Singapura

28 02 2008

This post is obviously long overdue ’cause the trip happened over two months ago, but in this case, it’s better late than never. I wrote snippets during the trip which I then glued together so they can be comprehensible.

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I’ve been wondering since I got here, what is Singapore’s tourism tag line? If Malaysia is “truly Asia” and Australia’s asking where the “bloody hell” everyone is, how is Singapore lurking tourists?

I’m very lucky Ate Joan is based here ’cause she’s one hell of a good lakwatsera (I think it runs in the family actually). And it only takes her a few days to get all street-smart when she’s in a new place, no learning curves at all hehe. So we’ve done the usual touristy things; went to Sentosa, Singapore Zoo (but only reached the gate and had a quick dinner, we decided to forego the night safari due to the rain), hopped on a river cruise along Robertson Quay and checked out Lucky Plaza (Haha, Pinoy e). They were all OK but they weren’t the highlights of the trip for me.

For me what made this 3day stay worthwhile were so off the tourist trail and invisible from the travel brochures. If I were to advise someone about to go to Singapore, I’d tell her/him to get up early, take the train or bus, go to the nearest kopi tiam and order kaya toast and the traditional Singaporean kopi, or go to the East Coast to have an orgasmic dinner of chili crabs and cereal prawns at Jumbo Seafood, or stroll through the Kampong Glam district, Kandahar and Arab streets to indulge and maybe recall your Sibika at Kultura lessons at the Malay Heritage Centre. Simply put, do what the locals do… albeit on a payday (sadly, chili crabs do not come cheap, but kaya toast and kopi do!), or heck discover what the locals themselves have yet to discover.

My favorite memory during this trip has got to be the time when I saw a woman wearing a hijab (if I’m not mistaken) getting off the bus be welcomed by her young kids by pagmamano. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t Pinoy but seeing that gesture made me think of how deeply connected we all are and that we can move away and forward but we can still find a reason to celebrate and be proud of our heritage.

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There you go, my travelogue for Singapore.

I’m leaving for Shanghai this Sunday. I’m more nervous than excited and this is the first time I’m feeling this way about a trip. Firstly, because I don’t speak the language, and secondly, because I don’t speak the language. Oh I already said that. Right. Sorry. Well I’m sure the experience won’t kill me and I know it will turn out to be a mind-blowing adventure. My colleagues say it’s like the modern Manila.

How can I find comfort in that when deep-down in my heart I’m a probinsyana? Lumuluwas pa nga ako para makipagkita sa mga kaibigan ko sa Manila eh, take note, lumuluwas. I bet you you’ve never used that word before in your life, unless you’re related to me. In that case you’d say mage-eeroplano ka or magb-bus ng bente-kwatro oras to get to Manila.