No, seriously…F-1 had races through the streets of Singapore.
Before I understood what that meant, I thought it was pretty cool. Personally, the idea of watching someone else drive a car at 100 mph doesn’t really appeal to me…I’d rather be the one driving 100 mph. But racing through the streets seemed kind of cool and unique as opposed to watching cars go around and around on an oval track.
Then last week I got a taste of what that ACTUALLY meant. The road closures, the increased police presence (watching soldiers walk around Boat Quay with M-16’s doesn’t actually make me feels safer, it kind of just freaks me out), the fact that I had major issues getting to places I had to be multiple times, and the NOISE.
On Wednesday of last week, on impulse, I wanted to go to the Asian Civilizations Museum. So we packed up Ella and got a cab. Only to be dropped off a few blocks away because they were constructing the barriers on the roadside for F-1.
The road closures weren’t that big a deal…we had to keep asking people how to get to the museum, but we found it. In the end, it was easier to walk behind the museum to the Boat Quay, over a bridge to Ravi’s work and take the MRT subway home. Which ended up being a good thing as one of our summer deluges hit at some point in the one stop of the subway during which we were underground. We camped out in that mall for quite some time, and then got a cab home so I could get E organized before leaving for quiz night (when I get home after her bedtime).
On Thursday, we were trapped far from F-1 at the ION Orchard Mall by yet another rain storm. But there were F-1 reps standing around the mall, handing out fans with glow stick handles to the little kids to advertise the event, and to entice parents into buying F-1 tickets. While I was not convinced to do anything other than go on a shopping spree at KinoKuniya (the bookstore), E thought this was among the best gifts ever.
On Friday, I wanted to go back and take pictures in the daylight of the lantern creatures, or at least of the signs (other than mouse, because as Paula pointed out, the sign should have read “rat” for Chinese Zodiac and I already had that one), but they were totally torn down. Men were taking blow torches to the metal structures that had been holding up the lantern figures to further break them down. But once we’d been wandering around, I decided to wait for Ravi to get off work and join and us for dinner. So we just sort of hung out and people watched.
I played around with my shutter speed mode of my camera, and extended shots, and was super excited to get this next picture. It’s taken from the opposite side of the river from Clarke Quay. In the right hand corner, you’ll see four giant poles lit up…those provide the structure for a thrill ride. A bungee cord is attached to each pole, and you sit in a seat in a thing attached to all four. They then basically slingshot you into the sky. If you look in the middle of the 4 poles, you’ll see two smaller vertical images…that is the pod people sit it (which is also lit up at night) and with the extended release, I was able to get an image that showed the up/down motion, which I think is really cool. I did catch it at the end, so you should know it also goes much higher–I desperately want to go on this, but R won’t go with me.
Around 8 or so, the noise started. And while this will sound stupid, I was surprised at how much it sounds just like on television. Only a LOT louder. And with no mute switch. We walked around a bit, waiting for Ravi, and some of the bars were showing the race. It was fun, for about 10 seconds, to watch the view from the car as it raced through the city (from cameras either next to the driver or mounted on the car somewhere). Then I was kind of over it.
After dinner Ravi needed to grab something from his work, which is right by part of the F-1 path. So we shouted to each other as we walked there. We could see the cars race across a bridge from near his work, but it was too dark and everything was far too fast for me to get off a good shot, although not for lack of trying.
My blog buddy “Suddenly in Asia” took this video from right around where we were walking to R’s work. I mentioned to her that we probably walked by each other, and her (entirely accurate) response was that we probably walked by the entire population of Singapore that night. This is exactly how it sounds if you put your volume on max and imagine it coming at you from every angle.
On Saturday I made up the photography class I’d missed because of Sesame Street Live. Again, it was a bit difficult to get to the meeting point with road closures, but we also had to cut the class short as one of the sites we were going to photograph was inaccessible. Such is life in the big city during F-1. However, at one of the stops we did get to, I took this shot of the Stamford Raffles statue (Raffles is credited with having founded the city and you’ll find Raffles everything here…schools, MRT stops, malls, hotel, all named after him).
Yesterday, we had our class at the Merlion statue, which was also right by the grandstands. We finished up just as the race was starting. It goes without saying that I had trouble getting there, but after 3 days of hassles, I finally left early enough that I wasn’t late to anything. So that’s something. But I did take (along with other images, a shot that you only get to take when F-1 is in town, so maybe that makes the hassle worthwhile?). That’s the Esplanade Theater, commonly called “The Durians” because of its resemblance to the fruit, with the F-1 flags in front of it.
So locals–is this an every year thing, too?
A different local blog buddy “Jeff and Flora: Living in Singapore” had great seats for F-1 and posted an entry full of far better (and very up close) pictures that you should go check out. Below is the video they took of the start of the race, using an Android phone.