Singapore Sundays 10: Donuts and Watery Caves
After an unacceptably long hiatus of nearly two and a half months, Ayush and I set out on what was to become the tenth episode in the Singapore Sundays Series. And this time around, we were joined by my classmate from NJC and long time friend, Ren Jean.
Ayush and I are normally very terrestrial creatures. All our adventures so far have been rather grounded — forests, palaces, hills and so on. On the other hand, Ren Jean is a very aquatic person. Since high school she's been a swimming ace and is a certified lifeguard. So this weekend we spent a few hours with her exploring what Sentosa Island has to offer.
We couldn't have asked for better weather — cloudy skies with a slight breeze blowing. Perfect weather if you're intending to spend a couple of hours doing water sports. And the water near the Western end of Siloso beach was surprisingly clear!
When someone says donuts, the image that comes to mind is that of delicious sweetness in your mouth leading to an explosion of contentment in your mind. But what we experienced at Sentosa was something completely different. THAT donut left us completely drained of energy, so much so that I couldn't feel my arms for a long time after; and yet, we all had such a good time that I'd do it all over again without a doubt!
Imagine sitting on a large inflatable saucer and holding on for dear life while a speed crazy jet-ski rider tugs you along like a piece of discarded plastic bag in the sea. Sounds like a recipe for disaster? Then Donut is not for you. Donut was exciting and scary at the same time. It was like riding a roller coaster without a fixed track. All good until you realise that the jet-ski driver is out to avenge an unknown vendetta and will do his best to dunk you as many times as he can.
For the record, I fell off the saucer 5 times, Ayush 4 times and Ren Jean twice. And as Ayush would testify, falling in to the water at that crazy speed, at certain angles can be very very painful and shroud in mystery, the future of your lineage.
After finishing donut and giving our aching limbs some respite, we set off in our kayaks in pursuit of the Hidden Cave Temple of Sentosa.
Legend has it that when the tide is low and the sea is calm, in a tiny cave on the coast of Sentosa, there is a shrine dedicated to unknown spirits. No pictures exist of this fabled temple, only whispers on the grapevine. Sentosa lifeguards can vouch for strange sightings of amulets, fruits and flowers floating along the coast. So it was only natural that we went to find out more. The cave was supposed to be on the South West coast of the island and with that in mind, we threw caution to the waves and began the 2.5 km kayak journey along the coast.
The sea was calm, the sun was playing hide and seek with the clouds and the wind pushed us gently along westwards. The conditions were perfect to be out in the sea.
We left Siloso beach and were soon out into the Singapore Strait. As we headed Westward, the first milestone we crossed was the blue barrel rope that signified the limit of safe water. As we crossed the rope, there was an electrifying feeling of thrill and liberation that only comes when you do something off the beaten track. A tingling sensation of adventure rose up inside me as we charged ahead to the caves.
Ren Jean had seen the shrine cave once before; a couple of years ago. But never again since then. Thus, once we crossed the barrels, we kept a keen eye on the coast for any possible caves.
It turns out, Sentosa's unfrequented coastline is an exquisite palette of the different features that were once a part of Singapore island. There were small coves with sandy beaches, ancient volcanic rocks with with deep crevices from centuries of weathering and of course a dense, albeit narrow strip of tropical trees.
And of course, there were caves.
There were small, narrow caves in almost every rock outcrop along the coast. We checked out a few that looked really promising but without luck. There was one rather strange sight we saw. Jutting out into the sea was a triangular rock formation that at first glance, seemed to be a part of a larger cliff on the coast. But on closer scrutiny, it proved to be a completely detached rock formation and the cliff behind it was a straight 10 meter high rock wall.
Although it was a rather interesting natural phenomenon, what made it peculiar was the message painted on the wall. Hidden from any passersby, this message painted on the wall in Mandarin was accompanied by a date: 16th February, 1974.
The roughly drawn map of Singapore and the handprints added to the eeriness of the message. For someone out there in Singapore, this spot has some meaning.
We finished canvassing the coast of Sentosa and as we rounded the Westernmost point, we were greeted by structures that belonged to a bygone era. Once important sentinels, these WW2 watch towers now stand as mere spectators of passing ships.
We couldn't find the legendary cave shrine during this exploratory recce. However, we decided to mark one of the caves we visited by creating a memento out of wood, rocks, a coconut and some leaves. Our marker ended up looking like one of the props from the movie 'Castaway'.
I don't remember which cave this was and I don't remember its exact location along the coast. In all probability, it has already been invaded by the tides and our only mark on Sentosa's coast is gone. But I hope that people continue exploring the coast for it has many gems to offer, and realise that even in the busiest nook and crannies of small Singapore, curiosity is rewarded.
Once again, leaving you with a few pictures of our trip.
All photos were clicked by us.