As I write this, I’m now back home from Singapore, which is a shame—I do envy my longtime friend who lives there (*^_^*)—but it does mean I have time on my hands once more!
That trip itself already feels so distant as I just look back on it now, and that was just less than a week ago, so imagine then how I perceive my initial 2016 trip~
Honestly, if it weren’t for the photos I took back then, I get the feeling I would’ve forgotten far more than I have, but that camera reel did give me quite a mission for my second day back there.
From a rundown of the day’s activities to even some background surrounding this very blog, there’s a lot I’m excited to write about, so without further ado—
The Morning Markets
Now, our schedule for the second day was quite stacked, but all of it started in one place: Chinatown.
As someone who frequently visits our own Chinatown here in Binondo, Manila, I went in expecting something similar, but in place of highrises and decayed colonial homes was a landmark I’d made sure to stop by:
The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple (新加坡佛牙寺龍華院) was a place I’d learned about almost last minute actually, but once we did, we made sure to ask our taxi driver to drop us off right at its doorstep!
Got a greenlight to take photos from a sign near the entrance since I don’t use flash anyways, and inside was an interesting mix of people: a good portion were there to pray, another half or so were tourists like us, and there was a small minority of devotee-tourists as well.
Didn’t realise until later that we’d entered from the back of the temple, but that meant that the main chamber was what we saw last:
And this… this is the kind of setpiece I wanted to find on my travels.
If you’ve been around for a while, you may know how I love writing my worlds with a strong sense of culture to them, and these kinds of places are often the best inspiration possible for crafting something wholly-original!
The actual story behind this Temple is that it contains one of Gautama Buddha’s tooth relics, and if you’re interested, you can read up on the significance and history of this in this Learn Religions article, because I myself am not really qualified to discuss it ♪(´ε｀ )
As it goes though, one such tooth relic is reportedly in the 4th storey of this temple, though because of time constraints, we were sadly not able to head further than the ground floor!
These are two more photos from inside the temple, one being a chamber around the back and the second being an artifact on display along the halls, but these aside, our visit largely boiled down to that main chamber, and that sense of scale is something I hope to translate better into writing someday!
The rest of Chinatown was an interesting experience—these images above are of street art we saw along alleys and roads in the area, and compared to the usual graffiti I’m familiar with, this was a visual relief, if anything!
We stayed mostly around the Chinese area—once again time constraints forced us off the other sectors, and this was largely down to… welp, how filled our schedule for the day was ٩( ‘ω’ )و
With a little more shopping for souvenirs, we soon called up a taxi and left the area, now aiming for our main destination for the day: Marina Bay.
And what better place to start than with Marina Bay Sands~?
Closing a Distance
In 2016, during our first visit, I took this photo of Marina Bay Sands from the Merlion Park, and for such a recognisable landmark, we sadly didn’t have the time to stop by it back then, so this was really my only memory of the place.
This time around, we were dropped off at The Shoppes just across / under the main hotel itself…
…what an absolute first impression to be met with!
In my current novel series is an affluent port city by the name of Tsuzugo in the country of Sarozanka, and a highlight of the town is the Koro-o Ferry Terminal, a multi-layered marvel of modern engineering that blends together a port, a subway station, and a mall all in one.
When I went into the mall and saw this, I just immediately knew in my mind that this was exactly what I imagined that ferry terminal to look like!
It’s hard to give a sense of the sense of verticality that just towers over you as you walk through this place, but in some wings it’s more noticeable:
This hall, for instance, was easily one of the most impactful for me—even if it didn’t have the mini river that that first one rocked, those windows really made me feel that the airport / seaport terminal vibe of the mall was intentional.
Nope, I don’t have the historical anything to back that up, but I promise you it’s how the whole place will come across!
We ate lunch that day at the food court—the rest of the mall was ungodly expensive—then set off for a nearby attraction: the Future World in the Art Science museum.
And I’m unsure how best to capture that experience here.
Lemme put it like this: art galleries are one thing, but imagine being in one that makes you half of the art.
In this installation for example, the moving drawings on the table are fully-interactive—what you’re seeing is me moving about some objects they left on the piece, and as you move them, the sketches respond appropriately!
As for the background sound, it’s from a nearby installation that let you create some music by pushing some buttons—it looked lovely to try, but kids were hogging it the whole visit- good to see they’re having fun though!
This exhibit, meanwhile, felt like the centrepiece of the whole experience—you could choose a template of some various aquatic animals, sketch in whatever you like, scan it, and your drawing would join the many you’re seeing on that screen!
Some of those drawings were signed, others simple sketches, others more intricate, and yet they all come together so mesmerisingly on this one wall.
It’s these kinds of experiences that defined this attraction for me: I was half of the art in that the art wouldn’t be complete without me nor the rest of the people there that day.
And if anything, it’s empowering, just not in a way I’d expected going in.
There was much more in this museum that I managed to document, but in the interest of space, I’ll skip them for now—feel free to tell me if you’re interested though, or if you’ve been here yourself- I’d love to hear more of that!
Side note too: thanks to the museum’s location, I was able to snap some very-close shots of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel itself, and we even passed along the lobby later on, so that’s another unresolved wish from 2016 checked off!
But as the early afternoon set in, there was one more major destination left for the day…
~Where it all began~
My camera reel from 2016 and before is depressing, in the sense that it’s just empty as hell.
It wasn’t because I didn’t have a camera, just more that photography of any kind never interested me, and after losing a lot of my early photographs around 2011, it felt a bit like there wasn’t much of a point to it.
But my December 2016 trip to Singapore changed all that.
I’d been to Hong Kong several times before, but my very first visit to Gardens by the Bay marked the first time in my life I felt that desire to immortalise my view and place in time.
I left that day with photos that have stayed with me six years later, and a casual hobby that’s only grown stronger and stronger as the times have changed, so when I returned to the Gardens last Tuesday, I set out with one goal: to find those same spots that captivated me so many years ago, and take an updated photo!
The photos below are my 2016 shots vs. my 2022 shots, and there were four areas in the Cloud Garden that I felt deserved this exhibition!
First off: the actual garden itself:
This original photo here was one of my all-time favourites from my camera reel, and the moment the Cloud Forest’s cool breeze and fog swept past me again, I found myself facing a crowd first.
I thought I’d have to wait to be able to recreate the shot, then I found a rather large empty space towards the back, and it hit me then: that was where I’d stood to take the shot 6 years ago-!
So I went for it—and took 15 photos actually—but this one above was the closest to the original that I could manage~
Now in this visit, the Cloud Garden was very different, because it was advertising none other than James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.
A lot was changed to accommodate this theme, but right here, at the very base of the garden, it all just felt so familiar.
I love seeing these two images side by side: not much has really changed, has it-?
A path drenched in fog wrapped around the side of the garden, its slight inclination indicating that the road to the very top began right here.
But as I went around the back of the garden, I snapped a few shots before continuing, and I didn’t realise until getting back to the hotel that…
These two were the same area!
You might be familiar with this original image—this edited version below is one I use as my home page’s background!
And yet, for a wall of orchids, I had never considered that they’d change such a location so much.
When I was going through my camera reel that night, I devoted some time to trying to find this area for a comparison shot, because I was so sure that I’d definitely revisited it.
It’s only thanks to the support bars from the walkway above that I even realised these were the same place—and that took quite a while to set in (^^)
I’m almost tempted to say that the original configuration was better, but know that if I’d seen this Avatar-influenced design first, then the orchids second, I’d be saying the same thing—it’s really just the nostalgia talking!
Even at the very top of the Garden, I chased after that nostalgia by dashing for the small pond that I’d always remembered had been up there, and sure enough:
I guess it’s a shame that it was so crowded this time around, but personally I’m fine with having gotten a close-to-the-original photo out of it all! I
n one of my few memories of the 2016 trip, I even remember my grandfather sitting to rest just a little out of frame in that first picture. He may not be here anymore, but reliving being there is a recollection enough for me (^-^)
And while nowhere near as marvellous, one last sight I remembered well from 2016 was a small movie theatre inside the mountain / garden—and what do you know, it’s still there!
Appropriately enough, it played a trailer for Avatar this time, compared to the climate change informational from before, and I recorded that but I’m not quite sure I’m allowed to put it up here~
From that theatre, some small-but-pretty views lined up across windows on our way out.
And I’m happy saying that I left that place a slightly-different person: not because of anything profound, but more thanks to my 6-year long hunger to return there being satiated at last.
The place where my photography addiction was born, where I’d made memories with family no longer around, where I’d snapped photos present me is still fond of…
All just so familiarly-wonderful ((o(^∇^)o))
My post about day one was honestly rushed given I wrote that after a whole day of walking, but now that I’ve got more time and energy, I fully intend to continue the remaining days as I go along~!
Because of how packed this second day was, there’s a lot I honestly glossed over, and some I haven’t talked about at all, but I did want to focus on what I felt left the biggest impact on me in the moment, and with that in mind, I want to leave one last gift here for now: photos from our afternoon walk along Marina Bay.
I’ll have another two or so posts up soon about my music instead—so more of my usual content—so if you want to see follow-ups to this tour, then stay tuned, I’ll deliver… eventually~
‘Til then, thank you very much for sticking around, and if you have any thoughts or questions, I’d like to hear ‘em!
All the love to ‘ya!