Stuck in Sentosa

Monday, April 16, 2018

universal studios singapore sentosa

Storytime is a series of  stories about my most memorable travel experiences. Read more here.

When I got a message from THE Gay Mitra-Emami, the PTB Queen herself, asking if I could represent her to a sponsored trip to Singapore, I instantly said no. 

Just kidding. 

Of course, I said yes! That's THE Pinay Travel Junkie!

I was doubly thrilled because I haven't been to Singapore, and going there would mean I'd caught up with my husband in the number of countries visited (it's four, in case you're wondering). But, truth be told, the idea of representing Gay excited me more. I consider it as a personal milestone

The trip was organized by Resorts World Sentosa, and so, for three days, a couple of journalists and I got to experience what the island has to offer. One way of looking at it is that we will be cooped up in Sentosa and won't be able to see the rest of Singapore, but then again, it's a free trip and I got to represent THE Pinay Travel Junkie, so who was I to complain?

In any case, we arrived in Singapore a couple of hours after noon. We were billeted at the Hard Rock Hotel, each of us having a room to ourselves. We got to rest for a bit before we went around the Forum and posed in front of the Universal Studios globe.
hard rock hotel singapore

hard rock hotel swimming pool

resorts world sentosa

the forum resorts world sentosa

celine murillo

Then, for dinner, we went to Tangerine – a beautiful dining space tucked in Resorts World Sentosa's less harried corner. 

The restaurant is outfitted with wall windows that afford a view of a man-made lake. It gives off a romantic and exclusive atmosphere. The set menu varies depending on what ingredients are in season. That night, we had interesting dishes that consisted of "edible rocks", barley porridge, and grilled barramundi. It was such a delightful experience, getting to slow-eat and savor every flavor. 
resorts world sentosa restaurant

tangerine sentosa set menu

tangerine singapore restaurant

tangerine restaurant singapore

The portions were small but I got thoroughly full. Satisfied but not bloated. That meal redefined what a dining experience is for me. But with a philosophy of "celebrating the humble", that is: using underrated local flavors and crops such as daikon and taro, it wasn't such a surprise that the food really stole the spotlight at Tangerine. It was one of my most favorite gastronomic encounters

The next day, we headed to Adventure Cove Waterpark to cool down from the Singapore heat. It had been a long time since I visited a waterpark so I wasn't sure what to feel.
adventure cove water park sentosa

Well, what do you know, I had a great time! 

Truth be told, I was a little surprised that I enjoyed it. I thought after experiencing incredible adventures out in the real word, I would no longer see the appeal of "manufactured fun". Turns out, I had no problem taking advantage of our complimentary VIP passes!
adventure cove singapore

We spent all morning at the waterpark and was still reluctant to leave when we had to. I would've stayed there all day if they'd let me! 

Alas, there were lots more activities lined up for us. After lunch at the Malaysian Hawker Street, we proceeded to our next stop: the Maritime Experiential Museum
malaysian street food sentosa

sentosa malaysian street food

Opened in 2011, the museum boasts an interactive exhibit of all things related to sea trade and the Silk Route. Its most prized piece is the Jewel of Muscat – a sea vessel that sailed from Oman to Singapore.

resorts world sentosa maritime museum

maritime museum sentosa

There's also the Typhoon Theater that we got to try. It's a 4D theater that lets audience experience what it's like sailing through a storm. The seats rocked and lurched. Water sprayed on us. All the while, I couldn't help but clap like a seal. I was honestly so entertained. 

After the museum, we headed straight to Ocean Park. I'm generally wary of zoos and oceanariums. They're sort of a gray area when it comes to wildlife conservation. But, damn, seeing all those sharks and rays and fish up close was amazing. I couldn't help but be awed. It's not difficult to see trips to places like this inspiring the next Jacques Costeau.

At the time, I was trying not to enjoy it too much, because see, these creatures really did not belong there. But then again, the best zoos and ocenariums in the world also serve as rehabilitation centers for critical and endangered species. Like all kinds of tourism, if done right, these places would become vital tools in conservation. I decided that as long as they really, truly, take good care of the animals, and don't do anything stupid like bring in Beluga Whales to tropical countries, I am for it. Places like Ocean Park make the natural world accessible to everyone. Totally discounting zoos and oceanariums is simply short-sighted. Because we protect what we love. And how can we love something we don't know? These places raise awareness and provide experiential learning, narrowing the gap between caring about something and actually doing something about it.

These thoughts swam in my head as we headed back to Hard Rock Hotel. Fortunately, we were given time to rest and process everything (hey, that was one jam-packed day). I managed to sneak in a nap. 

I was hoping we'd dine at Tangerine again, but I wasn't disappointed when we settled at the Hard Rock Cafe. The meal wasn't as elegant as last night's, but it was still satisfying. I had truffle fries and a hefty serving of salmon. I paired it with a large mug of rootbeer float (I had two of this actually – don't judge).
hard rock cafe sentosa menu

hard rock cafe singapore

hard rock cafe resorts world sentosa

My companions and I were more comfortable that evening and so we stayed until past closing time, talking about things big and small. We turned in late but I didn't mind. We had one more day in Sentosa and I was looking forward to it. 

The next morning, we headed to RSW's most popular attraction: Universal Studios. We were given all-access passes and that thing that lets you cut in line once for every ride.

We stuffed our bags in locker rooms and started exploring. The first ride we tried was The Mummy. We were told it was "mild". We were looking for a warm-up and ended up almost having a triple heart attack. Good lord, that ride. 

The aftershock lasted for about five minutes, and before I knew it, we were lining up at the Battlestar Galactica: Human Vs. Cylon. I managed to convince one of my companions to go on the "Human" roller coaster.
uss roller coasters

Confession time: I was having thoughts ala Final Destination as we lined up for our turn. Mostly, I imagine an artery popping from all the stress. My brains exploding or my heart failing – that sort of thing. Well, YOLO. I got on that coaster, kept my eyes open the whole time, and screamed like I didn't care about arteries exploding. It felt good, like all my piled up aggression had been release. It was surprisingly therapeutic. And it wasn't that bad, really. Even Cake, my companion, who wasn't really into roller coasters, said so.
universal studios singapore

universal studios singapore sentosa

At any rate, we managed to get on two more rides after that. We had a quick lunch and then waited for the opening of the Trolls attraction. 

I knew Trolls the toys, but I haven't watched the movie so I had no clue what was going on during the live performance. But the songs were really catchy and makes you wanna dance. In no time, I was stomping my feet and bopping my head. 
universal studios sentosa

We had to leave for the airport a few minutes later, and I realized that, while we may have been immured inside this man-made fun-churning world, and that I didn't get to see the other sides of Singapore, I still found the three-day experience fun and entertaining.

At the core of it all, I am so happy that after almost four years of traveling, of doing what I do, I haven't become jaded. I'm glad, and relieved, that I still find it easy to be amazed.

Mary Oliver would be proud. 

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