For the first 9 years of my life in Singapore, I was what was referred to as a westie. I lived in the very west of Singapore, known for the universities, factories and being far away from civilisation. Living in the west meant living in a separate world, away from the hubbub of both the city centre and my family in the east.
University was its own world. Most of our activities revolved around the university campus, and the occasional trips outside were real adventures. We were content in our little bubble, and for four years, it didn’t feel like being in the west so much as being on a whole different island.
Upon graduating, I ended up house-hunting with a group of PhD students from the university, which meant my new home was not very far from the previous one. Again, it didn’t matter too much because my place of work was still in the west, but now that I had more time to visit my family, I began feeling the slight pinch of living so far away. Travelling home meant taking an hour-long bus ride each way, so the visits started getting restricted to special occasions.
My sister-in-law tried a lot to convince me to move to the east, but work kept me where I was. As a teacher, I had to leave for work at 6am, and I couldn’t imagine what living further away would do to my already fragile sleep cycle. Besides, when I moved again (to a house even further west than the previous one), the area around it started seeing a lot of activity. Within a year, we had four large functional malls (I never understood the logic behind having so many malls in close proximity to each other, but it meant more choice when we had to pick a place to eat at, so I wasn’t complaining), a hospital and generally, a lot more hustle and bustle than is usually expected of a non-central location. There was no need for me to ever get out of the west. Everything was available. I was satisfied.
When I quit my job as a teacher, though, I had no reason not to move eastwards, so that is what I did. I live literally five minutes from my family now – a huge, huge bonus – in a place so east it has the word in its name. Less than a year of being here, and I love everything about it. It’s more residential, so there are fewer tall buildings and more quaint houses, the roads are wider and it’s quiet, so you’re not always listening to traffic. At the same time, it’s actually closer to the city centre than the west, so it doesn’t feel as cut off from all the action. It does feel hotter on this side of the island, for some reason, but it’s a compromise I’m willing to make for the star attraction – the east has a beach.
The beach has been a source of much joy in my time in this country. Apart from beautiful views, I’ve enjoyed many walks along the waterside, barbecues with friends, family picnics with homemade food and card games, and evenings spent cycling along the coast all the way to the eastern tip of the island to watch planes take off. I live within walking distance of it, so there’s no excuse for not spending more time there, but as it often happens, the closer you are to a nice place, the less you visit it. My goal for however much longer I live here is to visit the beach at least once in two weeks, if not for a particular activity, then just for the cool breeze on my face and the sound of waves lapping on the shore.
Man, this post came out longer and more lovey-dovey than it expected it to. I guess there’s no better proof that I’m a full-blown eastie now.