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Circular Rd 9pm

Good god Singapore is a quiet town on Sunday nights.


E@L just went down for some butter sotong in Chinatown and the place was absolutely empty. Most of the small restaurants and bars were closed, or if not closed then practically deserted.

Nine o'clock at night! You'd think it was 3am in suburban Melbourne, or 4:30am - no 5:30am - in Hong Kong.

Even though it was the tail-end of Chinese New Year, you would have expected more than this. A lone taxi deposits a tourist, maps in hand. He looks around, lost already, in several senses. He listens for the sound of partying, this is a party town, right? He doesn't hear any. He doesn't see anyone who looks like they are partying.

There is no-one there for him to see, maybe just E@L crossing the road from the OCBC ATM factory. A few desperate but unconvinced hookers call out from the drinks bars as this solitary man tramps slowly past, nestling My Life As A Fake under his arm. Can or cannot? He looks into the depths of a karaoke bars' frosted glass: there is a single lady, deep in back, past the empty chairs, past the vacant pool table, at the UV-lit bar looking up at the TV, squealing. Cannot.

The tourist, does he find Boat Quay just two layers of painted old warehouses away?

E@L steps down from the road to a street behind a pub. A skinny old guy in shorts squatting on the gutter coughing; his back and arms have those old fashioned tattoos, 1950's ones, like naked Betty Grable women with blue nipples, animal outlines, buildings, ships, each one seperate from the other and equally spaced. He spits. Stacks of 9-gallon beer barrels - Duty Paid stamps - at the back of the pub. A waitress stands in shadow, a red glow rises from her hip in an arc to her face and then burns bright, acne scars, no expression.

Half-lit streets, smell of garbage (nothing new there). The 7-11s are empty of customers and there's no butter for a man's morning toast. Streets bereft of traffic now, certainly no taxi.

A brisk wind, almost a chill in it, blows some leaves, some papers. E@L looks right to a bridge's struts. He looks left. Some silhoutettes a long way down. Other lost tourists. Silence.


It was a weird atmosphere, and I'm having trouble conveying it I know. Like I'd missed a big parade (which I guess I had!) Everything had been cleaned up (mostly) and everyone gone home.

And again, it was only 9pm!

There was nostalgia in the air, but I felt like I was missing something I didn't even know existed.

Maybe it didn't. Maybe Singapore nightlife doesn't either. Maybe I don't, maybe I'm a fake.




Posted by: expat@large on Feb 10, 08 | 10:20 pm | Profile


Sounds to me like you are going to the wrong bars on Sunday nights-oh wait you took me to them! :-)

Posted by: Skippy-san on Feb 12, 08 | 5:48 pm

From what you describe, Singapore sounds like a 'God'-forsaken place on a Sunday night.

Sunday can be the loneliest day of the week. 'God', how I could once relate to that song, "Sunday morning comin' down".

Hopefully next Sunday night, the town will be buzzing again!

Posted by: Sister on Feb 12, 08 | 7:10 pm

Skippy: there was a reason we went to HV! People are alive there.

Mariah: Buzzing with gods?

Posted by: expat@large on Feb 12, 08 | 8:59 pm

Guess it's in the "lap of the 'gods'"!

'God' only knows...

Posted by: Sister on Feb 12, 08 | 9:30 pm

Maria: your goddam ' key seems to be sticking!

Posted by: expat@large on Feb 12, 08 | 11:11 pm

All right - very clever; funny.

Still think you watch too many American movies though!

Posted by: Sister on Feb 13, 08 | 3:47 pm


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