Singapore smells like foreign flowers and exotic spices. It’s just like everybody says it is–clean and safe. Which makes me wonder about what really goes on behind closed doors and within the Mediterranean-style condominium compounds with their manicured lawns and perfectly-sized swimming pools. Even though the climate is pretty much the same as the Philippines, Singapore is a walking city. Back in Manila, the thought of walking to a store a few streets away is laughable; I usually take a tricycle. Yesterday, however, I went past so many blocks, tall buildings, and train stations, with nothing to propell me forward but my own two feet.
There is much to do in this city, but only if you’re loaded. If you thought Manila had too many malls, clearly you’ve never walked down Orchard Street. At every block, the marble facade of a high-class mall gleams in the sun, its shiny glass windows showcasing the best that European designers have to offer. Singaporeans are very fashionable, and you can tell that the clothes that garb their bodies cost a pretty dollar. I felt so frumpy in my ukay-ukay clothes and regretted not bringing anything more stylish.
My first purchase in Singapore was a pack of cigarettes. I actually brought my own packs from Manila, but when Nic and I headed out to the city I realized I had stupidly forgotten them in my suitcase. So we went inside the nearest 7-11 to get me what the lady in the counter said were “Ultimate Dunhills.” They’re ultimate, all right. Ultimate in EXPENSIVE. Three hundred pesos for a pack of cigarettes! I wanted to smash my head through the glass windows for being such an idiot. But I suppose buying a pack of cigarettes in Singapore is an experience in itself, because each cigarette pack hosts a picture of some poor unfortunate soul’s rotting anatomy, the victim of too much tobacco and nicotime. If I lived in Singapore I would probably end up quitting smoking for good, not only because I’m too cheap to pay 300 pesos for cigarettes, but also because the psychology of those pictures are definitely working on me.
It wasn’t difficult for me to resist the temptation to shop for clothes because I’m an unbelievable cheapskate when it comes to what I wear. But when Nic took me to Kinokuniya, I was doomed. Kinokuniya is this huge bookstore that spans one whole floor of the mall. The ditzy female shopaholic in me took over and I immediately began pulling books from off the shelves, checking their prices, and moaning about my financial situation. After half an hour of browsing, I begged Nic to take me away because the temptation to whip out my credit card and buy everything I wanted was becoming increasingly difficult to resist. I ended up paying an indecent amount of money for several books with the pocket money I have. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to eat for the rest of my stay here. Lesson learned: NEVER go to a book store during a vacation.
The evening was spent having dinner with my wonderful Singaporean friends, whom I have known for years and haven’t spoken to in the longest time. Samantha, Cessy, Ling, Renyu, and Germaine took Nic, Franz, and me out for dinner at City Hall and to Brewerkz for some drinks. I had the time of my life. Initial awkwardness and shyness aside, I was surprised at how easily I was able to converse with them and how, by 9 pm, everything felt so natural. It was as though I had known them all my life and spent every evening with them having beer and good conversation by the riverside. Perhaps I’m not as socially retarded as I think I am, or maybe I just adapt to new surroundings more quickly than I realize. In any case, I hope I can find the time (and money) to see them again before I leave. I enjoyed their company very much and I’d love to spend more time with them. Perhaps it’s a good thing that I’ll be leaving in a few days; it doesn’t take too long for me to get attached to people I get along with, and that would make leaving Singapore very difficult for me.
Click for Pictures from yesterday.