Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Singapore is (finally) Opening Up!

Ovidia – every other Tuesday 

Today, in celebration of my 35th wedding anniversary (yes, I know that’s likely just a coincidence but I’m going to accept it as a gift anyway!) Singapore is finally moving towards a new phase of living with Covid-19!

Starting today (Tuesday March 29) mask-wearing outdoors is no longer mandatory on the island. It’s still ‘encouraged’ but no longer mandatory.

It might not sound like much, but after two years of restrictions, fines and safe distancing ambassadors patrolling us it feels huge!

Also, groups of up to 10 fully vaccinated people are now allowed to congregate in restaurants and private homes. Best of all where I'm concerned, live performances will be allowed again (super as I hope to have one play ‘Hitting (On) Women’ in a pop-up theatre venue!) and theatre capacity is raised to 75% (fantastic news for another July show!)

Other restrictions including travel are easing too—I’m finally daring to dream of traveling to Bouchercon and Crimefest again!

Seemingly in anticipation of restrictions easing, there were luminous waves on Changi Beach last night. I wasn't there, so these pics are off social media. (apparently it's caused by light-emitting plankton)

I heard there were over a hundred people on the beach—and after midnight it wasn’t even an illegal gathering!
Since I missed out on the beach I did a bit of a walkabout in the Chinatown area where I'd had a meeting. 

Mostly, the streets are still painfully empty. 

There's construction hoarding up--it feels like whenever there’s an economic downturn, official construction / reconstruction projects increase. 

One older 'Uncle' in a shop watching the news because there were no customers to watch told me, ‘Take whatever you want. What for I collect money? Maybe tomorrow World War 3 will start. Then we all die,’

Chinatown has always been a place where hard work meets hard realities. 
After all, this is where the samsui women lived.

As many as 200,000 Samsui women came to Singapore in the mid 1930s. They came from the Sanshui District (‘three waters’) of Guangdong and, before leaving China, took a vow to never marry. They wore large red head dresses as a symbol of that vow. They were respected for refusing to work in opium dens or as prostitutes and most found menial employment in construction.

They pretty much laid the foundations of today’s Singapore, and under far worse conditions than most of us will ever experience. And they did it because they had to—day by day, brick by brick. 

I was happy to see the Chinese checkers players are back. And though the five-foot way is considered 'outdoors' most are still wearing their masks.

But it’s also hard to stay negative in Chinatown.

Because Chinatown is all about survival--those are durians in the painting, by the way.

I love these wooden cake moulds--

Good luck charms--now with an emphasis on health!

And of course eateries and the promise of food. 

Again, it's really sad how empty these places are. But I'm hopeful it's all going to change soon. From today onwards.

When I went back to see the depressed Uncle in his shop, he had a grandson with him who'd made him switch off the news so he could watch cartoons. 

He seemed more cheerful but warned, 'How can Russia like that, nobody do anything? Then tomorrow, if China invade Singapore, also nobody do anything?'

'I don't China wants to invade Singapore,' I said. 'I'm sure not,'

He snorted. But this time he accepted payment for my dried burdock tea, which I think was a good sign.


  1. What a beautiful and poignant account of Singapore's Chinatown. Hoping for future walks on the beach and more through a livelier Chinatown.

  2. You certainly do know how to set a graceful scene, that eases on into making a surprising powerful point. Well done and Happy Anniversary, Madam Playwright.

  3. It's spring (well, in the north...) so, of course, all the 'flowers' are opening up. :-) Happy Anniversary, Ovidia.

  4. A very happy anniversary, Ovidia. Look forward to seeing you in Minneapolis.

    1. Thanks Stan, I’m so looking forward to traveling again and seeing everyone!