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Hello Singapore! Part II

July 26, 2013 / by / 0 Comment

Day Two

The first item on our itinerary was Universal Studios Singapore, a theme park spanning nearly 50 acres built within Resorts World Sentosa on Sentosa Island.

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Before going through the USS archway, we located an enormous Hershey’s chocolates store. For a moment I wished we had a store like that too, just like how I wanted Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme, but then I guess I should be thankful that large quantities of Reese peanut butter cups and Hershey’s kisses were not readily available in Hong Kong. It would certainly take a toll on my weight and bring it to, um, an undesirable level. However, this didn’t seem to be a problem for Singaporeans – perhaps they had better discipline?

Indeed, visitors of USS seemed more disciplined than those I encountered back at the theme parks in Hong Kong. At least I didn’t see people jumping queues, a viral disease that is slowly becoming an epidemic in our own city. At USS, the queues were so long that the average waiting time for a single ride took around 50 minutes, but there were fans everywhere so the heat wasn’t that unbearable.

The park comprised of seven areas, namely, Hollywood, New York, Sci-Fi City, Ancient Egypt, The Lost World, Far Far Away, and Madagascar. As one enters the park, one is greeted by the familiar setting of the Hollywood Boulevard, ample with palm trees and familiar faces like Betty Boop and Marilyn Monroe. Going further into the park, the Hollywood style architecture slowly morphs into buildings that can be found in post-modern New York.  Then there is Sci-Fi City, themed after the appearance of future cities that abound with space technologies. Ancient Egypt showcases a variety of Egyptian architecture, and the most exciting rides can be found in The Lost World, which features two other regions – Jurassic Park and Waterworld. The next two attractions will prove more to children’s liking – Far Far Away is based on Shrek, the story about the green ogre who finds love and lives happily ever after (a children’s favourite), and Madagascar is based on, well, Madagascar, which offers a cheerful ride in an oversized crate.

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It was nearly dusk by the time we had been to all the major attractions. As with most theme parks, the mirage of a carefree world dissipates once you leave, but that magical feeling lingers like the orange glow of the setting sun.

Day Three

Although the Chinese made up most of the population, curiously enough, Singapore has its own Chinatown. In fact, the Singaporean Chinese referred to the place as Niu Che Shui (literally, bull cart water) instead of Chinatown, the latter being a term only used by the non-Chinese and given by the British. The place was called Niu Che Shui because Chinatown’s water supply was mainly transported by carts driven by animals in the 19th century. Chinatown comprises of five districts – Telok Ayer, Bukit Pasoh, Tanjong Pagar, Kreta Ayer and Ann Siang Hill.

 

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When we arrived at Chinatown station, we came across this poem on Chinatown entitled Couplets on Chinatown by Tan Swie Hian, a Singaporean artist. It goes as follows:

(1) The nebula swirls with a dance around the River South;

 The equator darts through a song around the sea shore.

 (2) The buildings in harmony do away the remnant shadows;

The waste land of ruined gravels grows a million flowers.

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I thought this was a lovely poem about Singapore, especially the last line with the imagery of “a million flowers” blossoming in a waste land – a harbinger for better days to come.

After our visit to Chinatown, we went to Arab Street, which was an area owned by an Arab merchant. One could find an array of merchandise from the Middle East here, such as spices, textiles and authentic Muslim food. There was also a mosque called Sultan Mosque in the area for worshippers to pay their respect.

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After this we moved on to the next item on our agenda – an indispensable one for any journey abroad – shopping at Orchard Road, a long road spanning over 2 km where retail stores, cafes and cinemas abound. There were luxury brands like LV, Gucci, Prada…you name it, they have it – as well as a mixture of global and local stores like Zara, Stradivarius, Forever 21, Esprit and New Look.

If I could, I would make Orchard Street my wardrobe and Starbucks my kitchen.

Epilogue

Singapore was the perfect getaway for a long weekend for me because it was close enough to Hong Kong and everything there was neat and tidy (the public bathrooms were amazingly clean, even those at USS). The only downside though was probably the heat and how the malls felt more like the Antarctic than merely air-conditioned rooms. Despite all this, however, there really wasn’t much to complain about. After all, I got the break I wanted from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and that’s one of the best things about taking a vacation.




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