King of the luge, ma!

 Last night, I’d agreed on a trip to Sentosa with a bunch of people in the hostel (Matt and Amy from the US, Lucy and Gurpreet from the UK, Naiomi from “so many places I’m confused” and a German chap). My alcohol-addled brain instantly hated me for it as I rose early. Not as early as Lucy who we’d told we were leaving at 9am, so she’d got up at silly o’clock to move hostels. We didn’t set off until after midday, which annoyed her slightly.

In the meantime, I ran over to Sim Lim Square where I’d spent a while the day before checking out prices. I settled on an Olympus 320SW with the accompanyine waterproof case, so I can take photos while diving. I look forward to testing it properly in a forthcoming destination. I couldn’t take it to Sentosa as the batteries needed charging.

Sentosa is a small island a stonesthrow off the south coast of Singapore and it’s essentially a big leisure resort – its name means “tranquility” in Malay. It really is “manufactured”, though. All the beaches are man-made, all the plants transported over and planted by hand. As with so much of Singapore, Sentosa has war-related connections. Fort Siloso (which still stands as an attraction) and a few other sites were loaded with guns towards the end of the 19th century to protect the entrance to the harbour. During the war they became essential (though eventually redundant) defensive points against enemy attacks as the island became a British fortress.

 The island was renamed in 1972 and, in a bid to shake off its violent past, plans made to fill it with more peaceful pursuits. Amongst these are a luge, aquarium, insect kingdom, beaches, huge statues, leisure resorts and hotels. A cablecar was added in 1974 connecting the island to Mount Fabre on the mainland, and a bridge was opened in 1992. This bridge had the effect of making the southernmost point in continental Asia the south coast of Sentosa. It had previously been the south coast of Singapore itself.

Anyway, that’s where we went for the afternoon. In fairness, we didn’t do a lot on the island. It is huge, and everything costs money though at least stepping onto the place only costs $2. We decided to get the cable car over, and paid the extra for the glass-bottomed one so that we could watch Lucy panic. Actually, I paid for the normal one and got a free upgrade courtesy of my Tiger Airways boarding pass. Smart. The car goes back towards the mainland to Mount Faber where there’s a restaurant/tourust trap called the Jewellery Box. It then loops back to the building it started from, straight through and on to Sentosa. It was most definitely lunchtime by the time we got there (trust me, my stomach had gone past grumbling and got as far as writing letters of complaint to Watchdog) so we settled down in Subway for a sarnie.

 There is a monorail service opening soon and in the meantime all transport round the island is on buses. We went down to the Dolphin Lagoon and strolled along the beach. Some of us did the bridgewalk to the southernmost point on continental Asia (which was cool) and then we umm’d and aah’d about going to see the dolphin. Then we realised that we were all tall enough to look over the fence, but too honest to do so.

As the bus does a circular route, we saw a lot of the rest of the island getting back to where we’d come from so that some of us could go on the luge. This is similar to the one in Rotorua, but nowhere near as fast and steep. I rocked and won every time, but I really have no concern for my own personal safety which gave me an unfair advantage. I’m also fatter than most of the other people having a go, and the added weight helped.

We beat the crowds and headed back to the city, as Lucy had to meet with her new tour group. Matt, Amy, Naiomi and I walked into town for some food. I chose duck and rice again because it was so nice the last time, washed down with a banana milkshake. Then another wander around Sim Lim Square where I tried to price up a PSP. NOt easy when everyone insists on managing differing packages. Grr.

Back at the Inn Crowd, I played with my new camera and got the batteries charging until Lucy demanded that I go to the pub to watch football. Seriously. She was in the Prince of Wales a couple of doors over with some other guys from the hostel so I mosied on round to be entertained by a local band playing decent rock covers. I then watched Arsenal and Liverpool win their respective games and gave up on the Boro match as I needed sleep. The Prince was flipping expensive with Hoegarden costing $12 (£4) for a half litre. Nice beer, but bank-account-wreckingly costly. Posted by Picasa

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