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Asia 2012: [Day 1 - Hong Kong] [Day 2 - Hong Kong] [Day 3 - Hong Kong] [Day 4 - Hong Kong] [Day 5 - Thailand] [Day 6 - Thailand] [Day 7 - Thailand] [Day 8 - Thailand] [Day 9 - Cambodia] [Day 10 - Cambodia] [Day 11 - Singapore] [Day 12 - Singapore] [Day 13 - Singapore] [Day 14 - Indonesia] [Day 15 - Japan]

Thursday, April 5, 2012: We had a big day ahead of us so we got an early start and boarded the MRT a block away from our hotel. Our destination was the third floor of Vivo City mall, where we boarded the Sentosa Express.

It's a small tram that includes admission to Sentosa Island.
Sentosa has been built up significantly since our last visit in 1997. There are new resorts and entertainment complexes, and landmarks from our last visit were nowhere to be found.
Our first activity of the day was indooor skydiving at iFly Singapore, but we had plenty of time before they opened at 9:00 AM.
We walked down to one of the beaches and looked out over the water and all of the freighters on it. Malaysia was visible in the distance.
We had our first taste of McDonald's of the trip, and we each got the Crispy Chicken Breakfast Deluxe, consisting of pancakes, English muffins, eggs, hash browns, a large piece of boneless chicken, and best of all, actual large Coca-Cola Lights! We had become accustomed to never receiving large drinks in other countries, so this was a rare treat indeed. The person who took our order laughed when we ordered them and we just beamed back.
The wall of the dining area featured this large picture, just right for getting in the mood to do some skydiving.
At 9:00 AM sharp, we arrived at iFly Singapore for our scheduled flight time. We spent the next hour preparing for our flight, learning the rules and body movements and hand signals, stowing our personal items, and changing into our flight gear.
No photos were allowed, so our photo commentary starts here with screen shots from the DVD we bought. Debbie was first into the wind chamber, ...
... and flew ...
... and flew. It had been 26 years since she had last skydived and it was great fun to try something similar.
This particularly unflattering photo was the official photo taken by iFly.
Tom went second and did very well.
He ended up going pretty high in the chamber, out of sight of the video for a few seconds.
After him, the other 10 or so people in our group went, and then we all got to go a second time. Each flight lasted about 50 seconds, which is roughly the amount of time it takes to fall from 10,000 feet before deploying your parachute.
Afterward, we turned in our equipment and watched the next group flying while we waited for our DVD and photos to be done.
The wind tunnel is visible from outside for curious onlookers to enjoy as well.
Next, we decided to ride the Skyline Luge. We each got a three-ride pass, which turned out to be a good idea because we loved it. Here's a glimpse of the course, ...
... and here's a look at the Skyride chairlift system that brings both riders and sleds up to the start of the run.
Here's the view looking behind us, ...
... and behind us to the right toward Malaysia.
The Merlion's head peeked out over the trees.
Here's a glimpse of the top of the course, featuring two track options. We always chose the more ambitious one.
In the distance, the cable cars between the mainland and the island were visible.
After two rides up and down, we moved on to the Gogreen building to do some Segway riding. Again, photos weren't allowed, so we snapped these photos from the tram station later in the day.
We paid for two rounds on the Fun Ride course. We had a short practice session with a trainer first, then posed for our obligatory photo.
Then we did our rounds over a dirt course that involves a few dips, some gravel, and some sharp turns. It was very fun and a little easier than we expected.
After that adventure, we walked up this series of ramps.
We reached the level of the Sentosa Express, so you can see how adorable these little trams are. Here it is leaving Beach Station and heading back to Imbiah Station.
At the top of the ramps is the Merlion Walk, a 400' walkway inspired by the work of Antoni Gaudí, the Spanish architect. It starts at the Merlion and ends with these gazebos, reminiscent of Gaudí's Dragon Gate.
The focal point of the walk is one long water feature decorated in the mosaic style of the lizard at Gaudí's Park Güell, which we had seen on our trip to Spain a few months earlier.
The water rolls gently downhill through a series of open pools and partially covered waterways.
Every inch of it is covered in beautiful mosaics and whimsical shapes.
Attempts to do it justice fail, ...
... because it is so long and colorful.
Giant sea creatures are draped over it, like this starfish, ...
... and this ray.
It looked so refreshing, but alas, it is only for viewing, not for cooling off.
The head of the waterfall was situated just behind the base of ...
... the mighty Sentosa Merlion, who stands at a regal 120' tall. He would have been our next stop, but ...
... we were so very hungry, and the Colonel called to us.
We had delicious KFC for lunch in air-conditioned heaven. Tom had a chicken sandwich.
Debbie had something we hadn't seen before called a Bandito Pockett, which was a chicken wrap. We both got tiny sides and giant cups of Diet Pepsi.
Fed and cooled off, we were ready to visit the Merlion. When we last visited in 1997, we hadn't had time to go inside, so we were on a mission.
Once inside, we watched a short welcome film, then a longer film on the history of Sentosa and the Merlion.
We walked through a display of mythical sea creatures including this mermaid, ...
... and this dragon.
We were given a token with our ticket, and deposited them into these ticket-dispensing lion's head kiosks for redemption later in the gift shop.
We arrived inside the Merlion's head. Lights were attached to the surface everywhere, because the Merlion lights up at night.
We climbed the stairs to the lookout on his head.
There's the ocean with the ever-present collection of ships coming, going, and standing still.
This is the full Merlion walk in all its colorful glory.
Off to the left, there's the island billed by Sentosa as the southernmost point of continental Asia. That claim is a little shaky, as it is an island off of Sentosa, which is an island off of Singapore, which is itself an island.
Facing the other direction, here's the view toward the city, with the Sentosa letters on the square below, and resorts further out.
The container ports were visible in the distance.
Off to the left was the cable car to Mount Faber that we had ridden in 1997.
Next, we went down to the overlook in the Merlion's mouth.
We had to pose for photos for the Sentosa photographer, so we didn't get to do anything more than quickly take a photo and move on so the next people could get photographed. Here it is.
In the gift shop, we were very heavily pressured to buy the photos just taken of us, but we declined, having already paid outrageous prices for iFly and Gogreen photos. We redeemed our tickets for a Sentosa keychain and magic washcloth, and also bought a Sentosa umbrella and a Merlion lighter nearly identical to the beloved one we bought in 1997. When we got back to the hotel, we looked up airline baggage rules and learned that filled lighters can't be taken with us at all. We also opened the lighter to find that the jewel in the tail lights up as the lighter plays obnoxious music, so we didn't have any problem leaving it in the trash of our hotel room.
Next, we attempted to find the location where we took our 1997 photos of the Merlion, so we rode this series of escalators up the hill to Imbiah Lookout.
The edging of the terrace was correct, but we weren't able to duplicate this photo of Tom and the Merlion, partly because there was a building in the correct location to stand and partly because the jungle had grown around the terrace so much in 15 years.
We never did locate the place where we took this photo of the Merlion at dusk, but it had to be around the Images of Singapore building somewhere.
We took a bus to Underwater World, located a little too far away to walk.
We had already been to Underwater World in 1997 and didn't want to visit again, but there was a snack bar here called Cool Stop.
Debbie's brother had lived in Singapore the previous summer and told us that we had to try Ice Kachang. Debbie had tracked it down to this snack bar, and sure enough, there were many colorful options, including Plain Kachang, Ice Cream Kachang, and Singapore Delight.
Tom opted for the Sentosa Delight on the left and Debbie had the Mango Ice Kachang on the right. Tom's was a bowlful of odd jelly-like things and Debbie's was classic shave ice with mango sauce on the top, ...
... until you look at it from underneath. Green squigglies, clear jellies, and beans.
Yes. Beans. Fortunately, Debbie had been warned about them and is very good at eating around them. All in all, an interesting experience.
Debbie had first seen this type of plant in 1997 on this very island. It was nice to see it again.
We came back to Imbiah on the bus, then rode the luge back down to the Beach Station area, stopping off to use the rest room there. Check out this beautiful restroom, open to a pretty rock garden behind the sinks.
Ahhh, plumeria. Life would be perfect if these grew natively in Indiana.
We took the tram back to Vivo City past the Maersk containers, then did a little shopping at a candy store there before taking the MRT back to the hotel.
We relaxed a little before heading back out around dinner time. We walked the short distance to the Singapore Flyer, passing the Marina Bay Sands and the Helix Bridge along the way.
We had dinner at the Singapore Food Trail, a food court on the first floor of the Singapore Flyer complex.
Tom got a couple of reasonably priced Coca Cola Lights at what appeared to be the only stand that sold drinks.
Our first course consisted of deep-fried stuff on a stick. They were each one Singapore dollar (a little less than a US dollar), and we selected the ones we wanted and the nice man fried them up for us.
We went to different stands for our second courses, and Debbie tried the cold Bird's Nest Drink advertised at the drink kiosk and it was delicious. It tasted like a mild citrus drink with unidentified things in it.
After dinner, we bought our tickets for the Singapore Flyer and made our way through the various displays.
Right this way, please.
Not sure what this has to do with a giant Ferris Wheel, but here it is.
Here comes our ride!
We boarded our car and were on our way.
We had timed our trip to coincide with sunset. The entire rotation took around 30 minutes.
Orchy always joins us on our adventures.
Here's the view looking away from the bay, ...
... and the view looking toward Gardens by the Bay.
Near the top of the rotation, that's the Marina Bay Sands in the background.
Here it is a little closer, ...
... and here it is as far as our zoom will go. This is the Skypark on top of the hotel.
Here's the bay coming into view, ...
... and here it is with the Marina Bay Sands complex to the left.
We were there!
We were close enough now to see the Helix Bridge.
And it's sunset!
As dusk fell, the Flyer started to light up in alternating colors.
After our ride, we headed out for a walk along the bay. Hey! Is that a gelato stand?
Yes. Ice cream when it's 90 degrees out is awesome.
Here's the Helix Bridge up close. Wow.
There were a series of performers at the pavilion as we walked by.
With the full moon, it was even prettier than it had been the night before.
We watched the light show at the Marina Bay Sands once again, this time from the pier at Merlion Park.
It was just as spectacular the second time.
When it was over, we went on a river cruise. We circled around the Bay, ...
... then headed into the Singapore River past the Fullerton Hotel.
This is Boat Quay on the left side of the river, ...
... and this is Boat Quay close up. It is lined with outdoor restaurants.
On our right is Clarke Quay. Same story as Boat Quay, ...
... except the outdoor restaurants appear to be a little more upscale with their space ship awnings and curvy deck overhangs.
At this point, we turned around and headed back down the river to the bay.
This was one of two Jumbo restaurants we saw along the way. The logo was of the Hong Kong Jumbo restaurant, so we knew it was part of the same chain and we can only assume that it is as evil as the one in Hong Kong. Remember: Don't eat at the Hong Kong Jumbo Restaurant.
Nice skyscrapers.
At the end of our river tour, we finally remembered to get a photo of Orchy with the Merlion.

After a very long day, it was nice to see our hotel again. All we had to do was figure out how to get to it. We went through the mall attached to it and were relieved to find a door in the back that opened onto the atrium.

Day 13 >

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