Down the Orchard Road

December 12, 2016

As of today, I have been working in Singapore for a year, six months and ten days now. It went by so fast. I still think I'm new here.

I haven't really made a lot of footprints in the community, figuratively. And just in the past two months, two of my close Filipino friends who used to work here moved to Europe. Now it feels being back to square one, in terms of SG-based friendships. It was quite a big change for me, a sometimes-outgoing introvert. (Our kind exists!)

The colored statues of Orchard Rd. If you don't have a photo with these, you haven't really been to Singapore.

Another thing that changed for me was going to Orchard on weekends.

I used to put my foot down in going to Orchard Road, especially on Sundays. No matter how urgent the errand I needed to do, I'll find another day to do it, just not on a Sunday. That strip of road is just too crowded for me and I would usually need another day to recuperate from the anxiety.

It started around June, this year. It's been six months of me just shooting using my film camera for photowalks here in Singapore and at that time, I was running out of places to take snapshots of.

For my first photowalk along Orchard, I tried walking from the Orchard MRT to the Somerset MRT station.

Crossword puzzles on a Sunday afternoon. I was in front of him the entire time, and he never looked up.  

It's common knowledge that there is a wide Filipino presence in Orchard during Sundays. One time, a non-Pinoy friend said "Going to Orchard on a Sunday is like being back in Manila." and it's really how it is there. I, for one, like it because of the sense of belongingness.

Side note: Back when I first drafted this post, I made a side note (lol sidenoteception) that became too long for a side note, so I posted it separately here. I still uphold what I said in that post.

Ate, smile po kayo! Picnics are popular here.

Art is _____. Art is, uhm... I forgot what I wrote here. But pretty cool to see a non-profit youth org doing this event.

Visit Very Special Arts Singapore for more info on this non-profit.

Trivia: What didn't change over the years, even after Orchard became a sprawling 2.2-km prime shopping district, are the flocks of birds that fly through the trees. *Apparently, there are birds that migrate through the East Asian-Australasian flyway that uses Singapore as a vital stopover to refuel themselves. And if you're lucky, you might find all four species--the Asian Glossy Starling, the Javan Myna, the house crow and the rock pigeon--flying above you peacefully. (Read: They poo everywhere so it's really a matter of luck and probability trying not to get pooped on)

*I googled this one to get my facts straight. Check out this short video for more details

I stopped for a while to chat with an old man named Salleh. He has a Filipina wife and he goes to Orchard Road every Sunday with a loaf of bread to feed the birds. When I asked him why he does it, he just said, "It only costs S$2 per loaf and I'm able to feed all these birds. It's relaxing and makes the children happy."

"This is my favorite bird. He knows me."

I walked some more and found a talented busker, Ralph. I listened in front of him, danced a little, and forked over some cash after two songs. There's a video of him singing a song somewhere in my phone or external hard disk. If I chance upon it, I'll link it here. He's really good, and I sometimes still see him at the same street corner. (Tempted to put a troubadour joke from Gilmore Girls, but no one might get it.)

There are a lot of talented performers along this road. Very hard to miss.

The interaction with the man below is probably one of my favorites.

I was trying to take a photo of the Orchard Rd street sign when he started posing in front of my camera. Of course, I took his photo. But he didn't stop there. He introduced himself as a soccer player from Thailand who's in Singapore for a match. He asked his friends to quickly open their bag and throw him an unused jersey shirt. (They opened a sealed plastic.) He posed again for the camera, and this time with the jersey, and then insisted I take the jersey shirt with me. He looked determined to make me keep the shirt.

I walked over to Somerset 313 mall, still smiling-laughing while clutching the shirt. Yes, I agreed to take it home. Because why not.

If I had a thought bubble, it would read, "Hoy Jen! Sa kaartehan mo noon, ang dami mong na-miss! Ang saya pala!" It was a genuinely enjoyable experience for me. Maybe because I wasn't doing errands, too, and just being "like a tourist" with a camera, just how I usually am when I travel alone.

Another realization is that there is peace within the chaos. It was a solo photowalk, but not really because I interacted with a lot of people, had so much fun and got to take home beautiful street portraits in the process.

When I finally reached Somerset MRT, I took the last photo of that day. I called this little girl "my princess" because of her tulle dress. After I asked her sister (or mother, I'm not sure) if I can take her photo, she striked this pose.

All photos taken using Pentax Spotmatic film camera and Fujifilm Superia 400 film. 


Orchard Road - Getting There
Nearest MRT: Orchard and Somerset (Red Line)
Or you can take the bus (Download app Citymapper/ for instructions on which bus to take
Or you can Uber/Grab
But really, the MRT is the most convenient, fool-proof way to get there

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