Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A date with an old friend

When we say we are off to Singapore for the weekend many expats here express surprise. Why would you go to Siingapore it's so clinical/ too clean/ there is nothing to do there? True it is clean. The clinical part is true in a way too, at least for the casual observer. It is, at the moment, slightly cooler than here, food is cheaper, there are movie theatres, huge airconditioned malls and plazas, great book stores, much faster internet connection than here and a cast of thousands from all over the world who have bought their cultural colour and expressions with them (it's one of the best places to people watch). But the main reason we go to Singapore so often is that it has become a second home.

Having lived, worked (J ) and been at school (both Mac and I) in Singapore means we all have shared and separate lives there, friends and a familiarity that allows us to relax. Having spent some very memorable childhood years in Singapore in the 70's I have a warm affection for this island so small it could fit snuggly into our own lake Taupo. Despite it's incredible metamorphasis since then it still has the ability to transport me back to the days of simple printed sundresses and hot peanuts wrapped in a newspaper cone with a smell or a glimpse of days gone by.

As the parents of a teenager Singapore offers a sense of security that allows him to enjoy a significant amount of freedom that he doesnt get in Phnom Penh and wouldn't get even in the relative safety of New Zealand. Where else in the world can a 15 year old catch a movie, a bite to eat and the last bus or train home just before midnight without the fear of being mugged/ stabbed/shot at etc. The incredible public transport system allows him to, with the tap of a card, and for less than a skinny cappuchino at Coffee Bean, trip the light fantastic from one end of the island to the other.He met friends for frogurt, took a trip to his old school gate, rode the cable car, hung out on the beach, caught a movie or two, ate subway and chicken curry and roti, bought his luggage allowance in books and remembered to check in with us once in a while.

We met friends, bought our luggage allowance in books, met up with friends again, revisited old hawker haunts for roti, pedas sotong, tempeh, chicken curry and obanyaki (a Japanese pancake shaped like a fish) with chocolate or red bean filling and played tourist for a day or two....

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