I’ve always been fascinated by the paranormal. But I’m a family man now, so I’ve had to keep my horror movie fetish under wraps for fear of freaking out the son, the daughter and the Mother of Xander.
But once in a while, I get to indulge a little in a couple of *true* ghost stories. Sometimes I tell them, and sometimes I am told, like what I heard at the “Spooky Seas” themed SEA Aquarium VIP Tour we were invited to.
This is what happens when the SEA Aquarium tries and matches Universal Studios Singapore’s Halloween Horror Nights to cater to primary schoolers so everyone along the age spectrum can have a piece of Halloween action. The seasonal dish in this case takes the form of an adventure trail complete with a treasure map for your kids to locate 12 “Trick or Treat” stations strewn around the aquarium, and kids who complete the map get showered with freebies for their whole family.
My boy happens to celebrate Halloween at his preschool every year, so he’s quite familiar with the “Trick or Treat” concept. His father, though, was still looking for ghosts. And with a dedicated guide with extensive knowledge of the Aquarium’s inhabitants shadowing us for an hour or two, The Blogfather would advise you to feel free to make the most of the VIP tour (that costs $88 per adult and $68 per child) and test the limits of your guide’s knowledge. For example (and these are actual dialogues I had with the guide during the tour):
Guide: “You see those small little fish hanging around the bigger fish? Those are called ‘cleaning wrasses’. Many of our tanks contain these little fish to help us clean not only the tank but other fish as well.”
Me: “Cool. Which town council do they report to?”
Guide: “Did you know sharks actually have 6 senses?”
Me: “They see dead people?”
Guide: “The largest ray we have in the Aquarium has a wingspan of 5 metres.”
Me: “Mmmm. How many portions of barbecued stingray does that make?”
Guide: “No, the ones you’re talking about are stingrays. The ray I’m referring to is a manta ray. We don’t eat manta rays, because they on the endangered species list.”
Me: (to Mother of Xander) “Phew. Your favourite dish not illegal.”
Mother of Xander: “What’s the difference between manta rays and stingrays?”
Guide: “Stingrays have thin tails, and (pointing to a huge manta ray swimming past us) manta rays have those two horn-like things sticking out of their front called cephalic fins.”
Mother of Xander: “I see. So one looks like a kite, the other looks like Batman.”
(This particular discussion happened back-of-house, so unfortunately we weren’t allowed a photo of that huge manta ray that swam past us; you’ll just have to take the Blogfather’s word for it when he says it was a spectacular sight).
We all learned something that day. But for most of the Spooky Seas tour, we didn’t see much spooky, apart from the skeletons and skulls and jack-o-lanterns tactfully placed in key exhibit tanks, and this one walkway leading to the back-of-house.
And once again, that is where having a dedicated guide who’s spent an extensive amount of time in a large, dark enclosed environment built on a former World War 2 British military fortress comes in handy. And I reserved the most obvious question for the end of our tour.
Me: “So, do you have any spooky stories about this place?”
Guide: (sheepishly) “Are you going to write about this?”
Me: “Of course! This is supposed to be Spooky Seas, right?”
Our young, knowledgeable guide gave me a long look of uncertainty, took a deep breath, and caved. She didn’t go into detail (in fact she summarised it into just two sentences), but it was enough.
I leave it to you to ask your own guide more when you’re there (and if you dare), but I will say this: the story occurs at the beginning of the tour – old things have a tendency to carry their own spiritual baggage.
SEA Aquarium Wonders: Spooky Seas Adventure Trail is open to all visitors from now till 16 November 2014.
The RWS S.E.A. Aquarium VIP Guided Tour costs S$88 per adult and S$68 per child between 4-12 years, with discounts available for annual pass holders. The tour package includes priority access to the Discovery Touch Pool and guided back-of-house access to the Open Ocean Habitat, an aquarist lab and Dolphin Island. The aquarium can hold tours for a maximum of 12 persons over 3 time slots, starting from 9am (touted as the best time for a VIP tour because you get exclusive access to the Aquarium before they open for the day).
Contact RWS at +65 65776077 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for enquiries and booking.