When one of your cousins scores free tickets to Ultra Singapore, you go. No questions asked. Just book return bus tickets to and from the little red dot, figure out accommodation, and get stoked as hell to see your family. That’s literally what happened two weekends ago. Chin che ~acquired~ a bunch of tickets for Ultra SG, told jie, and before I knew what was happening, I was in a bus headed down south at 10:30 am on a rainy Friday morning. I think I can safely say that this year, I’ve hit a new record with #YOLO-ing.
The bus ride was supposed to take just over 4 hours, but due to the holdup at Singapore’s customs, it took about 6 hours. Gah. Though I will say, the journey was pretty smooth on the whole. I had so much leg room! And it was nice to listen to ‘Sweater Weather’ by The Neighbourhood during actual sweater weather for once, since it rained the whole way down.
After hastily checking into G4 Station in Little India, the first order of business was to stop by the Cat Museum with Hai Ping. Because cats!
The kitten room was fairly populated, not with kittens, but with little kids – which made it a little hard to squeeze in any contact time with the felines, but we managed to give a few of the adults on the other floors of the museum a quick pat. There was this one really fluffy and nua ginger cat that purred like I’ve never heard a cat purr before, though.. I got to give him some chin scritches, which seemed to please him. After trying (and failing) to navigate the MRT, we eventually made our way to Mandarin Gallery, where we had dinner at Sacha & Sons! The latkes with pastrami and hollandaise were so damn tasty.
If you’re a fan of Scrubs, you’d get the deli reference 😛 We adjourned to Chinatown for beer at Smith Street Taps, which was frankly, a bit of a bitch to locate. Thankfully, the beer more than made up for the long walk we took to find the joint. We called it a night after that, and my first night at the backpacker’s was interesting, to say the least. I slept in an 8-bed mixed room, where 3 of the other occupants were, um, snoring quite loudly. I barely got any sleep, but hey, this is what roughing it out is all about! I’d never stayed at a backpacker’s before. Frankly, I’d do it all over again, sleep disruption and all. 😀
The following day, Hai Ping and I grabbed lunch at Bugis before heading over to Bayfront Avenue, right by Marina Bay Sands, for day numero uno of Ultra SG! We got in fairly quickly since it was still pretty early (just after 2pm, when DubVision were spinning). We walked around a little and checked out the stages that had been set up, as well as the f&b options. It had been 3 years since my last rave, and I’d forgotten how stupidly expensive f&b costs at events like these. SGD 12 for a Carlsberg? Ouch. If I were Australian, I’d say “Oi mate, yeah nah, get fucked.” Probably.
Anyway, it took quite some time for the festival grounds to fill up, partially due to the congestion at the entrance of the venue. My sister, cousin, and their friends were held up in line for over an hour! After everyone had made it in safely, we parked our butts at a sweet little spot not too close to the stage (it was muddy as hell up front), and not too far back either. It was humid, searing hot, crowded, but my God, it was fun. We got to watch W&W, Alesso, Afrojack, DJ Snake, and deadmau5!
4 out of the 5 Suans in the Ong family 😀 This was taken while Afrojack was spinning! Chin che had bought a VIP ticket for herself, which meant she had access to unlimited drinks – throughout the evening, she brought us Cokes, bottles of coconut water, and water, which would have cost us… a lot of money otherwise. Hahah! Thank goodness for that, truly, because it was so hot out. We’d heard about several patrons passing out from dehydration 😦 Water stations should have been set up across the venue instead of charging patrons 8 dollars for a bottle of Evian; hopefully next year’s festival will take its patrons wellbeing more seriously!
DJ Snake’s set proved to be less than enjoyable, so HP and I went to check out Gryffin, who was performing at the stage at the opposite end of the venue. It wasn’t super crowded, so we actually got to sit down and enjoy his set, which turned out to be far better than I’d ever expected! Once Gryffin wrapped up, we made our way back to the main stage to catch deadmau5. I was surprised to see lots of attendees walking in the opposite direction, though. Maybe a more mainstream act to close the first night would have been a better decision on the organisers’ part, I reckon if they’d swapped Afrojack or Alesso’s spot for deadmau5’s, the crowd would have stayed until the very end.
Seeing deadmau5 had been on my bucket list for the past five or six years, and now I can gladly cross it off! He played a really, really good set with some oldies like Avaritia, Strobe, and Ghosts N Stuff, along with a couple of tracks that I didn’t recognise. Rumour has it that he’ll be releasing a new album at some point! It was a huge pity that the signature Ultra symbol wasn’t lit up the entire night, supposedly due to a power trip.
After a whole day of standing around, some supper was definitely in order by the end of the night. After wolfing down some chicken rice and fried rice from the coffee shop opposite G4 Station, I managed to score a couple of hours of sleep – once again, the snoring from my roomies kept me awake for most of the night. Thankfully, it wasn’t as bad as the first night. I should probably also mention that staying at that hostel was my first experience in sleeping on a bunk bed! Gosh. #shelteredaf but hey, I’ve unlocked a new achievement, and for once, I’m happy I’m not taller, because I wouldn’t have been able to sit up comfortably in bed without my head touching the ceiling.
The following day, I ventured over to Orchard Road, where I met Sandy for brekkie!
We had a very tasty brekkie at Providore in Mandarin Gallery! I loved the decor there. I tried kombucha for the first time (another achievement unlocked), which basically just tasted like diluted apple cider vinegar. Always a grand old time seeing Sandy; belly laughs are guaranteed. The best part is, I’ll be seeing her (along with Keefe and Joan) in just under almost two weeks again!
After brekkie, I nipped back to the hostel to change clothes before HP and I made our way to Bayfront for day two of Ultra. The organisers had taken note of the negative feedback from the event’s patrons (and there was lots), and as a result, there appeared to be more staff present, the queues to enter the venue were better managed as were the f&b queues, and payment processes at the f&b and merch stalls were running smoothly.
The lineup for day 2 that we managed to catch consisted of Jauz, Marshmello, Carnage, Kygo, Above & Beyond, and Axwell ^ Ingrosso. Jauz wasn’t super memorable, but I do recall having a very d’oh moment where I made the connection between the animated sharks on the huge screens and his name… Sharks… Jaws… Jauz… Geddit? HAHAH. Marshmello and Carnage exceeded expectations, but the real fun started from Kygo onwards. It happened to be Kygo’s 25th birthday (what am I doing with my life, foreal), and his set was a nice mellow change from all the untz-untz we’d been listening to. Yay for tropical house!
The Suans during Kygo’s set 🙂 Just like the evening before, Chin che saved the day (and our wallets) by bringing us drinks – but this evening, we got to have some Moët, on top of water, coconut water, and cider! That said, I stupidly thought I could hold the cup in my mouth steadily to free up my hands, because I needed to take something out of my bag – so of course, I ended up spilling expensive booze on my top. Of course. =_=
As night fell, Above & Beyond took to the stage. Up until that point, I’d never listened to their music, but the two hours that followed were just incredible. Their entire set was such a pleasant surprise, and Suan Yean and I couldn’t get over how much fun we were having. They didn’t speak to the audience once, instead communicating with us through heartfelt and uplifting (read: cheesy) messages on the giant screens. It was utterly refreshing. And there were none of those horrible countdowns or “Everybody make it bounce!” samples that practically every DJ had included in their sets prior to Above & Beyond.. just solid music. I’m not sure if it was because this was the first taste I’ve had of their music or if it was the atmosphere or the combination of both, but Above & Beyond’s set made me feel something I hadn’t felt before. Truly one of a kind, these Brits.
After a whole day of waiting for my favourite acts to close the festival, Axwell (sans Ingrosso, who had an ear infection) started his set just after 9pm. It was incredible! Despite his sidekick being AWOL, Axwell held the fort. I nearly lost it when he played ‘Barricade’, I was ecstatic when he teased us with oldies like ‘Greyhound’, ‘One’, and ‘Antidote’, I danced my heart out when he played ‘Sun Is Shining’ and ‘Something New’. He even played ‘Levels’ by Avicii at one point, which was definitely a crowd-pleaser. I hadn’t danced (flailed, really) like that in ages! My only regret is not recording more videos on my phone because I was dancing so much. Well, there was that, and my phone was running out of space. Don’t get a 16GB phone, guys! The music, thumping bass, pyrotechnics, fireworks, and excitement from the crowd made for an incredible sensory experience. Words don’t do it justice!
90 glorious minutes later, Axwell ended his set, there was a mad rush to leave the venue. The hold-up was massive; like a tin of sardines, if you will. Apparently 30000 (or 45000, depending on the source) people turned up, so you can picture the amount of human traffic involved. We were all squished up against each other for what felt like eternity, when in actual fact it was probably just ten minutes or so. A lot of patrons were audibly unhappy with the security present, shouting about how they were inept at their job, but hey! They were doing they best they could under the circumstances. In any case, most of us split off once we’d exited the venue as we were heading to different parts of the island. Hai Ping and I headed to the little coffee shop opposite my hostel, where I managed to meet up with an old pal from SSI, Zaky!
He’d just returned to JB after graduating from the University of Melbourne not long ago, but he was in the area because he had a date with a chick 😛 We both look horribly tired and unglam here, but we’d both had a really long day! The last time I saw Zaky was by sheer chance in KLIA before we both boarded the same flight to Seoul about 3 years ago, so it was really quite lovely to see him and hang out with him briefly before he had to catch the last train and bus home.
Side note: the top three most played songs throughout Ultra SG were, in no particular order, ‘No Money’ by Galantis, ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ by Calvin Harris and Disciples, and ‘This Is What You Came For’ by Calvin Harris and Rihanna (plus TSwizzle). I’ll admit, hearing the same three tunes in almost every act’s set was a bit annoying after a while.
Fast forward a few hours to my last full day in Singapore 😦 The original plan was for us to do the TreeTop Walk in MacRitchie Reservoir, but I was dead tired from the weekend and it was raining in the morning – so we decided to spend the day at the ArtScience Museum instead! But first, food. Pancakes, to be exact. With this happy goon 🙂
Our little adventure to the museum was heaps of fun! We found a nifty little slide which was surprisingly fun to zoom down, failed at art (refer to our crappy turtle below), and I touched way too many things that I didn’t know I wasn’t allowed to touch (fml).
Overall, it was swell! I enjoy visiting museums in foreign countries whenever I can – but I haven’t even paid a visit to Malaysia’s national museum in KL, hahahahah. Fail! I met with sis for dinner at JiBiru, followed by my very first taste of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (super late to the party, I know I know, don’t remind me), and a glass of riesling at Wine Connection on Cuppage Rd. Not a bad way to spend my last night in Singapore, I reckon! 🙂
That brings us to my final day of the whirlwind trip! Hai Ping and I met up for brekkie, and we wandered around Haji Lane in search of a joint that was open. We didn’t find very many options, but we did grab some iced coffee from CAD Café!
In the end, we settled for some hella tasty shawarma from House of Kebab along Arab St. The portions were huge and I couldn’t finish mine so I doggy bagged it for the bus ride home. The journey up north was largely uneventful and the bus wasn’t even half full – but it was nice to have some downtime after spending almost every waking hour around people!
Cheers to you, Singapore, for one hell of a weekend. I couldn’t have asked for more – family, friends, food, and a couple of nice surprises thrown in. I’ll be back in 15 days! 😀