It’s ten past nine in the evening – Singapore is as balmy as ever, and busier than ever. Everybody is keen to do their Chinese New Year shopping before the weekend. The MRT was jam-packed with commuters – I can’t remember whether it had been that full when I worked here. I don’t know if I have the stamina to live and work here again, faced with that kind of experience day in, day out. The saving grace of my experience this evening was Dewi Lestari’s songs in her latest album Rectoverso. I bought the album in Jakarta and had uploaded the songs into my iPhone. They accompanied me as I stood pressed in from all sides by the commuters – her calm, soothing voice helped me to relax and find my oasis.
Even though Singapore is still very busy, the impact of the global economic meltdown can be seen if you keep a close watch. There are several empty buildings now in Orchard Road, and even though your eyes are probably drawn to the new developments, you’d probably see one or two vacant shop spots in the malls as well.
I did my bits to contribute to the local economy by doing some wee shopping here. I got myself two books from Kinokuniya: Per Petterson’s To Siberia, and Steven Galloway’s The Cellist of Sarajevo. When I went to Plaza Singapura, lo and behold, they were having a huge book and DVD sale, and not just crappy ones! I bought several books, one of them only cost me $6, the rest $10. After half a day of walking and shopping, I went back to my accommodation here.
This time I’m staying at an apartment in Lucky Plaza Residence – owned by an Indonesian. She rents the rooms to tourists cheaply, so instead of paying $120 for a standard room at Strand Hotel (a budget hotel located in a great spot, if you want to find a budget hotel a stone’s throw away from the shopping strip), I’m paying $90 for my room. It’s nice and clean and it has aircondition too, which is über-important in Singapore! 🙂 The bathroom is shared though – but is clean as well. Unfortunately I had to supply my own towel, so I bought myself a handtowel that did its job well after I had my shower.
Something else that is different in Singapore to the Singapore that I knew when I worked here is the proliferation of Filipinos working in various sectors. I recognised the accent when the airline officer checked me in for my flight to Jakarta two weeks ago – I also heard the same accent when I had my lunch at a sushi bar in Wheelock Place. It’s just too bad that not many Indonesians can speak English well! We’re losing out on a lot of opportunities!
Well, it’s time for me to call it a day – I will have half a day to explore Orchard Road again before I check out. After that, I will check in for my flights in the evening back to Australia, and then head back to the city until I have to board my flight. I plan to take a shower as well at the airport – I can’t stand not having a shower before my overnight flight to Australia!