OCTOBER 10 — I have lived in Singapore all my life and so I didn’t think it was unreasonable to assume I had seen everything the island had to offer.
After all, I am a greedy Asian happy to drive anywhere to eat everything — so I have been to most housing estates in search of zhi chars, or famous Hokkien Mee stalls etc.
I’ve also gone up the various (tiny) hills, deep into Sungei Buloh, and through the halls of the least visited museums.
And when friends come to visit I take pride in providing detailed itineraries full of obscure sightseeing spots.
However, among so many other things about the world and human nature that Covid-19 has taught me, I’ve learned that even in our tiny island — there’s always more to see.
Confined by Covid-19 and confronted with the challenge of entertaining ourselves in our 728 square kilometres of space, Singapore’s blogs and message boards came to life with places, spaces and activities I had never heard of or considered and it turned out that in my previous 36 years, I had barely scratched the surface of Singapore.
In the past year, I have discovered so many new adventures and activities including the most humbling discovery — an entire farm full of birds, bees, and other activities just 10 minutes from my home.
Turns out I am not alone — according to the Straits Times, bookings for local tours have logged double-digit growth in the first few months of this year.
And I think this is definitely one of the few silver linings of the very dark cloud brought on by Covid restrictions; we are actually seeing our country.
We are giving it a proper chance whereas previously we would have just jetted off to Bali or Bangkok for the weekend. We are now uncovering local businesses and discovering new nooks and crannies.
It has also encouraged us to be more creative — from pottery classes and fencing lessons, to learning new instruments, outdoor exhibits — suddenly we are seeing more art, listening to more local music, trying more local cooks.
Next up for me is beekeeping. I’ve found a centre seconds from my home and it seems like I may wind up being a fully qualified apiary worker because the latest rumblings from the government is we may continue living a life filled with restrictions till 2024. Finance Minister Lawrence Wong’s vision is outlined in a recent New York Times article as follows:
For Mr Wong, one vision of how the pandemic might play out in Singapore and elsewhere would include face masks, limited travel and social distancing, perhaps until 2024.
I must confess when I read this, my heart sank. Being a tourist in my own city has been rewarding and I am glad that so many businesses have been patronised and discovered but I, like many others I suspect, find myself yearning for a return to normality.
I’m tired of remembering the number of people I can dine out with, is it two? Five? Nobody?
And I’m weary of trace together tokens and masks in public spaces? When can I drive across the Causeway again? When will I have to stop having a stick shoved up my nose to cross a border or get on a flight?
2024 is a long way off. So let’s hope that we don’t really have to wait that long.
For now though, I guess I need to make a booking for my next Ulu Estate tour; as a long-time resident of Yishun, I know there’s more than meets the eye even in the most humble Singapore neighbourhood.
So let’s keep exploring.
*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.
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