And so, it was my first trip to Singapore. Yes, the last time I’ve been in that republic was 1989, a transit in Changi airport from Australia heading back to Malaysia. I wasn’t allowed to wander off 5 metres away from my parents so I end up sitting on the luggage trolley most of the time.
Thanks to Yazid for having an exhibition at the Esplanade’s underpass, and Muid for pushing me to accompany him there to visit the exhibition, we ended up flying to Singapore on this long day trip.
The flight from LCCT was at 6.35am and it was one of the great hours in the day because you get to catch the sunrise from above the clouds. We were there from 7.30am until 10.25pm when we board the flight heading back to KL.
The trip all together was great. To summarise, Singapore, is a place to work. The city tried so hard to design itself to be a metropolitan of an international standard, which provides one of the best public transportation system in the world and an organised and systematic urban system. It is racing to be at the same level of New York, Tokyo and London, I guess. I applaud the effort, but I criticise the sense of culture that had to be eliminated in the process. Singapore has only one culture, and it is “SHOPPING”.
I wouldn’t say I’m excluded from that stereotype because another purpose of our visit is to go to UNiQLO, a Japanese Retail brand which has been fast catching up to map itself in the Retail World and the closest outlet to Malaysia is in Singapore. I am of course aware of this brand because I once assessed the Holding company, Fast Retailing (duhh, now that explains the growth of UNiQLO) last year for it’s CSR performance. When we reached the outlet in Orchard Mall, it was crazily packed and I understand why. UNiQLO offers basic clothings of the best quality material at a very affordable prices. Too bad I was rather broke, if not, I would’ve purchased that cool black wool jacket which cost only SGD 69.90. I only bought a blue wool sweater vest (SGD 29.90) and a cool brown belt (SGD 29.90). Those were the only items I could afford.
Of course, I should write about Yazid’s exhibition entitled “Of Music and Mayhem” which will be displayed from 21st August until 4th October 2009. It’s a collection of 20 canvases displayed at the Esplanade underpass with 10 manually done (by charcoal, oil painting and mixed media) and 10 printed canvases. Yazid, a member of our DigitalMalayaProject have been residing in Singapore for 3 years now and told us, it’s the only place to get recognised or to be creatively appreciated compared to the politically based art world of Malaysia. Most of the designers I know, had to step out of the country and promote their talents elsewhere before coming home as an established recognised artists. Most of those who are allowed to establish themselves in this country, must at least KNOW SOMEBODY or have loads of money to PRODUCE and MARKET their talents. The infamous National Art Gallery, despite being ‘national’, has not accommodate to the rising and blooming of local talents due to internal office politics and cronyism. This issue has demotivated some of the great talents in Malaysia, just because their art is perceived as too liberal, or too digitised, or too sekular, to the eyes of the Old-Timers who holds the positions of the High Office. There’s also the case of corruption, where to ask for funding, they will be charged to give back some ‘micellaneous’ fees to the approval officials in order for their application to get through. Sad, isn’t it?
Anyways, walking for the entire day with only 2 hours of sleep the previous night, I was seriously pushing myself to my maximum capacity. To the extend of not finishing the Empal Penyet that Yazid threated us for dinner.
Trying to get a Taxi on a Sunday night was crazy in Singapore. We got one, much to our not so happening luck streak, but the kind uncle stopped for us. He explained why it is hard to get a taxi in Singapore on a Sunday night. Basically, what the taxi drivers do, it to let people pile up at the taxi stand from 9pm till 11pm, refusing to take any passengers within those 2 hours, and then, when there’s a lot of people, then only they start taking passengers in. Its weird really but that’s how the cabbies are there. A friendly guy he is, he shared a lot of experiences of driving a cab with us. Talking about cross cultural differences, one perception made me laughed like hell.
Uncle cabbie: You know what, I really criticise my race (he is Chinese).
Me and Muid: Why Uncle?
Uncle cabbie: You know, during hari raya, the Malays, one family aa, will wear all green. Another family, all yellow. SO proud to celebrate Hari Raya. All wear nice new clothes all same colour. The Chinese aaa, I tell you, new year’s eve dinner, all come in with shorts and tshirts. So terrible. The Malays with their same colour one whole family, so kencang one.
I really laughed on that “kencang” statement. Although both of us are short on Singapore currency at that point, we were counting our coins to pay for the cab fare and was short for about a dollar, until Uncle cabbie was like “No need la to count your syilings like that, just give it all to me” and when I stood out of the door, I saw another dollar on my seat and happily gave it to him. Bless him for sending us just on time to run for check in.
While waiting to get on board, these 2 Malay girls sat on the row of seats facing us and one of them started venting out. Apparently, she brought some packeted home made food and was asked to leave them because they won’t allow her to take the food on board and one of the flight officials threw the tupperware in front of her eyes which angered her to that extend because it was her mom’s cooking. I understand her rage. But she was cursing endlessly and she was cursing the whole nature of the official who threw the food in the bin, who happened to be a butch lesbian. The negative vibe from her endless profanity annoyed both me and Muid and maybe some other passengers who was waiting peeacefully before she came. I pity her really, but … seeing a tudung claded malay girl cursing crazy vulgar words endlessly just pissed me off at some point. She started calling some friends and repeated the whole incident over the phone and cursed some more. It was crazy, the cursing, it was endless.
Too bad I had to leave Singapore that way.
But the cries and laughter of the babies soothed me in the plane. Ah, doesn’t proximity to innocence sort of cleanses your soul.
Good bye Singapore, until I see your kiasu land again!
P/S:- Pictures uploaded on my Flickr – Link at the sidebar.e