Posted in Asia, English, Singapore

Singapore – Day 4

РУССКОЯЗЫЧНАЯ ВЕРСИЯ ПО ЭТОЙ ССЫЛКЕ. CLICK HERE FOR RUSSIAN VERSION.

27 November 2013

This morning, right after breakfast, we went up to the concierge in order to find out whether there was anything interesting going on in town. Instead of an answer, he handed us a brochure, where we read that tomorrow there was going to be a performance of Lang Lang – the Chinese pianist that we had seen in a TV-programme quite some time ago in London, got very impressed and had been dreaming to hear live since then. And now we were lucky: he was here!

We immediately changed the plans for tomorrow: the concert in the evening would make it impossible to spend a whole day on Sentosa island. So we decided to book our concert tickets and then go to Sentosa right today. These plans were overset by the rather useless concierge: in response to our request to book tickets for us, he muttered with a strong Indian accent that he couldn’t do this, basically telling us to go book ourselves. We asked him to clarify whether we needed to go directly to the concert hall and got an affirmative answer. We found this pretty strange, as almost anywhere, we thought, there at least existed box offices around the city, if hotels didn’t provide such services.

Mt Elizabeth Hospital

Quite obviously, we didn’t know the exact location of the hall, so we had to stray a bit – but no rest for the wicked, so we strayed, searched and found. The receptionist at the concert hall – a nice Chinese young lady – seemed way more helpful than our concierge: she told us that the ticket office actually opened an hour later, but there were options to either book tickets online (and she gave us the link) or else to buy them from SISTIC Outlets – a ticketing service with outlets all around Singapore (which actually did exist after all!); she then asked us where we were going from there (to the Harbour Front station, in order to head to Sentosa from there, as you remember), and advised where the nearest outlet was. Surely there must have been at least one around Orchard Road as well, and if the concierge had told us about them, he would have saved us at least an hour, or even an hour and a half.

Esplanade MRT Station

Esplanade

Outram Park MRT Station

Anyway, we found a SISTIC Outlet in the Vivocity mall, which could be accessed directly from the tube, bought our tickets and, totally relieved, albeit later than originally planned, got on the Sentosa Monorail right from the mall. By the way, the train fare can be paid with EZ-Link cards, which are also valid for other types of public transport, and can even be used even in some stores.

Waterfront Station

Once on the island, we decided to limit ourselves to the beach and the Aquarium only, and then come again another time to visit the Universal Studios separately. It was lunch time and we sat down in an Asian eatery, where, as we had already seen in many places, the complete diversity of the south-east Asian cuisine was represented by countries: China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia – but also some western food, like spaghetti or Fish’n’Chips, for those tired of Asian food. Generally, what I like in Singapore, is this spirit of pan-Asianism – although it would be weird to expect anything else from a city-state with such a colourful ethnic composition: the backbone of the population is formed by Chinese, Malays and Tamils.

Sentosa Island

Sentosa Island

Sentosa Island

Sentosa Island

The weather was exceptionally suitable for the beach: as a special gift, the sun was shining all the time, without a single drop of rain (all the previous days had been cloudy). Arriving at the Beach station, we realised that there were beaches both to the left and to the right, and, after hanging about near the signs announcing this, like Buridan’s donkeys, we eventually chose the one to the right – Siloso beach. We had never seen such white fine soft sand before. The beach was quite uncrowded. Among the few other visitors there were a group of teen school students (maybe even skipping classes) who were swimming right in their clothes – both boys and girls.

Siloso Beach

Siloso Beach

Siloso Beach

Siloso Beach

Siloso Beach

After swimming to our heart’s content we headed to the Aquarium – the largest one in the world. It’s simply gorgeous, especially its huge glass arches, where fish glide both along the walls, and above one’s head – a very strong impression. We took tons of pictures and videos of various fish: the “smiling” rays resembling Astrid Lindgren’s Karlsson, disguised as a ghost, the sharks with their concentrated yet dazed snouts, and the moray eels. I loved the large amphitheatre, where the whole wall was made of glass, and it felt as though there was a whole ocean behind it. There we just sat on the floor and stared at the fish scurrying to and fro, among which rays stood out again, but this time giant ones.

Little Ray

Some Crustacean

Nautilus

Some Jellyfish

Some Jellyfish

Ray and some other fish

IMG_7640

IMG_7642

Shark

Shark

Moray Eels

Lionfish

IMG_7657

Next to the dolphin displays, we were warned not to attract the dolphins’ attention, or beckon them, because they might decide what we offered them food, get discouraged and never come again when beckoned. It is understandable, as dolphins are highly intelligent beings, unlike, for example, some big fish, which had been staring at us for quite a long time with the stupidest expression (and painfully resembling someone I know, just couldn’t remember who exactly it was) – whether you beckon it or not.

Stupid Fish

Dolphin

We had dinner right on Sentosa, and oddly enough, at a Mexican, not Asian restaurant.

Sentosa Island

Sentosa Island

Sentosa Island

Sentosa Island

Sentosa Island

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Posted in Asia, English, Singapore

Singapore – Day 3

РУССКОЯЗЫЧНАЯ ВЕРСИЯ ПО ЭТОЙ ССЫЛКЕ. CLICK HERE FOR RUSSIAN VERSION.

26 November 2013

If you feel the urge to move somewhere, do yourself a favour and move to Asia. Here is where one understands that Europe has totally outlived itself, as Asia has already left it a hundred paces behind and keeps developing by leaps and bounds, while Europe is busy with stuff like gay marriage. Having breakfast in Asia is also much better – any croissant would pale in comparison with hot noodles and dim sum early in the morning!

Being in Singapore and missing the opportunity to visit the zoo would be a big sin. The zoo is huge here, and the animals are kept almost in freedom. We rejected the suggestion to go on a 3.5 hour zoo tour with a transfer from the hotel, as we wanted to neither have any time limit nor to overpay, and so we went there all on our own – first by tube and then by bus. We do sometimes end up in silly situations here, underestimating how everything here is made for the convenience of people, so coming out of the tube at the Ang Mo Kio station, we walked out into the street in search of a bus stop. We shouldn’t have walked out at all, though! It turned out that the tube station was directly linked with the bus depot.

The bus ride was long but seamless. We purchased regular zoo tickets only and not those for various safaris, as we were told that not all animals would be represented there till the end of the year.

Notice

Giraffes

Zebras

Cheetah

Kangaroo

Tiger

Hippo

Butterflies

LionessHippo

Even though we knew that the animals were more or less free here, it was still unexpected when we saw monkeys friskily jumping on the tree branches. As usual, most of the zoo looked more like the Land of Nod, though, for example the leopard cat did not even bother to come out of its shelter.

Proboscis Monkey

White-Faced Saki

Finger Monkey

Chimpanzee

We literally had lunch with orangutans – we were sitting in the open cafeteria (the usual zoo type, with the only difference that it served Chinese, Malay and Indian dishes as well as western fast food) and they were swinging on ropes above our heads, landing on some kind of hammocks stretched between the branches, and eating leaves.

Zoo Cafeteria

Orangutans

The zoo offered a chance to ride on elephants. We had a thought about it, which, however, somehow never materialised. Generally there was a huge variety of animals: there were lemurs, and babirusas, and porcupines, and tapirs, etc.

Lemur

Porcupines

Babirusa

Elephant

Painted by an Elephant!

I am traditionally fond of reptiles, especially snakes – certainly not enough, however, to welcome their behaviour, as during Harry Potter’s London Zoo visit.

Crocodile

Komodo Dragon

Rhino Iguana

Kingsnake

Reticulated Python

Oriental Whip Snake

Some Green Snake

Generally, all animals were grouped according to different parts of the world and climatic zones, even the cold tundra was represented here, particularly, there was a dirty polar bear swimming in circles in a huge pool, following exactly the same trajectory, even poking its head to breathe strictly in the same place, and the large glass allowed to see it under the water as well, like in an aquarium.

Polar Bear

We were lucky with the rain – again! – it started pouring when we were drinking tea under the roof of the cafeteria, just before leaving.

In the evening we decided to explore Singapore’s nightlife, and following all the tips we had read on the Internet, headed to Clarke Quay, where all the entertainment seemed to be focused. Apparently, there’s not much happening there on weekdays – for instance, none of the places supposed to be night clubs was functioning as one; instead they only served as a shelter for those few visitors wishing to have a drink or two. Most of the people were concentrated in the waterfront restaurants and were eating, eating, eating (and still, there weren’t too many, indeed, Singapore somehow looks surprisingly uncrowded – I wonder whether this is a seasonal phenomenon, or something permanent), but even those left at around 11pm.