Run along with me
It doesn’t take much to sweat when you run in Singapore, even if it’s six in the morning.
My feet pound the concrete of the downtown street. Tall buildings festooned with living plants are all around me as I progress from my Holiday Inn Atrium hotel toward the Great World Mall on Kim Seng Road. Shortly before the mall, however, the road crosses a canal that has a bike path along it. Right before the bridge, I turn right onto the path.
I learn a lot about a place by going on morning runs. Not only do I learn the lay of the land, I also get to intuit something about the culture. And sometimes, I gain new insights and perspectives on life.
Observations along the way
The first thing I notice is how few people are out in the morning on a Sunday. For a major metropolitan area, Singapore seems a little sleepy this morning. The sounds of traffic are muted and sporadic. Even though I’m running beside apartments, I don’t see many people exiting the high-towered buildings.
The night before, hordes of people crowded the major shopping and dining areas of this city. Perhaps Singaporean culture wakes up at night and sleeps in late.
I pass several women out jogging or pushing baby carriages. Apparently Singapore is safe for women to be out by themselves. Most of the faces are Chinese or Malay, and I see one woman with bright blonde hair, perhaps an expatriate from Scandinavia?
Variety around every bend
This is a multi-cultural city. Although the Chinese-heritage Singaporeans predominate, people from all over the world gather in this place. During one short stroll through a mall recently, I heard German, Chinese, Indonesian, Korean, and, of course, Singlish, the musical-sounding English mixed with Malay or Chinese words spoken by the citizens.
I round a bend and suddenly come upon a homeless person sleeping on a bench alongside the path. I’m surprised because I haven’t seen any homeless people or beggars in Singapore until now. I wonder what programs exist here for helping those who are struggling.
The tropical humidity is starting to get to me as I wend my way down the canal. Leaving the apartments and getting into the restaurant and mall district, I catch glimpses of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel that dominates the horizon.
A small group of six to eight bicyclists pass me, one of them equipped with a radio pulsing some rock music. It looks like some kind of cycling club or group of friends though their gear is not as professional as biking groups I see in my hometown in California.
The next stretch of trail leads through a string of small restaurants: Japanese, Indian, Dim Sum, and even a Mongolian Barbecue. Very trendy. One of our friends told us that the main hobby of Singaporeans is eating. They do it well!
Finally, the path opens out on the bay and I have to choose to cross a big bridge to the left toward the Esplanade or go right heading toward the Shoppes at Marina Bay. I choose the Esplanade, blown away by the futuristic buildings with the picturesque Ferris Wheel off to the right.
I take the trail on the other side of the canal on the way back. Since I’m only across the canal, I recognize landmarks and different twists and turns of the trail. I am already beginning to feel like I know the area a bit. I don’t stop to take pictures on the way back.
New insight + unexpected, astonishing truth
Maybe this represents a truth of life.
Humans have a need to go down new paths in life, to be surprised by something around the next bend. Once we’ve gone down a path, it’s easy to get used to it. We don’t pay attention as much if we know what is coming up.
I reach the steps leading up to our hotel. I wonder what I’ll discover on my next run?
Have you ever run in another culture like this? If so, what was your experience like?
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