i Light Marina Bay 2017

One thing the Bear and Rabbit have always made a point to go to, is i Light at Marina Bay! It all started when we went for the 2014 edition. It was biannual back then, so the next one was held in 2016 (which was awesome). Thankfully, i Light is now a yearly affair, so it’s back for 2017! And we caught it just before it ended!

This festival celebrates the magic of light, and the main attractions are always installations playing with lighting found around the promenade. Design studios and lighting experts take part, but local universities and schools also put up their best stuff. Last year was phenomenal, with so many iconic structures that captured our imaginations – from the bamboo shelter to the dandelion to the moon. What would we find this year?

Since the installations light up only after 7pm, we found time after school to go. But before that, we stopped by Chinatown to have some Xiao Long Baos (literally ‘small basket dumplings’) at Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao, located in the Chinatown Complex Market and Food Centre. It was very cheap (which I cannot emphasise enough, is a very big draw for us) and the taste was satisfying too! We got 10 Xiao Long Baos for $6 (the unofficial market rate was probably $1/dumpling!) and a bowl of Zha Jiang Mian (noodles in soybean paste) for $3.50 (also very cheap). Compared to the dumplings from Din Tai Fung, the taste was not too far off – it grew on us after a few dumplings. The noodles, mixed in the dark paste and topped with cucumber, were commendable – I enjoyed Zha Jiang Mian for the first time! I would certainly be eating here more often if Chinatown wasn’t so inconvenient to get to.

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It was a good start to the night! Next, we took the Downtown Line train to Bayfront station, which would put us right at the promenade. There were also other activities and carnivals going on, such as an Uncle Ringo carnival! But before that, we headed for the first installation, named The Urchin. Three illuminated rope structures hung in the air, evoking imagery of sea urchins (really?). There was a couple having a wedding photoshoot, but they confined themselves to the urchin at the end. We admired the first two, snapping photos of them and with them, and then moved on to the next installation – Horizontal Interference. Nothing more than coloured ribbons being illuminated by what must be ultraviolet lamps, they glowed brightly and evoked a feeling of speed. Like how technology is progressing too fast. Like in space operas like The Star Wars or Stanley Kubrick’s A Space Odyssey. It was Spotty and Boo’s turn to take photos with it! Dogspeed!

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We were almost in front of the Uncle Ringo carnival by now, so we decided to make a small detour (that turned out to be a long one)! It was a similar carnival to the one that was set up in Ang Mo Kio late last year, in which there were game booths and soft toys up for grabs, a number of carousels, a shooting arcade and a giant spinning wheel that rose 10 metres into the air! The majority of our time there was spent trying to capture an elusive purple colour being emitted from one of the carousels haha.

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As evident, in the end we didn’t manage to get it. Oh well! It was time to come back from our detour and continue with the installations! We walked and walked and stumbled upon a house. Well, one without walls anyway! Home is where the heart is! It was also where Prof and Dancer were!

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Passing by some pillars of light, we saw the Marina Bay Sands in the near distance. We decided to ask some strangers to snap a photo of us! After some instructions from us, it turned out great!

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Not too far away were the Northern Lights, which unlike The Urchin, actually seemed like the Northern Lights! The hanging bars of light were lighting up in tandem, forming patterns that seemed to be floating over the water. Probably the closest we would be getting to the Northern Lights for the next decade!

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We were now nearing the Promontory. There was a field of LED flowers spread out in front of us, but our attention was caught by this unassuming alien-like structure.

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Named the Kaleidoscopic Monolith, we were not sure what it was supposed to do except shine light all around. We stood there, expecting it to do something else, but nothing else happened at all. It was kind of mysterious. Anyway, on to the Moonflowers! This had to be one of our favourite installations, because it didn’t look like one. The flowers glowing in the dark were a pretty sight. Most of the time they were softly lit, but sometimes the ultraviolet lamps would intensify and they would take on a fluorescent quality. People would squeal in amazement, but I think we clearly preferred when they were only gently lit.

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It rained in the afternoon, so we had to trudge through mud past what looked like a camp built using sticks and light bars to reach the rather candidly-named I Light You So Much. If that was the campsite, this had to be the campfire, except light was in place of fire.

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It could very well have been the bamboo shelter’s successor, since it was made of bamboo poles as well! There was a very raw, primitive feel to it. Back to when our ancestors built structures with sticks and stones. Elsewhere on the Promontory stood two other installations, one ice blue, the other lightning red. There were too many people crowded under them, when the best view was from afar. So stayed afar we did. And great photos we took! With lit-up offices in the background! Why do people work until so late?

Exiting the Promontory, we did a double-take at the grass patch on our left. Could those be… eyes? They were able to rotate and stare at us! Kind of unnerving, but quite cute also.

From there onwards, it was a long walk to the last installation. But it was worth the walk past the Fullerton Bay Hotel, because it looked magnificent! Behold The Colourful Garden of Light! It was a gigantic tree made of metal, with butterflies circling it, and illuminated by lights that changed colours every now and then. It was unlike the other installations in the sense that it didn’t feel very temporary. It could just as well have been permanently planted there, and it wouldn’t look out of place. It would also fit perfectly with the rhetoric about Singapore being a garden city. It was, unmistakably, one of our favourites!

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There was a bench surrounding the tree. We sat down there for a while to rest our tired legs! We had no idea how far we walked! If I had to give my opinion, I would still say last year’s i Light was better by an inch. That is not to say this year’s was bad – it was just that most of the installations were not memorable enough!

It was getting quite late, so we walked over to Raffles Place station to catch one of the last few trains home!

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