It has been years since I arrived in Changi Airport. The smell of the Singapore air, soothing with a hint of flavour, is all around as I stepped out of the airport onto the awaiting bus transport.
Unlike 2001, this particular visit was not by my lonesome. After 11 years, I'm back in Singapore with the missus and my two boys, Lucas and Matteo, for a brief 4 day, 3 night stay for a Christmas vacation and to reminisce on what would've been my life as an OFW in Singapore.
Despite the progress of new buildings and new MRT lines, Singapore has remained the same with it's people, and most especially, its food. Our "merienda" upon arrival at the Raffles City food court was mee goreng for the missus and roasted chicken rice for me. The boys are not familiar with the taste so they had to content themselves with the ever reliable tempura.
An hour or so later, we found ourselves in Takashimaya, Orchard, where the missus had been patiently waiting for her feet to take her to the muachi stand, serving that peanut flavored taffy-like dessert that she so always loved and craved for.
Dinner had to be light so I ordered "take away" roti prata, kopi, and kaya toast to cap the evening.
By some unfortunate chain of events, the missus ended up eating only mee goreng for the whole trip, except of course of the daily hotel breakfast and the dinner with my ex-roommate Alan.
We were on a roll, food wise.
The next day was our planned trip to Universal Studios. This theme park has really put Singapore on the map (in Asia particularly) as this is a must for tourists. The place is great, filled with rides and all sorts of amusements that my kids absolutely loved it there.
On the third day, we brought the kids to the Singapore Zoo which they loved as well.
For the two places above, my only complain is the long queue for rides (Zoo has the Elephant ride) which, when a parent carries a 35lb 3 year old, can be very exhausting if lined up for 30 or so minutes.
I stood outside the hotel room balcony on our last night and just looked over the Singapore landscape. "I used to 'own' this!" I said to myself. The feeling of having reunited with my beloved Singapore can be likened to one finding his/her one true love. I worked here for 4.5 months and if I could bring back the time, I would've stayed for more. 4.5 months is not enough for a stay with such a lovely (but expensive) place such as Singapore.
Singapore was my one true love but had only lasted as a fling.
I guess Singapore 2001 came in the right time as it was not only my first stint abroad, but it was also my first time to detach from my parents. In Singapore, I lived independently and with no care for anyone for curfews. I had friends, hobbies (played football for the company team and played guitar for a band) ---my life was about to take shape.
Sadly, the limitations of having a contractual job and my longing for my girlfriend then (which turned out to be my missus) had to stop all that. Of course, everything turned out well after getting work in Malaysia, getting married, working back in Manila, and having two kids.
I guess I needed this Singapore trip to remind me again on how blessed I am throughout these past 11 years.
And yes, I will be coming back again to Singapore to savour her food, places, and ambience. To reignite my love for her even just for a "quickie."
For there will always be time for chicken rice and mee goreng.