Going on a blind date in Singapore
Let me start off with a bombshell: I’ve never been on a date in my entire life. All 23 years of it. So you can imagine how hard my heart was thumping when my colleagues said that they arranged a blind date for me.
I did not know anything about my date at all. I had no idea how she looks like, her background, or even whether we had mutual friends. Heck, I didn’t even know her name till D-Day. Because of this, I wasn’t even able to get on Instagram to find out more about (stalk!) the mystery lady.
Perhaps this was how dating was like pre-Internet – thrilling, yet uncertain, and having to trust your friends and family enough to set you up with someone you won’t experience awkward silence with every 2-3 sentences.
Lesson #1: Better to be over prepared than not prepared at all
Baby’s breath is a must on a date.
Thinking of what to do on a date with someone I know nothing about is hard work. I couldn’t even decide on whether to have the date at a cafe or not.
“What if she doesn’t like brunch?”
“What if she doesn’t like overly pretentious hipster cafes?”
“What if she only drinks Milo?”
Unlike modern-day dating, I had no way of knowing her likes and dislikes. There was no profile I could look at and no mutual “likes” that I could refer to. It’s entirely different from swiping right 9,999 times on Tinder.
After racking my brains for 3 days, I decided that we were going to
- a cafe to spend some time getting to know each other a little better, followed by
- a karaoke session to loosen up, and
- end the night with a good dinner coupled with some games
I packed light, bringing only the blind date essentials: Instax and film to capture our memories the old-school way, my iPhone, a card holder, and a NETS FlashPay card that effectively functioned both as a payment and transport card.
Just when I thought I had it all under control, I received a Telegram message from my colleague. I was instructed to text the mystery lady when I was nearing our rendezvous point.
The thing is, I was able to see her username on Telegram.
I was sooo tempted to simply copy and paste her username on Google, Facebook, and Instagram just to see what she liked and if I had to tweak my plans. It was tempting, and I struggled with the thought for quite a bit until I realised that since I was committing to this blind date, I might as well do it the old-school way.
Lesson #2: The first meeting *honestly* isn’t as scary as you’ll convince yourself it will be
As I waited at the lift lobby with a bouquet of baby’s breath in hand, I realised that I’d never given flowers to a girl. In my mind, I was thinking of all sorts of ways to hand the flowers over to her – should I stand to face the lift, sideways or with my back facing her and doing half a pirouette to pass her the bouquet?
I stood facing the lift doors, and as she stepped out from the lift in her baby pink overalls, I smiled and simply stretched out the bouquet to her and said, “Hi, I’m Mandon. Are you my date? Here are some flowers for you.”
“Hi, I’m Hazel,” she giggled.
The moment when we finally knew each other’s names and faces.
It’d have been so different if the first thing I said to her was some cheesy pickup line that guys would use when sliding into DMs.
Meeting Hazel was a relief of sorts – that this blind date was going to happen no matter what, and that we were in it together.
Lesson #3: Take it slow. Grab a coffee. Get to know each other first
We headed down to Maison Ikkoku after our initial meeting for some coffee. Translated to mean “house of the moment”, it seemed apt that we started our date by taking a moment to know each other past merely our names and faces.
The thing is, although Maison Ikkoku serves excellent coffee, I had no idea if she even liked coffee – something I’d have known if I met or *ahem* researched on her prior to our meeting. This first location could potentially make or break the date.
“Yeah, I love coffee!”
It was great.
It was the starting of an overly excited conversation about cafes, how we like our coffees and 1-for-1 deals at Starbucks. It seemed so surreal that I knew nothing about this girl yet we found commonality in a cup of joe.
We ordered a set of Kyoto Matcha Tarts ($12).
We joked about how we were both forced to be on this date, how we’d never been in relationships before, and how it wasn’t a smart move to stuff an entire matcha tart into our mouths. *cue choking and flying bits of matcha*
As we were walking around the cafe taking photos, we started feeling so much more at ease with each other’s company. We bumped into chairs and laughed at undeveloped polaroids and how she kept cutting my head off the camera frame.
Creating such a ruckus attracted the attention of a staff member. Curious, she came over and asked, “Are you guys a photography couple?” We had a good laugh as we explained our situation to her!
Lesson #4: Don’t be afraid to be malu. It’s the fastest way to get to know each other better
On our way to Voicebooth – a Korean-style karaoke spot, Hazel confided in me that she’s a soprano in an a capella group. Wow. I was not expecting that. The only reason I planned to head to a karaoke was to have some fun screaming to Bon Jovi and then joking about it.
But oh boy, could Hazel sing.
Hazel casually hitting the high notes of Ariana Grande’s Break Free.
When she picked up the microphone and started crooning, I was at a total loss for words. For starters, she picked Versace on the Floor as her warm-up song.
I was a mile away from my comfort zone but as we had a good laugh at each other trying to rap Kendrick Lamar’s HUMBLE. The goofiness of it all got rid of the nerves, and we started to open up to each other even more.
We spent an hour here, belting out top 40 hits and throwing whatever awkwardness we felt out the window. The imaginary fences we built around ourselves crumbled as we spent time together, having fun, without having to force the “getting to know you” questions.
Lesson #5: Include some stakes for an extra dose of fun
Walking from the Cathay to Hopheads proved to be harder than us rapping back in Voicebooth. Although it was supposedly a 10-minute walk, we took more than half an hour getting lost while making a detour to get a bottle of water and snacks at 7-11 with our NETS FlashPay card. Fun fact: there’s no minimum spending limit for NETS FlashPay – I found that out when my colleague bought cabbage from NTUC for just 3 cents!
It didn’t feel like a conventional date at all. Knowing close to nothing about each other got us talking more about ourselves rather than making lame comments about the happenings around us.
I planned to spend our night at Hopheads because they’ve got foosball, billiard, and table tennis tables among other games – perfect for both of us to get competitive. They’ve also got the perfect grey-washed walls and neon lights to take new display pictures with!
We ordered wayyyy too much food – a Waffle Burger ($18.90), Prawn Aglio Olio ($15.90) and a Smoked Salmon Pizza ($21.90) to share.
We played foosball, billiards, and table tennis as part of our mini-tournament. Just for fun, we included stakes: the overall winner would get to draw on the loser’s face with lipstick!
Game 1: Foosball
I lost by a 2 point margin! Hazel’s strategy of spinning the rods faster than a wind turbine got her 4 points in a row. Whoever said slow and steady wins the race was very wrong.
Game 2: Billiards
Hazel took this photo to distract me.
All I was thinking of when we played billiards was that losing this meant I’d have to go home with lipstick on my face. We got all fired up, and the game went down to the very last point.
Thankfully, I won.
Game 3: Table Tennis
We were so even with each other in the matches we played. It felt like an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object. We were rallying back and forth till this happened:
Final score: 2-1, Mandon wins.
Hazel’s face of defeat.
We realised that we were both annoyingly competitive and will stop at nothing to win (she cheated at foosball, I twiddled her cue stick at billiards).
If we had met as a group, I probably wouldn’t have seen this side of her.
Lesson #6: Dare to be honest, you have nothing to lose
Meeting for the very first time, Hazel and I spent 8 hours together on our date. Being on a blind date allowed the both of us to be candid about being interested in each other’s lives, sort of the rare candour you find when two kindergarten kids vow to be BFFs.
We did not have to live up to unrealistic expectations that we built for ourselves on our profiles – we were able to be completely honest with each other.
Sure, the possibility of the date going south was real, but we used the itinerary as a tool to get active in learning about each other. We came on this blind date with an open heart, and we ended the night with a full one.
Lesson #7: Pack light. Tap through your next date with NETS FlashPay
I didn’t want to be overly burdened for the date. Every guy knows the inconvenience of having one too many things in their pocket.
After all, I was going to have to document the entire experience – this was for work after all – and I was going to have my hands full with my camera.
So for the entire date, I left my cash and credit cards at home and brought my NETS FlashPay card out. From the neighbourhood florist to karaoke and dinner, everything Hazel and I did was settled with a tap. I simply had to top it up at a conveniently located NETS Top-up Machine while I was on my way to meet her. There are more than 2,000 of them all around Singapore, including at HDB carparks, commercial buildings, and shopping malls.
You can find your nearest NETS Top-up Machine here.
We didn’t have to scramble through our bags while digging through old receipts just to pay for dinner nor did we have to sign on any bills! There are over 100,000 and counting cafes and vendors that accept NETS FlashPay, so chances are you won’t have to fuss over paying even for a moment.
Take the hassle of withdrawing money, counting change or even signing a bill out of your precious date! The time that you spend scrambling about before and even during your date could be better used to look into his/her eyes just for a moment longer.
“And at that moment, I swear we were infinite.” – The Perks of Being a Wallflower
This post was brought to you by NETS.