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Jan 1, 2009

Marina Bay Countdown 2009 .. How I Squeezed and got Squeezed

I'm not a sucker for crowded event, but last night I made my way to Marina Bay for Countdown 2009.

After an enjoyable steamboat session with my subordinate and ex-subordinates colleagues from the Mainland, we trooped to the Bay area.

We stopped for photo-shoot along the way. My Mainland subordinate colleague touched down less than a week ago, so he was trying to capture some night shots of our city. This was my attempt on Raffles Hotel.

Raffles Hotel

As we turned left into Bras Basah Road from Beach Road, I could see pockets of people making their way to Suntec City. We saw the 'chopstick' across the junction. I'm not sure whether Mainlanders understand sook-ching, so I told him that is a memorial for massacre victims and I added - "like Nanking Massacre".

We took the CityLink to the Esplanade and the first sign of what was to come greeted me. The police closed the underground entrance to the building. So everybody was made to exit on the side of Esplanade Park, across the road from the Esplanade.

Since our main purpose was to enjoy the fireworks and not the crowd, we continued along Esplanade Drive to find a suitable spot. The whole Esplanade Bridge was infested abound with people.

Esplanade Drive

The police had blocked access to the road before the bridge. There was no way to get to the Esplanade side and once you're on the bridge, there's no way to cross-over to the other side.

Esplanade Drive was closed from 8pm to 2am for the countdown event. I was on the bridge around 11pm.

Esplanade Drive

The bridge was infested crowded all right, but looking back on what happened last night after the bridge, it wasn't too bad. At least we could still move.

Many people settled down on the bridge. They might had thought the bridge was the best location for the fireworks. Or they might had given up.

Esplanade Drive

I thought the crowd situation at Merlion Park or One Fullerton would be better, given the countdown epicentre was at Marina Bay Floating platform.

Bleah, what a miscalculation.

The monster was after the Esplanade Bridge. Just before Esplanade Drive and Fullerton Drive converge, there's a pedestrian crossing. Two human streams - from Esplanade Bridge and The Fullerton Hotel - flowed, or tried to flow, into Marina Bay One Fullerton.

It was a terrifying sight and experience. The human stream became stagnant here. You couldn't advance or retreat. In the distance a policeman was gesticulating wildly for people to move back from One Fullerton.

Moments before crowd moment stopped completely, I was actually relishing the experience of squeezing people and getting squeezed. There was no violent shoving. In fact I do not remember any skin contact or anybody breathing on my neck. It helped that a girl was constantly in front - and not some burly male dripping with sweat.

Fullerton Drive

When moment got frozen, I imagined having to countdown from this uncomfortable position in the middle of the road. Unforgettable, but no thanks. Luckily the gesticulating policeman was successful. The group in front was persuaded to return.

Amazingly, when they turned back, our moment resumed! We were on the One Fullerton side in no time. Those people were foreign nationals and I suppose you can find them at construction sites. I'm inclined to blame them for the inconvenience. Even my Mainlander subordinate colleague was surprised at their number in Singapore.

One Fullerton was another public viewing location for the fireworks and the whole area had been cordoned off by the police, who thought it unwise to allow more people into the area. Standing outside, I looked at the crowd behind the cordon and in the restaurants.

My eyes were green with envy.

**********



After the fireworks display, there was an exodus to the MRT station. I was like huh, why's everybody so pragmatic? There was no public celebration, nobody's dancing and before 12:10am, the exodus had began. The fireworks was 7 minutes long and everybody was there just for the fireworks.

Train service was extended into the wee-hours. At 12:20am, I was in Raffles Place Station together with other, ahem, revelers.

Raffles Place MRT

It was then I witnessed the true operational capability of our SMRT. You didn't know they can be that efficient until you witnessed the countdown for their train. Trains were practically queuing up to ferry the revelers home.

You feel cheated during normal peak hours, don't you?

Raffles Place MRT

5 comments:

Victor said...

Aw, why no photos of the fireworks?

Adelin Lok said...

double aw,
why no pictures of the glam fireworks?

yg said...

icemoon, a mostly young people crowd at the countdown, right? i had asked my daughter if she was going to marina bay. her reply: siow, ah, go there to squeeze with so many people.

Icemoon said...

Haha, good question. The fireworks merit another post by itself. Hehe.

yg, Ida is smart. Actually I didn't expect so many people, but the result in the end was worth it.

Stay tuned.

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