Friday, July 4, 2008

Wo-man About Town

The day has come for me to hit the Singaporean streets alone. Yes, it is relatively overdue considering that I have been here for two weeks but, hey, knowing me—who didn’t learn how to commute in the Philippines, in Pasig to be exact, until I was turning 18—well, two weeks is a remarkable progress.

There were three primary reasons why I finally decided to leave the comfort of the house and risk getting lost in a foreign land. First, I was bored; I just had to go out. Second, I needed to learn to go out all by myself. Sooner or later, I just had to do it. I don’t want to be a baby all my life. And, third, I’m meeting Benz.

So I got on bus number 17. I could ride bus number 12 and I think 21 but 17 came by the soonest so 17 it was. Inside the bus, I sat beside a lola and a little girl in uniform. Not long enough, the lola asked me, “Are you a Filipino?”

Is it that obvious? I thought. Not that I have any objections about being classified easily as Pinoy. I was just surprised how apparent my being Pinoy was.

Opo,” I replied to the lola and from there we kicked off a short conversation about the lola’s apo, how they recently moved out of the house they were renting, how they are learning to get to the apo’s school and those kinds of things. They got off in front of the school. Our conversation ended. I continued with my trip.

A few minutes later, I reached the bus terminal which was located at the foot of the train station. I tapped my EZ-link card out of the bus and into the train. I was then off to mingle with an entirely different crowd.

Since the train has bigger space compared to the bus, it accommodated more people. The train alone is a melting pot of diverse cultures, languages, and, let’s not forget to include, body odors.

From where I come from, it is taboo to stink—more taboo than littering, chewing gum, or cheating on one’s wife. (Which, if you think about it, is kind of odd. We do have to sort our priorities as one people.) Ideally everyone takes a bath everyday, put on some deodorant and get into fresh clothes. And so, one sniff that goes off my pleasant chart ticks me off a bit. But then I am now in a world where cultures blend, rather than collide, so I have to learn to get over my personal biases, even those perceived by my nose.

Instead of passing out in front of the guy standing in front of me, I held my breath and tried my darn best to think of happy thoughts. Besides, it is not that bad. After all, I survived, didn’t I?

Thirteen train stations later, I found my stop. I waited for Benz to locate me—wherever I was. We went up and down escalators, in and out of buildings and viola, we were in Plaza Singapura! Now that mall is small yet it rose up until I-don’t-know-how-high. And then we walked, went up and down escalators, in and out of buildings until we were in some underground, laidback pseudo-fastfood center.

As Benz stated, the food in Singapore is good. And true enough, the food here is great. Plus the servings are generous; I am having a hard time finishing my meals. (And for every plate I don’t finish, a picture of a starving baby haunts me.)

So I had a sort of chicken katsu, with a bowl of rice, a kimchi-like side dish, and soup which I didn’t quite dig. (But don't excluded the soup from "good food" because of me. I just have a weird set of taste buds.) The meal went for 5.90 SGD which is worth it when you hear what came with those I have mentioned: Free-flowing drink of your choice and free-flowing ice cream! It’s enough to make you happy and...fat.

Benz filled me in on his own adventures for the past three months, thus explaining why it took two rounds of ice creams and too long a time for us to finish our meal. In between our conversation, Benz received probably the best news of his life here. I really understood how he needed to jump for joy or to cry happy tears just to let the good news sink in to his system. He deserved to scare the white guy sitting one table away from us when he stifled a combination of excitement and victory and tears. Again, congratulations, Benz!

We walked around, making a few stops for some landmarks where we took pictures using my phone’s camera (so bear with the quality).

Me in "LOVE." Get it? IN "love."
Benz at Fort Canning Park where Sarah Geronimo had a concert--See, Benz, I was listening!

the stairs that lead somewhere...
At Istana Park, in front of the SG counterpart of Malacanang

So close at calling it a the walkalator that connects the purple and red mrt lines

Benz kept on telling me bits of infos I ought to know in order to survive Singapore. One of which is the look-to-your-right-before-crossing-the-street bit. Which I tell you is not easy, considering that I am so used to anticipating cars coming from my left. I know I have to drill it in my head to look right, look right! Otherwise I might end up like Natalie Portman’s character in Closer, which I wouldn’t mind if Jude Law will come to my rescue. Hehe.

At around 6 PM, Benz led me to the train station where we parted ways—he towards home, and me off to find my sister wherever her office was.

My sister gave me very comprehensive instructions just so I could reach her office in one piece. I would have been a complete moron if I got lost. But just as well, it felt good getting around all by myself (with detailed directions, of course). And it was even better to see where my sister worked. Somehow I saw where she’s getting her money from—haha!

Seriously, it felt good being able to take a peek at a new aspect in my sister’s life. It made me feel like I’m part of her world again—I mean, seeing what she sees in a daily basis, instead of merely hearing about it.

With regard to the Singaporean streets, I still have a lot to learn. Getting on and off buses and trains is one thing, weaving through the intricate and diverse crowd is one whole lot of another.

I sure am looking forward to my next adventure!

1 comment:

folly said...

You're good! I would love to have a tourist like you and me as the guide! :-) hahaha

If all else fails, pwede din ba ako magtour guide? hehehe

Thanks talaga! =)

P.S. In fairness, you saw me crying...first hand.