Countless Scouting events and University have trained me well. I have mastered the art of blending into groups and joining their forays into Singapore. At least, this is what I like to tell my ego. In truth, as exchange students, we are all in the same boat. We have all of us been separated from our tribe and the reptilian part of our brains is shouting at us to find a new tribe so that we may survive. While the lack of a tribe does not lead to imminent death in this island city, it can be isolating and magnifies the littlest of stresses to insurmountable mountains. Hence, it is not uncommon for group chats and Facebook pages to be filled with people arranging to meet up for dinner or visit a particular attraction. Indeed, I would think it more irregular were this not the case.
An example of the easy companionship I share with my fellow wanderers was a trip to Marina Bay Sands. On my way to dinner, I spied a gathering at the entrance to the residences. Intrigued, I headed over, asked to join, and was quickly welcomed into the fold. Upon asking where we were going, I was informed that we were going to watch a light show. I had no idea what a light show was, but considering it sounded cool and the reptilian part of me was looking for a tribe, I headed out with the group.
This was my first glimpse of Singapore at night and I was not disappointed as the brightly lit skyscrapers towered over us. It was wholly different to the skyline of Guernsey but strikingly beautiful in their illumination against the dark of the night’s sky. While these towering monoliths were not draped in green like many of their counterparts, the spaces between them had small areas of grass or trees, preventing any feeling of oppression. Furthermore, unlike so many cities, Singapore is amazingly clean. Not only is there little to no litter but there are no gum lined pavements and the only times I have encountered the smell of mouldering rubbish is when I have passed stores that sell durian, a fruit so pungent in odour, it is forbidden on the MRT.
Even if the light show had been a disappointment – which it most certainly was not – my delight at getting to finally see the “boat hotel” and the warm, contented feeling of sharing an experience with other people would have carried the night. As it was, the light show was spectacular and I was so inspired I wrote it up in a separate post the moment I returned to my room, despite the late hour.
It was a beautiful display of lights projected on water jets and spray creating images and shapes of all kinds. Some were recognisable as birds and flowers, others merely geometrical patterns. The array of swirling colours on stage were accompanied by music which made the experience all the more immersive. I could not tear my eyes away and came away convinced that while magic may not be real, technology has done an amazing job of capturing it.
After the light show, we ventured into the Marina Bay Sands shopping centre for dinner. While the architecture and interior design was beautiful, the price tags dissuaded us from lingering once our grumbling stomachs had been filled. Ready to return home, we strolled along the Helix Bridge, continuing to talk and get to know each other before we ordered an Uber back to the residences at the conclusion of a wonderful evening.
I have a terrible memory for names, but as I begin at least to learn faces, it is not unusual to run in to a familiar one, nor for me to sit with those who I will likely be calling friends down the line. I think I am beginning to find my tribe.