“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Changi International Airport, Singapore. Local time is 11.38, an hour ahead of Jakarta.
For your safety and comfort, please remain seated with your seat belt fastened. Cellular phones may only be used on the terminal building.”
Even so, everyone around me has already turning on their phone. Updating their facebook status (Singapore for work, just landed).Texting relatives/friend/loved ones, telling them that they have arrived safely. Some even make a phone call, under the glaring stare of the flight attendant. My phone was still on my bag, turned off. I have no plan on turning it on any time soon.
It took another five minutes for our plane to taxi and then finally I can get out. I need fresh air. Of course, I wouldn’t get it easier. Sitting on window-seat means you have to be patient, waiting for other people to take their bags and walk through the narrow aisle. Everyone was in such a hurry, yet walked so slowly. Two girls in front of me were busy doing instastory (Hi!! We just landed in SG!) and halt the queue. “Ehm,” I said, trying so hard to be polite. “Can you move, please?” They sneered at me but continue walking, thank god, and finally, here I am.
Terminal 2, Changi International Airport, Singapore. Local time is now 11.50, and without even looking at my watch, I know it’s lunch time. Thankfully I don’t have any luggage; only got my backpack so I don’t have to do another queue. What to eat? It’s Singapore and I always here for the Chicken Rice, but of course the one in this airport is not going to be as good as my favorite one in Maxwell Food Center, Chinatown (and more expensive too). So I walk to Subway, and ordered a 6″ Meatball Marinara Melt, with a pack of Lays and Coca Cola. “That’d be S$9.20, please,” said the waiter. I gave her S$10 and she wished me to have a good day. Thanks, you too, miss.
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I walk to my table with my tray of sub, coca cola and lays, as if I’m walking to accept my Academy Award trophy. Sitting in front of me is a dude with a big carrier on his side. He haven’t touched his sub yet, only moving it side to side, trying to find a good angle before he takes a picture with his phone. One shot. Two shot. Three. There you go, happy, satisfied face as he looks into the the screen. Now the sub is finally get into his mouth.
And I just remembered I haven’t touch my phone at all since I landed here.
I finished my sub, but I don’t feel like leaving the airport just yet. I don’t know where to go anyway; this is one of those impulsive trip I take because I can’t stand staying in Jakarta. I bought a one way ticket, just to see whether I’m going to miss that place or not.
A litmus test. How stupid. And expensive too.
I decided to walk around Terminal 2, just because. Ah, I always want to see the Sunflower Garden, because my friends always talks about it on Instagram. I walk to the nearest directory map hologram, and check where the garden is. Ah, not far, I only have to walk to the second floor. This is the greatest thing about Changi Airport, guide is available everywhere. In just 5 minutes, there I am in the Sunflower Garden.
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It is weird, seeing a garden in the airport, with the background of planes taking off and landing, plus with the noise. Both serene and noisy. It was on the middle of the day, and the sun is striking so not many people were in the garden. There’s a girl taking selfie with huge sunflower next to her. I offered to take her photo. She said thanks, looking happy with the picture I took. I sat around the garden and she joined me. “Thank you! This is going to look soooo good on my Instagram,” she said. I smiled. “Come on, I’ll take your picture too,” she added. “No thanks, I’m good,” I said. I don’t have Instagram anymore anyway, I thought.
I used to have a life that revolved around social media. Taking pictures of this and that, for the sake of Instagram and Path and Facebook. Instastories every moment I had. Until I get sick of it all and decided to deactivate all my social media account. It’s weird how after you decided to ‘close’ your social media account, you also closed the door of networking with your friends. They’re just…gone. Like that. It’s funny how I used to be so attached to my phone and today, it’s just sitting there, inside my bag, turned off. Funny how sometimes it’s that easy to forget things.
I said goodbye to the girl, and walked out the sunflower garden. It’s 2.14 now, I probably should leave the airport soon. I’m taking two flights of stairs to the MRT station, and took out my EZLink card. Still got S$10 on it, should be enough to take me to the city. Waiting on the platform for my train, looking at the map to see where should I took off. Chinatown? I stayed there the last time. Lavender? Nah, too quiet. Marina Bay? Orchard? Yeah, you wish.
“…she said she’ll be waiting for us tomorrow at Bugis, lah. I need to buy some nepalese flag there too,” I overheard the lady next to me talking on the phone. Hmm. I never been to Bugis before. Well, maybe that’s the answer.
My train arrived. It was almost empty, maybe because it’s not the rush hour. From Changi Airport, it’s approximately will take 45 minutes and two transit to get to Bugis. Good, I’ll have enough time to think.
The thing I like about Singapore is that how easy it is to get from one point to another. The train was quiet and clean. As it ride to the center part of Singapore, my mind begin to wander..
How did I get here, without a ticket home? I remember my friend once said that humans are naturally afraid of commitment. I doubt that, because even for a simplest thing like buying ticket, we always commit to a return ones. It’s so seldom people bought a one way ticket. Unless they actually want to leave.
Was I ready to leave? Is that why I bought this one-way ticket? Maybe. Nothing holding me back. I’m so sick of Jakarta, of it’s traffic, of the polutions, I’m fed up with my job. But mostly…
I hate Jakarta because it’s the place where you and I met. And fell a part terribly.
So this one-way ticket is the answer. I will not go back.
“Bugis..Bugis..please mind the platform gap.”
I get off from the train and walk towards the exit gate. It’s a 10 minutes walk, and I thought about how I’d love to live here, just because I can walk more. After exiting the MRT station, I took left to the Kampong Glam area.
Bugis really has changed since I visit Singapore 5 years ago. It is now colorful and vibrant, full of trendy and hipster cafes/bar. Most of the wall painted with graffiti, and I see most people stopped to take pictures. I wonder what it’d look like at night.
Almost every corner of this area is what kids these days would say “instagrammable”. Very hip, very “now”, and I’m not saying it in a bad way. I bought a mineral water from seven-eleven nearby, talked to the girl behind the counter and she said Bugis is where young Singaporean enterpreneur start their business. “These shops owned mostly by young people, and everything is made in Singapore,” she said, proudly. That is pretty awesome.
The 7-11 girl recommend me to stay at 5Footway Inn, only a block away from the stores. I walk there, and found a nice, minimalist looking hostel. Lucky me, they still have room. 20S$ per night and I get free Milo and breakfast all day! Wohoo, what a great deal. I went to see my room and for 20 bucks, it’s not bad at all. Not bad at all. I throw myself to bed, my phone still inside my bag. Turned off.
I fell asleep, and woke up feeling hungry. I need my chicken rice now! And I know exactly where to get it.
Singapore’s Chinatown at night is more enjoyable than in the afternoon, I think. The weather is chilly, less crowd and with all the lights on the lantern, everything just look so beautiful. I took a seat in Chinatown Night Market, where I just ordered my chicken rice with Singha Beer. As I sip my beer, my mind again wander to a place where I don’t really fond of now..
“You don’t like beer, why are you ordering it?” You said, laughing when I cringe as I drank my beer.
“Yeah but you like it! I would like to know better something that you like,”
“Plus, I always like the taste of beer when it’s from your mouth,” I added.
You laughed. Then you kissed me.
And my Singha Beer suddenly taste way too bitter.
After finishing my dinner, I walked randomly around Chinatown area. I remember there’s a neighbourhood nearby called Ann Siang Hill, so I walked there. I can see line of restaurants (looks like fancy one) but most of them are closed. So I just walk to the next block, see what they have.
The street sign says “Club Street” but no club to be found. Instead, it was a street of pubs and bars, and seems like a place for expatriate in Singapore to hang out. Compared with Ann Siang Hill, Club Street at night really live up to its name (eventhough without a club at all), a place for drinks and fun.
I picked a pub and sat there. This time, I got Gin & Tonic. I don’t need anything to remind me of you again tonight.
After 11, it’s impossible to get a taxi in Singapore. I stood on the sidewalk for about 15 minutes, and no taxi want to stop for me. Damn. At this hour, the MRT already stop operating.
So I guess I have to walk. No big deal, Chinatown to Bugis is not that far. Only 5 km.
I used to walk everywhere in Jakarta, except during the night. I don’t think it’s very safe, eventhough you keep saying that Jakarta is safer than any other places in the world. “It’s even safer than UK!” you said that as we walk through a dark alley in Menteng after strolling around the area, spending our weekend. I remember how I told you not to pass that alley but you remind me that it’s all safe. I know that I’m safe with you.
And now I’m walking in the street of a city in a stranger country. On my own. I don’t feel afraid at all. Not because this is Singapore, where crime rates are low and everything is safe. Maybe because I’m numb already. Broken heart does makes you fearless sometimes, although it comes with painful nights of crying yourself to sleep.
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I don’t really remember what time I get to my hostel last night. I’m still wearing the same clothes that I wore last night, means I’m that tired of walking.
I got my breakfast at the hostel and leave to see more of Bugis. Cute shops selling hipster clothing. Hipster barbershops. More hipster stuff. Again, I’m not saying it in a bad way. It actually pretty awesome to see these young Singaporean create their own business. They seems really know who their market is and how to attract them. Along the street, I saw many, many people taking pictures. I can just imagine what you’re going to say if you’re here.
“I don’t get why people taking pictures with scenery behind them. They basically ruining the photo!” you said while scrolling your instagram feed.
“Yeah but that’s how they say ‘look at me here in this beautiful place'” I leaned to your shoulder.
You don’t have any faces in your instagram. Not you, not me. I don’t mind because it’s filled with all the places that we explore together.
I had my lunch at Maxwell Food Centre, not very far from Chinatown. I was going to buy chicken rice from Tian Tian, but the queue was waaaay too long. No wonder, the small stall got a Michelin-star, and famous as one of the best chicken rice in this country. I’ll just settle for ordinary chicken rice now.
The food center was hot and humid, and almost every table was occupied. Yet, I’d still prefer this place than anywhere else. Less than 7S$ for a meal, what more could you ask for?
Of course unlike Jakarta, you can’t linger here for long. After finishing my meal, I walk out to Chinatown (yes, again) and just wandering around. One of the thing that I like about Chinatown is that they sell ridiculous, odd stuff. I saw the rubber chicken, weird toy with weird noises that I brought for you a year ago. I almost about to take a pic of that thing with my phone, then I remember.
Stay away from your phone.
And I leave Chinatown. Maybe I need to walk some more to forget about you.
Kinokuniya Orchard Road. One of my favourite place in Singapore. The bookstore is so big, I could lost in there (and I don’t mind). This is one of the place where you’d go and doesn’t even know where to start. The book was arranged alphabetically, by genre, by popularity and even everything was so tidy, I still don’t know where to start.
There’s Kinokuniya too in Jakarta, but this one in Singapore has much more books. Most of the book here doesn’t exist in Kinokuniya Jakarta, so it feels like a treasure box for me.
Sadly, even bookstore brings you back to my head. I saw David Sedaris and Chris Cleave’s books, and was wondering if you already read that one. I pick it up. Just in case.
I finished my Big Mac, then walk outside to Orchard MRT station. I just get on the train randomly, and get off in Raffles Place. Walk outside, to the bridge where I can see Marina Bay Sands from afar. The thing I love about a city, any city: the lights. From this distance, Marina Bay look very grand, yet not intimidating.
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How did I get here? How did we become this? Two people who used to be so fond of each other, to strangers?
It’s been more than 24 hours of me being far from you, from the city where I met and fall in love with you. Maybe I could do this. Maybe I could really use this one way ticket. To never go back.
I reached my phone on my bag, and turned it on.
8 new messages. Mom, office’s whatsapp group. You.
That’s it, that’s your only message.
I open Traveloka app on my phone and type something in there. After 15 minutes, my phone blinking again.
1 new e-mail.
“Congratulations! You have booked your flight to Jakarta by Traveloka.”
I’m going home.
A fiction, of course.