Saturday 19 May 2001 – Changi Beach, Singapore
Decided I needed to get out of the City for a while, and thought the north-eastern island of Palau Ubin sounded appealing. To get there one had to get the ferry from Changi Village, on the east coast of Singapore. After finishing my journal and sending some emails, I caught a bus from Stevens Road, which because of Saturday traffic or something took nearly an hour to do the kilometre or two from home to Victoria St.
From Victoria St I caught a double-decker bus (the ones here are manufactured by Volvo) for the journey to Changi, which took over an hour but was quite interesting. The route took in the east coast area towards the airport, then turned up towards the northeast corner of the island, past Changi prison (very grim and forbidding, but directly opposite some quite upmarket housing developments) to Changi Village.
The village is more or less wedged in between the main Airport runway and the Straits of Johor. As I wandered along the beach (which were surprisingly uncrowded for a hot Saturday afternoon) several large aircraft flew in very low overhead to land. As I needed to return to town to see the SSO concert in the evening, I decided against exploration of Palau Ubin for today and after finding something to eat, caught another bus to Tampines, one of the huge ‘towns’ consisting of miles and miles of multi-story HDB flats, of the sort in which most of the Singapore population lives.
Seeing where they do live, one can get a bit of an insight into the national psyche and understand the apparent consumerism of Singaporeans – the only way they can express themselves is through what they own and wear. From Tampines I caught the MRT back to town and bus up Stevens Road.
Due to heavy traffic and roadworks the three stops from Orchard Road to home took over half an hour – twice the time it would have taken to walk! After a shower and change of clothes I caught another bus down to the concert hall – again it took over an hour! Saturday seems to be about the busiest day in Singapore. The SSO’s concert with US diva Barbara Hendricks was enjoyable – her Berlioz ‘Nuits d’Ete’ was lovely. I wasn’t so sure that she had the lightness and agility of voice required for the two Mozart Concert Arias, but it was a fine voice nonetheless.