The world’s racing stars come to town every year, bringing the centre of Singapore to a standstill with streams of onlookers and big bands to back up the action. This three-day festival with a motor race running through it comes at a price, with tickets going for several of your best Singapore dollars, and it’s a notoriously tough event for drivers, who have to ride it out in such high temperatures and humidity that the race is at the very top of the two-hour medical time limit for such an event.
On Friday the cars practice, on Saturday they practice again, and on Sunday they go really, really fast after which the winning driver sprays everyone else with bubbles. Standard. Meanwhile, lucky ticket holders mill about the Padang and the Esplanade, clutching plastic tubs of beer and reading the handout map upside-down.
Thanks to this popular event I reckon I might be able to make the folks back home a little bit proud. Being the only one out of four not entirely comfortable with festivals and [mouths silently] camping, I think it might surprise two of them to know (and would have surprised the remaining third had she been around to appreciate it) that I’m actively enjoying this annual slice of festival life. OK so we don’t actually camp but I’m fine with the stinky Portaloos, with the lying around in between discarded paper plates for now-and-then-breathers and with swapping my beloved V&Ts for buckets of beer (which of course gives rise to all the lie-downs). All of this is just a shadow of the love my family have for Woodstockathons but it’s a start: perhaps we might be directly related after all?
The carrot on the stick is those whizzy cars and the big bands that provide the wow-factor backdrop. Singapore is shown off via the world’s news channels in starry palm-fringed flashes, and when you venture into town to see it for real, let me tell you the most anti-festival person would happily set up camp for an hour or two because it is all pretty fabulous. With three pops at the F1 cherry under my belt I am now qualified to show off the mud beneath my nails and divulge my top ten F1 tips. After two nights of losing Mr PC somewhere near the Fanzone Portaloos I’m tempted to give it the slightly tetchy SMS subtitle: ‘Where the F1 are you?’
F1: I reckon you should splash out and buy Zones 1, 2 and 3 to get maximum coverage. I have no idea what that gets you as we’ve only ever bought the ‘cheap’ Zone 4 seats, but the posh zones quiet literally sound like fun.
F2: If you are stingy like us and persist in only buying Zone 4 tickets, exit from Raffles Place and you’ll find a whole set of stands just for us lot from where we can wobble up some metal steps to see the cars whizz past. It’s alright, they’re pretty solid. Nothing collapsed under me (this time).
F3: Leave the suede footwear at home because those nice boots will not survive. Wear Tevas or Keens, wash, air-dry, repeat.
F4: If you wait at the back for second entry into the Fanzone, do not push me, I repeat DO NOT PUSH ME. The only ‘crush’ I want is ice in my beer cooler.
F5: If there’s someone good at the Esplanade stage then arrive early. It’s such a ridiculously tiny venue, you can all but set up a fun little tea party and that’s it. I saw the end of one of Ziggy’s dreadlocks. Once.
F6: Rain is rare, but if you got caught in the Robbie monsoon you’ll know just how soaked that 90 minutes of Padang time can get you and there will be nothing, NOTHING you can do if the sky unzips, apart from swim home so leave the umbrellas behind.
F7: If it does rain, strip to the waist and aquaplane all around the Padang until it’s time to go home. Or not. Looked like fun.
F8: Despite warnings of road blocks and jams, this weekend we got lucky with those nice blue cars no less than three times. When you’re going in get dropped just before the Fullerton and walk up. Going out, walk a little way from the Padang and BING: tons of the little green lights all down the road. Praise be.
F9: Bringing the saucepan lids? Up to you. Some smalls love it, some hate it. We’re bringing SM next year so I’d love a repeat of the wonderful Mr Williams, who wet-tap-danced his way through a great version of one of SM’s favourite hits Candy. If it’s JLo wagging her papi again we’re in trouble, because I can get foam earplugs from the merchandise stands but they don’t sell blindfolds.
F10: Want to know where to find the cheap beer? Come with us next year, we’ll show you.
See you in September 2015.