singapore 50th anniversary

Meeting old and new friends in Singapore

I’ve never felt safer than when I was in Singapore. It felt sterile even. The streets were clean, nary a single trash in sight. The air felt fresh despite being surrounded by towering buildings and numerous vehicles. The people seemed disciplined, walking in an orderly fashion. The closest you could get to Utopia in Asia, I guess.

It was a relief, especially after that ordeal in Melaka. A haven, for three days at least.

supertrees grove light and sound show

Welcomed by a friend’s hug and a free meal, I slowly savored the Lion City. I gazed in wonder and awe at the man-made Supertrees in Gardens by the Bay. Chatting about the past, present, and future while lying on our backs, watching as the trees light up to the tunes of classical notes to Lady Gaga, it felt surreal almost. What I used to see on postcards, now I’m finally in that moment I pictured in my mind.

The next day brought with it more kindness, now through newfound friends. D, a doctor I met in Melaka, met up with her German friends she met along the way. Turns out, the guys will be meeting up with a local friend of theirs. A Singaporean pilot, Captain K took us around the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome. It was all fun even when it started to rain.

Singapore seemed more human and normal after visiting the family-run stalls in the hawker center. Though cleaner and more organized than its counterparts in the other countries in Southeast Asia, it felt relatable. It felt like home. We only scratched the surface of Singaporean cuisine – a fusion of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and Peranakan – that made me now yearn to get back.

On the rooftop of a building, only known to locals, we discussed like adults the way of life in the country. A far cry from the usual small talk that I always dread when meeting new people while traveling.

It warmed my heart to be on the receiving end of such kindness and hospitality he and his mom bestowed on us that day. Despite unfortunate events, you really have to have faith that there is still an abundance of people with big hearts. So I can only hope to repay it someday and of course, pay it forward as well.

And soon enough, it was all over. Time to leave the bubble and return back on the road. No goodbyes, but see you around.

Darlene is currently on the road again and traveling full-time after being an expat/overseas Filipino worker in Qatar. She's rediscovering what it means to travel solo and in her 30s while working on her blogs.