Living alone on social media : the diary
Day #1 : The heat of the night
The first thing I want, before even to get the Nokia Lumia at the airport, is to have a taste of the air, and of the heat… I still have my ski jacket on me, and want to forget about Europe’s snowy winter. Even the Airbus A380 had to have his wings unfrozen so as to take off from London!
The first contact is then very friendly with AKA Asia’s girls, who took me to Chinatown for the briefing and my very first Tiger beer. Yes, it’s definitely good to be here after being a little bit stressed by the whole adventure. The first night was offered to me by Beary good hostel in Chinatown… You know, sometimes you fell you’ll have a preferred spot in a city you visit, and Chinatown was already marking a few points with its food, its heritage houses and the atmosphere.
Day #2 : Orchard (how d’you say it ?)
I remember exactly this first day of not having yet much to do, at least for the morning, and one wish : just go and walk in the city to discover the surroundings, without looking too much on the map. During my first two hours I had to walk slowly : I had so many new information to gather, my brain couldn’t work quickly enough ! Buildings, roads, trees, sounds, brightness, odours… all the environment was puzzling my senses.
Then, my first encounters with local brands : Penhaligon’s fragrance, on Orchard Rd, and Peek-tures cameras, on Arminian St. Both were very friendly and eager to talk about their trade, which was really interesting, I LOVE people knowing their brands, their specifivity and able to talk of it for hours ! It was also the opportunity to walk in the City and feel the atmosphere of my only Saturday afternoon in Singapore… are you all doing shopping all time :) ?
Saturday, means Saturday night ! Mine was quite special. At first I thought it could be nice to go clubbing with Singaporeans. But AKA Asia had planned for me a very special night with ACRES Association, who takes care of wildlife in the city. The night rescue team assistant I’ve been for a few hours impressed me strongly : the night was so hot, so humid, the Qian Hu Fish Farm was so remote, and who could have known of all these Indian workers sleeping over there ? I felt as a total alien.
Day #3 : walking Singapore
No time to sleep after the ACRES Night, but an exhausting and interesting Sunday would make me discover more of Singapore !
First, with a Malay wedding in Sengkang. What an amazing experience ! Compared to a European wedding party, it looked to me more casual, more open, more connected to the neighbourhood, and as a whole more noisy and plenty of colours ! Lucky me, with a double wedding, and as many costumes of Prince and Princess…
Then, a 4h-walk in the city to reach Dakota… Without an EZ Card, without water, and still wishing to make a trek in the city, I had a marvelous but tiring walk, between local HDBs, big roads and different communities. The way the city is built by clusters around MRT stations is an ever-ending surprise. How can town-planning be so sharp ? Coming from an old European city where streets are narrow and crooked, this is truly amazing.
Then, two food court rendez-vous as I like them ! The two guys who had invited me to eat at the Old Airport Road Market saw me drink one liter of sugar canne in one minute ! Seeing the queue for the locally famous Soy bean curd stressed for me how you guys like food :-) but you convinced me and am now desperately seeking a food court nearby ! A last rendez-vous would make me meet with two sisters in Newton Circus, with (again), a free and delicious meal, and a great talk of 2 or 3 hours than only tiredness would end.
Day #4 : From the Courseway to the HDBs
A short night of sleep in Chinatown, and I would be again on the streets (with already 3 more bags of gifts !), for my very first TV interview with Channel News Asia ! It feels odd to be at the same time a « can man » supposed to live alone on social media as a modern times adventurer, and to be interviewed on a very clean TV set with nice speakers…
Then, a ride in town with Daniel, who kindly took me up to the Courseway, as I insisted I wanted to see the northern tip of Singapore and a sight of another country : Malaysia. I felt, in a way, like a pionneer, being able to see a new land but not to go there. Another reason to come back :) I really liked the ride and the talk, of a local dude waiting for his still-building HDB with his girlfriend.
We ate at restaurant Cocotte, a French piece of fresh food and spirit located in Little India, then stayed in the area for the project that impressed me the most in the week : the Soup Kitchen. The reason for this is the capacity of a few people to make in a few hours 100 meals. Then, the distribution of food in the nearby HDBs was for me a way to discover an authentic though not fortunate part of the city, with the notorious « quotas » of Chinese, Malay and Indian respected strictly. In Europe, we have unfortunately totally separated foreign-born populations from the local-born.
The evening was a very festive one ith the Opening Party of the Social Media Week. At last (or so soon ?) I was to meet the full set of my organizers and patrons ! Funny thing, after 4 days of discoveries and local people, to connect again with my fellow « social geeks », and to be welcomed as the evening guy to make a picture with ! But again, much kindness, openness and smiles. I feel like an escapee of old and grim Europe in a happy place.
Day #5 : On the 5th day, thou shall sleep
Can man live on social media alone AND a hangover ? It proved really difficult, especially with another challenge to achieve from 10 to 2 with Food from the heart. As far as I understand, much of local charity is sponsored by the state and its agencies. Again, I feel like the state here is willing to maintain a form of control on another pan of people’s lives. Had a great lunch with Shami, the local help, who came back from Japan. Again, a very eye-opening talk when you feel both familiar and foreign to what happen !
At 3, « Canned Man » would give anything for a bed ! Eventually, Matchbox Hostel saved me and offered one of their capsule bed :) Not much to say about this day as I slept most of the time !!
Day #6 : Media and Defence
In better condition than the day before, I began to see the end of the trip… Here my feelings were really mixed. On the one hand, I was really willing to stay in Singapore a bit more. How could I not with all these nice people, great food, and so much to see and understand ? On the other hand, I felt really tired with busy days, short nights, and a weather bearable but that would eventually require much energy to resist.
An interesting piece of the day was the hour spent with Power89 FM, the radio station for the youth. How come would it be located in a Defence Area ? Why would we access the broadcast room through biometric doors ? I’m quite impressed of the hand that Singapore hold on media. Hopefully, social media seems to be considered as a « free zone » :-)
Day #7 : The end of the experiment
Last day… and a marathon of media events ! First, the Social Media Week event with SImon Kemp (We are social), Siew Hoon (Web in Travel) and Ari from Nokia. What a relief to feel the experiment is being closed with this event… I’m really tired, and I feel that staying open to social media and people for on full week without much of a rest is really an experience !
More interviews in the afternoon, without, however, the feeling to repeat myself too much. Each media seems to have its own point of view, idea and questions about the CanMan event, and it feels good, as a social media agent in France, to think again and again on the implications of such an experiment.
I spent my lasy hour eating, alone because tired and with little time, at the Banana Leaf in Little India… Then, a last MRT ride thanks Marina Bay Sands EZ Card, and a long, long flight back to Europe.
Day #8 : Coming back… for long ?
How to handle the return home from such a crazy, rich and dense week ? I was both smiling and feeling like I would cry a bit while going through the airport, then the tube, then the train back to Paris. I was thinking I had, in a week, been 40 000ft high in planes, 250ft undersea, 10 000km away, with dozens of different and kind people, from various part of the cities, Chinese, Malay, Indians, Koreans, French, English, Italian, and 6 meals a day :)
In addition, this trip was for me a first « reality-check » as I was considering moving in Asia to find a new job, and a new challenge. Now, I have a few ideas to develop for you local brands, agencies and medias, so… see you soon !
Martin Pasquier “Can Man” :)