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Singapore flings and slings
The city state beckons the not-so-intrepid Indian tourist who wants a taste of adventure.
One does not go to Las Vegas for soul-searching, Bali to play the slots, Istanbul for pubhopping, or Singapore for an adrenalinefilled adventure weekend. Well, the last is no longer true.
In the insanely antiseptic city state of Singapore, holidays are all about non-stop shopping, sight-seeing, marathon eating and chilling along Clarke, the riverside quay, while sipping Tiger beer. Or, as some intrepid Indians have started discovering this year, a Singaporean holiday can also be about jumping off a building ledge, zipping from a hilltop or surviving a reverse bungee jump while trying hard not to puke on those very same tourists sipping Tiger beer.
In case you were wondering, a reverse bungee has three participants strapped onto a bench. It then catapults them to a height of 60 metres at speeds of up to 200 kmph. For revellers at Clarke, the screaming bungee enthusiasts are an indicator of the latest avatar that Singapore has donned - that of being a destination for "soft adventures". So while Macau may have the highest bungee jumping in the world, J-bay in South Africa may be the best destination for advanced surfers with its huge wave tunnels and Queenstown, New Zealand, may be the mecca for hard-core adventure junkies with its tandem sky diving, quad biking, white-water rafting and the like, Singapore is projecting itself as a destination for the first-timer.
"Singapore is the starting point for all adventure and active lifestyle aspirants. For sports enthusiasts, it's the springboard to a heightened adventurous experience in other parts of the world, " says Jessica Sim, an area director of Singapore Tourism Board (STB). For instance, at Wavehouse Sentosa one can learn to ride simulated waves at a pace that a beginner-surfer would be comfortable with before moving on to say, the real thing, in Hawaii. Or like the parajump, which is simply about finding out whether you have the ability to be foolish-on-demand. After you are strapped on with life-saving ropes, you walk to the edge of a ledge that pokes out of the fifth floor of a building. Even as your brain goes into an overdrive telling you to chicken out, you stand on the edge surveying the terrain below and wondering why the hell you are doing this. Then before you know it, you have put sound logic and reasoning aside and jumped. The ropes break your fall just a few feet before you hit the ground. It's the kind of activity that whets your appetite for more crazy stuff. It's also the kind of adventure that appeals to the typical, not-sointrepid Indian tourist.
With India emerging as one of the top five visitor generating markets for Singapore even in the recession year of 2009 (726, 000 arrivals from India), STB is expecting the new marketing pitch to catch on well in the Indian markets. Adventure sports in Singapore have grown with activities like Mega Zip, Climb Max, Para Jump, Sky Ride & Luge, Segway and Zorbing, says Sandeep Sachdev, a celebrity trainer at Fitness First India, who has been to Singapore on an adventure holiday. "The activities are great for Indians who like doing family holidays," he adds.
The change in branding also has to do with the changing preferences of the Indian tourist. Says Sim: "The outbound travel market is in a constant stage of evolution as travellers seek more from their holiday. In today's context, there is greater prioritisation for aspirational, engaging experiences. With maturing tastes and preferences, consumers are moving away from merely a sit-and-see to a touchand-do holiday." Plunging down a hilltop on a metal cable will definitely inject some excitement into the holiday.
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