Singapore was our first stay in a non-private room. It was a capsule hotel called “Bunc Hostel”, and I’m pretty sure it said we would have privacy screens, but in reality it was just like any other hostel, except we had a double bed, our storage was within the bed, and it was very neat and clean. There was something I liked about it though – things like the zines that lined the common room walls, and just the general aesthetics of the place. Plus, they gave you a device that was basically like a phone to help you navigate the city. As we were only there for one day in total, it was really useful!
That first night we went out locally, in Little India, and had a range of dishes we hadn’t tried before at a really cheap price. We made our way to destination:ink at Blu Jaz, where an amazing international network of poets arranged for me to read some poems at. Beforehand, we stopped off at the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, dedicated to the goddess Kali.
We arrived at a part of town where I felt completely at home at – one of the things that made me feel I could live there. I was second on, which meant I could sit back and relax to enjoy the show afterwards. I shared two new pieces and it felt good to be on stage again. It was fascinating to hear everyone read. Firstly, the poetry was all amazing, and incredibly varied. There was music too and each one deserved to be big, because they were all so talented. Secondly, it was interesting to hear the range of English accents, as well as the use of Singlish. I even bought a Singlish dictionary and hope that maybe I can write a poem inspired by it. I met a poet who had been in London for four years, who I had crossed paths with, as well as someone who is coming to study in London – just as I am leaving!
The next day was the only full day we had, so we bought a tourist travel pass and walked around Little India and Chinatown. There were incredibly colourful buildings, a mixture of different languages, street art, and places of worship. And we managed to get a cheap meal at a place in Chinatown – soy sauce, noodles and some of the best chicken I’ve had in ages, straight of the rotisserie.
We tried to get to the Botanic Gardens and failed because my guidebook is a couple of years outdated and it didn’t say there was a stop right outside it, and the stop we came off was too long a walk and we couldn’t figure out a bus route. So we decided to view a bit of Singapore from a bus, once I had found one that went towards Sentosa. Being us, we got off at the wrong stop, but got some cool views from a boat port area. They asked for S$10 for a bottle of water; we asked for tap water instead.
We managed to get to the right area after a bit of a walk, and then ride over to the beach. With no swimwear on, and not much time, we soaked up the views and some afternoon sun. We stopped off and saw a kind of fake Merlion that you could climb inside, before heading back to the mainland.
The next stop was Marina Bay Sands, which was a grand building that joined three large towers, and led us to Gardens by the Bay. We walked around and looked at the impressive “sci-fi” trees, which were all lit up. We watched a bit of the light show they had there, but quickly dashed back to the water and light show that was on the other side of the big building. This show was really spectacular.
We ate at the food court, determined we would get up early to discover more of Singapore. Thankfully, we did get up and at some point I also realised there is a “Botanic Gardens” stop, so we went there first and it was such a lovely way to spend the early morning. Already warm, there was a nice freshness to the air that you don’t get in other places in SE Asia. The population isn’t too high, so everything felt more spacious, rather than the crowded London I know. Like my friend had said, this was one place I could see myself living. It has all the Western comforts you get used to, but the cultural landscape is amazing, the poetry scene is alive and kicking, and we didn’t even touch upon the art galleries and museums.
The morning of our flight, we saw a few pieces of art after a quick detour from the official Merloin. The figure, spurting out water, made an amazing scene of Singapore’s high-rise buildings. We felt glad that we had made the most of the morning instead of having a lay-in. All that walking meant my feet ached a lot – and at the airport, we found just what we needed, which was a device where you put your legs in this massage device and, it was so good it almost felt like real fingers using reflexology. We were sad to leave, but had hope that we would return for longer one day.