It’s now July, 2021, Covid 19 has been a part of our lives for more than 16 months and we are simply just frustratingly bored. This is supposed to be a travel blog, yet we haven’t even traveled anywhere since February last year when we were in Ensenada, Mexico followed by San Diego, California. Amid the travel restrictions, Singapore’s circuit-breaker, lockdowns, and the ever-changing and mind-bogglingly confusing limits on crowd capacities at food and beverage outlets, Anna and myself have been doing whatever we can in order to leave the house so we can avoid losing our collective minds. It’s mostly been drinking at friends’ apartments, them coming to our place, or the occasional staycation in Sentosa. But if you read my last post about a dog cruise we went on a couple of months ago with our chubby mutt, Kermit, Anna recently recalled how she also went on a private pet cruise with some friends and colleagues a few years back so she called up a couple of her other friends to see if they wanted to join us on a boat for an afternoon, they seemed keen, so Anna booked one again.
Monday, July 19, 2021
Anna doesn’t work Monday afternoons and it was also the eve of a public holiday, the Feast of the Sacrifice as a part of Hari Raya, however, she was going to have a busy and stressful morning at work. The easy part was a photoshoot so she could finally have her kind-of-tacky official Singapore National Eye Centre portrait that makes her appear more like a real estate agent than a medical professor (right) replaced. I won’t go into the details of the difficult and extremely stressful portion of her morning at work, but it appears things turned out the correct way, however, she would definitely need some downtime to kick back and just get away from it all that afternoon and that was exactly what she was getting. Our private pet cruise would be from 3:00pm until 7:00pm, where we would be ferried around Palau Ubin and Coney Island near the Malaysian border.
Once Anna had arrived home in the early afternoon we began getting everything ready; we packed stuff for swimming, as well as food and drinks including a massive platter of fine ham and cheese from our friends at Straits Cheese Co. that I had ordered the previous day (seriously, check those guys out if you want some great cheese and charcuterie in Singapore),and then we waited for her friends, Pat and Roshini, to arrive. There was one small problem, though — A rather large thunderstorm had hit out of absolutely nowhere and didn’t appear to be stopping any time soon so we weren’t sure if our cruise was even going to go ahead.
After the girls eventually got to our place the rain wasn’t quite as heavy so it appeared as if the plan may still come to fruition. They had brought over some food and champagne as well and Kermit would be traveling in her pet carrier so the sheer amount of baggage we were bringing along gave the impression of us going on an actual holiday somewhere, as opposed to a four-hour cruise. This was beginning to sound eerily similar to the beginning of Gilligan’s Island, but we just had to get out of the house so Kermit got excited as we crammed her into her rather undersized travel bag, knowing too well that adventure was afoot, we called a GrabPet, and we soon were on our way to the port in some reasonably heavy rain, passing several traffic accidents en route.
About half an hour later we were at our destination so we met up with the owner of the cruise company and our captain for the day, Joe, waited for a bit while our boat was brought to us from where it was stored, and before long we were off. The first portion of our journey was us just cruising along, eating too much good cheese, cracking open the bottle of champagne, and chatting with Joe, all the while Kermit staring, completely mesmerised by the sea. We also had to keep an eye on the weather in the hope that there wouldn’t be another storm on a trip that got a bit rough each time a larger boat passed us. We eventually dropped an anchor just off the shore of where we’d spend the bulk of the afternoon, Coney Island:
Coney Island, alternatively known as Pulau Serangoon, is a 133-hectare island located off the northeastern coast of Singapore within the town of Punggol, between Pulau Ubin to its northeast and the mainland to its southwest.
Land reclamation works were carried out on the island from 1975 to the 1990s, as there were plans to build residential buildings on the southern part of the island. The works narrowed the channel between Punggol and the island to 100m. Still, in spite of this small distance, motor launches had to be specially hired to reach the island until the opening of Coney Island Park, linked to the main island by two bridges on its western and eastern ends.
Formerly known as Pulau Serangoon (English: Serangoon Island), the island was sold to an Indian businessman, Ghulam Mahmood, in 1950 with the intention of turning the island into a resort modelled after the amusement area at Coney Island, New York.
The land reclamation works begun in 1975, increasing the area of the island from 32 hectares (0.32 km2) to 62 hectares (0.62 km2). Further land reclamation works were carried out during the 1990s.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said that under the Master Plan, a part of Coney Island was zoned for residential, sport and recreational use but as the land is not immediately required for development, a part of Coney Island would be kept as an interim park for the time being. The rest of the island was zoned for park use. On 10 October 2015, Coney Island Park opened to the public, with a beach stretching 2 km (1 mi) and a 2.4 km (1 mi) long path that is part of the park connector network.
Managed by the National Parks Board, the 81 hectares (0.81 km2) nature park is home to a wide variety of habitats, including coastal forests, grasslands and mangroves. During its first year of operation, a free-ranging Brahman cow was frequently sighted in the area.
Nobody actually lives on Coney Island so we knew we had a relaxing afternoon ahead. As we were putting on life jackets, Kermit snuck over to where our food was and discreetly tried to eat some of the cheese before opting for the final slice of prosciutto, but I caught her just as she was licking it. Oh well, it was hers now by default. After gleefully enjoying the last of the ham, she then had to don a pink polka-dotted life vest of her own and we all jumped into the sea. Usually it takes me quite a while to enter a body of water, particularly swimming pools, because I have to submerge certain body parts in stages and then wait for that area to adapt to the cold water before moving on to the next one, first being the back of the knees, followed by the back the thighs, then testicles, ribs, and finally nipples. In fact, it generally takes me so long to fully submerge myself that by the time I have, most people have finished swimming and are now getting out of the water. However, that wouldn’t be the case on this particular occasion, because the sea was just perfect, Joe telling us it was probably warmer than usual due to the storm. Kermit on the other hand absolutely loves the water so once we put her in she was swimming and splashing around. It was probably about three metres (10′) deep where we got in, but we had Kermit’s leash attached to her life jacket so we all made our way towards the shore, the dog so excited that she essentially dragged me behind her like she was my own personal tugboat. Once on the beach she immediately began sprinting up and down the shore, trying to bite waves just like every time we take her to the beach, ingesting a ton of seawater in the process and just generally acting like a psychopathic. Obviously I couldn’t take any photos because I can’t take my camera into the water, but if you need proof of this dog loving the beach, here are some pictures of her after she has done her thing on the coast, the first from when she was a puppy, the second two from a few weeks ago, all taken at Sentosa:
As this was going on I just wandered around in the water while getting ravaged by sandflies and looking for sea-life, eventually seeing something, but not particularly what I was hoping to encounter; a small stingray only about 30cm (1′) long, but who knows what damage it could do, although that would be the one and only animal I would encounter in the water besides our dog that afternoon.
We put the dog back on the boat and just kept floating around and relaxing, embracing the perfect, cooler weather, at one stage looking on as a pack of seven wild dogs made their way along the beach, going out of their way to avoid a couple who had just arrived to sunbathe. After a while the girls all got back on the boat for more champagne, but I decided to just kick back in the crystal clear, warm sea, bobbing around without a care in the world, Anna joining me again for a bit, champagne flute in hand and never quite able to get her life jacket on correctly, with Kermit constantly on patrol as our volunteer lifeguard the entire time. In all, I must’ve spent about 90 minutes in the water before it was time to head back to the port, the others joining me briefly in the water under the guise of having one last dip, but in reality were all taking advantage of a final opportunity to pee.
One problem for me was that to board the boat again you had to stand on a tiny step and and try to pull yourself up with a handle located not very high above it, something that can be kind of difficult when you have limbs as long as mine. After several unsuccessful attempts to hoist myself up, Anna reached out to help me, but I was more concerned with pulling her back out into the water again. It took quite a while and some unwanted and embarrassing encouragement, but eventually I made it and then we were off, trying to take in the sunset along the way. One thing we definitely weren’t expecting on the way back was the overwhelming fragrance of curry being cooked by many different people at once in the foreign worker dormitories nearby. Seriously, we could smell it coming downwind from several hundred metres away and it smelt pretty good to be honest.
A few sights from the afternoon when we were actually able to take photos, as well as some that Joe got for us:
Once we were finally back at the port we had to think about dinner plans. There were some decent looking places nearby, but we also needed somewhere dog-friendly so we opted for Little Island Brewing Co., a great microbrewery that we thought was nearby, but actually turned out to be a half-hour cab ride away. Still, we eventually made it and because we were all able to show that we were vaccinated, Pat’s, Rosh’s, and mine officially taking effect that day, we could sit together as a group instead of in pairs for a big dinner platter and a few drinks to cap off a great day out. It was lucky we took advantage of the opportunity too, because all restrictions in Singapore were tightened just three days later for what will more than likely be a month, including a ban on dining out regardless if you are vaccinated or not, only takeaway will be available.
However, when these restrictions are lifted and you’re still bored in Singapore, just book a cruise with Joe.