Heading out to sea to see fireworks

SINGAPORE :

In Kayaks

The goal: A unique vantage point to catch the fireworks and flypast without the usual crowds.

To this end, a group of 25 kayakers (above)set out from East Coast Park at 4.30pm on Friday, rowing for an hour to a vantage point near the Playground @Big Splash entertainment hub.

There, the 13 kayaks rafted up, lining themselves side by side, and holding each other's kayaks to form a stable platform.

The 4km paddle to Big Splash may have been a smooth-sailing journey as the kayakers were blessed with still waters on Friday, but it still required some muscle flexing.

The organiser, Mr Gilbert Loh, 50, a coach with X'treme Kayaking, started paddling to the NDP two years ago. And people have since been asking to join his "expedition".

 

"There's a better view on the waters and it's not blocked by anyone. It's more peaceful, not so crowded, and not so warm," he explained.

Each kayak in Friday's expedition was adorned with light sticks and a little flag to add to the National Day spirit.

The kayakers also donned headlights for the paddle back in the dark.

Business manager Linda Loh, 54, has participated in the event in both years.

She said that it beats trying to battle the crowds and road closures to see the celebrations.

"Getting there is already a hassle. I don't even want to think about leaving the place," she said.

Mr Chua Tian Xiang, 31, who works in the IT industry, said: "I guess there is the option of viewing it from a hotel room but it's too costly."

Another angle

The avid kayaker, who has made it a point to do the sport at least once a month, said: "I wanted to see the fireworks from another angle. This is what got me interested in participating in this event."

He said the grand fireworks display illuminating Singapore's skyline took their breath away.

Some, like Mr Loh and Mr Chua, went snap-happy once the first light streaks hit the night sky.

Others, like Ms Loh, could only stare in awe and fascination as the fireworks exploded into the sky one after another.

Mr Chua acknowledged that the only drawback was that he had to kayak back to the starting point. But it was well worth the effort

In a Yacht

Private student Gabriel Yeong found a fuss-free solution to watch the National Day celebrations, He and 12 friends rented a yacht with YachtCharter.sg

Mr Yeong, who is in his early 20s, said: "It's very difficult to squeeze in (at the viewing spots) if we go on the actual day, and it's more memorable when we are out at sea."

Different

"We wanted to try something different," he added.

In addition, the 12 friends he had invited along hail from different countries, and had never witnessed an NDP fireworks display before. "They were thrilled at the idea," he said.

But there was definitely a price to pay.

The total cost of chartering the Anette, a 40-feet sailing catamaran, and catering the food on board came up to $2,500, which was shared among the group.

But the cosy and intimate gathering he had in return was a decent trade-off, said Mr Yeong.

At 3pm on Friday, the Anette set sail from One Degree 15 Marina Club, where it was berthed, towards the Southern Islands ­- a route that promised an unobstructed view of the fireworks display at The Float@Marina Bay.

Mr Yeong and his friends are not the only ones who were opting for this alternative.

A check with several yacht charters revealed that there were more inquiries and interest for boat rentals in the days leading up to the nation's birthday.

Mr Desmond Choo, the project manager at YachtCharter.sg, said almost all the 10 yachts in its fleet had been rented for the day.

Azurea Luxury Yacht Charter also confirmed the strong interest.

Indeed, the fireworks display was the climax of the day out at sea for the group out at sea.

Against the backdrop of colourful explosions in various sizes, coupled with a sea breeze gently blowing across his face, Mr Yeong, who just turned a year older two days ago, said in glee: "It's like a birthday celebration for me."


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