Singapore's longest queue was possibly born yesterday night as thousands started waiting in line for their turn to pay their last respects to the late Lee Kuan Yew, whose body lies at the Parliament House for members of the public to visit.
At 2pm today, CNA estimated that there might be easily more than 300,000 people in the queue.
Unfortunately, I saw plenty of people giving up halfway and heard there were some who even fainted, so I thought I'll write this guide on how to survive your trip to the Parliament House from now till Saturday.
1. Read the news before you leave the house.
Disclaimer: All photos and videos in this post do not belong to me, but were taken from Straits Times and Channel News Asia.
Find out where the end of the queue is and alight at the corresponding station. We initially planned to get off at City Hall, but realized thanks to the Straits Times Twitter feed that to join the queue we needed to alight at Clarke Quay instead.
At 7.30pm, the start of the queue had shortened to New Bridge Road instead.
2. Speak to the police officers stationed along the queue to find out where you should go to join the queue.
Don't be silly and follow the queue from Parliament House to the end - you might end up walking for over 4km instead of using the time to move ahead in the queue. Actually, I would recommend speaking to multiple officers even as there might be a communication breakdown. For instance, many of us arrived at Clarke Quay only to be told to go to Hong Lim Park to join the "new queue". In the end, when we traced the queue from Hong Lim Park to the end...it led us back to Clarke Quay. The officer who had given us the wrong information had not been updated of the fact that both queues had in fact been merged. We wasted 20 minutes of brisk walking under the hot sun as a result. There were also others who alighted at Chinatown only to be told they had to walk back to Clarke Quay to join the queue.
3. Dress respectfully.
You are heading into Parliament House after all. This means avoiding slippers, shorts, crop tops, or singlets. Avoid wearing bright colours either unless you want to stick out like a sore eye.
The majority of people were dressed in black, white, blue or other dull colours. I didn't see any yellows or red during the 5 hours I spent queuing. The men generally wore formal shirts or T-shirts with pants, whereas the women had an extra choice of formal dresses. I personally wore the dress I wore to work earlier.
For shoes, wear covered flats. Ladies, ditch the high heels as you'll be walking on concrete and soil.
4. Essentials you might want to bring:
Water - at least 1 bottle to hydrate yourself. But fear not, there are plenty of water points along the route kindly sponsored by various groups and companies.
(Sidenote: I was telling my boyfriend about how few smart companies would see this as an opportunity to do kind and raise public awareness of their brand. ! I spotted Timbre giving out their pizzas and Song Fa Ba Kut Teh offering free iced water just as we were thinking of buying some cold drinks.)
Umbrella - to shield yourself from the sweltering sun. Sunglasses optional.
Raincoat - just in case it rains. Optional if you have an umbrella.
Paper or portable fan - to keep yourself cool in the heat. You'll thank me later.
Wet tissues - to wipe your sweat and refresh yourself, especially right before you enter the Parliament House.
Pens - to write your well wishes and gratitude to Singapore's founding father in the condolence book.
Ipad / book / extra phone batteries - to entertain yourself. It's going to be a long wait.
5. DON'T try to cut the queue.
It's not only disrespectful, but also very likely you get caught by one of the many police officers stationed throughout the route. Even if the police officers do not catch you, the public will.
There was a group of working professionals who cut into our queue at Raffles Green, and they were chided by the public. Don't forget that these people have been queuing for hours together and probably already recognise who's around them in the queue. Your chances of getting away with it are low. I personally saw a young woman in her late 20s (dressed very professionally, might I add) get scolded by the people, and when she refused to leave, they eventually brought in the police to get her and her friends to leave the queue.
A quick tip to confront such queue-cutters: ask them where they started queuing from.
How long is the queue?
Check out the entire queue route, Part 1 and Part 2 here.
All the best in waiting out your trip to the Parliament House this week! But don't forget, this man gave 56 years of his life to the nation. Surely we can afford a few hours of our day to pay him our respects.
And it'll be worth your time.