I’m groggy when I wake up, such was how deeply I slept again. I decide that I’m going to chill out this morning. There are a couple of common areas and the breakfast room/bar. My main reason, however, is because the laundry room is finally empty. I’ve checked every day but the sole machine has always been in use. Although I haven’t used all the clothes I’ve brought with me, I got soaked in the rain on the last day I had in Hue and the clothes I wore that day and my swimming gear from the afternoon swim never dried out before I left. It’s been sitting in a tied up carrier bag since then and I’m worried it’s going to go mouldy.
I set the machine going, get a coffee and sit down and do some more writing up. I’m thinking to drop by the 50 Cents Festival again when I have finished drying everything, but in the end I can’t be bothered to thread my way through all the people. I eat the Indian sweets I bought yesterday and was too full to eat, and instead then head to the MRT and get the train once again to Bugis, from where I can walk to Kampong Glam.
While Little India and Chinatown are well-known, this area is on the rise. It is mainly a Muslim area, and it is very close to Little India. Think of it as the Islamic Little India. While Little India has the Sri Veeramakaliamman temple, Kampong Glam has the Masjid Sultan, or Sultan Mosque and its own streets full of shops, markets and clothing stores.
I walk around the grid, taking some photos of the mosque and making a mental note to come back for a martabak from one of the many restaurants that serve it along the street across from the mosque. Again, the cosmopolitan nature of Singapore strikes me.
Martabak being made – another dish that I thought would be small but was so big I was totally stuffed for the rest of the day.
What I am interested in, however, is Haji Lane, which I have read is an upcoming coming artsy/hipstery shopping street lined with coffee shops and funky stores. Mention hispter-y coffee shops and you’ll probably get my attention.
I find the entrance to the lane. It’s lined by murals, and there are loads of people posing in front of the walls getting their photos taken by friends and/or lovers. I guess it’s an Instagram thing to pose against a wall or something. It’s kind of entertaining to watch. Yes, there are coffee shops and bars and artisanal shops selling the usual kind of cool and funky stuff. I stop in a place called Going Om, mainly because just like Taboo in Hue and The Pass in Club Street it has a safe-looking little terrace with seating that that is away from the main area of the shop but close enough to the street. I ask for coffee and the waiter says they only do Vietnamese coffee. Perfect.
I wander back down the street. My eye catches some coasters with images of Singapore on them for sale. I now have a tradition whenever I go away that I buy a set of coasters and some postcards from that country. Anything else is too bulky to get back in a bag. I haven’t really seen coasters for sale, so I go up the stairs. At the top there is a map and a bunch of pins and a sign that says put a pin in the map of where you’re from. I’m trying to decide if I should put a pin in Korea or the UK, when there is a voice from behind me. It’s the photographer who makes the coasters and postcards. I tell her I was just looking at the map and that there probably isn’t room for a pin in where I need to drop it. We of course discuss where I’m from and where I’m living and what it’s like and what Koreans are like etc. She gets a lot of visitors in the shop. She sees my camera and says, ‘Oh you’re a photographer too then.’ Ha. I tell her no, I’m just a hobbyist, mainly just pointing and shooting on automatic mode and not doing an post-processing as yet. We talk about the fireworks last night and she shows me some shots she took. I say that I didn’t bother that much as I knew I wouldn’t get them well, and she gives me some hints about shooting at night using the manual exposure settings of the camera. I show her my reflection shot of the Marian Bay Sands Hotel and she likes it. I buy a couple of coasters and a couple of postcards, and when I leave I put a small pin in the UK.
I keep walking and taking some more photos, and then I head back towards the waterfront. My plan is to make it to Gardens by the Bay before sunset and try to take some photos of the trees before and after sundown. I make my way back along the way I walked last night, noticing that I had basically gone past Kampng Glam and Haji Lane on my walk back from Little India. I pass the Raffles Hotel again and duck into the same mall to cut through to the waterfront. I take a different route through the mall, and I soon find a branch of Marks and Spencer, which I find quite amusing. I make my way in and up to the food hall to look around at what they’re offering. They’re having a sale, and I see a pair of linen shorts I like. I decide to try them on – they’re in my usual size – but they’re far too big and baggy. The work I’ve being doing to lose weight this year has clearly been paying off. I decide against buying them and head out to the waterfront.
I make it across the bridge and enter the Gardens in the same place I did on Friday night. This time I take an escalator up to the foot of Marina Sands where there is a viewing platform over the Supertree Grove. It’s now 5.45 and the sun is beginning to go down and I catch it peeping through the columns of the hotel. Its crowded with tourists and I thread my way back down and over the bridge into the grove. In the daylight it is just as impressive as at night. The scale of the trees is immense, especially when you see the tiny people crossing the bridges that run through the trees. I climb a path up and behind the main grove, and follow it around, snapping photos of the scene. The sky is darkening and golden hour is approaching. At 7 pm I sit down at a rock garden up and behind the trees and I spend a peaceful half-hour watching the activity and wondering whether to stay for the light show. (I take so many photos, and it fatigues me to know that I will have to go through hundreds of them on both my camera and my phone in order to sift out the decent ones. I”m only posting a few here because I’m still fatigued by it a week on…)
I’m really thirsty by now, and I know from Friday there are water fountains down below where I can refill my bottle, but I decide to stay put lest I lose my spot. It would be cool if I get it all to myself for the light show.
Alas, that’s not to be. Five minutes later a gaggle of French people arrive, noisily chatting and munching on fried chicken from the restaurants down below. The, I assume, mother of the group is snapping photos with a massive camera right in front of me and the sits – of all places – right on the rock next to me. She’s literally about two inches from me. I take a couple of snaps on my phone. In Korea (and Japan) there is a privacy law that says the phone must make a shutter sound when you take a photo so that you can’t take pervy pics of people, and it’s impossible to turn the sound off. My phone makes its noise and the mother turns and gives me a weird look. I feel like saying ‘Er, excuse me, I’ve just sat here peacefully for thirty minutes and you lot have just turned up and ruined it with your chatter and stinky food, so eff off,’ but I bite my lip.
The show is once again cool. It’s the same as Friday, but this time instead of getting a vista of the all of the trees in the grove I get a view of one corner of it. I still in enjoy it, but I don’t get the same thrills as on Friday.
I head back to the waterfront and decide to see if there’s anything going on at the Esplanade stage. There’s a Japanese jazz/funk group playing on stage, all cheesy matching red suits, cheesy jazz moves and cheesy jokes, but they are really fun and they have great interactions with the crowd, really getting everyone going. In the middle I wander to the seating at the side of the stage and try to take photos of the hotel using the tips that Sandra, the photographer, gave me about shooting at night. I’ve been trying to understand the ‘exposure triangle’ – that is, getting the right ratio of aperture width, shutter speed and ISO (lens sensitivity) trough the trip. I put the camera in manual mode and play around with it. Form what I understand, if you adjust one aspect – say, decreasing the shutter speed by one stop – you have to increase the other two parts by one stop. I set my camera on its small trip and play around.
As I make my way around the waterfront I stop at another part and try some more photos of the hotel. When I check back they’re quite good, and better than the ones I take in manual mode. I also stop at the Merlion, Singapore’s emblem, which stands in the middle of the bay and spouts water out of its mouth. There’s nowhere to rest my camera on a tripod in front of it, but behind it there’s a wall and I try to get some shots from there.
Walking back, I take a different route to the hotel which involves cutting out the corner with Telong Ayer market. I come to a street which runs parallel to the route I normally take, and there’s an interesting area called China Street which is similar to Smith Street in that it is covered and contains lots of restaurants. It’s past 11 pm by now and many are closed, but it’s something I never read about and I think to myself that maybe tomorrow I can have a wander around there.
And so to bed after another long and interesting day. I’m really starting to really like Singapore now, and I’m hoping for a great finale on my last day tomorrow.