Wednesday, September 28, 2011

let's go sentosa

I've been advised a few times that of the many attractions in Singapore, most of them are boring.  To tell people of a place to go is to get a roll of the eyes, or a blank stare, and almost definitely a straight "borrrring."  It's unsurprising- how often do local people really visit the tourist areas?  

One of the few places to get a "oh yes- definitely go there" is Sentosa Island.  A small island just off the Southern shore of Singapore, Sentosa is a recreation/resort area.  I thought of it as something like a mini Orlando.  No residences- it's only hotels, tourists, and photo opportunities.  

It's a short train ride to get to Sentosa.  Two train rides really- one that takes you to the edge of Singapore proper, then the Sentosa Express to take you the rest of the way.  Or you could take Option #3 like I did, which is to walk across the bridge.  The Express is free, but I thought the walk would be a more unique option.  I must have been the only one thinking that though- I saw a grand total of 3 other people the entire walk.  

When I got to Sentosa, it was a ghost town.  I knew it was supposed to be popular, so that was striking.  Restaurants were closed, there didn't seem to be many stores at all, and the whole place was shaping up to be a disappointment immediately.

I shouldn't have worried.  Because I walked, I arrived at the island at a different place than people riding the train.  When I finally got to that area, that's where the people were.  Whew- at least I'm not here on some freak day when everything is closed.

There's a Universal Studios there, but I didn't go.  I saw no roller coasters (and strangely, no rides whatsoever), and a park with no visible rides isn't somewhere for me. There's another Merlion, I'd guess about 5 stories tall.  No water shooting out of its mouth, but you could buy a ticket to walk up to the top.  
There's a Butterfly Park, which I DID buy a ticket for.  I didn't know what to expect (butterflies?  a park?), but was told it was something interesting to do.

The Butterfly Park is a small, enclosed walkway.  With butterflies.  The main 'room' is fairly jungle-like, with a small stream and a miniature waterfall.  The next area had some more parrot/macaws (pretty much the same ones that were at the Bird Park), but no butterflies.  I assume because the parrots would eat the butterflies, but who knows.  What do parrots eat anyway?  Peanuts?  Pirate treasure?  I'll go with bugs, which includes butterflies.  

With no other agenda, I decide to just wander through the rest of the island.  It's a short walk to the other side, and...a beach.  I had few agenda items for my trip here, but visiting a beach was on the short list.  If you've been to the....less attractive...beaches that Florida has to offer, you get the idea.  Small waves, the beach was more like a tiny circular inlet.  Out in the ocean were shipping vessels, and the whole effect was vaguely...industrial.  Still, there's no way I'm getting this close to the ocean and not getting in.  Shoes off, I wade in, letting my feet sink into the sand a bit with each wave.  It's when I walk back onto the beach that I realize I have no towel.  And my feet are soaking, and covered in sand.  Crap.  I can't put my shoes on either (though they're really more like sandals).  I'm going to have to go find some grass.  
Success!  There's a bathroom fairly close by.  Just a barefoot walk on the scorching sidewalk to get there.  More success!  There's a kiddie sink just a few feet off the ground- definitely low enough to rinse my feet off.  Sand is all gone.  If only there was a way to now dry my feet.  Singapore is not a fan of paper towels, napkins, or other devices to dry or clean that involve something other than hot air.  A few awkward moments of trying to hold my foot up to the air dryer, I manage to not totally fall over, and my feet are mostly okay enough to put the shoes back on.

On the map, the whole area I've walked looks like 1/2 the island, but it only took 5-10 minutes to cover.  I decide to save a bike ride down the road along the beach for another visit, and make my way back to where I stay.

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