Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Sentosa Island

Sentosa didn't appeal to me in principle, as I heard tale it's an island of resorts, casinos, American restaurants (such as the Hard Rock Cafe), Universal Studios theme park, and manmade beaches. However, we had to visit just once to see what all the fuss was about!
Once we arrived at the Harbourfront, we caught the monorail from VivoCity - a shopping centre (you can expect no less in Singapore). The monorail was packed to bursting with tourists and daytrippers, and we walked along to Palawan Beach: the middle of three beaches on the island. The westernmost beach is owned by a hotel, and is lined with resorts so we skipped that one completely. We didn't have the best first impression of Palawan, because you have to pass by a giant kidzone (with attached McDonalds) to get to the beach. There was a lot going on, but we made our way to the little island.

For some reason, the footbridge was slightly flooded. At first I thought it was simply due to high tide, but then we saw two lifeguards were checking out the situation and I suspected that this was atypical.

Once across, we climbed one of the towers that afforded us views out across the sea and back towards the beach.

We walked the island (in about two minutes), and found a funny horizontal palm tree on which to take a photo. As he was lining up the shot, a rather large spider scurried up Yannick's leg but was easily dissuaded from going further by a brush of the hand. We then walked from Palawan Beach to the third and smallest beach on the island: Tanjong Beach. I had been told by a couple of blog posts that this was the best choice because most people didn't bother taking the time to walk just ten minutes' more to reach it, and therefore it was a lot quieter. What those blogs failed to mention was that dogs were allowed off the lead on Tanjong Beach, and the area was swarming with white tourists and expats who liked to exercise their canines and noisy children alike. I think it was actually more crowded than Palawan! (Though I may have just garnered that impression because the sound levels were a lot louder and higher-pitched due to the screaming toddlers, and I was disoriented by all the movement going on around me what with Irish Setters dashing to and fro.) 

After one glance at Tanjong, we returned to Palawan and settled at the end farthest from all the activities. Once you removed yourself from the kid's area and the kayak rental shops, it left a quiet stretch of beach with only a few sunbathers dotted around. The water was glorious, and perfect for a dip after soaking in the rays for a little while. Maintenance workers can be seen raking the beach of seaweed, so the effect is a somewhat pristine holiday spot (however, a friend of ours got a nasty pinch from a crab on his visit so it's not necessarily an over-controlled dystopia!). It was here that we met Bill, a businessman from Chicago who became our first expat friend! Once we had enough sand and surf, we had lunch with Bill at a beachside restaurant and narrowly avoided a downpour.

On my second trip to Sentosa, I asked my friend Melanie to accompany me. This time, instead of taking the monorail across the channel we walked over the boardwalk. I thought it was a much better way to get to the island, as you weren't crammed in with dozens of others and could actually enjoy the walk and see the island a bit as you approached. Looking down into the turqoise waters, we could see several varieties of fish flitting about, as well as an unhealthy sheen of oil drifting along the top above them.

On the route to Palawan Beach, we saw the famed merlion - Singapore's mascot! He was fairly impressive, and the imaginative idea of an aquatic big cat pleases me.

From the merlion, we found ourselves walking along a pathway with a great flowing mosaic fountain leading down to the water. Again, I nodded my head at the artistic vision involved. Similar to my first visit, it began to rain after a while on the beach, but we had our time in the sun!