I decided recently that I am becoming wiser. This, of course, is one of my many delusions, but I would like to think that it were possible.
You see, I suddenly resized that I started to prefer experiences to possessions. That, my friends, to an Azeri, is a huge, huge developmental step. As Azeri, I have been preconditioned to love (preferably expensive) things.
So anyway, instead of buying stuff, I told husband we should maybe go away more. And so, we went to visit good friends in Singapore over Easter.
I could go on about this trip forever. You see, when we went there first time, seven years ago, we were coming from the UK. And yes, of course it was great, and everything, but I was not seeing things like I saw them now. From our first visit, I could summarize my overall impression in two simple points:
- The most amazing, fantastic, tastiest ever food. Everywhere.
- The Zoo.
However, now, seven years later, everything was surprisingly different.
First of all, before I go into anything else, of course, was the green. Singapore is so wonderfully green! I loved, loved, loved the plants. And, in contrast to Doha, there was very little beige colour around.
As for the rest…
We were extremely lucky. It helps when you are visiting someone who is local and our friends were able to show us things I am sure not every tourist gets to see when coming to Singapore. And those special, very local things were, of course, the most fascinating.
Like visiting my friend’s auntie’s house. The house that pretty much remained as it has always been, she said. Getting served a fruity drink (ch'ng t'ng) that reminded me a lot of the Russian kompot I used to drink as a child. And a stripy cake (Kueh Lapis). Looking at all the old family photographs, furniture and exotic trees in the garden was just…well, lovely.
Or, one morning, we went to Petwalk in a Serangoon HDB estate for breakfast. It is a very simple, outdoors venue with local vendors serving standard cheap, delicious foods. In the midst of it, there were men, of various ages, mainly older, sitting around, socializing. They were there with their birds. The whole concept of men who are so into their birds that they spend hours sitting around discussing them was just alien to me. May I clarify that I am not talking about 'birds' as in girlfriends or wives. I am talking about real birds. Like, you know, canaries.
I got utterly bemused by this scene. There were possibly about thirty little wooden cages with small birds in them, hanging on hooks, off the wooden structure above, every hook with a number attached to it.
Why are they just sitting there with those birds? I asked and was told they bring them there to socialize and compete. Occasionally, an old man would walk up to a random cage, take it off its hook and hang up elsewhere.
The whole process was so unusual that I could not stop watching it.
Socialize? I laughed.
'You know', our friend explained to me, 'they sit there, chat away…check out other birds in other cages, see who they might fancy…'
Yes, I said, but they can only see other birds but can’t actually, you know, get to know them closer? That’s a bit sad, isn’t it? For the birds?
Well, the friend said philosophically.- Isn’t it a metaphor for life? You live in your (mental) cage and fancy a bird in another cage?
Right, well…I thought, that's kind of deep, and a bit depressing for an early morning. Yet, you might say, it added a different, ancient Eastern wisdom dimension to this wonderfully weird custom.
Singapore also had some impressive, awesome modern stuff. You know me, I am not that easily impressed. But this one particular arts exhibition…Was just superb, and by far the best exhibition I have ever been to in my life. Combining art with science, turning your coloured picture into a 3D moving object on the big screen on the wall…It was all like stepping into the future. I mean just wow.
And of course, the Zoo, the Night Zoo, the Universal studios, and the S.E.A. aquarium…and amazing amazing restaurants, cocktail bars….
I thought I loved Singapore first time, but now? Now I fell in love with it, again, more so than before, on a whole different level.
Finally, I learnt how to speak like a local. First of all, you have to add la at the end of everything. Second of all, those guys have this word basket. Which I presume, originates from a bastard? Or perhaps, not. Perhaps it is just my imagination. The beauty of it is that you can use it in every situation in life.
Check it out:
Watch where you going, basket!
How many times did I tell you, la!!! You are such a basket!
I am totally borrowing this word, la.
Anyhow. This was my travel blog on Singapore. Hope you enjoyed it.
Here are a few pictures.