Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sentosa Island

After the Doulos had moved to the new port, and Dan had loaded some water, checked levels etc, he was able to take the afternoon off so we decided to visit the island of Sentosa, which is only a few hundred metres from the harbour. This entire small island is dedicated to leisure - like a kind of theme park all over. Dan and Richard decided to take the cable cars over the harbour, but Tim and I aren't keen on heights, so we opted for the less exciting but slightly quicker shuttle bus over a bridge.

There's a very small fee to enter Sentosa, then varying amounts to be paid for the various attractions, most of which didn't really appeal to us anyway. However Daniel and Richard decided to try out the 'luge' - a kind of small car that they could drive down a longish track, while Tim and I watched.

Tim was intrigued by a road sign he had never seen before:

And I was amused by the mixture of pleasant scenery and odd plastic models like this one:

The fee for the luge included a return on an open 'air ride' - like a ski-lift cable car. As we were waiting for them to return, lightning flashed across the sky and the air ride came to a halt. We watched as staff started rushing around doing things in the controls, assuming it would get going again soon.

Unfortunately it started to rain. Drizzle for a minute or two, then the heavens opened... as is wont to happen in Singapore. And the staff all rushed for shelter! So there they were, along with all the other people returning from the luge, getting totally drenched. The ride must have been stopped for about twenty minutes... they were NOT happy. But at least they found it amusing when, as they finally alighted from the ride when it was fixed, a member of staff offered them free disposable raincoats! Dan took one.. then persuaded me to wear it, since he and Richard were already wet and I wasn't. Not the most flattering of garments, and when Dan took this photograph it was a distinctly unflattering viewpoint. He called it a 'cloud's eye view':

In Singapore you don't shout and gesture (as would happen in Cyprus) about this kind of thing (the stopped ride, not me in the raincoat!) - you just grit your teeth and smile. But they did get offered free tee-shirts. That would have been great if they'd been available at the luge office; unfortunately we had to go to the bottom of the luge to the office there, and didn't actually find it for some hours. But Richard and Dan did both get free tee-shirts, each of them worth more than twice the cost of the ride, so I suppose they won in the end. And as the temperature is about 30C they didn't freeze or get hypothermia, even though they were shivering at first after their drenching.

We caught the (free) bus to another area of Sentosa, by the beach. And saw a real peacock. Or, to be technically accurate, a peahen:

The beach is all imported sand, apparently, and the water isn't really safe to swim in, but it's still rather attractive. It would have been lovely on a sunny day, but in continued rain it was deserted and a bit sad.

We checked our various guides and opted for a recommended place to eat, which turned out to be empty (so they must have been pleased we ventured as far as we did to find them) and not as pleasant as we'd have liked, since there was continual loud metallic music being played. But the food wasn't bad, although probably the most expensive we ate in our entire trip to Singapore.

Our Lonely Planet Guide told us it was well worth visiting the free 'magical musical fountain' in the evening, so after we'd eaten we got on another shuttle bus and sat in a huge amphitheatre along with a surprisingly large number of other people (given the bad weather). Thankfully it had stopped raining by then. The show started exactly on time (a shock for us, more used to the almost infinitely variable Cyprus time) and was a fairly impressive mixture of music, lights and laser images. Rather too Hollywood for our liking, more for children than adults, but still worth seeing. Although photos didn't really work well and don't begin to give an impression of what it was really like.

Daniel was supposed to be back at the Doulos by 9pm, as passports had to be returned for extensions of their visas, so we left just before the end of the show, and all got on the shuttle bus to return to the main island.

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