Last week, I was away from home, jaunting through the busy streets of Bangkok. Strangely enough, this was my first visit to the Thai capital, despite it being a crazy-popular tourist destination and a mere two-hour flight away. Singapore already has me complaining about the permanent summer to no end. What more for a city that averages a good 32 degree Celsius?
But the weekend all turned out better than I expected. A cap came in very handy, and it even rained heavily on Day 2. When the sun did shine, there were tons to do. Mostly, we trawled the many stalls for street food like pork skewers and Pad Thai, which were somewhat worth the scorching heat.
Well, somewhat. A huge part of me was still averse to the sensory overload, typical of many Asian cities. Massive crowds met the unending traffic of pink taxis and green tuk-tuks, particularly during the evening rush.
Our first morning back in Edinburgh, from the Scottish Highlands tour, began with an authentically Scottish breakfast at a Bella Italia. The server sang his way into the kitchen and returned with two plates of mushrooms and eggs, complete with tasty haggis and square sausages.
Full and satisfied, we left the café to the greetings of clear skies. The sun was out – lucky us – and it was finally beginning to feel like summer in the city. Perfect weather in sight, we had just one plan in mind: to hike the famed Arthur’s Seat.
Salisbury Crags proved mildly trying for a first-time hiker like myself. (Hey, to be fair, the tallest spot in Singapore is a 163-metre hill… which I had never climbed.)
There is a scene in That 70s Show, where the gang listens to a playback of their ‘clever’ conversations in the basement and realises the truth: they sound completely inane. Life with my sister feels just like that. One episode of our constant sitcom unfolded on the overnight train from London to Edinburgh. We sat on our beds in the tiny cabin, with a sealed window at its side. Alysa started inspecting our four-walled room.
“Is there ventilation?”, she – a frequent flyer – questioned earnestly. “Can we breathe in here?”
“You will not suffocate, Ma’am,” the train attendant replied with care, perhaps suspicious of candid cameras, before he volunteered a tour of the ventilation vents.
With the certainty that I would be mocking her for months to come, we made it to Scotland without further hopeless inquisition. My patience was rewarded the moment we set foot on Princes Street.
I fell in love with Edinburgh. It was like stepping into two places at once: A museum of artefacts unchanged by time, and a glimpse of a future apprised by rich history.
The End. A portentous farewell looms over Ozzy’s stage awash with violet… and we once thought it would never end.
The last decade saw us tire from bidding adieu to legends. Dio, BB King, Lemmy, Bowie – mere mentions still sear like fresh open wounds. As rock veterans from Aerosmith to Zeppelin start making their goodbyes count, the end of an era seems less preposterous than inevitable.
So, we did it. My sister Alysa and I travelled 7,000 miles from Singapore to the United Kingdom, ready to be ankle-deep in mud for Black Sabbath’s final tour – at Download Festival 2016.