An Umbrella For Two
We came to Singapore after spending more than two weeks in the north east of Thailand, in a not very touristy region called Isaan. Over there, skies were blue all day long, the sun was shining from dawn till dusk and all was well.
S'pore, we learned quickly, is different. Here, skies and sun are a lot more capricious. In other words, it rained.
In fact, it rained every single day, mostly in the afternoons, but brief showers are possible at any time, day or night. And sometimes, the rain turned into a veritable deluge: once, we were innocently strolling along Orchard Road, the gates of heaven opened and within five minutes Orchard Road and its side streets were more than ankle-deep under water (you'd think that a place with such downpours has state-of-the-art drainage systems…). Cars were producing the most impressive fountains and people were sprinting towards anything that promised protection — from the pounding rain, the driving wind, the fountain cars, the lightning.
For us, it's all rather simple: if we want rain… well, we live in England and if we really, really want it, we know how and where to get it. Naturally, when we're travelling we don't look forward to getting wet. Indeed, in Singapore it wasn't the humidity (about which all our guide books were complaining so loudly) which got on our nerves, it was this ever-threatening rain.
Second day in S'pore and we were seriously thinking about equipping ourselves with umbrellas. We normally don't give in so easily but the situation was really calling — no, shouting — for brollies. But we clenched our teeth, glowered at the sky and started off with the day's work, err… sightseeing.
First on our list was Masjid Sultan, the largest mosque in S'pore. Once there, we learned that this weekend there was a sort of Open Day for Singaporean monuments and sights. We could each get a free pass, here in the Masjid, in which the participating institutions would put a stamp after we'd visited them. Collect five of those stamps and you'll get a small present, courtesy of the Singaporean Tourism Authority.
Now Vero likes that sort of thing and so she grabbed a free pass and already had her first stamp put in, from Masjid Sultan. Thomas is much more circumspect (or cynical) when there's the promise of a free gift (“Where's the catch?”) so he declined politely.
Well, during the day we visited many sights and monuments and Vero dutifully collected her stamps: two from a couple other mosques, one from the Raffles (no, really) and, come early afternoon, stamp #5 from the Armenian Church. Now, with five stamps to her name, Vero asked the friendly lady in the Armenian Church where or when she could collect her “small present”.
It turned out that all participating monuments were, in theory, able to give out a present once a pass with five stamps was presented. However, as the lady explained somewhat apologetically, she had only two different presents left (at which utterance Thomas smirked and Vero looked a bit crestfallen), namely either a) a cinema ticket — or b) an umbrella for two.
So it came to pass that a little while later a triumphant Vero, with a big shiny brolly under her arm, and a sheepish-looking Thomas, with nothing at all under his arm, left the grounds of the Armenian Church in Singapore.
Just a few minutes later, it started to rain. Of course we didn't care anymore: we now had our umbrella for two.
(The brolly was a quite decent one and it faithfully stayed with us for the next four weeks, until we came to Kuala Lumpur.)
$updated from: Blog.htxt Thu 22 Nov 2012 14:35:19 trvl2 (By Vero and Thomas Lauer)$