A week ago, someone invited me to chat in ICQ, and so I did. Very quickly she introduced herself as Yuna from Hong Kong and asked if I am a pianist, for which I replied yes. For the next 3 hours, we chatted enough to arrange for a face to face meeting 5 days later, in Singapore, for she will be travelling here "for business". And in such coincidence, I was available to meet her during her stay.
And so last Friday, I met her, in person, my first overseas online acquaintance whom we spent the shortest time knowing each other before meeting. Luckily I gave her my mobile number, for she discovered 15 minutes before our meeting time that the hotel was not the same as the one she informed me. She called me while I was waiting at Furama Harbourfront, that her hotel was in fact Furama City Center. Fortunately, I realised that the hotel was not far from where I was, so I took a walk and 15 minutes later I reached the hotel.
I found her sitting at the corner of the lobby, and then our eyes met, realising that we were both who we were waiting for. She started talking in Cantonese and I tried to reply back, albeit poorly. I explained that my mum is a Cantonese so I could understand and speak a little, but she had to pardon my broken intonation. It's probably sounds like how the Canto-pop celebrities speak Mandarin.
I took her for a walk around Chinatown before settling at Hong Lim Complex Hawker Centre for a taste of local food, like Char Kway Teow and Rojak. Try as I might, I was unable to find durians for her. I was also unable to locate other popular local hawker fare like satay around the area. Actually, I had it all planned out when she told me she was staying at Furama Harbourfront, for the famous Tiong Bahru Market is just nearby. She would have had better taste of local food there. I also told her that Singapore crabs are great when cooked with chili or pepper, but she had to meet me the next time to try them as the area we were at does not have such delicacies.
After dinner, I brought her to Vivocity. She wasn't at all interested to do shopping here, for she felt that she could get everything in Hong Kong, and it wasn't a totally unfair statement. She had also been to the Merlion and most tourist attractions.
I brought her straight to the viewing deck overseeing Sentosa, and what a shame the ferry terminal stopped operations and so there was nothing to catch her eye about Sentosa (all's to change with the Integrated Resort completes construction by the turn of the decade). Then she saw the cable car and decided to have a go. So at least she saw some night views from up above. We alighted at the Mount Faber station and walked around, showing her the HDB flats and the city skyscrapers, barely visible from the trees and forests. As expected, there was no expression of amazement on her part. Obviously the view was nothing compared to the Peak at Hong Kong.
Then we went for coffee at Coffee Club. We sat there till about 9.15pm where the staff hinted that they were closing. I told Yuna that most shops close by 9.30pm except for the last Friday of the month where Orchard Road stores extend their operating hours. She felt that it was a waste that shops closed so early, but also envied the workers here who need not work for such long hours.
So I brought her back to hotel... and parted at the lobby. The meeting was filled with conversations and the discovering of cultures and interests intertwined with dabs of Cantonese, English and a bit of Mandarin when all else failed. I like to interact with people in other languages, so that I can have a chance to work on those languages. I used to have a colleague whom I speak Hainanese with. I have another lunch buddy whom I speak Mandarin to. So I had fun speaking Cantonese with Yuna, and working my tongue out to get the intonation right. I guess I pulled it off rather fine.
See you soon, Yuna.
...bladdy hell waited at the lobby from 10.15 to 10.45pm without a cab. I saw a lot of cabs turning in but all headed to the People's Park Complex car park. I suspect these guys are 'resting' until 11.30pm when the midnight charge kicks in, or maybe waiting for telephone booking. I ended up calling for a cab and paid $4 for the booking fee. Another love-hate situation with the cabbies.