I took the day off from work last Thursday, very excited. I slept almost all afternoon to prepare myself else I’d be so sleepy past midnight. Her plane was set to land at 11:55PM. I left home four hours earlier. I had dinner and also bought for her. She must be hungry; I knew she has not eaten before or during the flight. My sister accompanied me via Skype while I was waiting in the arrival area in Changi airport.
Scanning silhouettes, I tried to remain inconspicuous about my search. The time was right but she has not gone out yet. What’s taking her so long? I knew I couldn’t miss her from the crowd. I came with a jacket on but air conditioning in the budget terminal was not enough. Sweat began to form on my forehead, so I removed my jacket and blended with everyone else. At 12:25AM, she met my gaze, coming out from the exit.
I didn’t really expect myself to be jumping up and down quite so giddily. But I was pretty excited to see her (with knots in my stomach and everything). After giant hugs and lots of talking, finally we headed home.
For the many past months, I’ve been saving a lot for this occasion: her visit. I planned to treat her to many restaurants and just let her choose whatever she likes. I’ve been like a soldier, composed and disciplined, who didn’t worry about my personal comfort but was set on pleasing only my “commanding officer,” never forgetting what is due to my honor.
My mom is really the sunshine in my life when I’m a stormy cloud, even when we’re far from each other. We fawn over each other and get so deep into these conversations of outpouring affection but then try and pull ourselves out, for fear of being too cliché. We finish each other’s sentences, sometimes thinking we’re mind readers.
My mom is so quirky and bubbly that whenever I see or hear her, I smile. She always gives me that insta-smile or insta-laughter. She reminded me what being happy is and has shown me that I’ve been missing out on happiness for far too long.
So what was in our itinerary? On the first day, I toured her around Novena: to the nearest SingPost, IRAS, Velocity@Novena Square and Novena Ville. We had breakfast in Burger King and went into FairPrice and Cold Storage where she checked items repeatedly but happily. Groceries are like her Disneyland. Grocery items amuse her, especially unique vegetarian stuff for Daddy.
We had lunch in Fish & Co. and then traveled to Little India where she found more vegetarian diners. For almost every one she saw, she’s reminded of my dad and hoped that he could also join us here to taste and experience all food delights. Sheng Shiong at The Verge was our next grocery endeavor where we bought a number of varied frozen vegetarian products not found in the Philippines.
At 3PM, we checked in at Fragrance Hotel-Ruby in Aljunied and took a bus straight to VivoCity, HarbourFront. My original plan was to purchase the Sentosa Noon Time Play Pass but time was not enough for my chosen four land activities. Instead, we roamed around the island, enjoyed individual passes and laughed to our hearts’ content. The two growling tummies were satisfied after having dinner at Din Tai Fung and Food Republic’s Thye Hong for the famous local flavor: fried prawn noodles.
On the second day, we set forth to the West: Clementi Town Centre, Clementi Mall and had lunch in Shin Tokyo (Ramen Ten) inside CityVibe. Mommy bought food vouchers from JuzToday.com last year, so we had Japanese sushi buffet, free ramen and green tea for S$15/pax (S$18 off). Our next stop was in IKEA, Queenstown, where we stayed for like three to four hours pleasing our eyes with exquisite designs and functionality of pieces of furniture.
We passed by Chinatown, Clarke Quay and Nicoll Highway shortly on our way to Esplanade: The Millenia Walk, Marina Square and Theatres on the Bay, the premier destination in the waterfront area of Singapore. My ultimate purpose of us going there was for her to try cereal prawns in batter with curry leaves in the nearby Glutton’s Bay (Sew An food stall). I bought her two packs of those cereals to cook at home.
Full again, we needed to lose the calories at once. We walked to the Helix Bridge, an engineering marvel replicating the DNA structure linking us to Marina Bay Sands (Bayfront). The balls of my feet went dead after walking around all day through night but surprisingly Mom was still okay. How could she defeat me?! I didn’t cry because of that; I did when I thought all my sacrifices had paid off. They were worth it, seeing how happy I made my mother. When she said that never in her life had she dreamed of being in such a spectacular place, I was moved to tears and so was she.
On the third day, we checked out of the hotel in the morning and packed things up back at home in Newton quickly. We rode a bus and MRT to Botanic Garden and Haw Par Villa. It was my first time to the Tiger Balm Garden. Indeed, it’s an odd theme park and considerably one of the most offbeat tourist spots in Singapore. It was a good thing that my mom has some knowledge on Chinese mythologies so she had some appreciation on the freaky statues and such weird colorful elements.
We had our late lunch in Holland Village: Sumo Salad and Holland Village Market and Food Centre’s Pontian Wanton Noodles and the long-queued chicken rice stall. Next, we alighted at Promenade for another grocery escapade at Carrefour in Suntec City Mall and went to Suntec exhibition hall’s IT show to look out for technological gadgets on sale.
Mom thought of buying a blu-ray player but after much comparing of prices decided to just buy one online from eBay. Immediately after, we headed North to Somerset and Orchard for window-shopping and dinner. We met with Ahia Gilbert, Achi Kathy and Achi Cely in Marché, bought stuff from H&M, Paragon’s Market Place and Takashimaya’s Cold Storage.Back at home three hours before her flight, we packed her bags and got ready to the airport.
Achi Cely accompanied us from Kallang to Changi. In the departure terminal,after seeing that the bag was overweight, we transferred some of the things inside the luggage to the hand-carried bags. I didn’t want to take a cab home so I must go back before 11:30PM to catch the last train. It was already 11:15PM then. Because of the rush, we didn’t have our last dramatic episode but exchanged hugs and goodbyes.
Time was 11:45PM when I reached the MRT. Of course, I could not take the train anymore. Thank goodness, a bus came that drove me straight to opposite Orchard station. I was home after an hour, tired but gratified.
In this whirlwind of life, there are those moments (often few and far between) when things just magically fall into place, when everything is just as it should be. These are times when you just want to press pause and inhale the moment into your being.
My mom’s visit has been a fast but magical one. I cherished every moment of it and I’m thankful that for once again in her life, she felt comfortable having me lead the way.