I got back from Singapore last week and headed up to the Swiss Alps for a weekend of skiing with friends. Singapore and Switzerland, my two homes, are as different as chalk and cheese, or in this case – kaya toast and swiss cheese. The cold crisp air up on the mountains hits you in the face and gives you an intense brain-freeze, as much as the humidity in sunny Singapore makes you feel like a shrivelled prune after 70% of moisture in your body has been sweated out of your pores.
I’m still not quite sure which experience I prefer more though.
I love Singapore and am really proud of all its success and good standing in the world. The Singapore that I flew back to looked a little more edgy, more hip and cool, albeit a little unfamiliar and distant from my childhood memories too. The energy of a bustling city is so intoxicating. I felt as if my senses are shaken up and were on the receiving end of stimulus-bombardment all day long. First of all, how many new cab companies have sprung up in Singapore in the last 5 years? I saw a jumble of white, black, blue, pale green, silver, red and orange taxis plying the roads now. The new grid on the MRT train network looks so complex. And the food centres are crowded every minute of the day.
This is one of the constants in my life: the veteran blind musician playing faithfully to the faceless crowd that walks through the Orchard road underpass everyday. He has been there for more than 10 years and he still looks the same. He still plays the same repertoire of evergreen songs too. I wonder what goes through his mind about the rapid changes in Singapore. Does he now hear more accents and people speaking in foreign languages walking by? or maybe a more altruistic and kind audience who appreciates his quiet presence there?
The super chic Singapore:
the city that never sleeps