Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Singapore: Day One

It was rush hour at the Causeway by the time we reached. The crawl was quite bad but I took the time to feast my eyes on the wide array of car marques you can only see this side of the border. ~drool~ I was however surprised to see so many motorcycles entering Singapore! It must have been hundreds or in the low thousands, all queueing at the Woodlands Customs checkpoint.

I immediately knew I was in Singapore, almost everything is different from Malaysia, even the air is different! I love this city state so much. The Singapore Immigration officer attending to me had a phone call just as I was passing her my passport. She took out her handphone, a Motorola RAZR V3 and put her call on speakerphone. I was shocked to see her reach out for such a high-end phone! Well, I'm sure she's more than capable to pay for it considering she's a sergeant and Singaporean civil servants are one of the highest paid in the world, and electronical goods are relatively more advanced and cheaper here compared to Malaysia. I was to discover later that model happens to be one of the most popular models and my uncle was using one too.

Landscaping in Singapore is so well done. It's so pleasing to the eyes and blends so well with the surroundings! The bus dropped us at Beach Road where my brother joined us shortly followed closely by my uncle picking us up with his Toyota Estima. We were taken to his house in Bedok to freshen up and leave our baggage.

My uncle left for work and soon, we will embark on a day-long journey on Sentosa island, Singapore's island resort. Sentosa is one of two places my youngest brother plans to visit since the last time we visited was a dozen years ago and he was just five. We took the bus to the Tanah Merah MRT station. During our travels, we used the EZlink cards provided by my uncle and don't get me started on how efficient and wonderful Singapore's world reknown public transport is! We travelled along the East West Line to Outram Park where we switched over to the North East Line and travelled to Harbour Front. I would like to commend here the ease to switch between trains. Unlike the light rail systems in Kuala Lumpur, you don't need to check-out and check-in at the interchange which is so convenient! Of course, the MRT in Singapore is managed by a single company unlike in KL.

We had lunch at the Harbour Front Centre foodcourt. I had Char Siew Roasted Pork Rice which cost $4.50. Although it may sound a little pricey, the serving was actually quite large and the meat to rice ratio was very reasonable unlike what you get in Penang where the emphasis on Chicken Rice is more towards the rice.

After lunch, we took the free bus shuttle to Sentosa. We had already taken the cable car and ferry services on our previous visit. The entrance fee to Sentosa was $3 per adult. Our first destination: Underwater World. The $19.50 entrance fee includes access tot he Dolphin Lagoon. Needless to say, I enjoyed myself immensely. Aquatic life has always appealed to me. After our trip around Underwater World, we proceeded to the Dolphin Lagoon where we were entertained by three adorable and cute pink dolphins.

Where to next? VolcanoLand at $10 per adult. It would later turn out to be a horrible mistake. It has to be the worst ever attraction on Sentosa. No wonder hardly anyone was seen near this attraction. Even the ticketing booth was empty upon our arrival and we had to wait for awhile until someone attended to us. What a disappointment indeed! Even the show, something to do with going down to the centre of the earth was so lame! I do not intend to recall this terrible experience ever again. What a joke! And for $10?!?!? Can I get a refund?

While waiting for the Musical Fountain show at 7.40pm, we decided to grab something light to eat and we decided upon Sarpino's Pizzeria which was adjacent to the Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom, and the Sky Tower (no affiliations to Sky Kingdom). The pizza and lasagna we ordered were kinda overcooked but what the heck. The Butterfly Park seem a lot smaller than the one in Penang but charges hell a lot more! Guys, go to Penang Butterfly Farm instead. It will be more worthwhile.

My mom just realised that the Green Line bus shuttle happens to have an open top, so she decided she wants to give it a try. Since we still had time to kill and the Green Line would still take us to the Musical Fountain, we waited for the bus and boarded it when it finally arrived. The bus was quite shabby but I guess it's still road-worthy enough. While snapping some photos of water features before the show, my camera batteries suddenly went dead. Great! I didn't bring the spare. Had to run back to the Ferry Terminal to look for batteries at the gift shops. Fortunately, I found them at one of the shops which cost me $5 for four AA alkaline batteries. When I popped them in, my camera wouldn't start up. I started to panic. Was my camera damaged? After a short while, it started to work. Phew!

The crowd was growing and it was still about half an hour more to the show! Fortunately, we already had seats and just sat there patiently for the show to start. The place was so packed that many had to sit on the stairs! Just to put it in perspective, it was a weekday and Sentosa island was jam-packed with tourists!!! The show began and it was very much different from the last time I saw it but I actually preffered more water displays synchronised with the music and lights rather than just a laser presentation. While snapping some photos halfway through, the batteries went dead. Man, were they lousy! Note to self: Do not use GP alkaline batteries! Well, it was a good show nevertheless but I guess the show is more suited for the kids.

Once the show ended, everyone started to rush out from the arena. Instead of taking the bus shuttle, I suggested we walked to the Visitors Departure Centre instead. It turned out that we had to walk past the tour congregation area. There were easily 50 over buses at the area waiting for their tour passengers! We walked through the maze of buses and finally found the Visitors Departure Centre. We were one of the few first ones to reach the area, so we were in front of the queue. We took the bus shuttle back to Harbour Front Centre and headed to the same foodcourt as this afternoon to have our dinner. This time, I ordered Ee-Mian with Egg which cost $3.50. We took the MRT and the bus back to my uncle's place. After freshening up, we slept like logs. It has been a really tiring day. ZZzzzzZzzzz......

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