Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 72, Tuesday, June 16, 2009



Singapore Diary

Part 2: Footloose
Last week, we took a dive into the dazzling world of discounts and dining out in the garden city of Singapore during the Great Singapore Sale. Tourism being the lifeblood of this island, no trip to Singapore is complete unless you've taken some time out to do some sight-seeing. The concluding chapter on this dream destination sheds some light on just some of the very many things you can check out here.

Eye Spy
Move over, London Eye. The Singapore Flyer, inaugurated in February last year is now the tallest Ferris wheel in the world. Located on the southeast tip of the Marina Centre reclaimed land, it offers broad views of the city centre and beyond, including bits of Indonesia and Malaysia. Visitors getting into one of the 28 air-conditioned capsules are treated to a slow rotation, which takes approximately half an hour, during which one can see the glittering landscape slowly fall away before them, while an audio guide directs the gaze to points of attraction on the vista below, and provides a brief recap of the history of the island.

The ride isn't the only reason to make a stop at the Flyer. Built over a three-story terminal building which houses shops, bars and restaurants, you'll be spoiled for choices when it comes to dining or shopping. We highly recommend the Kenko Fish Spa, where you can let the Doctor Fish tickle away all your worries.

All creatures great and small
Animal lovers can let their hair down and get close to all the furry, feathery or scaly creatures they want, with some of these must-see destinations:

Singapore Zoo
Opened in 1973, and comprising a whopping 28 hectares land, which houses some 315 species, the Singapore Zoo has definitely done its part for conservation. Set in a rain-forest environment, the Zoo’s world famous ‘open concept’ allows you a most realistic experience of wildlife. There's none of the depressing cage and bars that one associates with zoos. Animals here live in spacious and landscaped environments simulating that of their natural habitat. Furthermore, the exhibits are so arranged with interactive walk-throughs and tram and boat rides with commentary to make the visit a truly educational experience. Definitely a must-see if you're bringing kids along.

If you have time on your hands, make this an all-day trip, because there's more fun as the sun goes down. A major attraction of the Zoo is the Night Safari, which covers some 40 hectares, and comprises of two road loops. It is essentially a safari park divided into eight geographical zones, which can be explored either on foot via three walking trails, or by tram. Be sure to take in the Creatures of the Night show, where some of the animals are trained to perform for an audience, and display some of their many surprising qualities. Seated in the open arena, you never know what to expect, be it a furry monkey scampering across the tight-rope just over your head, a big python suddenly materialising under your bench, or a cute pair of raccoons knocking over the recycle bins in the stage area. Since the format changes based on the temperament of the animals, the show's always fresh, and the opportunity for audience participation adds to the fun.

Jurong Bird Park
Another worthwhile animal attraction is the Jurong Bird Park. This is a 20.2 hectare open-concept park, the largest in the Asia Pacific, housing more than 8,000 birds from 600 species, mostly birds from Southeast Asia.The Park has four walk-in aviaries, among which is the world’s largest walk-in aviary with the tallest man-made waterfall for visitors to enjoy a close-up view of free-flying birds from Africa. The exhibits and aviaries are specially designed to closely resemble the natural habitats of the birds. There are also open spaces landscaped with exotic flowering plants to enhance the beauty of the place. We highly recommend the bird shows, staged at the Pools Amphitheatre. From vultures to cockatoos, flying over the heads of the viewers, playing basketball, singing birthday songs, the shows are guaranteed entertainment.

Ride away
What trip to Singapore is complete without a gander at the once-infamous Sentosa Island? Formerly a place of exile, which later became a fort and a military base, it is now an island resort, featuring a multitude of attractions. If you liked the Singapore Flyer, you'll love looking out the 37 meter replica of the Merlion, one of Singapore's enduring symbols. There's also the Tiger Sky Tower, which, standing at 131 meters above sea-level, is the tallest observation post. Grab a seat in the enclosed, air-conditioned cabin, and let it take you up, up, and away! The chair-lifts, which form part of the Skyride, give you the illusion of flying, as they take you up to the Luge rides. Speed freaks will really dig this one. Part go-cart, part-toboggan, pure excitement – the luge is a fun-filled gravity ride that's safe for all ages, with a unique steering and braking system that allows you to make the ride as leisurely or as exciting as you want. If you like speed, you'll definitely dig the Segway course. The eco-friendly two-wheeled vehicle uses your weight to take you around. At Sentosa, you get to try it over a fun obstacle course. If all those 'actual' rides are too much to take in, make sure you try out the 4D Magix shows, which synchronise a full spectrum of visual effects, surround sound, individually-controlled motion seats and special "live" environmental effects such as water spray to make your movie viewing experience come alive. Finally, the crowning glory of all the entertainment features at Sentosa, Songs of the Sea, the light and sound show is simply breathtaking. Featuring a live cast and the dramatic effects of pyrotechnics, water jets, brilliant lasers, special computer imaging, captivating music and stunning flame bursts, it is the ultimate audio-visual experience.

Sabrina F Ahmad, back from Singapore
References: www.zoo.com.sg, www.nightsafari.com.sg, www.birdpark.com.sg



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