In the hubbub of Chinatown, stepping into a temple is like stepping sideways out of life. It must be lunch hour here, too, both for gods as well as for scholars: fruits in a row for those on higher planes, and half-empty thermoses left behind by those who needed more tangible nutrition than loving kindness.(Singapore; July 2018)
Deep in what was once called “Little Arabia” and now renamed “Kampong Glam”, sits a lane that once was poor, then totally dead, and now a hipster mecca with artsy boutiques and little independent cafés and bars. The two-storey, colonial style buildings are decorated with street art and at night, music is booming. Here you can grab a cocktail, while a street down into the heart of “Little Arabia” you cannot find any alcohol (or non-halal food) at all.
This is Singapore: layers upon layers of culture, morphing into something new by quick swings of time. What once was dead is now the heart of cool. And in the midst of it all stand old buildings that have seen so many trends pass by. Not sure what they think of their current coat of paint. Singapore is ever-evolving, but it is also very orderly and safe. What else could it be if one is fined 300 SGD (170€) for eating a durian fruit at the hotel, 500 SGD (300€) for eating or drinking on the subway, and 2,000 SGD (1,200€) for smoking in the wrong place? Perhaps this is not the most constructive way to encourage good behavior, and it certainly is not the way to function in a positive space, but it works. This, combined with a pleasant and polite demeanor makes the busy society work at least in the superficial view of the visitor.
One cannot help but wonder if such is the only way? If threatening by proper punishment is the only way to “encourage” large masses to adhere to rules that make living pleasant for all? While waiting for a train at the MRT station I watched a video reminding me that molestation is a serious offence. Victims were encouraged to shout out for help, indicating they had been touched and by whom, and passers-by were encouraged to interfere. Molestation in Singapore is an Outrage of Modesty, punishable by prison AND caning. Yes, caning. In the 21st century. But as long as I do not eat durian or smoke, and nobody accuses me of molestation, I should be just fine with a glass of wine here on Haji Lane. And perhaps some Middle Eastern cuisine for dinner, while darkness descends on the golden domes of the Masjid Sultan mosque.(Singapore; July 2018)
Hello Singapore! Finally not only a quick greeting after I breeze through Changi airport, but a proper 3-night stay. And where am I staying? Apparently, it’s all about “pods” these days. To the extent that some hostels sell beds covered with a curtain and call it a “pod”. But as I stay in a sleek, large business hotel nearly every week, an actual tiny-living pod seemed like a refreshing experience.
And so, jet-lagged and sweaty from carrying my gear through the hot Singapore night I arrived in a quirky, new pod hotel in quirky Kampong Glam. I had upgraded the “pod” experience to a “capsule” experience and found a little cube just for me, in light, wooden, Japanese minimalist style, with sound-proof walls and slat pull-down blinds for privacy. Inside is a decently sized bed, power outlets, USB outlets, a light with a dimmer, a safe, a fold-down table, space for a big backpack, and hooks and racks for hanging clothes. The capsule is not much more than a meter tall thus it was sitting and crouching only.
The hotel is new and stylish, with a number of sections including wards for capsules and shared, spacious, modern showers and toilets, one set per section. The breakfast room and all of the hotel has fast wifi, and the breakfast is basic but fresh. 30€ per night of this feels infinitely better than 100€ per night in a dingy old hotel on Bencoolen street.
After a shower I crept into my capsule for the night. Jet-lagged, and still a little dazed and amazed that I will not be returning to my apartment in Finland when I come back. Perhaps I will stay there for a few nights while I get my affairs in order and everything packed and carted off to long-term storage, but most likely that will be it. When I return I am going to take a leap into a slightly frightening unknown, once again.
But first there is Singapore. Which to me equals noodle soup.
(Singapore; July 2018)
The views, the seating, the food, the cocktails (!), the service… I am not even sure what should be mentioned and what not. I seldom advertise for places, but Mr Stork has become a favorite in Singapore. As it is on the roof of a skyscraper you need to know where to look. And even if you do know where to look, finding your way up is not exactly easy. But if you manage, you may be rewarded with a drink out of an elephant cup (double yay for a paper straw!).(Singapore; July 2018)
Today (yesterday, technically), after two days of intense packing and wrapping and preparing, I closed the door to the apartment for a long while. So long, Lauttasaari island. You have been wonderful to me. On Monday they will begin to tear out the bathroom and the pipes in the entire co-op building.
It is now 2.30 am, I have dug out my blue elephant harem pants, and am about to take off to Singapore after a 3-hour delay. Vacation, thank goodness. And new adventures after that – somewhere else than Finland.(Helsinki, Finland; July 2018)
Perhaps once this was a busy street, crowded with horse-drawn carriages, pedestrians in fine suits and long dresses, and dogs and children running around? Now it is simply quiet and idyllic, with greens shooting up between the cobblestones that get to rest most of the day.
Porvoo was founded in the 13th century but has probably burned down many times since. Most of the houses currently standing are from the 19th century. As it is once again fashionable to cherish old houses, perhaps these houses could survive longer than most wooden buildings used to do (before they happened to burn down into ashes)?
(Porvoo old town, Finland; July 2018)
And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.
Nuuksio National Park, Espoo, Finland; July 2018)