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Published: July 26th 2015
Ranjan, GP, Akshay and Pramod
It all started with Akshay and Ranjan planning to attend the Singapore Grand Prix (F1 race). The rest of us were indifferent towards it but wanted to go for an international trip. They had already roped in Pramod and Suhas (GP) before they asked me to join. I had never been out of India and thus, jumped at their request. Yashwanth on the other hand gave us a threshold (6 excluding him) for the number of people joining us in order to grace us with his presence. We were not able to meet his threshold by 1 person because of which he declined to join us. After booking the flight tickets, we quickly searched for hotels to stay in and found a backpacker's motel called G4 Station. It had decent enough reviews and we decided to book it online. For the places to visit, we contacted our friend Vikram who was studying there at Nanyang Technological University (NTU). He gave us insights as to which all places were must see and bought all the tickets for us through an agent he knew for a discount. With all the preparations done, we eagerly waited for our journey date to arrive.
of us met at the airport and GP decided to start our trip with the standard fb location post of "At Bengaluru International Airport with friends". Akshay immediately got a call from Boss (our collegemate Vikas) asking him why he did not call him for the trip (He asked it in such a casual fashion like how you ask your friend "Why didn't you call me for the movie"). All of us burst out laughing and teased Akshay for a while. Then we boarded our flight and landed in Singapore in no time. We got our with great anticipation and excitement and headed to to have breakfast. We weren't sure whether we would get adjusted to the food but decided to try out a new sandwich called "Kaya sandwich". Though we were skeptical initially, all of us took an instant liking to it as it was pretty delicious. Ranjan then got a call from some random number which he hesitantly picked up (Airtel has a knack of making spam calls when on roaming). He was in for a shock as it was from a guy with whom his luggage had accidentally been swapped (Moral: Do write your phone numbers on
luggage bags where-ever you go). Once everyone had their right luggage, we decided to go to our motel and keep our luggage. We got 3 day metro passes (which works out great for 3-4 day trips) and boarded the metro rail. The Singapore's metro system was extremely well connected and efficient. Our destination was Little India and we got off at one of the stations only to realize we would need to walk quite a bit to reach our motel. With our luggage, all of us walked on footpaths and roads and to our shock found that people there actually stop their vehicles when someone is crossing the road (This is very unlike India where people are intent on not letting you cross the roads even when the pedestrian crossing signal is green). We reached our motel, unloaded our luggage there and boarded a metro to go to NTU and meet Vikram. He met us at a bus station and we took their University bus to his department building. The University campus was huge and was an epitome of beauty. It was full of lush green trees and had an air of tranquility about it. We went through a maze
of buildings and visited Vikram's department and cafeteria. We also had our lunch there at an Indian food stall (Rest of the stuff was non-veg and most of us were veg). We roamed around the campus a bit and then decided to head back after obtaining all our attraction passes from Vikram's room. It was then back to our motel after which the plan was to go to Marina Bay Sands.
Wow were we in for a surprise. I had not seen the pics of Marina Bay Sands before and just seeing that building made me feel that my trip to Singapore was worthwhile. It was breathtakingly huge with 3 towers connected to each other at the top by a cruise like structure. Just opposite to it was Gardens by the Bay which was a beautifully designed enormous garden with various points of attractions within it. It was undoubtedly one of the best gardens I have ever come across anywhere. The initial part of the garden, the Bay East Garden was pretty much a normal design with a number of different plants with spacious walkways in the open. We were still in awe with the Marina Bay Sands and
the rest of the skyscrapers and kept taking pics with their background in the East Bay Garden too. Slowly we passed onto the Bay South Garden which was when we started realizing how enormous and beautiful the gardens itself were. The South Garden consisted of two observatories - The Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. The Flower Dome was enclosed in a very stylish enclosure and consisted of a plethora of flora ranging from orchids, roses to various other plants including a very old ancient Olive tree, cacti etc. The Cloud Forest mimicked tropical conditions inside and had a variety of ferns, orchids etc. It even had a waterfall which was lit by violet lights in the night to add to its stunning imagery. We walked up a meandering walkway which took us up higher in the dome. It gave us some stunning views of the forest itself and also the cityscape of Singapore. If all these were not enough, we came out to see the stunning brightly lit supertree grove. Supertrees are tree like structures which are built across the garden. We were running out of time and thus, we did not go near the grove but viewed them
from near the Marina Bay Sands itself. They were huge and were fitted with environmental technologies which mimic the functions of trees and they also house a variety of plants. Vikram and Umesh then joined us for the night and we went into the Marina Bay Sands to view its grandeur from inside. Not surprisingly, it was gigantic with shops everywhere. Vikram and Ranjan went to buy a laptop while we roamed around a bit and then went out from the back to see the view there (Marina Bay Sands is situated beside a lake). The night lighting was supremely colourful especially with the reflections of the lights on the lake. We walked for a while along the banks up to a bridge which was closed as it was F1 day the next day. We then had our dinner at Pita Pan near the lake which served falafel. The falafel consisted of deep fried patty of chickpeas or beans with some other vegetables enclosed in a Pita (flatbread made of wheat flour). It was unique and pretty tasty and filling. By the time we were done with our dinner, Vikram and Ranjan then joined us again and it was time
for us to try our hand at gambling in the famous casino inside Marina Bay Sands. Suffices to say that we were pretty miserly there but nonetheless we were extremely excited. Exception was Ranjan who had lofty plans of becoming a millionaire using his poker skills. The rest of us had decided to play it safe with either slot machines or smaller dice games with pretty low entry bid. Most importantly the casino had free cool drinks (including Pulpy Orange) which we made full use of. We played in some slot machines and all of us pretty much did not get any great returns except Pramod. He used his profits to try out his hand at a dice game where he initially won a bit but later lost a few too. But most of the time we were content watching other gamblers gamble. We saw one guy win 100 Singapore Dollars for 10 at roulette only to lose everything the next round. All in all it was an eventful visit giving us insight into casino life. By the time we came out it was pretty late and we caught the metro back to our place.
The next day was
Pretty tall aren't they ?
GP and Pramod's day to drive a supercar. They had registered previously for this ride where you could ride a Ferrari or Lamborghini for a few minutes. We (I, GP and Pramod. Patil and Ranjan was too lazy to get up quickly as they had not registered for the ride) quickly ate a breakfast of Kaya sandwich again (we were in love with it) and then raced to the driving point at Marina Bay Sands. It took some time for us to figure out which building housed the cars. I unfortunately could not register for this as I had got my license recently and they needed a minimum of 1 year driving experience. I had the option of going as a pillion rider which was rather pointless for a cost of Rs. 15k however thrilling the ride might be. So I turned out to be the photographer and took photos of the cool supercars. Pramod and GP zoomed out of the parking lot for their drive while I explored the interior of the building until they came back. The rest of day we had planned to roam Singapore seeing its local sights in a tourist bus in which you can
Hop in and Hop out at the spots. As it was race day (F1), a few roads were closed and we had to walk to a stop near Marina Bay Sands to catch the bus. On the way we walked through the financial district passing along the huge skyscrapers of the investment firms. The architecture of the buildings were exquisite and few of them even had unique architectural structures constructed in front of them for design. We also visited the famous Merlion statue. After waiting for the bus for a long time, one arrived and we got into it. We got to see quite a few places but none of them wowed us. Chinatown presented a pretty view with beautiful paper flower decorations hanging above the streets.
When we had left the airport, we had actually checked the weather forecast and had seen that thundershowers were predicted. But fortunately, it was bright and sunny throughout the day and by the afternoon we were pretty thirsty. We stopped by a Arab cafe during one of our stops and had ice tea there. Fully refreshed we set out to Orchard street to pass our time for the evening while Akshay and
Ranjan would move on to watch the race from there. Orchard street was a full fledged shopping street with malls and vast showrooms. We saw some supercars on display and eagerly clicked pics of them. It was then time for the race and Akshay and Ranjan left, while we stayed there a bit longer and shopped chocolates for our return. We had had a "bulb" moment some time before and tried to test it and see if the skywheel would be free for us to ride. But lot of others had already had this idea much before us and we were not allowed there on the F1 day. We tried to find a decent vantage point from which we could see the cars and found a window on top of a mall where we could see the cars pass for a few seconds. The sound of them passing was deafening. Opposite to our vantage point was a spa which GP and Pramod noticed and decided to try out. Once back they were in a mood to race the F1 cars but we decided that was not advisable and again went to Marina Bay Sands. There we went near the lake
and got to see the scintillating atmosphere with brightly lit F1 path at the other side of the lake. The race was not going to end soon which forced us to wander around the place for some more time. We then decided to head to Mustafa shopping center for some shopping. We were told to enter from the gate 10 which was at the other side of the building we started from. We kept walking and walking and walking (We really walked a lot; it was super long, maybe a bit less than a km with a road crossing in between too) and finally reached it after 15 mins or so. It housed each and every item you could think of (maybe not an F22 raptor but everything a normal person would buy). We had heard that the electronics items here were dirt cheap and decided to check its validity. Initially due to the thought of everything being very cheap I thought the camera (same model I had with me) was almost there was 6k less only to realize later that my math skills had deserted me and it was actually not that cheap. GP bought some earphones for him
View from Skypark
Spectacular view of they city from skypark
and his bro and we browsed through everything there. Finally tired of walking, we came out to meet a very high spirited Akshay and Ranjan. We bought a few gifts at a nearby shop and then headed back to get a good night's sleep.
Everyone was up and excited to go to Sentosa islands the next day. We reached the metro station for sentosa and got to ride over the vast seas to reach the islands. Once there we headed to Adventure water cove waterpark first. We had a lot of fun there going for various rides, lazy river and wave pool. It was better maintained there than WonderLa in Bangalore and the crowd too was better. We got out of the waterpark by afternoon after having lunch there (it was pretty difficult to find veg food and somehow we managed to get one pizza which was veg). Then we moved on to the S.E.A Aquarium. The entrance to it was graced with a number of attractions which included huge ships and artifacts. We were also given a 4D show of a pirate story which acted as a precursor to the entrance to the aquarium. The aquarium is supposedly
the world's largest but whether that's true or not, it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful. We were awestruck going in and finding ourselves covered with huge windows to the aquarium all around. We could see sharks, sting rays, shoal of fish, crabs etc. They had an unbelievable number of species of marine animals there with some in separate enclosures. Jellyfish were kept in beautifully coloured tanks which gave it a very transparent feel. The main attraction there were dolphins. The dolphins excitedly did the actions the trainers asked them to do and were very cute to watch. The whole aquarium gave us the feel of "Finding Nemo" movie (They even had clownfish to remind us of that). I am pretty sure Pramod would have wanted to dive into the water though there were sharks and sting rays there (He goes berserk in water and loves swimming). Mesmerized, we came out to the real world and decided to go on the cable car. The cable car went over the water giving us a full view of the city and sea. We even got superhero masks free for the ride. While all of us got batman, superman, green lantern, Pramod
Near Clarke Quay
Me, Umesh and GP
being the lucky one got wonder woman. By the time we got down, the sun was setting and we decided it was time to visit the Marina Bay Sands Skypark. The building itself was 55 floors high and so one can imagine how the view from the top of it would be. The skypark had a tremendously beautiful view of the whole city. It was even more special as it was night time and the city a aglow with coloured lights. After enjoying the breeze at the top, we moved on to head to Clarke Quay.
Clarke Quay is a historical riverside quay where nightlife thrills. There are a lot of pubs with live music going on. We had a tourist boat ride (which we had got with our metro pass) and we did not want to waste it. So we boarded it at Clarke Quay, went towards the Merlion statue and then again caught a metro back to Clarke Quay. The whole ride was worthwhile as we got to see the river view of the city. Umesh was supposed to meet us there and while we waited, Pramod and Akshay decided to try the massage lounges at one
GP, me, Akshay, Pramod, Vikram and Ranjan
of the buildings. Akshay enjoyed it to the fullest and was ecstatic after getting the massage. Umesh reached there and we roamed around the place listening to music at some places (None of us were going to drink there and thus, we had to go in, listen to the music and then come out). For dinner we tried a Mexican restaurant that Umesh suggested. We had varieties of tacos and burritos which were pretty delicious. We sat on the bridge there at the Quay for a while enjoying the place and then took a cab back to our place. On the way, Umesh and GP haggled over who would give whom the treasure of change (coins) they had, each one saying "you keep it".
The next morning we were back at Sentosa islands, this time to check out Universal studios. Being an ardent movie fan, I was looking forward to this and it did not disappoint. There was the huge logo of universal studios with earth globe at the entrance. At the entrance, we got to meet Frankenstein with whom we got a group pic. Going further we found minions, madagascar characters etc. We went for a few rides
such as Madagascar, Shrek (it was a 4d ride with water sprinkling etc), Jurrasic Park. They were decent rides but the Pharaoh themed ride was the one which got our blood pumping. It was a high thrill ride with great thrills and chills due to speed and sudden stops in the dark. Then came the most kickass ride of the place, Transformers. We were first led through a Transformers styled enclosure with the "All Spark" kept in one of the rooms. The ride itself was a 3D motion picture completely in sync with our seats which were constantly adjusting according to the movements in the picture. This gave the feel as if we were in the Transformers movie and made it one of the most unique experiences I have ever been in. All of us came out completely enthralled. We were so pumped up that most of us even bought the overpriced Transformers tshirts at the store. I still love that tshirt as it was one which is normally black and white and starts gaining Optimus Prime's colour when exposed to sunlight. From there we went to the New York section where we had pizzas for lunch. An interesting attraction
GP and Akshay bowing to her Majesty's beauty
in New York zone was the live movie effects which was created by Steven Spielberg. The setup basically had an empty stage which looked like a backroom of a house with the windows having a view of a city. Then with great sound and movie effects, it transformed into scenario where hurricane hit the city with its aftereffects. With that we got to see how one can create such a complex scene using stage effects. By then it was time for WaterWorld show. The show is a live performance of action sequences with superb stunts and explosions as you would see in any Expendables movie (Whatever you think of the movie, the stunts are at least great). The stuntmen performed amazingly well and we got to see what it takes to make the action movies. On the way back we bought some souvenirs from the universal studios store. We grudgingly had to leave the sentosa island though we were not ready to accept that our trip was nearing its end. All amazing things come to an end and this was no exception.
This was my first international trip and I could not have asked for a better one. Singapore
is a spectacular city with an amazing infrastructure. The crime rate is super low here and anyone can visit it without thinking twice. The people were pretty friendly (you might face issues with language and veg food at some places but manageable). In the metro you will see each and everyone engaged with his/her mobile to even notice you. At attractions, you will see each and everyone with selfie sticks (you need to get used to people taking selfies as it is ultra rampant). We did miss a few places but the ones we visited were worth our every moment spent. We visited it at the end of September and did not face any issues with weather. The general thinking might be that because it was F1 race time, everything would be super expensive. We did not think that was the case and it actually had its perks as the city was more decked up to host the event. So, if you have been thinking about an international trip (with Singapore as an option) just stop thinking and head out to Singapore, you will enjoy every bit of your trip. Do not give crappy excuses such as you need a classroom of friends. Its just your passion for travel and determination to enjoy that matters 😊
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