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vendredi, janvier 14, 2005

 Campsites in Singapore: Not an exhaustive list

Got woken up at about 8.45 by U Frankie, who was our lovely driver today, for the Tour Around Singapore To Find A Good Church Youth Campsite for June 2005. It's a good thing that U Frankie, Christiana and myself stay around the same area - within 15 minutes of each other, or the morning pickup would have been quite a bitch.

Anyway, on to the adventures of the day.

First stop was the Scripture Union campsite at Sentosa. $2 car fee, and $2 entry fee each to enter the bloody island (for the mathematically uninclined, that's $8 just for us to visit this place), and we just got out of the car and went to see the campsite.

The place is dirty. Run-down. Old. Leaky. It's got a werid Fort-Siloso-Canning musk about some of its rooms. The furniture is old, dusty, and everything is breaking down - but it's within shouting distance of Palawan Beach, and it's been the housing to mostly Christian-run camps. Zach, this guy who works there, says that it doesn't really matter what the accommodations are really - what matters is the presence of God, which is strong in the campsite. I really do want to believe that it's more than just a sales pitch line that he threw in, or there's no other way to truly articulate the bastardization of God's name than what he said to me. But he seems sincere, and who am I to judge? God only knows/Only God knows a man's heart.

U Frankie was more interested in the peacocks and peahens than anything else - I fancy his eye was more culinary than ornithary in nature. The campsite closes in June 2005, and the government takes over it. Who knows what they have in store for the land?

There's air-conditioning in some of the rooms, while some others don't. The function hall is fine - in fact, everything is in working condition, except very old, and very, very run-down. It's got character! I like it. Rather unfortunately, Christiana and U Frankie don't. I couldn't believe it when U Frankie complained about the non-aircon issue - aren't I supposed to be the over-protected, over-pampered 1980s baby? Why am I having to justify a non-aircon campsite to grandpa? Is today Freaky Friday and nobody told me?

Anyway, here's the lovely view of the lovely lagoon where many lovely welts swelled my skin as lovely insects in the lovely water bit my lovely ass off. (Tis true!)

Yes, my young PALAWAN, come over ... to the DARK SIDE...
and put on your SPF60 sunscreen before you burn!

I would really like to have the camp there, if only for the sake of seeing the camp out - there won't be another campsite available on an island and so close to the seashore unless we do an OBS or a Scouts camp. Which brings us to the next campsite...

The Sarimbun Scout Campsite is located somewhere at the end of the world - or at the end of Jalan Bahtera, which is somewhere slightly off Lim Chu Kang Road. It's also home to Camp Christine, which Girl Guides will be familiar with. Rather unfortunately, we were unable to go in and view the campsite because we did not call ahead three days in advance to make an appointment, so we sought permission to lurk outside and see the activities which were going on.

The campsite was a great contrast to the Sentosa one. Neat and very organised, instructors were everywhere ensuring that activities were safe and yet challenging. There didn't seem to be any organisational slack anywhere, and the place had the feel of a well-oiled machine. Most of the activities were very Outward Bound-ish type of activities - rockwall, abseiling, flying fox, obstacle course, canoeing, tent pitching, low-rope courses etc.

After lurking around the grounds for about 15 minutes, we called the BB/GB campsite to make an appointment for 2pm. The groundskeeper was very gracious, and agreed immediately. So we grabbed the Mighty Minds Street Directory and headed off across the Northern tip of our island toward Sembawang. However, halfway along Lim Chu Kang, we stopped at a fish farm that U Frankie patronised. Check out the pretty fishes!

Pretty Angel Fish on the left, and gorgeous Discuses (Discii?) on the right.
Angel fish cost $45 each, and the Discus, $250. No, I'm not kidding.

A horde of orange fish ($25 each) on the left, and a wonderfully
maintained and designed tank on the left. This had puffers in it!

Some shark-like fish on the left, and my personal favourite of
the farm - the Stingray. The one featured here costs about
$2000. I kid ye not! But it's fascinating just watching this
fish ripple its body and float around the tank... magic.

The setup for the storage tanks on the left, and some
kind of weird mini catfish on the right.

To my immense surprise, Christiana actually bought two fish! And U Frankie bought some kind of pump filter for his water plants. I asked Mr Gan, the owner of Gan Aquarium Fish Farm (LCK 180 New Tiew Lane 2) if he had fighting fish, and he smiled a pretty smile and said "Fighting fish si hor gheena chit-tou ngia; wa zhit-peng si hor rich lao ah-pek eh," (* Translation from what I can recall from my horrible hokkien - Fighting fish is for children to play one, I down here (my fish) is for rich old men one...)

We finally ended up at the Sembawang campsite, after my directions were questioned again and again and again by U Frankie, who could not believe that we had to pass by the Zoo to get to Sembawang - "Are you sure? This Mandai leh! How come pass Zoo one? Visit the animals first ah?" - hey, I might get lost in NTU because it is NO MAN'S LAND especially without the campus map, but trust me when I'm telling you where to go when I have a map in my hands. Follow me to the ends of the earth if I happen to have a compass in the other. I may not do some things as well as I may like to, but I. Rock. Maps. I totally do.

The BB/GB campsite is just as I remembered it - functional, clean, a little run-down in parts, but fully servicable. Close by to the Sembawang shipyard and sea, within breathing distance of some red-white striped Senoko lookalike towers. The only change I could see was that the airconditioners were serviced, and they had just changed all the mattresses for the dorms, which is a good thing.

There are a couple more "urban" campsites that I didn't really bother with unless there was no other alternative, such as the NACLI campsite, which isn't a really bad campsite, but it looks boring, and all I remember was being bored when I was at NACLI having some monitor or prefect training in St Nicks. I remember the trainers rather full of themselves, and how they were just oh-so-cocky that they were the greatest thing on earth - which is rather weird vibes to be giving out at a camp targeted for 15 year old girls. I remember there was this coach called Vivian, who would wake up and do aerobics with us. Vivian was a guy. And might you, this was way before Balakrishnan was anywhere near the picture. Actually, NACLI may be the reason why I don't really like motivational trainers - they're mostly full of hot air and crap. I don't begrudge them a living, but dude, you're supposed to help those with ego problems, not hammer any more insecurities into them.

[Campsites in Singapore: Not an exhaustive list]
Sngs Alumni @ 14.1.05 { 0 comments }


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