When it comes to fashion, we believe that the person makes the outfit, and meeting Noi was a timely reminder of this. Sitting on a bench outside Marina Bay Sands, surrounded by shopping bags while her two sons snapped photos of the city skyline, Noi exuded grace and charm in her simple floral maxi dress. With her wispy white hair, sparkling eyes, and posture that would put us to shame, we knew there was more to Noi than meets the eye.
When we approached her, she seemed uncertain, and kept looking over at her son for assurance. “Sorry, she doesn’t understand English,” her son explains. But after a quick translation and some encouragement from her son, she agreed to be photographed.
As we spoke with her son on the side while snapping some quick shots of Noi, we learnt that she’s travelling here from Bangkok to visit her daughter who works here. As regular visitors of Singapore, Noi and her family know more than just their way around town—they even have their favourite local dishes. “Her favourite is fishball noodles soup,” her son tells us with a laugh.
As we were chatting, Noi was posing confidently like a professional in front of the camera—a rare sight, especially with the language barrier between us. In between shots, we caught her looking over to make faces and smile at her son, so we asked him a little bit more about her life back in Bangkok.
“Since young, she’s always liked dressing up,” her son tells us, adding that she used to be a beauty queen in her youth, regularly taking part in beauty pageants. It seems that this grace and girlish charm has never quite left her, given how quickly we were able to take the shots we needed of her.
As we said our goodbyes and thanked both Noi and her sons for the lovely shoot and chat, we found ourselves thinking of all the memories and bits of her life left unshared. But as much as telling your stories is what we do best, there’s always beauty in the unknown.