Sentosa Island & Singapore Zoo

Singapore Travel Blog

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A glimpse of the Merlion on Sentosa Island.

Our visit to Sentosa Island was more of a token one. My dad and I had visited four years ago and spent a day there. Several things have changed about the island, mainly more attractions to make money, like the Carlsberg Skytower and a 4-Dimensional movie theatre. As a tourist attraction, Sentosa is pretty good and accommodates tourists (especially families) well, and it's also popular with the locals who flock to the beaches every weekend.

We shelled out $10 apiece to go on the Skytower, which is a large, round green thing that ascends and rotates so you have a good view of Sentosa Island and mainland Singapore. It takes around 10 minutes, and while the view is nice, I'm not sure if it's really worth it. $8 Carlsberg beers at the bar aren't really worth it either, but it was a hot day and a refreshing drink had to be had.

Looking south over the island.

We followed one of the walking trails that I remember taking last time. I'm a bit of a kid at heart, as you may have guessed, so I really liked the dragon theme on the island: you'll walk on dragon's heads, see fake dragon bones and other such things. We skipped the Merlion and surrounding area, as we'd seen it last time, but I remember liking that as well. (The Merlion is Sinagpore's national symbol, with the head of a lion and tail of a fish curled up. Original and kind of cute.) We came across a food court area and shared some chicken rice, which was about double what you'd pay anywhere else in Singapore.

I was curious about this 4D cinema experience, although my dad was decidedly not curious, so I went in by myself. The movie was an adventure about pirates, and your chair would move at times matched to the action on-screen.

The sleeping dragon on one of the island's trails.
The 4D effect was the puffs of air that simulated the flapping of wings, or short, sharp spurts of air that made you think crabs were nipping at your ankles, as well as splashes of water that provoked surprised laughter from the audience. The film was super-short, less than 20 minutes long, and while some of the effects were good, some of the chair movements seemed really mismatched to the film (for eg. every time one of the characters was punched or accidentally knocked, the chair would jerk, but it felt very odd because you weren't the character... I think 4D films have to really work on that 2nd-person feeling, make the audience feel part of the film, to have its full effect). Anyway, for $16 a pop I guess it was worth the experience, but I'll give it a few more years until it's done properly.
Nicely done ribs.

We left the island after that. My next adventure, a couple of days later, was my solo excursion to the Singapore Zoo. My sister, who visited countless zoos in her travels to Asia and Europe last year, said Singapore was one of the best - the animals seemed happier and there are no cages. The zoo is separate from the night safari, and I planned my day to catch a few of the shows. The elephant show was the best: they were incredibly clever, all seemed very happy and full of expression. I was transfixed by the babboons during their feeding time: there are a lot of them, and they're very noisy and very hierarchical. Younger or less dominant babboons were often chased if they managed to catch a piece of fruit before the big dominant male did.

Singapore Zoo boasts the biggest primate section of any zoo, and it's true they have a lot of monkeys and other primates.

The lovely white tigers.
I was disappointed that I didn't get to meet an orang-utan up close - they have two free-ranging orang-utan sites but the orangs were playing high above in the trees when I was around. (My dad showed me a photo of my sister and I, when I was about 3 years old on my first ever visit to Singapore, sitting next to the matriarch orang-utan, Ah Meng, who is still alive and well in the zoo. In fact, I saw Ah Meng on Animal Planet only days ago, on the show New Breed Vets that the late Steve Irwin presented.) I've decided my favourite primates, after the orang-utans, are the capuchin monkeys who we spotted in the Amazon.

Other highlights were the giant tortoise and crocodiles - I was just blown away by the size of both. The underwater viewing chamber of the crocodile and alligator section was great.

Baboons at feeding time... quite creepy.
Those creatures are (can be) huge. And the anacondas - I'm somewhat glad we didn't run into any when I was in the jungle. As a big cat fan, it was good to see the white tigers in action. No glass or cage separates  you from the cats; there is a moat and then a steep embankment with a piece of wire across it to stop the animals from trying to escape. The result is you feel a lot closer to the animals and I got the eerie feeling that the animals were watching us, rather than us watching them...

 

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A glimpse of the Merlion on Sentos…
A glimpse of the Merlion on Sento…
Looking south over the island.
Looking south over the island.
The sleeping dragon on one of the …
The sleeping dragon on one of the…
Nicely done ribs.
Nicely done ribs.
The lovely white tigers.
The lovely white tigers.
Baboons at feeding time... quite c…
Baboons at feeding time... quite …
The giant tortoise.
The giant tortoise.
In the butterfly park.
In the butterfly park.
Singapore
photo by: easyjobrob