At the very start of the summer I flew across Europe, the familiar arable landscapes of western Europe shifting gradually to countries further east than I had ever seen. We veered southeast, cruising over the vast steppes of Asia before soaring across the width of India (oh, such bright and unending celestial skyscapes I have never seen before nor since!) The plane swooped down over the Indian Ocean, hugging the coast of Thailand, then Malaysia, finally landing on a clear, moist night at Changi Airport. My parents greeted me in the arrivals hall, glimpsing the pair of us through a glass screen before they could embrace us. By the time we had retrieved our cases and hailed a taxi, the sky was already tinged with the first mauve of dusk. The twisting limbs of jacaranda trees lined the roads towards the city, a snatch of pale blue sea visible through their braided spines. The air was thick and humid, heavy with the scent of jasmine and frangipane. Already my preconceptions were knocked clear from my head – the visions I’d harboured of Singapore as a bleak, aseptic state smudged clean in a moment.
Only now, as the season is ending, do I feel the sudden impulse to write about it all. What we saw, what we ate, what we sniffed on the breeze. I’d planned to write theses while I was there, packed notebooks and pens wholesale, but almost as soon as I landed, my mind (and nose) were struck dumb by an unflagging cold that knocked the words right from my head. So here I am, ten weeks later, picking up the pieces, attempting to document and remember. More to come. Soon.