Postcards to the Cutie Captain of #198

Postcards to the Cutie Captain

Three years ago, this day …

I waved my last goodbye to my favourite bus captain, whom I called ‘Cutie’, also the most beautiful boy I’ve ever met. There was something about him. He was like an open book and full of light. His beauty was like that of a wild flower that had blossomed through a crack in a roof or a tarmac opening, brave yet delicate.

 

The commute I loved, the sunshine in a smile.

I first saw him in April 2018, two days in a row on the 12:21 bus. I’d just started an afternoon part-time position then, and was always commuting around lunch time. The commute was one I enjoyed: it infused my day with elegance. Taking all of 20 mins, the bus route ran though stretches of highway so lined with trees and verdant green; coinciding with classical lunchtime treats on the symphony radio, this was the best time of my day. My mind leapt with joy inspired by the tapestry of the wonderful scene passing by as I gazed out the window.

I didn’t get to ride on his bus as often as I’d have liked. He often disappeared for a month, or much more. Over a year-and-a-half, I rode on his bus but more than ten times? 🤔 He seemed, at first, amused that I’d always smile at him, then wave after I’d alighted. But I had his attention for sure. How do I know? I had a change of plan one day while on his bus and I didn’t press the bell before my usual stop. (And I was at the upper deck.) He stopped there, however, where I usually alighted, for a few minutes … but there was no one boarding or alighting from the bus. 

I alighted three stops after. Just before that, I took a few steps towards him and said, “I’m going somewhere else today!” He smiled and laughed, looking at me from the rear-view mirror, he seemed to say, “Well, I didn’t know that!” 😅😂 From that day on, we were always smiley with each other. He had the most radiant smile: like sunshine and nectar to my otherwise hum-drum existence. 

 

What’s his name ? How does he look so darn handsome as he drives ?

It was a transitory moment in my life, you see. Having moved with my parents a year ago from a house with large, open spaces to a flat much smallerthat felt constrictive, and a neighbourhood populated mostly with older folksI missed the friendliness and exuberance of the dogs I used to encounter on my daily walk: the malamutes, huskies, golden retrievers and labradors. I was also waiting for my own flat to be ready: a space just for me, my dreams, and lovely things to soothe my over-sensitive nature. It turned out to be a much longer wait than I expected … more than four years. On the work front, things were not inspiring either; and that’s just putting it mildly.

I had a plan to befriend him, knowing I wouldn’t be going this way forever. I wanted to know his name. His story. His hopes and dreams. I’d somehow thought him a part-time student, part-timing as a bus captain … and wondered what was he doing behind the driver’s wheel! He was young and dashing, looking not a day older than 25with fair features: rather bookish with his glasses on; swoon-worthy, like a matinee idol, when he donned his shades!

 

The stare that compelled me to reach out bravely.

It was one of those rare, carefree days at work when I hopped onto his bus for the second time in a week. I was later that day, the thought of seeing him certainly didn’t cross my mind. I must have blushed, for I couldn’t contain my joy! Then his face took on such an expression of tenderness—which was detectable, even with his shades—as I walked past him to get a seat behind. A quick glance showed the last row was taken. I turned behind momentarily; and next, Cutie was staring at me with his mouth wide open! I stood there still, entranced by his stare, staring back—it seemed more than 10 seconds passed by (and the bus wasn’t moving). Unbearably self-conscious then, I made my escape to the upper deck.

The bus journey continued uneventful. I waited at the exit before alighting, not looking his way. He closed the door just as I was to pass by the entrance, but continued peering at me through it: I returned his gaze. Thinking he was waiting for a wave from me: I did just that! A full arm wave with a big wide smile, like I was his cheerleader! 😘 But this astonished him. Was I too affectionate, too dramatic in my gesture? He drove off as I lowered my arm.

 

” Sweet soul of love! I should weary of you, too; but it was glorious that day.”

Margaret Fuller (1810 – 1850)

Certain that I had to reach out to him now: I wrote him a note. A friendly, breezy one—that should work, according to a friend, when I showed her my message. Thus was the plan then: keep the note in my bag every day until I saw him; hand this note to him just before alighting from the bus.

 

A burning message I kept for weeks.

It was another 23 days before I hopped on his ride again. Day and night, I wondered when, if ever, I’d get to hand him my note—and whether, he’d want to be my friend or not. He’d burst into a smile when I looked his way that noon (upon tapping my card at the entrance door); he turned to look in front next, and I moved on to the rear.

I was a whirling mess of fear and terror the moment I sat, my heart pounding like I’d been chased for miles! I looked a few times at the rear-view mirror to be sure it really was Cutie behind the driver’s wheel, so I wouldn’t hand my note to the wrong driver! 😱 He was surprised to find me suddenly standing beside him where I should have alighted, but braced himself to receive me anyway. I can’t remember what I uttered at that point … Suffice it to say, he received the note and thanked me politely for it.

So I alighted, waved him goodbye. And that, was the last I saw of him. This day, three years ago.

Below is the message I gave him that day (Thurs, May 23, 2019). And those postcards were the first of the kind that I’ve sent him since. 

 

 

I haven’t known someone like him, he’s ordinary and yet so special.

I’m still in touch with him today, mainly through WhatsApp. He took almost a month to respond to my first (Snoopy) note, not because he was negligent—but because, I gathered—he’s somewhat dyslexic with alphabets. I’ve ‘adopted’ him as a younger brother now, being much older than him; and he, vice-versa: this complements us both, for I’m the youngest of 4 girls and he’s the second eldest of 4 boys 🙂.

It’s a mystery how we should have formed a friendship in such unlikely circumstances, we’re almost polar opposites on the surface; however, it’s by acquainting oneself with someone different that “we find out what we are like: by contrast and distinction from what is unlike us”. I hope to send him postcards for as long as I’m able, to see him through the uncanny ups-and-downs of the great adventureLife. 

Here’s to you, dear little captain brother, although I know you can’t read this post and probably won’t come across it either (how would you react if you did? 😂), may you find every happiness, fulfilment and success on your own terms in this strange and big world. As you should already know, I’ll always be your cheerleader, even if from afar 😘.

 

This post is dedicated to my cutie captain, and to all his colleagues who serve the public, enabling a more inclusive society. Don’t ever forget the value of your work, and may you get sufficient rest from your hard labour of service.

 

Let’s Get On The Dance Floor and Shimmy!

get on the dance floor and shimmy

5 – 6 – 7 – 8 . .  

So my dance teacher counted at the start of each number.

Six years ago, I spent seven hours at dance school, outside of my day job as a secretary.

One hour for jazz. An hour for hip-hop. An hour for ballet, and another for isolation. That’s on Sunday.

Monday evenings, after work, were solid three-hour salsa nights. An hour each for basic, intermediate, then salsa practica. Dancing with anyone who invited me on the dance floor — thumping gloriously with hot Cuban beats! And many twirling bodies 💃🏻.

What a way to start the week and beat the Monday blues!   

If you think I spent too much time at the dance school, well, there were others who spent nine hours there outside their day jobs. Or school. (Yeah, they were much younger than me.)

 

Those were days I always, always look back on .. Fondly.

The soundtrack to those dancing days.

My lovely teacher, Yanqing (that’s her name :-)) had a great collection of music for jazz warm-ups. What’s jazz warm-up? That’s plenty of stretching from the neck all the way to the toes, especially with the back and legs. Then kicks, sit-ups, and movements to ease us into the choreography for the day. I loved jazz for all those linear movements; those runs, turns and spins that take dancers distances across the stage. Still. Love it.

Bruno Mars, Imogen Heap and Adam Lambert — their music, often accompanied these warm-ups. It’s how I discovered them, and other cool music with terrific beats. Some of my favourite tunes from those days were ‘Count On Me’, a super-sweet song from Bruno Mars; ‘First Train Home‘ from Imogen Heap (love her quirky-ethereal tones!) and ‘Whataya Want From Me‘, a mega-dapper hit of Adam Lambert’s. (Also a great song for a bad boy to sing to a good girl?)

Music always has a way of crystallizing memories for me. Certain songs define an age. Some attach themselves to moments, places or various seasons in life. Seasons alone. Seasons with others. Gregarious moments. Pensive moments.

There are songs that trigger time-travel, vivid flashbacks of scenes from long ago, seemingly mundane that anyone should have thought them forgotten. Perhaps I cherished those moments more than I realised. Perhaps I’m a human being with an elephant’s mind?

You only know as time reveals.

Music is a time capsule, an invisible key that unlocks floating memories in space and time ...Click To Tweet

 

I performed a total of 5 recitals in my one-and-a-half years there. 3 jazz numbers, a funky hip-hop and a sexy hip-hop! I almost pulled out of the first jazz recital, for fear of screwing up the entire group performance. (T’was a Bruno Mars track.) 

Fact is, I was just at my second jazz lesson when my teacher announced the recital. My sister and two close colleagues went: “What? Are you sure you can do those moves?” when I showed them the video of the dance sequence 🤣🤣 . However, I had the sweetest and most encouraging of dance-mates who told me I can do — what I didn’t believe I could.  

When I told Yanqing that I should back out of the recital after someone knocked into me during rehearsal, she said everything would be fine on the actual performance (and that she didn’t see the ‘accident’ due to the large group of us). “Things will just work out … dress rehearsals are for mistakes to happen”.

I guess it was a faith born of many years of performances.

So I stepped onto the stage with the other dancers, on my first ever recital, with great audacity.

It turned out fine, just like she said.

 

Dancers clock in performances on stage.

That’s what Tamil, my hip-hop teacher, said. For myself, I clocked in ‘little victories’ with every recital I performed and emerged unscathed 😅. These, and Yanqing’s words whenever we doubted ourselves: “You just have to believe that you can do it” — have followed me since, reminding me to always give myself a chance.

As Moana says, “If I go, there’s just no telling how far I’ll go.”

 

I wish I’d started ballet young.

Say five years old or seven. Could I be a dancer now — leaping; almost flying, through a studio or down a hallway in a series of grand jetés? Like an impala, gazelle or pronghorn, loping through the great Serengeti, expressing its joy of life — limbs afire, relishing this body of taut muscles, a coiled spring ready to unwind! That’s what I think of when I watch my teachers, or other professionals dance … I wish I could be like them.

 

 Of Swing and Big Band … let’s do the shimmy and relive those jivin’ days!

I caught the dazzling craze and energy of swing recently. You know — the Charleston, Lindy Hop, Quickstep and the Shimmy! Last year, the Duke Ellington Orchestra visited Singapore and performed a 75-min free concert at the Botanic Gardens! A revelry like no other — the crowd on mats having a picnic and visibly sweating; some sitting on grass, like me, even the humid heat of the evening did not diminish the joy of being with this orchestra 🤩. I came away from the concert raring to buy Duke Ellington’s music, not least ‘It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)’, ‘Mood Indigo’ and ‘Cotton Tail’!

 

What was Jive? Thanks to American GIs who brought it round the world during World War II 😘

Electrifying to watch and even more to dance! Jive, with its outrageous lifts, jumps and acrobatics, was the trendy name for the ‘lindy hop’ — that started in 1927, during one of the popular dance marathons in New York City, to celebrate Charles Lindbergh’s becoming the first pilot to ‘hop over the Atlantic’. Next came the Jitterbug, a blending of the Lindy Hop with a different styling, danced to music of the great swing masters of 1937. Teenagers were mad for it, and styles continued changing with the trends — turning into American swing, West Coast swing, boogie woogie, among many other variations — till it was all generically grouped and called jive (or swing)!

 

Did I get you in the mood for swing? Cos I always am 😉

My wish for you, Reader, is that you’d dance your way to becoming ..

Who knows just where you’ll go, and whom you’ll meet?

 

So we dance till next ..

 

A Time For All The Crazy Little Things

crazy little things

 

One day, there will be a time

When I’ll do all the crazy little things I’ve been dreaming of.

Like

Making an intoxicating shake

Of Toblerone, Mint, Cognac and Rum, or Kahlua?

Writing a book about the life of my furry toys,

A children’s title about critters (stray or not) in a lovely neighbourhood.

Yes, I aspire to be the next E.B. White 😍🕸

Like

Hopping from concerts and music festivals in Vienna and Ghent 

To cosy clubs and bars in Madrid and Dublin.

Oh, belting out favourite tunes from Heart, The Pretenders and Pat Benatar 

As head of my own rock band!

To express myself to my heart’s content.

After all

We were all born to shine. We must be free to shine.

In the words of James Altucher:

” But I’m starting to finally accept the fact that all I want to be is ME. “

Be free to be you: the best version of you.

 

And on this special day, I wish my mighty little red dot a beauteous shower of blessings.

Wishing you peace, prosperity and harmony – keep that special sauce in you, Singapore!

 

C is for Canines !!

C is for Canines

“  Silently you passed me by, without so much as a glance at me.

    Indifference, it seems, become your kind; were you lost in thought

    Of roaming through endless miles of forest, ice and snow?

    Are you Man’s best friend or the fearsome predator of yore

    That howls in some inexplicable language of your own .. ”

     (Notes for the Wolf, whom I met on 29 Oct 2014)

 

What happens when a girl encounters a canine one morning? A canine devastating in beauty. Handsome, like a grey wolf in winter. Cloaked in its plush grey impenetrable coat. Its eyes were gold as champagne, and they spoke!

I couldn’t have known then, that vision of the wolf would cause me to change — in time, how I saw his kind, and even how I saw myself.

 

” The wolf is art of the highest form and you cannot be in its presence without this lifting your spirits … it is difficult to be around such beauty without wanting to be more like it.”     

 — Mark Rowlands, The Philosopher and the Wolf

 

So began my conversion (from cat person) to a ‘woof’ person, three years ago .. 

Just two months then, into a new job at a human resource school, I didn’t want to be late. My preferred route to the train station was the weathered footpath along the monsoon canal: a path skirting the backyards of many houses, and some front porches. I loved peeking into those backyards, just to see what life existed behind those fences, whether pets or plants!

It occurred just lately to me how my curious and highly-sensitive nature had prepared me to be a writer. Susan Sontag, the ‘dark lady’ of American intellectual life said,” A writer is someone who pays attention to the world — a writer is a professional observer “I often catch myself trying to hear what diners at the next table are saying; I was fond of patrolling my neighbourhood on a bicycle. I once cycled around it at midnight on New Year’s Eve, just to see how my neighbours were celebrating .. hush!

I didn’t spy the backyards that morning in my rush. C is for Canines

A massive, grey canine with a broad, intelligent face (and his minder) however arrested my attention. It trod past me, completely oblivious: absorbed in its wolfish thoughts! 

I couldn’t but think about him for the rest of that day. He was like, or at least seemed: a higher being to me. I penned a few poems, just to capture the thoughts I felt on this encounter, and of course, to never forget how he looked.

The first of these, ‘Notes for the Wolf’, was published on Facebook 3 years ago. The second, ‘Reminiscing the Wolf’, was written a month after the encounter when I sadly realised I might never see him again; and indeed have not. Anyway, I don’t live there anymore.

The third poem, and last, was ‘The Grey Wanderer’ (the very first post on this blog). It was inspired by the many wolf documentaries I watched on Youtube since, but especially ‘The Rise of Black Wolf’. I also love the ‘Living With Wolves’ documentary by Jim and Jamie Dutcher, the amazing couple who lived with the Sawtooth Pack (of 8 wolves) for six years to study wolf social behaviour up-close.

If you love wolves, just like me, you’d know the story of the indomitable She-Wolf, who was the leader of Yellowstone’s legendary Lamar Canyon pack. Before she was tragically shot in December 2012 by a hunter, she was a fierce mother who would fend off grizzlies and even take down an elk by herself, for her pups.

 

“ For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.” 

    — Rudyard Kipling, the Jungle Book

 

I’ll never know if he was dog or wolf. But it’s Singapore. He was most likely a malamute — the much bigger cousin of huskies. Or he might have been a wolf, masquerading as a malamute: Maybe. (That will always be a mystery.)

 

Heart-melting Canine Moments …  🐕

Though I never got to see ‘Wolf’ again, there were a few other beautiful malamutes (among golden retrievers, labradors, huskies and more) in that vicinity. I befriended one called ‘Xoxo’, a large tawny wolfish female; and another, whom I called Brenin (after Mark Rowland’s pet wolf): a white and brown male, absolutely massive — like a nebula of dandelions from a distance. (Yes, you saw a blurry mass of white!)

Brenin had the most adorable face in the world. And when he first saw me, his expression said,” Oh look, I’ve got a new friend here!!” 😍😘 He had a much smaller companion (whom I called Bruno, also adorable) that was way more wary of me, and barked. On my following trips though, past this house, Bruno stopped barking and simply looked at me. So I ventured to put my hand on the fence for them to sniff it, afraid to be bitten if I patted them too hastily. Mind you — I was a cat person who didn’t know canines well. I had literally grown up with cats, and I adored every facet of them. Even the vicious, vindictive and snobbish side. 

Dear Brenin sniffed my hand, then did something so sweet: he gave me an affectionate lick with his warm wet tongue — oh! (and it didn’t smell.) And I saw what a pink nose he had, and what clear, light yellow eyes (like Chardonnay?): I was in love! 

So it was through more encounters and interactions with canines, that I gradually converted from a feline fan to a canine one. For there were far many more dogs than cats in my previous neighbourhood. By the by, the cats that I met daily then, were not that friendly. Sylvester snubbed me outright while Molly, the ‘mini-cow’, was capricious at best.

 

I wish I was more canine than feline.

When I was much younger, and coming from a cat-crazy family, I valued the elegance, coquetry and dignity of the cat more than the stalwart faithfulness and loyalty of the dog. Now that I’m older and know well life’s hard knocks (and more about dogs), I begin to appreciate canine qualities more. For beauty fades but the essential lasts: qualities like grit and selflessness.  

After reading much canine literature (obviously!), I began to wish that I was more selfless, gritty, forgiving and faithful like a dog. But I’m a selfish human being … perhaps God might help?

 

” This faithfulness was a quality of the clay that composed him. It was the quality that was peculiarly the possession of his kind … the quality that had enabled the wolf and the wild dog to come in from the open and be the companions of man.”     — Jack London, White Fang

 

Fables and Myths: There is No Big Bad Wolf (or Werewolf)!

It’s well-known that dogs descended from wolves, but dogs are prospering while wolves are disappearing. Shouldn’t we thank wolves for Man’s best friend? 

Wolves are portrayed as villains in fairy tales. You know which ones, those with the devious ‘Big, Bad Wolf’, lying in wait, and hungry for innocent human beings, pigs and sheep? 

There is NO big, bad wolf — just as there is no werewolf or vampire. 

Wolves are simply the wild brothers of Man's best friend: the dog. And they identify with human beings in many ways.Click To Tweet

If you’d like to support wolves and care for conservation, join me and learn about the causes at the Center for Biological Diversity, Earthjustice and California Wolf Center for a start, see how you can help! 

 

Meanwhile, I dream of kissing a handsome wolf one day.

Perhaps at the California Wolf Center, or at the Polar Park in Norway? We’ll see ..

 

Your golden eyes, intelligent face and mottled grey coat still linger in my mind

Oh that you knew you charmed me!

 

This post is dedicated to the ‘Wolf’ and all of his kind, and also to all you canine lovers out there!

I hope you enjoyed this ‘woofy’ post, till next! Please share your thoughts with me ..

 

August in Melbourne: Mulled Wine Winter Nights & the Warmth of Strangers

August in Melbourne: mulled wine winter nights and the warmth of strangersOn the Literary Quest  

It’s a summery Christmas season Down Under as I write. I had ventured on a literary quest in Melbourne in the last winter days of August. In case you didn’t know, Melbourne was appointed the 2nd UNESCO City of Literature in 2008. There are now 20 of such cities! Each commissioned to foster literary exchanges on all fronts and pursue excellence in literature locally.

With four literary festivals and two of my favourite magazines: Smith Journal and Frankie based here, the adoring literati fan in me simply finds the brimming creative vibes of Melbourne irresistible!

And a taste of the ‘best cafe culture’

I’ve heard so much about Melbourne’s coffee and cafe culture. Just this year, 2 colleagues had visited this bookish city, raving about the great coffee or cafe culture on their return.

Does Melbourne have the best coffee indeed? This GoodFood guide sure claims so. As anyone knows, books and coffee – like lovers, go hand-in-hand. It remains that I make a trip to explore this exciting City of Literature fueled by wondrous caffeine 🤓 !!

Bunking with strangers too …

I decided to take my experienced traveller friend’s advice to stay in a hostel, as this saves money (lots!) and I’ll also get to make friends with other travellers 😊 . But I was damn worried, to say the least. My first time to stay in a room with 3 other perfect strangers (I booked only female dorms with 4 beds) and for 10 nights !! 😬 but try I must, for I’m an adventurer.

 

Getting to know Melbourne

So here we are! There is no doubt that the cafes are impressive, I love the layout of their counters! The sandwiches and salads had much Middle-Eastern flavour – I like that. Had long blacks most of the time. (I’m a big fan of it – thanks to McCafe!) Markets are a big thing here. I went to both the Queen Victoria Market (the largest!) and the South Melbourne Market that have loads of stalls. You must come here on an empty stomach with free hands cos they sell Everything, not just food!

I fell for mulled wine, a European winter staple, at the night markets. More importantly perhaps, was the company I had. It made all the difference.

At the European Night Market of Madame Brussels Lane, I managed a lone standing spot (with my mulled wine and sauerkraut sausage) next to a middle-aged lady, chatting on her cell with a glass of Sauv Blanc (which I learned later was her favourite). It was a Friday night. The air was warm from throngs of people chatting, eating, drinking, laughing; heaters set up all around (a nice feature of all alfresco dining during winter in Melbourne).

“So what you’re doin’ here?” the lady beside me (Maxine) chatted me up! I was waiting for her to put down her cell and chat with me actually. A strange thing happens once I hop onto a plane: I actually crave small talk with strangers! (Back home, I’m an introvert who’d much rather not be disturbed.) So I was glad to talk, especially with a Melburnian! Mid-chatter a few of her colleagues joined us, they worked in a school just like I did (before I left).

So they were my kind of people 😊 and we went on like that till almost 10. Maxine walked me back to the hostel, lucky me! (For the free tram service was over and she lived just a block away) We exchanged notes and chatted all the way, took a Wefie with ‘Chloe’ at Young & Jacksons; then as we reached the hostel, hugged and bade farewell.

Oh Maxine, I won’t forget the welcome and generosity you extended me. Thank you so much for the mulled wine too, and making my time at Madame Brussels Lane memorable! 

The Perfectly Genial Strangers 

You must wonder how my hostel stay turned out, hey? Well, it wasn’t perfect but much better than I thought 😉

I stayed at 2 different hostels. 4 nights at United Backpackers – 250 Flinders Street; then 6 nights at Urban Central – 334 City Road. Flinders Street was a great way to start – right next to Degraves Street, my favourite!

It was pretty exhilarating spending those nights with girls from all over the world: South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Holland, Hong Kong, France and China. Back home, I wouldn’t get to meet so many people of such diverse nationalities within 2 weeks! I didn’t get to know all of them well of course, some stayed for just 1 or 2 nights while others stayed beyond a week.

I suppose we were bonded by the same sense of wanderlust, curiosity, and a certain need to escape from the daily grind and have fun. Fun we did have! I won’t forget the 3rd night when my Japanese room mate handed out these fun facial masks (with Japanese drawings) to the rest of us and everyone donned it and laughed at each other! We even had a wefie of us with the funny mask on (but I’m not posting that here, ha ha 😝 ) !!

Bonded by the same sense of wanderlust, curiosity and a certain need to escape ...Click To Tweet

A big thank you mates 😍 for the company you provided, for the warmth towards a stranger – me.

Special thanks to my Dutch mate, Nancy, for hanging out with me so many days! How would I survive Melbourne city without you! To Tiffany, my HK mate, for lunch at Movida’s and evening at St Kilda’s Pier. To my beautiful Hangzhou mates, Tina and Candy, for the lovely conversations we had and for making me comfortable in your room.

Also my ex-classmate, Michelle (who lives now in Melbourne), for the impromptu brunch! It might have been just a few hours but it was such quality time we had! I absolutely loved Abbotsford Convent !! Thanks for sharing this gem with me.

Last but surely not least, Dorothy from Calcutta (whom I met on my 1st day), you remind me of Mother Teresa with your concern and generosity. Yes, I still have your Myki card. I’m keeping it to remember you.

It’s mid Christmas, readers! I wish you peace, health, and all the good things you’d wish on your loved ones! It isn’t easy to be vulnerable and kind to a stranger, but remember you are the One who can make a difference ..

Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year !! 

 

P.S. the irony 😕 I got the dates of the Melbourne Writers’ Festival wrong so I didn’t get to attend the literati event!! (Boo hoo!) I arrived way too early in August and couldn’t possibly stay for a month just to attend it – Melbourne is an expensive city. For the life of me, I simply couldn’t locate the bookstores I wanted to visit. (Gee! am I that dumb?) The Wheeler Centre was closed just when I found it. Sigh! No literary trip …

For the loner (or perhaps misanthrope) that I usually am, I surprise myself always when I travel. I daresay the highlight of this trip was the people I met. Not the literature, not the attractions, not even the coffee/cafes. Melburnians I think are generally kind and really hospitable. Thank you for offering help whenever I was or appeared to be lost!

 

 

24 Hours in Singapore: the AccorHotels Challenge !

An Ambassador for the Little Red Dot

I might never become a professional tour guide. But I could always be an ambassador for the little red dot: Singapore, the garden city I was bred and born in. I just love to bring and show people around!

So here I am, taking this opportunity to tell you what to do in Singapore 😜 because AccorHotels is running a competition!! And I have entered it.

To enter: Pick your favourite city, then blog or vlog on how you would spend 24 hours in the city of your choice. Submit your entry by the 7th Dec 2016 and notify AccorHotels via Twitter using #AccorHotels24hrs.

The prize is 9 days in Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin with transport, accomodation and city passes included. And a Go-Pro camera to go with it!! 

Here we are then, say you are a tourist on a one-day transit in Singapore and I am your tour guide for this day, ready? 

 

8 to 10 am : Breakfast in the east and a stroll along the coast

15 mins down from the airport is Singapore’s undisputed food haven – the Tanjong Katong/Joo Chiat district – hotspot of every self-respecting foodie 😋 . Some of the most raved about cafes that offer breakfast here are:

Do.Main Bakery, an authentic French Bakery Cafe, offers great bread and pastries at 226 Tanjong Katong Road

Baker’s Well, specialises in lovingly home-baked goods at 35 East Coast Road

Craftsmen Speciality Coffee, offers hearty European fare with hipster vibes at 2 First Street, Siglap V

Explore the East Coast Park after your coffee and breakfast! Rent a bicycle from any of the bicycle rentals. Or simply stroll or sit along the beach, and people watch. Early morning brings many strollers, joggers and skaters to this park 😊. Relax and just gaze at the great wide sea, that’s the Straits of Singapore.

 

10 am to 1 pm : Trailing the heart of Singapore 

The heart of Singapore encompasses the civic and business districts. Feeding this heart with life is the Singapore river, like a giant artery, along which Singapore’s greatest historical, cultural and architectural icons are found.

I suggest we trail this river first by bus, then on foot. Singapore’s buses are all air-conditioned, don’t worry! I love taking buses as it avails me a great view of the streets and a feel of what’s happening.  

In this instance, I would hop onto bus #196. We’ll get to see the monumental Sports Hub, an integrated sports-entertainment-retail complex, quite the first of its kind in the world (you can’t miss its retractable 310 m wide dome roof!); then my most favourite Esplanade: Theatres On the Bay, a breathtaking spiny twin-domed structure which I think looks like Saturn, with its ring! Of course I love The Esplanade for what it houses inside – Performing Arts and more arts, from both international and local acts!

From here on, the view is just spectacular (though more so at night – yes, we are coming back in the evening!) Don’t blink for the next few minutes .. look out also for the iconic Merlion along the bay – a great favourite with tourists! 

Diagonally across the road is The Fullerton Hotel, once the General Post Office of the British government, now a distinct landmark depicting old world splendour since its refurbishment into a grand heritage hotel. 

We’ll alight at the next stop: the historic Clifford Pier. It was this former jetty where waves of immigrants (Singapore’s pioneers) arrived to carve out a new living for themselves. What would catch your eye, is the exquisite facade of the Fullerton Bay Hotel and the refurbished pier itself – now a restaurant in art-deco style! 

From here, we take the overhead bridge and walk right into the “Wall Street” of Singapore – Raffles Place. Feel the buzz of this financial hub as we walk through the Square, and head towards Empress Place to meet Singapore’s founder: Sir Stamford Raffles (his statue rather) 😉 and the grand dame of Singapore’s cultural scene: Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall.

It’s worth visiting the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) just round the corner. The good news is, admission is free to all this month even for special exhibitions. Hurray! ACM also won the TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Award for Museums in 2014 and 2015. 

Within walking distance too is the magnificent National Gallery Singapore, housed in the former Supreme Court and City Hall. A must-visit! She is said to oversee over 8000 works that narrates the art history of Singapore and that of the region, from the 19th century to the current day. Expect to spend more than an hour here marvelling ☺️ .

 

1 to 2.30 pm : Lunch time!

Hainanese chicken rice is an absolute dish to have in Singapore! Unless you’re a vegan. I recommend Tian Tian stall at the Maxwell Hawker Centre, which has been running for decades – both the stall and the centre. There are a hundred over stalls to choose from. If chicken rice is not your thing, there are still plenty of other good food to try .. tuck in!

 

2.30 to 4.30 pm : Tea culture along Neil Road

I’m not crazy about Chinese tea though I find the tea experience at the Tea Chapter irresistible. It isn’t just the premium tea they serve or how they educate patrons on proper tea appreciation; perhaps it’s the serenity of the teahouse and the arrangement of the seats with its varying styles. Queen Elizabeth II couldn’t resist it too! “Queen’s Corner” was named where she had graced the teahouse with her presence. It’s easy to spend a few hours here, if you’re like me ..

 

5 – 8 pm: Let the night uncover her diamonds! 24 Hours in Singapore

Tis the golden hour to visit Marina Bay! In my opinion – and I’m quite sure I’m in good company – this is just the most beautiful spot in Singapore.  Think of Rihanna’s song “Diamonds”. This is a million-dollar view. You heard me right.

To Gardens by The Bay we go! This 101 ha garden tops the list on TripAdvisor as the #1 thing to do in Singapore! Home to more than 1 million plants in its various themed gardens: the Dragonfly & Kingfisher Lakes, Flower Dome, Cloud forest and Supertree Grove, I reckon you would be rather awe-struck .. just like Alice in Wonderland 😝 .

We’ll proceed to the neighbouring Marina Bay Sands, a triple-towered structure topped with a winding ship (the SkyPark)! Designed by world-acclaimed Israeli architect, Moshe Safdie, this hotel-casino features a 200m high skypark with an infinity pool and observation deck.

It costs $23 for adults to enter the deck but I can assure you this bird’s eye million dollar view is worth it! A few of the striking landmarks you’ll see are the Singapore Flyer (observation wheel), the SuperTrees and glasshouses from the Gardens, ArtScience Museum, the Fullerton Hotel and a massive host of lights from other structures around the bay.

 

8 – 9 pm: Dinner time at Lau Pa Sat

A market since the 19th century and now the prettiest hawker centre: Lau Pa Sat is a true-blue institution in its own right. Mention Lau Pa Sat and one thinks of satay, stingray, mee goreng, hokkien mee and plenty other sinful local delights, with al fresco seats! The locals usually down these greasy favourites with another favourite – coconut juice or sugarcane juice (with lemon juice added to aid digestion). And why not try one of our local favourite desserts like ice kachang or chendol? Have a food adventure!

 

9 pm – 12 midnight : Your Choice of Fun

Options ..

Would you like wildlife fun at the Night Safari: “the world’s very first night zoo” ? Love nocturnal creatures? Enjoy tram rides, exploring various geographies and trekking? If yes, we’re headed to 80 Mandai Lake Road. Hoot hoot!!

If no, we could continue to shimmy with the stars … Bar-hopping, yes!

Bars to hop:

Post Bar at The Fullerton Hotel 

Lantern Rooftop Bar at The Fullerton Bay Hotel

Loof atop Odeon Towers

There are many more bars around but these would be my favourite.

 

Snooze time: 1 – 8 am

I would love to lay me down at So Sofitel, a short distance away along Robinson Road. It’s boutique and yet so elegant and luxurious! Methinks I shall dream of being a princess tonight .. 

 

What did you think of my itinerary? I might have been too ambitious .. it doesn’t hurt to aim for the stars, I might just land on the moon. Let me hear your comments!