Here’s an excerpt from a journal entry about my day in Singapore:
I think the last time I was in Singapore (besides transit) was when I was 7. It was my first time being overseas and I was with papa and mama. Docking so near Sentosa Island brought back some memories from those days because I vividly remember looking up at the Merlion from directly in front of it at night when it was lighted up when I was a kid. The whole Sentosa Island also looked like Jurassic World Theme Park from the movie. The colors were unnatural looking but just natural enough so it was a nice kind of weird.
I met up with Stephanie and Rachel (Rachel for only one rushed hour while wolfing down chicken rice). It was nice to finally see someone I know after about 2 weeks of spending time with the PB people. Everything seems normal on land. It’s strange to think that I’ve been to so many different places and did so many firsts in such a short amount of time but everything else on land just runs as normal. It makes me feel special but insignificant at the same time.
Hello! 你好! Apa khabar?
- Date: 2015/8/31
- Port Name: Singapore
- Country: Singapore
- First time there?: I’ve been to the airport for layovers a few times, but this was my first time exploring the city as an adult. My last trip was when I was 7 on a family trip.
- What did I do?: Free day, thanks to the abundance of local Japanese-speaking tour guides!
What I learned about Singapore onboard:
Singapore, just like Malaya, was attacked and conquered by the Japanese from British rule during WWII in 1942 ~ 1945. The Japanese military were said to have ignored international conventions and acted cruelly to the common people, especially the Chinese because of the ongoing Sino-Japanese War at that time.
An interesting trivia that I didn’t know or have forgotten from my History lessons in high school: During the Japanese occupation, Singapore was given a new name ‘Shonan Island’, 昭南島 which means ‘Light of the South’. This piece of trivia is amongst one of the few, limited pieces of information about the Japanese occupation in Asia during the war that is taught through the heavily censored Japanese high school history syllabus.
Peace Boat docks at Singapore at every voyage and the passengers are able to participate in an optional educational tour to learn more about the tragic history of the Japanese occupation in Singapore. More information in a PB official article here about the educational tour during one of the previous voyages in 2014. It’s short and worth a read. Here’s a quote: One participant explained that she joined the programme “because we learn very little about this period of Japan’s history at school – I didn’t even know Japan occupied Singapore before coming on Peace Boat.”
Wendy, my Singaporean friend from PB, shared this word at an event introducing Singapore to the onboard passengers. It is a Manglish / Singlish word used to express satisfaction and pleasure, kinda like ‘Awesome!’. I had completely forgotten about this word until I heard it again this time and it was a rather comical scene to watch when Wendy made the elderly Japanese passengers repeat after her several times to practise pronouncing the word.
Elderly Japanese: Shee-oh-ku!
Elderly Japanese: Shee-okku!
According to the Wikipedia article which has a hilarious and comprehensive list of Manglish vocabulary, ‘shiok’ or ‘syok’ originates from a Hokkien word for pleasure but other sources say it is derived from the Malay word ‘seronok’ which means fun. Either way, this word brought back a lot of childhood memories and also the funny phrase ‘Syok sendiri’ which means ‘a smug sense of self satisfaction that nobody else understands or agrees with’.
Here’s me and the most famous Merlion of Singapore in front of Marina Bay Sands! For one of the onboard 時差企画 (time travel event*) they gathered and rated the funny photos passengers took in front of this Merlion statue. Most of them were as you’d expect, posing like they were drinking from the fountain, but there were also some creative ones like pretending to be shooting the water from their mouths, or peeing, or just selfies / wefies which deservedly received some harsh criticism from the hilarious MCs because ‘the main focus was on themselves instead of the Merlion’.
*Time travel event, i.e., an event to commemorate changing of the time as we enter a different time zone on the boat. We changed time zones 24 or 25 times in total and each time they would have a very funny event planned in the wee hours of the night so they felt all the more surreal.
- Expenses: ¥5,000, about RM188.00. I don’t remember buying anything expensive, though. The money was mostly spent on snacks and transport and meals and Starbucks stuff in order to use the Wifi.
- Post Card sent to family: Another Merlion!
- Post Card sent to bf: More Merlion! This time with local looking houses and orchids, and the boat from the River Cruise.
- Wifi Facilities: Free Wifi at some cafes if you order something. I say some because the first cafe we went to for kaya toasts with Izzy only gave us the Wifi password because we told them we weren’t locals and were desperate. Starbucks had a stable enough wifi to do some much needed Skype calls.
NEXT PORT: MUMBAI!