Singapore: Illustrated (Part ENAM Jahanam)

Read Part One first.
Then read Part Two.
Then follow up with Part Three.
We’re approaching the final stretch now, check out Part Four.
The penultimate part, read Part Five.

After all that walking round and round bridges and waterfronts and shopping malls, we finally reached our destination: the Fountain of Wealth at Suntec City:

Supported by four 13.8 metres high bronze legs and spreading over an area of 1683.07 metres, the Fountain of Wealth has been accorded the status of “World’s Largest Fountain” in the 1998 edition of the Guinness Book of Records.

Unfortunately, we learned that we were a wee bit early for the light show and stuff, and I mean, who wants to see a plain old water fountain anyway? So we figured we could do some other touristy thing for a while and then return to Suntec City in the evening to catch whatever it was that made this an above-average tourist destination.

That touristy thing we decided to do, after some consultation, turned out to be checkin’ out Sentosa Island, Singapore’s premier family entertainment and money-guzzling tourist destination.

We’re gonna have to keep a close eye on our wallets, guys.

Once again – after a quick pitstop at McDonald’s – thanks to the dazzling efficiency of the MRT system, we made our way to HarbourFront to Tower 2 which is where you take the cable cars to Sentosa. I still vaguely remember the thrill of getting on a cable car for the first time to Sentosa as a kid, and I was already nervous with excitement on repeating it, which sounds pretty silly for an ‘adult’ like me, but what the heck, that’s nostalgia for ya.

However, standing in line at the ticket counter and checking out all the various packages they had on offer, our excitement was quickly dampened.

Everything was so freakin’ expensive. We could conceivably blow our entire fund on this one single island trip. While the temptation was certainly there to just withdraw more money from the bank, (and one of my travelling companions was certainly encouraging me to do just that), I chose not to cave in and felt that we shouldn’t go for any of the packages. Why not just take the cable car ride to Sentosa, and make our own way on foot and explore the ‘free’ areas instead?

I’m not sure what my friends thought of this, but they agreed nonetheless.

So we bought the tickets for the cable car ride, (at nearly SG$11 a pop for return tix, I think) and made our way to the cable car… err… launchpad.. area…. place.

We also found ourselves in a line with a German group, among whom was this stunningly gorgeous blonde German woman with huge…. err.

So anyway, we clambered on the cable car, with the German group unfortunately having taken the car before us, while we had to make do with a couple of kiasu car-mates.

Does this thing have brakes?
Cable cars on the route to Sentosa Island. And yes, that’s a Star Cruise liner down there…

I’ve gotta say, the ride was a little (but only a little) different from what I remember of my childhood experience. For one thing, I did not remember the in-car narration going on (in a language of your choice too) about Singapore and Sentosa and stuff.

At least, that’s what I assume the narration was about, cos 5 seconds into the ride, the narration inexplicably died. No amount of button-pushing would restart it, which I find really annoying. First the pathetic shambles that was the Singapore Science Centre, and now mechanical failure in simple cable car contraptions.

Technologically advanced? Not quite, people, not quite.

But hey, at least we could take pictures in silence. Awkward silence, thanks to our kiasu car-mates.

I can see the President's house from here!
The port. This here, people, is the lifeblood of Singapore.

Approaching Sentosa Island
Approaching Sentosa Island’s cable car drop-off point.

After we’d alighted from the cable car, the first thing we did was of course look for the German chick. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find her, so then we took a leisurely walk along the walking trail, and found ourselves face to face with a man holding a snake.

Man, talk about unexpected sights.

The snake man
Does that scarf come in green?

Two snake handlers were charging people SG$5 for a chance to wrap a python (or is that a boa? Whatever..) around themselves for a bit while having their picture taken.

There was this moment of surreal zen when a lady paid one of the handlers the 5 bucks and he places the money inside a basket where a yellow python was squirming about. Whoa, talk about safeguarding your valuables..

The lady and her snake
Doesn’t she look comfortable? Yeah, I didn’t think so either, but still very brave of her, though..

Now, I’ll admit, I’m not a big fan of the scaly creatures, despite my being born in the Year of the Snake. So I wasn’t quite able to pluck up the courage to don a python as a fashion accessory just then, but my friend however was quite up for the challenge.

While my friend was having the python draped around him, his nervousness began to grow stronger, until at one point he was probably holding the snake a lot tighter than he should be. The snake handler told him to relax, and he did, but not before the snake turned around and flicked its tongue at my friend’s fingers. The shock almost saw my friend drop the snake but he quickly regained his composure (although that did not stop him from letting out a girlish squeal of which I promise you I’ll remind him forever) and allowed me to take this picture here.

My friend with a curious python
Dooood…. issssss that a Canon Powerssssssshot? Sssssssweeet….

So now that was done and over with, we proceeded to check out some of the other places which didn’t require us to pay too much, or preferably nothing at all.

The Carlsberg tower
The Carlsberg Sky Tower

Day or night, views from the tower promise to be both scenic and breathtaking as it gently revolves to a height of 131 metres above sea level. Spot Indonesia and Malaysia in the horizon, as you scan the skies for birds and planes streaking across the brilliant blue sky.
- Carlsberg Sky Tower

Sentosa's Merlion
The big-ass Merlion. Seriously, big-ass.

Standing at 37 metres high, this half-lion, half-fish creature brings you to the depth of the sea as you walk side-by-side with legendary sea dragons and mythical mermaids. Relive the origins of the Merlion in an enchanting animation feature and discover what fortune lies in store for you at the mouth of the Mercubs.
- The Merlion and Merlion Walk

Merlion with red eyes
This is the angry look. You really don’t want to piss off a Merlion…

We didn’t actually get into either the Sky Tower or the Merlion, in case you’re wondering. No money mah

After doing all this walking, the fatigue of what in reality was a long exhausting day was beginning to catch up with us. We sat down on some steps near a fountain, and just chatted away, taking a breather and snapping shots of the occasional weird guy/gal to come along, like the harried tour guide and his magic umbrella.

Just chillin' by the water
How do I describe this… Water. Fountain. Boring.

Crowd waiting for some show to start
They seem to like it, though. Actually they’re just waiting for some show to start.

Man using his umbrella to herd tourists
Man using his umbrella to herd tourists. It worked, too….

People were also lining up (in a typically kiasu way, naturally) to watch some show of some kind, but it wasn’t scheduled to start until about a couple of hours later actually, so we felt it was time to make some tracks back to the mainland and return to the fountain at Suntec City, with Orchard Road still on the itinerary.

View on the way back from Sentosa via cable car
View on the way back from Sentosa via cable car. Postcard perfect?

Just for the record, the in-car narration in the cable car didn’t work on the way back either. Grumble grumble moan moan whine gasp choke die…

After what seemed like ages (our legs were beginning to feel like lead weight by now), we finally got to the fountain again, only to discover we’d missed all the light and music show. All we were left with was this large fountain bathed in color. Nice, of course, but not the real McCoy, is it?

The Fountain of Wealth
The Fountain of Wealth.

Oh, screw it, we were too tired to moan now, so after another compulsory pit-stop at an Indian restaurant, we joined the massive throng heading towards Orchard Road.

Yup, during the last couple of nights, it was pretty obvious that for the vast majority of young people (and some not so young) here, the place to be was Orchard Road. It was like a magnet drawing everyone into its clutches with it’s siren call (Oops, did I mix up my metaphors there? Nevermind, my blog, my garbage).

The place was decked out to the max with Christmas decorations, and it certainly looked very festive. A phalanx of volunteers kept the crowd moving along in an organised and efficient manner, so kudos to them. A lot of policemen were about too, but I liked the fact that they appeared friendly and non-threatening, in fact I noticed a few even obligingly take up camera duties for tourists. Good on ya, Singapore law enforcement officials.

Orchard Road, all decked out for Christmas
Orchard Road, all decked out for Christmas

There was also a concert going on at one end of the road, but we weren’t able to squeeze our way in for a close look, so we had to simply settle for hearing it from a distance.

The Xmas tree at Orchard Road
The Xmas tree at Orchard Road

Huge ass-to-ass crowd at Orchard Road
Huge ass-to-ass crowd at Orchard Road

A performance artist doing his thing at Orchard Road
A performance artist doing his thing at Orchard Road

By night’s end, the concert was done, the crowd was thinning, and we were dead tired. By now the only thing on our minds was to head back to our hotel and crash.

So we returned to our hotels, showered and went to bed. Well, my friends did, but then I discovered TV3 on the room telly showing Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham, and ended up watching that instead.

And that was that. The next morning, we had breakfast, packed up, settled our finances, checked out, got to the train station at Tanjung Pagar, sailed through customs (which, funnily enough, bewildered my Indian friends who were surprised that they didn’t get strip-searched or something. Yeah, well, in this part of the world, we don’t consider every Tom, Dick and Harry a terrorist, well, not yet anyway…), settled in for a long ride, met some other Malaysian tourists, some of whom who had FHM playing cards with pictures of gorgeous gorgeous women (it came free with that month’s mag), which pissed me off a little, since I was going to buy a copy at Suntec City but my friends told me to forget it and urged me on to Orchard Road. Doh!

So it was that I finally reached home, with my SG$10 Merlion souvenir, a memory card full of pics, some good memories, and unfortunately, a cold.

Ah, well, it was still all good, though.

THE END. TAMAT. FIN. VAMOS! GET OUTTA HERE!

2 thoughts on “Singapore: Illustrated (Part ENAM Jahanam)”

  1. hullo! i just recently went on a trip to singapore..and we did go to sentosa..and we did found most of the packages were expensive! there weren’t any sign of the packages we saw and wanted to take on the official website. however we asked the person in charge and it turned out they did offer the package we wanted, only it wasnt advertised. i’d imagine if we didnt do our research on the internet first our money would’ve leaked unnecessarily! anyway the package we got was really cheap, and there was even a light lunch included too, which was more then enuff. just to share that, cheers!

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