After spending the previous day on the tranquil and unspoilt island of Pulau Ubin, it was a change of scene with a visit to Sentosa, dubbed the island of fun! From our hotel we took the MRT from Somerset on the North East line over to HarbourFront station as the Singapore Cable Car runs from the 15th floor of Harbour City.
Standard adult tickets for a Sky Pass cost SG$35 (£20.50) but we managed to save SG$21 (£12.30) by downloading the Klook App and buying two tickets the previous evening for SD$24.50 (£14.35) each. Klook is a reliable website offering substantial discounts on attractions in South East Asia and is worth checking out if you are visiting the region and planing to visit attractions. Our prepaid tickets also enabled us to join the fast track queue which was an added bonus.
As we’d arrived quite early in the day we were able to have an 8 seater cabin to ourselves. Our trip began with a trip on the Mt. Faber line which transported us from a skyscraper to a hilltop park offering panoramic views of the city over the treetops. The cabins are upholstered with an attractive moquette pattern of past and present cable car silhouettes which seemed appropriate as well as being bright and cheerful.
The top station has a pleasant bar/restaurant with outdoor terrace and gift shop and is also the starting point for several hiking trails. A lone nutmeg tree stands on Mt. Faber Plaza as a lasting reminder that the hilltop was formerly a nutmeg plantation. We decided to follow signposts to the Forest Walk which crosses the 36m high pedestrian Henderson Waves bridge. This 274m long bridge has a distinctive wave appearance and is renowned for its unique undulating architecture.
It felt pleasantly cool under the shade of the trees as we continued along to the elevated Forest Walk. This 1.3 km trail is comprised of 18 m high metal walkways that are level with the tree canopy and have staircases connecting the various levels. Being in close proximity to such tall, mature trees and just having the occasional monkey and lizard for company was an ideal start to our day.
On a future visit to Singapore I would like to walk the 9 km (5.6 miles) length of the Southern Ridges trail but Sentosa beckoned so we retraced our steps back to the cable car station at Mt. Faber Plaza for the second leg of our journey across to Sentosa Island. The cable car passes through HabourFront which was our starting point before crossing the harbour onto Sentosa Island.
Looking down through the tinted glass windows we had some spectacular views of the port where ferries were departing for Batam Island in Indonesia. After gliding silently over the Resorts World Adventure Cove Waterpark we arrived at Sentosa Station, the end of the line taking 15 minutes from the Mt. Faber peak.
From Sentosa Station we took an outdoor escalator down to Merlion Plaza which is the main area connecting to Imbiah Station. Surrounding the plaza are a cluster of the island’s top attractions, shops and cafes. Taking centre stage in the square is the 37 metre tall Merlion statue. This icon of Singapore is a half lion, half fish mythical creature which legend has it visited Singapore each year to guard its well being. Tickets can be purchased to climb inside the statue which houses a museum dedicated to exploring the myths of the Merlion. We were happy just to view the Merlion statue from the plaza and didn’t actually go inside ourselves.
After a snack lunch we wandered over to Merlion Station to take a ride on the Sentosa Line cable car which is also included in the Sky Pass. This new line, featuring brightly coloured cabins has only been open since July 2015 and spans a distance of 880 metres. The line has three stations and as we wanted to see as much as we could, we made our first stop at the Imbiah Lookout Station.
Although most visitors to Sentosa head for its man-made, fun attractions there’s lots of natural beauty to experience. Within minutes of leaving the hustle and bustle of Imbiah Station we were exploring the setting of the Sentosa Nature Discovery Centre. This gallery occupies one of the old stations on the disused Sentosa monorail line and provides an introduction to the natural habitats found on the island.
A forest trail then leads visitors across Imbiah Bridge and over a stretch of the old monorail line. Our walk took us through tropical vegetation where brightly coloured butterflies fluttered by, lizards crossed our path and all we could hear was the chirping of birds.
It was then back on the cable car for a ride across to Siloso Point at the end of the line, a short journey but probably the most scenic as we caught our first glimpse of the gorgeous tropical palm-tree lined Siloso beach on the western end of the island.
We’d come to visit Fort Siloso, the last remaining of the island’s four military forts. Positioned on a hilltop, it provided commanding views of Keppel Harbour and the sea to the south of Singapore. This coastal defence dates from the late 1880’s and was still in use during the first half of the 20th century. During the Japanese Occupation the fort was used as a Prisoner-of-War camp and after the war was re-occupied by British forces before being handed over to the Singapore government in 1967.
Since 1972 Fort Siloso has been designated as an historic site and was further enhanced two years ago with a new entrance via the Fort Siloso Skywalk. The entire complex is free to visit and so we took the lift to the top of the Skywalk tower. After admiring the views we continued along its gleaming glass and steel elevated 181 metre walkway watched closely by a few monkeys who were perched on its glass railings.
Next, we followed both the Heritage and Gun trails. These signposted routes take visitors around the various buildings and tunnel systems. One tunnel had displays showing a range of activities carried out by the soldiers at the fort whilst another located beneath the gun battery contained an exhibition about what life would have been like as a prisoner-of-war at Fort Siloso. The Battery Command Post features life size soldiers on watch with an audio soundtrack simulating the sounds of gunfire in 1942 during the Battle of Singapore.
The final tunnel is approached by a long passageway leading down to the Surrender Chamber which comprises wax figures depicting scenes of the two surrenders – the British to the Japanese in 1942 followed by the Japanese to the Allies in 1945. For those with an interest in history, it’s definitely a good place to visit and we enjoyed looking around. There was insufficient time to explore the island’s ‘fun side’ so we scheduled in a return visit to do just that for later in the week.
It was then back on the cable car to complete our round trip, returning to our starting point across at HarbourFront. As we had the flexibility of getting on and off at each station it made the actual ticket cost extremely good value.
On reaching HarbourFront, we called in the VivoCity Mall next door as I’d read that a new state of the art library called Library@HarbourFront had just opened on the top floor and I fancied a look.
Inside the foyer there is an electronic book drop system, and after returning books, library users can watch their progress as the books are scanned, set off on a conveyor belt and electronically sorted by dropping into specific tubs to be returned to the correct shelves. I’m familiar with self scanned returns but have never seen books electronically sorted before. Another interesting feature we noticed was that requested items could be collected from small electronic lockers without the need of a library assistant.
As well as the usual facilities, the library has a coastal theme with a blue and green colour scheme. There are huge glass windows overlooking the sea where users are able to relax on bright yellow deckchairs whilst enjoying the panoramic views.
It was then back to our hotel for a well earned rest and a relaxing swim. After dinner we had a late evening stroll from Boat Quay along the riverside to Clarke Quay. The air was a little cooler and with the gentle breeze it felt very pleasant. The end of yet another lovely day in beautiful Singapore.
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