Recently I went to hospital. I hadn’t hurt myself (unless you count burning my tongue on a takeout coffee as I waited to meet my friends); I was there to have a poke around a museum. Now that’s a funny old sentence, I do realise, because why would you be at a hospital to visit a museum? You don’t usually find antiques (apart from very old people) inside medical facilities. Well, that’s Singapore for you, surprises around every hospital corner.
The following Saturday I was in the Botanic Gardens at 9am for a short course on birdwatching. I’d never have thought I’d ever be interested in sitting through a slideshow comparing beaks and breast colours, yet one and a half hours of ornithological slides later, there I was, standing under a promising looking palm tree, waiting patiently for a flash of feather and marking my findings down on a clipboard, not a hint of irony about the binocular marks around my nose.
What is UP with me, I asked myself (quietly, so as not to disturb the Javan Mynah pecking around the palm).
Singapore for me is all about doing things I might not do back in the UK. I draw the line at white water rafting and hot yoga, but otherwise I’ve spent the last three years trying out all sorts of things. The Tan Tock Seng Hospital visit was a research trip for our latest Peranakan Museum group, to dig up a bit of background for the latest upcoming exhibition, showcasing famous Peranakan characters. A kind and learned gentleman gave us a personal and thorough guided tour around the Heritage Museum, including close-up squints at some old and scary looking tools, and a great bit of background on the building and its history. What chance will I ever get to do that again?
The twitching was to do with a current National Parks Garden Bird Count taking place in April – anyone could sign up for it, and if you didn’t know your Oriental White Eye from your Spotted Dove you could go along to the crash course and trial bird-watch morning. A good friend had sent me the link, and when I emailed to join I asked politely if expats could come along and was positively welcomed in. Completely charming, completely FOC and completely brilliant.
I’ve no grand statement to make at the end of this posting, apart from to say how fantastic I am finding this new explorative side that a relocation seems to have brought out in me. Ten out of ten, Singapore. I can’t wait to find out what’s next.