Urban Exploration

I walked everywhere in New York City and continue to do so in Singapore. The distances here in the City aren’t nearly as long. And I tend to stay inside during the hottest part of the day (noon to 3pm or so, IMHO). But generally: sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, umbrella, water bottle, and I am ready to go.

Yes, people here think I’m a little crazy. “You walked where?!?!?” is most folks’ reaction. And Singapore is decidedly not pedestrian-friendly. Meh. I don’t let much get in the way of my urban exploring.

Above all, I just love to walk. Those few hours give me a chance not only to see Singapore at a slow pace, but to contemplate, to be creative and think critically about my world, to catch up on This American Life podcasts. (I also don’t feel so bad eating kaya toast for breakfast ’cause I walk to and from the kopitiam!)

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When I can’t walk, when the sky opens up and unleashes a spectacular rainstorm, when I am carrying a week’s worth of groceries, I take advantage of Singapore’s world-class public transportation system. I prefer the buses; their network is much more extensive than the rail system (MRT). I am in the midst of trying to figure out what bus and/or series of buses will take me on a trip of the country’s perimeter.

Recently, however, I’ve taken to riding to the “end of the line” on the MRT, i.e. Joo Koon in the west and Punggol in the northeast, to walk around and observe. I aim to explore the environs around every MRT stop. Due to Singapore’s breakneck pace of development, I am sure there will twice as many stations by the time we return to the US than there were we moved here just a few months ago.

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The internet makes it easy to find like-minded “travelers.” I stumbled upon  a few weeks ago while searching for something or the other. Nong Jia Nu grew up on a farm, studied fashion design in Milan, is a vegetarian, is a vintage collector, and loves handmade goods. Like me, she takes public transport and “captures whatever attracts [her] the most.” There are no rules to this game, she says, as long she follows her heart.

As you might imagine, I have become a fan of her blog and her creative work. Her Etsy shop carries a handful of handmade accessories and vintage finds. My favorites? Her “pin art” collection which pairs vintage brooches with calming art and quirky quotations:

Add her blog to your reader and follow on Twitter. She and I have plans to explore together next month. We’ll both report on what we saw and were inspired by.

(Additional credits: All photographs by Nong Jia Nu. Used with permission from the artist.)

9 responses

  1. After being almost mown down by NYC drivers, walking in notoriously pedestrian unfriendly city as L.A. will seem like a piece of cake. Sheesh, you should’ve seen the lack of pavement (sidewalk!) I had to navigate just to get to Home Depot in Brooklyn last week… Tally ho, my fellow intrepid explorer!

  2. I’m enthused by all the new exploring you have to do! I love waking up thinking there’s an adventure in store. About how far do you walk? Can you take us on one of your walks with a map and some photographs??

    BTW, what is “IMHO”?

  3. Dearest sweet notabilia, such a beautiful post. :) I don’t walk much here in Kuala Lumpur, it’s hard to travel by foot here as everything is just too far apart. That is such an adorable shop! Love her creations and I’m looking forward to your adventure with her. Have a lovely merry happy weekend and love to you!

  4. I walked…and I walked…and I walked in Singapore. It truly is a pedestrian friendly city. Seoul has some of the same aspects, but with how large it is, public transit is a must at times. Great post :)

  5. If you haven’t already, do check out http://gothere.sg. I use it often to figure out how to get from one place to another. I find it very useful when trying to find out what bus number, which bus stop to go to, etc.


  6. Singapore is very pedestrian friendly, much more so than the US. The heat can get in the way, especially during the noon hours but I still love walking here. I am horrified just thinking of the day when we have to return to the States where taking the car for even the shortest distance is the norm.

  7. @Jana, thanks for stopping by. Singapore is not as pedestrian friendly as New York City, my reference point. I agree that it is more pedestrian friendly than the US as a whole. Have you been in Singapore for long?