Back to my beginning
Trip Start Apr 07, 2011
65Trip End Dec 12, 2011
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For me personally Singapore is more than that: it is the background setting of my earliest childhood memories, having lived there until the age of 7.
Although my family was very much integrated into the Dutch ex-pat life - with me going to a Dutch school and “de Hollandse Club” to celebrate Carnival and Sinterklaas - in some aspects my life there was definitely different from a child growing up in Holland: I snorkeled before I ever stood on ice skates (I still don't know how to skate properly), ate rambutans before knowing mandarins and had no idea what a 'white Christmas’ was until many years later
Seeing it again brought back memories of running around the house either being chased or chasing my brother and father and then of course falling and cutting open my knee- of which I still bear the scar today - ; Of my sister teaching me and my brother with endless patience how to ride a bicycle or how to whistle (by imitating blowing bubbles with chewing gum but I never quite got the hang of it); Of my brother and I mischievously vandalizing the neighbors’ house number sign (I guess we didn't like them very much) for weeks on end with a different tactic every time new numbers were put up and then vehemently denying any involvement when they came around the house complaining to our parents (I guess now my dad will finally find out: sorry dad for lying!); Of my white woolen snow man Carnival outfit, made by my mother, including hoops to create the look of large snow balls piled on top of each other, which won me a prize for ‘original outfit’ but had me melting of heat, shuffling around (the lowest hoop was the smallest so I couldn’t really move my feet) in 30+ degrees Celsius. It was a happy childhood and a great place to grow up.
Luckily, being a chick with a mission - sticking around to have a Chinese-Singaporean ring made for my sister - I had lots and lots of time to see Singapore. So once again I got myself a seat on a hop-on hop-off bus, discovered the metro system (which I knew by heart by the time I left) and walked around town for days
I saw chic to sleazy, ranging from roads lined with villas and over-the-top mansions, shopping at the exclusive Marina Bay Sands complex, dancing to live music at an ex-pat hangout, to a midnight visit to Orchard Tower (what a glass of red wine in an Irish pub can lead to…) where Western (!) girls and women table dance to pick up and entertain their customers. I stuffed myself with dim sum, went to the (same) hairdresser three times to undo the highlight disaster of Vietnam and shopped until I dropped.
And even though so much had changed in all those years somehow I still felt at home. I suppose it’s the little things that made it so familiar: the sticky heat that hits you as soon as you walk out the metro, the smell of all things green after a relatively warm but thick rain shower, even the structure of the grass that feels completely different than in Europe. So the often heard criticism that Singapore is a soulless, clinical and too westernized city is an opinion I definitely do not subscribe to: if there ever is an opportunity to move back there again I won’t hesitate!