I dressed with care that morning – my new white three-quarter pants, which I have kept for a special occasion and my new floral top which I just bought in Singapore. To top it all I put on my new freshwater pearls bracelet that I bought just the day before. I look in the mirror and think to myself, this really looks nice, but I cannot get rid of the feeling that this is not the right outfit for today, but of course, I ignored that still small voice!
We caught the bum boat at Tanah Merah ferry station and off we went to Pulau Ubin, which is a small island just off the coast of Singapore. Time stood still on this small island and apparently most of Singapore looked like it fifty years ago. We rented two bicycles, one for me and one with a baby chair for my son and granddaughter.
I am used to riding a bike by now and love to go very fast downhill. Uphill is so steep that we had to walk and push the bikes. When we got to the mangroves it was raining cats and dogs and we had to leave the bikes behind and walk on the nice wooden path through the mangroves. But oh my, the rain must have driven each and every mosquito on the island out of their holes and they attacked us, like I have never been attacked by a swarm of mosquitoes before. We are fortunate that we could get rid of them by riding our bikes very fast.
We took another path than the one we came with. Because of the rain, I suddenly remembered why it is important to have mud guards on your bike – ours haven’t.
The dirt road that we chose was very wet and around every corner the mud flew through the air and onto us in droves. The new road had a lot of up and downhills. I heard my son said to his daughter, “hold on Angel, here we go!” She took the handlebar with force and I saw her closing her eyes and clenching her teeth and off they went on a downhill stretch that looked like it had no end. My bike’s front wheel caught the top of the downhill and off I went, slowly at first, but as soon as the bike got momentum I travelled with clenched hands and jaws at neck break speed downhill. The bike must have been as old as the island itself and the brakes are practically non-existent. I travelled so fast that I passed my son and granddaughter and there was just no way of stopping until I reached the end of the downhill and the beginning of the next uphill. I got off the bike, as white as a sheet, a racing heart and trembling all over! My son came to me, laughing his head off and said, “Mom, your new white pants are full of mud at the back. I turned and saw it – right in the middle of my pants, all the way down, a brown patch of mud as wide as my hand. I said to him, “it looks exactly as if I have pooed in my pants!” Well!
I had no choice but to carry on. Even some more up and downhills and when I heard for the third time, “hold on Angel, hold on,” I almost became hysteric because it seemed as if this ride was never going to end.
At last we got to a more even patch and I realised we must be near the end of our journey.
The thought of getting off the bike while the whole island was full of visitors made me reluctant, but there was nowhere to hide and nothing to do so I just had to face the music.
I got off that island a much humbler person than when I set foot on it. That night, when I laid down on my bed, very grateful to still be alive, I remembered that still small voice “today is not the right day to wear the white pants!)