Sunday, August 31, 2008

Of A Lazy Sunday Afternoon, Clarke Quay And Moon Cakes

It wasn't really that lazy. After all, we spent a few hours walking.

We took the MRT and got off at the Clarke Quay Station. It had been a while since our last daytime visit to the primary nightlife hotspot in Singapore, so what we saw was like a breath of fresh air from our usual office and home environments. Even the artworks at the MRT station looked refreshing.

We went there to have lunch with a friend we'd last seen only two weeks earlier. But her mom was in town visiting and there was this former colleague who just relocated to Singapore. We had good reason to get together and no worthwhile excuses to pass up the chance.

It was a delightful surprise to see colorful floats on the river and equally attractive displays at the side of the walkways as we exited the Central mall. How could we resist from taking pictures when we had a camera on hand and pleasant scenes to capture? As we clicked away, we could only imagine the scenery to be even more beautiful at night, with the dazzling lights and the shimmering waters.

We realized that today, August 31, marks the first day of the eight lunar month, which meant that the Mid-Autumn Festival was fourteen days away. Before relocating to Singapore, we knew the celebration as the Moon Festival and would often times refer to it erroneously, albeit cheerfully, as the Mooncake Festival. We learned more about it from our Chinese friends who graciously showered us with our annual doze of the delectable treat of mooncakes over the years. Now we know that the Mid-Autumn Festival takes place on the the fifteenth day of the eight lunar month, so that would be on September 14 for this year. We also know it as an auspicious occasion characterized by reunions between families and friends, feasting on mooncakes and Chinese tea, and of course, watching the full moon.

Lunch was at Jumbo Seafood Restaurant at the Riverside, ordering some of our usual favorites -- chili crab, sambal kangkong, vegetable with mixed seafood in claypot, chilled jelly fish and rice. Three of us decided diet Pepsi went best with our chow, one settled for the original version while one chose to be contented with the free flowing house tea. We had a healthy dose of chitchat after that, filling each other in with how we're doing at work.

Our next set of activities involved more walking and taking pictures around Clarke Quay. Occasional bumboats filled with tourists -- plying the same route that served flat-bottomed barges transporting cargo in the nineteenth century -- would catch our attention every now and then. My mind tries to see what its like two centuries ago. I wonder, did it ever occur to Sir Andrew Clarke that this place would be named after him during his tenure as Governor of Singapore? Did he ever get to try a similar concoction of the Singapore Sling before the drink got its name?

The skimpy, orange shorts of the waitresses jolted me back to the present as we passed by Hooters. Our friend Rochelle couldn't keep herself from snapping a few pictures. She promised to send me a copy although I don't think it would be wise to post them here.

Several steps and a few moments later, we found ourselves near the site of the adrenalin-pumping GMAX reverse bungee. I've tried the ride only once and I can say it was a very liberating experience. My advice to those who are wary about giving it a shot but are sure to do so anyway: scream your lungs out if you must but don't give yourself a heart attack. The hardest part is letting go! Once the lever is pulled by the operator and you're hurled into the air at a speed of up to 200 kph, you can wish with all your heart for it to stop; but it won't, so you might as well enjoy the ride and take comfort in the fact that the GMAX has a 100% safety record.

I plan to give the Extreme Swing a try next. But I have a valid excuse for still not doing so -- I have yet to remember who among my friends were once willing to give it a try too. After all, it would be so much fun to do with friends than strangers, wouldn't it?

I don't know how we decided to walk all the way to the City Hall MRT Station. But we did; we walked, we talked and we walked more.

We passed by the Ministry of Information, Communications and The Arts (MICA) and I took a shot of the Big Bang by Joseph McNally. I guess we were too tired to appreciate the other artworks on display.

Then there was the Central Fire Station just before we entered Funan. It's great to see that this building, which was built in 1908 is still standing and good to know that it was in fact declared a national monument 90 years later. I hope we could get to visit the Civil Defence Heritage Gallery that's part of the building, soon.

It was time to go home after that. A few minutes in dreamland was a perfect way to end a lazy, Sunday afternoon.

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