Friday, December 09, 2005

A Sea of Faces in Orchard Road

I had occasion to travel down south last weekend, and since I'm already so near, I thought I'd just pop over the causeway to have a look at what the island looks like since the late 1980s. Yep, I know it's a pretty long time since the last visit considering Singapore is so near. I don't know why really since I've made trips to places so much further during the interim period.

Well, Singapore is still Singapore and I did not notice any drastic changes, ... maybe more high-rise buildings? It could also be because both our countries and the faces of its people are so similar in many ways that I tend not to notice that I am actually in foreign shores. The one thing that always pulls me back to that reality though is when I see their policemen on the streets and at the customs checkpoint, the mostly Chinese faces in blue uniforms. That's something we rarely see back home. The Chinese faces in police uniform, I mean.

I didn't visit any of the usual tourist haunts but I did go to Orchard Road at night though. Hey ... isn't that what Tourism Singapore's advertisement inevitably shout about come the month of December? The Christmas Lights at Orchard Road lah, a must see for all those who step foot into Singapore at this time of the year. So I went there to check out what the fuss was all about and came away with a deep impression of this place. No, its not the decorative lights, great shopping or great food. It's the mass of people who congregate there at nightfall. So many people, of different colours, different sizes and shapes, different languages, different smells, ... all walking up and down the streets, standing around street corners, traffic light junctions, sidewalks. They're everywhere, jostling for space. Where did all these people come from? I have a mental picture of hundreds and hundreds of people, looking like tiny little ants, spilling out from all those condominium blocks and office buildings after 5pm, all heading in one direction to ... Orchard Road, presumably the only place to hang out and to be seen in Singapore.

It was a most interesting scene, and one that will remain etched in my memory for a while to come whenever I think of Singapore.



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