One’s first time in Singapore could be an amazing sensory overload treat, and really, if a tourist stays for sixty days, that’s enough time to conquer the island state.
Coming back to Singapore for another sixty days, one can still enjoy the glamour of the city, but with more feeling of being “at home” than a tourist’s mad desire to take a picture of every inch of the country.
This is the quiet familiarity when I took my tiny nephew to the Esplanade the other day.
We took a stroll by the bay overlooking the still fabulous Marina Bay Sands, the Double Helix (DNA-looking) bridge that connects MBS to The Flyer, the Theaters By The Bay, the Esplanade Mall, and the towering corporate offices of the Little Red Dot.
There, too, was the famous and controversial icon, Merlion. For a few months, it was hidden from the public as a Japanese designer was commissioned to house it in “Merlion Hotel”, however, many Singaporeans felt that this housing of the Merlion is like taking it to prison, limiting access to locals and tourists. For a few months, one can take a picture of it by lining up for a long wait inside a cube-like structure for a limited time. Besides, some Singaporeans feel that the Merlion, which was created by a local artist, deserves more recognition than a Japanese-designed box hotel. So I was happy to see it again, roaring after the national elections last May.
Then we met up with my nephew’s mother, who’s scheduled to meet some friends in a hotel bar called Stereolounge. I was told to see her at the huge Pan Pacific Hotel, where I observed some things:
1. Singapore has a reason to fear the influx of foreigners coming to their tiny country. Wherever you look, there are Filipinos and other foreigners–with blue or white collar jobs, not counting the tourists and those looking for a job here while on a social visit pass. There’s a forum I read somewhere that some locals are being axed to hire a Filipino (to take a good example) who would take a salary half the local’s price. That’s why local unemployment is becoming an embarrassing and infuriating issue for the locals. But it’s okay, at least in the papers, where news always smells good.
2. Singapore doesn’t feel as stoic and rigid as it appears to be. Sure there are fines everywhere, but this is not to say that there are totally no violators, and that nobody sins in Singapore. Like in minor streets in Tanjong Pagar, I saw two or three people crossing the street despite the red light. Back in PanPacific area lots of people smoke (in the designated smoking areas of course) and party. I guess they prefer fun in style.
3. It’s cute to have a toddler walking with you because you get a reason to discover places in a five-star hotel, with an alibi that you just like to walk the tot around, and everyone’s being so nice to you that they smile and greet you and give you some sweets for the child (we received a total of five lolly pops). So. while her mother was chatting with highschool friends, my nephew and I went up to the fourth floor and found a nice japanese garden.
Now for the awkward part, my sister’s former schoolmate (a model) introduced us to three other foreigners, caucasian, with British accent. I shouldn’t’ve worn my semi-off-shoulder top and ultra-short shorts. With my curly hair, kinky attire and a glass of mojito on my hand, I looked like a hooker, and they the clients. But they were gentlemen and they left a little after introduction. I learnt later on that they were F1 racers. wow.
Not just interesting places, but interesting people too, this place has. Filipinos are everywhere, party-goers here and there, and some racers once in a while.