As this year marked my three years of living in Sydney, it also reminded me of the departure from Singapore three years ago. My life has become much busier for the past 6 months, so looking at the old photos I took in Singapore was quite refreshing and nostalgic.
I am a Vietnamese but lived in Singapore for seven and a half years before moving to Sydney. During the first four years, I stayed inside the campus of Nanyang Technological University to finish my bachelor degree. That place was relatively far from other areas of Singapore. Living a student life and talking mostly with other students that pursued the same academic and career goals made me not pay attention to other parts of Singapore. In other words, I was ignorant and detached from reality outside my school campus.
When I first moved to Singapore, the city looked fancy with all new sky-high buildings and modern facility. But the more I saw, the less shiny things started to become. After graduation, I moved to be closer to my workplaces. For some reasons, though I changed my jobs, my workplaces are both at Bugis suburb, a downtown area filled with restaurants and shops. At least, that’s what I thought before discovering a few residential houses there. Going there every day helped me witness the life of people living in Singapore in a more personal way. Things I saw revealed a raw, unpolished and genuine side of Singapore, was rarely seen in my campus life.
A problem I had for a long time in Singapore was a feeling of restlessness. There was always an external drive that pushed me forward: jobs, friends, families, or education, etc. Around me, everyone seemed to be doing things with economic, career goals. It was hard for me to see the joy or fun in those goals. Existential questions popped up in my mind occasionally when things got tough. I thought a life in Singapore wasn’t meant for me.
As I have always loved photography, I started to visit the centre of the city during the weekend to take photos. The office areas were like a ghost town. I think going to downtown during the weekend made me feel in peace with my life in Singapore. It was usually too hustling in the weekdays, and there wasn’t any space to appreciate the beauty of the city. A Singapore with more space was just what I needed. Observing life in a more intentional way, I saw more similarity than difference between Singapore and my home country’s cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Taking photo became an opportunity for me to engage with life. It started slowly, but eventually, Singapore felt like my second home.
There were ups and downs during my stay in Singapore. The city is not meant for me to stay forever, but it was the right place for me to challenge myself and grow up. And when I did, I really appreciate my time there.
Right companion makes our lives easier and memorable. This photo reminds me of the people I met and shared my life with. They were originally classmates, roommates, and even colleagues. I am truly lucky to meet those people by chance and still are friends by choice. All my best moments are always shared with them. Maybe that’s the essence of a Singapore I keep at heart. The people.
I’m going to post more photos taken in Singapore in the next couple of weeks. There are many stories I want to tell.
Thank you for stopping by today.