Sentosa Island: The Artificial Escape
Singapore is one of those places that I visited many times before, but never really get around properly. I guess, in a way, it’s similar to people you met million times, but never really looked into their eyes ha ha…
Due to my renewed love towards traveling, and my new fond of taking random pictures (let’s just say photography pre-hobby?) – I took an extended couple of days in between my business travel and took a lot of night out. The country actually offers a lot of stuff then just shopping. The small country actually becomes an advantage as it offers close proximity from one attraction to the other.
Singapore is not exactly famous for their island beauty. Why? Because they practically don’t have any. It’s the smallest country in South East Asia, the country is practically no bigger than Jakarta city. However, one of the famous “island” getaway is Sentosa Island. If you took Singapore Airlines, you can trade the boarding pass to hop on “SIA Hop On Bus” and only pay 3 SGD per day, versus the original charge of 12 SGD. The bus passes famous tourist destination such as Chinatown, Little India, Esplanade and also Sentosa Island. However, the bus only passed every 45 mins and apparently it took quite a while until you get to the destination (cause it’s a snaky route).
Or, you can follow my route. I took the MRT to Harbour Front (about 2.5 SGD depends from where you’re coming), then take a shuttle bus to Sentosa (3 SGD). The shuttle itself is “free” but you have to pay to get to the island. If you like more “frills” to get to the island, they also have cable car, ferries, etc. But everything is more expensive.
Once you get there, there are other shuttle bus with different color code – which have different route as well. So be careful on the bus color code you’re hoping on – to avoid going out the island by accident (the payment is for 1 entry only; you have to pay to reentry).
*** UNDERWATER WORLD + FISH SPA ***
My first stop was Underwater World (19.9 SGD). It’s basically like a small seaworld, but they have fresh water creature as well. I guess that’s why they call it Underwater World. The pass fee includes the Dolphin Lagoon – but it’s quite far away apart. The place honestly way smaller then how I remembered it somewhat 7-8 years ago. They have touch pool (where I pet a shark!), feeding pool (with a lot of sting ray collection), and the “standard” underwater tunnel.
After couple of shots, it hit me that taking animal picture is really harder than still objects. I mean, they moved a lot! When you press the shutter, they’re there, but when the picture was captured, I only get the tail, or get nothing at all! And you can’t tell them to stay still! I really gain more respect towards the Discovery or National Geography photographers.
Objects that excites me the most is the crab collection! They have vast collection, from the Giant Japanese King Crab, Spanner Crab, Box Crab, Decorator Crab (seriously!) – 90% of them I never heard or seen before (not even in TV). And as a chili crab lover, I really enjoy seeing those crabs ha ha… the King Crab was enormous, look like martian army! Some of them look really old, as the shell seems really harden and there are a lot of “battle” leftovers (missing legs). Other collection is the spider look a like crab, crab that kept running, strange forms, etc. God is truly amazing!
The 2nd thing I’m excited about is the jellyfish collection. It’s only like 2 box, but it’s really a good photography object (see the pics!). They glow in the dark, and have intestine in the shape of flower. The also kept swimming here and there, a bit difficult to get the centered and focus. But that’s the challenge!I’m also crazy about the weed seahorse and leave seahorse! They practically look like yellow algae floating, but after a while, you realize those are really seahorses!
Besides those, you also have the giant turtles, sharks (some of them are hilariously sleeping – I thought they are swimming while sleeping), and other gigantus monstrous fishes (or mammals, whatever). A strange thing for me is that they displayed shark embryo in several stages. 1 week, 4 week etc. And surprisingly, when I look closer, they really moving around! Not sure whether it’s a robot or what, but surely seemed real.
Just outside the underwater world, there’s a fish spa if you’re interested. Singapore really have a way to catch tourist attention do they? The fish foot spa was actually originated from Turkey – where actually you dipped your body (up to head if you want) and small fishes will come to eat your dead cell skin. But in Singapore, they give it more mild version – where you can only put in your feet and you can select mini or rather large fishes. After being eaten by fish, they gave you foot massage for 15 mins. And in total it cost somewhat 30 SGD. Well, I didn’t take it, but I have some pictures that I googled – just so you get what I mean :D
*** PEACOCK IN THE CAFÉ ***
Just at the back of the Underwater World, there’s a canteen near the “beach” (I put quote because it’s actually artificial beach – really no where near the quality of other beaches in South East Asia i.e. Bali, Phi Phi, etc). Seriously, don’t dream on snorkeling. There are only 4 people sunbathing in the vast beach ha ha… I saw a strange sign “Do Not Feed the Animals”. But I don’t see any creature around.
When I went into the canteen, I was surprised to see a peacock walking around! They really walk around and show no fear in human! It was really hilarious! Some of the visitor a bit afraid (especially the kids). For me it’s a stunning thing to find in Singapore – cause the government seemed not concern of potential disease as the animals and the food get so close (bird flu?). Apparently, the one peacock I saw was not the only one. When I get around to another side of the canteen, another 2 peacock coming in. This time it’s mother and youngster. Aha, so they inherit the habbit ck ck ck… Some of the waitresses try to hush them away by hand or throwing ice at them – but they kept coming back ha ha… Talking about perseverance :D
*** DOLPHIN LAGOON ***
As mentioned, when you pay for the underwater world, you got free pass to dolphin lagoon. This attraction is heavily promoted – saying that they have the rare pink dolphin. You have to take a shuttle bus to get there. Don’t try walking – it’s really humid and hot in Singapore (31 C) better save your energy.
However, do check for the schedule on the dolphin show. They only have 2 shows in the day (I think), 1.30 pm and 2.30 pm. When I got there, there’s 3 rows of plastic chairs, and it’s very obvious they kept good distance between visitor and the show itself! (like 50 m or so!). You practically cannot get a good picture with regular digital camera. And they really moved the dolphin to another lagoon (which not accessible by tourist) just after the show over. If you want to take a picture with the dolphin, you have to pay another 35 SGD.
I think it’s really over marketed – they only have like 4 dolphins. No special attraction than jumping and rolling around. Good thing is free – otherwise it’ll feel like a rip off!
*** MERLION PARK + CARLSBERG TOWER + IMBIAH LOOK OUT ***
Merlion is one of the famous signature object of Singapore. It has lion head but mermaid bottom. The real Merlion actually located near the Esplanade – down in the city. But in the Sentosa Island, they made a giant replica. You have to pay 8 SGD. I didn’t understand at first why you have to pay – due to size, you practically can take picture from outside for free. But it turns out the payment is if you want to climb and popped up from the lion’s mouth :D Nah, of course not for me.
Near there, I took the long escalator to Imbiah Lookout – which is a higher ground in the island. There’s a cute nook where they placed several dummy tropical birds where the tourist can tag a small card with notes on what they wished in life. So it’s like a wish tree! It cracked me to see one of the notes “lots of ahem (read = sex)” ha ha… Don’t we all wish for that :P
In the Imbiah Lookout, you can get the view of the never ending Singapore development. And there’s the Carlsberg Tower. Again, you have to pay to get to the tower top. There are nice place to sit down and some food counters – with a mist spray. Perfect to cool down at so hot and humid place. Due to my limited time, I chose to end the island trip early. But in case you have time, they actually have the “Song of the Sea” attraction (light + fountain attraction) at 7.40 pm and 8.40 pm.
While waiting for my shuttle to go back, I notice there are a lot of tourist bus (double decker etc). Well, it’s really a matter of personal choice. But I honestly say that you can walk around the country by yourself. MRT is very well developed, affordable and as long as you do your prework to know the interesting places – you’ll be fine. The country is also very safe. All the taxis are using meters. English are common language.
Anyway, I’m going to the next stop: Chinatown!