Soren managed to sleep until after 6am (finally) and we awoke to find Astrid being guarded by Zoe her zebra.
Astrid also had a bit of a sleep-in so we didn’t make it down to breakfast until after 7.30am, when it was again deserted except for other families with small children. Astrid again had the undivided attention of her favourite waiter and managed to eat enough food to fuel a teenage boy.
We had a big day planned on Sentosa Island so headed off to the bus stop we should have gotten off at the previous day once we were packed up. Funnily enough when you use the correct stop, it’s only 2 mins walk from the hotel! Soren started napping in the ergo immediately upon leaving the hotel and slept the whole 30 minute bus ride. Astrid again asked a million questions and no-doubt entertained the entire bus.
Around 9am we reached the harbourfront station and walked through the attached shopping centre to the cable car station. We had been promising Astrid a cable car ride and the butterfly park so we figured we better deliver. Nic detests cable cars and had done this trip on our last Singapore visit. Nic was not keen to repeat it but thought Astrid would not be impressed if she didn’t go. It was a nice morning but we thought we would head straight over to Sentosa Island and come back via the Mt Faber cable car station for some photos and a look around. The cable car ride starts with a stomach churning glass elevator ride up the outside of the building, to a seemingly very high starting point. Astrid wasn’t at all phased.
Still not a fan of cable cars, Nic endured the ride and Anto took many photos of her looking unimpressed but somehow didn’t take any of Astrid who was having a whale of a time strapped into the stroller and looking around. Despite Nic’s dislike of cable cars, the views are pretty good and we noticed straight away how much more built up Sentosa Island is than on our visit 8 years ago. During the short ride we got good views of the harbour and the shipping cranes and checked out all the new water parks on Sentosa. If we come back when the kids are older we are sure they will be great to visit but they were too young for many of the Sentosa activities this time.
Once off the cable car we headed down to the butterfly park. It had just opened for the day and we were the only ones in there. On our last visit the butterfly park was really good. However, it looked like it hadn’t had any maintenance in the 8 years and was looking really shabby. There were also nowhere near the number of butterflies as last time. We did see plenty in the first enclosure and being the only ones there we had no trouble seeing them up close.
Since our last visit a bird area had been added and we talked to quite a few of the parrots and macaws while trying to find more butterflies. The parrots were there for the purposes of having your photo taken with them but noone was around to do the photo taking (not that we were interested in doing so) so we just chatted to the birds and Astrid had a dance with them. After a little more looking at the butterflies we were literally dripping in sweat from the humidity so headed out through the butterfly and insect museum (which strangely today included some pet rabbits in an enclosure) for some fresh air.
We were a little disappointed with the butterfly park. It was much better last time and is not as good as the butterfly enclosure at the Melbourne Zoo. Hardly anyone was visiting it, opting for the newer attractions on the Island, so it’s days may be numbered. Astrid still seemed to enjoy it though. Sentosa now has a Universal studios, luge rides, zip lines, several resort areas (with aquariums and seal shows) and some water parks. You could spend several days (and multiple hundred dollars) there.
All feeling very hot and with Soren now awake we decided to sit down and have a drink and cool off whilst Nic fed him. We sat outside in the small amount of breeze that was picking up and Astrid had a run around and viewed the Merlion from a distance. We were not bothering to visit the Merlion, it was not worth visiting last time and we weren’t keen to repeat the experience!
It had started to spit rain on us as Soren was being fed, but it was a pleasant change from the oppressive humidity. Eventually we had to move under cover but it wasn’t raining hard. We intended to visit the aquarium which was down in the resort area of the island. We were informed there was a bus down there, but like everything on Sentosa it cost money and we felt like a walk so we planned on walking down. Then it started pouring with rain so we changed our mind and headed back to the bus stop, just missing a bus. A hoard of tour groups arrived and the rain eased off so we changed back to the walking plan.
The walk down to the resort world area is almost entirely undercover, with covered paved walkways and escalators but there were often gaps in the roofed area of a few metres and the rain was now bucketing down so even a couple of metres outside at a time and we were getting soaked. Soren was in the ergo with the rain hood on and was fairly oblivious to it. Astrid was in the stroller and wasn’t getting too wet. Anto and Nic didn’t fare so well……. after no rain the whole time we have been here (and it forecast every day) this was the one day we went out without the umbrellas. Of course several of the escalators were out of action necessitating Anto carrying the loaded up stroller down them while Nic carted Astrid and Soren.
We eventually made it past all the shops, restaurants and various tourist traps to the S.E.A Aquarium (they seem to love their TLA’s in Singapore..) interestingly even the new ‘resort world’ section of the island is only moderately disabled friendly. Most of the stairs and walkways are under cover (ie we only got slightly soaked) however the ramps mostly seemed to be off to the side of the stairs and most of the time had no real cover what so ever – in some cases they seemed to be the place the covers dumped all their water. In any case we made it into the Aquarium and after a quick ticket check started the journey through the museum’y bit (apparently the experiential Maritime Museum, which might have been interesting on another day)- but as we were dragging a small child who had been promised fish life, we were keen to get past such formalities and into the ‘real deal’.
Being a Sunday the aquarium was fairly busy, the initial part through a underwater tunnel was packed with people trying to get in our way – luckily they gradually thinned out as we moved on. The aquarium’s were fairly impressive with a good variety of different fish and a couple of very impressive large aquariums. They had the usual array of rays, sharks, tropical and freshwater fish. A touch pond for the kids and several walk-through tunnels.
The jelly fish (which if you are Astrid you can dance in front of to the play school tune ‘jelly on a plate’) were quite impressive. The only downside was the humans involved – the price we pay for doing something tourist-y, particularly on a Sunday.
It is apparently the largest aquarium in the Southern hemisphere and you could easily spend several hours there. We saw most of the exhibits and would have spent longer if it weren’t so crowded and it weren’t rapidly approaching nap time for tired toddlers.
Once we finished up at the aquarium we discovered the free (yes the only free thing we have found in Singapore) monorail – that took us at least part of the way to the cable-car station. Given the weather (torrential rain and with thunder and lightning) anything to stay off the paths seemed to be a good idea. Once we made it back to the cable car station (including carrying the pram down about a full flight of stairs) we lined up to make our way back to the harbourfront station – the line was moving suspiciously slowly, with cars arriving and then departing again with seemingly no occupants. After we politely waited for a while we were informed the service had been suspended and they were not sure when it would resume.
Nic being not overly keen on cable cars at the best of time didn’t seem to mind too much missing another crossing of the water. When we enquired about other options the (still free) monorail was pointed out. When we enquired about refunding the unused portion of the ticket we were greeted with a ‘you will have to check at the ticket office’ – not reassuring. We wandered back down to the afore-mentioned ticket office and enquired about a refund – at which point we were informed that a) they wouldn’t have sold tickets if the cable car wasn’t going to be running; b) as we had used a 1/4 of the round-trip ticket we would not be getting a refund; c) we should wait around an indeterminate amount of time with grumpy children, as how else were we going to get off the island without the cable car. Eventually a phone call was made and magically a very formal looking refund form was produced – followed shortly by a full refund – we had been hoping for 50% (and would have been happy with it) but were not going to argue about the full price, given it was over $50 to start with.
We then proceeded to wander back down the island to the monorail station we had just left and grabbed the next monorail back off the island, followed by a fairly short walk to the MRT station (after quite a bit of rule-breaking taking the stroller down escalators). After reflecting on the MRT map and mentally calculating how long the train would take we decided a taxi would be a better bet – and aside from having to put up with some very weird teeth grinding / eating noises we made it back to the hotel fairly quickly & efficiently – much to the annoyance of Astrid who was sentenced to a quick afternoon tea and then a nap while Soren had a feed!
Once compulsory naps were enforced we made our way down to the pool for one last swim. It had finally stopped raining – and although the water was probably too cold Miss A was not going to be persuaded otherwise. As always the red bucket was a favourite and the best 80c ever spent!
Seemingly the cold got to her as after 10 minutes she requested a ‘throwing in the air’ or two followed shortly by a ‘go back to the hotel’.
After everyone was dry and dressed we ambled across the road to one of the 5 odd food hawker markets within a 5 minute walk of the hotel. We had been to this one a few times and they obviously recognise us by now. As soon as we get there Soren gets face rubs & Astrid is ‘borrowed’ by one of the ladies that works at the seafood stand – which she thinks is hilarious until she is about 5 meters away from the safely of dad.. Luckily she is quickly soothed with the most sugary laden bun you can get your hands on, we can get away with not feeding the kids – someone else seems generally keen on doing so, the bun was so sweet you could smell the sugar – which seemingly made it just perfect for Astrid.
Dinner tonight was butter prawns and Hong-Kong noodles for the meat eaters – after a 10 minute discussion with Astrid as to why we shouldn’t get the same squid dish for the 3rd time – which mostly ended with ‘…perhaps I will have squid’ which was cute the first 10 or so times.. Nic ended up with a chapatti set of 3 curries and a fair amount of bread – but blissfully not 3 cups of rice (or any meaty additions).
Once the kids were in bed and Nic caught up on some blogging, Anto went out and obtained some cake and coffee. The McCafe across the road ironically seems to sell the best coffee (for the most acceptable price). The cake came from one of the local bakeries, and was pretty good (a coffee Swiss roll and a cherry and chocolate cake).
Sadly, Anto managed to upend his entire coffee all over the hotel room, soaking several doonas, sheets and some of Astrid’s books. Luckily we saved most of the books and the computer. The same couldn’t be said for the towels…….