Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Singapore Diary Day One

Read for other Singapore stuff.
July 25, 2009

I almost didn’t wake up in time. I spent the previous night cleaning and doing house chores. The idea was to not sleep so during the 3 hour and 30 minute flight to Singapore, I’d be knocked out. But I felt tired so I decided to sleep for an hour. I woke up at 3:58 and had to hurry up to NAIA Terminal 3. My flight was at 6:20 and I didn’t want to be late.

I always try to get there ahead of time to sit either in front or by the exit row.

I had to rush and wasn’t able to do some things I wanted to do. That’s what I get for oversleeping. Thankfully, I arrived with plenty of time to spare and did get the window seat.

Taking the same flight (Cebu Pacific 5J 801) as me were fellow Ateneans and footballers Pat Ozaeta, Ria Tanjangco, and Bea Lim. And we sat behind each other.

Next to me sat an Australian Tony Hedges who was in Manila for a business trip and had a lay over at Singapore for six hours before taking a flight to Perth. We chatted for about an hour about football (he is an Arsenal fan and detests ManU hahahaha) and sports in the Philippines. After that I fell asleep.

We arrived at Changi International Airport 20 minutes ahead of schedule. I was told we had a good headwind.

Over at Immigration, the officer on duty smiled and asked me, "You here for the football match?”

I smiled back and answered, “No, I come in peace.”

Puzzled, she shot me a quizzical look. “Ba-weep-gronna-weep-meene-bam.” I said this time around.

She smiled still not getting it. “Transformers,” I offered.

Oh, Transformers. Megan Fox.”

Yes, Megan is a fox but that was Transformers the Animated Movie,” I clarified. Jeez, I’m such a frigging geek. She laughed and waved me on.

Welcome to Singapore!”

I rejoined Pat, Ria, and Bea who collected their luggage. The three of them were going to take a cab to the city since they had a lot of stuff (I only had a hand carried gym bag with me). Me? I was taking the MRT to Bugis where I was staying. Ria said, "Naks, adventurous.”

But as I like to say, if you can figure out New York’s labyrinth of a subway system then you can go anywhere in this world. And really, it’s pretty easy to figure out.

So it’s off to Bugis.

I like the place, for one, it’s in a nice swanky quarter (although the area is mostly Indian). There are 24-hour eateries and convenience stores and inet shoppes nearby that is a huge plus in choosing a place to stay. The Albert Centre that is next to one of the MRT stops (Green Line Singapore $2.60 from Changi) is a wet market with lots of great eateries. I also like the area for its coffee shops. Aside from the usual kopi rotti, they’ve also got some Greek coffee shops and Bugis Junction Mall. I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into some Nasi Biriyani and Middle Eastern food.

I like the Bugis Junction mall or BHG as they call it for short. It’s at the junction of Victoria Street, Middle Road, and North Bridge Road. Of course staying in Orchard Road or in the Marina area is always nice as they are home to the best tourist areas but I kind of like the quiet solitude. Bugis Junction is like Eastwood -- quaint, fashionable, and a cool place to hang out. They’ve got a lot of my favorite stores and even have a small Kinokuniya outlet beside Absolute Comics on the 3rd Level.

The weekend in Singapore was of great timing as I caught the tail end of the Island-wide Food Festival (end of June to end of July) as well as the summer sale.

After settling down, unpacking, a quick cold shower (it’s Singapore so it’s freaking hot), I changed into one my two red LFC jerseys to meet up with a friend of mine Marnie Vergara. We met up at the Orchard Road MRT stop and she treated me out to some Chinese food. After about two hours of catching up, went around.

First stop was at Kinokuniya at Ngee An City. This was the biggest Kinokuniya I’ve seen (bigger than the one at Paragon Mall in Bangkok) and we spent like an hour and thirty minutes just browsing around. I picked up something I wasn’t able to buy before, Wall and Piece by Banksy.

In case you are not familiar, Banksy is a (in)famous English graffiti artist whose “art” is satirical. I may not agree with all his politics (or lack thereof) but what I can say is he’s got balls and is quite an artist. I enjoy his art – it’s like throwing a brick through a window. Wish I could draw like this guy.

While most people know me as a writer, I grew up with an eye for illustration as I attended art classes in Makati and later CMLI. My mother and my brother can paint and illustrate very very well and well, that all changed when I discovered rock music. Hahahaha. I stopped and went into writing.

So buying art books including Banksy’s Wall and Piece, is something I regularly do. I also collect advertising books since it was my first career before shifting to marketing and eventually writing.

From Kinokuniya, we went to HMV at The Herren (there are two HMV’s in the Lion City). In NYC, there was an HMV around the corner from where I worked so I sort of hung out there during breaks) and it really is one of my favorite shops.

Marnie “hates” HMV because each time she goes there, her savings and budget goes all kablooey. There are a lot of good albums out so picking them out is a bitch when you’re on a budget.

In the last few years, I stopped buying CDs en masse as I only buy albums by my fave bands or performers and those that I think are truly worth it. I picked up The Verve’s Forth and British Sea Power’s Do You Like Rock Music? I wanted to get The Silversun Pickups’s Swoon on the Anniversary Edition of Prefab Sprout’s Steve McQueen album but it was quite expensive. The new Rancid album was out but customers quickly snapped them up leaving none for me. Drat. And double drat. Oh, well. There’s always next time. Also picked up some heavy metal and hard rock. Mastodon’s Crack the Skye and Killswitch Engage’s fourth album. Feel like bludgeoning someone's skull. Hahaha!

From there we went to Clarke Quay for the Food Festival. Clarke Quay has got to be one of the best places on the island. Man, to live in some condo unit here must be pretty expensive. And Saatchi Singapore holds office right here. How’s that – the riverside view and all the restaurants – for creative inspiration? Hit a wall? Let’s go bungee jumping! If you're not inspired after that then you must be deader than a doorknob!

With a lot of food that I liked (it’s quite expensive), I went with an old fave and got some Nasi Biriyani and chicken kebabs. Marns and I walked around for a while before we all went back to our respective pads. I wanted to wash up before heading out to meet some other friends at the Marina.

Crashed into bed at 3am. Couldn’t sleep. LFC awaits!

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