Thursday, March 6, 2014

Singapore: City Sights, Tourist Type

Singapore is a city of superlatives, it says: the biggest observation wheel, the tallest water fountain, the best shopping, the highest oen-air swimming pool, etc. My first afternoon, I did the most touristy thing you can do: I took the Duck Tour and rode the Singapore Flyer, the Ferris wheel thing that is 15 meters taller than the London one. What's a Duck Tour? you ask.

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It's a Vietnam war era amphibious transport, nearly as old as I am, brought to Sing, and refitted as a tourist cruiser. You spend thirty minutes in the water, and thirty minutes on land. The Duck tour was about as expected, cool in idea more than in execution, but it was fine and I got some good, if fairly standard, tourist shots. The guide really seemed to enjoy his job. The Duck, ours was Darlene, returns to the starting point and you take the City Sightseeing bus to the Flyer on your own. We hit the water first:

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where you can get some great views of two of the skyline's icons, the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and the Flyer:

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You may also catch one of the other Ducks along the way:

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Fountain of Wealth:
You meet up with your Duck in a place called Suntec, a massive shopping and convention center. I was plenty early to arrive, and so I visited the Fountain of Wealth, apparently the world's largest fountain. There is a small fountain as part of it, which you are supposed to go around in circles with your hands in its waters to become wealthy--or more precisely to help the folks who developed the scheme to become wealthy. There's no fee, but to get there, you wind through a maze of shops and restaurants within SunTec:

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Marina Bay Sands:
You have to say it is quite impressive, even from the outside. But does it really need an entry in the Lonely Planet guide?

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Obviously, the third pic was taken from the Flyer, but the last shot was taken in the Duck, as it passed through the Colonial District, where chaps still play rugger on a Saturday afternoon.

The Singapore Flyer:
At 165 meters, the world's highest blah-blah-blah, it was part of my Duck Tour price. It takes 28 minutes to do the complete circle, there are 28 cars, it opened on the 28th day of the month, etc--all good portents in Chinese numerology. Frankly, I am just glad that it was designed and built by global engineering firm Arup.

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The Stadium:
As I was driven in from the airport, the cabbie pointed out to me the new Singapore stadium, not yet completed, seen here in a Flyer-height view:

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The reason this was of interest is because of what the Duck guide pointed out as we puttered around the bay: he directed our attention to a stand of colorful bleachers right on the waterfront:

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While the stadium is under construction, this is the site of al the stuff that would ordinarily take place in it. Even football (soccer) matches. On the water. Literally. On a floating, full-size field!

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Helix Bridge:
Another of my favorite "discoveries" while being the typical tourist was this bridge which uses the shape of the DNA molecule for its support. Dunno why, just thought it was cool:

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This is Singapore's strange "mascot", recognising its history as a fishing village, and its original name, meaning "lion". The design was created in the sixties as a tool for the tourism board, and aside from the one in Merlion Park seen below, there are four other "official" ones (since the tourist board holds the copyright), yet a devotee can find a few others. If you are interested in the disappearing sights of Singapore, two good sites are Remember Singapore and Untourist Singapore.

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The Duck tour and the Flyer take place basically in the marina, which is a freshwater reservoir, with its own seawall to keep the ocean at bay. You can see far out to sea from the peak of the Flyer:

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Looking the other direction, here are two views of the cityscape:

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So that's pretty much the tourist deal for a Saturday afternoon in Singapore; next up: what I did on Sunday, followed by posts on stuff like the Botanical Gardens, Asian Civilizations Museum, and of course, food.


Gavin said...

Singers for the travelled.

Tuttle said...

Well, for the Aussie/Brit-type traveled or the recently traveled. I first went to Singapore in 1970, two or three times. As you know, I am American.