Tanjong Pagar conservation area. Ann Siang. Duxton.
Yes, I know these places are so… yesterday.
“You’d know about them if you were in tune with the times,” you say.
These times – when age is hip and vintage is current once again.
I have been to the Tanjong Pagar part of town before – but usually by myself, and never all the good parts at once. This time, I made a list, got a couple of good friends together, and played tour guide. Books. Cakes. Cafes. > The highlights.
Traipsing around gorgeous old shophouses, wolfing down sweet treats, sipping lattes, discovering new nooks and reads – we did all those last saturday.
Such fun, when the thrill of discovery is shared amongst like minded folks.
“Let’s take a train from Tanjong Pagar Railway Station before it closes in July!”
Grown adults we were – but only one of us had ever been on a Singapore-Malaysia rail journey. So a date was set. 4 June, 2011. There were 6 takers.
The train was delayed. When we first got onto our second class seats, we were hit by the smell of stale upholstery and takeaway fried breakfasts.
“Actually, I think it’s pretty clean.”
“Sit down everyone, let’s take a picture!”
Out whipped the cameras, bringing forth a glut of photos.
“Hey, this one’s bad. Look here again!”
“Are you done already?”
“Oi, take the train, not me!”
Snappity snap went the cameras.
More time passed. At 8.30am, we heard wheels moving, gears shifting. There was a sudden, welcome jerk. The train started chugging along, taking its own sweet time.
We discovered, to our dismay, that our seats were facing the wrong way. Trains, HDB flats, the causeway, fields, appeared without warning, looming large before receding back into the horizon. No biggie, except for one of us, who got slightly carsick. She fell asleep. The rest of us yakked like ducks throughout, despite having to wake up in the wee hours to catch this train.
We reached Kluang at 11.30am. Left for home at 6.55pm, and arrived back at Tanjong Pagar Station at 10.30pm.
This gorgeously shot Anthropologie video makes me miss India. Granted, I’ve only just come back from that trip, but it was a veritable learning experience, full of fresh images, vibrant colors, exotic food, incredible architecture, mostly friendly folk… but also of dust, grime, heat and far too much social disparity. The abject poverty I passed by so regularly was heartbreaking.The way the caste system is so entrenched in their society, the way being the child of a carpet weaver often means that you’ll automatically be inducted into the life of one, no questions asked -it is an impossible thought for someone like me, born and raised in a meritocratic society. Whatever gripes we have about our living conditions, at least we aren’t denied an education, and the opportunity to raise above our station. Many of the folks in India have no choice. And what of love? Arranged marriages are the norm. Luck of the draw then.
Eat, Pray, Love? Not really, but it was a wake-up call to never take things for granted. And a reminder of how lucky I really am.
The favourite part of my trip?
Kashmir – a land so beautiful some call it the Switzerland of Asia. And it deserves the accolade. I stayed in a houseboat in Dal Lake, hosted by the friendliest of Kashmiri folk. I loved Dal Lake, a blue sapphire cupped in the mighty hands of the Himalayas. There, on the waters, days slowed to a relaxed swing, there was not much to do, but surrounded by so much beauty and hospitality, it was the best place to end a trip to India, a place that doled up time to relax, reflect, and write.
I went for the i Light Marina Bay festival last weekend and really enjoyed it. Singapore’s turning into a gorgeous sight at night. I love how our new skyline looks, and the light installations they’ve placed around the bay make it even more enchanting.