A FAIRLY patriotic post, this one shall be.
I got my hands on a pair of last-minute tickets to catch the yearly National Day Parade (NDP) in celebration of Singapore’s 49th birthday since we became an independent state. Thank you to the kind soul for donating your tickets!
So off we headed to the Marina Bay floating platform yesterday afternoon. It pretty much will be the last NDP held here since the completion of the National Stadium is well on its way.
Dressed in red and white, I felt like a squealing kid deconstructing my NDP funpack. In it were bottled water, some snacks, celebratory clappers/whistle/flag/lightstick/LEDbracelet, a really neat Singapore-themed scarf, visor cap, cute button badges and a booklet filled with discounted shopping vouchers. Oh did I mention that my backpack came in pink?
We had an excellent view of the centre stage from where we were seated. Blessed with good weather for the most part, spirits remained high despite the temporary light drizzle. I admittedly sang to the chorus of every NDP song I could recall the lyrics to – in English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. They featured a lovely mash-up of old classics for this year’s NDP. Just fantastic!
The audience were treated to a galore of overhead sights from the skies. My absolute favourite is the segment whereby our Red Lions (Singapore Armed Forces Parachutes Team) made spectacular free fall dives and landed centre stage to an applauding crowd. This was followed by an aerial display of the fighter jet planes and the chinook carrying the state flag. Aaaaaaand thus cue National Anthem.
“Baris sedia!”. I am forever in awe by the powerful commands given by the Parade Regimental Sergeant Major. And in comes the march past by the Army, Navy, Air Force, Police Force and the Civil Defence forces. Looking so sharp and crisp in their uniforms. We were also treated to a display of their vehicle equipment and weaponry, where the firefighting machine showered the crowd with ‘rainwater’.
I was impressed that this year’s NDP involved participants from the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (Minds). They were seen beating taikko drums together with the military band, and I think this is partly what being an inclusive society is about.
As dusk came, so did the beautiful display of LED lightings and brightly coloured stage performances depicting stories of everyday Singaporeans in their struggles and courage. We were again singing to old classics… anticipating for what’s yet to come.
The night ended off with a roaring display of fireworks illumining the Marina Bay skyline. Absolutely breathtaking.
This is home, truly. And as I was watching the fireworks, I thought to myself why Singapore will always be home to me (despite my grumbles on the damn humidity, soaring property prices, crowded heartlands, congested trains) and my 6 reasons to love this country:
1. Ties run deep
My ancestors sailed to Singapore to earn a living, I was born and bred here. No matter which part of the globe I travel to, my friends and family will always be here.
Feeling hungry at 2am? Head down to the nearby Mr Teh Tarik hawker for a quick fix of egg prata and milo godzilla. The 7eleven convenience store, Starbucks and MacDonalds in my estate are all operating 24 hours. Orchard Road and heartland shopping malls can still be open at 10pm for late-night retail therapy. Otherwise, there is always Mustafa Centre for the non-claustrophobic.
3. Local delights
Probably one of the unique places in the world with a variety of food and cuisines. Depending on budget, you can get a plate of chicken rice for $3.80 from a hawker, or patronise one of the many hipster cafes, family restaurants or upmarket buffets scattered around the city. My favourite dishes will always include chilli crab, mamak bone steak and Shanghai dumplings.
No, i’m not taking about the famous S11 Rojak (yums just thinking about it). Rojak means a mixture, and by that I refer to the diversity of friends I have here. Friends of different races and religions, and to each culture we take and blend into our own fusion.
5. Safe haven
Free of natural disasters like earthquakes and typhoons, thanks to our geographical location. Also, our streets are relatively safe and I can walk home at midnight. I am probably more scared of supposed hungry ghosts lurking around then being mugged by a thief.
6. Changi Airport
What can I say? Internationally, the best airport year on year. I grew up as a kid spending weekends at the viewing gallery with mum and dad, watching the planes go by while I scoff down Swensons ice-cream. So many flights land and take-off from Changi every second, that it is impossible for me not to wanderlust about my next travel destination.
Happy Birthday Singapore! Here is to many more prosperous years!