Sound of Silence

With most of the world under some form of lockdown, it’s been a strange time for a lot of people. Governments have been trying to avoid the negative connotations of the word “Lockdown” and have come up with creative terms and acronyms to describe this. We hear of “Shelter At Home”, “Movement Control Order” and the most unusual term used by the Singapore government; “Circuit Breaker”.

Singapore’s “Circuit Breaker” is really a soft lockdown, where while schools, shops, restaurants and most businesses are closed, we still are allowed go out of our homes for essential tasks and to exercise without extreme restrictions. For most people cooped up at home most of the day due to Work From Home and Home Based Learning for school children, cabin fever can be a stress point for many people. So in the evening, you will find more people than usual exercising in the parks. I’ve never seen so many people suddenly taking a collective interest in jogging. It was a also time for me to catch up on my cycling and get some exercise while keeping to social distancing requirements.

With the massive drop in economic activities and vehicle traffic, the most busy and iconic parts of Singapore have become a post-apocalyptic ghost town, much like many of the other cities in the world. So it was a breeze to cycle from my home to Marina Bay via Orchard Road one evening. These 2 areas are the most popular parts of Singapore with tourists and locals crowding every square meter on a normal day. Cycling through the now empty and silent streets was at times surreal and eerie. Here are some photos I took along the ride.

Where have all the young girls gone? First stop at the outskirt of Orchard Road is Orchard Towers. For those not in the know, this notorious place also known as “4 floors of whores” is where you’ll find bars filled with girls (and transvestites) from the surrounding Asian countries selling their love. It’s a pretty popular place with tourists, expats and visiting navy sailors.
The iconic Apple store along Orchard Road is all lit up but without a soul in sight. Suddenly the latest iPhone model is not a priority anymore.
The Cathay Building was built in 1939 and was the tallest building in Singapore and South East Asia at that time. It had 11 floors and an air-conditioned cinema. Today, it has been refurbished, retaining the art deco style front facade. It still has a cinema catering to art films, but it has been dwarfed by surrounding skyscrapers.
The Capitol, a neoclassical style heritage building built in the 1930’s. As with the Cathay Building, The Capitol housed an air-conditioned cinema. Today, the building has been restored with a cinema, shops and a luxury hotel. But tonight, the cinema is dark, the shops are closed and the hotel is empty.
The Victoria Concert Hall was built in memory of Queen Victoria. It was first built in 1862 with new buildings added at the start of the 20th century. The music has stopped for now. So while we hit the pause button, it’s time to reflect on this quiet scene.
A deserted Anderson Bridge. This steel girder bridge was built in 1910 and named after the Governor of the Straits Settlements at that time, Sir John Anderson. The bridge is divided into 2 sides, one for pedestrians and the other for vehicles.
The deserted Merlion Park which is normally filled with tourists and locals wanting to get that cliché shot where the Merlion is spewing it’s water into their open mouths.
The iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel is empty and dark. Selected rooms are lit up to form the SG Cares logo. Without the numerous tourist boats plying the bay, the water is still and the reflection from the lights is stunning.
A panoramic view of Marina Bay with intense reflections due to the very still water surface.
The Helix Bridge which was inspired by the human DNA structure. This is probably one of the most unusual and prettiest bridges in Singapore. There were many joggers out to escape cabin fever that evening.
The Central Business District of Singapore with the new Marina Bay Financial Center on the left. Despite the Work From Home order, it seems that many offices are still open and working late into the evening.
On the way back home through Boat Quay. This is another popular hangout for workers in the CBD where you’ll find bars and restaurants. But tonight it’s all quiet with the still waters of the Singapore River reflecting the lights of the skyscrapers.

6 thoughts on “Sound of Silence

  1. It’s a radically different sight to see – the notorious “Four Floors” being devoid of its usual denizens. Methinks the lorongs of Geylang would be the same too.

  2. I can imagine how eerie that would be: silence in a city that’s normally bustling. And yes, it took all this to change our priorities a bit – though surprisingly many are still going to the hairdresser even though they are at home 24/7. Like, who cares about your roots, isn’t that a bit superficial?! 😁 And over here too, an incredible jogging boom!

  3. Oh my gosh these are beautiful pictures. Goosebumps here…
    And you’re right, suddenly the latest Iphone model is not a priority anymore. Even the cracked toilet tank in my master’s bedroom could wait, and the broken kitchen hood and dryer. They don’t seem to matter… Now we got to see the real priorities in our lives. And one thing is for sure, I am so lucky to be in Singapore when all this pandemic is happening.

    Hope you’re having a great week, Edwin. 🙂

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