Met an ex-classmate from ten years ago! I popped out to have dinner with her at the Marina Bay Sands Promenade, first starting with our walk at Gardens by the Bay.
It is really beautiful – the structures, the lighting, the lightshow. Artificial trees, recreated in the likes of Avatar, except it is of steel. I do not usually like fake stuff, but this space is surreal, and really beautiful. In a way, biomimicry is a beautiful approach in its way of imitating or drawing inspiration of how Mother Nature works, so why should I be so judgmental about man-made stuff? This space is like a sci-fi gigantic tree-grove connected by a forest walk platform, and they glow and (seemingly) dance to the beat of bohemian rhapsody. If I had afforded the time to queue or pay the entrance fee, I would paint myself blue and pretend to speak in tongues and light-footedly dance from tree to tree.
We then walked to the hotel she stayed in, to grab dinner at the shopping promenade. Her one night stay there cost more than her return tickets from Melbourne. So I reminded her to really spend a good amount of time soaking in that infinity pool at the top of the World here. Yikes, I should have gone up with her!!! It didn’t cross my mind. TSK.
Since she has limited time here, and had not had much Singapore food, I brought her to the food court, so we get to try as many dishes as possible. We had Satay, Popiah, Carrot Cake (both black and white), ChengTng, and I guessed that had already stretched our stomaches to their limits. Translate: Skewered meat with peanut sauce; Spring roll made of boiled turnip, carrot and dried shrimps, rolled with peanuts, eggs, beansprouts, in a crepe-like skin; Steamed glutinous rice flour flavoured with radish and then fried with egg, preserved radish and sweet sauce; Ice blend of longans, white fungus and barley sweet soup. I love writing about Singapore food, it has a ridiculous mix of surprises.
As we walked through this humongous shopping mall, we kept pondering the question of the economics behind such a huge overpriced space. It is an oversized building which would mean: 1. the rental must be wayyyyyy high for all the double/triple/blahblah volume spaces they have to service; 2. Singapore is really not big, and there are really only those few brands in our market, so, who do these luxurious spaces get rented to; 3. how do the rest of the shops that are not so upmarket keep up with the rental, do they raise the price or do the other shops from their chain contribute to propping up their brands in this tourist attraction?
When we ate the food court, I can understand how it is done! Tourists do not stay long enough to know how authentic or good a certain dish is. The prices are artificially pegged at twice that we would pay elsewhere! People here are happy enough to try the food “oh, so that is how Bah Kut Teh (spare ribs soup with Chinese herbs) tastes like”. That is a good enough review of how I feel about the whole range of dishes we had today. For the tourists who scoot in and out to catch a taste of Singapore.
That aside, I was really happy I dragged my ass out of the house to meet up with her. There are some friends in this world, whom although you have not seen for years, still feel like the most intimate friends that you hung out with just yesterday. The last time I met her was when I was working on a project in Shenzhen, China, and she happened to be working back in Shenzhen as well. That was at least 7 years ago. And before that? 10 years ago when we graduated from Melbourne. Two of us took a ten-day trip across Central Australia – from Adelaide, to Alice Springs, to Uluru, to the Olgas, to Darwin, before heading back home to Melbourne.
The scariest but most phenomenal trip I have made in my life then. I remember texting my dad my location every night before I turn in. Just.In.Case. I remember her exclaiming my bravery swimming to the waterfall, yet I never told her it was mostly misjudgment on my part. I did not know the fish swimming underneath were wayyyyy bigger than me until I got back to the edge of the lake. I did not know that the waterfall was THAT far away, I thought it was *just* small.
It was a very educational trip for me, not just the physical geographical features, but also the human geography of culture. Indigenous culture. Meaning, the real Australian aboriginal culture. I saw for my own eyes, their passion and love for fire above everything else. When I was working on their housing project, I used to think it a joke that they take down wall panels of the houses built for them, so as to make a fire and dance around it (therefore, I have such an interesting housing project to work on). When I saw how their community spirit really build around the ephemeral fires, I felt more awe and respect for their love for the nature spirit than anything else. Community spirit! What do we have now? Freedom! What do we have now – all the bonds to mortgages and assets? Connection to the unseen world! What do we have now? Why do we build fences and walls, when all they had were natural demarcations of their country? They saw themselves as custodians of the land! We think we own the world?! They faithfully pass down ancient stories by word-of-mouth! Do parents in this day and age even spend time telling stories to their children?
We have so so so much to learn. We cannot even tell salt water crocodiles from fresh water ones.