There is thrill in getting lost – the surprising, unknown landscapes to behold, the hidden part of yourself surfacing, the thoughts you have finally had the courage confronting. From the discreet ‘wow’ for the sceneries that meet the eyes to the inaudible ‘uh oh’ whenever taking the wrong turn, surely, getting lost is one of my most favourite teachers.
Figuratively, getting lost allows me to stop and think to gain better perspective. It makes me pray harder on my knees to hopefully open the right door and go right through it with wholeheartedness.
Literally, getting lost makes me feel panic and excitement at the same time. It creates little conversations in my head and stores wonderful memories in my mind.
Today is about literally getting lost in the safest place I have been to and our birthday celebrator – Singapore!
Lost in Bras Basah
In April 2016, I did one of the noblest acts a sibling can do (hahaha!). I accompanied my sister to SG to help her settle in a new house there. (Although she would probably argue that I wasn’t helpful enough.) On our fourth day, while she was fixing documents with the Ministry of Manpower, I decided to see some parts of the city on my own. With map on hand, I hopped on the train and got off in Bras Basah. I intended to go to the National Museum of Singapore. At first, I was confident that I would find it easily on foot. Then after hours of walking and checking out some amazing architecture along the way, I realized I might be lost.
It was a hot day and so I thought of giving up already. I have seen a lot of places anyway – I saw the National Design Center building, St. Joseph Parish and convent along Victoria Street, the National Gallery, and the colourful Old Hill Police Station turned into Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts (MICA) Building. (I love saying Ministry, it’s like I’m in Harry Potter. The Philippines used to call it Ministry too, I wonder what caused the change.)
However, if I go back to our temporary home in Eunos, I felt that I will also be taking with me the badge of defeat. And so I pursued, asked some strangers and walked a little bit mooore. I was ecstatic when I finally found it!
My visit was timely for the visiting/four-months-only Treasures of the World Exhibit of the British Museum. The exhibit features objects from 800,000 thousand years ago up to year 2013. I also learned about the rich history of Singapore from the 14th century where it was first mentioned to have a thriving trading port to being a British colony to Japanese occupation to its merger with Malaysia and to its independence in 1965.
After touring the entire museum, I faced the challenge of hopping on the right bus number to go home. Haha!
Lost in Tiong Bahru
In my second visit in the country, I already prepared an itinerary of the not so usual places I want to see. I even prepared questions to ask should I bump into Singaporean singer-songwriter Corrine May (would you believe, I send her a couple of messages on Instagram and through email to ask her?! Hehe) Believe me, I have rehearsed a lot of details in my mind. 😃
Part of my prepared itinerary is a visit to the quaint neighborhood of Tiong Bahru. I went there while my sister went to her usual day at school. While on the train, I was thinking what awaits me there. I was also thinking if I can find the bookstore I saw on Instagram since I have no phone to search with.
I got off the Tiong Bahru train station and found a mall outside. I instinctively went to the farther side where I think a magical bookstore can be found. On my way, I asked an Aunty if I was on the right direction and she confirmed that I was.
When I reached the street where there are a handful of restaurants and cafés, I felt I was near already. After half an hour of walking around, I could not find what I was looking for. I met a Filipina on the way and asked her about the local bookstore, she told me to go to the mall where I have come from, probably thinking of a different bookstore or place.
I kept looking at my watch because I was going to meet a dear friend for lunch. And I don’t want to be late to our ‘tagpuan’ (meeting place) because, again I have no phone to send SMS with. I decided to just return to the train station and go straight to Chinatown for our meeting.
When I noticed that I will be quite early, I got off in Little India and stride along the colourful structures in it. Hehehe! Little India does not only offer a lot of sceneries but also several merchandise for shopping enthusiasts. I wish I was hungry enough to grab something Indian to eat, but I don’t want to be full for my lunch date.
My friend Minnie and I had lunch in Song Fa Bak Kut Teh where the popular Chinese soup called Bak Kut Teh is being served. The dish’s name literally means ‘meat bone tea.’ It’s unli-sabaw right here 😀
Minnie searched the way to the Tiong Bahru bookstore for me and instructed me which bus to take after lunch. Yes, I never gave up with my search. I photographed the map so as not to get lost again.
So, I reached the place again, the same place I visited earlier, only this time, I walked farther and finally found the hall of stores I was looking for. There was a children’s bookstore there which did not allow taking of photographs. There was also a novelty store of everything cute called Strangelets. There was, of course, BooksActually, the indie book store that sells classic and home grown authors. The bookstore also sells vintage trinkets, stationery and postcards, and has cats as part of the team. Cool!
I had the bookstore all by myself for a time and so I browsed through everything. I bought an Alain de Botton book and read it right away at Tiong Bahru Café. The day was such a sweet experience!
Looking back now to these two experiences, I can say that I get braver each time I am lost. I guess that’s what getting lost teaches us – that everything is figureoutable (Forleo, 2016). Getting lost may give us the rush and fear, but it also gives us confidence that we shall find our way soon.
So here’s me ending with, don’t be afraid to explore and get lost!
And yeah, Singapore is a great place to get lost in. 😉