THROUGH THE LENS: Singapore’s 50th National Day Parade + Staycation @ AQueen Hotel


*slaps forehead*

Geez… this entry was supposed to be posted in August but obviously procrastination and a sheer lack of time got the better of me. Usually when a post sits in “draft” mode for too long, I would just forsake it as it would have been outdated by the time I remembered its existence. But this is unlike the many others that had ended up in the trash because it is about the country I have spent all my life in. So I’m not going to let the year slip away without any mention of her huge milestone.

As many of you know, 2015 is a momentous year for all Singaporeans (and those who have resided in Singapore long enough to call it home) as we celebrate the nation’s golden jubilee, or SG50, as it is branded nationally. It is also a year of grief as we mourned the death of our beloved founding father Mr Lee Kuan Yew who had been with us every independence day celebration until his passing. But in the interest of keeping this post about the joyous occasion, I shall leave out the unhappy bits and spare you the agony of reading yet another tribute to our late Minister Mentor.

SG50-logo

When Singapore separated from Malaysia in 1965, many doubted that such a small country with no natural resources would survive. But we did, and we are still going strong after 50 years! So of course having gone through so much over so many decades, the National Day Parade (NDP) this year which served as the main commemorative event had to be different. Celebrated with tremendous fanfare, the campaign began as early as January last year with numerous companies adopting the SG50 branding for their marketing activities and providing consumers more than a year-long of SG50 deals and promotions (enjoyed the 50% discounts while they lasted 😄 ).

SG50 deals may have ended but there is still a wide selection of online discount codes, deals and coupons to the best Singapore’s online shopping sites available on Picodi Singapore!

Check out picodi.sg for the best offers from your favourite stores!

(psst… I see cheap air tickets)

And to make the celebration even more memorable for me, boyfriend and I won tickets to the parade at the Padang on the actual day (there were also a few sessions of public rehearsal prior to that for those who couldn’t get tickets to the actual event) after umpteen years of unsuccessful balloting! It was our first actual-day NDP experience and on top of that, at one of Singapore’s significant historic sites on her 50th birthday! I couldn’t believe how lucky we were! 😀

Tickets collection at Marina Square, June 2015

We collected our tickets at Marina Square some time in June!

NDP 2015 tickets

How our tickets look like! We were so thrilled to be receiving the tickets for the Padang instead of at The Float@Marina Bay!

I LOVE SINGAPORE ❤

Here’s what went down on that day.. in pictures!

NDP props

Behind those elevated seats were the props to be used later during one of the performances

Stairs to the Padang

To be honest, the make-shift stairs leading to the spectators’ seats were kinda scary

Boyfriend and I

My companion and I! Made the right choice to go sans-makeup on that day because the sun was BLAZING above us!

NDP stage

The elevated stage on the Padang

Overlooking the former Supreme Court

Overlooking the former Supreme Court. “Majulah Singapura” is the theme for NDP2015

Emcee

One of our emcees for the event

Opening act by The Sam Willows

Opening act by The Sam Willows

The crowd dressed in red and white

The crowd dressed in red and white, our national colours

The arrival of Members of Parliament

The arrival of Members of Parliament

The arrival of Members of Parliament

The arrival of Members of Parliament

The arrival of Members of Parliament

The arrival of Members of Parliament

The arrival of Emeritus Senior Minister, Mr Goh Chok Tong

The arrival of Emeritus Senior Minister, Mr Goh Chok Tong

The arrival of Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong

The arrival of Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong

Ministers were all smiles as they waved their flags

Ministers were all smiles as they waved their flags

Mr Lee Kuan Yew tribute

A tear-jerking tribute to the late Minister Mentor Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Couldn’t hold back my tears when the footage was flashed on the screen. Although he was not with us at the parade, his seat was left vacant in honour of his memory and occupied by a sprig of yellow orchids. We miss you dearly, Mr Lee.

The performances began!

The performances began!

The ship that brought Sang Nila Utama to Singapura

The ship that brought Sang Nila Utama to Singapura

And then, Sir Stamford Raffles founded Singapore

And then, Sir Stamford Raffles founded Singapore

Vintage parade

The start of the vintage parade which re-enacted segments of the street parades that took place in the early 1970s

Vintage parade

More of vintage parade. Police officers in knee-length khaki shorts and knee-high socks.. haha, those were the days!

People's Association

People’s Association in the early 1970s!

SIA air stewardesses and trishaw riders

Singapore Airlines (SIA) air stewardesses being ferried by trishaw riders, as depicted in SIA’s olden TVCs

SIA fly-past

A fly-past by an SIA plane! If you’ve travelled with SIA this year, you should have seen our flag printed on the body 🙂

Uniformed groups

One of my favourite segments of NDP – the actual parade! A record of 37 contingents marched as a representation of the five points of Singapore’s total defence policy this year!

Contingents from social organizations and business firms

Contingents from social organizations and business firms

Contingents from social organizations and business firms

Contingents from social organizations and business firms

Contingents from social organizations and business firms

Contingents from social organizations and business firms

The Guard of Honour contingents

The Guard of Honour contingents

The Parade Commander

The Parade Commander

PM Lee standing on the saluting dais

PM Lee standing on the saluting dais

Awaiting the arrival of the President

Awaiting the arrival of the President

President Tony Tan standing on the saluting dais

President Tony Tan standing on the saluting dais before the parade inspection

State flag flypast

State flag flypast as we sang the national anthem…

A "50" formation flypast by the RSAF

A “50” formation flypast by the RSAF

President Tony Tan waving to the crowds

President Tony Tan waving to the crowds

More aerial display

More aerial display

More aerial display

More aerial display

As the skies had turned gloomy, the Singapore Armed Forces Parachute Team (Red Lions) had to cancel its NDP jump. Ahhhh, we were so disappointed! I believe they were, too, after rehearsing for so long! But obviously, safety first.

LEOPARD 2SG MBT

The mobile column display followed next, featuring the LEOPARD 2SG MBT

NOTE
Despite my efforts to ensure accuracy of the assets’ names, they may still be incorrect so please feel free to inform me should you spot any mistakes!

BIONIX II AFV

BIONIX II AFV

FLB (L)

FLB (L)

UNIMOG RID

UNIMOG RID

SPYDER

SPYDER

All Terrain Vehicle & K-9 DT

All Terrain Vehicle & K-9 DT

MUV

MUV

SMC

SMC

FCV & CSI VEH

FCV & CSI VEH

HMV

HMV

Stefanie Sun

Homegrown talent Stefanie Sun comes on stage to sing a medly of 2 past NDP theme songs – We Will Get There (2002) and One United People (2003). I was so excited because they’re my FAVOURITE theme songs!

Performance by the Singapore SOKA Association

Performance by the Singapore SOKA Association

The Singaporan identity - Ice Kachang

Possibly the highlight of the event, the showcase of the Singaporean identity which saw the People’s Association incorporating 12 large lighted props such as this 3.5m-tall Ice Kachang float into their lively dance routine

At the same time, theme songs of old local television shows such as English sitcom Under One Roof and Mandarin variety sketch show 搞笑行动 (Comedy Night), as well as of iconic campaigns like the Singapore Kindness Movement played in the background. Hearing those songs was a real blast from the past as I recalled watching these shows on television when I was really young! It’s something today’s generation will not understand because… who watches the telly these days? 😆

Singlish

#SoSingaporean words and phrases which only Singaporeans can understand. Why you so blur like sotong (squid) leh? Hahaha!

Mascots

Durian, Chilli Crab, and Water Wally. Food and mascots we Singaporeans grow up with

Changi Airport

Changi Airport, the best airport in the world!

Corrinne May

Corrine May appeared on the Toa Payoh dragon playground (a popular playground design in the past – so nostalgic!) to sing NDP 2010 theme song, Song for Singapore. A truly touching song :’)

SG50 balls

The audience got to play with the giant SG50 balls that were bouncing around!

LED troopers

500 primary school students lit up the venue with their LED costumes! How cute!

Stars

The stars from our flag!

JJ Lin

JJ Lin’s turn to perform this year’s NDP theme song, Our Singapore.

LED lights

The LED lights on the costumes turned white!

Kit Chan

And finally, Kit Chan makes an appearance to sing our all-time favourite National Day theme song, Home!

Pledge recital

Together, we recited the pledge. Felt so much pride!

Perhaps due to bad weather (it started to drizzle a little towards the end.. bummer!), there weren’t a lot of fireworks at the grand finale but that’s fine with me because to me, fireworks are overrated. What made the parade really enjoyable and entertaining were truly the performances. Not a single time did I feel bored throughout the 2-hour show! 🙂

Most white-collar workers here had a long and restful break in the the days leading up to 9 August (Sunday) because our President had declared 7 August (Friday) as a special one-off SG50 public holiday. So evidently, SG50 was of utmost significance to everyone in Singapore. In addition to the ongoing money-savers, our main public transport operators also provided free bus and train rides for the very first time on National Day! The news came as a big surprise because as public-listed companies, they are profit-driven and should technically be anticipating the increased earnings and returns on a public holiday (with extended service hours). Instead, they had put side their commercial interests to commemorate this special day! Knowing that it was going to be even more crowded everywhere due to this reason, boyfriend and I had booked a staycation at Aqueen Hotel Jalan Besar to get to the city faster.

Aqueen Hotel

Aqueen Hotel is a new establishment, having opened its doors only in late 2014. Upon arrival, what struck my eye was the hotel’s unusual facade which kinda reminded me of Iluma (what Bugis+ was known as before adopting its present name). Located within 10 minutes walking distance from Farrer Park MRT station (inclusive of the long pedestrian waiting time at the traffic lights opposite City Square Mall), it has, no doubt, taken up an excellent spot surrounded by many well-known eateries such as Scissors Cut Curry Rice (美芝律剪刀剪咖喱饭, just directly opposite the hotel) and Swee Choon Tim Sum Restaurant (a 5-minute walk away).

Aqueen Hotel reception

Aqueen Hotel reception

Aqueen Hotel lobby

Aqueen Hotel lobby

We booked a non-smoking twin room with a queen bed (the most basic room) through Expedia, which we found was a lot cheaper than booking directly with the hotel. Boyfriend paid a total of S$116.31 for a night as compared to about S$180+ for walk-in booking. And mind you, it was a last-minute decision to have a staycation and what’s more, on a public holiday. Of course, breakfast was not included for that kind of price. No biggie – there were so many other affordable dining options nearby!

Our room

Our room

The room we got was really tiny with limited space for walking. I would recommend going for a bigger room if you’re claustrophobic (or carrying a huge luggage). It was mainly in hues of grey, brown and white so there’s nothing to write home about. But I liked that it had a full-length window that allowed sunlight to spill into the otherwise sombre room.

The bed

The bed

Overlooking Jalan Besar Plaza

Overlooking Jalan Besar Plaza

The mini pantry!

The mini pantry!

Shower head

Shower head

I can’t comment much on their amenities since we only stayed there for a night. But I think this room is pretty decent for the price we (or rather, my boyfriend) paid. If you’re yearning to try some delicious and affordable Singaporean delicacies (Chinese, Malay and Indian cuisine available in the vicinity) without having to walk a distance, this is one hotel you should definitely consider!

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year everyone! 🙂

AQueen Hotel (Jalan Besar)
230 Jalan Besar
Singapore 208906
Nearest MRT station: Farrer Park
Tel: 6426 0999
Click here to visit website

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