When you miss your friend but you’ve already sent her off a week ago at the airport, there’s really nothing else to do but to go where you sent her off to. And so during one late night conversation with XY and nmh, I realized there was a very, very narrow pocket left of what’s ‘here’, and after that was the uncertainty of the future, as school starts for all of us and we begin to change with it. And, wanting to hang on to that ‘here’ while I still can, XY and I grabbed our passports and booked a next-day flight to Singapore.
XY carried in her totebag her rabbit/elephant plushie from home, with an opening for it to breathe. She was very careful to not squish it, while I was very careful to not laugh too much (I’m sorry, I probably did anyway). The first day, we met nmh in our second-floor cheapass hostel and had a three-course dinner in Bugis, comprising of amazing French roast chicken in chardonnay sauce, escargots and onion soup at Poulet, then the meltiest fattiest salmon sushi at Genki Sushi and finally strawberry ice cream taiyaki with matcha filling at the basement.
As per the custom of our hangouts, we needed a bed to laze around in, and this time it was nmh’s new dorm. We rolled around her new bedding and looked through everything until XY was satisfied (she wasn’t able to ‘imagine it properly’ before because the video nmh sent to her of the dorm didn’t load), then we stayed a while more and finally called it a night and made the half hour journey back to our hostel, during which I was praying internally for the reception to still be open even though I knew it was hopeless, because I desperately needed to rent a towel. In my smugness in my ability to travel super light, I had purposely ditched the towel, thinking that I could rent one, but I forgot to when we checked in, and now it was too late.
So of course all the running up the stairs in the world wouldn’t re-open an already retired reception. In despair I considered not showering and sleeping in my gross sweaty self, but I decided it was slightly less gross to shower without the luxury of a towel. The wonky bathroom didn’t have much but it at least had toilet paper and a working window.
I didn’t sleep the whole night, not even drifting into semi-sleep. The air-cond was too damn weak for a room of 8 people and I was sweating in my bed, the mattress had sunken too low under my body weight and the bed frame shook each time my stranger bunkmate groaned and turned in her non-sleep. XY was happily asleep with her rabbit/elephant plushie while I stoned the night away, finally getting up incredibly tired and had another gross no-towel shower.
For breakfast we had peanut butter toast while waiting for nmh, then we set off to Universal Studios! As excited as I was to be there, my energy was drained very quickly because of all the waiting period. The Transformers ride took a 70min wait. The waiting hall was just packed with people, but I thought it was still OK, until the queue led into another room, and another room, and another room, and another room, all equally packed. It was hell for me, all this endless waiting. I would have been fuming if I weren’t so tired/ sleepy.
But the park was really nice. We went for a few rides, and I got sleepier/ madder with each wait until I took a nap on the red cushion of the diner we shared an overpriced burger in. After that I got my adrenaline shots in the most extreme rollercoasters we could find. They really kept me awake the entire day, although barely.
Afterwards we rushed out of Sentosa to find JOELYN!!! It’s been three years since I last saw her. Poor Joelyn was hanging out on a swing alone in the park while waiting for us, because we got held up in the queue to get into the monorail out of Sentosa. It was just a whole day of queuing and it tires me to even think of it now. Joelyn brought me a towel and it was the most amazing thing ever.
After dinner when we were walking past Somerset onto the closing Orchard Road everything became too surreal for my sleep-deprived brain to interpret. It was while conversing with Joelyn that I suddenly passed over into another plane of reality. It became that I would be able to interact and act normally, but it was as if everything was automatic. I knew everything was real, as surreal as it was that I was suddenly in Singapore and talking to my online penpal in real life, but instinctively I couldn’t believe it. My self and my core seemed to have separated, leaving a gap that made me almost witness my own actions and hear my own words in third-person, unjudging and cold. It would have been incredibly scary but since I was with my friends, it was just interesting, though somewhat annoying that I was neurologically unable to savour the moment.
Fortunately it was not something sleep couldn’t fix, and this night I slept very well, especially after using Joelyn’s towel post-shower. nmh came to us again and we met Joelyn in the Lavender MRT. We took a bus to a kopitiam on Old Airport Road and had a nice unpretentious lunch, then did a very quick photoshoot with Joelyn.
We went back to Dhoby Gaut where I intimidated a little boy into giving up his swing so we could sit in it for ages before we went to do more adult things like shopping. We parted at the bus station, then nmh came with us to the airport. The one-hour bus ride felt more like a five-minute dream-filled snooze. And as suddenly as we arrived in this foreign land, we were saying goodbye again, only this time it was really final, and I’m only too glad to have done this.