Singapore, In Retrospect. Part II: Getting Around
Just got back from a housewarming party slash Christmas gathering slash college reunion… Ha, and here I thought I would be back by midnight. Wishful thinking, considering the game of Kings involved rum, whiskey, vodka, and a whole lot of cordial. I’m surprised I’m still lucid enough to type this at 3AM. Y’know, maybe I should just embrace my identity as a night owl… I seem to be more productive with these when everyone else’s asleep, and the only sounds I hear are the crickets outside and the whir of fan blades.
… good luck sticking to this routine when my job begins next Friday. Argh… I need to recalibrate my sleeping patterns and be comfortable working in… sunlight. Do any of you feel like this sometimes? Feeling more awake at the dead of night than in the summer heat where all you want to do is just stretch and sleep on a patch of grass. Can’t really do that here… everything is particularly lush during the monsoon season.
But enough with the digressions, I’m here to talk about Singapore once more, and this time I’ll be focusing on the ease of travel around the island. As usual, here’s the Photo of the Day:
This was taken just outside of the Jurong East MRT Station. Kinda reminds me of the torii path at Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto, and a great starting point for today’s post. Travelling around Singapore is incredibly easy with the MRT, and visitors can hit most of the major tourist locations around the island by simply hopping onto one of the trains. Just grab their pocket sized system map and you’re all set. It can get a little pricey to travel around, especially if you’re staying on the periphery of the main financial district or beyond and plan to explore the island extensively, but it’s still the cheaper option than taking a cab, which charge at a different rate after midnight, so be sure to plan your itinerary accordingly.
The trains are very comfortable, this coming from a Malaysian who used to commute into KL for work using the local LRT (light rail transit), and are much wider than the ones I’m used to. I have been told to avoid the trains during peak hours unless absolutely necessary due to the crowds and have been fortunate enough to evade the hurried masses, though I doubt the experience could be as frightening as the KL Monorail… Not only are the carriages filled with people struggling to dodge each other’s armpits, the trains actually tilt a little at turns, forcing many to lean against doors that offer scant protection against a 20 feet drop to tarmac.
… I make this sound unnecessarily terrifying. But I don’t deny that the experience can be unnerving to first-timers.
Oh, here are a couple of shots I took inside the MRT:
I like this one because of the family, and how the daughter was the only one dressed in colour. She was dancing around the rather empty carriage, and I wasn’t sure if I could snap a good photo before finally pushing myself to take one anyway. I think about how one day, the girl would probably grow up in the image of her mother, quite literally, fully clothed from head to toe, and the only memory of her in a floral dress would be of those before she hit the age of ten (when do Muslim girls start wearing the full niqāb and jilbab, I wonder…?).
Typical shot I guess. Is it really a big deal if the photographer is caught in his own photo? Yes, this isn’t the best picture I’ve taken but I wonder how much the value of a picture depreciates if I’m caught in it?
Of course, aside from the MRT, the other great way to navigate Singapore is by walking.
Those feet don’t belong to me, but my hospitable host, friend, and walking companion, Arif, who fancies himself a wine connoisseur when he’s not auditing a company’s financial statements. The best way to discover a new place, a new city, or a new town, is by walking. Singapore doesn’t really have a bicycle culture like they do in London, Denmark, or China, and the island isn’t built to accommodate cyclists. Their method of eco-travelling lies with their highly efficient transit system, and the government has done plenty to encourage its citizens to utilise public transportation, like imposing jaw-dropping price tags on cars.
The only thing that took me by surprise was the distance between Orchard and the city centre. It’s only two MRT stops away from City Hall, but it’s too far to go on foot either. I didn’t attempt walking there from the city as I didn’t have the luxury of time, considering how it rains so frequently and suddenly. But aside from that, walking around the city is a great pleasure. Picking up from where I left off in my last post, you’ll always find yourself looking up in Singapore as you walk around, admiring views like these:
From the modern…
… to the historic…
… to the downright magical.
Alright folks, that’s all for tonight. Tomorrow, I’ll be talking about a universal pleasure: food! And boy do I have lots of pictures to share… so stay tuned!