088 welcome to singapore

singapore river

he arrived the day before.

today his journey begins as he boards a bus for the very first time on this land.

he asked me for directions, and i just responded with a “yes” with the intention on leaving it as that and shut my eyes for a nap.

then he pointed to the small box by the exit of the vehicle and asked me: “what is that machine?” “you tap out just like you tap in, or you will be charged more for your bus fare.”

“the culture here is very… different.” honestly i don’t really know in what sense he meant by that.

when i glanced over at his paper, i saw foreign characters that made out to be what seemed like korean words. i asked: “which part of korea are you from?”

“oh – NOT north korea of course, but south korea,” he laughed. well not that i was intending any discrimination, but that broke the ice, this dude is funny.

“it was my dream to come to singapore. and me being here is a dream come true,” he explained with a relieved “mission accomplished” tone. it looks as if he can’t wait to start work although he has five more years before he can get a proper job.

this young dreamer, carrying with him a bag packed to the brim with bright optimism, excitement and fresh energy. he is ready to pounce on any and every opportunity that is fleshed out before him.

you know, as i continue my daily routine of boarding my second bus to work, all i want is a good snooze before i wake up four stops before my destination. but today, it was different. before this man sat next to me, this man who was on his way for his first english class, this man who was clearly taking his chances on being on this bus with no idea on where to alight, this man who has made it this far to embark on his five-year stay with excitement; i was ready to sleep after he asked for directions. it was not normal of me to continue a conversation with a stranger, but i am glad i spoke to him. he told me all about his trip to the philippines where he was for four months, and how the buses in korea would announce every stop.

i am probably his first friend here.

what is it that people like him see this country as a wonderful place to be as? we have countless of fellow countrymen with the desire to wanderlust, to leave this home. but he believes that this is the dream, i am glad he made it. because he is hell of a happy person, and i can tell. i am glad i could be that person to extend my help to find his way around, i hope he would meet other friendly faces who would help him as well.

before he alighted, he said “thank you for helping me, thank you so much because i think i would have not known where to alight. thank God i met you.”

i forgot to say one more thing to him before he left: welcome to singapore, Leo.

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