18 August 2013

On finding constant things in temporary places

My stay in Singapore was quite swift, but it was more than enough, really. I got to do so many things, go so many places, and see many amazing sights. Singapore may be a small country, but the sights and activities are endless.

My first day in Singapore was spent pretty much how every first day in a new country should be spent--walking. I must have walked a marathon that day. At one point, my feet started aching, but even then I still wouldn't stop. I was feeling greedy. I wanted to see everything. I wanted to tread the paths I've only heard about, and I wanted to take pictures of all the glorified sights I've only seen before in magazines or in television. I wanted to dive into the city. There was so much life there, and I wanted so badly to be a part of that.

We strolled Suntec City, and then made our way to Makansutra Glutton's Bay which I absolutely loved! A wide array of cuisines were available: Singaporean, Chinese, Korean, Filipino, etc. I was also quite surprised to find a Gerry's Grill there, a local food chain, which I checked out just to see the price comparison. They were selling Crispy Pata for 23 SGD (800 PHP) which was ridiculous. Suddenly, crispy pata sounded so good I promised I'd eat one when I get back home. Here in the Philippines, crispy pata only cost around 300-400 PHP. Anyway, we had Or Luak, oysters cooked in egg and wheat (which I posted a photo of in my last entry), Satay which was some sort of pork barbecue, and Yang Zhou or as we call in the Philippines, Yang Chow rice. All were quite delightful!

After stuffing ourselves for another round of walking, we came to the waterfront promenade to find it full of people. There was a program happening at The Float, and a military water vessel was doing an exhibition in the middle of the bay. The stadium bleachers were full of people waving light wands and flags.The surprising thing is, after being awed by all the jamboree, I learned that the program was actually just a dry-run for the upcoming celebration of Singapore's National Day. Singaporeans know practice makes perfect even when perfect means having to spend twice for one event.

When I look back on that trip, that first night will always be the memory I'll remember best. Standing at that promenade surrounded by travelers and locals alike, I felt as foreign as I was a stranger, but a sense of belonging was also building up inside of me, like warmth spreading when you sip a good cup of hot tea. Night was slowly falling over the bay, and the city lights were one by one coming alive, painting exciting colors to the monotonous canvas of daylight upon the grey buildings.

To accompany the beauty unraveling in front of me, that was when a band started playing pensive post-rock music from the mini-ampitheater by the bay. I snapped a few quick shots, and when I looked up, night had finally settled. And what was standing in front of me was breathtaking. The bay area was even more beautiful at night.

I started making my way up to Merlion Park with the music still going on, fueling the commotion going on inside of me. Dammit. I am falling in love with this city, I thought. And like every fall, you know you are bound to hit the ground with an explosion--and that’s exactly what was waiting for me. When I got to Merlion Park, explosions took over the sky. A fireworks show began. It reminded me of that Sylvia Plath quote: “I wanted change, and excitement and to shoot off in all directions myself like the colored arrows from a Fourth of July rocket.” I wanted all of that, too.

I was at the deck; the waters beneath me, Marina Bay Sands right across the bay from me, the Merlion at my back, and the moon and the fireworks were right above my head. I must have been standing in the heart of the city. Maybe I was caught in an alluring trap, maybe I was meant to be there. Either way, it made me feel so darn lucky.