August 04, 2011

Visiting The Super Merlion

Sudah jam 2 siang waktu kami tiba di Singapore. Masih harus check in ke hotel, mengurus stroller Aidan, dan makan siang. Jadi kami memutuskan untuk jalan-jalan di sekililing Marina saja, tempat hotel kami berada. Saya sudah bertekad untuk mengajak Aira & Aidan mengunjungi Merlion (yang di Marina bukan yang di Sentosa) karena berkali-kali saya ke Singapore belum pernah sekali pun mengunjungi Merlion, padahal dia kan icon-nya Singapore. Sekali waktu saya pernah berdua Ratih, teman saya, jalan-jalan ke Singapore dan niat banget mau lihat Merlion. Sudah jalan kaki lumayan jauh, ngikutin rute di peta, akhirnya gagal, karena pada tahun itu area tempat Merlion berada sedang di renovasi total, jadi ditutup. Kami hanya sempat lewat saja waktu malam-malam naik boat dari Clarke Quay.

Maka dengan super semangat, setelah makan siang di Raffles kami pun buka peta, mencari rute menuju Merlion. No taxi pokoknya, mau menikmati Singapore sore-sore sambil jalan kaki. Akhirnya kami memang beneran jalan-jalan, akibat salah keluar pintu di Raffles dan agak terlambat memahami peta di tangan, karena begitu sampai di tempat Merlion, hotel kami terlihat dengan jelas. Ternyata tinggal jalan luuuruuus saja dari hotel menuju Merlion. Tapi buat saya pribadi justru menyenangkan sekali, karena saya pertama kalinya jalan-jalan di daerah Singapore yang bisa dibilang belum pernah saya datangi sebelumnya. Kami melewati The Civilian War Memorial di Beach Road dan beberapa tugu lainnya serta taman-taman. Sampai akhirnya kami melewati jembatan besar yang di ujungnya tertera plat kuningan yang menandakan kami sudah tiba di Merlion Park.










Turun-naik tangga beberapa kali, akhirnya kami melihat si patung Merlion. Kecil, ditengah sebuah kolam, yang juga kecil. Seriously? Oho, ternyata itu hanya miniaturnya, si super Merlion terletak berpunggungan dengan mini Merlion,menghadap ke teluk sambil menyemprotkan air dari mulutnya. Merlion park ramai sore itu, tapi masih cukup nyaman untuk jalan-jalan, foto-foto, dan duduk-duduk. Juga memperhatikan orang-orang yang berpose aneh-aneh. Hahaha. Marina Bay Sands terlihat jelas dari sini (bukan, hotel kami bukan Marina Bay Sands), juga Singapore Flyer. Kakak Aira puas foto-foto disini, sementara Aidan lebih senang naik turun tangga dan lari. Aidan gak begitu suka sama Merlion besar, dia lebih senang sama Merlion kecil, entah kenapa, jadi dia hanya bersedia foto dekat si versi mini itu.















Sesungguhnya menurut saya si Merlion ini wujudnya agak lucu. Begitu dilihat aslinya pendapat ini semakin saya yakini. Pertama, wajah singa si Merlion menurut saya tidak cukup 'regal' bahkan Mufasa terlihat lebih berwibawa dari singa di pinggir laut ini. Kedua, dia punya ekor mermaid. Mermaid! Like Ariel! Ariel saja ingin menyingkirkan ekor ikannya. Ada cerita, atau legenda, tentang Merlion tentunya. Sudah pernah dengar? Saat browsing tentang Singapore saya membaca-nya di sebuah blog yang dinamai berdasarkan icon negara Singapore, supermerlion, yang penulisnya ingin menceritakan sisi sesungguhnya dari negara tempat ia tinggal. Cerita tentang Merlion bisa ditemukan jika kita mengunjungi Merlion yang di Sentosa Island.

In ancient times, Singapore was known as Temasek, a Javanese word for sea. The, as today, Temasek was a center of trade. At the end of the 4th century A.D. Temasek was destroyed.

According to the Malay annals, legend has it that Prince Sang Nila Utama of the Sri Vijaya Empire rediscovered the island in the 11th century A.D. On landing he saw a strange wild beast which he later learned was a lion. Intrigued and impressed by the size of the beast, he named the island Singapura, a sanskrit word for lion (singa) city (pura)

The Merlion is a symbol of Temasek and modern Singapore. Strong and lithe. It's lion head alludes to the fabled beast that once roamed the ancient Island state, while it's fish body symbolizes Singapore's origins as a prosperous sea port.

Tapi tenyata ada cerita lain yang lebih praktis mengenai Merlion. Masih saya baca dari blog supermerlion, begini ceritanya:

The media often touts the Merlion as a legendary creature. Some sources even go so far to cite (fictional) fables from when the country was still a fishing village and tiales of how the mythical beast protected Singapore's waters. This has confused some tourists into believing that till this day, Singaporeans still worship the Merlion idol.

The tru nature of Merlion however, is more practical. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, the new country of Singapore began to attract tourists from all over the world. As an immigrant country, Singapore dis not possess any cultural  creations to call its own. To counter this problem, the government created Singapore Tourism Board to help support the country's fledgling tourist industry.

Lacking any elements to model local Souvenirs after, the Merlion was imagined in 1964 by Mr Fraser Brunner, a member of the Souvenir Committee in the Singapore Tourism Board. The character was a combination of Singapore’s traditional name “Temasek” (from when it was a fishing village) and it’s new name “Singapura” (lion city).
Brunner’s creation, and it’s fabricated history was easily accepted as canon by by tourists. Overjoyed at the success of it’s new marketing tool, Singapore erected a statue of the Merlion along its river banks in 1972. The grand statue was constructed from cement, plates and teacups.
As a key figure in Singapore’s tourist industry, the Merlion is still worthy of praise. Locally, the Merlion doesn’t claim to be anything more than an obvious gimmick. Also, when compared to some of the other nonsensical tourists traps elsewhere, the Merlion doesn’t seem half as bad.
In fact, Singapore owes the Merlion much gratitude for garnering the continual attention of foreigners over the past 40 years. Since the creature’s conception 1964, the number of visitors to Singapore has increased from 100,000 to more than 10 million. The government continues to expand this billion dollar industry, generating countless jobs. If there was anything worth worshiping the Merlion for, it is how much money this cover child of Singapore tourism has brought (and continues to bring) to our soil.
Despite our love-hate relationship with the lion-fish, the Merlion still tops our list of must see sites to those visiting Singapore. (taken from here)
There you go, the story of Merlion, told by a Singaporean. Do visit their blog, to see Singapore through the eyes of it's local. :)

Setelah hampir 1 jam di Merlion Park kami pun mulai berjalan lagi, menuju City Hall untuk kemudian naik MRT ke Orchard. Sekali lagi kami jalan kaki, sekalian lihat-lihat. :D






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