Brought the girls to Underwater World two Fridays ago. It was Teachers' Day so girls did not need to go to school. A was supposed to go on her school field trip the day before but she came down with a fever. She had been looking forward to the trip since the day her teacher announced the news to the entire class. Not being able to go upset her so much that she cried so sadly. It didn't help that I was following K for her school field trip on that day too. My mother had to come over to help care for A while I was away for the whole morning. We promised her that we would bring her to Underwater World once she recovers. She recovered that very afternoon and so the plan to visit Underworld World materialized sooner than we thought.
View from Sentosa Express. On way to Sentosa.
We left the house early to beat the peak hour crowd on the MRT. It took us only 40 minutes to get to Sentosa Express (Rail) at VivoCity (alight at Harbourfront MRT). We had wanted to get to Sentosa using the cable cars but at $25 for an adult ticket and $15 for a child ticket, it is just too expensive for a family of 2 adults and 2 children. It makes more sense to take the Sentosa Express as tickets only cost $3 each. What's more, K goes free!
We alighted at Beach Station. Weather was nice and cool so we opted for a leisure walk to Underwater World. It is a short walk of about 20 minutes. We walked pass a machine gun pillbox that was used in World War II and A was the first to notice it among the leaves. Daddy explained its use and that inspired A to want to go inside and hold a gun! Of course, the request was denied for the simple fact that it wasn't safe. In addition, I personally believe that historical structures such as these should be left alone. Still, A got her chance to pose as a soldier. It was a win-win situation. :) We went on to spot lizards and a family of squirrels. Definitely a great way to start the day.
Posing as a soldier with her 'gun'.
One of the three squirrels we saw.
We were greeted by peacocks once we reached Underwater World. 3 of them in fact. Now, everyone was ready for the exploration around the oceanarium. We brought A there once when she was barely 2 years old. Well, sort of. We bought the tickets and only managed to bring her to the Ray Pool before she got too scared of the dark. We ended up only going to the gift shop before exiting. That was a really expensive visit to any gift shop for that matter. This time round, she was overflowing with excitement. We went to the Turtle Pond just outside the Oceanarium and K called out, "Turtle, turtle." whenever she saw one. I spotted a few in the pond but there was this one that kept swimming in and out of sight, under us. Hence, K pretty much chanted "Turtle, turtle" the whole time we were there. Anyone who heard her would have thought that there were a lot of turtles. In actual fact, she was just focusing on one.
Tickets to Discovery
Next, we proceeded to the Touch Pool. It is the very first pool you see once you enter. Here you can touch sea creatures such as starfish and bamboo sharks. Daddy picked up a starfish and A stared at it with an mesmerized smile on her face. K, on the other hand, was flapping her hands, shouting, "cannot touch, cannot touch ok?" She had this worried look on her face. She was either concerned that we would get hurt or the animals would be hurt. Either way, I had to pick her up and assured her that everything was alright.
Next, we went for the Shark Feeding at 10am. For $3, we got a small bowl of squids and fish and a disposable plastic hand glove. Daddy placed the feed on one end of a long plastic pole and reached out to the sharks. The sharks gathered where the pole was and were pushing one another out of the way so that they could get a hold of the food. Of course, the bigger sharks get the food. Unfair but it is simply the survival of the fittest out there. I suppose the smaller ones would have to outwit the bigger guys in the water. Then again, I am pretty sure the staff at Underwater World does a great job taking care of each one of them. Afterall, Underwater World ranks conservation efforts highly on its agenda list.
Kids were scared but eager to see. Made shark-feeding all the more exciting.
There are a lot of marine animals in just this one place. A was clearly so happy with everything she saw that she had this mesmerized look on her face the whole time. "Daddy, big crabs! Daddy, more fishes here!" It was a good thing that the place was packed with tourists or else I am quite certain that A's voice would resonate through the entire place. Of the 2500 and more marine animals, guess which is A's favourite? A display showing the crab's internal organs. By pushing a button, a particular section (stomach, heart, lungs etc) would light up. After paying so much for admission, I was expecting her to rank sharks, dolphins or even rays as her favourite. The display??? It is not even alive! Well, the girls never fail to amaze me each day.
Good that the girls got to see some tank cleaning in process.
A's favourite - The (plastic) crab
The admission charges (Adult: $25.90 Child: $17.60 Child below three: Free) include admission into Dolphin Lagoon. The first dolphin and sea lion show starts at 11am. We got there around 1030am and there was a group of people in the pool with the dolphins. Dolphin Lagoon provides close interaction opportunities with these mammals. If I am not wrong, it is at $160 per pax. Quite a hefty price to pay but for some, swimming with such gentle mammals is already a priceless experience. I don't think I would object if the girls want to swim with them, but only when they are a whole lot older and can understand the importance of being gentle to the animals and appreciate its educational purposes. Only then, can I truly say that it is worth it. :)
The staff at Dolphin Lagoon opened up the area in front of the performance stage after the swimmers had cleared the pool and the dolphins have retreated to have their much deserved rest. As we were there early, we were able to get really good seats, right in front of the stage! The sea lions struttered in front of us for a large part of the show and it was an amazing experience for the girls to see the sea lions up close.
The sea lions did a great job entertaining the crowd.
After the show, we continued our tour around Underwater World. Another highlight of the place is this 83 metres long travelator. It brings you through a tunnel housing many different marine animals including sharks and sting rays. Being right underneath these creatures as they glided past made me feel like I was in another world. Very cliche? It may seem so to those who have been to Underwater World before especially since it is a common excursion spot for many local schools. Not that I have never been to Underwater World before but for one, it helped me pull myself away from the hectic schedule of juggling the housework and caring for the two children. Seeing the animals swimming so gracefully around me made me forget all the worries and for that few minutes, it was just me, the water and the animals. Either that, I was just too happy to be in the light since everywhere else in Underwater World is dark. A was also in her own world with the animals. She peered through the glass panels and had this look of awe on her face. It was quite a heartwarming sight to behold too. Then again, I am biased. :p K, on the other hand, was afraid of the giants around her. She wrapped her arms around Daddy's neck so tight that he needed to strain his neck just to see his way in front. Yet, the animals had such an amazing draw about them that K could not resist stealing glances at them from the corner of her eyes. Once a while, she would let go of her grip (for a brief moment), follow them as they swam past and looked up as they cruised right above her. Of course, I hope that the next time we come, she would be more willing to run along with the animals and be amazed at God's creation.
3 times the amazement
We spent a total of 3 hours at the Underwater World and Dolphin Lagoon. Everyone was tired and after a quick lunch at the coffeeshop just outside the exit, we went home, with the girls sound asleep. We, too, left with wonderful memories, sweetened by the girls' laughters and smiles. Looking back, Sentosa has changed a lot over the years. It used to be more rustic. Now, it seems like a mini Phuket with so many attractions, together with pubs and restaurant springing up along the different beaches. Still, the island feel remains and it would be nice to stay in Sentosa for a few days to just soak it all up. It would definitely be on my list of 'Places to Go with Kids'.
For more information on Underwater World and Dolphin Lagoon, do visit http://www.underwaterworld.com.sg/
Some Educational Aspects for Young Children
- The concept of conservation
- The importance of keeping the marine environment clean and free from pollution.
- The impact on climate change and temperature rise of the oceans on the creatures that live in the sea.
- Appreciation of the marine biodiversity; sharks, fishes, and other creatures come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. What makes each shape and / or size special and how do their unique adaptations help them to survive in their environment?
- Simple classification of marine animals; what makes a sea lion different from a seal? What makes a shark different from a dolphin? How are dolphins and sea lions similar? Fish, reptiles, mollusks, crustaceans, mammals; how do we tell which class an animal belongs to?