Again, for some history, here's Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
******** DAY 8: Sun shines in Singapore ********
Our kind guide had given us a lot of time to sleep and continue sleeping before we dragged ourselves out of the hotel at 0945, tucked in some BBJ(bread, butter, jam) and plonked ourselved into the coach. After the 'Numbah 1(Yes), Numbah 2(Yaaaees)' ritual, Mr John announced that we were going first to see the 'Padang' (if thats how it's spelt... second syllable accent, with a 'dh' sound for the 'd', and the second 'a' stretched to the effect of two 'a's is how it was pronounced) - Singapore's Independence square. Nice, grassy place with tall buildings occupying the skyline in one corner, and assorted others in the rest of the places. Quick photo shoot... depart.
This time, to see the Merlion, the iconic lion-head-with-the-tail-of-a-fish-spewing-out-water-with-no-fear-of-a-fine-of-$500. The bus was parked about half a mile away from the actual spot, and it was a delightful walk. The sun beat high upon our heads the instant we peeked out of the coach... and after walking a bit I made a dash back to the coach, thinking I should rather get sunburnt with my cap on, rather than without it. On the way, I run into A, who thinks she'd rather get sunburnt with her goggles on, rather than without it. On our way to the coach, both of us bump into Bs, who thinks, he'd rather get sunburnt with his handycam, rather than without it. Goods procured, the three of us dashed back to the group.
The group was standing at the side of the river, where, as the guide said, the eye-level was hogged by "Old Singapore" (small buildings barely three stories high) and the skyline dominated by "New Singapore". The latter part consisted of Govt Buildings, a hell lot of banks - Bank of China, Standard Chartered, etc. The riverside looked more like an English town. Neatly paved walkways, cute little kids from the nearby school sitting on the neat floors, drawing the surrounding scenes(as part of their school activity to "get them out of their computers and video games"), various other architecture, a bridge across the river(looking straight out of an English story), an underpass ("Please push your bicycle through the undepass...No riding - Fine:$1000" What the- !). As a tshirt proclaims, "Singapore is a fine city, lah! Spitting: Fine $500, Littering: Fine $200, Crossing the road at no-crossing zone: Fine $500"... But the neatness of the place is one thing to be proud of.
A stop at a souvenir shop, and a walk under a huge expressway going over the river, and we reached the edge of the land - and amidst the salty spray onto our faces, we stood with the merlion and snapped merrily. (Tourist tip: Guard your camera lens! Open it only at the instant of clicking and close it immediately afterwards. Cleaning up all that salt spray from it is a pain in the er...optical device)
Next stop was a Chinese temple dedicated to the Goddess of the sea, who, with her humanity-friendly deeds had won over the hearts of the people, that they deified her after her death (The religion was Taoism).
For lunch we headed to Little India, Sitara Restaurant adjoining Mustafa centre. I was feeling really ill this time, cold and a slight fever to add to the cough and sore throat, but a good half an hour of Metallica and Iron Maiden did the trick. The fever subsided and the cold got better. Sore throat virus is immune to heavy metal music.
With the fever gone, I was ready for a roll. The coach headed straight to Senthosa Island. Had we known what was awaiting us, there would have been second thoughts - a queue. And what a queue! The whole of humanity seemed to be wanting to go to Sentosa on that particular drizzly evening. We waited and waited, moving inch-by-inch until we came to the entrance, to board the cable car that would fling us over to the island, but the queue went about 3 times round the entire venue before finally entering it. On the way, people were frustrated. There was a nice patch of wooden floor overlooking the road yonder, with flowers and stuff. With no seats around, everyone seemed to be eying that spot, longing to park their bums, but not quite willing to do so in front of all the waiting people. I gave the public hell, left my family on the queue and went straight over to that place, sat down, stretched my legs and popped my earphones in... music poured over. Then, people got brave enough! A lot of them came over and sat down merrily :) After some more time of crawling, the queue ended and we plonked ourselves into a red six-seater car.
After about five to ten minutes of gliding slowly down the cable to the island's station, our guide, waiting for us with his sceptre(the red ribbon tied to the stick), went off to pruchase tickets for the dolphin show. After yet another long queue, we boarded a bus, and hung about in another one, and finally arrived at the venue, which was packed. I fought my way to the edge of the water, where I could employ my tiny 3x zoom to its best. The show was very impressive - Three dolphins, doing that popular jumping-thru-the-loop, 'kissing' volunteers, balancing balls on the tip of their nose, 360 degree flip-overs, etc. Shows how much training goes into these things. I hope the dolphins are happy, though...
It getting dark by this time, so we joined another queue, through to the bus stop, into the air-con bus, (the place was really humid) through another queue, to the famous under-water world. There is a slow-moving conveyor belt, on which you can stand(if you are tired of walking) and watch as an awesome array of sea-creatures in all colours, shapes and sizes swim about you. It was more of a 'human-show' for these beings, as we are the ones in a glass tunnel, and they are free to roam about! Disappointingly, no big sharks, though... There was a touch-pool outside, and just as I was trying my hand at feeling some fishes(they don't feel very pleasant to touch, though), some Indian kids(early teenage, maybe) came over and were having a tough time... wanting to touch the fish, but too scared to. Everytime they put their hand in and a fish passed by, they would squeal and take their dripping hands out of the water, and the water droplets would splash over me. It got annoying after sometime despite my disapproving glares, so I put on a deep voice and blared, "Hell, DO YOU WANT TO TOUCH THE DAMN FISH OR DO YOU WANT TO SPLASH THE WATER ABOUT?" The row subsided ;)
Out of the building, we met at a cafe and had something to satisfy our tummies before the late supper. I bought a mug of tea, and unfortunately took a tiny sip of it to see how hot it was.
I swore that I would NEVER commit that mistake again in my life. SCALDING would be an understatement. Hell, one could run a steam engine with the amount of heat trapped in that small paper mug! I swore under my hoarse breath, lisping from the burnt tongue, cursing my sore throat which prevented me from buying ice-cream like the others. F!!k you, all you people who like to drink boiling tea... I hope you f!!king freeze to death!
It was getting dark and we reorganised ourselves, joined yet another queue and proceeded to the laser show. We waited in a disorganised queue-like-fashion(60% Indians, remember?) and waited and waited, moving a centimetre a minute... but little did we know that we were waiting for the damn best show of our lives!
Upon entering we lost ourselves and scattered ourselves in different seats. The view up front was a little row of timber-houses on stilts, built over the water. Somebody bought some packed snacks, and started eating it... and it smelt like puke. So much for their appetites :|
The shore-lights came on and in ran five children. A bit of singing in all languages, and dancing followed, when the guy called 'Lee' started his "Aaaaaaa" (musically, E F G C..... in C-Maj scale) The whole background came alive.. Laser beams created cartoon-like creatures. Well, the whole story is, they glimpse a princess, and Lee and his friends set out to find out who she is. As usual, she is trapped by some magician. On the way, the friends discover forms like the God of Fire, who has lost all his powers, and orders Lee to sing to him.. loud, louder, LOUDERRR!!! till the whole thing goes up in fire and the God smiles... my goodness, it was like a live Rammstein performance... Flames of fire shot up from the rocks near us, from the sky.. and we could feel the heat! AWESOME!!! Though not laser in this case, the next forms were the Goddess of light and that of sea. These were superbly rendered with the laser beams, using sea-water spray as a medium. Simply awesome... No words can describe how it looked.
And all through, idiots were using their stupid cameras (WITH FLASH haha) trying to capture the magic of it all...imagine their faces when they peer at the darkness and blurred lights in the playback later! I pitied the ignorant asses near me and let mine eyes feast. But the real thing was yet to come...yes, the princess!
Lee finally frees all the Gods and Goddesses and helps them get their power back, and sings one more time. The entire audience held their breath as the long drawn "Aaaaaa" filled the air. Then, an explosion of light, and the air ahead came alive, revealing a splendidly crafted, beautifully human face, so alive and blinking, her hair dancing in the breeze, Princess Amy! The laser creation was stunningly perfect.. words fail me.
This easily beat the fire-show to become my favourite. The show ended with the children singing a song for Lee "Who did it, we did it, whodidit, hedidit, whodidit, hedidit, he did WHAT?".. And the show ended with some spectacular fireworks. The audience made their way out, the Whodidit song still stuck in our minds :)
Only dinner was left. wolfed it down, and caught a cab back to our hotel.
******** DAY 9: One last glimpse ********
After breakfast, it was up to our
After a lot of photography and stuff, we had lunch and were let free. Presumably, everyone headed straight to Mustafa centre for some shopping and was lost for the day. During supper we were visited by Mr.K, a former colleague of my mother. Mr K is now settled in Singapore. We had a short walk and were joined by another colleague Mr.Bj and we also visited the nearby Perumal temple. The Indian temple looked great with plasma screens and cars. India seems to be following you everywhere.
We tumbled out of Mustafa centre sometime past midnight and trudged back to our hotel.
******** DAY 10: Seyonara Singapura ********
We had to start off at noon. I slept till then. After lugging all that luggage down to the reception, it was a goodbye to our hotel and we boarded the coach one last time to the airport. Everyone was pretty silent, except for the goodbyes to our good ol' guide and so on. Depression hit me like a bag of wet cement. Typical leaving-and-going-back-home depression. The good old mp3 player was switched on and I found some refuge in the ocean of melodies.
Then I discovered the free internet centre, and that's how a certain comment on this post came :) Some time later in the day we boarded the flight to Colombo(what's with the tour operator and Srilankan Airlines, I cannot imagine). Airbus A330. Managed to fight sleep and dumped in some food(the same as I described a few days ago - typical). No wine. Damn. I settled down and watched a boring Hindi movie and killed time by looking at the snowflake-patterns forming outside my window. But landing was torture. When you have a bloody cold, landing is bloomin' painful. I have NEVER experienced any form of airsickness or ear-poppiness or giddiness in an aircraft before. But this time it was different. Some excruciating pain shot up my head and settled near the top of my left eye. The ears went fully on mute, and I was forced to put my little finger into the right ear shaft, and the other hand pressed hard on my left eye to stifle the pain. Weird posture.. I looked like I was crying, when in reality I was cursing the pain in choicest words of my own :\ In between this, I also managed a shot of the plane's shadow on the ground, sailing atop palm trees near Colombo airport.
After waiting some hours at Colombo International airport, we again went through the stupid, paranoid routine of removing our belts, watches, and shoes(well? what next?)for the security checks, and found ourselves in the cramped A320 to Trivandrum. We took some time to take off, and while the cockpit doors were open, I had a glimpse of the awesome cockpit lights at night. *sigh* I wish I could footplate(yeah right) an aircraft! Barely a few minutes of flying, before we found ourselved dipping to land at TRV. Upon touching terra firma, I thought, "Thalley, Thiroanthoram!" ;) hehe
I need not bother to say how small and un-airport-like TRV domestic airport is, compared to the others. It was around eight o'clock and our taxi took us along the sandy beach, into snarling early-night-traffic, back home, loaded with hundreds of pics and sweet memoires of my first ever international trip.
If any of my co-traveller-friends happen to stumble upon this, do drop me a mail. It's been a nice time together...