It was our only window to reconnect with locally-based friends, so we streamlined our meet-ups at The Shoppes. Jaja went off to see a high-school friend, while the rest of us met with college orgmates.
Ace and JK never met before, but they giggled upon learning about their connection. Both moved to Singapore less than 10 years ago and they both established careers in the creative field. Our brief reunion lasted through afternoon tea.
More friends from home caught up. Joseph and Leia, the married 1/3 of our mini-contingent, arrived before sundown. Soon, Ace had to leave for a work event, while JK joined us for more window-shopping.
Evening fell and JK left. We then went out for a stroll on the DNA-inspired Helix Bridge. The 280-meter passageway stretches over the Marina Channel and provides a link between Marina Centre and Marina South. It’s both a pedestrian and an urban explorer’s delight, as it offers a picturesque view of the bay, while also making it easier to explore on foot. Through its spirals, one can see the otherworldly Gardens by the Bay and the Singapore Flyer as it towers over Bayfront Bridge. And on the farthest end, one can enjoy a breathtaking view of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and the lotus-shaped ArtScience Museum.
Most of those wondrous landmarks are only a decade old. But considering how emblematic they’ve become, it feels they’ve been around longer. It’s almost impossible to see a postcard, or even a Google image, without them encapsulating the essence of the city. And it was the appropriate last stop for our first night out.
With Jaja still out, the rest of the group ended Day One full circle. We took the train back to Chinatown and had late dinner in Smith Street. For the Carunungan couple, it was a sumptuous welcome meal. As for the remainder, it was a binge-worthy nightcap. My personal recommendations were cereal prawn and pineapple fried rice.
As we headed back to the inn, an Instagram post by U2, uploaded five hours prior, surfaced on Jad’s feed. It showed members of the band enjoying one of the exhibits in the ArtScience Museum, with the caption duly thanking its management. With that timely reminder of why we were there came this jaw-dropping realization: they were also in Marina Bay that afternoon.