Day 4 - Chinatown and New Years Eve

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Today was new years eve! Knowing that we would be staying up till late we thought a bit of a sleep in and late start to the day would be ok, so we took it easy.

Once we were all ready to go, we decided to check out Chinatown. We normally use trains to get everywhere, but this time the route didn't seem as direct, so we asked our concierge and he pointed out that we could catch a bus from the front of our hotel and it would take us straight there.
The buses use the same prepaid EZ-Link cards as the train, so we just had to touch on and touch off.

The bus stop in front of our hotel

Chinatown has a fairly big market. It's a pretty typical market selling lots of little gift-shop style trinkets and food, nothing really stood out, but it was nice to take a look anyway.


Chinatown is also pretty famous for its hawker stalls. It had a "food street" full of little shops preparing for the lunchtime rush.
One of the places had coconuts for sale so as Anthony and Amy had never tried them before we bought two to share and sat down to try them before continuing through the rest of the market.

Anthony and Amy's first coconut drink

Unfortunately my foot has not stop hurting since day 1 and walking around a large market is not the best thing for it. Among the gift shops and food stands there are also people offering massages and "foot reflexology" so I thought I would give it a go.

One of the massage salesman led me to a room upstairs above some of the stalls where I was greeted by the therapist. I showed her where the pain was coming from on my left foot and she said that she could help - of course.
I signed in, took my shoes and socks off and put my feet up. The therapist immediately found where the sore parts of my left foot were! Hurt like hell but she assured me that it was going to help in the long term.
After the massage I was amazed that I could actually walk fairly normal instead of limping and was pretty happy so we went to get lunch.

We headed back to the food street and bought some food. My meal was a Chicken Rice dish that was pretty nice. After lunch Sarma ordered one of the desserts that seemed to be quite popular.
It looks like a big snow cone without the cone. Inside was sweet corn, beans, jelly pieces and some other strange ingredients that I couldn't name. On the outside was crushed ice with different flavored syrups poured on top.

Ice dessert

From here we went back to the hotel and on the way we stopped at the chemist so I could buy some anti-inflammatory cream for my foot before heading out to Marina Bay to celebrate new years.
We decided that we could stay at the hotel till fairly late and so I showered, did a little bit of blogging and put some anti-inflammatory cream on my foot while the others decided to go to Simlim.

Simlim is a multistory electronics store like Low Yat Plaza in KL. I kind of wanted to see it, but with my sore foot and having already seen Low Yat (and going back to KL next week) I thought it would be best to stay home.
When they got back they said it wasn't that impressive as noted in Amy's blog.
They also brought back some dinner. As Sarma was craving some western food, they brought back KFC. The chicken was really oily, but the burger wasn't that bad.

After everyone was ready we all made our way to Marina Bay Sands to try get a spot by the water for a view of the fireworks. They had lasers and spotlights everywhere and the city was nicely lit up. The wishing spheres on the water were also lit up and kept changing colors.

The city view from Marina Bay Sands

After a lengthy wait the fireworks show finally started and what a show it was!
The fireworks came from barges on the water and were incredibly big! At any given moment there would be massive explosions high in the sky along with some low fireworks to fill up the sky from no matter where you were standing - very impressive.

Fireworks high and low in the sky

Fireworks shooting out the sides of the main explosion

As soon as it was over the crowd quickly started to clear out, so we stayed back a little and attempted to get some nice night shots of the city.
From such a massive fireworks display, where were huge smoke clouds drifting through the city that was big enough to hide entire buildings from view.
Thick smoke from the fireworks

The smoke moving into the city

Unfortunately the walk from the station to Marina Bay Sands was quite long and my feet were punishing me for it and now we had to back track along with a big crowd of people to get to the station. We walked for what seemed like hours before I needed to sit down for a little bit. We finally got to the station and made it back.
One of the things that was on the todo list for the holiday was to have a Singapore Sling in Singapore and we thought what better time to do it that new years day.
Near our hotel in the Arab Quarter is a strip of bars on a road called "Bali Street" so we hoped into one called Bazuka Bar to get a drink.
The drinks were fairly strong, but quite nice. Amy and Sarma felt fairly tipsy after this one drink, especially on an empty stomach.
Amy described it as "dizziness" and Sarma described it as "lag" - not big drinkers :)

We made our way home and we were all ready for bed.

Day 3 - Sentosa

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Today we decided to spend the day at Sentosa Island. Sentosa is about 5 square kilometers and is basically like a big theme park. To get to Sentosa you can take a skylift from Singapore's mainland or catch a train - obviously we decided to take the skylift!
There was a bit of a queue, but it was worth it.

View from the skylift on the way to Sentosa

Once we arrived on Sentosa Island we had a quick look through the skylift museum and headed out into the main area to purchase tickets. We got what they call a "Noon pass" which allows you to choose any 4 of the 15 attractions for $42.90 Singapore Dollars from about 2:30pm to 7:00pm.
This gave us some time to kill so we headed over to Underwater World.

Underwater World is an aquarium just like any other, but the few things that stand out are underwater tunnel and the "Pink Dolphin" show.

Underwater World

As soon as we got through the line to get our tickets, we rushed over to the Dolphin show and it was packed! We ended up standing behind all the seats on one of the stands and even though we were a bit far back, the view was still quite good.

The Pink Dolphin show

The Pink Dolphins are fairly rare and have some red pigment in their skin.
The aquarium staff have trained the dolphins to do tricks like jumping through hoops, balancing basketballs on their noses, dancing, spinning hoops on their noses and tricks like carrying an eski to the trainer to get some more food.

Pink Dolphin jumping through a hoop

The show also had Sea Lions, which were pretty cool. They remind me of trained dogs and were pretty good at doing tricks too like dancing and catching hoops.

Sealion dancing for the crowd

After the show we walked through the various sections of the aquarium and saw things like a giant crab, fluorescent Jellyfish and microscopic organisms.

Huge crab
Huge crab with perspective

Eventually got to the underwater tunnel. This was pretty cool, there were huge sharks swimming at arms reach and you could see all the detail of their skin and teeth really clearly as the conveyor belt slowly pulls you through.

The underwater world tunnel 
The underwater world tunnel

We got out of the aquarium and headed to our first attraction as part of our "Noon Pass" - The Tiger Skytower. It isn't exactly a thrill seekers ride, but it does provide a nice 360 degree view of Sentosa.
It is a revolving observation deck that starts on ground level and slowly moves up a large tower. There is also a pre-recorded voice explaining what everything is.

The revolving observation deck...

... goes pretty high ...

... and this is the view from the top!

Next stop was The Luge. The luge carts have handlebars that you use to steer and pulling back on them is the brake. Once you finally get through the line, you jump in a cart, do a couple of brake tests and start going down the hill.
It was pretty fun, but once you get going you soon reach the end of the track and it feels like you were only out for about 2 minutes, especially if you like to go quick!

At the bottom of the track is a beach, so we took a look around and then headed back to the luge area to catch a chair lift back up to where we started.

Me at the beach at the bottom of The Luge

The chairlift was pretty cool, it goes fairly high above some nice greenery and it carries the luge carts up with them too.

The Luge chairlift

From here we went to the 3D Extreme Log Ride Adventure - which is a pretty impressive name for a short 3D movie with sets of moving chairs. It was a lot bigger than we were expecting, the room had about 9 carts which seat 6 people each, you put on your 3D glasses and away you go.

Last but not least was the Segway experience. We picked this because none of us had ever ridden a Segway before. When we arrived at the counter, they warned us that there would be a 45 minute wait, but we agreed anyway, signed the disclaimer, put on the compulsory helmet, knee guards and elbows pads and jumped in line.

Once you get through the first half of the line you reach the training area where a staff members shows you how to control them. We all started off really wobby and naturally just rocked back and forth, but after a couple of minutes it becomes quite natural. Once the staff see that we can move forward, turn and stop, we jump off and get in the second half of the line to get to the track.

By the time we got past training it had already been more that 45 minutes and we had already bought tickets to a show called "Sounds of the Sea", so we ditched the queue and headed for the beach.

The Sounds of the Sea set was a bunch of huts over the shore of the beach, with stadium like seating on the beach. The show's story line was a very cheesy, Disney-like plot but the effects were pretty impressive. There was another flat blade of water that they projected images and lasers onto, huge water jets and flame throwers from the huts and the beach where we were sitting, a laser show from the huts and a fireworks finale.

Sounds of the Sea: Fire display

Sounds of the Sea: Laser display

Sounds of the Sea: Projection display

Sounds of the Sea: Water jet display

Sounds of the Sea: More water jets and lasers

Sounds of the Sea: Fireworks display

The fireworks were quite big and because the wind was heading towards us, by the end of the show all the smoke from the fireworks covered the entire seating area and we couldn't see more than 2 meters in front of us, but it made us laugh and it looked really cool to see silhouettes of people appear out of nowhere.

When this finished we headed back to the Segway track to finish what we had started, but this time there was practically no queue, so we did the training again and headed out to the track.
The track was outdoors and had random potholes and hills to make things a little more difficult but with barely any experience we all managed to get through quite easily.
After we all finished, we agreed that the Segways were cool and it left us all wanting one for everyday use.

At this stage my foot was still really sore from the day before and so getting off the Segway to walk again was... painful, lol.

From here we started to make our way back to the cable car but took a detour via the giant Merlion as that was one of the attractions we didn't get to do. Unfortunetly is was closed, but we got to see it pretty close up and there was a nice walkway leading up to it and then out to the cable car station.

The Merlion's area

The Giant Merlion

A giant Sentosa sign

As we were walking to the cable car station, a bunch of fireworks started going off as if to say goodbye to us, so we hung around to watch those and headed off.

Fireworks finale

The cable car station that we needed wasn't very far, but as we bought the cable car pass, we were entitled to a full lap so we decided to go up to the other end of the line - Mt. Faber.
We didn't really do much here, there was a fancy restaurant were we kind of went in to take photos, but  we didn't order anything, had a toilet break and jumped back on the cable car to head home.

The view from Mt. Faber

Sentosa was pretty cool, the fact they packed in so many attractions into one fairly small island is impressive and we didn't see half of it. Not only were there a lot of other attractions, but there is also a lot of forest areas, beaches, hotels and Universal Studios. Getting around is quite easy because they have a number of bus lines that go between everything and the fare is included with the pass.

We finally got home (a bit late) and ended up going to the same restaurant in the Arab Quarter as we did last time to get a meal and go to bed. Apart from my foot giving me a lot of pain, it was a really good day.

Dinner in the Arab Quarter

Day 2 - Marina Bay

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A buffet breakfast is included with our accommodation and closes at 10:30, so we made sure we got down there in time. As is typical with international hotels, the choices for breakfast were vast.
There is your typical western breakfasts with cereals, toast, pancakes, omelets, etc. but to cater for everyone there was also rice, fish and curry dishes, dumplings, eggs, meats, cheeses, yogurt, fruit and lots more!

Buffet breakfast @ Park Royal

After breakfast we walked over to The Sultans Mosque, this was fairly close to both our hotel and the Arab Quarter. We didn't actually go in to the mosque because Amy would need to cover her hair, we would all have to wear pants and wash our feet before entering, but we did take some photos.

Sultans Mosque

Near the Mosque was a bunch of shops and we decided to take a look in a photography place.
We were just casually looking around and the salesman decided to give us a demonstration of a "new lens" that they were apparently promoting for the Singapore F1.
It was actually a wide angle converter that screws on like a filter and is made up of 2 parts, the first is a "macro" lens, then the "wide angle" part screws on top of that.

The demo looked pretty good, he used our cameras to show us how wide they went, the color differences and how close we could get with the macro part of it and even showed how smashing a plastic calculator onto the glass doesn't mark it at all because its made from "special crystal".
With a bit of bargaining we got him down to $210 Singapore Dollars ($158 Aussie Dollars) for the bigger variety (for my camera) and $150 Singapore Dollars ($113 Aussie Dollars) for the smaller variety (for Amy's camera) including UV filters (that he normally charges $80 for).

I was very skeptical and hate impulse buying, but eventually gave in because I figured its a cheap way to experiment with wide angles, even if it doesn't turn out to be as good as it seems, and for the trip it is pretty convenient. I'm not expecting the quality to be anywhere near as good as a real wide angle lens though.

Next stop was Fort Canning which was where the British surrendered Singapore to Japan. The fort has what they call a "Battlebox" around the back which is essentially an underground shelter where the military seniors would devise their strategies for the war.
This Battlebox is now a tourist attraction and is fitted with dummy soldiers and informational videos and posters.

The front of Fort Canning
The war room in the Battlebox at Fort Canning

The area is really nice too, it was like a big mansion surrounded by greenery but the one thing that stood out was the environmentally unfriendly escalator in the middle of the nice green park.

Nice green park... with an escalator

From here we headed out towards the "Marina Bay" area. This is arguably the most architecturally picturesque part of Singapore with some very interesting and unique looking buildings such as Marina Bay Sands, The Esplanade Theatre, The Singapore Flyer, The Merlion and a few others we saw from a distance but not quite sure what they were!

The Merlion

Marina Bay Sands
The Marina Bay Theatres

In the middle of the Marina Bay Reservoir there are around 20,000 "Wishing Spheres" which are floating balls with people wishes for the new year written on them.

The wishing spheres in Marina Bay

The Singapore Flyer is the worlds largest observation wheel at 165m from the ground. The view from the top gives tourists a great view of Marina Bay and the city. There are a few different carts to choose from including a fancy restaurant one which would be pretty expensive.
You can even book out a cart for the New Years Eve celebration which would have a perfect view of the fireworks over the bay, but again this costs alot!

The Singapore Flyer
The view from the Singapore Flyer

At the base of The Singapore Flyer are a bunch of Hawker Stalls surrounded by some nice greenery, so we grabbed some dinner and enjoyed the fresh afternoon air.

The Hawker Stalls at the base of the Singapore Flyer

From here we walked over to Suntec City which is just a giant shopping center with big name brands like Harvey Norman, etc. but it had some nice decorations that were photo worthy.

Inside Suntec City

After browsing around for a while we made out way out another exit which leads to the "Fountain of Wealth". The fountain is lit up and has a water display with lasers and projections shot on to it along with music.
There was a pretty big crowd around this thing and alot of kids who were having a ball and dancing to the music.

By this stage I was pretty tired, but my feet were dead!
I made the mistake of wearing thongs to walk around in because of the warm weather, but partially didn't expect to do this much walking and thought my feet would keep up, but my left foot was throbbing!

So we made our way back to the hotel at a nice gentle pace while I limped behind and when we got there we dropped all our stuff off in the room, got changed and headed straight to the pool.
By this stage it was about 9:15 or so and the pool shut at 10:00, so we got to enjoy it for a little while, even though the water was actually a little bit cold for my liking.

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