I planned to visit few places in S'pore I was recommended, but it come down to choosing one, as I had Sunday only for excursions. Thus, after short research on the net I decided to go to Sentosa. The tipping point was the chance of shooting great photos from cable cars and Mount Faber, followed by the number of attractions on the Island.
Sentosa is Singapore’s island gateway, a former WW2 military base turned into fantastic excursion target. To say that is a must-see is an understatement.
I looked for ways to get there. There are planned visits, organized tours and things like that. However, I wanted to learn to get around on my own. For instance, I never used any public transport apart from the cabs, which would be sufficient if it wasn’t for the long taxi queues. The reports at the Virtual Tourist website suggest that MRT is highly enjoyable way of traveling around, thus I went on my own.
Merlion - the symbol of Singapore. This is the biggest one
Closest MRT station to Rendezvous is Dhobi Ghaut, from where using the North-East line I went to HarbourFront station. From there, Mount Faber is short ride away. And then, the only minus-point of the day - the cable car is not working due to maintenance works. :( I was really looking forward to the landscape shots.
Well, to avoid the disappointment, make sure you check the availability of the high ride. If not, you might end up like me - stumbling around the shops, passing long cruise-liner queues, going from one bus terminal to another only to find out that those are for hotel-hired buses. Whenever anyone points you in some direction, it is hard to realize that you actually need to cross the road, back to the MRT exits for Sentosa bus terminals. Nice, air-conditioned (did you doubt they would be?) buses takes you to Sentosa Visitors Arrival Centre in under 5 minutes. Yes, it’s that close. I should have taken a cab.
One of the scenes from inside of Merlion
…and enjoying it
From here, do not make a mistake and do buy Sentosa Experience Package for 25$. I’ve seen people not do it, and later paying higher prices to enter the Sky Tower or Merlion. The package includes Merlion, Sky Tower, Fort Siloso and Images of Singapore. All very worthy, more or less - depending on your interests.
Wonderful scene setups from Images of Singapore
Sentosa is choke full of various attractions and can be hard to pick a trail. There are so many things to see, that if you want to see at least the half of it, you better start early. Really early. First buses to Sentosa go around 9.
Me? I arrived after the noon and had no idea what to see first. So, I did what I always do in situations like that: I waited for the first bus, took it, and got down at first thing to see. You see, there are 4 bus lines operating on the island. All are free with the admission ticket. Blue line is the largest one and that is the one I got in. Thus I went to Merlion, the Singapore’s symbol. Nothing much to see inside, apart from the great photo opportunity and a chance to hear the myth of Singapore’s birth.
The letter writer - back in times lots of people were iliterate and this was an interesting jo``` objective-c
The signing of agreement which founded Singapore
A little up from there is Images from Singapore, my personal highlight of the attractions. Not because of the history - although I read most of the panels - but because of the wonderful, extremely detailed scene setups. I am always amazed at the level of the detail creators reach, both here and in London (in the Royal Foot Regiment museum for instance). And this place is huge. Really huge. and there so many things see if you are history lover. Count that you’ll spend at least an hour here.
At the exit, there is Tastes of Singapore restaurant, with wonderful choice of food. The staff is extremely hospitable making it more than pleasant experience. I got Indian Thandori chicken with rice, plus strawberry tart and tea. It’s plenty and it’s great. I was there around 2:30, making a middle of my visit, thus the perfect time to eat. I ate too much. Took me 15-20mins to get up from the chair.
Adjacent to it is Sky Tower - 135m high view on an already hilly island. A rather short ride, but with a wonderful view of Singapore City and Harbour. Be ready to be awed and start up camera mode, as cradle is rotating. No panorama options there and single pictures do not do justice to the view - simply fire up the camera and enjoy. I bought a beautiful wooden lamp in the adjacent shop for 25S$.
From there, I had no idea what next. Musical fountain is not working - probably only great at the night. Thus I entered the Green Line and went to Underwater world. Green Line is the only line using non-aircon buses, but some old open-air ones. Take them as often as you can - natural breeze feels much better than artificial one.
Underwater world is the most hyped-up of all the attractions and maybe that’s why it did not work for me. Yes, it’s great to walk while fishes goes all over you, but it’s too short and…I simply expected much more. Fort Siloso is a short walk above it, completing all the package experiences I bought. If you are WW2 history fun, this is definitely the place to visit. Again, excellent scene setups, 60 or something kept canons etc. I know a friend who would probably have spent half a day there. :)
Fort Silos``` objective-c
I did a small stroll through the Siloso Beach but did not got wet. It was 5:17 at that point and Dolphin Lagoon is on the other side of the Island. However, faith decided that Red Line bus was at the station which went directly there. I jumped in and after about 6-7mins was there and barely got time to find my ticket and enter for the last show at 5:30 pm.
Siloso beach - slowly getting its future shape
Now, this was my second favourite. It’s not much of a show, but the dolphins…man, if someone told me that bright-pink dolphins exists I would not have believed it for a million years. They look so unreal that you got to see them to believe. During the show, you have two chances to raise your arm and be picked to touch them or even be kissed by them. They are so cute, so smart, real pleasure to watch them play around. Really, really rare opportunity - do not even think not to visit them. If you come here just to see them, it’s worth the time. They are that cool.
Pink dolphins. Pink!
Now, at 6pm I decided it is time to go back - I’m in Singapore on business reasons, after all :). I don’t know what are regulations, but Sentosa is so nice that I would have slept on the beach and continued the exploration tomorrow and even went for a swim - although water is not very attractive…or so I heard.
If you need to change the money, do it in the town - rates for Euros are 1.9, while in the town is 2, 2.03 or something like that. 10S$ loss on 100€
If you carrying the backpack, then bring lots of water. On the island, half-liter bottles are 2S$. And you will need lots of them - I drank like 3l. Cheaper in the city. Again, maybe even not that cheaper for you haul 3l from the city.
Dolphin Lagoon and Underwater World share the same ticket (can be bought on both places) but go for the Dolphin’s first. Last show for them is at 5:30, while Underwater is open for few hours more. Dolphins are precious, do not miss them.
Do not even think to go without a reserve batteries and less than 512MB card. You will constantly shoot and you will not resist the urge to shoot movies in some places, especially Underwater and Sky Tower. My Canon Powershot S1 IS proved its worth again there and in the end of the day I had room for 3 photos more. Again, nothing less than 512MB; 1GB is safe storage capacity.