Nearly three years ago, I had the chance to fly to Singapore from Zurich on a Swiss 777-300ER, which roughly coincided with the two-year anniversary of my first 777-300ER flight, then from Munich. This year would be the five year anniversary of my original flight but in the span of those short years, Singapore Airlines upgraded their equipment: it was the same flight as I took in 2013, but this time I’d be flying on an Airbus A350-900. I was tired from a long night of work the day prior but exhilarated to experience once again a new airplane type as I looked out on a wet MUC tarmac one May morning.
“That one!,” a German exclaimed as he pointed at me from across a table at the Hofbräuhaus, “He’s from Chinatown!” Though I’ve kind of come to expect this sort of outburst at certain functions here, in this context his statement wasn’t entirely untrue: a few weeks earlier, I had just returned from a trip to a city that indeed had a Chinatown.
This blog was originally intended to a virtual scrapbook, but in my photographic excursions I was increasingly caught off-guard by the emotions, struggles, and fate of actually taking a picture. Clicking the shutter is easy, but the journey to the spot where the shutter is clicked can be rewarding if only personally. Fortunately for me, a blog allows me to share those thoughts with my future self — unfortunately for brevity and pith, I now have a place to share the inner workings of my mind with whoever reads this globally.
It is perhaps then without much surprise that my trip to Singapore was not just impressions of a Tiger City. In hindsight, what attracts me to Singapore isn’t its national airline, delicious food, or status as a quasi-Westernized gateway to a very much non-Westernized Asia; rather, it’s the wonder that a country so efficient now had to start from something probably far less glamorous. However, in three days of walking around the city, I learned the lesson simply that wide-eyed intentions do not always beget erudition. I started off with the goal of capturing the entire Singapore Bayfront skyline in one photo: Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore Flyer, Esplanade, the Central Business District — it’s all there. But what came before all this?
I wasn’t quite sure what it was, but lingering after my first visit was a taste of Singapore that was almost intoxicating. Maybe it had something to do with places that begin with “S” — I’ve returned time and time again to Seattle and Switzerland. This year, I added Singapore to that list. But wait: there are no mountains here, and it’s just as (er, probably even more) humid than in Charleston! What was I thinking?
In the last year, I’ve been fortunate to fly on four planes I never figured I’d take: N777UA, the 747-8I, the 777-300ER, and, this year, the 787. Over a decade separates the first flight of the 777 from that of the 787, and although the two might look alike at first glance, it’s surprising how little the new plane seems to differ to the unsuspecting passenger. After all — a widebody is a widebody, right?
Some readers might have noticed that there was one color missing from my post on Singaporean colors: blue. Many flowers aren’t blue, and the same holds for most animals, but usually it’s fairly easy to find that color by looking toward the planets. Due to the haze, for the first few days the color proved slightly evasive, but by the end of my time in Singapore it was fairly easy to spot, even through the gargantuan, slatted awning of the Marina Bay Golden Sands Shining Shopping Centre of Extraordinarily Rich People, Tourists, and Gluttony.
In Charleston, we have sharks and jellyfish and alligators (and an aquarium), but I haven’t been to the zoo so I must also conclude that the only other animals apart from these that exist in this climate are dogs, which are positively everywhere.
On both counts, Singapore is different.
Incredibly, luck had it that the haze cleared up starting from the moment I stepped off the plane. The gods must have been looking out for the wedding ceremonies just a few days away, but I as the beneficiary tourist certainly was relieved to see the sky again by Tuesday.