This is especially written for those who asked how we were housed during our Singapore visit and for friends who will be in the Lion City soon.
To stay within Clarke Quay was a case of liking it even before knowing it fully. Its monotony and colors, history and modernity, quietness and loudness, and the rest of its contradictory points charmed me. For a moment I even dubbed it as two-faced, which has nothing to do with the personality of second Governor of Singapore, Sir Andrew Clarke, whom the area was named after.
The Swissotel (Merchant Court) served as our home away from home during the trip. I only have good things to say about it, its management and staff. Although it is healthy to explore more, I would be pleased to stay here again in case we will revisit. We booked it through Agoda.com, hence, we got a reasonable rate for the business executive room (with a free net access).
Just like in Federal Hotel in Malaysia, our room also had a good view. Take note of the bridge over there.
I think it’s time to get to the part that I must qualify why Clarke Quay is sort of two-faced. In a charming way.
This bridge which witnessed the golden days of trading, rushing of bumboats, prosperity, and the decline and rise of Singapore River, is generally unassuming at day time. While it is no longer utilized for trading after its rehabilitation, it is being maintained for its aesthetics and for the sake of tourism.
As you cross it, you will be amused with the colorful establishments at this side. It has more character at night.
That peaceful bridge becomes so alive at night. Walking in and around was liberating enough for people like me who is confined to the generally more reserved UAE. There was this feeling, that we identified sooner, that was beaming. The liberty to observe and feel it without the necessity of doing the extremes. You know which part I liked the most? That I was so free to take photos. For a minute, I even felt guilty of being one of the paparazzi. Then I realized that there was actually no one. Everyone, especially the (obvious) tourists were so delighted to snap. Not that I am complaining about where I am. But do you know how it feels when you are sheltered and always customarily courteous, then one day you wake up, you reclaim your liberty that has always been yours back home, while in a foreign land?
This side of The Central (a mall which is few steps away from Swissotel) was one of my favorite spots at night. We joined the people from different walks of life, sitting on the stairs, which become jampacked as midnight approaches. I really enjoyed observing stuff and them, eavesdropping on the Singlish and other nationals chatters about work, trivial concerns, and other stuff all of which I found interesting. Some took soda, beers, nibbling different sorts, while we savoured the ice cream inside the bread. (Yes, the nocturnal ice cream men from Walls profit more.) In a way, it reminded me of my few visits to our own then Baywalk many years ago.
We frequented The Central because we used to take our meals there, sorting the different sources of local dishes. Our favorites were at the food court. We randomly tried the cheap and expensive. I think that the most sparkling part of spontaneity is when we go out of our comfort zones while maintaining our sanity. Aside from the food exploration, one must also try the different modes of transportation. I was really impressed with their train system. It is no wonder that the UAE and other progressive countries always take into account the Singapore’s metro train and river rehabilitation programs in their urban planning. While Singapore is basically an expensive arena, there is indeed a lot of ways to travel here at a reasonable budget – utilizing the train is one of those.
Part of our nightly enjoyable lazy-ing on the stairs by the river while eating durian ice cream was to watch and listen to the screaming of the brave guys and gals trying the G-MAX reverse bungy jump (reaches 60 meters in the air, up to 200 kph) and G-5 extreme swing (falling from 50 meters at over 120 kph).
Stories of reclaiming the glory are always inspiring. Does it ring a bell? How long has it been since Piso Para sa Pasig (A Peso for Pasig River) was launched? The Pasig River Rehabilitation Program, on its creation in 1989, aimed to improve the river’s condition after 15 years. The Singapore River went through the rehabilitation for 10 years. Although the water’s hue remains to be brownish, it is trash-and odor-free. (Hence, we opted to do the river cruise at night.) Whenever I would think and actually see rehabilitated places in different countries, it makes me feel hopeful for our Pasig River and other distressed resources.
While hope is a good thing, it is not enough. While hope is not enough, it is still a good thing.