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Singapore 2011: Day 2 – Jurong Bird Park and… *ouch!*

Date: 20th September, 2011

Woke up around 8am today as I planned to get to Jurong Bird Park by at least 9:45am. The first show I was interested in seeing was at 10am.

HDB flats Singapore view from MRT train window
To get to Jurong Bird Park from Aljunied, I first needed to get down at Boon Lay station. No need to switch trains as I was already on the East West Line (the green line).
Highways near Chinese Garden Singapore
This was the first time I was going towards the Jurong side
Chinese Gardens pagoda Singapore
Chinese Gardens (a.k.a Jurong Gardens, in the distance)
Chinese Gardens lake Singapore
Hmm, maybe I should add the gardens to my list of places to see as well
New building construction Singapore
Saw quite a few construction activity along the way
McDonald's drive-in restaurant Singapore
Nice looking drive-in

The ride to Boon Lay took nearly 30 minutes. I walked through Jurong Point mall to get to the SBS bus station.

Jurong bus station Singapore
I now had to take bus no. 194 to get to Jurong Bird Park
Inside SBS bus to Jurong bird park Singapore
You can use the same MRT card to pay for SBS (Singapore Bus Service) buses too

Bus to Jurong bird park Singapore

ST Kinetics office Boon Lay Singapore
Jurong has a lot of industries

Sime Darby plant Jurong Singapore

Caterpillar factory Jurong East Singapore
Caterpillar’s factory
Jurong bird park sign Singapore
Unfortunately, by the time I go to the Bird Park, it was already 10am
Jurong bird park entrance Singapore
I walked faster to get in
Jurong bird park parrot macaws Singapore
These macaws welcome visitors at the entrance
Jurong bird park way ticketing booth Singapore
I bought my ticket, which cost SG$18 (Rs. 700/$13/€10)
Jurong bird park flowers entrance
I asked the staff which way the Kings of the Skies Show was
Jurong bird park vulture snake Singapore
By the time I got to the Hawk Walk venue, I had already missed the first half of the show
Jurong bird park show school children Singapore
Today being a Monday, a lot of school children were on their field trip
Jurong bird park white owl Singapore
They brought out some owls to the crowd
Jurong bird park owl show Singapore
They have a variety of owls here
White owl Jurong bird park Singapore
“You, with the fancy lens, what… you think I LIKE being here?!”
Jurong bird park birds of prey show Singapore
As with such shows, audience participation is encouraged

Jurong Bird Park king of skies Indian volunteer Singapore

Jurong bird park vulture show with volunteer Singapore
This vulture came sweeping in from a higher platform
Jurong bird park vulture with Indian volunteer
The volunteers are instructed to stay completely still

Jurong bird park staff lady with vulture Singapore

Jurong bird park vultures Singapore
All the vultures surround a fake carcass

Vulture on tree trunk Jurong bird park Singapore

Eagles flying Jurong bird park Singapore
Next, the eagles make a grand entrance
Eagle in tree Jurong bird park Singapore
I don’t think this is where the eagle was supposed to land…

White chest eagle Jurong bird park Singapore After the host talked a bit about the eagles, the Kings of the Skies Show came to an end. Damn, I missed the falconry segment. The next show was only at 4pm, which meant I could catch the show again by the time I managed to finished seeing all the birds in the park.

Pink flamingos waterfall Jurong Bird Park Singapore
Next up, pink flamingos

Pink flamingo feathers Jurong bird park SingaporeΒ Pink flamingos Jurong bird park Singapore panorama

Parrots macaws Jurong bird park Singapore
After flamingos, macaw parrots
Parrots macaw rock Jurong bird park Singapore
They had all the common colours – red, blue & yellow, and a few green macaws

Parrot red macaws Jurong bird park BangaloreMacaw parrots heads turned back Jurong SingaporeParrots macaw Jurong bird park SingaporeParrots macaw close Jurong bird park SingaporeRed, blue-yellow, green parrots macaw Jurong bird park Singapore

Jurong bird park cockatoo Singapore
A few cocatoos and cockatiels
Cockatoo dancing Singapore Jurong bird park
“Cockatoo sliiiiide…”
Jurong bird park monorail track panorama
I then walked to the next show
Pools amphitheatre seating Jurong bird park Singapore
Birds ‘n Buddies show at the Pools Amphitheatre (Shot this using my phone; panorama comprised of 3 shots)
Pools amphitheatre Jurong bird park Singapore
Visitors filled up the chairs quickly
Flamingos entrance pools amphitheatre show Jurong Singapore
The show began with flamingos making a grand entrance

Pools amphitheatre birds buddies show Jurong bird park SingaporeFlamingo wing Jurong bird park Singapore

Birds n buddies show host Jurong bird park Singapore
The host brought out a yellow-crested cockatoo
Flamingos leaving Jurong bird park Singapore show
It was time for the flamingos to leave
Cockatoo Jurong bird park show Singapore
Time for some audience participation
Birds n buddies yellow-crest cockatoo Jurong bird park Singapore
The cockatoo had a note to deliver

Cockatoo flying back Jurong bird park Singapore

Great hornbill flying Jurong bird park Singapore
We were all asked to look up above…
Great hornbill flying Jurong bird park Singapore show
This great hornbill came sweeping in from behind
Jurong bird park staff with hornbill Singapore
The host talks about each bird, its rarity, about conservation and such
Jurong bird park costume bird show Singapore
Obviously this show is mostly catered to kids, so they have costumed birds for the funny bits
Toucans Jurong bird park Singapore
They brought out toucans next
Toucans on boy Jurong bird park Singapore
More audience fun

Jurong bird park staff feeding toucans Singapore

Parrots ball game Jurong bird park show Singapore
They brought out macaws to play a game

Jurong bird park macaws playing game SingaporeBut in round two, one of the macaws simply decided he wasn’t going to play…

Macaw parrots playing game Jurong bird park Singapore
… for a while anyway πŸ™‚

After the parrots, it was time for another audience participation game.

Cockatoo taking money Jurong bird park Singapore
The good old ‘using bird to take money’ gag
Cockatoo returning money Jurong Bird Park Singapore
Don’t worry, they give it back
Vulture costume Jurong bird park Singapore
No guesses for what bird was next
Black vulture Jurong bird park Singapore
Black vulture
Pelicans fountain Jurong bird park Singapore
Pelicans were next

Β Pelicans Jurong Birk Park Singapore

Amigo talking Amazon parrot Jurong Bird Park Singapore
This next bird was a very interesting one, he was going to talk. Which is why I took a video…

Macaws flying in Jurong bird park Singapore
Time for one final audience participation
Jurong bird park school children Singapore
Kids were desperate to take to part. Sadly for them, only adults allowed for this one.

Macaw parrot flying through hoops Jurong bird park

Jurong bird park parrot breaking through hoop Singapore
I wonder how they train animals to do all this
Parrots show end Jurong bird park Singapore
With that, the Birds n Buddies show came to an end. The host announced the sale of merchandise and that we could now come closer to have a good look at the parrots.

Parrots end of show Jurong bird park Singapore

Red macaw parrot Jurong bird park Singapore
Beautiful design of nature

Macaw parrot closeup Jurong SingaporeI bought a pair of stuffed toy souvenirs, which at $15, the staff said was lower than what the stores were selling them for.

World of darkness Jurong bird park Singapore
Went in here next
World of darkness hall Jurong bird park Singapore
It was fairly chilly in here
Owl instructions Jurong bird park Singapore
No flash allowed, meaning it was going to be a challenge to shoot inside here. I wasn’t carrying my tripod either.
Snow owl Jurong bird park Singapore
Snow owl (I know the photo is slightly out of focus — it was hard trying to shoot handheld in near darkness)
Common barn owls Jurong bird park Singapore
Common barn owls
Common barn owl Jurong Bird Park Singapore
I had to stabilize my camera lens against the glass (gently) to take a steady shot
Malay Buffy fish owl Jurong bird park Singapore
Malay or Buffy fish owl

Night owl section Jurong bird park SingaporeΒ Night owl Jurong bird park Singapore

Great grey owl Jurong bird park Singapore
Check out this fella – the great grey owl
Eurasian eagle owl Jurong bird park Singapore
Eurasian eagle owl

I left the ‘World of Darkness’ and stepped back out into the light.

Jurong bird park walkway Singapore
I continued my walk
Monorail train Jurong Bird Park Singapore
The monorail train service (not included in the $18 ticket)

Heliconia walk sign Jurong Bird Park SingaporeTrain monorail track Jurong bird park SingaporeI walked to the section dedicated to smaller (and the none too exciting) birds.

Blue white Kingfisher bird Jurong Singapore
The lighting conditions weren’t getting better
White breasted kingfisher Jurong bird park Singapore
The clouds were getting darker and darker
Cockatiel cage Jurong bird park Singapore
And I was trying to shoot behind the cages
Blue breasted kingfisher Jurong bird park Singapore
These photos appeared darker, I made the adjustments in Photoshop as much as I could

And then… it began to rain!

Jurong bird park heavy dark rain Singapore
It rained so hard that the skies were really dark grey for quite some time (Took this photo on the phone as I kept my camera back in the bag)

Fortunately I was carrying an umbrella, which helped me protect myself from getting too wet. Unfortunately, many other hapless visitors were running for cover. I sat there on the bench waiting for the rain to stop. In some ways I was glad I chose to wear shorts and slippers. My feet got wet regardless of how much I tried to shield my whole body from the rain.

The rain didn’t stop, but after nearly half-an-hour, the heavy rain was reduced to a drizzle and I decided I move again. I couldn’t sit there all day. I needed to see everything else before the 4pm showing of ‘Kings of the Skies’.

Red legged seriema Jurong bird park Singapore
Water droplets kept hitting my DSLR even as I tried taking photos under the umbrella, so I kept my camera back in and tried taking photos using my phone instead…
Red fronted macaw Jurong bird park Singapore
… which wasn’t going to work out
Scarlet Ibis section Jurong bird park Singapore
Fortunately the next section I went to had a roof over it
Ibis section Jurong bird park Singapore
This section is mainly home to three species of birds

Ibis plover facts Jurong bird park SingaporeScarlet ibis pecking Jurong bird park Singapore

Scarlet ibis Jurong bird park Singapore
The Scarlet ibis
Straw necked ibis Jurong bird park Singapore
Straw necked ibis

Masked plover ibis Jurong bird park SingaporeStraw necked ibis section Jurong bird park Singapore

Scarlet ibis behind glass Jurong bird park Singapore
Just because the hall had a roof, didn’t mean the birds had one too. The glass was still wet.
Scarlet ibis next Jurong bird park Singapore
I tried my best to shoot behind the glass
Raining Jurong bird park Singapore
It was 1:30pm and I still had a lot more ground to cover
Jurong bird park after rain Singapore
It was a constant drizzle
Royal ramble Jurong bird park Singapore
Went in here next
Common crowned pigeons Jurong bird park Singapore
Crowned pigeons
Chain door Jurong bird park Singapore
It such a bitch to pass through these doors, given I was holding my umbrella with my left hand, my camera on my right and rain dripping from above
Bag umbrella Jurong bird park Singapore
This section fortunately had a proper roof and I could finally put down my bag and umbrella
Crowned pigeons Jurong bird park Singapore
They have three species of crowned pigeons here
Victoria crowned pigeons Jurong bird park Singapore
But unless you look closely at the design patterns above their heads, you can’t really tell them apart
Birds of paradise section Jurong bird park Singapore
I came to this elevated section next, dedicated to Bird of Paradise
Lesser bird of paradise tree Singapore bird park
It took me a while to spot it, but what a beautiful bird!
Lesser bird of paradise Jurong bird park Singapore
Had to take out the 70-200 lens for a closer look
Rain drops tree leaves Jurong bird park Singapore
It was still wet
Red bird of paradise Jurong bird park Singapore
I tried spotting this bird but I just couldn’t find it among the trees and plants
Hornbill toucan section Jurong bird park Singapore
Went to the hornbill section next
Rhinoceros hornbill Jurong bird park Singapore
Rhinoceros hornbill
Toucan caged Jurong bird park Singapore
Lighting conditions weren’t ideal in here and I was trying to take slightly longer shutter speeds while holding my heavy camera with the even heavier 70-200 lens mounted — with just one hand!

Hornbill heads Jurong bird park Singapore

Hornbill variety Jurong bird park Singapore
There were many other hornbill varieties, I just couldn’t manage to get good shots of them
Pied hornbill Jurong bird park Singapore
These were the few good shots I managed to capture
Monorail train Jurong bird park Singapore
I left the hornbills and moved on
Lory loft Jurong bird park Singapore
Went there next
Yellow flowers peacock statue Jurong bird park Singapore
Saw this at the train station across the Lory Loft
Jurong bird park lory loft parrots
Lories and lorikeets
Lories Jurong bird park Singapore
This section had a roof above, so I could put my umbrella down and take photos properly, using both hands!

Lory red feather close-up SingaporeLorie bird Jurong bird park SingaporeLorikeet bird on bottles Jurong bird park Singapore

Lory loft netted bridge Jurong bird park Singapore
I decided to walk the plank. This whole loft is netted. (Shot on the phone, panorama comprised of 4 shots)
Lory loft hanging bridge Jurong bird park Singapore
You come down via a spiral staircase to this hanging bridge
Lory loft Australia Jurong bird park Singapore
The Lory Loft seems to have been sponsored by the Australian Government
Lory loft outback life Jurong bird park Singapore
So they have facts and trivia about life in the Outback

Lory bird on pipe water drops SingaporeLorie bird tree branch Jurong bird park SingaporeLory red blue Jurong bird park Singapore

Lories on visitor Jurong bird park Singapore
You can pay extra to feed the birds, but it means the lories are surely going to be all over you

Since it was past 2:30pm, I was more concerned about feeding myself. As per the map of the park, I was nearly done and I wanted to quickly see the remaining attractions and make my way to the restaurants before catching the 4pm show of Kings of the Skies.

Eagle section Jurong bird park Singapore
This section was for eagles
African fish eagle Jurong bird park Singapore
African fish eagles
Eagles like a boss Singapore
Sorry, I just had to
Hawk eagle Jurong bird park Singapore
I tried my best to shoot through these thick cage wires
Steller's sea eagle Jurong bird park Singapore
Steller’s sea eagle – the largest sea eagle in the world

They had a few other species of eagles but the photos came out dark because of the lighting conditions and the positions the birds were in. At this point I realized I would have to come back another day if I were to get any good shots and vibrant colours.

Dinosaur descendants ostrich Jurong bird park Singapore
‘Dinosaur Descendants’ – oooh, sounds exciting doesn’t it?
Ostrich sitting Jurong bird park Singapore
Ostriches, that’s all
Ostriches feeding bananas Jurong bird park Singapore
It was feeding time for them

I didn’t linger around much with the ostriches. I walked down the slope and towards the restaurants. And then… I slipped and fell on the ground!

It was a pretty nasty fall too. Happened in a split of a second. As I tried to get up on my feet again, I looked at my fingers and they were bleeding. With the rain hitting my hands, it made the bleeding look worse than it was. Since I was going down a sloping road, my right leg slipped and I tried to stop my fall with my right hand — the hand I held my camera with (I was holding the umbrella with my left hand) Even more painful was the sight of my camera, which was mounted with the 70-200 lens — my most expensive lens. There was a very bad dent on the filter and it was tightly lodged in. I tried to unscrew it by hand and I couldn’t!

As I got up, the lady you see in the above photo along with her staff mate ran towards me and asked if I was alright. But they could see I was bleeding quite badly and told me they would take care of me. They brought the golf car they were driving and took me back to their station. There, they called other staff members to help me, they wiped my blood and bandaged me up.

All this while, I was rather speechless, wondering how (and why on god’s earth) this had to happen on just my second day of visit in Singapore. The rains ruined the bird park experience and now this! I kept looking at my dented lens filter and I felt even worse.

Test shot
I took this shot just to test the camera if anything else was wrong. The auto-focus worked fine which meants the lens wasn’t damaged internally.

The staff asked me where I was from, among other questions, and told me not to worry about how my experience at Jurong Bird Park went today. I told them I hadn’t eaten yet, and that I had planned to watch the 4pm show… but now, I just felt like leaving. The staff adviced me it’s best I visit a clinic and get a tetanus shot since I scraped the tarmac. I was thinking the same since the clean-up work the staff performed was using whatever they had in their first-aid kit.

They asked me for my contact information and I handed them my business card. One of the staff escorted me back to the bus station and I took the bus back to Jurong Point shopping center. Once there, I visited one of the clinics they suggested. I waited for my turn alongside what looked like labourers here for some check-up. Once the doctor called me in, he inspected my injuries and told me there was nothing serious and all it needed was a proper clean up.

The nurse then escorted me to another room and she performed the proper clean up. She began talking to me, asking me where I was from and if I was working here in Singapore. I told her ‘no’ and that I was just visiting, this only being my second day in the city-state. Since she was a native Singaporean, I used the opportunity to ask her some questions to learn more about the country. When I asked her when was the best time visit Singapore, she smiled and told me Singapore only has one season. It rains pretty much throughout the year, she said.

With just about everything in Singapore being expensive, I asked the nurse if healthcare too was quite expensive. She told me it’s subsidized by the government for its citizens, but since I didn’t have a health card, my rates would obviously be higher. (Gulp!)

I was properly bandaged up and she gave me some extra band-aids along with some prescribed anti-biotics. The cost for all this – SG$52 (Rs. 2000/$38/€29).

I wasn’t feeling good at all. I walked around Jurong Point checking out the restaurants and felt a little bit better when I saw the mall had a Mosburger outlet — the not-so ubiquitous Japanese burger joint. I really like their food (and their fries), so I sat down and ate to comfort myself. (It often works). I looked at my lens again and tried repeatedly to unscrew the lens filter but it just wouldn’t budge. I had no choice now but to go back to John 3:16 and hand it over to the Canon service center.

I took the metro and headed back to City Hall MRT, from where I then walked to Funan IT mall. As soon as I walked into the store, the staff at John 3:16, who had just seen me yesterday when I bought my Kata bag from them, exclaimed as they asked me what happened to my hand. I told them my sob story, and then showed them the 70-200mm lens. They tried by hand to unscrew the filter but gave up and said it’s better to just hand it over to the Canon service center.

I had no choice. I couldn’t do without this lens, and so I did. They told me I would get it back tomorrow. I said fine, and left, with my camera bag feeling like it was missing something.

Singapore central fire station
The Central Fire Station, right opposite Funan IT mall

There was nothing else for me to do besides go home. But as I sat in the train, I told myself I wasn’t going to let this incident ruin my trip. So instead of alighting at Aljunied, I got down at Paya Lebar MRT instead. I decided to check out the Geylang Serai hawker centre and thought I could have my dinner from there.

Singapore Post building at night
The Singapore Post building, right next to Paya Lebar MRT
Geylang towards hawker centre Singapore
After asking a few people for directions (some of whom who just plain ignored me), I made my way towards the Geylang Serai market
Hawker centre closed tables Geylang Singapore
This hawker centre was closed… and it wasn’t even 8pm yet
Muslim converts association building Singapore
Muslim Converts Association of Singapore
Geylang Serai market at night road Singapore
Across the road is the Geylang Serai Market and Food Centre
Geylang Serai market at night Singapore
But as I walked towards it, some men who were loitering about there told me it was closed, and that it’s open only from morning until afternoon.

I can understand the markets, but do all hawker centres in Singapore close early? As in, you can’t go to such places for dinner?

Disappointed, I just roamed around the area to see how the people on this side of town go about their lives. Noticed a lot of Malays and people of Indonesian descent live in this part of Singapore.

Building behind spiral staircase chimney Singapore
Walked around some apartments
Hotel 81 Geylang classic building Singapore
Hotel 81 has quite a few branches in the area, this one looked rather nice though
Geylang road sign Singapore
After walking around a bit, I took the bus back to my area
Geylang football court Singapore at night
Saw this football field after I got down from the bus and walked back towards Aljunied MRT

Back at Aljunied, I had dinner at an Indian restaurant in the same block as WoW Hostel. I looked at my hand and wondered how I could to Sentosa tomorrow in this condition…

Mithun Divakaran injured hand Singapore
It wasn’t hurting much, but I couldn’t bend my fingers or my arm

Even having dinner was a challenge.Β  I went back and felt better after taking a warm shower. I informed my folks back in India and my friend in Singapore of what happened.

I went online and saw an e-mail from one of the staff at Jurong Bird Park who wrote to me saying if I felt like visiting the bird park again this week, my ticket would be free. I told them with the weather conditions tomorrow and the fact I was mainly here for the F1 weekend, I couldn’t devote another day for Jurong. I asked if I could come back in February next year, to which they replied saying it’s fine and I could just bring a print-out of this e-mail to get a free entry.

Still, I couldn’t stop thinking about how my Rs. 60,000 ($1,100 ) lens was now getting operated on and it hadn’t even been one year since I bought it from Bangkok last year. As with all accidents, I kept thinking of the ‘shoulda, coulda, woulda’: I shouldn’t have worn slippers, I could have simply left the lens hood on the 70-200 lens, the lens hood would have protected the tip by absorbing much of the impact. But alas, what’s done was done.

Plans were obviously going to change for tomorrow and day after.


Next posts in this series:

Singapore 2011: Day 3 – Bukit Timah and Singapore Botanic Gardens

Singapore 2011: Day 4 – Marina Bay Sands Casino and views from the SkyPark observation deck

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 post in this series:

Singapore 2011: Day 1 – Landing a second time; walking around CBD

Non-veg meal Singapore airlines bangalore flight

Singapore 2011: Day 1 – Landing a second time; walking around CBD

Date: 19th September, 2011

By landing a second time I meant, this was my second visit to Singapore. Not that the plane failed in its first attempt to land successfully. After all, I wasn’t going to be flying Tiger Airways this time.

I first visited Singapore last year, along with two of my friends. We assumed 3 days & 2 nights would have been ‘okay’ for such a small city-state, and though we did manage to see a lot, there were still many popular attractions left unvisited. Plus, we underestimated just how expensive Singapore is! It was a learning experience, but we all told ourselves we would go back a second time. Unfortunately… due to the circumstances at work (hint: the lack of it), plans changed. Only one of us booked a flight to Singapore this time — me.

I told myself if at all I planned on visiting Singapore again, it would be during the F1 week, and the decision to book early was easy when the organizers announced Linkin Park was going to headline this year! I saw them perform at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last November but being the fan that I am, I made no hesitation to see them perform again.

When it came time to make a decision on which flight to take, it wasn’t an easy one. As much as I derided Tiger Airways, the fact they had temporarily stopped flying from Bangalore was a bit of a downer. Because the only option left to fly direct to Singapore from Bangalore was Singapore Airlines — and there’s obviously quite a price difference! I considered other premium carriers such Sri Lankan Airlines, Jet Airways and Air India — but all of them had stop-overs in excess of 2 hours.

I also wanted to try Singapore Airlines, just to see for myself why it’s rated as one of the best airlines in the world. Despite the fact SIA cost more than Sri Lankan Airlines, Jet Airways, Air India and Malaysia Airlines, I still went ahead and booked a direct flight via Cleartrip.com. Using a voucher I had, I got my ticket for Rs. 19k.

Inside Singapore Airlines Boeing plane Bangalore flight
On 18th night, I boarded my Singapore Airlines flight from Bangalore
Bangalore city lights from night sky
The flight left at 11:05pm
Singapore Airlines food menu card inflight service
The first time I ever got a menu in an economy class flight
Singapore Airlines inflight service bar menu
Pretty impressive beverages list
Singapore sling inflight drink Singapore airlines
I had a few of these — the Singapore Sling
Non-veg meal Singapore airlines bangalore flight
The food was good too

I know I can’t even start to compare a budget carrier to Singapore Airlines, but compared to all the legacy carriers I’ve flown so far, I must say I really like the in-flight service in SIA more than Emirates. I don’t know if it’s attributed to the training the stewards receive, but the air hostesses were really good at the whole ‘service with a smile’. They looked upbeat and happy to serve you (at least me), and overall do a good job of embodying the image of the ‘Singapore Girl’ — a concept the airline has been using in it’s marketing campaign for decades.

Krisworld menu inflight entertainment Singapore Airlines
Their in-flight entertainment service, called KrisWorld, though not as exhaustive as Emirates, was still alright
Krisworld inflight movies Singapore Airlines
Quality over quantity I guess
Flying over Singapore night lights
Four and half hours later…

Malasyia Singapore night flight

Landing at Changi airport Singapore
Landing at Changi airport at 6:05am

Overall, I had a good first impression of Singapore Airlines. The airplane wasn’t old, the service was very good, and quality was seen in just about every other aspect of the airline.

Another reason why I wanted to fly a legacy carrier (and not budget) was because I wanted to see Changi Airport. Last year I landed at Changi Airport too, but I wouldn’t call the budget terminal a worthy addition to the ‘Changi’ repute.

Changi airport terminal 2 gates Singapore
But first impressions when I entered Terminal 2 were “Hmm, this doesn’t look that new”
Changi Airport terminal 2 walkalator Singapore
It didn’t look any fancier than, say, Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi or KLIA
Singapore Airport Changi Terminal 2 arrivals
I made my way to immigration
Singapore Changi Terminal 2 escalator to immigration counters
I wasn’t WOW-ed by the airport or anything

Singapore Changi airport terminal 2 immigration counters

Changi Airport way to MRT station Singapore
Immigration took a couple of minutes, collected my bag and then made my way to the MRT station

I still had my MRT (metro) card from last year, which still had SG$6 on it, but I bought an additional SGD20 (Rs. 800/$15/€11) worth of credit anyway. I boarded the train and made my way to Aljunied.

I had booked a dorm bed for four nights at WoW Hostel, which after much deliberation, seemed like one of the best hostels right next to an MRT station — which was of absolute importance to me. Last year I stayed at ABC Hostel, though nice, was a bit of a walk to get to a MRT station. But after stepping out of Aljunied MRT station, finding WoW Hostel proved a bit of a challenge.

I first walked into a building which had ‘WOW’ written on it assuming that’s where the hostel was. But I went upstairs to a grumpy woman who wokeΒ  up on the wrong side of bed, slamming the door on me after she asked me to look at the address once again.

I did. And tried looking across the road and noticed another sign, this time, saying ‘WoW Hostel’. (As you’ll see below, it’s not easy to notice that sign). I climbed four flights of stairs to finally reach a door. I rang the bell, got in and sat on the couch, tired from all the climbing early morning.

WoW hostel interiors Geylang Singapore
Like many hostels, this was another one of those houses-turned-hostel. I sat on the couch in the living room/reception. They have a big screen TV and a computer for use to the right.

I had to wait nearly half-an-hour for somebody to come and help me ‘check-in’… because everybody was asleep. After the guy in charge of the flat finally woke, I paid up and he showed me to my room.

Wow hostel dorm bed Singapore
Like a lot of hostels, most of the furniture was IKEA
Wow hostel mixed dorm room Singapore
This room had two split A/Cs and included in the price were lockers in the room

The beds were really comfy and you get two fluffy pillows per bed, which was nice. The place was quite clean and I feel like I made the right choice booking a room here.

I stepped out soon after checking in to get a local SIM card (there’s a 7-11 in the same block). After informing my parents about my safe arrival, I then freshened up and caught some sleep. I barely slept on the flight.

I woke up around noon. It had drizzled it a bit in the morning and I was hoping rain wouldn’t ruin my day as I had two important things to do today. First, I had to collect my F1 ticket. Second, I had to buy a camera bag.

Mixed dorm room Wow hostel Aljunied Singapore
Took out the Canon 7D. The lockers are to the right where I was standing.
Aljunied MRT station from WoW hostel Singapore
That’s Aljunied MRT station
Wow hostel hallway rooms Singapore
The hallway just outside my room
Inside the Swissotel The Stamford Singapore
The ticket collection center was located inside the Swissotel The Stamford
Stamford Raffles mall interiors Singapore
Collecting my Zone 4 passes didn’t take much time
Cafe Swiss at Swissotel Singapore
I left the Swissotel. Next up, Funan IT Mall.
Singapore GP preparations work
As I stepped out, work was on-going for this weekend’s Singapore F1

They had cordoned off many roads and diverted traffic as the unique thing about the Singapore Grand Prix is that the race happens on the city streets! The roads were barricaded, meaning I had to walk all along the F1 track.

Esplanade theatres by the bay cbd Singapore
Which meant passing by The Esplanade theatres by the bay
The Esplanade theatres entrance Singapore
‘Richard III’ starring Kevin Spacey and directed by his ‘American Beauty’ director, Sam Mendes, was playing here
The Esplanade theatre domes Singapore panorama
Panorama comprised of 9 shots

Singapore cbd Marina bay bridge buildings

Esplanade Marina Bay panorama view Singapore
Panorama comprised of 7 shots
Esplanade theatres by the bay Marina flyer Singapore
The race track starts all the way there
Marina Bay Sands casino hotel Singapore
Last year, because of rains, the sky deck at the Marina Bay Sands was closed. But I planned to go again.
Fullerton Hotel Maybank building financial centre Singapore
The financial centre looks even better at night
Merlion Park Marina Bay Sands Singapore
I decided to check out the Merlion Park, since I couldn’t go up close due to lack of time last year
Merlion Park statue fountain Singapore
This is the mini-Merlion
Merlion park fountain statue Singapore
This is the big one, the symbol of Singapore
Merlion fountain statue Marina Bay Sands Singapore
Though, now there are newer and more sophisticated symbols in Singapore

Looking around, you could see the bus loads of Korean, Chinese and other tourists from across the globe. Everyone that is, except a local Singaporean! πŸ™‚

Merlion park near Marina bay bridge Singapore
I moved on
Under marina bridge Starbucks Singapore
Walked under the bridge

Marina bay river bridge pillar design Singapore

Marina river bridge F1 track Singapore
The bridge is also a part of the F1 circuit

Singapore river Marina park stepsEsplanade park canopy wooden boards SingaporeEsplanade theatre singapore river quayOverbridge pedestrian walkway SingaporeEsplanade park Singapore

Underpass tunnel Esplanade Park Singapore
See, not everyone follows the rules in Singapore
Singapore financial centre buildings skyscrapers
The murky skies weren’t helping with today’s photography
Old supreme court building Singapore
This is the Old Supreme Court building
Old Supreme Court building dome Singapore
It’s getting refurbished to be turned into the National Art Gallery in a few years time
Singapore Cricket Club ground
The Singapore Cricket Club (Do any Singaporeans besides the Indians even play cricket?)
Singapore GP zone 4 seats track
This is the Zone 4 grandstand seating, right in front of the Old Supreme Court building
Way to Funan IT mall Singapore
The pink building is Funan IT mall
Funan IT mall inside Nokia Samsung Singapore
When I came here last year, I barely got much time to visit all the stores I wanted to. It may be slightly pricier than say, Sim Lim Square, but there’s little of the grey market dealing here.

Since it was nearing 3pm, I had lunch from McDonalds before going upstairs.

Gears of War 3 launch Singapore
Microsoft held a Gears of War 3 launch event. Singaporeans could get their hands on the game a few hours ahead of their Western counterparts.
Gears of War 3 Singapore release Funan IT hall
It may look like a joke to the mainstream, to see young folks sit and wait for a videogame to be launched, but in the world of gaming, being the few to go online first is quite the bragging right! πŸ™‚

Even though I knew which store stocked the bag I had in my mind, I still went to pretty much all the other photography and electronics stores to have a look at the other models before finally picking up a bag.

I saw a lot of camera backpacks, but none of the other stores stocked the bag I had strongly considered – the Kata Owl 272. So I went to John 3:16, and lo and behold, he had it in stock. At SGD185 (Rs. 7k+), it cost Rs. 2000 lesser than it did in India. I checked it out and after feeling quite satisfied with its features, abused my credit card and bought it.

With backpack in tow, I left Funan IT mall after chatting with the sales staff at John 3:16 for a while. I was happy. I finally had a good camera backpack of my own for all my camera equipment.

Gears of War 3 launch party shot from up Funan IT mall Singapore
Still a few hours left

I left Funan IT mall and walked right next door to Peninsula Plaza, an old but famous shopping complex, which also houses quite a few photography stores. But once inside, the place looked more like ‘Little Myanmar’.

Peninsula Plaza interior floors Singapore
(I kept the Canon 7D inside and just shot using the lighter 450D from here on)

A lot of the businesses here were owned by and cater to the Burmese population in Singapore. Restaurants, Myanmar clothing and plenty of money transfer shops. With all the troubles back in their homeland, I’m not surprised to see thousands of them in Singapore, seeking a better life. There was a distinct stench in the air too… I don’t know what it was, but it was like being reminded of the fish sauce stench in Bangkok.

I left Peninsula Plaza because I couldn’t take the smell anymore.

St. Andrews cathedral Singapore art effect
When I was working on this photograph of St. Andrews cathedral, I was playing around with the Levels tool in Photoshop. Accidentally went to the extremes, and then paused when I saw the result. I liked how the right side looked like a painting, while the left looked like an etching.
Suntec city building lights interior Singapore
I walked through Suntec City
Suntec City giant water wheel fountain Singapore
Saw this giant wheel fountain at Suntec

Marina Square mall Suntec building Singapore

Air Asia Lotus F1 car display Suntec City Singapore
Air Asia had their sponsored Team Lotus car on display in another building at Suntec
Suntec city mall stores Singapore
Suntec City is one massive commercial complex: malls, offices, exhibition centres — all right in the central business district

Suntec City mall coffee club SingaporeΒ Marina Mandarin hotel cbd SingaporePedestrian walkway into Suntec city mall SingaporeMarina Square mall Singapore

Suntec City expo center lobby Singapore
This is the Convention Hall building
Suntec City library food court Singapore
I love the looks of this food court
Pedestrian bridge Suntec City Singapore
It was past 6pm
Suntec city atrium Singapore
You can spend a lot of time in Suntec City
Suntec City beauty stores mall Singapore
Walked to Raffles MRT
Aljunied MRT station Singapore
This is Aljunied MRT station, and now I’m going to show you how to get to WoW Hostel from here
Hostel building outside Aljunied MRT station
Once you exit the station, to your left is this building. Plenty of restaurants, a 7-11 and other stores on that block as well.
98SG hostel building near Aljunied mrt station
Walking straight up will lead you to this road which is in between two blocks. In the morning, when I came here, I saw the WOW written below the 98SG and assumed this is the right building. It’s not.
Jas Medical WoW hostel building Singapore
Turn around and look for the store named Jas Medical. Walk up closer to those steps you see beside it.
Wow hostel Urban hostel building Singapore
This is how you will arrive at the right entrance to WoW Hostel (and another hostel)
WoW hostel level 3 entrance Singapore
Climb up past Urban Hostel and you arrive at WoW Hostel

Once back in my room, I dumped my bag and decided to roam free while checking out my surroundings.

Chinese procession Geylang evening prayers Singapore
This was happening nearby (Took this photo earlier)
Chinese procession prayers Geylang Singapore
I don’t know what it was about, but the stage looked nice
Geylang road Singapore market evening
There are markets and plenty of restaurants around. Down this road is the Geylang Serai Market & Food Centre — a hawker centre I planned to check out.

I stopped by a supermarket to pick up some water. One lesson learnt from last year’s trip was not to waste money buying small bottles, that too from 7-Eleven, who price their goods higher than most convenience stores. While a small bottle of water at 7-Eleven costs more than SG$1 (Rs.38/$0.77/€0.58), I picked up a 1.5 litre of water from this supermarket for SGD1 and a 500ml bottle for just SGD0.60. You may think I’m just penny-pinching, but trust me, it all adds up in Singapore. The humidity here will see you drinking so much water, you’ll be spending a lot more on water than you think!

Geylang road nightlife Singapore
I was near the bustling Geylang area, famed for its street food and nightlife (This and the below were all taken on my phone)
Khadijah Mosque Aljunied Geylang Singapore
This area has a significant Malay population too
Lor 28 Geylang apartment night Singapore
I kept walking around in the hopes of finding the Geyalng Serai hawker centre, but it looked like it was much further down the road than I earlier presumed it would be
Geylang road night Singapore
This looked like a decent residential area not to far from the CBD

Shell fuel station Singapore

No Signboard seafood Geylang Singapore
Nice name πŸ™‚
Sims Avenue Geylang road Aljunied Singapore
I eventually walked back to my block

I sat down at a Malay-Indian restaurant to have some piping hot prata with some not-so-piping hot chicken curry.

Pokka carrot juice can Singapore
For drink, I chose canned carrot juice

The satisfying dinner cost me SGD5.60 (Rs. 223/$4.3/€3.2), which cost less than the SGD7.40 (Rs. 295) my McDs Quarter Pounder meal cost in the afternoon. (I know you can’t always compare prices in Singapore but, man, nearly Rs. 300 for a McDonalds meal! :-/)

I was satisfied after a productive first day in Singapore. Tomorrow, Jurong Bird Park.


Nest posts in this series:

Singapore 2011: Day 1 – Landing a second time; walking around CBD

Singapore 2011: Day 2 – Jurong Bird Park and… *ouch!*

Singapore 2011: Day 3 – Bukit Timah and Singapore Botanic Gardens

Singapore 2011: Day 4 – Marina Bay Sands Casino and views from the SkyPark observation deck

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

Singapore 2011 – F1 week, a teaser

From September 19th to 26th, I visited Singapore for a second time. Here are a few photos:

Stamford Raffles mall interiors Singapore
First order of business, collect my Singapore GP ticket from the SwissΓ΄tel The Stamford
Merlion Park fountain statue Singapore
I then walked all the way to the Merlion Park for the obligatory ‘Yes, I’m in Singapore’ shot
Gears of War 3 Singapore release Funan IT hall
Second order of business – head to Funan IT mall to buy a camera backpack. There was a Gear of War 3 launch event going on as Singapore was going to get the game a few hours before the rest of the world did. A few hours early is a big deal to gamers when you go online dammit! πŸ™‚

Day 1 went according to plan. Got my Kata Owl DL-272 from John 3:16 for SGD185, nearly Rs. 2000 cheaper.

Jurong bird park lory loft parrots
Day 2, I decided to go to Jurong Bird Park, which I couldn’t do last year
Jurong bird park heavy dark rain Singapore
Unfortunately, it began raining heavily (dark clouds and all). This was taken on my phone.
Jurong bird park hornbill Singapore
But eventually the heavy rain subsided and I continued shooting. It wasn’t easy though. Holding my Canon 7D with the heavy 70-200mm lens in one hand and an umbrella in the other hand. I tried my best.

I was nearly done with the park when disaster struck. Because of the wet grounds, I slipped on a downward slope and fell on the ground. I tried to break my fall as I didn’t want to damage my camera… but …

Mithun Divakaran injured hand Singapore
Long story short, this is what my hand looked like at the end of the day. It hurt. But what hurt more was that the filter on my 70-200mm lens dented in so badly that nobody could remove it by hand. Eventually Canon service had to carefully drill two holes on the side without touching the main lens and remove it. Cost SGD130 though.Β 

Day 2, obviously not according to plan then.

Singapore bus ride
Day 3 was supposed to be Sentosa & Universal Studios but with my 70-200mm lens still at the service center, so I couldn’t go there without it. So instead, I hopped on a bus and see where it would take me.
Global Indian International school Singapore
I basically wanted to see the inner parts of Singapore and the more residential areas. Not just the usual commercial areas every tourist sees.
Singapore dark clouds bus ride
The weather looked gloomy today as well
Singapore botanic gardens Orchard road gate
In the afternoon, ended up going to the Botanic gardens because I told myself I can’t justify this trip unless I take a lot of photos!
Singapore botanic gardens swan lake pigeons
Even though such places aren’t really my thing, I ended up liking the gardens a lot
Singapore orchid park flowers
Then ended up clicking quite a lot of photos once inside the Orchid Park. Really worth the SG$5 fee!
Aimee angel ring Singapore Lucky plaza
Left the gardens and met my friend Aimee on Orchard Road. She’s no angel, that’s just Photoshop.

Day 4, I got my lens back and decided to go to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel & Casino. Played $65 at the casino — and lost it all πŸ˜› Photography isn’t allowed inside the casino, so I have no photos, but take my word for it — it was impressive!

Marina Bay Sands Singapore Infinity swimming pool
After the casino, went up to the skybridge
Marina Bay skybridge view panorama
The views from up here… worth the $20 fee! The Marina Bay Sands SkyparkΒ  is even higher than the Singapore Flyer.
Singapore Flyer view from Marina Bay skybridge
Didn’t feel like going to the Singapore Flyer after this
Marina Bay The Gardens barge ships panorama
From up here, you can see why Singapore Port is one of the busiest in the world. Oh, they’re also constructing more attractions at Marina Bay.
Marina bay sands hotel Infinity pool Singapore
The famous pool at the hotel. Hopefully one day I can afford to stay in this hotel, just so I can use the swimming pool πŸ™‚

Day 5, met up with Aimee again as she showed me around Chinatown.

Buddha temple Chinatown Singapore
Last year, myself & Loiyumba only strolled through Chinatown at night, so I didn’t even know about this Buddhist temple
Boat Quay bread ice-cream Singapore
Finally had bread ice cream by the Quay. Durian flavoured ice cream that too!
Charice Singapore F1 Friday concert
Oprah loved her, David Foster promoted her and ‘Glee’ made her even more famous. It was Pinoy fever as Charice kicked off the concerts on Friday night. What a voice she has!
Seungri Singapore F1 Friday concert
Then I got my K-pop fix with Seungri first taking the stage
GD&Top Singapore F1 Friday concert
And later, fellow BIG BANG members GD&TOP ended the night with a stellar (albeit short) performance

Day 6, had lunch at Boat Quay and had my first taste of Singapore Chili Crab.

Singapore chili crab boat quay
Before
Singapore chili crab after
After (Disclaimer/just saying: There were three of us at the table)
Man sleeping Marina Bay Singapore afternoon
I was in no rush to enter the gates when it opened at 3pm just to get fanzone passes to be closer to the stage today. But I still ended up getting them at 3:30pm.
Rick Astley singing Singapore concert Marina Stage
Waited for this man to perform at the Marina Bay stage. Yes, Rick Astley. He still sounds great!
Rick Astley beer bottle Singapore concert
He was also quite funny. Drenched in sweat (like the rest of us) he asked for some chilled beer for him and his band. The organizers handed him one bottle of beer, to which he pointed out that it looked like something else πŸ™‚
Rick Astley Eddie Jordan drumming Singapore F1 concert
Rick Astley was later joined by racing supremo Eddie Jordan on drums
Mithun Divakaran with Rick Astley Singapore F1
Mithun Divakaran, officially ‘Rick-Rolled’
Shakira Singapore F1 Saturday concert
Next up, the incredibly sexy, talented Shakira. But all her writhing about and moaning got a bit annoying for me after a while.
Shakira hip dancing on stage Singaporean girls F1 concert
Four lucky Singaporean girls got a chance to shake their hips with Shakira as well
Brazilian samba dancers Singapore F1 performance
They also flew in a Brazilian samba dance troupe. Never seen hips being shaken so violently before! I don’t know how they do it, but I hope to see the Rio Carnival in person one day.
2011 Singapore grand prix concert stage
Finally, closing out Saturday’s entertainment…wait for it…
Shaggy Singapore F1 Saturday concert
“Singapore! Remember me?…. No? Aw, come on!…”
Shaggy concert Singapore F1 2011
I didn’t bother staying too long for Shaggy’s set. As with all rap/reggae/urban artists, half the time it was instructions: “throw your hands in the air!” “say woahhh” “do this, do that!” -_-
Shaggy back-up singers bored Singapore Saturday concert
“Oh just give it up Shaggy”

Day 7 was the big race on Sunday.

Forbidden Broadway Singapore show lion king spoof
Sunday’s entertainment for me began with the off-broadway show Forbidden Broadway. A musical spoofing pretty much every popular hit broadway show from The Lion King to Wicked and more. Pretty funny, if you got the jokes that is!
New York off-broadway Lion King spoof
They mostly made fun of Disney’s infiltration of broadway with their properties and how Disney fool people into thinking everything from The Little Mermaid to Mary Poppins (both of which they also spoofed) are any good on live theatre.
Red Bull Racing Singapore grand prix F1 race day
Watched a bit of the race from the corners where I could manage to take a few decent snaps
Linkin Park Singapore F1 concert
But I headed back to the concert stage so I could get close enough to see the main reason why I booked my tickets in May itself: Linkin Park!
Chester Bennington Linkin Park Singapore F1 concert
Chester actually had a cast on his arm but performed on stage without it. Needless to say, he was his screaming best. What an incredible vocalist!
Mike Shinoda guitar Singapore Linkin Park concert
This is why I can’t do without my 70-200mm lens. Hardly did any adjustments to make this photo look any better.

After feeling great about getting my SGD138 worth of entertainment, I took the last train to Marina Bay to go see The Chemical Brothers perform at the Avalon Club.

Avalon Club Singapore F1 after race party
After dancing for more than hour to hits like “Star Guitar” “Don’t Think” and “Do it Again,” I kept wondering why the smoke machine was on until Boy George began his set. Made me question if The Chemical Brothers were even there! I felt cheated in some ways.

Day 8, I went to IKEA for some shopping before heading to the airport at 5:30pm.

IKEA lunch food pizza meatball fries Appleberry
Finally had lunch from an IKEA and tasted their famed Swedish meatballs

Anyway, there’s a lot more to say and hundreds more photographs to put up. I will begin this Singapore series once I complete my Philippines series.

Update – Read this series here:

Singapore 2011: Day 1 – Landing a second time; walking around CBD

Singapore 2011: Day 2 – Jurong Bird Park and… *ouch!*

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