Posts Tagged ‘Sentosa

24
Dec
09

Singapore Special: Sentosa (Day 03, Post-Race)

Everyone’s races are over, most got a new “personal best” (as how they refer to a “personal record” in Singapore), it’s time to celebrate!  We haven’t gone all out to save our strengths for our respective races and now, we can!  And where do adventure-seekers in Singapore go?  Sentosa!

The ladies…

…and the Gents…

…off to Sentosa! (Me behind the camera)

Sentosa is the southernmost territory of Singapore and as such has the southernmost coast of continental Asia (since Singapore is connected by land to the Asian mainland via bridges to Malaysia).  You may think of Sentosa as Singapore’s playground as it centralizes a lot of attractions here like Underwater World, Tiger Sky Tower, Palawan beach, and Southeast Asia’s first Universal Studios theme park (opening first quarter 2010) among others.

Sentosa

From the mainland you may get to Sentosa via a cable car (under repair) or the monorail.  The obvious choice for us was the monorail and interestingly its station was inside a mall (like many MRT stations in Singapore), Vivo City.  Getting to Sentosa (Imbiah Station) takes only a few minutes from Vivo City Station as it really wasn’t that far away—from a Filipino’s perspective you may compare it to crossing a slightly wider (and much deeper) Pasig River.

Here comes the monorail to Sentosa

As much as we want to explore this entire island and enjoy everything it had to offer time was not on our side as we only had less than half a day!  Some of our friends would also return to Manila later that night so all we had was the entire afternoon.  Without spending much time thinking we started with the obvious: the Luge and Skyride.

The gang at Sentosa with Singapore’s biggest Merlion at the background

Tiger Sky Tower

Luge

Skyride

Travel Tip: As many who have tried the Luge would tell you, “once is not enough.”  Take our word for it, get the combo!

At first the Skyride doesn’t look intimidating; I mean it’s just an open cable car, right?  But later on it proved to be a “screamer” for the ladies—it gets really high so it isn’t exactly for those who are afraid of heights.  It was quite enjoyable though as you get to see the island from a high spot but it’s a little too short (get the combo!).

View from the above

An even higher view!

Weee!

…what do we do next?

After the rides we settled to touring the area on foot as it was also getting too late for us to visit other attractions.  But before we left we were visited by the free-roaming peacock that just walks about the place.  Interesting.

The roaming peacock

Nice gate

Imbiah Station

A monorail stopping at the station

Upon returning to Vivo City I was quite tired to roam around the mall’s rooftop garden (I just did a marathon earlier so it was reasonable) so I just settled with lying on the grass.  I realized that our Singapore trip was coming to its conclusion so we had to maximize the time we had remaining.  All three of my “housemates” would be leaving that night and for our last activity together we decided to have a somewhat fancy dinner, back near our hostel in Bugis.

Getting some rest at Vivo City’s garden

Vivo City’s garden Christmas tree

Finally that night I had to say goodbye to my friends.  I was so tired that I didn’t even had the chance to think that I was alone in my room and just fell to sleep without trouble.  Tomorrow I’ll be checking out and be returning home, alone.  I wasn’t even able to think about that before I got to sleep…

Hotel InterContinental’s Christmas tree, just across our hostel

Meatball Spaghetti, always a favorite

Spicy Pasta, although it didn’t say so in the menu

Travel Tip: Watch out for the word “spicy” if you’re not used to it.

Last dinner in Singapore for this trip

Our hostel

Special thanks to Carina for some of the pictures that appeared here.

Singapore Special Index:

21
Dec
09

Singapore Special: Southward Bound (Day 01)

After nine months finally I get to travel outside the Philippines and for my first ASEAN destination, Singapore!  It would be my first time to be a “sports tourist” and was very excited to have my first marathon outside the country.  Of course I am not alone with this “addiction” as I have my close friends with me doing the same.  Yeah, I guess you may call it that if you decide to go to Singapore for four days just to run a marathon.  You may also call it “crazy!”

Just before 4AM at the Centennial Terminal (Terminal 2), Manila, Philippines

Singapore is about a three-hour flight from Manila which isn’t that particularly long, but isn’t exactly short either.  There’s not much things you can do in a plane so after eating there’s still time to catch up on some sleep.

In-flight meal

Before 10AM we landed at Singapore’s Changi Terminal 2, a terminal that is more like a shopping mall and since computer terminals with internet access were offered for free at the terminal itself we were able to briefly check our e-mails and of course post updates to our social networking sites.

Free internet access at Changi Airport

What I love about this airport was its extremely tourist-friendly atmosphere.  As a first timer in Singapore I had no idea what to expect or do and for that the terminal offers a lot of free brochures and maps with special focus by interests like shopping, electronics and gadgets, night outs, night safari, and Sentosa.  Even the airport in itself had so much to offer that it needs to have its own brochure!

We have arrived!

Travel Tip: Philippine Peso (Php) along with other major currencies are readily exchangeable for Singapore Dollars (Sgd) at the terminal itself so you need not hassle yourself to buy US Dollar from home.  In fact it is much better to directly exchange your Php to Sgd that you incur the least amount of conversion value loss.

As an epitome of a city with an efficient public transportation system, their MRT is an excellent way to get around Singapore.  The organizers of Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) utilized this fact and placed their distribution center for race packet distribution at the Expo—just a station away from the airport station of the MRT.

Still at Changi Airport bound for the MRT station

Travel Tip: bus and MRT bus fares are more expensive via cash than ez-link card, but regular MRT tickets can be returned at the General Ticketing Machine (GTM) for a S$1 refund.  You may also keep it as a cheapo souvenir!

A typical Singapore MRT General Ticketing Machine (GTM) to buy and return MRT tickets

First stop: The Expo.  If race kit distribution in Manila spells trouble for runners, for SCSM it’s the other way around as the entire process of claiming your kit won’t take you five minutes!  Aside from claiming your kit you also have a chance to see and buy a lot of running-related products a lot of which are not available in the local market.  A lot of items were also on sale including shoes and apparel from this year’s SCSM shirt provider, New Balance.  For me I settled with window shopping and a can of liniment spray.

Expo Station

Meeting fellow Pinoy runners at the Expo

At the expo

Huge banners mark where runners should queue for their kit

Kit claiming area at the Expo

Race bibs are packed in clear zip-lock bags. Race kits also include an SCSM event shirt and product samples and flyers from sponsors and are distributed inside bags

Travel Tip: Shoulder bags (regardless of the weight) are not the best choice when travelling.

At the expo we were joined by more of our friends, some Singapore-based, who would be running the SCSM, and by time everyone was done with their shopping it was time for lunch.  Conveniently there was also a food court at the expo but unfortunately it rained!  Most of the seats were located semi-al fresco so we had some issues with rain.  I thought that we left the rains back in Manila but it’s not exactly Sunny Singapore that greeted us.  Apparently it had been raining the past few days in the afternoon, and consistently for the last several years, days before SCSM, but according to our Singapore-based friends it had always been rainless at the day of the SCSM itself.  Will it rain during SCSM?

Strong rains aren’t enough to dampen our spirits!

After lunch it’s time for most of us to settle down on our hotels and of course it’s back to the MRT station.  It was like the pre-mobile phone era for us when we agreed to meet again for dinner as even the cost of sending an SMS was restrictive (most of us were carrying our Philippine SIM on roaming).  We had to do things the “old-school” way by agreeing to meet at a certain place at a certain time—makes you appreciate more the convenience of being at home.

Tourists finding their way “home”

Singapore’s MRT

For me and three of my friends our destination was Bugis—a popular tourist destination in itself.  We picked our hostel in this area because of its proximity to the Starting line of the SCSM near Fullerton Hotel which was only about a kilometer away.

How to spot a tourist in Singapore

Later that afternoon despite having less than ample rest Carina and I were off for some walking tours of the area.  With that tour we found out how close everything was—being from the Philippines where the scale of a typical map is in kilometers we were used to walking long before reaching a spot in the map.  In Singapore maps normally have scales of about a hundred meters making locations appear farther than they actually are—making the lives of some gutsy Pinoy tourists with hardly any orienteering skills roaming the streets of Singapore to have a very difficult time.

Expressways in Singapore uses non-disruptive RFID to collect tolls

Are pedestrians allowed here?

We were originally heading towards the Merlion that afternoon but we ended up in front of the Singapore Flyer and eventually in Suntek City.  With sunlight gradually fading we had no choice but to return to our hostel via a bus, which proved to be a not-so-easy task, but picking one was very “educational.”

The Singapore Flyer

We had another bonding moment with friends through dinner at Funan Digitalife Mall, a small building much like Gilmore IT Center in Quezon City.  Here we had our first taste of a mall-style food court.

Having fun with my selection of dinner

Excited tourists as we were, we refused to end the night with dinner and instead headed off to Clarke Quay, which was more like Riverbanks in Marikina meet Eastwood City.  Here I found my favorite “Ice cream slab sandwiched in wafer” which was only S$1.  The famous G-Max reverse bungy ride is also found here.  And from here most of us are just an MRT away, but for me and my “housemates” it was still walking distance away from home.  Some quick tour to cap our first day in Singapore.

Christmas tree in front of Central Promenade at Clarke Quay

G-Max

Special thanks to Carina for some of the pictures that appeared here.

Singapore Special Index:

11
Dec
09

The “Perfect” Race: Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon Primer

Uniquely Singapore, the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon is one of the largest and most popular marathons in the world frequented by thousands of international runners from all walks of life.  It in itself is an income-generating activity for Singapore, a perfect example of how sports tourism can help boost the economy.   This years’ event would also be my first marathon outside the Philippines.  It would also make Singapore the first country in ASEAN I’d visit.

I’m leaving on a jet plane… at Terminal 2 (Manila)

Being my first international “solo” trip, this experience was exciting but also petrifying for me.  It was a good thing that Singapore is very tourist friendly country, and the climate isn’t much different from Manila.   The fact that I have some of my close running friends with me guaranteed a great adventure.

Race packet claiming is at the Expo, just an MRT station away from Changi Airport (Singapore)

The Expo (Hall 5) is an area about the size of World Trade Center, Philippines

My race bib and timing chip sealed in a zip-lock bag

A typical ticketing machine of Singapore MRT

We stayed in Bugis just about a kilometer away from Fullerton Hotel where the Start line was located.  Of course we arrived days before the actual race so we can’t help but keep being tourists roaming around the area where our feet can carry us, and upon exhaustion there’s always the bus and MRT.  Even during the eve of the race we’re still roaming around some nearby mall.

Part of our unplanned, self-made “walking tour” was the Singapore Flyer

One side of the baggage counter for the race

So many food choices (watch out for that spice)

While the weather was not as good as I had expected, the actual race itself was “perfect.”  Everything that I expect, want, and dreamt of in a race was there.  Hey, the only thing that can make the race better was if I was running in a Boston-qualifying time, but since I’m a mere mortal a new Personal Best (“PB” as they refer to it in Singapore) would suffice.   The finisher’s shirt and the drop-dead gorgeous medal completed the surreal experience.

Fullerton Hotel with the Singapore skyline at the background

Carbo-loading, night before the race

Who knew that our local Cavendish bananas make it here? Pretty cheap at 21₵

Of course running is much more fun with the gang

Are we there yet?

The niceties of this “perfect” race are up, click on the links below, leh.

The gang at Sentosa. Thank you Singapore for a wonderful experience!




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