Monday, July 16, 2012

Singapore Night 1 : Marina Bay

Marina Bay Sands Hotel
I was sent to Singapore for a four days training and I took the opportunity to explore Singapore during the night. My first night was to capture the amazing view of Marina Bay Sands Hotel across from the Merlion Park.

Read more on my gruesome adventure with the SMRT and my disappointment with the Merlion.

I touchdown at the Changi Airport Budget Terminal at the evening and we check into Santa Grand Hotel West Cost at Pasir Panjang. Later at 7pm, I took a random bus in front of the Santa Grand Hotel West Coast and asked the driver how much it cost to reach the nearest MRT station. He demanded S$1.30, but I only had S$10 note and he doesn’t provide any change. Thus, I jumped down the bus and contemplating to buy something from the 7-11 to get some small change. However, after a moment, the bus driver told me to get up and I board the bus free-of-charge. Hurray!

I kept a close eye on the route he take and tried to look out for a MRT station. I reached Haw Par Villa in less than 10 minutes. Trying to figure out the MRT route map and purchasing a ticket took me another 10 minutes. I was told that to purchase the Z-link card that works similarly to Malaysia’s Touch ‘n Go costs S$5 (not refundable). Therefore, I decided to buy single trip tickets. There are a total of four different lines of MRT covering Singapore. From Haw Par Villa, I need to change to a total of three different lines to reach Raffles’ Station. I ended up buying a single trip ticket to Harbour Front interchange that cost me S$2.10. 
Haw Par Villa MRT Station
Harbour Front interchange was situated under the Vivo City shopping mall. This is the place to board the monorail that can bring us to Sentosa Theme Park. I made a brief walk around the Vivo City shopping mall and the National Geographic shop caught my interest, as I have yet to see it in Malaysia. They were mostly selling T-shirt with National Geographic word printer on it and khaki pants. Apart from that they also showcasing some photograph that we can purchase at an exorbitant price and not to forget the National Geographic magazines as well. There was also a cafĂ© situated inside where you can catch a cup of coffee. Unfortunately no photographs are allowed in here. 
Vivo City Shopping Mall at Harbour Front Station
Moving on from Harbour Front, I took another trip to Dhoby Gout interchange. By this time, I found out that every station is so big and we need to do a lot of walking from one line to another during the interchange. Comfortable walking shoe is mandatory. From Dhoby Gout I continued my journey to Marina Bay. I plan to have a close up view from this location, however I was disappointed to find out that at Marina Bay station the view of the Marina Hotel sucks and there is nothing interesting at this station. Warning: Do not stop at Marina Bay station if you want to go Marina Bay. Stop either at Raffles Place to view Marina Bay Sands Hotel across the river or at Bayfront station if you want to reach Marina Bay Sands. 

I backtracked back to Raffles Place station as directed by my friends. It was only one station away from Marina Bay and yet they charge me another S$2.10. By this time I had figure out that the distance don't really matter anymore. The further way the station is, you only pay slightly more. There are several exits at this station and I can practically get lost here. I tried several exits and in the end manage to find out one that seems correct. Once I exited, I tried to have a 360 view of the place to locate the Merlion Park, unfortunately gigantic skyscrapers blocked my view and all I can see is just buildings and buildings and more buildings. I followed a random group of people, hoping that they are heading to a similar location. Later on, I passed by a hotel and decided to seek help from the valet. The helpful man pointed me to the opposite road and I walked towards the direction on the street that void of any pedestrian. Where was the tourist, I wondered.

I passed by the Fullerton Hotel and when I head towards the back of the hotel, I finally saw the magnificent Marina Sand Bay Hotel across the river. I wasted no time searching a nice spot and started shooting away. Although the weight of the tripod was killing me, now I managed to put it to good use. Along the river, there were chic cafes and trendy restaurants patronize by those beautiful expatriates.
Merlion Park, Raffles Place
Moving on, I tried to locate the Merlion, the lion and mermaid hybrid. I remembered from my last trip to Singapore that is not far from Fullerton Hotel. At the end of the river, I saw this mini Merlion and decided that this might be the teaser before we saw the big one. However, I had a hard time searching for the weirdo and I came across a girl from Philippines who came and asked me for the direction to Merlion Park. Embarrassedly, I told her that I’m looking for it as well. I decided this is a perfect chance for me to hunt down that hybrid with an ally. We tried asking random strangers, but mostly were clueless tourists as well. Finally, a guy pointed out that it was by the river from the location I came from. At this moment, I was marginally pissed. We backtracked toward the river and surprised to find out that the Merlion was covered up for renovation and it was actually directly behind the mini Merlion I bumped into just now. At this moment, I was definitely pissed. I wasted a total of half an hour walk to look for something that I actually passed by a close proximity and even worse, under renovation.  I bet a saw the mini Merlion smirking at me.
Marina Bay Sands Hotel
I bid my goodbye to the Filipino girl and head back to the hotel. By the time I reached back it was already 11pm. I took a grand two hours to reach Raffles Place and another hour to go back. I'm totally knocked out from the tiring night with so much walking. I felt as though I had completed a night of Amazing Race Singapore. By the end of the day, I finally figured out that we don't need to buy extra tickets during the interchange. I can actually buy a single trip ticket from Haw Par Villa directly to Raffles Place provided that I did not exit any of the station. I paid handsomely to SMRT for the lesson today. Don't forget to get a refund of your S$1 by returning back the single trip tickets to the kiosk.