For the lack of words, I am ending this blogging hiatus with a photo post.

These are images of the Henderson Waves Bridge in Singapore, taken in January of this year when I took a break from my me time in Brunei to visit friends.

I dragged my friends to this bridge telling them that if there is one thing that I wanted to see in my trip, this was it. We must see the Henderson Waves Bridge at dusk.

And so we did.

The view of the bridge from the stairs

Henderson Waves Bridge is a pedestrian bridge connecting Mount Faber Park and Telok Blangah Hill Park. This is the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore (at 118ft) and walking along the wooden planks one would see the tree tops, the skyline, the harbor front and the stream of traffic along Henderson Road. The bridge is characterized by the steel waves that go up and down along the walkway.

The bridge at dusk

Under the roof of the waves are wooden benches where one can sit and read while staring at the sunset.

Henderson Road as seen from the bridge

The waves are lit up at night

The bridge is a lovely sight at night, when all the waves are lit up. Too bad I was unable to take a photo but here's one from Worldtoptop.

Photo from www.worldtoptop.com
Bridges, aside from connecting places, are manifestations of a great imagination and architectural genius. I think I am starting to develop a fondness for bridges.

How to go to Henderson Waves Bridge:
- From Vivo City, cross the street and take bus 131 or 145. Get off at the Bef Telok Blangah Hts stop. The Henderson Waves Bridge can be seen from here. Cross the street and climb the stairs going to the bridge.

Photo from here

The arts were not a huge part of my growing-up years. I stared at paintings without a vague sense of its depth, I saw ballet performances on TV and switched channels, I never tried to scrutinize minute details of sculptures, and the only theater play I thought to watch live was The Sound of Music (only because I loved the movie as a child). 

The first play I watched was Nick Joaquin's The Portrait of the Artist as Filipino in college. It was a  small school production that we were required to watch.

Fast forward to 2007, I was able to regularly drop by art exhibits in a mall. The exhibits were fun and refreshing to the inexperienced eye. In 2010, I found myself inside a deserted art museum in Kuala Lumpur. There was not a single soul in sight. I took my time scrutinizing the works.

Maybe those were signs. The arts and I. We stand a chance.

Earlier this year I realized I haven't watched a real professional stage play production. It was about time that I experience one! In May of this year, I finally had a taste of my first ever real play, picnic-in-the-park style. Think Paco Park Presents, the Singapore Repertory Theater Edition. I was lucky to be in Singapore during the running dates of SRT's Shakespeare in the Park: Twelfth Night.

No chairs allowed. No pets allowed.

From Orchard Road, we took the GPS out and found our way towards Fort Canning. Fort Canning is  a hill in the middle of the city where Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore, lived back in the days. It has been turned into a park and aside from being a quick green escape from the city, it is now a venue to various cultural activities. It took a 20-minute leisurely walk before we found our way inside.

We arrived early but there were already people setting up. Locals and foreigners alike were coming in, armed with their blankets, snacks, and cameras. We found a spot on the top of the hill and sat on the grass. The stage was set below a gently sloping hill, with the hill providing a good vantage point for the audience. I had no clue on what the play was about but thanks to the flyers provided by SRT, I knew the plot and the characters the actors were going to portray before the play started. It also helped that my companion was quite versed with Shakespeare and his works.

By the time the play was about to start, the whole place up to the top of the hill was packed.

It was a wonderful evening in Singapore, with the lights of the city's buildings coming out to life and blending with the stars in the clear sky. The wind blew softly, enough to relax us and rid everyone of the events of the humid afternoon. The show director went up on stage, announced the start of the play, and the chatter slowly died down. The first act was opened by a captain and his crew drinking by the bar at the bay.

Twelfth Night is a story of an assumed identity that led to a familiar love triangle with an unconventional twist. Viola was a survivor of a shipwreck and she never saw her twin brother, Sebastian, after the incident. She was washed ashore in the land of Illyria. She disguised herself as a man named Cesario and worked for the Duke Orsino who was in love with Olivia. Olivia, who was still grieving over the death of her family, did not want to see any suitor for the next seven years. Orsino asked Cesario to work as a messenger of his love for Olivia. In the end, Viola fell in love with the Duke Orsino who was in love with Olivia who found herself in love with Cesario (who was Viola in real-life). This confusion is where the story revolved.

The VIP tent
Before the intermission, we saw Sebastian showing up on the shores of Illyria. Too bad we did not get to finish the next act but here's how the story goes: the twins Sebastian and Viola meet and everything is cleared up. Orsino married Viola and Sebastian married Olivia. And they all lived happily ever after.

After watching Twelfth Night, I realized that theater is an entirely different world that can suck you in completely for the time being. For someone with a short attention span like me, watching a stage play meant focusing and taking it all in. The venue probably was a huge factor, the park made it seem more intense. Watching something on the screen does not require much because it can easily be put on rewind, but watching a stage play demands more attention, missing a word or looking elsewhere can easily sidetrack you from understanding the story.

So maybe.. I'll start to delve into the arts this time. Maybe I can start with watching stage play versions of movies I saw (watch Sound of Music for real). I could start to include catching cultural shows in my next trips, take virtual tours of museums (like this of Louvre for the meantime), and spend more time taking in details of sculptures and architectures... to not be in a rush. To take everything in one at a time.

And maybe... it's not too late for a crash course on Arts Appreciation.

Have you always had an inclination to the arts?


Photos by Aaron Arvin Manila.

This post is part of the Singapore Series.

Day 1 in Singapore was Turista-sa-Sentosa Day. We started the day early by having a huge breakfast at Killiney Kopitiam. I had second thoughts on visiting Universal Studios Singapore. I don't know where I got the idea that USS was Disney-ish, with mascots and cute kiddie cartoons stuff.  (A little backstory: in choosing between Ocean Park and Disneyland in Hongkong, we picked Ocean Park.)  I want rides, rides, rides. I want the kind that gives me a sinking feeling in my stomach. I adored Enchanted Kingdom's Anchors Away and I would always sit at the end row where I could feel like I'm almost tipping over. Exhilarating!
Aaron got our tickets prior to Thursday using Mastercard at SG$68 each. A bit pricey if you ask me but good thing it already included a SG$6 voucher for food and another SG$6 voucher for retail purchases. Just add a couple more dollars for lunch and you're good to go.
We went straight to ride Battlestar Galactica: Cyclon at the Sci-Fi City. Rollercoasters attract me like magnet. According to the park brochure, Battlestar Galactica: Human vs. Cyclon is the tallest dueling rollercoaster in the world. There were only 3 people who took the ride before us (we were there early) and I did not hear them screaming nor did I see them frazzled when the train came back. So I thought.. Pfft.

Battlestar Galactica: The tallest dueling rollercoaster. Blue=Cyclon, Red=Human

But I was wrong. When our turn came, I cursed the whole time. The ride was altogether a different experience because it was a suspended rollercoaster, and there was nothing solid beneath my feet except for the hard cement dozens of feet below. It felt like an eternity. When it was over, I felt a bit dizzy and we laughed all the way out. That was unexpected.

We took Human as the last ride of the day. It's your regular rollercoaster. I'd pick Cyclon over Human anytime.
Next: Transformers in 3D. There was a short line and we were set to go after 10mins. The riders get to take the point of view of a robot helping out Optimus Prime and the rest of the Autobots in fighting the Decepticons. We rode a cart which traveled into several studios where real props were set up (I know because I peeked!) and 3D images were flashed on the screen. The cart bumped up and down, turned left and right, and tilted just a bit giving us a feel of being a real Autobot in a battle.

Next: Revenge of the Mummy ride. Another rollercoaster but this time the loops are in the dark. We sat in the front and the feeling of not knowing where the ride is going made it more exciting. We saw the photo they took and the look on our faces were too funny. I would have wanted to buy it if not for the SG$ 20 price tag on it. As Donkey said on his show, "Singapore, who knew you would be so expensive?"

Revenge of the Mummy entrance

There were good performances and attractions too. That includes Lights, Camera, Action by Steven Spielberg, Monster Rock, and Waterworld. Lights, Camera, Action by Steven Spielberg showcased a great demonstration of how scenes are fabricated in movie studios. The scene was when a Category 5 hurricane hit New York City.  Monster Rock was a gathering of singing movie monsters who gave out hilarious lines too. Whoever thought of the songs was brilliant. Bride of Frankenstein sang Tainted Love while Dracula belted out to Bon Jovi's It's My Life. The last attraction we saw was Waterworld. It was a movie that came to life and the most 'interactive' of all. If the cast is not pleased with the crowd, someone's going to get really wet! The seats serve as a warning though. Sit where you like at your own risk.

The set of Waterworld
Lights, Camera, Action!

The rest of the rides and attractions were, well, cartoon-related. Sorry I have not seen Madagascar and I don't know what a Foosa is!

Far, far away land

If you want to get the best out of your money, check out every ride and attraction. We were at the park by 10AM and finished everything by 6PM. Another tip to get your money's worth: visit on a weekday. Tickets are cheaper and you don't need to wait long on queues.

It was a long day at USS but we did not pass up on seeing the rest of what Sentosa Island had to offer.

Next stop: Luge! Luge is a kind of go-cart ride minus the engine. There are two downhill trails where you can cruise easily (like I did!) or zap through all the way to the finish line (like the kid who beat me to it). The Luge is easily controllable by a lever which you can just pull for brakes.

Ride the Skyride towards the Luge starting point. See the Luge karts in front.

We bought tickets for the last Songs of the Sea show but we still had time to see both the Palawan and Siloso manmade beaches. There was a bike rental nearby and we got ours for SG$12.50 each for an hour. It's my bike practice for Vietnam!

We made it back to the beachfront seats in time for Songs of the Sea. It was a grand lights and sounds show featuring the story of a boy who used his voice to wake up a lady put to sleep by a spell. We went back to the hotel still humming his lalala song.

Annie?!

The sights and activities in Sentosa might be a bit expensive when you compute and convert it to Philippine peso, but the quality of the show (and the duration of the rides in USS!) more than make up for it. Call it quality for your money.


I absolutely enjoyed Singapore's food. Everything suited my palate, from the coffee, kaya toast, and soft-boiled eggs breakfast at Killiney Kopitiam on my first day, up to the sumptuous steak lunch at Marche's on my last. (That's everything except for KFC's hot and spicy chicken, because ours taste better).

KILLINEY KOPITIAM

Breakfast was the first order of the day. A few blocks away from the hotel was Killiney Kopitiam. An unassuming, traditional coffee shop lined up with the other restaurants along Killiney Road. The ambiance reminded us of Bacolod's Kaffe Sadtu
At 9 in the morning, all the tables were occupied by Singaporeans and foreigners alike, all dressed for work. We shared a table with a lady who was poring over the morning's paper.
The usual order was coffee or tea, with 4 slices of kaya (coconut egg jam) toast, and two soft-boiled eggs. I had to figure out how to eat a soft-boiled egg. Apparently, you crack the egg and put it in a bowl, add seasoning, and eat it like porridge.

GOLDILOCKS AT USS

Our first lunch was in Goldilocks, one of the food joints at Universal Studios. Thanks to MasterCard, we had SGD12 coupon for food. Who knew that even the normal food joint served great fried chicken? The chicken tasted like it was drenched in herbs before frying.
My Mama Bear order - 2-pc chicken with mashed potatoes and Aaron's chicken burger and crisscross fries
Photo from here

AH-TAI CHICKEN RICE

The timing was great because we were able to luckily witness interesting turn of events in Singapore's chicken rice industry. The top chicken rice in Maxwell Food Center, Tian Tian Chicken Rice, lost its chef due to a falling out with the owner.  Just recently, the chef opened his own chicken rice business, named Ah-Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice, just two stalls away from his previous employer. See newspaper article here.

It was fun watching the lunch time queue grow longer in front of both stalls. I usually don't like chicken unless it's fried crisp and golden plus the hainanese chicken I've tried here in Manila were not too enjoyable for my taste buds. However, Singapore's authentic chicken rice looked too good to pass up. It was hard choosing where to get my first chicken rice but since the queue was longer in front of Ah-Tai, we joined the crowd and fell in line.

 Tian-Tian chicken rice located two stalls away- Ah-Tai even had a different take on the white and blue combination
Displaying their triumph in front of the stall - Ah-Tai still wins!

The chicken had a special sauce poured on top and the rice was fragrant and delicious, I think it could actually be eaten on its own. Now, the chicken. The chicken strips were tender, boneless, and tasty up to the last bite. Aaron said that it was better than the one he tried near his hotel. Could it be that I just tasted the best chicken rice in the whole of Singapore? Up to now, the chicken rice war continues.

An order of chicken rice and veggies plus a mug of soya drink = filling lunch!

LAO BAN SOYA BEANCURD

Walking around Maxwell Food Center, we found another long queue in front of Lao Ban Soya Beancurd. Full as we were, we still had some room for what looked like dessert. We had doubts if we still wanted to line up, but seeing locals buy 10 containers each of beancurd, we were sold.

It was a cold soy pudding with the sweetness just enough to make you want to eat more.  That explains why the locals were buying in bulk.

LAU PA SAT

Another must-visit place is Lau Pa Sat, the hawker center along Raffles Quay. We had char kway teo, pulled noodles with chicken strips, and sticks of chicken and mutton satay for lunch. Lau Pa Sat had a variety of food stalls to choose from, so we based our selections from newspaper clippings posted on their stalls and who was named best in their category (based from our Ah-Tai experience!). If you suddenly find yourself craving for Filipino food (which I did not), you can find familiar Pinoy dining experience at Baliwag, Tapa King, and other Pinoy food stalls.

NO SIGNBOARD SEAFOOD RESTAURANT

For dinner, we went all the way to Singapore's red light district, Geylang. Not too see where the red light is though, but to dine at No Signboard Seafood Restaurant. We had no other thing in mind but to order their version of chili crab. 

Yang chow fried rice with crispy shrimp bits on top
Chili crab = King crab swimming in curry! I know it looks small in the photo, but the serving is for  4 people
We seriously doubted our ability to finish the whole thing. When someone asked if we wanted to get fried buns, we said no. Who eats rice and crab with fried buns? Well, that was the biggest mistake of the night!! Do not make the same mistake. We have been told that the best part of eating chili crab is dipping the fried buns in the curry sauce. Too bad we did not know.
Nevertheless, we finished everything more than an hour later. I love seafood and No Signboard's chili crab was the best crab dish I ever had.  It was better than Red Crab and Seaside and all the seafood paluto joints combined. I have to say thank you to Aaron for taking me here and letting me indulge in cracking and poking and sucking every bit of crab flesh.

MAKANSUTRA

On Saturday night, we met friends Veng and Caloy, and had dinner at the buzzing Makansutra, near Marina Bay Sands. We were told that it was difficult to get a table especially on a Saturday night, but we must have been lucky (or just really quick to dodge and grab a table) because we got ours in less than a few minutes. It was a big dinner of crispy prawns, mussels, chicken, and a huge plate of fried rice.  We were all damp and sweaty, but who cares when you're eating good greasy food? Haha.

CHIJMES

For drinks and my dose of music, we found our way to Chijmes. We walked from Marina Bay Sands, used the GPS, and literally found our way to Chijmes. I felt weird entering a huge convent, and what's even weirder, is drinking a beer beneath a huge cross! Thanks to Veng and Caloy for dragging us to Chijmes! After 2 buckets of beer, we ended the night, again finding our way but this time to the hotel. It is a walkable city, and I just love doing long walks.

MARCHé

On my last day, we met another good friend Sha for her birthday lunch. Thanks to Sha for taking us to Marché at 313Somerset along Orchard Road. Entering Marché was like entering a playground, where your eyes glimmer at the sight of fresh food ingredients and you just don't know where to start.  We went around a couple of times before finally deciding what to get. It is so very easy to fall prey to the habit of getting more than what you can actually eat.

I finally decided to get a Swiss Cervelat sausage, Aaron had a sirloin steak, and we also ordered a couple of bread varieties while Sha had her usual Swiss Rosti. Do come in early if you plan to have lunch here since the line tends to get quite long. The lunch at Marché was a break from all the Asian dishes I had from the previous days.

And that ends my lengthy 4-day food journal.  Looking at the photos makes my mouth water again. I think I gained a couple of pounds (again!) when I got back.