“Sorry, I can’t watch Thor: Ragnarok with you in the morning.”
H tried to hide his disappointment. Thor was a big deal. IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes both rated the movie highly.
“What about in the evening after your event?”
I thought about it. If you’ve been reading my blog, you’d know that I try to avoid the movie-going crowd. That meant watching the movie in the morning. I’ve had the annoying experiences of telling people to switch off their phones since the light glared at me, had a sneakered foot shoved on my arm rest, had my chair repeatedly kicked from behind, and had popcorn thrown at me by kids fooling around. Should I give Singapore movie-goers a chance?
“Ok,” I reluctantly agreed.
Around 11 am, I left to get my ticket to the Singapore Writer’s Festival. I still didn’t understand why I couldn’t have an electronic ticket in a country where you can pay with your mobile and the MRT customer service advises people to contact them via Whatsapp. Instead SISTIC, the equivalent of Ticket Master, required me to find authorized agents and collect my ticket from them, not even from the event venue.
I chose Plaza Singapura since it was above the Dhoby Gaut MRT where I could catch the connecting train.
“Sorry, Madam. Our printer cannot print your ticket because it has 5 digits. I would suggest to go to the nearest agent,” the apologetic Customer Agent informed me after punching numbers repeatedly.
I took a deep breath. It was fine. I still had 2 hours to go.
“Where would the nearest agent be?” I asked
“At 313 Somerset, one station back. But I would suggest calling them first.”
Great. I thanked her, fished out my phone and called the Concierge at Somerset. Yes, they could print my ticket.
I ran down the escalators, apologizing, and berating people to stand on the left.
Arrived at Somerset. I rushed down to the basement. And another basement. And another. I walked around. Didn’t see the concierge. I decided to go back up. On the escalator, I turned to a guy wearing the uniform of a food stall and asked him where Concierge was.
He gave me startled look.
“I don’t know,” he said.
Right. Directory then. Found the Concierge and got my tickets.
Should I eat or not? It was a 3-hour event, might as well go to the nearest fast food place. Queued at Yoshinoya. Ten minutes later, I was debating with myself whether to go elsewhere. The lone staff was incredibly slow. Finally, my turn. I ordered a beef vege bowl, a la carte. Nope, no drink. I waited. And waited. I saw the bowl. The staff served the next customer.
“Is that my bowl,” I finally asked when he started loading the other customer’s tray.
He blinked, turned, took my bowl from the counter and placed it on my tray.
I wolfed down the food.
I had an hour left.
Google Maps said it would take 20 minutes to get there by train. I got on the train and followed the directions according to Google Maps.
I got lost. I walked around and couldn’t find the street. The indicator on the map told me I was in the area. I asked a cleaning guy where the Esplanade was.
“This is the Esplanade,” he said.
“Is there another bus stop?” I asked.
He pointed at the bust stop in front.
“No, the bus I need don’t stop here.”
“Take a taxi,” was his helpful reply. I shook my head. Not spending money on a 7-minute taxi ride. I did that before and the 7-minute turned to 15 minutes because of the traffic.
“Other bus stop, behind,” the cleaning guy waved his arm indicating the general direction.
I thanked him and power-walked.
Yes! I saw the bus stop in front of the Esplanade Mall.
Saw the bus but wasn’t sure. I jumped onboard and asked the driver if it was going past my stop.
He started talking in Chinese, most likely Mandarin. I showed him the Google Map instructions. He turned to the passenger on the front and spoke to him. The guy responded in Chinese.
“Anyone here speak English?” I asked the few passengers on board.
They gave me a blank look.
Darn it, I have to start learning Mandarin. I’ve already been stopped several time by people asking me stuff in Mandarin and I couldn’t respond.
I got out of the bus.
Google said the other buses should arrive in 2 minutes. Then my phone froze and I had to restart. 15 minutes before the event started. Another bus stopped. I think it was my bus. Samsung was still restarting. I took a chance.
I asked the driver if he was going Opposite the Treasury Building. He paused a bit.
“After City Hall?” he asked.
I wasn’t sure but I did remember it was supposed to be walking distance from the City Hall MRT.
“Yes,” I said.
He nodded. I sat at the back where I could see the ticket scanner since it showed the stop on screen. Finally, my phone worked.
The bus passed the City Hall MRT. I blasted Google in my head. My stop was literally one stop after the City Hall MRT. Google led me to the opposite direction. I thanked the driver and walked-ran. I turned the corner and saw the banners.
I managed to slide onto my seat with 2 minutes to spare.
“Does anyone here know who I am?”
The bearded man raised his tattoed arm. Very casual dude, I thought, taking in his green cargo short, the rainbow-colored Australian country on his t-shirt and his sandals.
He did remind of Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters.
I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t look into who the speaker was going to be. I saw World-building and signed up. Then the speaker introduced himself. He was fellow-Melburnian (transplanted from Perth), Jay Kristoff. He’s the author of the Lotus War series, the Illuminae Files, the Nevernight Chronicles, etc. and is an Australian New York Times bestseller.
He ran an interactive workshop. By that, I meant he rewarded us with kit kats each time we were brave enough to answer his questions. I was brave. I got 4 kit kats. =)
Other than having to share one bathroom for all the ladies, the venue was good. Cozy enough without being too cramped.
I managed to ask a few questions before I had to run off. I did take time to admire the Old Parliament Building on my way, snapped a photo of a bride and a groom being photographed and of a model wearing an elaborate dress around the corner from the bride and groom.
This time, I ignored Google and followed the signs. Got on the first train. Got off at Dhoby Gaut. An old woman waved her hands at me. Amidst the barrage of Mandarin, I caught the words City Hall. I looked around to check and pointed her to the right platform. She thanked me in English. Hah! I managed to help someone.
Finally, I arrived at the mall where I saw H pacing behind the ticket barriers at the train station.
We bought our movie tickets, had a small dinner, and went to enjoy the show.
The movie theatre was small but the faux leather seats were comfortable and wide. Even the distance between the seats were ample.
Thor: Ragnarok was a fitting end to an exhausting day. I laughed and fell in love with Korg, the rock alien in the movie.
Turned out he was the director, Taika Waititi, and the actor in that TV series H couldn’t get enough of, What We do in the Shadows.