Sunday, 26 April 2015

Sentosa - it's best bit!



I didn't plan to visit Sentosa - a small island off the south coast of Singapore. But a combination of factors left me with little alternative but to take my default option and head for a resort. And - since I was heading south - Sentosa was the obvious option.

I've no doubt it's a great island for families. The disembodied voice on the skytrain, whisking me across from the mainland, assured me that it is the Island of Fun. Passengers on the return journey are reminding what Fun they have had, and how much more Fun they will have when they return. Notices all over the island remind you to have Fun. There's a music loop that tinkles tunes from hidden speakers, interspersed with suggestions of where you might find this Fun - from and Aquarium to a Go-cart track to a Madame Tussauds. Every attraction includes a photographer, so you can record what Fun you had, just in case you need reminding when you get home.

OK, so it's not quite my thing. Children loved these dragons - built to keep them entertained as they stroll from one attraction to the other.


If you don't fancy at attraction, there is always the beach:


That photo was taken in the late afternoon. Even so, it seems surprisingly quiet.

A view from my hotel window might explain that:




Would you want to swim in a sea filled with all the effluent etc pumped by all these ships? No, nor did I.

So what was I doing there?

I found an eco-resort. I know, it sounds all tree-huggy, but for once they not only practised what they preached but enjoyed themselves in the process. Vegetables grow on the flat roof, fertilised from the wormery - fed by scraps from the kitchens. Trees flourish in every possible corner, helping to keep the temperature down - and with it the need for air conditioning. All the water comes from an underground spring: this is a view of the pool with a waterfall hiding behind the foliage to the left. I sat on a lounger and not once did anyone mention Fun!



On top of that, the hotel welcomed visitors, including wildlife, that might be rejected elsewhere. This peahen and her chicks were making their way back to the poolside, having somehow shut themselves in the laundry.


This tolerance included staff. The welcome pack included a note that the resort employs a number of young people with special needs; they can be identified by a badge and visitors are asked to make allowances for them.

I chatted to one of the managers about this - applauding the idea but I wasn't sure about the badges. But, he explained, the young people tell us it helps. For they had introduced ten autistic young people to the staff group at the same time. Ten autistic young people! It was, he admitted, something of a challenge for the first six months. You could describe that as ambitious, or brave, or simply bonkers. But they stuck with it. Now it's fine.

And it is - I watched the young people at work and they are productive and happy, even if they do have a tendency to clear the tables a bit promptly. 

So, in the middle of all the manufactured Fun of Sentosa is the Siloso Beach Resort - where they have created something different from all the surrounding consumerism. A wonderful reminder of what can be done.

12 comments:

  1. I know this was posted before the terrible news about the earthquake...however it still shows how beautiful parts of the country are..and your amazing knack for finding lovely out of the way spots. I hope all you friends that you made are safe.

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    1. Thanks for your concern - I will write about it, when I can begin to find a way to think about it. My friends are all alive - that's all I know.

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  2. I would have loved the dragons.

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    1. I'd have liked the dragons better if there weren't someone insisting I enjoy myself!

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  3. A very beautiful sanctuary from all the Fun, Jo! The photos make it look idyllic apart from the huge moored ships, that is. As an aside, there are several caf├ęs here in NL that employ special needs and autistic youngsters. They seem to be very successful as a way of giving such young men and women employment as well as interaction with others. I've been to a couple and yes, the service is sometimes a little too eager, but it really works well.

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    1. I loved my sanctuary - and the autistic staff were great, once you understood. I'm glad the NL seems more enlightened than we are here, where people with special needs are shoved to the back of the queue in our austerity Britain.

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  4. I didn't have very much Fun on Sentosa. In fact, that was where I got burned to a crisp, I seem to recall. That was in 1994, so memory is a bit foggy. :)

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    1. As you can see, I wouldn't recommend going back, except to my lovely resort.

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  5. Sounds quirky and wonderful, well worth visiting just for that! I would love to go there.

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  6. The resort you ended up in sounds lovely Jo especially when they help with jobs for people with learning disabilities. I hate forced fun. We haven't been on a package holiday for years but I remember times when sitting on the coach from the airport at 11pm at night with a three hour journey ahead of us to the resort the Thonson rep would shout,"Are we all having fun?" And kept it up until we replied enthusiastically. We all really wanted to strangle him.

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  7. Loved the post, but most of all, I loved the nuanced commentary. Thanks. :-)

    Greetings from London.

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  8. I think Sentosa used to be called Blakang Mati - I was at boarding school in Singapore for about 15 months until they opened a secondary school for us in Malacca. We went to Blakang Mati on day trips - those were the days before health and safety and sun awareness. We ran riot in the sun all day - I was so badly burnt I could hardly put my blouse on for days!! The eco resort sounds good - maybe I'll stay there next time I visit.

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