I watched as a diver scrubbed a tank, surrounded by small sharks and I damn near shat myself as I came face to face with the Arctic Crab; whose wingspan (clawspan?) was taller than myself. Seriously, if I have a nightmare creature this is it. An amour plated, clawed spider like creature that is over six foot in length? Yep, thats pretty close to my nightmares.
For my first evening in Singapore, I really did not do too much.
I took a short walk around the area before deciding on somewhere to eat. Here I was spoiled for choice, not just with the amount of cafes and restaurants, but the shear variety on offer. A typical street may have contained Lebonese, Thai, Chinese, a steakhouse, vegetarian, Italian.... the choice was endless. I eventually settled for a place called the Blu Jazz Club (which in an earlier post I mistakingly called the 'Blue' Jazz Club). This seemed a little livelier than the other places and with a little jazz flute playing in the background it seemed a good place to stop.
The place was excellent. The food was simply awesome, and even as a single traveller I felt welcomed and not simply that I was a body taking up a whole table. Too many times on my travels have I felt pressured to simply order, eat and leave. So any place that is the opposite of this will always get high marks from me. Of course it helped that the food was so good and the music, which had now changed to funk, didn't hurt either.
I woke the next morning without a clue what I wanted to do. I had given little thought to Singapore, beyond pre-booking a trip to the night safari, and really didn't know what was on offer. Singapore ha really only figured in my plans as a convenient airport.
I eventually decided to go to Sentosa island. This was advertised as having lots of attractions and entertainment, but what swung it for me were that you could arrive there by cable car.
I travelled to the cable car station on the excellent MRT system, which has to rate as one of the best in the world. The stations are spotless and well signposted and the staff were very knowledgable and helpful. Something that is not universal when it comes to citywide transport systems.
The cable car was not as impressive as I hoped it woud be. The ride is comfortable, but the location means that you don't get the views on Singapores skyline that I'd hoped for. One thing that I could tell immediately is that Sentosa is a tourist trap.
On other thing about the cable car stood out. It is Angry Birds themed. The cabins are decorated in Angry Birds images. Video from the game plays on screens inside the cars. In the station you can play specially designed Sentosa themed levels. Bu what sticks in my mind is that the theme tune was played repeatedly throughout the entire journey.
I'm genuinely at a loss for the apparent Asian obsession with Angry Birds. I've seen every type of merchandise you can think of, food, drinks, stickers, toys, card games, backpacks, clothes and now cable cars. One thing is for certain though. Just like in the game, no-one likes that sodding useless boomerang bird.
I walked around Sentosa in a bit of a daze. I'm not sure if this was due to brian damage caused by the earworm of the Angry Birds music, the amount of advertising for attractions thrown at me, or simply the heat - which with humidity was hitting the high 40's. It was probably a combination of all three.
The first thing I visited was the Tiger Tower. Named for its Tiger Beer sponsor, this was a UFO shaped cabin that spiralled up a very large pole to give you a panoramic view of the area. As we've established, I'm a total sucker for observation decks, and so up I went.
It was pretty enjoyable, if a little short. The views were good, but I can't help but think that my favourite thing was the arctic style air-conditioning.
After a lunch of curried chicken with sticky white rice, I went to the Underwater World aquarium. This I really enjoyed, and I played the part of tourist to a tee. I played in the petting pool, stroking and tickling small rays (in comparison to other rays), dogfish and some large goldfish style tropial fish.
Later I went out to the display arena to see the Pink Dolphins.
I understand that everyone is supposed to coo over the cute dolphins, but these things were just ugly and looked out of proportion to the sleek bottlenose dolphins.
They can't half jump though!
However the real star of the show was a furry seal named Brenda. Brenda can move through water at an alarming rate, and had amazing ball control. I watched as she played keepy-up with a bright green football, running with it the length of the arena and then returning back to her starting position only this time via the water.
I left Sentosa with another magnet to add to the collection and returned on the cable car just as the rains came in. I ate later that night in a steakhouse that I'd seen. The steak was only average, but then it cost less then £5.