Sentosa Island, Original Sin, Night Safari

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Published 2006-10-01

A lazy day yesterday but also, perhaps, the most touristy. I slept late and in the afternoon Vicky took me (and Nima) to Sentosa Island, the Official Fun Zone™ just off the southern tip of Singapore. As Singapore is connected to Malaysia with a causeway, Sentosa is connected to Singapore. The entire island is a nicely-developed park, with large (and often artificial) beaches on its southern fringe.

The beach had a kind of sociable SoCal vibe to it. Accustomed as I am to the wild, lonely Oregon beaches this kind of scene normally turns me off (it certainly did when I lived in California)...I think of beaches as a place for solitude. Despite being a Sunday afternoon, however, the beach was not heavily used, and the rental kayaks, volleyball, and beverage vendors lent it a nice public atmosphere.

We all three swam about 300m or so to a small breakwater island just off the main beach. We pretty much had this island to ourselves, but I couldn’t get past the sight of all the shipping coming into Singapore. The entire sea, literally horizon to horizon, was packed with ships and boats. Tankers, cargo ships, fishing boats, tramp steamers, cruise liners. Vicky insists this was a light traffic day.

Original SinIn the evening, Jenny took us all (Liz, Neil, Vicky and myself) to her favorite restaurant, a vegetarian Mediterranean place called Original Sin (in Holland Village). When she lived in Singapore she ate here so frequently that, four-plus years later, he recognized her coming in the door. Original Sin didn’t disappoint: I’d rate it the best meal we ate on the trip. I was excited to see Jenny excited about eating. Restaurant dining for a vegetarian in China is like skipping through a minefield. Chinese literally has no word for “vegetarian” — you say “I eat plain food” (wo chu su), and still need to explain: no meat (meaning red meat), no fish, no chicken. Just vegetables.

Look! A Lion!After Original Sin, Neil, Liz, and I went to the Night Safari at the Singapore zoo, a brilliant ploy to double the marketability of the zoo. This was fun for me on two levels. First, I realized how nocturnal most mammals are. Animals I had pretty much only ever seen sleeping at zoos (lions, tapirs, all those little deery-antelopey things) were all wandering around and browsing. Second, visiting a zoo in a rainforest is like visiting the little rainforests they build in northern zoos. You know the Lied Jungle at the Henry Doorly zoo? Like that, but the entire zoo. I have no idea why I even tried to take pictures. I guess it was just that cool.

An Inconvenient Truth woke me up to an interesting climatalogical fact: with global warming, the tropics are warming barely at all, while the northern climates will see warming 12 or more degrees centigrade. I’m a little worried there won’t be any winters left when I’m an old man, but, on the other hand, the tropical biota is really neato.