Project 2 Part 1 slides found here.
“If you’re going to go somewhere, might as well go all the way,” I said to myself, and that’s how I found myself wishing I hadn’t had the superb idea of riding the entire Downtown Line and beyond.
In all seriousness, though, the East is probably the most unknown to me, in that I have literally never been there apart from Changi, simply because I have never had any need to go there. Thus, I decided to look at the MRT map and find a nice sounding Eastern place to go to. Preferably, one I’ve never even heard of, because why not?
My first impressions on the way there from Expo was that it was a quiet area. Sure, there were a decent number of people at the bus stop, a mall, and the Expo to boot, but even the roads were almost eerily silent. That, and the general ability to see the sky clearly: many places tend to have tall buildings which obscure the skyline, but here, there was so little going on that it was somewhat easy on the eyes, having so few elements. The further I walked, the less populated the roads became. Awkwardly enough, this was pretty much the same on my second trip (in all fairness, both days were Saturdays).
As it turns out, Xilin is a somewhat significant road, and as such traffic exists, even if at a constantly low rate. While the roads may have had cars, though, the sidewalks were empty save for me. My guess is that the absence of people also had to do with the time of the day and the time of the year: as far as I could tell, Xilin was an industrial area, what with the many company-based buildings and general lack of HDBs. In fact, I don’t even think anyone was working, considering the lack of industrial sound, the lack of people leaving the buildings to go home, and the fact that it was a Saturday and the 2nd day of Lunar New Year to boot.
DOCUMENTATION OF AREA
PLEASE NOTE THAT quite a few of my photos and videos have been deleted as they involve the train depot, which, as it turns out, is a restricted area (I was hunted down by security).
I took a lot of photos, but for convenience’s sake, I’ve grouped them not by chronology, but by visual/thematic similarities. To avoid information overload, I’ve refrained from posting all pictures pertaining to said category. (This is the semblance of process part, where I mostly chose to photograph things on a whim, and later tried to determine why I had felt the urge to.)
- A lot of places were fenced up or hidden behind walls, and so it became a prominent part of the journey, to peek through various holes to see what the construction or industrial site looks like. Or, in general, to see how perception is warped.
- Nothing new, but I was vaguely fascinated by some plants which I either have never noticed, or have never seen, especially the fuzzy, cross-shaped golden weeds.
- What’s new, really! Trash is everywhere! Worker gloves and shoes were a somewhat unique but unsurprising trash, but I didn’t really find them interesting, so I neglected to photograph them.
- Weird markings on the ground and various things. You see this everywhere, really, but never quite question it. And yet, some of them form patterns in terms of repeated images, or colours, or numerical sequences.
- OFO bicycles
- While not new knowledge to me, it’s still interesting that industrial areas often have a lot of bicycles lying around, because it’s convenient for workers, where there are few buses, and it’s often flat and long stretches with practically no one to crash into.
- Not unexpected for restricted or dangerous sites. What’s interesting, though, is variations of a sign meaning the same thing, or just how there ARE many different types of signs.
- I’m still awestruck by how quiet it is.
- The Sky
- Like I mentioned, often not blocked, giving a fairly good view. Sometimes has planes too.
(that’s the train depot) All in all there really isn’t any sound but that of the strong wind, passing cars, the occasional train, and the occasional bird.
All in all, I have mixed feelings about the place. There is little sound but the wind, rushing cars and occasional bird, but it’s not really a peaceful quietness, not even melancholic or eerie. Instead, it’s more like silence, sterile and stagnant, devoid of people, of scent, anything. Indeed, it might be refreshing compared to the bustle of a shopping mall, but it lacks organic serenity, which leaves me feeling somewhat disoriented. There is a difference between solitariness and desolation, after all.
Xilin, in fact, reminds me strongly of various other industrial areas, such as Senoko Way or Joo Koon Road, just much less populated in that there doesn’t appear to be any of the usual local coffee shops to cater to workers. Additionally, it is surprisingly close to a reknown location, the Singapore Expo, and the Changi City Point shopping mall. In itself, though, the only differentiating quality is perhaps just that there is the Changi train depot.
In the end, though, it’s a place which can easily become rumour fodder, due to its low profile and desolation. It has the makings of a post-apocalyptic location, not unlike the feeling you might get when you come out of a shelter to find that the world has ended.
It also has potential to sound exactly like the site of a government conspiracy, where a lot is covered up, or can be viewed with suspicion. Perhaps my zine would be a thesis for a conspiracy, or a documentation of the end of the humanity.