Updated: May 10
Pacing through cities doesn't appeal to me as much as the pleasures of late-night walks. Strutting at night, however, offers something eclectic, and to quote Matthew Beaumont "Cities, like cats, will reveal themselves at night". It's often the time I feel alive. By venturing into the urban sprawl, it is possible to experience the city in a distinctive character than in the daytime. It appears somehow profoundly enigmatic.
As I had moved from Hanoi, Vietnam to Singapore, the narratives of the street drastically changed from what I was used to. While Hanoian streets were crackling with vivid stories, SG, on the other hand, seemed characterized by meticulousness. Realizing soon that I had to experience SG for what it is and for what it has to offer. On a random night, while I was walking back home after meeting a few friends for drinks, I discovered how safe I'd felt walking by myself. And that struck a chord with me to dabble into the after hours.
Apart from the customary socializing of late-night hours, I suspected that there was much more going on in the wee hours that flared against the velvety darkness. I wanted to capture those moments without being intrusive or hampering the quietude of the surrounding. Thereupon, using a mobile camera appeared plausible rather than a DSLR, as it was more admissible. Soon after, I spent countless hours walking around the random and familiar avenues of Singapore.
The plenty exploring at nights brought about to look at Singapore in a different light. To me, as an outsider, I always thought and imagined the city to be an exquisite metropolitan filled with fancy bars, fine skylines and incredible harbour fronts. While all of these are true of the shiny township, I don't think I ever pondered as to who maintained the city's immaculateness? If there were any street urchins? Or how they lived? It's when I witnessed from time to time the spooky silhouettes of other solitary, perhaps homeless individuals I began picking my brain. I figured in all its glitz and glory while the working-public took to the streets to make merry, others took to escape the hauntingly vapid lifelessness.
Besides, the urban night in darkness transforms the same, static and even depthless commonplace into bizarre foreignness. On one hand, it is vastly familiar: we recognize the streets, its architecture and its composition. But on the other hand, we enter this strangeness, wherein the domain switches its features: for instance, the tinted glazing of this futuristic and transparent surfaces of Singapore buildings lends an air of sophistication during the day, but the building takes a whole new appearance after dark, turning the city into a massive display of cryptic colouration.
Contrastively, to the rear end of the high rise buildings, are back-alley and exits around the street corner that, at a distance, and in the absence of people, resonate mysteriously in the sombre light. At times I'd sight troubled teenager smoking away his pains and at times a long-distance lover talking under the flickering streetlamp or mostly me partaking in my solitude findings.
Another common conjecture associated with strolling at night is the vulnerable streetwalkers. Singapore labours a few notorious yet misunderstood neighbourhood, and since prostitution is legal here, one gets to discover the different social dimensions and hidden perspectives of the area. The red light district here is different from the rest of the world. The brothels are housed by girls that are of terrace lodges with large numbers and sometimes with red lanterns hanging outside. Unless you walk into one of the brothels, you're likely to see a few men lurking around waiting for something.
Night walking is a pleasure for a person, such as myself. Aside from the leggy streetwalkers, Singapore at night bristles with magical lighting, sublimer architecture and some of the best local food that is open very late in the night. Having said that, not all purposeful walks at night is exempt from the assumption of it being suspicious. It's worth remembering that for many the night-time city is a veritable jungle, not merely a psychic adventure playground. While, the comfort of the crisp, cold and meditative experience of the night-time is enjoyable, it's equally important to be aware that the very empty streets are accessible to everyone.
Travel Related Information
Visa: Required (Indians)
Location: Streets of Singapore
Shilpa Srinivas @flohwithme