“The midnight was the first familiar greeting that Singapore gave me on my third visit,” was the first line of the article that I wrote for a magazine. I have always loved flying and arriving to places at night time, there’s something special with all the city lights that twinkle right in front of my eyes. They make me feel that the hopeful reflection that I aspire myself to have becomes a reality.
When everything was settled and I finished updating my parents and Bart, I decided to go out of the hotel. There’s something in Singapore that will not just make you feel safe and contented, instead, the whole area of the country may also calm your nerves. The hotel that I have stayed at was really not the closest one to the city, so outside was a residential place only with a few gasoline stations around, oh, and a few Chinese and Indian restaurants that are open 24/7. I actually don’t have any agenda on as to why I got out, but one thing that I have realised during the walk was, I actually long for that moment–to just easily go to familiar places without being scared at all. Yes, up until now I still miss that feeling.
For the next three nights, the life outside the hotel was my only night life. There are two reasons for that, first is the Singapore Art Book Fair that constantly made me so tired and the next one is that I was simply lazy that the only “touristy” night view that I’ve seen for those days was the Old Hill Street Police Station while being inside the bus on my second night. I liked it more that time actually, it’s a whole new perspective of the architecture, and in that time you will see that it is both happy and sad at the same time. A place yearning for attention and care that it always wanted for years now. There might be new occupants now that make the place create new history once more, but the sad past was still there and the prisoners still long for love like the lights and colours that shout for attention.
Going back to the SABF topic, this year the fair was housed at one of the block at Gillman Barracks, and besides the touristy place that I have said, I have also encountered so many people at the fair and one of my favourite moments was the end of each day. The audience of the art simply loves the night time, it’s something that awakens the whole vibe. However, my point here is that seeing the area at sometimes near the midnight was new for me. The art haven is kind of far from the city too and from my hometown staying that certain time in an underground place is scary. I wish my fear leaves me alone, I wish I have that assurance with myself that nothing will happen to me like each night time that I spend just appreciating each scene and story while walking a long way to the bus station.
The fourth night, a friend of mine arrived already from the Philippines, finally, I also had the night off too to just enjoy everything. You see, one of my favourite places in Singapore is on the second floor of a double decker bus. There’s a life and a story that resides in there. It makes me feel far from reality that makes me feel free.
Bugis then was the next stop with my friend that time, and her being a first timer, I told her to just walk with me, till we see a good place to eat. With her luggage that we pull up to my exhausted being, the city lights became a relaxer that guided us with our walk. The National Library of Museum became the first thing that I have pointed out with her, it will simply catch your attention, because the lights illuminate the whole place that simply bring out the best of the architecture. Next thing that we saw was the Singapore Art Museum, it was my first time seeing it at night, I believe I was even there were a bit of tears in my eyes because of its beauty that couldn't be captured easily.
Peace came along the way as we crossed the bridge to my favourite part of the Bugis-Bras Basah area, and it’s the Singapore Management University garden (or I really don’t know what the name is). There’s something calming in that place at any time of the day. We observed people during our walk and I realised that sometimes a small talk could save you, especially from the stress that you are currently having. Stories over stories filled the entire night of the area and I don’t know, but it was a relieving feeling to encounter.
The deafening silence of the Fort Canning Park gave us serenity as well, it made us see the National Museum of Singapore in a different perspective, something that even I couldn’t put into words.
We got lost in the process while looking for the Old Hill Street Police Station and yes, I showed her once more and it took us a while to move on from it. It was only this river that cut out our attention with the old jail. Seeing the other side of the city made me feel that Singapore is definitely a small country, finally, I have realised that fact. But an idea came to me, maybe it is truly possible to walk around the country for your entire travel. I don’t know as crazy and tiring as it sounds, maybe, I will do it.
Another first came along our way and because the colourful painted structures at Clarke Quay caught our attention, we decided to go only to find out that it’s a “night life” area. My friend and I are not the biggest fans of this type of crowd, and for me it’s as loud as it gets. But this one is different, I did not imagine in my whole being that the loud music of the bars/clubs could actually be as disciplined as it could be. Well, okay, it’s Singapore, and I think that’s enough to justify what we saw.
I was alone again during the following night, and I believe it’s been 13 years as well since I have been to the country’s Chinatown. I forgot my time there when I was a kid, but this one is something that I remembered this time, people are beautiful and the place could sometimes be defined by those who walk on the paths there. That’s the case with this area, it’s full of tourists longing for new experiences that a foreign country has to offer.
My final night in Singapore was a long one, right after the fair, I packed everything and rushed to Gardens by the Bay. I was reunited again with the gigantic trees and it’s more beautiful this time because I had a moment to just follow the sounds and lights that guided me. The light show and the view of the Singapore Flyer were the highlights of my time there, because it was pure happiness that I have experienced during that very moment. It’s breathtaking that for the first time in years, my brain was clear of worries and thoughts. I was just there, I was just existing, and it’s perfect for that time and place.
After dinner at Satay by the Bay, I then let the silence take me again till I get to the train station, and the moment I arrived the Macpherson area once more, I told myself that I will welcome another day roaming around to where I started my third visit. “I will miss this,” I assured myself, I want this moment, and as redundant as it sounds I want to just walk without the fear that surrounds me. I miss the silence and now, I long for it again. Maybe someday, but for now, these happenings were just my memories that I will be keeping till I’m back.