Being a tourist in Singapore

Singapore is a very small country – it has a size of a mere 716 square kilometers. Even so, Singapore always surprises me with its many, beautiful faces. What I like most about Singapore is how Singapore does not have a “tourist spots are for tourists only” mentality. Instead, the locals here have been using the various tourist attraction sites for their own activities and this really makes the places a lot livelier. What this means for a local is that I can visit the same tourist spot repeatedly and not be bored by it because things are so dynamic here. 🙂

I managed to catch the Singapore Youth Festival Celebrations 2014 at Gardens by the Bay with my family. The event was by and large free (except the performances inside the domes) and it was fairly interesting – there were numerous performances by student groups from different primary/ secondary schools all over Gardens by the Bay at different hours. The grand finale stage was set in the middle of  the supertrees and it was really beautiful when the trees were lighted up at night. I don’t remember too much about the performance except the dramatic and surprising beginning where some members of the band played on the OCBC Skywalk. I thought it was a pretty good use of space!

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Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Speaking of Gardens by the Bay, there is now a daily light show (free) at the Gardens by the Bay which many locals are unaware of. There are two shows which last for 15 minutes each night at 7.45 pm and 8.45 pm. I happened to catch one of the shows when I was showing Eiji from Kyoto around Singapore. During the show, accompanied by good music, the supertrees change colours rather spectacularly. The best way to watch the show is to lie on the seating area at the bottom of the trees and watch the nice display of colours. Eiji told me that he thought that he was inside a theme park!

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Marina Bay, Singapore

After watching the light show at Gardens by the Bay, we took a short walk over to Marina Bay and to our surprise, there was a really big crowd at the waterfront watching a free light and water show. It is really cool how there are so many cool and free shows within walking distance of each other in this area. 🙂 The water show is part of the Marina Bay Sands Light and Water Show which occurs every night at 8 pm and 9.30 pm. Supposedly, the show is the largest light and water show in Southeast Asia. There are additional slots on weekends. In case you are wondering, it is impossible to fully appreciate both the light and water elements of the show from one standing position. To admire the light show, the best position to watch the show is from the Merlion Park. On the other hand, the water show is only visible when you stand right outside of The Shoppes. For us, we only managed to watch the water part on that night. Personally, I was quite surprised by the effects of the show because I have never seen real human faces been projected on the dancing water before. However, to be honest, I couldn’t really follow the plot of the show. I thought since the show is so popular with tourists, it will be more meaningful if the show uses the Singapore narrative (Third World to First World in a lifetime) instead. This way, tourists will gain a quick overview about Singapore’s past and our uniqueness.

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NE show 2014, Singapore

For quite a few years, my family managed to get National Education (NE) show tickets and this year was not an exception. For the uninitiated, NE show is the full-dress rehearsal for National Day Parade on 9th August. The performances for the two shows are largely the same except that the very few politicians attend the NE show. This difference may seem slight but it is quite a big deal in Singapore. This is especially so in recent years when the most highly anticipated moment for the National Day Parade is the appearance of our founding father Lee Kuan Yew.

As for the performances, I thought the show this year was okay. The light and pyrotechnic effects were stunning at times but I did not like the story line. Instead of showcasing the stories and insights offered by heroes among us, why not emphasize that everyone is a hero in his/ her own way? Wouldn’t that be a more compelling and appealing plot? As this is the last year when National Day Parade was held at the Float @ Marina Bay, I thought it will be quite meaningful to show the transformation of Marina Bay since the first year it was held here. I was quite disappointed that nothing about how Marina Bay landscape has evolved was mentioned in the show. Sometimes I still cannot believe that Marina Bay Sands opened its doors only in 2010. Sometimes I feel as if Marina Bay Sands has been standing there for a very long time. Singapore has changed so much in such a short time…

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Siloso Beach, Singapore

One weekend in August, I took part in the 3 days 2 nights Imperial College London Singapore Society orientation held at the Siloso Beach at Sentosa. Prior to this, I have not visited Siloso Beach in over 10 years! To be honest, I have not been on Sentosa for quite a while too and I was shocked by how much Sentosa has changed. There are so many over-priced tourist attractions, including the MegaZip ($39 single ticket), ClimbMax ($39 single ticket) and iFly ($99 for two sky dives). I know I should not dwell on the past but I miss the old Sentosa. I miss the package deals and I miss how we had to choose which attractions to visit. In particular, I have fond memories of VolcanoLand, Underwater World and Fort Siloso. Things have become so expensive and the ticketing has become so complicated now.

The orientation program was okay, it was really similar to NUS orientation camps. I thought it will be better if we were given more time to befriend other people from the other orientation groups instead of just sticking around and playing games in the same group.

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