Here are some more pictures from our visit to the Caversham Wildlife Park.
Here are some more pictures from our visit to the Caversham Wildlife Park.
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On our second full day in Singapore we decided to visit Sentosa Island. We had heard a lot about it as a must-see destination. We weren’t sure what to expect. The description we found on the Internet made it sound like a large amusement park. It is that, but a lot more besides. So hopefully our experience will give prospective visitors an idea of what they will find.
We made our way to Chinatown where we boarded the subway, the Purple Line to HarbourFront Station. Exiting the subway, you find yourself in a large shopping mall. There are a lot of them in Singapore!
Our online search led us to believe that the island was accessible by another train, the Sentosa Express. It is, but there is also a covered boardwalk across to the island as well as a cable car ride. We opted to save money and walk to the island. A very pleasant walk. It takes about ten to fifteen minutes to walk across.
On the other side we found a ticket centre and looked over the various options. In retrospect you should know that you can visit many of Sentosa’s attractions without charge. If you just want to spend the day walking round and taking in the sights, you can do that. There is a lot to see and the island is easy to walk around. There are lots of plazas, trails, gardens, beaches and restaurants.
But the island also has lots of paid attractions and you have an option of ticket packages at different prices. A $79 pass give you admission to twenty attractions. You can also get a five attraction pass for $59 and a 3 attraction pass for $44. Universal Studios also has a presence on the island and there is a waterpark with a dolphin exhibit. None are included in the passes and must be paid for separately. But there were premium passes that included the waterpark and the cable cars. Three attractions for $79.
We figured we never could visit all twenty attractions so we bought a five attraction pass. We had no interest in Universal Studios since we had seen the ones in California and Florida already. In the end, we only used four of our attractions but they were good ones. Some were must-see in our opinion.
We walked through a few plazas and up to the Merlion, a feature attraction and the symbol of Singapore. A merlion is exactly what it sounds like – not a mermaid or a merman, but a merlion – head of a lion with the body of a fish. The Merlion stands 37 meters tall or around 120 feet. It is one of the twenty attractions so you can use your ticket to go up to the top for a view of the island. We were content to see it from below and did not go up.
We looked at the map we had of the island and decided a cable car ride would give us a nice overview. Our tickets gave us a discount on cable car tickets and we bought all day passes for $24 each. There are two cable car rides – one goes across the island from the Merlion Plaza to Siloso Point. The other goes from Sentosa Station to the Harbour Front complex and on to Faber Peak on the main island of Singapore.
We took the cable car across to Siloso Point and disembarked. Nearby was the Shangri-la Rasa Sentosa Resort and Spa, one of several hotels on the island. Also close by was Fort Siloso, one of the attraction we could visit but which we declined. It’s an old fort and museum and has a laser tag park. Instead we walked down to the nearby Siloso Beach.
The beaches have beautiful, white sand and there is no charge to use them. You can swim or sunbathe but bring suntan lotion. It is hot in Singapore and sunscreen is a must for the beach.
There are a few small islands across from the beach, one of which has a bridge to it. We walked across and watched some zip liners coming in from across the water. Zip lining is an additional cost, although our tickets did include a Parajump at the Megazip Lookout. We never got around to checking it out.
We walked along the beach a way and came across the Wave House. This is a wave riding facility. Our ticket included one try and though I had my swimsuit and was tempted, decided not to as one try would not last long. Better to pay for a fixed time period so you can actually get the hang of doing it.
We continued along the shore trail and passed the Skyline Luge. This was included in our ticket and it looked like fun so this was our first use of our tickets. The luge is a gravity operated go-kart with handlebars for steering and braking. We took a chairlift up and then raced down the concrete course. It was a blast!
After that we stopped for a light lunch and a couple of margaritas. Yum! Walking along further we saw people riding along on Segways. This was included as an option on our ticket but counted as two rides. We opted out.
Next we came to iFly Singapore – a simulated skydiving experience. Big fans under a grid generate enough wind to keep a person airborne. This cost extra but looked like a lot of fun and a good way to experience skydiving without risking going splat on the ground if your chute fails. Some experienced staffers demonstrated significant skill doing flips and rolls. We didn’t do it, but it or real skydiving is on my bucket list!
We next found the location for an evening show we had decided to use our tickets for. A light show called Wings of Time. Our tickets gave us access to a grandstand on the beach where you could get a good view. We reserved for the 7:40 PM show. It was mid-afternoon and we had a lot of time so we headed back up to the Merlion, The walk took us along a long artificial waterway made of mozaic tiles. It looked like it was designed by Antoni Gaudi, the flamboyant Spanish architect. Very reminiscent of Gaudi Park in Barcelona.
At the Merlion we boarded the cable car again and headed for the Tiger Sky Tower (sponsored by Tiger Beer). This was the third attraction on our tickets we would use. The revolving ride up gave us a panoramic view of the entire island and the city in the distance.
One of the options on our tickets was the S.E.A. Aquarium. We had enough time to do that and dinner before the evening light show, so we headed over there. The aquarium is world class. One of the best aquariums I have visited. The size and scope is enormous.
The variety of ocean life on display is terrific. There was one tank that had a side open for viewing as large as an IMAX movie screen. It was immense and we watched schooling fish as well as numerous rays swimming by. There was a walkway to another part of the same aquarium where you walked underneath the passing rays. Marvellous!
Near the end of the tour we came across something quite unexpected. The above ground dolphin show, which I believe you have to pay extra for, had an underwater viewing window. We arrived just in time to see some of the dolphin show from a different vantage point. I managed to get a greatr video of five dolphins breaching the water and re-entering again – twice!
I took so many pictures but can only put in one or two here. I’ve posted a separate gallery of pics for you. The aquarium is a must-see attraction in my opinion.
The aquarium tour took an hour and a half and we still had time for dinner so we headed for the Hard Rock Cafe. I had a burger and Janis had Nasi Goreng. The food was delicious.
After dinner we still had some time before the show so we hopped on the other cable car, the one to the main island. We didn’t realize that the first stop was not the terminus and the cable car continued on to Faber Peak. Here we discovered a hidden treasure.
On the stops, the cable cars bunch close together as they go through the station and we noticed one of the adjacent cars had a couple with a table between them eating dinner. When we pulled into the Faber Peak station, a waiter came and took their dishes and another waiter brought the next course and they continued on their way, dining in the sky. I quickly inquired of a platform attendant how one might order food for the tram ride. She said you had to book a reservation.
If we had the time and money and were in Singapore longer we would have taken advantage of it, but alas, we could not. But the idea of having a four course dinner as you ride around on a cable car is more than a little romantic. What a Valentine’s treat that would be. The restaurant has the unlikely name of Spuds and Aprons. $288 per couple for a four course meal. Or you can have a less expensive rendez-vous for $59 a person.
We left the cable car after its half hour round trip journey to walk back to the locale for the Wings of Time show.
I’ve seen light shows, laser light shows, water fountain shows, fireworks displays and shows with blasts of fire. This one has them all. A tour de force. It starts with a couple of young teens, a boy and a girl running long the beach lip-syncing speeches coming from the P.A. system. They disappear off to the left and a short time later, a set of eight wooden triangles and a kite-shaped piece take to life with a dazzling light show, alive with pyrotechnics, fireballs, lasers and jets of spraying water. The boy and girl reappear in a hologram with a giant bird and narrate a story about the passage of time. The story is pretty lame but the show is dazzling. This show was the second must-see attraction.
That ended our journey and we headed back. We opted for a cab ride back to the hotel which cost us around $12. All in all, a fabulous day in Singapore!
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We asked around before visiting Singapore what we should see. Several places were mentioned including the Night Zoo and Sentosa Island. But on our cab ride to the cruise ship, we passed the Gardens on the Bay. We saw its artificial trees (called supertrees) standing out and wondered what they were. And as we got closer to the ship, we passed the entrance. Our cabbie said it was worth a visit. And during our cruise, others also recommended it. So after we visited Chinatown, we checked in at the hotel, and hopped a cab to Gardens by the Bay. Just one word to describe it. Wow!
The Gardens occupy 250 acres of reclaimed land adjacent to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. The park consists of three large garden areas as well as two conservatories and two supertree groves. The entire complex cost over a billion Singaporean dollars to build.
As a public park, there is no admission charge. Residents and visitors are free to enjoy most of the park without charge. But the conservatories charge an admission fee of $28 per person.
The conservatories are massive. The larger one, the Flower Dome, covers three acres. It stands 125 feet high and is the world’s largest columnless glass building. It features seven different gardens representing various semi-arid sub-tropical vegetation from around the world. Its temperature is maintained at between 23 and 25 degrees C. It seems cool compared to the outside temperature which is tropical. Singapore sits just above the equator.
We paid to go in and it was a stunning experience. It is hard to convey the vast scope of the Flower Dome. During our visit, one of the areas was decked out for the Year of the Monkey with red lanterns and topiary monkeys.
The conservatory also features many intriguing wood sculptures that look like they are pieced together from driftwood. We hoped to pick up miniatures as souvenirs but the gift shop did not have any.
There was one garden devoted to Australia and others included South Africa and South America. The gardens are at different levels, tiered with sloped walkways. It is very easy to navigate.
I’ll create a separate post of just pictures so you can see more of this breathtaking masterpiece.
We expected the second conservatory, the Cloud Forest, to be anti-climactic after the Flower Dome. Were we wrong on that! While it covers a smaller area – two acres, it is much much higher than the Flower Dome. When you walk in you see its centrepiece – a 138 foot high mountain in the middle with five waterfalls pouring from the summit creating spray and mist. The Cloud Forest recreates the cool, moist mountains of the tropics. The mountain is covered from top to bottom with vegetation – orchids, ferns, and other vegetation indigenous to tropical mountains.
Inside you walk around it and then take an elevator almost to the top. A short hike up brings you to a small mountaintop lake. Then there are elevated walkways that take you all the way to the bottom again. Some of the walkways run close to the mountain so you can see the foliage at close hand. Other parts extend away from the mountain – aerial walkways that have you walking over the vista below.
Again, words cannot convey the size and scope of this amazing display so I have created a separate photo gallery. At the end of the tour is a presentation on global warming that I found a bit alarmist.
It had started raining just before we went into the Flower Dome and it was still raining when we exited the Cloud Forest so we had dinner at Majestic Bay, a nice Chinese restaurant just below the Flower Dome. We hoped it would clear up by dinner’s end as we wanted to see the light show at the Supertree Grove as well as walk along the elevated walkway that connects some of the trees.
The supertrees are, in fact, connected to the domes and help regulate the temperature and conditions inside. The trees range up to 160 feet high. As Wikipedia relates, “The Supertrees are home to enclaves of unique and exotic ferns, vines, orchids and also a vast collection of bromeliads such as Tillandsia, amongst other plants. They are fitted with environmental technologies that mimic the ecological function of trees – photovoltaic cells that harness solar energy which can be used for some of the functions of the Supertrees, such as lighting, just like how trees photosynthesize; and collection of rainwater for use in irrigation and fountain displays, exactly like how trees absorb rainwater for growth. The Supertrees also serve air intake and exhaust functions as part of the conservatories’ cooling systems.”
The rain had indeed let up when we finished dinner and so we headed to the grove for the light show. All the supertrees are lit up with various colours and flashing lights in time to music. It’s a 15 minute production and a marvel to watch.
After the light show we walked through the gardens and on to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. It is an amazing structure itself, with three towers supporting an infinity pool and restaurants at the top. Guests can swim right to the edge and look over. Not for the faint of heart!
Room rates are quite high starting at $479 a night. We heard that the hotel is booked up every nigh
t and you should make reservations six months ahead. We wandered through the lobby straight out to boardwalk around the Marina Bay Sands Shopping Mall on the other side. We had a pleasant walk around the boardwalk before taking an escalator down to the mall itself – which, like many malls in Singapore, is large. Very large!
We loved our visit to the Gardens by the Bay. A must see for visitors. Be sure to check out the two additional photo galleries I’ve compiled below.
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