Showing posts with label Singapore. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Singapore. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Singapore: Skydiving simulation at iFly Singapore on Sentosa Island

Singapore has many new attractions. Every time I come back, they always have something new. I was quite excited to try iFly Singapore on Sentosa Island. iFly Singapore opened in May 2011. So it wasn't even a year old when I got to experience this wind tunnel for indoor sky diving.

iFly simulates free fall from 12,000 to 3,000 feet. Each skydive lasts about 45 seconds. And you get two skydives for every session. The regular cost for two skydives is SG$89. But if you come during off-peak and super off peak times, you can pay as low as SG$69. They also have family and group packages as well.

Make sure to book in advance if you are looking for a particular time since wait time can be long, especially during peak hours. Also make sure you are there 1.5 hours before your flight time since you will have to go through a briefing and gear up before you actually get into the wind tunnel.

How to get there
Take an MRT to the Harbour Front Station. A few levels above the Harbour Front Station in Vivocity is the Sentosa Monorail Station of the Sentosa Express. The ride will cost you SG$3.50 which includes use of the monorail within Sentosa and the trip back to Sentosa Station. Get off at the last station which is Beach Station. iFly Singapore is walking distance from there. You can actually see it from the station.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Singapore: Walking tour of Singapore's Civic District

Singapore's Civic District is the heart of colonial Singapore. Walking around the district gives visitors a glimpse of monuments and structures that connect modern Singapore with its rich historical past.

Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple
I started my walk at the Bugis Station, going through Waterloo Street where the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple (观音堂佛祖庙) and Sri Krishnan Temple can be found. Kwan Im Temple, also known as the Guan Yin Tong Temple, is quite popular especially to devotees of its main deity Kuan Yin (观音), the Goddess of Mercy, who they pray to for good luck. The temple has existed since 1884 and survived the Second World War. But the original structure did not survive a fairly recent renovation. And most of what you see today dates back to 1982.

Sri Krishnan Temple
Sri Krishnan Temple, dedicated to Sri Krishna and consort Rukmini, dates back to 1870 and is the only South Indian Hindu temple in Singapore. Further down Waterloo Street is Southeast Asia's oldest Jewish synagogue, the Maghain Aboth Synagogue, which dates back to 1878.

Across the road, along Queen Street, is the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, a Catholic church that was completed in 1870. Further down Queen Street is Singapore's oldest Catholic church and seat of the Archdiocese of Singapore, the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, completed in 1847.

Beside the Cathedral, along Victoria Street, is CHIJMES (pronounced chimes), the former Catholic convent known as the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus (CHIJ) and its middle education school. The complex has been adaptively reused as a dining, shopping and entertainment center. The chapel is now a multi-purpose hall that caters to musicals, recitals and other performances and weddings of course.

Raffles Hotel
St. Andrew's Cathedral
The iconic Raffles Hotel is near the corner of Beach Road and Bras Basah Road. Further down is the Anglican St. Andrew's Cathedral. The first was church built in 1836. The current cathedral dates back to 1861.

By this time, after walking quite a lot, you might have gotten an overdose of heritage. But it gets better. If you are not really the type who likes walking a lot, you can actually start your walk at the St. Andrew's Cathedral via the City Hall MRT Station. Beside the sprawling grounds of the cathedral is a vast green field called the Padang, which in a way is Singapore's central square. Around it are the old government buildings of colonial Singapore which include City Hall and the Old Supreme Court, both currently being renovated and converted to house the National Art Gallery that will open several years from now.

Asian Civilisations Museum
Boat Quay
You can also see the Singapore Cricket Club and the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, which is also being restored as we speak and covered with scaffolding. In the area are the Dalhousie Obelisk, Asian Civilisations Museum (Empress Palace Building) and the Raffles's Landing Site, where Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles landed in 1819. Across the river, you can see Boat Quay, old shop houses and warehouses that have been converted into chic and trendy bars and restaurants.

Cavenagh Bridge
The Fullerton
There are two old bridges which bring you to the other side of the Singapore River, the now pedestrian Cavenagh Bridge and Anderson Bridge which connects to Fullerton Road and the Fullerton hotel complex, fine examples of adaptive reuse. The Fullerton was the former Singapore Post Office while the Fullerton Bay Hotel's main entrance and lobby is the former Clifford Pier Terminal.

Don't forget to pass by Merlion Park for a photo with another Singapore icon, the Merlion, and a nice view of Esplanade and Marina Bay Sands.

Satay at Lau Pa Sat
I ended my tour near the Raffles Place MRT Station, capping it off with a satay dinner at La Pau Sat Market, a preserved colonial market converted to a hawker centre in the heart of Singapore's business district.

Another area of the Civic District I plan to explore when I return to Singapore is Fort Canning Park. Around it include the National Museum, Perenakan Museum and Singapore Philatelic Museum.

How to get to the Civic District
There are several MRT stations that can bring you to the Civic District. Aside from Bugis and Raffles Place Stations at the northern and southern ends respectively, there is City Hall Station, and the Bras Basah and Clarke Quay Stations on opposite ends of Fort Canning.

Thank you to the Singapore Tourism Board and Agatep Associates for their valuable assistance during this trip.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Singapore: Skyline and Marina Bay at night

One of the most spectacular images of Singapore is the Singapore skyline at night. The best views of course are those around Marina Bay. And there are many ways to enjoy Marina Bay at night.

The first would be on foot. You could actually walk the entire length from Merlion Park, passing through One Fullerton, Clifford Pier (Fullerton Bay Hotel), Customs House, the Promontory, Marina Bay Sands, Art and Science Museum, the Helix Bridge which connects to Marina Promenade and Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay and back to the Merlion via Esplanade Bridge.

Another option would be a night cruise on the Singapore River where, aside from Marina Bay, you'll also get to enjoy the different buildings from various periods in Singapore's history along its banks.

But my personal favorite is from way up there of course! And you can take the Singapore Flyer or go to the top of Marina Bay Sands for a grand view of the Singapore skyline, which is what we did. We had drinks at Ku De Ta, a restaurant and bar on the roof deck.

Note also that there is a really nice evening Light and Water Show in front of Marina Bay Sands. Images are projected onto three large fountains in front of the amphitheater. Show times are: Sunday to Thursday (8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.) / Fridays and Saturdays (8 p.m., 9:30 p.m. and 11 p.m.).

How to get to Marina Bay
There are several MRT stations that you can take to Marina Bay. Raffles Place Station is closest to One Fullerton. Bayfront Station is below Marina Bay Sands. Marina Bay Station is also close and is located near the Promontory. Esplanade Station is closest to Esplanade (City Hall Station is an alternative). While Promenade Station is closest to the Singapore Flyer.

Thank you to the Singapore Tourism Board and Agatep Associates for their valuable assistance during my trip!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Singapore: Hawker food at Jalan Tua Kong Lau Lim Mee Pok, Old Airport Road Food Centre & 126 搵到食 Dim Sum

Hawker food is an integral part of any real visit to Singapore. While there are some hawker centers that are popular with tourists, the locals can point you towards the 'famous' ones. During my recent visit, my Singaporean friends took me to many popular places to eat. Among them were Jalan Tua Kong Lau Lim Mee Pok, Old Airport Road Food Centre and 126 搵到食 Dim Sum Restaurant in the Geylang area.

At the Jalan Tua Kong Lau Lim Mee Pok at the Bedok Shopping Complex, we had Crispy Deep-Fried Yong Tau Foo and Mee Pok (麪薄) with fishcake, minced meat, pork slices and fish balls of course!

Since I'm a fan of satay, we drove over to the Old Airport Road Food Centre, one of the best hawker centers in Singapore, where you can get some really tasty satay from Chuan Kee Satay. You can get Pork Satay, Chicken Satay and Mutton Sattay here for SG$0.50 a piece.

I had also been craving for Char Kway Teow which we purchased from Lao Fu Zi Fried Kway Teow which starts at SG$3 a serving. Char Kway Teow is a personal favorite, especially the one with cockles.

My friends ordered Big Prawn Noodle from Albert Street Prawn Noodle which starts at SG$5 a bowl.

For dessert, we got Tau Huay (豆花) at 51 Soya Bean. Note that they also have Durian Bean Curd which I was told is really good too.

Then there's Geylang, which is a famous and infamous for a lot of things, hawker food included. We visited 126 搵到食 (Wen Dao Shi) Dim Sum Restaurant, another 'famous' place for dim sum. Aside from the address number, the Chinese characters actually read wan tou sek (found something to eat) in Cantonese, and thus sounds like 126.

From pork buns and dumplings to chicken feet, they definitely serve really good dim sum there. Thanks again to my SSEAYP batchmate Ong Han Chong and wife Diana for the treats! More food posts to follow.

Jalan Tua Kong Lau Lim Mee Pok
306 Bedok Road (Simpang Bedok)
Bedok Shopping Complex

Old Airport Road Food Centre
19 Old Airport Road

126 搵到食 Dim Sum Restaurant
126 Sims Avenue (near Geylang Lorong 17)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Singapore: Adaptive reuse of heritage buildings along Jalan Besar

Jalan Besar is a street in Singapore that has been gazetted as a conservation area. I actually enjoyed walking along Jalan Basar from my hostel along Lavender Street, admiring the old but colorfully-painted buildings that have been adaptively reused for modern needs.

Here are some photos from Jalan Besar showing the many things you can do with a heritage building. As can be seen from the photos, old buildings need not be torn down to be economically viable. Despite the scarcity of land in Singapore, they have strong heritage conservation rules, especially since their preserved ethnic neighborhoods bring in the tourists.

Many of the buildings have restaurants, hawker stalls or even KTVs and night clubs.

I noticed there were also many hardware stores, stores that specialize in home fixtures and interior design including lighting and paint shops. One even had an Internet shop.

Regardless of what businesses are there today, the important thing is that these buildings will continue to survive because of strong heritage laws in Singapore and the new lease to life these new enterprises have brought to these buildings. And note that this is just one street. Singapore has many conservation areas. Those in Manila who say land is too expensive for heritage conservation should make a trip to land-scarce Singapore and see how its done.
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