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Drink some concrete and harden up

I really wanted to go downtown to see Singapore’s National Day celebrations while I was housesitting there in August 2018, but I was anxious about the crowds, especially the idea of getting home with millions of other people trying to do the same thing.

In the event I needn’t have worried because Singapore is an incredibly efficient country when it comes to moving people around.

I didn’t know that beforehand. After fretting a bit I decided to drink some concrete, harden up and get out there and enjoy it.

Where is the best place to see Singapore’s National Day Celebrations?

I watched the celebrations from the area in front of the Art Science Museum, which was pretty good. There were a lot of people there but it wasn’t hard to find a place to squeeze in.

I had done some research before I left which had the effect of making me worry there would be no space anywhere.

I went down a couple of hours before the celebrations were due to start, mostly because I wanted to capture a good shot of the woodpecker parents feeding their babies in the nest I had previously found in the Gardens by the Bay area.

I got talking to a guy who suggested I position myself right next to the platform where all the performances were taking place. I could see from the map that it was easily reached by crossing the Helix Bridge, but it turned out that bridge was closed and the only way across was to catch the train. I decided to stay on the Marina Bay Sands side.

Really I don’t think it matters that much where you end up. You’ll see most of it from most places. Being part of the crowd is the main thing, it’s such a buzz.

Spectacular Displays

The aerial displays by the various defence forces were absolutely spectacular.

Planes and choppers flew over in stunning formations, parachutists wearing wing suits came down in a blaze of red smoke and combat divers free fell into the water. It was all thoroughly marvellous and the crowd loved it.

The evening concluded with an outstanding fireworks display.

It never rains on National Day

I met a fabulous woman named Audrey who kindly let me occupy her rug.

I couldn’t have chosen a better tour guide. Audrey shared interesting snippets about Singapore and the celebrations all through the event.

I was especially intrigued when she told me it never rains on National Day because they seed the clouds in the days beforehand to make it rain, leaving National Day itself to enjoy perfectly fine weather.

“Everybody gets to enjoy today,” she said. “Nobody gets drenched.”

Getting Home

Before the celebrations I noticed police and security staff everywhere. I also saw that systems had been put in place to manage the unusually large amount of people. Combined with the polite way in which the Singaporeans conducted themselves during the celebrations, I started to relax about getting home.

It turned out I was right – there was absolutely nothing to worry about. Staff at the train station were controlling traffic flow, opening and closing various gates to let people through. I waited for a short time before my section was allowed through.

We all beeped our way through the gates and made our way to the platforms. A train came along and people flooded on, but there was a staff member positioned at every door controlling the crowd as the train got full and doors were about to close.

A minute later another train came along and I got on, following a young European boy who was thoroughly delighted by the whole experience, laughing manically as he and his family boarded the train in a crush of people.

10/10 would do again. If you find yourself in Singapore on National Day (9th August) go to the downtown area. It’s a heap of fun and nowhere near as stressful as you might think.

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(Updated 4 Dec 19)

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