After waking up at a bright and early 12 pm, Joanna and I head to Sentosa, an island south of mainland Singapore (which is also an island). The home of Universal Studios Singapore and other various themed attractions (indoor sky diving, ski lifts around the island, indoor wave riding pools), Sentosa is advertised as a real life pleasure island for kids and adults. Like most of Singapore, bizarre is the best way to describe it. Colorful signs point toward “Fun!” and “Smiles!” while also reminding you that littering is a kinda, serious punishable offense. Children are running around screaming, it’s 100% humid and the Segway tour just beeped at us…we need a drink.
We walk toward one of the three manmade beaches on the island. The natural coast of Sentosa is rocky and so protected by the Indonesian archipelago to the south that it hardly gets any sizable waves or water movement. Good for avoiding natural disasters; bad for attracting tourists looking for a beach. Therefore, the government trucked in tons of beige Malaysian sand to cover the rocks and create a beach-like environment to overlook one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. So, you can rent a cabana, sip a Mojito, and watch a parade of huge container ships chug across the not-too-distant horizon. The guide books describe these beaches as, “not entirely unpleasant.” Ooo, tell me more.
We have a beer and decide to bar-hop down the beach. It’s Sunday, the sun is shining, and we’re at the closest thing I’ll see to a beach this vacation. The next bar just happens to be the Mambo beach club, which looks like it would have been a great spot for spring break circa 1994. However, it’s hay day is long gone. The lining of the pool was disintegrating and the painted sign on the swim-up bar has faded to nothing. The pool was filled with very tattooed 20-something’s, drinking and smoking, while a DJ played house music just a bit too loud. It was a hot mess, and I did not care. In to the cess pool I go. I get a beer at the swim-up bar and chill for a bit in the grossly warm wading pool. I look around and realize that I am literally the only person without a tattoo. All the patrons looked about my age, mostly male, and 85% covered in coy fish and phoenix birds. Oh, and tribal tattoos. So much tribal. I finish my beer and am slightly disgusted with myself for staying so long.
Heading back toward the tram out of Sentosa, Joanna and I hear the very distinct guitar notes of Ants Marching. A Singaporean trio seems to be covering all your favorite hits from every 90s school dance. We can’t pass up this golden opportunity for weirdness, so we belly up for another round of Mojitos. Renditions of Mr. Big, RHCP, and Blind Melon seem to be totally lost on the severely inebriated Australians, but we were loving it.
Where are you from? The man next to me asks mid-way through some Matchbox 20.
Boston. What about you?
Seriously? I go all the way around the world, and I still can’t escape, I think.
Oh, really? What part? I ask dutifully.
Well, Dublin originally, but I grew up in California and Oregon.
I absorb what he’s just said and notice the lack of any discernible accent.
You’re not fucking Irish, I say reflexively with a laugh. Joanna chokes on her drink.
What do you mean? He says sheepishly, like he’s been caught.
How long did you live there? Four years. Have you ever been back? No. Do you have any family there? Not really.
Yeah, sorry buddy, you’re American.
He agrees with me and I apologize for blowing up his game, it seems like this line usually works a little bit better for him. He tries to keep flirting, but I see his wedding ring and am annoyed by his general persona, so Joanna and I bounce.
Overall, Sentosa was like a time warp to a dying spring break trip from the late 90s with Segways. An experience none-the-less.