“Have you been to Fort Canning?” was the question asked by Okky, a long time friend from the memorable yet nasty office days. I’ve heard of the place, or at least I think I have. Or read about it. Or something in between. It didn’t matter. What mattered was I haven’t actually been there in person, contaminating the place with my footprints, hoping to leave behind some DNA proof that I was there, without having to engage in law-breaking, mindless, beauty-trashing, unnecessary graffiti job or the sort. So to the truth seeking question (or perhaps he was just being friendly), I replied “Hell NO!” and “Let’s!”. The rest was history.
One fine day, which was more like or exactly like the day after the historical question, we met up to have a glimpse of the past, at an equally historical site. It was Saturday afternoon, and my friend Okky was able to leave office earlier to be a good sport and accompany me for the visit. I took a bus from Jurong Kechil heading towards Orchard’s direction, alighted at the bus stop in front of Plaza Singapura, and walked for a bit more to meet up with him. Impatience as he was (must be the blood pressure hehe), he was expecting me to run or even fly, not walk. Long story short, after about ten and a half texting and phone calls later, we finally managed to meet and greet. Without further ado, we took off to the precious fort.
Entering the premises, he told me that this venue was sometimes used to stage some popular musical events. “Beyonce performed here once”, explained Okky, almost proud. I could nearly hear “Halo” in the air. Must be quite a show, I presumed.
It’s a nice place to go for a walk. Or simply to just chill and relax on one of the park chairs. Have a chat with serenity, if you please. When there’s no concert with blaring sound, of course. But Fort Canning Park is obviously more than just your regular green area. Malay royalty once ruled here in medieval times. It’s also where the British surrendered to the invading Japanese during the Second World War. Yoursingapore.com put it nicely with “Whether you’re a history buff, music fan or nature lover, this historic landmark on a hill is full of surprises.”
Before the word “hill” kills your interest, let me assure you that the hike required was not even close to being scary. If anything, it was a gentle trek. Nothing to be anxious, left alone brag about. Forget notifying your insurance agent in advance. You know what I’m saying? But just to be fair, there are steps. If that’s too much for you, dude...get a life...a real one...
On this historical trip, we stumbled upon the nearby, also historical building which colorful windows must have attracted lots of tourist attention. If you’ve been to Singapore, chances are you’ve seen this building. You just probably didn’t know what building it was. And I’m willing to bet that many don’t. I’m talking about the Old Hill Street Police Station a.k.a the Ministry of Communication and Information (MCI) and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth building. If you ever wondered how many rainbow-colored windows it has, let me enlighten you, there are 927! It definitely play a part in painting Singapore’s sky, even though it’s merely six storeys high. I couldn’t just pass this place by without immortalizing it, so I took a few quick snaps and we moved on.
The sun was almost setting when we reach the end of our walk. We continued strolling to the nearby Clarke Quay area with dinner in mind. But we ended up just passing by and took the bus to Upper Thomson Road to devour what Okky claimed to be “the best roti prata in town”. Moments later, we arrived at The Roti Prata House which was packed with customers. Such a sight was a dilemmatic one. It looked promising on one hand, but depressing on the other. The smell of roti prata was killing us, two starved souls looking for immediate quenchers. Yet there seemed to be no vacant tables or seats! But we’re not travelling this far just to throw in the towel, we persevered! Now is the time to put the slogan “Persistence is the key to winning” into practice. So with a bit of hunger-driven hope, fingers crossed, we decided to penetrate the ‘roti prata heaven’ anyway. And it wasn’t a waste after all. On the far corner of the prata house, there was ONE vacant table! HALLELUJAH! Okky was the one doing the ordering, and I, the eating (he ate too, obviously).
We then finished up with some ice cream at a shop nearby. I had an epiphany here (ice cream shop? really? Yes, really). Somehow we decided to get a bowl of three scoops to share. But when I asked the staff for a cup so we didn’t have to eat from the same bowl and looked gay, she said I’d have to pay for it. Excusez-moi?? Are you shi**ing me?? I didn’t say it to her face, but she probably could read my reaction. “Can I borrow a bowl then?” I said, not given up just yet. “NO” was the flat out answer. My fellow Indonesian, that was the very moment I miss our country. This kinda thing never happened to me back home. At least not yet, and not ever I hope. Cheapskate you say? Me? You have every right. But that to me, ladies and gentlemen, was not the best business and customer service practice. Ugly was what it was. And yes, I ended up buying a cup...
Roti Prata House
Address: 246M Upper Thomson Road, Singapore 574370
Phone:+65 6459 5260
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