A few months ago we were mighty thrilled to receive an inquiry from Esplanade exploring The Camerawalls for Baybeats 2010 and privileged enough to eventually be included in the line up. It’s our first regional gig outside the Philippines and I would like to share some of the things we did and experienced during our three-day stay in Singapore from August 20 – 22.
Day 1 – August 20
We left Cubao, QC at 3am after a brief sleepover with the whole band at Antonette’s place. Her brother Anthony graciously woke up during witching hour to drive us to the airport. Checking in wasn’t much of a hassle. We killed some time beside a dimsum shop on the second floor of the airport while waiting for boarding time. Coffee and small talks while Ian Zafra (SATI) reads a soft bound copy of Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. A memoir that chronicles the American author’s trip around the world after her divorce and what she discovered during her travels. A New York Times bestseller with a film adaptation starring Julia Roberts. Both I have yet to read and see.
I tried to sleep on board but was distracted by the most number of sneezing and coughing. A dreadful chorus producing an awful discomfort coming from all sides. One more hour… I hope I don’t catch any unwanted virus that would hamper my singing the next day.
We arrived at Changi International Airport 10 minutes ahead of schedule. Our artist liason officer was already waiting for us. Nice girl named Clara Ang. She gladly welcomed us and during one of our short conversations she asked if we smoked. I said “No”. “Great. Easier for me,” she replied.
We rode a coaster with Chicosci, another fellow musician from the Philippines and went to our first stop at Esplanade where we stored our musical instruments at assigned dressing rooms. Roads will be closed the next day for the first ever Youth Olympic Games – an international multi-sport event featuring athletes from ages 14 to 18. It would be such a drag to do a 15 minute walk from our hotel to Esplanade carrying our equipment.
Also I finally met Christie Chua the program director who invited The Camerawalls a few months back. Had a little chat with her and learned that Baybeats Festival is on its ninth year. Gave her some copies of “Pocket Guide To The Otherworld” to sell at Esplanade shop during the festival. According to her, normally the weather in the country is fairly warm and humid. But we notice that day it’s particularly cooler accompanied with patchy drizzles. Best time to go for a walk and see some parts of the city.
St. Joseph’s Church
We went straight to Grand Pacific Hotel to check in and freshen up. Got a hold of a free Singapore Island map at the lobby before we went up the elevator. We were tired from lack of sleep but excited at the same time since it’s our first time in the city with only a few hours to kill each day to do other things not related to Baybeats.
The hotel along Victoria Street is ideally near a lot of places and is situated right inside the heart of the district. Transportation is easy with buses, cabs and MRT lines. We decided to walk instead to see the sights and find a good place to eat that’s cheap and authentic. Heading northeast along Victoria St. we saw our first stop – St. Joseph’s Church. A gothic styled Roman Catholic church built in the early 1900’s by the Portuguese mission. The building’s very attractive and the place boast of beautifully-crafted stained glass windows.
We went pass Middle Road and crossed Manila Street till we reached Bugis Street. A once famous tourist spot in Singapore for a nightly gathering of transwomen and transgender sex bazaar culture. A colourful and unique era that ended in 1980s during the redevelopment of the place into a retail complex of shopping malls, restaurants, nightspots and back-alley vendors plus the underground construction of the Bugis MRT station. It is now billed as “the largest street-shopping location in Singapore“.
After going thru sections of food, clothing, apparels, watches, fruits, even a sex shop stall, we found ourselves in an alley full of small street restaurants with a common dining area in the middle for customers. The combined scent of dishes after dishes being prepared and served signaled a retreat to one of the tables near Cui Xiang Yuan restaurant. We soon realized how hungry we were. We ordered Chili Chicken, Mushroom Chicken, Seafood & Beancurd Soup, Seafood Rice and they were absolutely delicious. Or maybe we were just famished.
The food is rather cheap and authentic. It was a good idea to check out that alley. Enough to prep us for another couple of hours walking around the place. We further looked around before deciding to hit the streets once more towards our next destination – Arab Street. – continued at Our First Day In Singapore (Part 2)…