03 Apr En Route: #ABCngapore Year 4
En Route to Changi airport via SMRT East West Line | 10:34PM, Thursday, March 1
I visit Singapore every year since 2014.
Okay, I visit Japan every year too (since 2014 too lol), but this is different. Four years ago, I flew to Singapore a few months before my college graduation (and after thesis—around summertime) to do some “soul searching” at 21 years old. No, really, I just wanted to go café hopping and buy a few art materials to get me started with my creative pursuits (I was just dabbling into hand lettering at that time; nothing serious—just a hobby). Singapore seemed to be a safe choice—only three hours away from Manila via plane, looked like it was a safe place (visited last 2013 as a “layover” from Paris with family), and luckily, my cousin had a unit at that time (aka: I could stay with her and my mom had no choice but to permit me to go—I paid for everything anyway!).
So I did, and so it began. Let’s just say I came home from that trip (also my first time getting drunk and hungover haha I was twenty one then!) with a new perception of what travel was for me—a reminder that I’m just a tiny dot in this universe and that there are so many things to still see and make sense of. That I can discover the world through my own way of seeing—no need to be all touristy, because apparently, all I really needed was caffeine (by default!) and a good dose of culture in the form of museums and galleries, bookstores, libraries, and visiting offbeat places and quaint neighbourhoods.
Years passed and I would impulsively book flights to Singapore on odd occassions: a sidetrip during a 30-day backpacking trip to Southeast Asia (also a soul searching trip lol), and an instant destination when a piso fare popped up on my feed and I decided to book on the spot—both of which were just my attempts to get out of Manila on my own terms. (Looking back, what was I thinking?!)
And then opportunities suddenly came in for work. I started teaching a few lettering classes, and ended up going to SG thrice to do that. How this Manila-based artist got ahold of the Singapore market is something I’m still trying to figure out (hi, Singapore-based readers!). In the process of flying back and forth to Singapore, some of my close friends have moved to this place I call my second home—and it’s because of that that I’ve given more reason to find a piece of what I call “home” here. And as they say, home is not a place—it’s really the people in it.
Lately, Singapore has been a justified excuse for “research”, as I’ve been going here more often to see exhibits, restock on art supplies, and stay in their library.
(Side note: below’s a vlog featuring my favorite art and bookstores in Singapore!)
I’ve seen Yayoi Kusama’s exhibit last June (aka my shortest trip to date—two days! Impulse booking never felt so real) and it was a visual treat. Last January, my big sis Mikka tied the knot and I came to SG for two and a half days…and while commuting, I saw a poster announcing the Century of Light exhibit at the National Gallery, which had just started at the time. Here’s the thing: I love exhibits, but I’m particularly picky. But I saw both Monet and Luna in fine print and I knew I had to go. I only look up to a few artists (Van Gogh, Monet, Kahlo, Warhol, to name a few) so give me at least a few moments to process the fact that I’ll be seeing a lot of Monet’s work in real life. Yup, sold.
The Colors of Impressionism exhibit was my favorite, and what I’ve been looking forward to viewing. I loved the transition of color as refelcted in the works of several impressionist painters. From black to white to snow-themed sceneries, to blue and greens and finally, to incorporating pastel hues with their work. Between Worlds was another visual treat. I loved seeing most of Luna’s works exhibited beautifully in pink-colored walls. There was an art activity outside which I enjoyed too. Galleries with post-exhibit activities for the visitors are always a good idea.
Also, made a vlog compiling two exhibits I visited at NGS: Yayoi Kusama’s Life Is The Heart of a Rainbow (June 2017) and Century of Light (February 2018).
Spent a quiet morning writing and being a full-on introvert in Drury Lane. Above is a snap of their beautiful wall full of coffee packaging.
Two afternoons were well-spent reading piles of books and taking lots of notes at Library@Orchard. Was also surprised to see my book as part of their library! So kilig. You can check out my pile of reads here. My favorites were Way More Than Luck and Lonely Planet’s book on Travel Writing.
Apart from the usual visits to Bras Basah Complex, IKEA, and coffee shops around the vicinity of Singapore, I was really looking forward to see my friends in SG. There’s my best friend Nicole, my long-time high school friend Peter, and my “big sis” Mikka. Usually I book these spontaneous trips in the middle of deadlines, and this was no different. I ended up getting a good fix of life catch-ups and self-care while I was away. Long distance, low maintenance friendships are the best, really. Idk if it’s just me, but I find myself significantly closer to those farther than me, geographically. How ironic.
This trip has been both fun and tiring, and emotionally draining. I had a panic attack inflight and that’s something I rarely get nowadays, so I really had to fix it up once I arrived (through meditation). I also had to deal with a lot of work errands in the middle of the trip so I tried to keep myself together as the days went by. All was well.
I’m going to head home with a reassurance that nothing is permanent. Even episodes of anxiety that may seem like a long stretch to recover from (aka me when I landed in Singapore last Monday) feel like something I’ve deliberately forgotten. And I’m going home feeling more than excited to dive in to writing my next book—about self-enrichment, which is coincidentally what I did mostly on this impulse trip away from home.
*70% of this post was written in transit.