Date: September 22nd, 2011
Yesterday turned out to be better than I hoped. Today I was adamant to make it even better!
UNfortunately, it was raining (Taken on my phone)
Fortunately, the rain was reduced to a slight drizzle a few minutes later
I took a bus and got down near the Singapore Post building
I was on my way to the Geylang Serai hawker centre & fresh market
I wanted to check out the food stalls
This market was recently renovated
So I didn't really sense a "charm" to this place
I went upstairs to where the food stalls were
They have a few other stores too
This place is quite famous in Singapore -- or at least it used to be in it's original form
I wondered what to eat
This 'baryani' stall seemed fairly popular as they were dishing out hot plates is quick succession
At $4 (Rs.160/$3/€2.4 ) a plate, the 'bariyani' was just about alright as far as taste went. Fairly similar to Hyderabadi biriyani in taste.
I shared my table with a local who began chatting with me after he asked me why I was taking photos of what I was going to eat. I told him about my website, and why I was taking many photos. He asked me whether I worked here, and I told him ‘no’. I gave him my brief life story and in the end, he complimented my English. He suggested I could try for a job in Singapore but all this while, my food was getting cold.
Sucks. The only reason I ordered the biriyani was because it looked piping hot as they served it. Most of the food served at these kind of stalls restaurants are rarely ever hot. They’re usually pre-cooked and served out of buffet trays as per order.
The local sat with me long after he finished his meal as he continued to make conversation with me. The only thing I asked him was “what other good hawker centres are there?” He told me a few, and I noted them down. I gave him the link to my website and we parted ways.
Post lunch, I headed straight to Funan IT mall to pick up my 70-200mm lens from John 3:16.
Fortunately my lens was fixed and I tested it by taking a few shots
They told me the Canon service center had to drill two holes on the filter and break the filter carefully so as not to touch the main lens glass. The lens was checked thoroughly and re-calibrated. Sadly, I had now lost my rather pricey HD filter, to which they said it’s not even required that I use those expensive filters, as even a standard UV filters would suffice. All said and done, the damage wasn’t over. The cost of all this repair: $130 (Rs. 5100!). I had no choice but to pay up. I was just glad to see my most expensive lens back in my bag in perfect working condition.
But when you’re unemployed and trying be very careful with your spending, losing $130 plus the $50 I spent day before yesterday at the clinic simply felt like unnecessary waste of money. Sigh…
I prefer shopping at Funan IT mall over Sim Lim Square
The shops here are good and slightly more trustworthy
Left Funan IT mall. This is the Central Fire Station bang opposite.
That's the Singapore parliament
I walked to City Hall MRT and headed towards Marina Bay
Marina Bay was still buzzing with construction activity
Panorama comprised of 7 shots
Decided to see what was in here
Inside were interactive displays showcasing Singapore's development history
Specifically Marina Bay
Marina Bay was mostly developed by dredging and land reclamation
The Land Acquisition Act was passed in 1966
The Merlion Statue at the mouth of Singapore River was installed in 1972
It was in 1971, with the help of the UN, that the first major infrastructure plan of Singapore was laid out
They made some changes to the masterplan for Marina Bay in the early 1980s
It wasn't until the mid 1990s that Singapore even thought about implementing a Common Service Tunnel, which would house piping and essential utilities. At least they did it. How many cities in Asia have such massive underground infrastructure?
In 2003, another draw-up of Marina Bay
If I had the time, I would have just sat there and read through it all
I was really keen on learning about all this
This bunny is an art exhibit. He's been spotted around Singapore.
Had to crop this tight for a closer look
Audi had this impressive boat, but it was for invited guests only
Singa, the mascot for Singapore's Happiness Movement. (Seriously).
They have placed these mist coolers to make the walk here more comfortable
But Singapore's humidity being what it is, the mist had little cooling effect
One final panorama before going in
There was an exhibition of Salvador Dali's work going on
This was the mall
When I came here last year the mall was rather empty as Marina Bay Sands had just opened
The Shoppes has slowly started to fill up
Marina Bay Sands Singapore is after all by same people behind The Venetian in Las Vegas
Enough of the mall. Time for the first thing on my to-do list - the casino!
I walked to towards the entrance, past the security and straight to the baggage counter. Last year when I came to Marina Bay Sands, I couldn’t enter the casino because I got wet in the rain and I was wearing shorts. There was a dress code and the casino was only open to foreign tourists. This time around, I came dressed in formal wear and now Singaporeans could enter — after paying a $100 entry fee (which is ridiculous!).
No bags are allowed, and more strictly – no photography… at all… not even using your mobile. Which sucked, because you should have seen how the casino looked! Man, the chandelier inside was huuuge! Hundreds of slot machines, and other games with each one with scores of people playing.
I had never been to a casino before this, and had only seen them in Hollywood movies, so this was quite a revelation for me. I came with the intention of gambling a little bit, because hey, I didn’t have a job — so I thought I’d try my luck at winning some money! I even set aside a $100 just for this, but obviously I wasn’t going plonk it all down in one easy shot. Since I had never gambled before, I didn’t even know how to play most of the games. Slots was easy, pull a lever and hope you get match. Or at least that’s what I thought, because now, slot machines have gone digital — and they had way more buttons than a single lever.
You can play for as little as $1 and that made it easy for everyone to get in and begin. I converted $30 into chips/tokens and started with the Wheel of Fortune. Waged $10, placed my bets on a ‘x 10′ multiplier and a number. The lady spun the wheel and the needle stopped… at a number three stops after mine. Damn, there goes my first $10. The lady smiled and asked if I would want to try again. I thought, “Yeah, why not?” and put down another $10. She spun the wheel again, it stopped and she smiled again. I walked away after losing another $10. Sigh.
I then moved on to the slot machines and sat down at Queen slot machine. I played for $10, and ended up winning $17! I could have played for more but I decided to cash in my winnings and printed the receipt. Besides cards and tokens, the machines can use the same receipts to begin play. I had $17 with me and I started to wonder if my luck was improving. I walked past the roulette table and asked the attendant how the game worked. After he told how the game worked, I had to go and buy some more tokens as I obviously couldn’t place a receipt print on the table. So I got chips for $30 more.
I placed $10 as that was the minimum bet for this table (there were tables with $20 and $30 minimum bets too, larger payouts obviously). He spun the wheel in one direction and then the ball in the opposite direction. As the ball slowly lost momentum, it did the bounce – just as in the movies. But in my present real world scenario, it finally dropped into a number I didn’t select. So I tried again, and believe it or not, the ball stopped at a number just one spot away from mine.
So another $20 lost. So much for my hopes of being on a winning streak. I just played the slots after that. I won, wagered my winnings and then lost it all. At the end of it all, I had spent $60 and not really won anything big. I decided to stop.
I had no regrets though. It was an experience I smiled through. Looking around, it’s amazing how many people (most of whom were Chinese tourists) were spending so much money and I could only imagine how much money the casino was making — daily! You would think playing for as little as $1 is simple, harmless fun. But as I experienced it myself, human greed is what makes gambling harmful. And it’s as though the casinos have figured how a gambler’s mind works. There is a science to gambling and it’s a good bet to assume, very few ever make it out of a casino with more than what they spent in the hopes of winning big. It’s fair to see why gambling, to this day, remains controversial and banned in many places. Just because I stopped after losing $60, doesn’t mean others will. I even saw labourers from the sub-continent playing, and imagine how much they make in a month here in Singapore.
That said, there were the high rollers too. Some Korean guy came to the roulette table I was playing at and just dumped chips worth $1000. $1000, just like that! And to think above the two floors I could walk around on, were private rooms meant for even bigger players. Now think of the kind of money they’re playing for!
In the end, this place was not for a middle-class guy who spent the last eight years working and trying to save up as much as possible. I left the casino and collected my camera bag from the counter.
If you’re a foreign passport holder in Singapore, I still recommend visiting the casino at the Marina Bay Sands, the place is really well done up. The chandelier alone is worth seeing, it’s one of the world’s largest and it really is impressive.
I made my way to the hotel towers
This is the lobby of Tower 3
I walked towards Tower 1
Took a left and went downstairs to the ticket counter of the Sands SkyPark
When I came here last year, I made it all the way to the ticket counter, but only told be told that the SkyPark was closed due to rains that day. It rained earlier today as well, but fortunately the observation deck was open! I bought my ticket, which cost SG$20 (Rs. 800/$15/€12).
Here we go...
The views from up here, are needless to say, awesome!
The first thing you see is this - the Gardens by the Bay project (still under construction)
This Flower Dome will house plants and trees and re-create a Mediterranean climate
This is the Supertree Grove, another attraction part of the Gardens by the Bay
This is how many ships are anchored outside Singapore Port...
... and some more. It goes all the way like this until the port.
The Marina Barrage
It controls the flow of water in and out of the reservoir
That's the Bay East gardens
I guess that's where East Coast beach is
The Zone 3 grandstand of the Singapore F1 circuit
I don't think I'll ever tire of this skyline
Panorama comprised of 3 shots
The Fullerton Hotel & One Fullerton entertainment complex
The Merlion Park
The Arts Science museum is one on the right
The Louis Vuitton 'floating' store
I was disappointed to know the Avalon Club was down there since I had initially read it was up on the SkyPark
But I was really happy I got my 70-200mm lens back
The Shoppes down below
You can tell the new from the old -- by the use of glass mainly
Concrete jungle or what!
The lawn in the back is the Padang stage, where the big concerts this F1 weekend were going to happen
The Esplanade theatres glow at night -- imagine the sight from up here!
Singapore river, passing through Boat and Clarke Quay
That's Singapore port, in the back
One of the busiest ports in the world
Okay, now time to check out the coolest attraction at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel
The infinity swimming pool!
Quite possibly the most famous infinity pool in the world
The swimming pool is accessible to hotel guests only. Damn, so there goes my plan to just sit by the pool and have a drink.
How cool is this view!
Sigh, one day. One day I will definitely stay at this hotel.
And to those who think: "Oh my god, it looks so scary!"
Don't be, it's just an illusion. There's no way you are going to fall over. I mean, you could try...
Access is for hotel staff only
Went back up to take one final look around
I had plans to even go on the Singapore Flyer
A ride on this costs $29.50
But look at the height difference!
I don’t mind checking out the Singapore Flyer now… but I decided to keep it for next time. If you had to choose between the two, I’d recommend the Sands SkyPark over the Flyer any day.
Evening traffic was starting to pile up, that too with the diversions due to F1 work
Traffic, even at sea
Wonder which hill that is in the background
Took the last few shots, just to make sure I got every view possible
Wonder what they're constructing over there
It was 6pm, time for me to leave
One final panorama
Got a picture of myself taken... (yeah, Mithun in formals, save it)
... and I left the SkyPark
Mithun has left the building
I tried to fix the distortion in this panorama as much as possible
Planned to walk on the Helix Bridge next
The Helix Bridge is closed during F1 weekend as it's one of the entry points to the circuit
Still, people were walking on it, so I figured I could check it out until a certain point
The Helix Bridge lights up, and looks even more impressive at night
Pedestrians couldn't go beyond a few metres from here as there was a private event taking place
So I walked back
You can take the river cruise from here too
The design of the ArtsScience museum is inspired from a lotus flower
The signature melting clock artwork of Salvador Dali
There's an entry ticket here too
Went back into the mall for some air-conditioning (Panorama comprised of 5 shots)
I guess there's still more leasable space left
'The Lion King' was in town
What was that?
Pretty cool none the less
Again, I keep photographing this skyline
Felt like stepping in, just to see what the store looked like from the inside. Not like I could afford anything in there anyway.
Panorama comprised of 6 shots
Sunday night - The Chemical Brothers, it's going to be one heck of a Sunday for me!
Hippo River Cruise is another boat tour company
Panorama comprised of 5 shots
Pretty impressive sail boat
I guess a lot of wedding shoots happen at Marina Bay
Instead of taking the MRT, I decided to walk around the bay area a bit more
I guess this connects you straight to the MRT station
A lot of choice for the bankers in the area to hang out after work
I walked to Raffles Place MRT and boarded the train from there. Got down at Bugis, simply because I felt like walking through the area I first saw when I visited Singapore last year.
Did a bit of mall hopping
Walked through the Bugis Street Shopping market, where they had recently opened an upper level
After doing a bit of shopping at Bugis Street, I walked around the adjoining Chinese market
I somehow just enjoy walking and soaking up the local life, even if it isn't always buzzing
The junction at Raffles Hospital
I walked to Kampong Glam (the 'Arab area'), which is where I stayed last year
Deer meat. As weird as it sounds... I felt the temptation to try it.
The Grand Sultan Mosque
I decided to walk to Victoria MRT
Spotted a Wendy's across the road, knew right away what I wanted for dinner.
Had a shrimp burger meal from Wendy’s, one of my favourites from the chain. Also picked up some donuts from a local bakery in the same block and then took the MRT back to Aljunied.
Today was a good day. I was really happy with the photographs I clicked, though I do wish I got a bit of sunshine, which seems to be something of a rarity in Singapore.
Tomorrow begins the first of my three day F1 weekend.
Next posts in this series:
Singapore 2011: Day 5 – Chinatown, F1 Friday (Charice, Seungri and GD&TOP concerts)
Singapore 2011: Day 6 – F1 Saturday (Rick Astley, Shakira and Shaggy concerts)
Singapore 2011: Day 7 – Little India, F1 Sunday race, Linkin Park concert and Avalon Club
Leaving Singapore, and discovering certain truths about this famous city state
Previous posts in this series:
Singapore 2011: Day 3 – Bukit Timah and Singapore Botanic Gardens
Singapore 2011: Day 2 – Jurong Bird Park and… *ouch!*
Singapore 2011: Day 1 – Landing a second time; walking around CBD