I’ve lived in the East for the most part of my life – 25 years to be exact.
I was born in Singapore, the Southeast Asian country which proudly turns 50 years old in August 2015, and even as my family moved from house to house, we’ve always stayed in the eastern part of Singapore.
Home, as I know it, will always be synonymous with the East.
And the place I think of most when I think of the East is this – East Coast Park.
Just a short 20 minutes’ walk from my house in Singapore, East Coast Park is filled with young kids, teenagers, and people of all ages on the weekends.
On Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, you’ll see people skating, cycling, canoeing, flying their kites, or simply just firing up a barbecue.
On the weekdays though, East Coast Park is emptier, the roads are tranquil and free, and even with the hot sun bearing down on you, there is respite just being there.
Monday morning was ridiculously hot, but I decided to grab my camera and take a stroll down to East Coast Park anyway.
Singapore’s weather makes it difficult for you to want to stay outdoors at times, but I was determined to revisit the park anyway.
Walking along the park, my eyes slowly absorbed the view of the trees and the coast, I remembered how I literally grew up with it.
Cycling in East Coast Park was always a beloved weekend hobby when I was a young girl, and together with my siblings and parents we would rent bikes and pedal furiously from one end of the very long park to the other. Giving us shade from the hot sun were leafy trees and tall coconut trees, heavy with fruit so ripe and orange.
Then as I grew up, the cycling frequency slowed but still didn’t stop.
I’d cycle once in a while with my best friend, Jin Hua, and we’d sit by the shore, watching the coast line in the distance, with oil tankers dotting the horizon here and there.
The turquoise blue waters calmed me then, and they still calm me today.
I’ve traveled to various beach destinations in the world – with Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast in Italy being my favorites.
Yet despite the fact that East Coast Park will never be able to compare with the likes of the stony Mediterranean beaches, nor the white, gleaming shores of Boracay in the Philippines or White Haven Beach in Australia, it is still synonymous with home for me.
It is in East Coast Park that my heart lies still, its beating slowing to the rhythm of home.
I loved seeing the heart of my city from the East Coast shore, with the Marina Bay Sands’ silhouette shrouded in mist.
I loved being back in East Coast Park, and I know I always will.
I knew this then, and I know this now – I’ll always be a girl from the East.
This is home for me.