SINGAPORE: The river, the city, the country, the island…!

Because in Singapore everything is called Singapore.

There is a river called Singapore. The main island is called Singapore, where there is a city called Singapore and the country happens to be called likewise. There is not much more space but anything else, I guess. I was quited excited about getting to this place because I was expecting something different. Also because it would be the place where I would celebrate my birthday!

And I started getting “different” at my arrival. After sleeping at the airport for only a few hours and getting an extra couple of hours in the plane, I was all ready to get a stamp on my passport at inmigration when they politely asked me to follow a police officer and him with my passport. I couldn’t understand what was going on, they only looked at my passport, took my biometrics and asked two questions: Do you travel alone and what did you come here for. When I got to ask to the police officer what was going on, he just said “passport check” and asked me to sit down in the room. When I looked around, I only saw Asian men with a lot of papers in their hands, as if they had come prepared and immediately felt overwhelmed. I had to wait for about 30 minutes before I could hear my name (well, my name followed by my second last name, but I am used to the confusion the two last names create) screamed behind a counter. I came closer, identify myself, gave my biometrics for a second time and faced at least 10 questions regarding what I was going to do or how or when. Once the police officer was satisfied, he stamped my passport and invited me to use a different door than every other person going through immigration was using. I didn’t like that, I mean, why do I get a special door? What does this mean, does it say anything about me? After leaving, it didn’t matter anymore, but it did cause a lot of confusion and stress and made me wonder and analyse all my last actions in different whereabouts. Which make me come up with very good karma, according to me. Karma probably thought differently and made me have a bad time.

Once I managed to get out of the airport, which wasn’t an easy task and had to use so help of a Brazilian guy, I got to my hostel, couldn’t check in for a while and chilled in the meantime, which I probably needed to. After a while, I went to explore the city. I couldn’t wait anymore! And I really enjoyed to be back to the big shiny buildings, the glass here and there, the rythm of the busy city… It felt different from the rest of Asia and after a while I concluded that it was a mixture between Dubai and Sydney. If you think about it, it is in the middle so, it even makes sense.

I think the most difficult thing I faced in the city was to decide what to eat. I went to a hawker centre and there was so much variety that I couldn’t decide on anything! I had a great great time just observing the Marina Bay building. I couldn’t believe it was before my eyes and it even looked better than in any picture I had seen before it. The ship on top of the three buildings was bloody marvellous and some extra columns at the side of each building was giving the perspective as it was just supported by those little columns instead by the top of the buildings. It was magic! I also got to see a seal in my walk. When the day was coming to an end and I was exhausted, I headed to the main lake, to enjoy the light show. I love light shows. I waited and waited and even though the first one didn’t start, I guessed there would be no excuse for the second. I was literally lying on the ground, waiting for it, when a group of Indian guys and girls that had been sitting next to me approached me. We had a nice talked and I couldn’t say enough times to them how much I loved their great great country. Funnily enough, they were about to become architecs! And then we all found out there wouldn’t be any show and I decided to drag my body “home”.

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Great views of the main sights in the city

After a good catch up with my sleep, I had an awesome breakfast that was finally not consisting of rice and that was probably the highlight of my day. I mean, toast with nutella and peanut butter, who can’t be happy with that??! Seriously, my intake of rice in the last weeks was worrying. This day, I had the chance to explore the different ethnic neighbourhoods around the city-country. So, I visited Arab Street, with a beautiful and funny mosque looking like the one in Aladdin; Little India of course, where I got to find my favourite Indian sweet (I had been looking for this one in Penang and couldn’t find it) and Chinatown for an end after a nap. I had to take it easy with the heat and went back to rest a bit. Then, I went to the hawker centre in Chinatown to check out the only stall that had been awarded with a Michelin star and it was close. Of course, they were sending you to the restaurant located nearby, but I had that on my mind for my birthday and decided to have some dumplings instead.  And visited a Buddhist temple for an end, because I felt curious and kind of attracted by it. Nothing really special happened. To finish my day, I was decided to see the light show, so I went back to my spot and waited. While waiting, I realised it was my last day with 27 years and analysed and wrote about it. It was a good moment to check how everything had been, to realise where I was and where I wanted to be and to confirm once more than I am a happy person. Then, I was confirmed that there would not be any light show until June and it annoyed me, because I had been wanted to get in a palace in the morning as well and it was not going to be open until Monday, casually the day I am not here anymore. Singapore, I came here to see you, but you won’t let me!!!!

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Arab area

Well, it didn’t matter, although I felt really sorry to miss the light show, the next day was already planned: it was my birthday! And just because of that, it would be all about me. Call me egocentric. I have always been and will be. I actually got time to think about my year, recap and write some stuff that I posted here.

So next day, I woke up and went to Sentosa Island. The plan was to wander around and enjoy the beach and also I had heard about a nice beach bar around, so I had to have a Singapore Sling, the typical local cocktail! And that was it. I checked what they claim is the most Southern point of the continent and laid in the beach, swam a bit and enjoyed in general the day with no more and no less. I had a cocktail and by then I got Wi-Fi connection and could receive lots and lots of messages of people wishing me the best, which I enjoyed a lot.

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crossing to the most Southern point in the Peninsula

The island was cool and because it was Sunday there were lots of people around, especially because all the leisure offer it has. But for my evening I had other plans, plans based on food, because I like food soooo much. I had heard about the cheapest place in the world with a Michelin star and that sounded special enough for a birthday celebration and on budget. When I got to the place I realised that was more than on budget, it was just street food served on a local and with more than a affordable price, because I didn’t even feel I was splurging a little bit. I had some Hong Kong sauce chicken and rice, which was good but to be honest, it wasn’t that special and I thought I had tried better street food. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love street food. It was just one more. After that, I saw some little tart or cake and decided to have one as dessert. It turned out to be typical from Hong Kong and it occurred to me that it was very funny to be eaten Hong Kong food when I was going to be visiting HK very shortly. The bad news after all these was that my stomach was not quite recovered from my wise decision of eating a whole 3 kilo papaya in a day in Indonesia and well… This stuff happens in Asia. A lot.

I went back to my place quite early, exhausted but happy. Tired but not feeling old! Satisfied in general with my day, which had been simple but perfect. I chose to spend it alone. I didn’t want anybody around, and it felt great. All could have been a bit better if I have had a hot bath instead of just a shower, to sink and get rid of all the sand that I still had with me. Or if I had got a call, which I was expecting to. I didn’t have any.  But life isn’t perfect and I don’t want it to be. I don’t need it to be perfect.

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