It was September of the year 2012.
Mum, Dad, Nan, Pop and my Aunt all decided that they’d drag me along with them on a big family trip. The journey from Sydney airport to the airport of mystery was 6,302 kilometres. Hot all year round, the humidity averages at between 90 and 95% in September.
With sweat dripping down our necks and seeping into the cotton fabrics of our aeroplane journey clothing, we all gathered in the hotel lobby after dropping off our bags in the room, to head out and get some dinner. Some might say this city embraces cultures from all over the globe, and gives off a vibe from both East and West – which made it a tad difficult to choose where to eat with so many interesting cuisines on offer.
The city is filled with hundreds of high-rise buildings, fine architecture and many tourist attractions. Back then, I got the feeling that the place was a little desperate. Lacking any raw cultural essence – the kind where you see a family of three with their pets piled onto a scooter, and little shrines of dedication made from leaves and coloured paper at the front of a stall. None of that here. It was too city-like for my travel taste.
Each morning I would press down firmly on my deodorant can, hold my finger there for a good seven seconds before releasing and move on to the next armpit – before we would head out to get some shopping done.
This city is well known for it’s unusually large shopping centres. On Orchid road, we spent a whole day walking in and out of the air-conditioned cement buildings, before moving on to more interesting items in the local markets.
An awful smell attacked my nostrils as I entered the gateway of tables into the markets. A fruit that is well known for it’s stench sat idly by, minding its own business. But I was so tempted to try it.
Meet, The Durian… Smelly little bugger.
Later that evening, we went to a well-lit festive area right across from our hotel. The mid-Autumn lantern festival was in full swing, and Clarke Quay was lit up for tourists and locals to enjoy the festival of the moon-cake.
Wandering around the water, my family got a little side tracked – like moths drawn to a flame, we all became infatuated by the twinkling lights – and forgot to keep an eye on Pop. You see, when Pop is interested in his surroundings, he tends to wander off. It wasn’t long before I realised that Pop had gone missing.
So, the 5 of us split up.
My Dad and I took the right side of the river while my Mum and Aunt took the left. I sprinted over towards a little bridge, because I knew pop would be there, enjoying the sights and smells of the Lantern festival.
I was right. There he was, not even aware we were searching for him.
“Oh there you are pet!” He smiled kindly in my direction.
The next day we took a lengthy cab ride through the city to another little area known as Little India.
For a place called Little India, it looks clean, amirite?
Well, I guess that’s what you’d expect from a country with laws against spitting and chewing gum.
Submit your guesses below! I’ll give away more clues later this week.