialty coffee, bars with locally-brewed beers, ice cream shops, salons, and many more. Each has their own distinct design and vibe. As someone who appreciates design and art, it was such a delight seeing all of this. I had to resist the urge to take 500 photos of every interesting thing I could find.
We had lunch at Fee Kee Claypot in Beach Road and relied on the pictures on their menu to order. My friend ate a different variety of noodle (I can't quite remember what it was) while I had the one with shrimp, squid, and shrimp paste — I guess my obsession with shrimp and seafood, in general, is showing a lot with just this order.
After lunch and a short tour around the Bugis area, we went straight to the highlight of the day: THE Marina Bay.
Some amazing architecture we passed by on the way to marina bay
I didn't pay too much attention to the blisters on my feet anymore when I saw the iconic Marina Bay Sands from afar. Everything that I was seeing was too amazing to be bothered by some silly blisters. I'll live. Layo ra sa tina-i. We went inside the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands and there was a wide selection of high-end fashion brands and break-the-bank-di-na-ka-kauli-ug-Pilipinas restaurants. From Chanel to Balenciaga, they have it all. It's probably every shopaholic's paradise. The interesting part for me was the huge photos of how you used to be, displayed above the expensive shops. In a way, you're telling people your humble beginnings and that, for me, was very heartwarming.
After cooling down inside the Shoppes, we went to the ArtScience Museum — a place I've been dying to visit. The exhibits were highly interactive and colorful. The kids around us had so much fun. It was nice to see them just be kids. One of my favorite exhibits is definitely the moving waves. I'm not sure if that's what it was called. All I'm sure of is that it was extremely calming.
We were ready to call it a day when we walked to the Helix Bridge. But then we followed the bike lane heading to the other side of the Shoppes and saw the Sky Sands Park. At first, we had second thoughts about buying tickets to go up to Marina Bay Sands' viewing deck, thinking if it'll be worth it, but we eventually gave in. Recalling that moment now amuses me. I mean, what was the point of us having second thoughts? It isn't every day that you get to go up 56 floors to watch the sunset and see you come alive at night.
It's always worth it.
Super freakin' highways!
Singapore, until now, I still can't wrap my head around the fact that I finally visited you. It blows my mind still that I am blessed with the right opportunities and the time to do what I truly love the most: travel. Had I taken a different path in life, I wouldn't have experienced all of this, this way. I will never trade this with anything.
This was only our first full day, but I've already said in my head, "Singapore, you have me."