Here and There

Here’s what I’ve been up to recently.

1) We celebrated the Hub’s birthday.

My surprise Cameo video for the Hub worked out! He and I are both yuuge fans of the LOTR movies, especially the first. We used to re-watch The Fellowship of the Ring all the time; it was our top choice for “movie-in-the-background” – times when we were busy with other stuff but wanted something interesting on TV that we could passively listen to. The Hub and I agreed Sam was the real MVP of the saga. One Valentine’s Day, the Hub even signed off his card to me as “Your Sam” (does that make me Frodo in that scenario?!).

Anyway, when I saw Sean Astin was on Cameo I grabbed my chance. The Hub never guessed!

A screengrab from the Hub’s Cameo message.

I highly recommend Sean if you’re thinking of getting a Cameo (provided you’re a fan, of course). He started off with a Marilyn Monroe-esque ‘Happy Birthday’ song which was pretty funny. You could tell he took the time to personalise each birthday message a bit. I only wrote Cameo a sentence or two about the Hub and Sean was able to build on that for a 5-minute-long video. He even managed to squeeze in his iconic “Po-tay-toes” line at the end. Sulit.

Other things we did on the Hub’s birthday: a nice omakase lunch at one of our favourite Japanese places capped off with drinks at Raffles Hotel. We both wanted to try the original Singapore Sling at the Long Bar but found out the bar was temporarily closed; the hotel was serving cocktails at the Raffles Courtyard instead.

We were seated and comfortable when I opened the menu and found out that an Original Singapore Sling costs S$35 (around Php1,300 or US$26). I reasoned to myself this was the first and probably the last time I’ll be trying it so… okay. Fine.

According to the menu, a Singapore Sling consists of Widges London Dry Gin, Bénédictine, Raffles Signature Grenadine, Luxardo Cherry Sangue Morlacco, Ferrand Dry Curaçao, pineapple juice, fresh lime juice, and Scrappy’s Aromatic Bitters.

Our drinks came with the obligatory tray of peanuts. (Traditionally, the peanut shells are thrown on the Long Bar’s tiled floor.) It was good, but was it worth S$35? The jury’s still out on that one.

2) I realised parts of the old Sentosa monorail tracks haven’t been demolished.

One of my most enduring childhood memories was a short trip my family took to Singapore in the ’90s. It probably got stuck in my head because the trip happened during a school week. I felt like I was playing hooky from school the whole time, and it felt good.

We had a day out in Sentosa Island. Back then, VivoCity was non-existent and the distance was wider between the main island and Singapore. There was no Boardwalk to cross. The Mount Faber Line cable cars were already around, but we took a ferry to the island.

I remember the breeze on our faces as we rode a monorail in Sentosa. Unlike today’s Sentosa Express which only stops at four stations – VivoCity, Resorts World (where Universal Studios is), Imbiah (for the nature walk), and Beach station – the monorail in my memory looped around the island. I even recall passing the giant “Sentosa” logo while on the train. The monorail ride experience and the rest of that day – a visit to a SeaWorld aquarium, a wax museum, musical fountains in the evening – is probably one of my core Joy memories haha.

The old Sentosa monorail, decommissioned in 2005. (Source)

Imagine my delight then, when I discovered while walking on the Imbiah trail the other weekend that parts of the old monorail tracks were still there! I don’t know why I never noticed it before.

Does anyone know why some parts of the track weren’t demolished?

3) We walked some more.

We had dinner at Robertson Quay in one of our favourite Middle Eastern restaurants (so far it’s the only place we found with kebab koobideh that approximates our beloved Alounak).

It was a balmy evening and it seemed everyone was out and about. So, we took the opportunity to walk from Robertson Quay all the way to Clarke Quay.

The Old Hill Street Police Station on Clarke Quay

We finally reached Boat Quay where we caught the bus home.

Think critically dear readers,

Up

We’ve been riding cable cars nearly every weekend lately.

I know it sounds extravagant when I say it like that. But we’re simply making full use of a Faber Licence annual pass we bought recently at a promo price. If we rode the cable cars every week for a year, it comes to around S$3 (around Php 100) each trip, with unlimited rides for four people. It’s non-transferable (they check our photos), but still, that’s just Php 25 per person. Sulit naman (It’s a good deal). It’s a fun weekend activity and my kid is a happy camper.

The Singapore Cable Car Sky Network (there’s only one) is made up of two lines: the Mount Faber Line, which you can take from Harbourfront Tower all the way to Faber Peak and back to Sentosa island (a 30-minute round trip ride); and the Sentosa Line, which makes three stops within the island at Siloso Point, Imbiah Lookout, and near the Sentosa Merlion (a 20-minute ride).

There are ongoing construction works now near Sentosa Line’s Merlion Station, so we usually hop off at Siloso Point Station and take the free beach trams around the island, another activity my kid loves.

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Personally, I prefer the cable car rides itself. The views of Sentosa island from the sky are also hard to beat.

There is Brani Terminal and the Sentosa Boardwalk in the distance, with Hard Rock Hotel Singapore in the foreground and Festive Hotel to the right. The terminal will eventually close and move to the Tuas mega-port in western Singapore at some point, as the government intends to redevelop this area into the Greater Southern Waterfront. The port will be replaced with waterfront promenades and residential / commercial spaces. With the Covid-19 situation now, I’m not sure when this would be.

I like seeing the rows of solar panels atop the Bank of America Merrill Lynch building, visible when you approach Harbourfront Tower on the Mount Faber Line.

This is an aerial view of Adventure Cove Waterpark. It’s strange to see the water slides and Adventure River stripped of water. We can already spot small black stagnant pools in some places, littered with leaves. We see the sharks and dolphins are still there, possibly living their “best” life (as can be had within the confines of their tanks) with no humans to bother them.

The giant wave pool at Adventure Cove looks rather lonely now.

This is Siloso Beach last month, when Singapore celebrated its 55th National Day. The heart-shaped installation was made up of 10,000 red and white flags, each with a heartfelt message.

The AJ Hackett bungy jump tower is always a source of interest to my kid. If someone happens to be on a jump or zipping down the 450m zipline from Mega Adventure Park, we can hear the screaming from the comfort of our cable car.

Finally, there’s what is touted to be the “reigning king of public toilets” across Singapore, found in Faber Peak Singapore (you can hop off at the Mount Faber Station on the cable car line). In this glass-enclosed toilet at The Jewel Box, you can soak in superb views of Mount Faber’s greenery and the cable cars while making yourself comfortable on the couch provided. There’s even a fish tank with real fish inside. Best of all, it’s clean!

For your pooping pleasure

Think critically dear readers,

A Sign of the Times

Sentosa, Singapore’s self-declared “State of Fun,” re-opened on July 1st. We wasted no time in visiting the island over the weekend.

There are a lot of fun, free, kid-friendly activities you can do in Sentosa – ride the electric trams, walk the nature trails, and – most importantly for us – swim in the beaches. Sentosa has three to choose from: Siloso, Palawan, and Tanjong.

Relax on a hammock at Palawan Beach
A ride on the tram. “Mask up, see your smile soon”
The Sentosa Boardwalk

Our favourite mode of getting to Sentosa is by strolling along the Boardwalk from VivoCity. It’s shaded from the heat and there are moving walkways, if you get too tired. There’s also a lovely view to your right looking out towards the cable cars and Keppel Island. The other plus is if you go by foot, entry to Sentosa is free (it usually costs a S$1).

But the Sentosa entry fee is waived until end of this year anyway, so it’s free however you choose to get there.

There are a lot of renovations going on in Sentosa at the moment. The fountain and paths near the replica Merlion with the Cyclops laser eyes, as well as the seemingly Gaudí-inspired Merlion Walk with the colourful mosaic tiles, have been torn down to make way for the “Greater Southern Waterfront” redevelopment plan.

The replica Merlion, during National Day celebrations back in 2018.
The Merlion Walk mosaic fountain, back then. This section has now been razed to the ground.

One of the nice parts I like about the walk is passing by the rotating Universal Studios globe. It’s usually packed with tourists taking selfies, but these days it’s quiet and empty.

Social distancing for no one

I noticed with surprise that someone had replaced the signage displays at the Universal Studios ticket booths with these Photoshopped gems:

When you see it…

It’s amazing attention to detail on the part of Resorts World… but I can’t get the image out of my head of some poor intern tweaking the face masks so they looked “natural.”

What a funny sign of today’s odd times.

Mask up and stay safe everyone!

Think critically dear readers,