The Singapore Grand Prix

While I’ve only ever viewed it to see the crashes with mild interest, my father is a big fan of the Grand Prix.  When I was initially considering studying mechanical engineering at university, it was something of a joke between us that I should go on to work for Red Bull or Mercedes so that he could get free tickets to the pits at all the big races.  While this will never happen, not least because I decided to study physics, I did take great pleasure in watch the Singapore Grand Prix live.  As well as making my father supremely jealous, I enjoyed the smug feeling of petty revenge for all the years of my childhood when every other movie seemed to be accompanied by the words “I’ve been there”.  In fact, it was probably these very words and a healthy dose of imagination that have fuelled my wanderlust over the years.

My Final Location
My final location

But I digress.  While I had no intention of paying the extortionate fees for a ticket (S$198 or £110 for a one-day zone 4 walkabout) I was determined to find somewhere to get enough jealousy inducing footage.  Unfortunately for me, over the past few years the organisers have become extremely proficient at blocking off all the good viewing spots that don’t require a ticket.  This meant that come Sunday I spent the first half an hour trying out a number of different spots before I found a nice spot just before turn 7.  This location hunt included; two different stairwells, one overcrowded and the other pleasantly perfumed with an underlining aroma of urine; getting stuck in a third stairwell and having to shake the door until two police officers helped me escape; trying every door and shop in the hopes of finding a room with a view; eventually giving up and asking a security guard for the best location to watch from, which turned out to be the first location I’d tried (greatly improved now it had stopped raining).

Despite this, I really enjoyed the evening, particularly the opportunity it offered for me to share something with my father even though we are on separate sides of the world.  This is one of the many ways in which technology is fantastic at bringing the world together because while I was sending off jealousy inducing sound bites of the cars going past, he was keeping me updated on the happenings around the rest of the track.  6780 miles apart and we were able to watch the same race together.  Who knows, maybe I’ll even convert to the F1.

And now the grand reveal of Just Under a Minute’s Worth of Blurry and Shaky F1 Footage Complete With Poor Sound Quality!

Ballet Under the Stars

I can still remember the first (and only) ballet I ever attended.  I must have been five or six at the time and the memory is perhaps one of my oldest.  It was a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and despite a little confusion as to why there was no speaking, a small seed was planted within me that day.  Like lots of young girls, I participated in a number of different dance clubs before my interest waned and that seed was lost.

Then about four years ago, I came across an article about ballet dancers which explained the work and pain that goes into breaking in a pair of pointe shoes only to have to replace them a few weeks later.  I read it with mild interest but GCSEs were beckoning and besides shuddering at the thought of people willingly wearing pointe shoes I continued life as normal, unaware of that little seed beginning to unfurl.  In that peculiar manner that things always appear in groups I came across several articles and videos about ballet and dance after my exams.  The seed began to bloom.  Reading about the physical demands and watching the grace with which herculean moves were performed I developed a deep-seated sense of respect for all dancers, ballet dancers most of all, with their unending grace and prowess.

Since this enlightenment I had not had the opportunity to attend a live ballet.  Instead, I have subsisted on snippets in films and video performances.  That is until now.  When I saw a post asking if anyone wanted to attend Ballet Under the Stars I put my name down before I had even read the details.  I was going.  I was going even if I had to sell a kidney.  I didn’t, but I would have.

Ballet Under the Stars runs for two weekends and is pretty self-explanatory.  It is a series of three ballet acts performed at night on the lawn of Fort Canning by the Singapore Dance Theatre.  Each weekend had a different line up.  The first weekend was a set of contemporary pieces and the second a classical trio of weddings.  It was to these weddings that we went.  Coppélia Act III, Aurora’s Wedding from Sleeping Beauty, and Kitri’s Wedding from Don Quixote to be exact.

Armed with several layers of bug spray but absent a comfortable rug to sit on, we settled down for what has quite possibly been my favourite night since arriving in Singapore.  While it was a shame not to see an entire ballet unwind from start to finish, the immense skill of the dancers and enthusiasm of the crowd completely made up for it.  Not only this, but my friend and I spent the interlude plotting the procurement of some of the stunning dresses and costumes that glittered oh so beautifully under the stage lights.

Some of the solo dances were absolutely amazing, with the dancers flowing across the stage in sync with the music or performing pirouette after pirouette after pirouette.  I held my breath as gravity neglected to pull flying forms to the ground and dancers were held aloft.  The sheer skill, not only to hold a pose but to hold a pose where arms and legs align in graceful curves and make it look utterly effortless is breath-taking.  To transform a jump into an elegant artform, perfectly in time with a clash of cymbals or trumpet call is what gives me such a sense of respect for dancers and why I can’t wait to watch another ballet.

Photo from here.

The Esplanade Theatre

Something I recently discovered is that the Esplanade Theatre has a wide range of performances and events that are either free or extremely cheap, especially with a student discount. For instance, I attended a concert of Shostakovich, Bartók and Tchaikovsky by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra for a grand total of S$10.50 which is roughly £6. I think this is particularly wonderful because it means that anyone can take time out of a hectic life to stop and listen. It means that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy world class performers on a semi-regular basis without worrying about the cost.

The concert I went to was conducted by Andrew Litton who has gained an amazingly long list of achievements throughout his musical career. At the end of the show I was none the wiser as to how conductors conduct. However, from watching Litton I am of the opinion that conducting batons should be renamed conducting wands due to the magic they wind in effortlessly bringing together so many instruments. Of course, it is not just the baton doing all the work, Litton infused all his passion into the performance. He conducted not just with his arms, but with his whole body; crescendos were emphasised with jumps and a grand spread of the arms, while the softer bars were whispered of by delicate hands and a lighter tread.

On the topic of moving with the music, it was interesting to compare the differences between the musicians. For instance, while at one end of the spectrum some of the violinists moved their entire body with the music, torso leaning and foot tapping, others remained motionless save for the drawing of bow over strings. Another observation was the different yet similar rest poses of each musician. I imagine there is a rough guideline on how to sit and hold one’s instrument when not playing but each performer infuses a little of themselves into the pose; here a calm assuredness, there a laid-back ease, the smile that passes between two of the double basses signals a strong friendship. Despite these differences, when the time comes bows move in perfect unison and flutes sing out together.

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I was particularly impressed by the pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet in his performance of Bartók’s Piano Concerto No.1. He radiated and played with such an energy and liveliness that I was unsurprised to read about his successes, including three Gramophone Awards. Once again, I was struck by just how amazing it is for the Esplanade to sell such reasonably priced tickets.

I loved the moments when the cymbalist and triangle player began to gear up for their parts and couldn’t help but wait for the crash of cymbals or chime of the triangle. It sounds mildly ridiculous, but because their instruments are used so rarely, there is something incredibly fulfilling about watching them get to play. Finally, it was perhaps a little unfair on my part, but I found great amusement in watching the trumpeters gradually turn bright, fire engine red in Tchaikovsky’s trumpet calls.

I enjoyed the concert greatly and look forward to attending other events at the Esplanade in the future.

Introspection

Sometimes life’s experiences don’t feel all that significant.  At times like this, rather than writing off experiences and considering a week wasted, I try to change my mindset and view little events as just as worthy.  Take, for instance this weekend.  In Singapore it is a bank holiday weekend and when I found out, I had all these grandiose plans of sweeping out of my final lecture on Thursday, boarding a plane to some undefined, but undeniably fabulous location before returning Sunday evening, sun-kissed and somehow enlightened from three days abroad.

In reality, my weekend has been nothing like this.  Rather than spending the preceding week sighing over glamorous photos of sandy shores or rugged rainforest, I spent it holed up in my room trying to make a video that explained quantum mechanics in relatively simple terms for part of my coursework.  This task made harder by the fact that I am increasingly certain I have absolutely no clue when it comes to quantum mechanics.

By the time I had submitted the video, the weekend was upon me and I had no plans.  At this point it was all too easy for my brain to start down the paths of if only I’d… and everyone else is going somewhere, am I not making the most of this amazing opportunity that has been handed to me?

Upon some introspection, the answer to this last was… perhaps.  Not necessarily the answer I wanted to find, but the answer nonetheless.  Despite this, there were a few things I reminded myself before I began to feel all gloomy.  First, not everyone was going away even if the exchangers’ Facebook page made it seem like they were.  Secondly, a lot of people are only here for one semester so are trying to fit in as much as possible, and finally, I’m studying physics and while I may only need a pass, I care about doing well.  Armed with these three things in mind, I looked over the week at the things I had done, rather than at the things I hadn’t.

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For starters, I worked out how to cold brew coffee so I can keep a bottle in the fridge for my morning caffeine fix.  I’ve also discovered that I don’t particularly like cold coffee, but that if I microwave it, it becomes drinkable.  Sadly, this is more than can be said for a lot of the coffee I’ve tried in Singapore (shout out to Platypus Food Bar for being next to all my lectures and selling a marvelous black coffee).

I’ve been charity shop shopping and accidentally haggled over the price of a pair of shoes when I misheard the price.  Talking of good ol’ retail therapy, I went to Orchard Road and experienced the mild terror of going into a mall that contains hundreds of boutique sized shops in a labyrinthine layout.  Fortunately, I learnt how to say no to friendly sales assistants and not feel guilt tripped into buying clothes several years ago after spending a hefty portion of my pocket money on a lovely scarf and black roll neck in one of Guernsey’s many boutiques.  Two items I admittedly still love, but at the time wished I’d shown a little more restraint when purchasing.

20170804_220712.jpgSample the nightlife can be ticked off the list as well.  Clubbing is not something I go out of my way to do but sometimes it’s nice to feel a beat thrumming in your bones.  My experience of it in Singapore places it firmly on the same level in my mind as my experience of it back home.  I still don’t recognize half the songs and some people still need gentle persuasion when it comes to the look but don’t touch rule.  That or an education on no means (expletive of choice) off NOT I enjoy you, a total stranger, trying to grab and grind from behind.  However, I refuse to judge all people based on a select few’s behaviour and some people were genuinely kind, helping me with my gentle persuasion before I was too heavily tempted to use less gentle means, which is probably a good thing given the strict laws in Singapore.

On a more positive note, I signed up for Lindy Hop dance classes, which promises to be exciting, especially given my growing love of swing music.  Armed with a single class we headed down to the boardwalk at Marina Bay and joined a Lindy Hop social called Swing the Night Away that was open to anyone.  It was a huge amount of fun and I’m already looking forward to next time I can dance with a backdrop of fluorescent skyscrapers reflected in darkened waters.

So all in all, I have done a lot and still have plenty of time to travel beyond Singapore.  Therefore, I will continue to take the world day by day, without worrying about if I am doing “enough”.  Or at least I’ll try to, practice makes perfect after all.

The Night Festival

I only went for the lights but was quickly drawn into the festival itself. The lights are a lure you see, they tempt you down to the museum and then, since you’re there, why not peruse what else the festival had to offer?

The light show projected onto the outside of the National Museum was short but intriguing. Another story for the mind to tell. Whereas, the light show at Marina Bay told the full emotive story, this time a prompt, a mere whisper of an idea was seeded in the watchers’ brains allowing us to continue and conclude to story as we wished. Here, we delved into the Sci-Fi genre. The geometric lines that define each feature of the building begin to warp and twist as reality changes. The façade shatters, the shards blown around by an invisible wind before they settle into a new shape and a stone lion peers out from the wall.

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Suddenly, the world glitches. Strips of white static followed by the whine of a feedback loop and colour bars signalling a hack. Points of light fly across building’s surface, warping the image as they move. We know now that we are not the only reality and that all realities are nothing more than a computer program, a network of ones and zeros, susceptible to both glitch and hack. But what is this? As successive realities shatter and warp out of existence, how do we know if this if glitch or hack? Will the program reboot? Or is this the end? This is the question left to the watcher, the opportunity to dive to the depths of imagination and explore the world through another’s eyes.

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From Sci-Fi to fantasy, with the end of the show I dive into the world of the night festival. For a fantastical moment, I see the festival trough my mind’s eye, not as the modern day world of electricity and AstroTurf, but as a faire in a foreign land, filled with enchantments and magic. Here the grass underfoot is transformed from plastic to thick turf, spongy and spelled to not become mud under the tread of a thousand people. Fairy lights strung between trees become beads of magic, dancing through the air and bathing the world in their soft glow. Drinks that flash with the piercing blue of LEDs, are painted as exotic and exciting elixirs, promising all the fun of ale without the lingering headache. Only the white peaked food tents remain untouched, they already fill the night air with a heady array of smells and flavours. Perhaps if I was closer and could see inside, I would see wisps of magic as food is cooked over open flames and tossed on to waiting plates.

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As I wander through the night, strains of music call to me. Whispering in my ear to watch this show for just a little while. To relax in the lawn hammocks and let the music roll over me as I soak in the lively atmosphere and sounds of laughter and joy. While it may be odd for a physics student to wonder around with magic in her eyes, it is hard to resist when an extra layer of life adds a whole new world to this program of reality.

Between Sightseeing

As happens at the beginning of any school term or university semester, Sunday evening saw me filled with the age-old feeling of “I don’t want to go to school”. It is a feeling that slowly creeps up on you throughout the day, gradually encroaching on your mind as you realise the summer months of lazing around and doing nothing personal betterment and motivation are over and that tomorrow you are going to have to start using your brain.

This causes the awkward realisation that you are not sure how to use your brain, having forgotten about five microseconds after that final “pens down please”. In fact, you are fairly certain that even before then your brain nothing more than a pile of mush, regurgitating frantically memorised, but long since forgotten, flash cards. Furthermore, what was that thing? You know? That thing you were taught two years ago? The one your lecturer claimed was a cornerstone of modern physics? You don’t really need it, do you?

Aside from this. I was excited to experience the learning and teaching style used at such an acclaimed university. I was also nervous about my module choices, two of which I was still waiting for confirmation on. The nature of an exchange program always means that there will be some things you have already studied and others that you’ve never heard of but are assumed knowledge.

Monday dawned bright and way to early with a two hours of quantum mechanic at 8 o’clock. There’s nothing like a bit of quantum mechanics to jump start the brain. Especially when the lecturer announces he will be using lots of Dirac notation and vector spaces, two things I have barely touched on. So much fun.

Understandably I did not consider this a auspicious start to the semester. Fortunately, biophysics was the next lecture and was a pleasant balm to my worries. It promises to be an interesting course with one of the lecturers researching DNA sequencing and even a little lab time. The dual nature of the course also means that neither the physics nor the biology will be overly challenging and instead provide me with a wider scientific base. It is also my smallest class with only ten other people taking it, half of whom are also exchange students so there is a wide range of academic backgrounds and perspectives.

My final lecture of the day was modern optics and when I eventually worked out how to get into the building (through the third floor of the neighbouring one) it proved to be a nice, gentle introduction that focused on what optics was and why we should study it. Having since had a second lecture since, I’ve realised I am stuck in the awkward position of having studied a fair amount of the material already but not wanting to change because there promises to be some really interesting bits later on. If only quantum mechanics was the same (sigh).

Electromagnetism the next day appears to be a bridge between the impossible challenging quantum mechanics and easier biophysics and optics. While it requires the addition of “learn what a tensor is” to my to do list, the information content appears to be at the same level where I left off in Bath. So, all in all not a bad start and after talking with other exchange students I was relieved to find out I’m not the only one who will be spending the weekend teaching myself new notations and mathematical methods.

The Botanic Gardens

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Sometimes I remember to look at the bigger picture, not just the flowers.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that I have a major weakness.  The moment I see a flash of colour nestled in greenery or a particularly satisfying petal shape, I absolutely must take a photo of the entrancing fungus or flower in question.  Hence, when I go on walks or visit gardens, I prefer to go alone.  This means that no one else need be subjected to my irregular pace.

On my recent visit to the Singapore Botanical Gardens this meandering approach was further compounded by the presence of signs about both the plants and history of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Even greater than my photo taking habit is the desire to read every sign and poster ever written; a desire no doubt borne of a constant thirst for new and unique information.  If only my physics notes were so compelling.  Of particular amusement to me was the different minds behind the descriptive plaques for some of the gardens’ plants.  While some authors took the scientific approach, describing in detail the size and shape of a leaf, others preferred a more poetic angle, unable to resist the tempting lure of an well placed adjective.

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The impressive root systems bought back memories of building “fairy houses” in the Le Guet as a child.

Though three hours in the Singaporean heat almost had me persuaded of leaving the Orchid Gardens for another day’s adventure, in the end I was unable to resist the thought of more flowers to photograph peruse.  In this secluded corner of the botanic gardens I was not alone in my over-enthusiastic photography.  Indeed, while my knowledge of orchids is limited, I do believe that every flower of the species projects a sense of serenity far beyond what one would expect, driving people to capture them for time immemorial.

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The start of the Evolution Garden. It always amazes me how trees cling to rocky cliff faces.

I would have happily wondered in peaceful tranquillity down the secluded paths and under the blossoming arches forever.  However, I was still interested in seeing the evolution garden so was forced to drag myself away.  The evolution garden – despite being walked in reverse – presented an informative history of life on earth with the landscape designed to show the descendants of each age’s plant life.  Sadly, with evening beginning to loom, it was at this point I took a mosquito to the leg.  While it is the only bite I have sustained so far and nothing beyond the capabilities of a little tiger balm, I decided it was time to begin heading home.  Naturally it took me another hour to return to the MRT station as there was no way I could miss the Herb and Spice Garden, and it would have be downright foolish of me not to see the Eco Lake.

All in all it was a very pleasant, if somewhat hot, afternoon out.  Now without further ado allow me to present you with a mere selection of the flower photos I took:

National Day

Every year, on the 9th August, Singapore celebrates its independence from Malaysia in the form of a National Day Parade.  Anticipation for the day has been building for weeks now as the city slowly rolls out colours of red and white.  While residential blocks and schools are draped in flags, public buildings proudly support banners and signs wishing Singapore a Happy 52nd Birthday.  It is impossible to miss this display of national pride when even the lamppost across from my room bares a banner proudly proclaiming this year’s theme: One Nation Together.  Hence, it was with much excitement that I looked forward to yesterday’s celebrations.

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In keeping with the spirit of the day, I donned my red and white before making my way to the Marina Bay Waterfront with a group of fellow exchangers.  We left with plenty of time to spare, aware that access to the Waterfront would close if it became overcrowded.  While this allowed us to find a seat on the wooden decking with relative ease, we were left exposed to the beating sun of Singapore until it sank behind looming skyscrapers.  Thankfully, we were able to put our umbrellas to best use and were sheltered from the worst of the sun’s rays, if not the oppressive heat.

The cries of the crowd drew our attention as everyone rose en masse, bringing their phones to bare.  The helicopter is little more than a dot in the sky and remains so as figures begin to leap from it.  Slowly they drift down jetting red smoke, tiny figures gradually growing larger on their parachutes.  As they land out of sight, the crowd returns to their conversations; where we are seated offers no commentary and the main performance is out of sight so we sit and talk while we wait for the next feature: the flyby.

I have heard the planes practicing overhead every day since I arrived in Singapore and on a couple of occasions had even spotted the F-15 SG fighters at a distance.  However, nothing could have prepared me for the thundering roar that shook my bones as they flew directly overhead before sweeping up in a twisting show of the jets’ capabilities.  Sweeping away, the two jets are replaced by two Apache helicopters and a Chinook who perform a sweep of the bay.  The Apaches fly off, leaving the Chinook as it lowers itself towards the water, sending up a swirling spray of water as figures dive into the water.

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Next in the Dynamic Defence Display (or D3) was a high-speed jet ski versus RIB chase, complete with the crack of gunfire and small explosions.  With the conclusion of the chase in a towering fireball, we were forced to wait while the display continued out of sight.  The occasional firework would startle everyone to their feet in time to see the final flash of colour and smoke.  The conclusion of the display was comprised of two parts; another flyby from the three helicopters in which the Chinook bore a huge Singaporean flag and a thundering 21-gun salute from a military raft that had slipped into the bay.

Something that struck me in that moment was the relative silence and motionlessness of the crowd.  Where once upon a time helicopters baring a national flag would have been met with loud cheers and vigorous waving, here it was met with barely a raised voice as everyone jostled to get the best photo.  As I looked around, faces were obscured as everyone pointed their phones to the sky.  Indeed, this was the case for the majority of the event.  The only exception was the fireworks.  My somewhat cynical hypothesis on why is that after the first few photos everyone despaired of taking a none blurry photo and was instead forced to watch and experience the display through their eyes instead of through a screen.  This phenomenon of viewing life through a lens is something I know I am equally guilty of but to encounter it on such a large scale was eye opening.

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But I digress, with the display finished we were left to watch as the sky faded through pink and orange to black.  The light pollution, as in any city, blocked out the stars so I was confused when a swarm of stars seemed to move and hover over the bay.  They hung out over the water, waiting to catch everyone’s attention before changing colour and shifting to form ever changing images.  Some were indistinct, such was our angle of viewing but other were more obvious.  My favourite, a ring of people holding hands as they rotated through the sky, captured the theme of One Nation Together perfectly before the drones returned to white and flew away.  This show was yet another example of how technology captures what I imagine magic must be like, though on this occasion my imagination was led more down the path of a futuristic sci-fi than that of a fantasy.

And then, finally, at last, at last – not that I like to describe myself as impatient or anything – the fireworks.  There is just something so thrilling about flaming bursts of colour exploding across the sky.  However many time I see fireworks I shall never grow bored off them, whether it’s straining to watch them from an attic window or watching with a front row seat as they erupt over the Singaporean skyline.  At last the crowd was properly enthused as they oohed and aahed over the fleeting lights.  Bangs and fizzes roared out, preceded by the lights that produced them and echoing around until they had no start or end.  Dancing lights and fiery rain fell to Earth, fading to darkness and lingering smoke as the show came to an end.

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Finding a Tribe

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

A Show of Lights

It begins with the thrum of music through my body.  Enticing me.  Drawing me into the performance.  The giant geometric bulb flashes on, one colour, then another.  Narrow search beams light up the sky as mist begins to cover the watery stage.  Jets of water leap up, scattering jewels of light, first blue, now red, soon to be purple.  The dance has begun.

Projected images dance and swirl through the spray and the music draws us in.  We are captivated.  We are captivated as a story is told.  There are no words to this story and to each the tale is different, but for me it is an amalgamation of ancient culture, futuristic technology, and above all, love.  The narrative does not suffer as these themes meld seamlessly together with the surrealness of a dream.

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The rumble of drums sets the scene as a spaceship escapes the final hours of a doomed planet.  We watch from afar and with bated breath the final moments of what was once a refuge.  Before sadness can overwhelm, a stain glass bird flies around the stage.  The music whispers of his grief, but we are hopeful.  He escapes his confines in a swirl of silk as bow is drawn across string.

We move on.

Shapes come and go, as in the transience of life, and we are carried through all by the tide.  We crest a wave of notes as the dragon offers his wisdom and a bird remains a friend, though our descent is imminent.  The melody lulls, we have reached the trough and the flowers usher in a new act.  A white peacock spirals across the stage, her song speaks of how she is trapped and dreams of flying higher to her escape.  As the lights dim and shrink away we are know that this will not happen.  The end is near.

But wait.

All is not lost.

The music sparks back to life, bringing with it a kaleidoscope of flowers, blossoming and singing out the hope of new life, of rebirth, of spring.  Now the music is unstoppable.  It charges towards its crescendo.  Onward and onward, and all the while, the lights follow it in its dance.  Then, for a second…  silence breaks.

The page is turned.  This, the last page, is softer.  The story tells of a happy end.  We have returned to our spaceship and the birds are together as it lands on a new planet.

A new start.

A new beginning.