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We are what we think & my blog entries reflect how I think. Have a sip of the poison of my mind.. It's not always lethal.

Monday, May 13, 2013

An Aquatic Outing At Sentosa Aquarium

(Gee, the title of this blog post sounds like some elementary school excursion)

My second sister passed me and my Lioness the 2 tickets to Sentosa's S.E.A. Aquarium which we both should have used up when my family visited the place a few days ago but she and me couldn't join them that day, so we both decided to visit the place today on our own. I told my Lioness before we left the house that I wanted to bring my swimming trunks along but being the only more sensible one, she didn't quite find my joke to be too amusing.

So we went over to Lai Lai Casual Dining Restaurant at the mall for some Taiwanese lunch before making the journey to Sentosa. My Lioness asked the table-attendant: "请问你们有阿宗面线吗?", which made me chuckle since the 阿宗面线 my Lioness was referring to is available in Taipei's 西门町 and not here. She should have asked: "请问你们有面线吗?" instead. We've been to Taipei too many times and I guess she asked that out of some deep-rooted travel habit.

Anyway, the table attendant replied: "我们没有阿宗面线." That was all she said. We later discussed this comical incident and came to the conclusion that the table attendant should have answered: "我们没有阿宗的面线, 但我们有面线." and then show us their available 面线 on the menu even if she wasn't sure what 阿宗面线 was or has never heard of it. If I were the boss, I'd have sent the table attendant for further training.

But nah, this was just a trivial thing nonetheless and we were just picturing the scenario as opposed to nit-picking service standards, no biggie, the world didn't end. It's not easy working in the service industry here anyway and we shouldn't have asked for 阿宗面线 here in the first place.

So after our lunch, we took the train to Vivo City and from there, took the monorail that brought us over to Sentosa Island across the strait - 4 bucks back & forth. Walking by Universal Studios, both of us couldn't help but get rudely reminded again about our conviction that theme parks are suitable only in countries with cool and cold seasons, nevermind their hot summer months, at least they can have their seasonal cool and cold periods during autumn and winter.

You should be able to guess by now that the weather this very day was a hot as hell and humid as fuck mutha - especially so on a small island like Sentosa. Even some of the strangers around me bitched about it, so it wasn't just me.

Gosh, how I fucking hate the darned weather in the tropical belt to the core. If you haven't, you should visit a theme park in another country with colder seasons during autumn and tell me if you don't enjoy yourself much much better. Actually, you don't have to go too far; just try the Genting Highlands especially between November and January.

We do have cool weather here if we get lucky but it's just too bad that Nature seems to be very stingy about dishing out her cool relief in this part of the world. Things like oil blotters ought to be a thriving business here and I happen to go through those things with a passion against my own willingness to do so.

Good thing the aquarium is air-conditioned inside throughout, bringing us much relief from the abominable shit we have for weather outside. Both of us picked Monday to come here to avoid the weekend crowd but still, there was a substantial meat mass but nothing too bad, thank goodness.

As we walked into the building, the thought of the possibility of seeing dolphins here thrilled me. I just love dolphins. I think a dolphin is Man's best friend when he's out at sea and I've read about how these marine mammals saved people from sharks (yes, they are mammals alright, dolphins give birth live, they don't lay eggs). I wasn't sure if they had dolphins in there then but if they didn't, at least they should have jellyfishes.

Upon entering the building, we had to walk past an exhibition area where seafaring and historical maritime artifacts are displayed before reaching the aquarium area proper, like this prop ship:

If you are interested in such things and their history, do pause to read the information displayed for each exhibit, they might interest you.

When we reached the entrance to the aquarium area, we had to display our tickets again to get into it like how we did at the exhibition area earlier, which made me wonder if it was necessary. Maybe there was something I didn't know about but the aquarium and the oceanarium inside are the main attractions here and I don't think anyone would come here just solely for the earlier exhibition area alone, so why couldn't one ticket cater to both areas? Besides, we went into the aquarium area using the exact same tickets we used to get into the exhibition area without having to pay extra, so what gives? I could be wrong but if I'm right, it seems like double-work here.

Anyway, whatever, some of the paperwork and shenanigans don't make much sense on a national scale here and we didn't come here primarily to nit-pick on such trivalities, so feast your eyes on the following photos taken inside the aquarium (click on them to bloat them up):

And here comes the hearted dolphin:

You need quite nimble and fast fingers to focus and snap a decent photo of the dolphins since they can swim around at quite a fast speed but how graceful and agile they are! Dolphins always seem to have this permanent friendly and cheeky smile etched on their faces that looking at them never fails to bring me out of Grouch Mode™.

I gotta mention here though, the water the dolphins are swimming around in seems murky enough to the extent that you will wish the visibility through it could be more desirable when you are trying to spot an incoming dolphin swimming your way into view so that you could have ample time to prepare for a camera shot. I heard folks around me wondering aloud just how many dolphins there were exactly in front of us which we couldn't really tell.

I don't know, perhaps the usual habitat of dolphins are really this way and they were just trying to simulate the proper environment for the marine mammals. Moving on..

Ah yes, regarding those crabs shown in the photo above: The photo can't portray just how big those things really are. Suffice it to say that if they hugged your face, not only could their bodies cover your entire face but their legs could reach down your spine at the same time. Think along the lines of the face-huggers from the Alien movies starring Sigourney Weaver.

And so we reached the oceanarium right at the end of the building, touted as the world's largest oceanarium. I'm not sure if that's really the case since I've not been going around with a ruler in hand comparing oceanarium sizes around the globe but I suppose it's true anyhow. Music plays in the background here to generate the mood - music that reminded me of the Addam's Family theme played at half tempo, not that that's a bad thing.

My nephew told me that we could just ignore everything else and just head straight to the oceanarium. I can appreciate dark humour and clever sarcasm but I wouldn't miss the dolphins and the jellyfishes we've seen earlier. Actually, I think the whole aquarium was pretty alright. I think it was my second sister who told us that it's relaxing to just sit around here and admire the marine life. But uh, the water seemed kinda murky for optimal visibility to me.

I snapped some photos of either some Stingrays or Manta Rays you see on the right there. Stingrays sting with the venomous barbs at the end of their tails while Manta Rays don't. I didn't observe the ends of their tails while they were swimming around and so I couldn't really tell which of the 2 species they were but I wouldn't be surprised if they had both.

Those things were big and most of the bigger marine lives in there got hounded by gangs of much smaller fishes like fans chasing after their idols at some rock concert, presumably in their hunt for parasites residing on the bodies of their much larger co-habitants of which they eat, I suppose. I guess personal privacy and personal space goes out the window if you happen to be a big fish with parasites growing on you.

When we were done admiring the oceanarium, we checked out the rest of the place and started walking towards the direction of the exit where there were more things to ogle and gawk at:

The very last thing you will see just before you exit the aquarium areas are the sharks. All these while, I've been wondering where they were and they just suddenly popped into view. The sharks here made the kids all excited while I entertained the possible scenarios in my mind of the things that could happen should the glass enclosures that extended overhead break and those mean shredding muthas in there come gushing out right into our laps.

Actually, the sharks in here aren't very big but a couple of them still seemed big enough to chew off a man's wrist. I came to about an inch from the glass enclosure and this bigger shark swam towards me until we were literally jaw-to-face with each other. This was the closest I've been to a living shark and 5 bucks says it was studying if I would make a good early dinner even though I wasn't bleeding blood or thrashing about in water (the things that supposedly draw sharks to you).

Done frolicking with the fierce predators of the sea, we exited the aquarium area out to the lower level of the exhibition area near the entrance where soft toys, decorations, souvenirs and the like are available for purchase:

More exhibits can be viewed here, so don't be in too much of a hurry to take the escalator up just yet:

The poor dude dangling by the end of the rope there is a depiction of William Kidd who existed in history. His was a tragic tale that led to his execution by hanging which you can read about here. Apparently, judicial proceedings in the past were quite bloodthirsty affairs. Moving on, here are some of the other things you can see in the area:

See the female pirate figure on the right in the photo above? Her name was Ching Shih and hoo boy, talk about Asian iron ladies from way back during the Qing dynasty. This mean lady wouldn't hesitate to do things like lopping ears off, decapitating or quartering anyone who crosses her. Not very wife material.

We took the escalator back up to the main entrance area (Einstein's theory of Relativity determined that this area was now considered the exit area for us) preparing to leave the building when this huge Chinese ship prop that wasn't moving before suddenly came to life and played an animated CGR film about the adventures of admiral Cheng Ho.

It wasn't a long film, it was just a nut-shell version. Nevertheless, I really think that what the admiral did was one of the greatest feats attempted in human seafaring history. I happen to love travelling and reading about his far-reaching travels around the globe exploring exotic and strange places never fail to make me all starry-eyed with envy and admiration. You Rock, admiral  \m/

It was just too bad that the man was a castrated eunuch.

Having left the building, we proceeded to hunt down this eating place called Malaysian Food Street for an early dinner since it wasn't even 5pm yet. That's right, you shouldn't spend more than half a day at the aquarium unless you find admiring the oceanarium to be a relaxing and enjoyable thing to do and just chill there, like how we saw lots of folks doing earlier.

Back outdoors, the fucked-up hot as heck weather was still beating down on the whole island mercilessly but thank goodness it didn't take us long to finally locate Malaysian Food Street. It's situated just somewhere around the corner in front from the aquarium.

We hastened our paces, lusting after the air-conditioning inside the building and boy, I gotta say that I liked the layout and architecture inside Malaysian Food Street; everything is simulated after the famous shophouses found in Malaysia with signs giving directions to Malaysian delicacies segregated by different Malaysian states. I had to blink just to make sure that we haven't actually arrived in Malaysia and that was a pretty cool effect.

My second sister recommended us the chicken rice balls here and so that was what I had for SGD $4 while my Lioness went for the Penang Laksa that she always likes. I've tried the chicken and the rice balls in Malacca before and I gotta say that I found the taste of it here to be pretty close to the original across the Causeway. If you plan to come here, note that the stalls are closed on Wednesdays for some reason.

After dinner, we went to the 7-11 around the corner before taking the monorail back to the mainland where we shopped around at Vivo City before going home. All in all, I would have enjoyed this trip to Sentosa fully and properly if it wasn't for the weather that saps your energy and tires you out unnecessarily. If I were to emigrate out of here one day, it would be because I've had enough of Nature's microwave here in the tropics.

I couldn't wait to get home to shower away the fucking afternoon weather off me.

-De Lion Speaks

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