Reflections from Sentosa hotspot KM8

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At Sentosa hotspot KM8
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro-Nilsson 2008

The speed at which Singapore transforms never ceases to surprise me. When back for Chinese New Years celebration with family and friends after just a few years in Sweden I hardly recognized the most basic sights. The national library was gone and where we used the take a shortcut along Orchard Road, a new six star hotel has already been opened.

Thursday the 7th was dedicated to personal relaxation and the outfit of the day, a tie-dyed cotton sarong and sun protection factor 55. The destination, the manmade paradise island just off the west coast of Singapore. When I grew up in Singapore, Sentosa was a historical relic with ugly memories from the war. Then modernizations set in with the purpose of creating a nearby beach area for the stressed out Singaporean working population.

Sentosa – the manmade paradise

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Beachfront pool at KM8.

Around five years ago Sentosa had arrived at a pretty pleasant state with coconut trees seductively leaning out over the inviting green water, waves caressing the sunlit sandy beaches. You could pack up some beach gear, fill up the car with whatever cooling liquids you felt was needed and take off to find a parking place in a shady spot near your favorite beach.

But Sentosa today is not what it was. With the breakneck speed so characteristic of Singaporean development plans, Sentosa is now forcefully developed into a super industrialized recreation center. Gigantic construction machines line its horizon, incessantly tooling away in creating an integrated resort, with housing and seafront living with improved infrastructure and top modern facilities.

In the meantime the small water that still remains between Sentosa and Singapore is reclaimed for new projects at land. It is easy to see that it is just a matter of time before Sentosa is no more an island but a park. A recreation park, Singapore style as in fiercely overexploited, with asphalt paths where you can walk and everything green neatly organized into straight rows.

While I can see how development may be a necessity for Singapore, I am not so sure this is the right way to go to keep the top entrepreneurs here and coming, still interested in contributing to our future economy.

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Personally I already miss what Sentosa once was. I was absolutely horrified to find in place of what I expected was our favorite sandy patch of land where we could park our car, change clothes and head for the nearby beach, was now a modern multi-storied car park, replete with shops, hotels, bars, restaurants up an including a shop with souvenir goods.

What was worse, accepting all this to get to the beach, there were not one free parking lot.

Still wanting to be away from the crowd, in search of beach not too overcrowded, we explored Sentosa further. We drove up north to Sentosa Cove, passed the golf course, enjoyed some of the quiet and finally found our way to Tanjong beach. It was still crowded; we still needed to wait in line for a space at the parking lot but, paradise was in sight. Here we found a gem of a beach bar – KM8.

‘Women or couples only’ at the KM8 beach bar Jacuzzi

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It was ‘women or couples only’ at the KM8 beach bar Jacuzzi. Here, a view from sitting inside the jacuzzi pool looking out towards the manmade breakwater.

I believe the first time I encountered KM8 was in the Singapore news a few years back. With stories of bikini clad beauties and beautiful men, I wanted there instantly. Imagine the surreal delight when we stumbled across it at Tanjong beach.

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Good mates to the scorching heat

The place appealed to me in terms of not only the lesser crowds here this day, but also because of its inviting wooden sun benches under coconut leaved umbrellas. The icing on the cake had to be the open Jacuzzi where one could sip tequila in fresh water whilst enjoying the sea breeze and the beach. A fun notice was a signpost stipulating ‘women or couples only’ hammered up in a nearby coconut tree. I don’t think that sign was obeyed all that much.

We spent the afternoon unperturbed, with beer and sunglasses in hand by this jacuzzi. And in that space of time, we found a little of what I call, ‘old Sentosa’.

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