Singapore: Sentosa

13 11 2008

My trip to Singapore would not have been complete without a visit to Sentosa, the popular island resort.  Think of it as a sort of theme park with a beach.  In addition to three different beaches, Sentosa boasts a number of attractions including the Tiger Sky Tower, Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom, Underwater World and Dolphin Lagoon and Fort Siloso, among other things.

You can access Sentosa from the mainland via cable car or a bridge.  We opted for the cable car, which stretches from the middle of a tall office building across the water and onto the middle of Sentosa. From the cable car you can see views of downtown on the mainland and the construction of the newest casino resort on Sentosa.

View of the cable cars from the mainland.

View of Downtown Singapore from the Cable Car

View of Sentosa from the Cable Car

Once you arrive at Sentosa, the theme park resort vibe takes over.  Make sure to grab a map of Sentosa when you exit the cable car station.

I highly recommend that you wear shorts and a tank top on your visit here, even if you are just walking around checking it out. It gets HOT! Lest you forget it, this is the tropics!

Sentosa also hosts several hotel resorts.

We took a walk along Patawan Beach and saw it in all its imported sand glory. On the beaches themselves, there are restaurants, shops, beach volleyball courts, a flying trapeze, a luge, and more. The bathroom facilities are extremely clean.

While on Patawan Beach, don’t miss the special island just off the coast.  From the rope bridge, you can reach the southernmost point of the Asian continent.  There are two pagodas with observation decks on the little island that are worth exploring.

Climb up the pagoda for beautiful views.

Connecting the different beaches and activities on the island are conventient free buses (more like large vans) that drive along the main street.  There is also a monorail, but we didn’t take it.  Outside of the beaches, there are also a lot of cute little areas to explore, such as this Gaudian series of fountains.

Since we didn’t want to go into any of the attractions that charged admission, we just explored the beaches and nearby areas until it got too hot.

After declaring too hot to go on any longer, we returned to the mainland via cable car and walked to Vivo City, the huge shopping mall. Singaporeans love shopping, but I suspect that half of the reason they go to these shopping malls is just for the air conditioning. After the hot and muggy air, the cool blast is heaven!

And of course I have to include this KFC in Singapore:

So ends my tour of the wonderful city-state of Singapore. While I heard a lot about Singapore from P while we were working together, it was still an exotic location for me and actually visiting was quite a wonder. I have never been this close to the tropics, and it was fascinating to see both the skyscrapers and the beaches existing side by side. In any event, if you ever get an opportunity to visit Singapore, you should definitely go.


Singapore: Clarke Quay and Little India

12 11 2008

As part of P’s grand tour of Singapore, we took the MRT (mass rapid transport) to Clarke Quay, a historic riverfront area.  Originally a bank of warehouses on the Singapore River in the colonial era, over the last thirty years Clarke Quay was transformed into a vast entertainment and commercial district.  The city state cleaned up the polluted Singapore River, actively developed the area for restaurants and shops, and made it into one of the trendiest nightspots on the island.  According to P, this area is a haunt for expats and is great for nightlife.  It is very similar to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

All the shops and restaurants in this part of Clarke Quay are painted in bright pastel colors.

Moored Chinese junks have been transformed into floating restaurants and pubs.

We could screams from the brave souls who rode the GMAX reverse bungee.

Central is a mixed use shopping center and office building.  We exited from the MRT in the basement of this building.

More shops and restaurants across from Clarke Quay.

We headed over the bridge from Central to the actual Clarke Quay plaza, which is canopied throughout.  Although we came in the afternoon, I can just imagine the bright lights and pumping music that would be coming out of the line of trendy restaurants at night.

Restaurants are lined up all along the pedestrian only street.

We come to the central square, which has a fountain.

There is a Moroccan restaurant called Marrakesh.

Here is the Forbidden City, a Chinese restaurant.

And here’s my favorite: Clinic the hospital themed restaurant.  So weird!

Later that same day, P and I went to Little India.  In my opinion, this is a must see.  This is the closest geographically I have been to the Indian subcontinent, and I have been told it is one of the best Little Indias in the world.  We went to Little India on Saturday night and it was packed with people. We were also lucky because we went the weekend of Deepvali, the Indian Festival of Light.

Our first view after we exited the MRT station.

People were busily buying materials for their Deepvali celebration.

For an authentic Indian experience, dive into the five foot walkways between the shopfronts and the street.

Street vendors selling beautiful flower garlands for Deepvali were everywhere.

A closeup of the colorful and bright flower garlands.

One of the many rows of Indian storefronts.

We turned into one of the main roads here, and both human and automobile traffic was heavy.

Celebratory Deepvali banners lined the streets of Little India.

The doorway to a large marketplace.

We walked up Serragoon Road, the main thoroughfare that cuts through central Little India until we came to the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, the central Hindu temple. It was magnificent.

You need to take off your shoes before entering the temple.

Behind the main temple sanctum was a courtyard full of stone deities, including Ganesh, the elephant headed god.

The statues of the Hindu deities were vivid and colorful.

I believe this is Kali, the ferocious form of the divine mother.

Another statue of Ganesh.

After visiting the temple, we set off to find the famous 24 hour Mustafa Centre. This Indian shopping mall sells everything you can think of, including electronics, toiletries, toys, clothes, food, and much much more. Once one of P’s friend needed a vacuum in the middle of the night and was able to purchase exactly what he needed from the Mustafa Centre.

We ended our visit to Little India with a delicious meal at an Indian cafeteria/restaurant called C.M.K. 2001 (see prior post, Singapore: Diversity through Food, for photos). It was the perfect finish to our exciting adventure in Little India.

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