It’s late on a Saturday night and I’m suffering from travel withdrawal, so I decide to meet a friend for supper by the beach – sitting on a stone bench with takeaway bags of satay, barbecued chicken wings, and stingray. I watch the planes line themselves parallel to the shore, one after another, and turn on their landing lights.
“Let’s go to the jetty,” I say. I want to get that little bit closer to the planes. Crazy, I know.
Bedok Jetty, at 10pm on a Saturday night, is packed. Turns out, this is one of the most popular fishing spots in the country. While in the daytime it’s occupied by leisure-seekers on rental bicycles and inline skates, at night the length of the concrete platform is lined with tents and tarpaulin and men with their fishing poles. Men with focused faces as they cast their lines or converse in low voices, waiting for something to bite. Some of them have brought their families along, but even the children know that music and raucous laughter are forbidden at this party.
We walk all the way to the end where I find a gap in the fence of anglers and we wedge ourselves in place, out of place. I pick out the Southern Cross climbing from the horizon. Beyond the waves shifting on the shore I can actually make out the roar of jet engines. It is that quiet.
Just then another sound floats in: wheels trundling on brick. I turn to find an old couple pushing trolleys, makeshift vending carts. “Snacks and hot drinks,” announces the lady in a barely audible voice, and they park beneath a lamppost. Immediately the drowsy partygoers begin drifting to the cart, ostensibly for some hot kopi to ward off the chill. The uncle and auntie are welcome gatecrashers, gratefully received.
I’m tempted to get something too, but I’m already drunk on the night air and I lean against the railing holding me back from the sea, lean against the warmth of my friend beside me. Here the high will outlast the ones in the city fueled by music and booze. Here the anglers, with their many slick lines, will play till dawn.