back from the Lion City

I had forgotten how much I love traveling. I had forgotten how much I enjoy seeing the world. The last time I remember leaving the country was in February 2010, to go to Singapore to catch The XX and Florence + the Machine and their concert at the Esplanade. That’s almost three years ago, if you think about it.

Sigur Ros played at Fort Canning, Singapore. Good enough reason to travel, but I found more reasons when I got there.

And yes, there was a time I didn’t think I was ever going to be able to travel again. But I got my first stamp on my new passport and it looks and feels so good. More stamps to go! Gotta get my passport filled out again. That’s how it’s got to be. Now that I’ve tasted it, I want more.

I went to Singapore to watch Sigur Ros and I had planned the trip with someone else in mind and bought two tickets already. The original person I had bought the extra ticket for couldn’t make it so I asked my friends who wanted to see Sigur Ros and Kate said she’d take it. I was planning to just fly to Singapore on the day of the concert and then fly back out the very next day. But Kate had never been so we planned to stay for two nights and three days. Just so that she could explore.

A week before we were to leave, she got sick. She got really sick. So she had to give the ticket away. I immediately offered it to Cez and though she wasn’t familiar with Sigur Ros, she said she’d want to go.

With Cez as my partner in crime, I let her take lead. I am, after all, a wingman. It’s the role I’m comfortable with playing. Kate had booked us in a budget hotel near Central station, a few steps away from Clark Quay, and that became our home base. Cez wanted to go to Universal Studios on the morning of the concert and so we went.

Hainanese chicken and chicken rice at Boon Tong Kee. A must-have for your first Singapore trip.

We first went to Boon Tong Kee, which is supposed to have the best Hainanese chicken and Singaporean chicken rice. Apparently, that’s a must-have when in Singapore and the last time I had Boon Tong Kee, it must have been back in 2008; that time, I was with Tals. So, in a way, there was a symbolic coming full circle to the whole affair.

We went to Universal Studios and I forgot that I do enjoy theme parks. We only have one here in Manila and I’ve been to it so many times. Universal Studios was amazing. I mean, it’s a theme park, but the rides were stellar and I had a great, grand time. We even experienced “snow” in the New York area at three in the afternoon, right before we left. Sure, it was just foam, but it looked like snow. Loved it! It was just so different from anything I’ve ever done before.

We met a lot of Cez’s friends who are now living in Singapore and we watched the Sigur Ros concert and they played Hoppipola, which, for me, was worth the price of the whole trip. Hoppipola was the one of the songs that helped me get through my first year after discovering I was HIV positive. It made me feel like I could overcome anything. That song has a powerful effect on me. I heard Jonsi sing it live.

We hung out with Cez’s friends and they brought us to this bar, Tantric, which was her friend’s favorite bar in Singapore.

“Snow in New York” — Cez and I at Universal Studios and experienced “snow” at the New York section of the theme park

It was just amazing to be able to get out of the city and be in a place where no one knew me and I could just be me. Of course, my network has grown and I met people whom I have met before who now live in Singapore and saw more friends who were there too for other reasons. I also met someone who had worked with my brother, Datu, and that was so cool, as well.

I go to Singapore to remind myself the world is a bigger place and, instead, discover that I had made my world bigger than just where I am. I’m not just some guy in the Philippines. Even a three-hour flight to another country and I am still me. I’ve reached out and projected bits of myself outward into the world.

Isn’t this what being thirty-three is supposed to be like? To know that the world is not some expansive, undiscoverable thing? That you can cross it and reach out to it and that bits and pieces of you can travel through space and reside there and you have anchors in many places other than home?

I love that. Again, the metaphor of the tree: roots planted firmly in the earth, but the branches spreading far and wide from the center. My branches have reached as far as Singapore. It has reached as far as Madrid, where Tals lives; Australia where Cat lives; Los Angeles, where my sister lives.

I love traveling. I have to start planning my next trip soon.

One thought on “back from the Lion City

  1. Hi Wanggo, reading your craft makes me believe that life is indeed Beautiful. Am also a PLHIV like you and I wish to have that kind of “positivism”. You are truly an inspiration to all. I pray to God that may He move his hands to meet you personally. Godspeed.

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