Monday, July 26, 2010

First Light

Singpore  Flyer - Photo by Vanilla

I watched the break of dawn in an unusual way two days ago.

I was high up in the air just before dawn and watched the world woke up under my feet. To be more precise, I was at the height of 165 m (541 ft or 42 stories) on board the Singapore Flyer on 24 July at about 5 A.M.
"First Light"

I was there for the "First Light" event. It was organized by the Arts House of Singapore in partnership with the Singapore Flyer to celebrate community bonding and racial harmony. That was the first time such an event was held and the response for this arts and culture festival was an overwhelming one. (In case you are not from around here, Singapore is a multi-racial country where inter-racial ties are well fostered.)

I woke up before 3 A.M. just to be at that event. If I was insane, I was not alone. There were a couple of thousand others there crowding around the Singapore Flyer at that unearthly time of the day. There was no sign of sleepiness as the long queue of people moved on patiently to board the world's tallest Ferris Wheel.

The special "First Light" flights started at 4.30 in the morning, way before the usual first flight at 8.30 A.M.

After the ride - Photo by Vanilla

The Singapore Flyer

If you are familiar with the iconic London Eye, it is not difficult to imagine the Singapore Flyer. It is a similar observation wheel, except that it is 30m taller. It was launched in 2008 as the largest Giant Observation Wheel in the world and it still is.

Its status was supposed to be overtaken by the Great Berlin Wheel (175m) in 2009 but the project has been stalled due financial obstacles. However, if the Beijing Great Wheel is completed later this year as planned, it will be the tallest at 208m, that is, if there is no further delay (see news).

Singapore is a tiny island (710 sq km or 274.2 sq mi) with a relatively flat terrain. Atop this giant wheel, one gets to see a large part this island state. At a viewing span of about 45km (28 miles), neighboring Indonesia and Malaysia come within view too.

From the cabin, I could see the newly completed Marina Bay Sands standing tall and bright right across the water ways.
The dawn of the day

It was a refreshing experience witnessing the first appearance of light at such a height. There was no spectacular sunrise that day but a gradual brightening of the sky. It was as if someone was gently turning on the skylight with a dimmer switch.

Actually, just days before, I was not confident that I could take this ride as planned. The Singapore Flyer was struck by lightning on Sunday (18 Jul) and it was shut down. Fortunately, it came alive again three days later. Then, the weathermen started to give warnings on heavy downpour over the next few days, again, threatening my hope to take the ride.

I was just so glad that the Flyer was fixed in time and the weathermen were wrong (as usual).

When I wrote about the Flyer in Jan 2009 (see related post below), I was hoping to ride on it while it was still the tallest wheel in the world. One and a half years later, my wish came through. To add significance to my virgin ride: it was free and it came with both day and night views. 

The views from the top was definitely breathtaking. Nothing before my eyes was unfamiliar except that I was looking at them from a new angle.

Day break - Photo by Vanilla

I do not mean to sound cheesy but I think we often forget that there are many ways to view the same thing. One need not wake up at 3 A.M. to catch the first light (like me) just to be reminded of this simple fact of life.

In Perspective of Life, I wrote about how routine can consume us and make us lose sight of things. As a result, we may magnify little problems unnecessarily and spend precious energy paying attention to less important matters.

In Mistakes in Dealing with Mistakes, I shared that many things that bother us today really won't matter much 10 years from now. However, loss of perspectives often jumble up our priorities and we spend much time fussing over trivialities.

Top view of sleepy Singapore - Photo by Vanilla

One more reason

The Singapore Flyer states in their official website that there are nine reasons to visit the giant wheel:-
  1. It’s the world’s largest observation wheel.
  2. It’s the only place to see Singapore’s magnificent cityscape.
  3. You’ll get to feast on famous local dishes.
  4. You’ll get a taste of our gourmet capital.
  5. You’ll get to indulge in Singapore’s national pastime.
  6. You’ll experience urban nature.
  7. You’ll be able to fly – “for real”.
  8. Your toes will be tickled by fishes.
  9. For some good Feng Shui.
I have just one more to add,

- You'll be reminded to see life from a different perspective.

Related post:
The Night The Flyer Went To Sleep


"I'm afraid that if you look at a thing long enough, it loses all of its meaning." ~Andy Warhol~

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