I was leaving somewhere around Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA). The meeting was delayed a good two hours and I was stranded for a while wondering where to go. Finally, I decided to go to Funan Centre for coffee when I was greeted by several statues of Singa, the courtesy campaign mascot, a lion, along Hill Street. Singa, probably derived from the old Singapore name, Singapura, meaning the Lion City.
The courtesy campaign was launched in 1979. It has been a long 20 years of campaign and it is as though that Singa has grown alongside with us except that age is catching up with us easily. I was enjoying reading the literature on the stand, just like I run into a friend (Singa) whom we have not met for such a long time, when I noticed a large signage at the corner of my eyes. Soon I was staring at the inconspicuous signage of Fort Canning Park. The place where Singa stands used to be Hill Street Hawker Centre. The big signage is located just besides one of the side entrances of MICA, which is closed all the times. The map of Fort Canning Park shows me “You are here” and it details the places of interest.
Coffee or stroll?
Standing at the foot of the long staircase, it appears daunting for a heavy weight attempting to ascend the stairs.
Halfway through the steps, I was already regulating deep breathing to manage the palpitations. The remaining half of the steps was simply an arduous gravity defying acts as I motivated myself with an exaggerated imagination to re-enact the scene of Rocky Balboa ascending the steps – my still conscious mind was humming Eye of the Tiger.
The five minutes appeared to be long but I was at the top now, greeted by a fountain, Raffles Terrace, where I wasted no time to take a breather at the step. The December air was cool and nice. The weather, almost turning grey, almost wanting to rain.
I walked casually now towards a flag mast where a small building is located at the top of a flight of stairs. This is Raffles House and it was constructed for Sir Stamford Raffles. There were not much people around here due to the unpredictable weather this December. At a junction, I decided to make a right turn towards the direction of Hotel Fort Canning.
It was a pleasant walk. Maybe the weather was nice and cool then. The walk led me to a shady path where the trees appeared to stretch to a natural canopy and sheltering the tired traveler. It was like entering into an endless tunnel where I can see no end. I was serenaded as the cool air whistled through the trees and the leaves sashayed with the caress. The cicadas or crickets rubbing a prayer in the distance, and the birds chirruped in whispers. The un-orchestrated nature’s symphony seemed to soothe the beat of life. My pace just slowed down; there was no need or anything to rush for as I stopped by time and again to enjoy the moment of reading the literature, breathing and smelling the air, appreciating the sculptures, the canons appeared going ballistic into history, and the street lights and chairs just reminded me of a magical scene in The Witch, The Lion and The Wardrobe.
The short walk was good and refreshing. I turned back to where I started, feeling light and carefree. As I descended the timeless tunnel with ease this time, I appreciated the decision to slow the pace of life and enjoyed certain moments in a journey, no matter how short it would be.
I would be back to touch up this piece of literature when the mood comes to reminisce the good feelings at Fort Canning Park.