Singapore 2014 – Day 3 – Sentosa Island

Day 3 of our holiday in southeast asia and we are woken up by thunderstorms, the weather forecasts have been shouting thunder and lightning for the past few days but they haven’t appeared until today when we were literally woken by rumbling. Our destination today was the recently renovated Sentosa Island, the island sits towards the south and features the recently opened Universal Studios Singapore, the gigantic S.E.A Aquarium, 3 beaches, cable cars, a luge track, a skydiving tunnel, a water park… I could go on.

But before all that of course – Food. After having a small kaya toast (coconut jam) and changing up some of our british pounds, we headed to harbourfront station which houses the tram to sentosa (funnily enough, this section of the day is almost comically similar to the day we went to Sentosa 5 years ago). Harbourfront train station connects to Vivocity, a large shopping complex with sky garden, a crazy amount of elevators sprawling around the place, and of course, a food republic – lunch there was a bowl of sticky chicken with batter bits on the top, with rice and egg, it was fairly simple, and the rice was a little plain but the chicken had some great flavour and texture to it.

After eating up, the tram would take only a few minutes to reach Sentosa island, we got off a the second stop, in front of a gigantic ‘Merlion’ statue (the merlion is the national symbol of Singapore). A few small shows and a silly little souvenir thing later (insert plastic card, receive ‘blessing from the merlion’ in the form of a souvenir stamped metal coin), we found ourselves approximately 11 stories high and overlooking a segment of Sentosa Island, the view was nice, though there was little to look at as a canopy of trees lines most of the park (a wise choice as the sun here can be a killer), I snapped a few pictures, then we rang a bell for good luck and departed towards the central area to get to the S.E.A Aquarium.

The aquarium was quite a full experience, instead of just letting you loose into the aquarium, a focus had been placed on the history of Singapore as well as an overview of asian ports and commerce, which was kind of bizarre but somewhat interesting all the same. The museum like exhibits eventually lead us to a storm experience, a short movie played laying out the plot for the short film we would soon be watching in the 4d cinema next door, a tale of delivering goods over the high seas, and of premonitions of bad weather and some shit like that. We eventually got into the storm experience cinema, an awesome 180 degree cinema screen awaiting us – then the show began… The camera flies over ancient china, the surround cinema screen completely sucking you in, I’m not even sure if we were moving or not, but my body was in a state of confusion, then we boarded the boat. Suddenly, as you can imagine, we are in a storm, the first person camera swaying left and right, possibly the seats going with it, the seats shake and vibrate with the ebb and flow of the sea, fans attack us from all directions while sprinklers spray us with water mist, all choreographed perfectly with the screen and speakers. By the end, we were absolutely freezing, wet, and somewhat glad to be out of the cinema – a sign of a fairly accurate storm experience I suppose, so thumbs up for that, it was actually really awesome. The story ends with the ship you are on sinking, the theatre actually sneakily drops the entire floor a whole level during the performance and you exit out at a different floor, straight into a huge aquarium tank featuring the wrecked ship you were supposedly just on.

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The next few hours were fairly standard aquarium fare, the S.E.A aquarium was incredible, with a huge variety of fishes, and what seemed like endless tanks of water, and of increasingly more impressive scale. The aquarium was easily the largest I’ve ever been to, to the extent where it felt like it just wouldn’t end. Here are a selection of some of my favorite photos.

After the aquarium we took a short break and got a snack, a curry bun and meat floss bun for myself, then after some waiting and walking around, it was time for our Segway session. This session was different to the last time we came, back in 2009 we had a lap or two around a small course inside an enclosed area, however this time we were going bigger and had a half hour booked riding up along all 3 beaches of Sentosa Island – we were lead around by a supervisor so it was sadly not as fast as I would have liked (though I hardly expected them to let us just ride off into the sunset with 4 Segway either (these things retail for around £5000 each). It was a fantastic ride at a moderate pace, I was at the back of the pack where the instructor didn’t really pay much attention, so I was free to slow down and then rapidly speed up as much as I liked, I also got to ride a ton of it with no hands and wave to kids as we passed by. I did however almost crash the thing, instead of following the path I thought i’d try and sneak some off-road in while he wasn’t looking and took a shortcut around a tree up a sandy mound, the mound proved to be too high however and the Segway basically went apeshit along with my balance, no harm done though. We would wind down the day with a short walk along the beach (or short nap on a bench in my father’s case) before watching a show. I feel like now would also be a good time to mention the huge amounts of university students floating about the island, we sat by a phone booth and watched 3 large groups of students stop by before breaking into song and dance around the phone (lady gaga’s Telephone was appropriate, so props to that group), we’d see them all again later while riding the segways down the beach, a massive group of them on an island in the distance, though you could hear the shouting over the water – apparently it’s a fairly standard university practice here for team building and ice breaking, which makes me kind of jealous.

The show for the night, ‘Wings of Time’ is Sentosa island’s kind of finale show that everyone watches before promptly rendering all forms of public transport in the area useless, I remember watching a similar finale show back in 2009, but it seems this is the successor to it. In Fact, according to the website, it’s not even officially out yet, and will start running in a weeks time on the 16th of July. Regardless, we watched the show, it began with an almost painful live action singing segment which went on approximately way too long, perhaps as a way to pad the show out so they can claim it is longer than it actually is, however when the ‘story’ eventually got going, it rapidly got very impressive indeed. The pattern of triangles at the back became a projection screen, and then water mist and water fountains are used to project lasers and lights in an impressive array – this was backed by pyrotechnics, more lasers, more fountains, and even some fireworks. Well worth a visit if you are on the island.

We rushed to the taxi stand as soon as the show finished, and got a taxi to Lau pa sat, a giant queue rapidly formed behind us as soon as we arrived, and a queue for the tram back quickly appeared too. Lau Pa Sat is (yet another) famous food market in Singapore, situated about 15 minutes walk away from our hotel in Chinatown, it is most famed for its Satay – the Lau Pa Sat centre itself was recently renovated and is now a beautiful clean foodie delight large enough to get lost in, while a street at the back is filled with tables and chairs and somewhere in the double digits of shacks selling satay. The road at the back is literally cloudy with smoke coming from these old style satay BBQ grills, a small army of cooks placing and fanning skewers of meat all night long for tourists and locals alike. Stepping anywhere near the satay district however attracts a swarm of resellers, individuals who (we suspect anyway) buy from the shacks at a reduced price before bringing it to your table and charging the full amount, they all claim their hut has the best satay and harass until you turn them away or agree to eat their choice. We would have a feast of la-la’s, chilli crab and satay – eventually going through 56 skewers. A long walk home to digest, and an hour or so to blog (yikes!) and it was off to bed.