Things to do in Singapore when you can’t get off the island – and have no control over your life!
This island can start to feel pretty small when you know you can’t get off it! Lately, I’ve felt a growing unease about not being able to leave Singapore. Or specifically – not being able to get back in. You see, Singapore isn’t the problem at all….
What I’m actually struggling with is accepting the feeling that my movement is restricted indefinitely. The open-ended nature of only being allowed to enjoy island-life with no end in sight is the clincher. The uncertainty of it all has given rise to my general air of malaise. While it would be lovely to be able to visit my home country – and I wrote about that recently, in my blog about not being able to return to family at Christmas-time - the real problem is that I would just like to be able to feel that I could go somewhere if I wanted too. Anywhere. I’d like to have the choice. And so, it seems, a lack of control over determining my own life seems to be the crux of the issue. I suspect other people must be suffering from their physical freedoms being curtailed too, so I’ve been musing on simple ways to make peace with living a geographically smaller life. This is what I’ve come up with so far, and I’d love to hear from others as to what their life hacks might be….
We are living on a tropical island. You can’t really feel sorry for ourselves too much. We’re lucky to have a lot of green spaces in Singapore and they’ve never been so important to me as they are now. As the pandemic rages on, every media channel is awash with the news of the catastrophic economic and political fallout, stealing some time amongst trees, grass, in open spaces be it on foot or on a bike, is a good reminder of what life is all about. I love to take a little time to still myself, quiet my mind and watch as ecosystems continue about their business. It brings me a certain amount of relief to know that the Earth is resilient. It may not always be hospitable to us humans, but the knowledge that the universe is a force greater than us can be quite a comfort in a strange kind of way.
It’s an oldie but a goodie. And even better now that we have more time at home. I’ve enjoyed the chance to spend more time reading books that I’ve never got around to reading before. Once upon a time, when life didn’t revolve around staring at a screen, “liking”, looking for instagrammable moments and posting something within 20 seconds otherwise you will be ‘de-friended, reading a book was a common recreational activity. Instead of rushing here and there to fill their time with copious distraction, people turned to books for escapism and knowledge. They sat in a chair and just read. And that’s what I intend to do with renewed relish. All the times I’ve complained that I don’t have enough time to catch up on this bestseller or that classic have now come home to roost. I have remembered that I can go anywhere in the world with a book in my hand.
I’m an avid exerciser and need no convincing that a daily workout of some kind is great not just for my body, but for my mind. Now that gyms have re-opened and there are so many online options available, I know that I can shift my mood instantly just by participating in a class or programme. I can’t recommend the simple act of moving your body to remedy a low mood. Get out there!
Well, we all know that perfecting sourdough starter has become a thing to be good at over lockdown. I can’t say I have mastered it (or even attempted it for that matter), but it did get me thinking that now is a good time to take up a new activity. There’s all the obvious arts and crafts related pursuits like sewing, knitting, embroidery, patchwork and painting. Or there are sports like tennis, that don’t require large teams, and where there is enough of coaching available to embark on weekly lessons. Or I could try my hand at chess or mah-jong I guess. But what about a language or joining the international cloud watching society (yes, it is a thing), or an astronomy group. Look, I don’t know if I’ll do that, but what I’m trying to illustrate is that there are in-person and online communities for every sort of hobby. It might be a good time to dive in and discover something new.
This is by far the thing that I’m craving the most. I love the hustle and bustle of Singapore, the ease of living in a city state that feels like a big, spread out town rather than an overcrowded metropolis, the green spaces that punctuate so much of the built environment. But it can get hectic. And I realised on a walk recently how few opportunities there are to feel completely alone, to block out the noise and feel removed from suburbia. Or is that strictly the case? If you’ve tried to go to Pulau Ubin or Lazarus Island for some peace and tranquillity recently, you’ll know that every other person in Singapore has had the same idea it seems! So those options are out unless you don’t mind sharing your out bound trip with lots of other people. Similarly, The Green Corridor and other popular trails like the Southern Ridges walk can get crowded. But if you go early enough there are spots around the coastal fringes of Singapore where you don’t need to share the horizon for at least a few moments.
Now, that’s all I’ve got for now. Rather simple. But possibly effective tips for managing the lack of control we currently feel over our own destiny. Please share your ideas.