Posted by: Corri van de Stege | March 22, 2011

Singapore – noise and other distraction from books

It’s hot, very hot in  Singapore.  Temperature wise it’s probably not as hot as a summer’s holiday on Cyprus, but the humidity is exhausting.  Moreover, it’s never quiet anywhere.  The sound of traffic, buses, vans, heavy lorries, taxis and straightforward family cars is everywhere and non-stop.  The taxis come in many different shades, smart off-white, bright yellows, blues and greens – they all swish by and then there’s  a shocking red one, on its roof a rectangular sign displaying chinese letterings.  A doorman tries to make one stop, his arm flapping up and down, insistent, but to no avail.  One after the other, they ignore him and his handflapping becomes more frantic.   They are indifferent and he pulls out a phone, picks at it and walks back to the woman for whom he is making the effort.  

The Xin Wang Hongkong Cafe, just below where am  I sitting having a coffee,  does brisk business.  Chattering women in groups of threes, fours and fives , then a couple of men in business suits patiently queue until seats become available.  Someone has told me that whenever a Singaporian sees a queue somewhere they will join, even if they have no idea what they are queueing for – it’s a pasttime that has embedded in the national psyche.

The roar of heavy lorries, the swish of the airconditioner, fountains  splashing water onto cobbled features at the side of the road; piped music  vies with ceiling fans and wherever you look there are people, people sauntering by, rushing by with earphones in, listening to their ipods, iphones and other mobile devices.  Women click clock past on high heeled shoes and wooden sandals, others flip flop softly. People like vehicles are everywhere and you are hard pressed to find a space where there is nothing going on.

It’s never quiet in Singapore,  day and night this twenty four hour city carries on with its own busy business, a car hoots impatiently whilst a motor cyclist revves its engine to get past, quicker, a bus grumbles as it comes out of its own coughing fit and then that sound is drowned by a heavy lorry and anothe motorbike.  A group of men shout at each other across the din and then run and jump into a blue bus that pulls up at the side of the road, followed by another yellow taxi.

It never stops, this noise.  And I haven’t even mentioned the colours, not in detail, nor the smells.

Have I read anything at all?  Yes, Tessa Gerritsen on the plane coming in, a good yarn about a religious group, some hillbillies taking their own advantage, lots of people getting killed in desperately cold weather and lots of snow but the  protagonist survives.  Well, she would and should and so should the detective who has to appear in numerous more stories .   I enjoyed it all immensely though and it made me forget the long long flight. 

Now I’m reading the Lonely Planet Travel Guide for Singapore, and whilst  catching my  breath at the pool and late in the evening, I read The Long Song by Andrea Levy.  A terrific book.  I am taking  my time  to enjoy it better.

For now, enjoy this sight of Singapore: the spaceship contraption on top has an actual swimming pool, for hotel guests only though..

Marina Bay Sands


  1. Sounds wonderful! I hope you have a very good rest of your stay there. Enjoy and wonder!

  2. Leeswammes: thanks – it is really amazing!

  3. I had no concept of Singapore, ’til now. Sounds wonderful, swarming and warming and things going on from which you can distance yourself and observe. And you are having coffee – do they make good coffee? I hope you are enjoying your stay although I would imagine that’s a hearty “yes” due to seeing your son but also to being in a good and new place…more, more, more, I say! teh swimming pool atop is rather remarkable!

  4. Oh: you’re so right 🙂 But I’m now back in rather down to earth England, travelling the South West on business. Such a contrast, all the magic is gone…

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