Sunday, November 23, 2014

3rd day in SG: Trip to Chinatown, Cable Car Ride to Sentosa, Merlion and SG Flyer at night

Our third day at Singapore was jampacked! Tiring yet fun day that almost felt like we are on an episode of the Amazing Race, with all the stops we did. haha!

Morning Rush

It was a Sunday, so for the morning we first went to Mass at Church of the Holy Trinity, which is the nearest one when you're in Simei. First mass was scheduled at 6:45am and as expected, we only made it in time for the homily. The main hall where the mass was held was at the top floor to which none of us knew. So now you know :)

After Mass, we headed back home, took a bath, ate breakfast, and off we go again! :) After some small mishap in searching for a money changer (screw google maps), we now went straight off to our first stop. Chinatown!
This little bird still asleep.

We rode the train alighting at Chinatown station. Once you get out of the train, go follow the signs pointing to Pagoda St. and once you're out you'll see the whole stretch of touristy stalls with Chinese lanterns hanging above. Hello Pagoda St.!
Hello Chinatown!
Some stalls along the lane where still closed when we got there before 10am, so if you would really like to enjoy the vibrant Chinatown street market, it's better to be there at night (5pm onwards) to enjoy the night market and food fare (along Smith St.).

After passing along Pagoda street and turning right at the end of the street, we saw our first stop. Sri Mariamman Temple. 
Sri Mariamman Temple
An interesting and colorful temple with intricate designs, you won't miss this for its tall group of sculptures atop which I noticed is common on Hindu temples. Shoes should be taken off before entering the temple. Taking pictures inside comes with a price (S$ 3) so we just looked around for a minute. We didn't took much time inside as the smell of incense was too strong for us and also worried for our footwears left outside. Nevertheless, it's still a good place to visit when you're in the area.

Walking farther down the street, is our next stop. The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum which you also wouldn't miss as its a large red and white temple along the street. It's very open for visitors without any need to pay for anything, just your respect and cooperation when you roam around the area. You should also be dressed modestly before entering so they have cloths, near the entrance on the way up, that you could borrow to drape around your body while roaming around the temple.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum

Walking along the temple, you'll really feel the spiritual and peaceful atmosphere it exudes. Taking pictures are allowed in most parts of the temple but be sure to lessen your noise and respect the people who are in deep prayer.

Done with the 3 temples, we headed to Maxwell Food Center for lunch. There's a lot of food to try when in Singapore, so I'll make a separate post for that. :)

After lunch, we took the bus going to Vivo city for our next stop.

Afternoon Fun

Part of our 3rd day was also to spend time exploring Sentosa Island. We took the cable car ride going to Imbiah Lookout inside Sentosa, just for the experience. Honestly, I would opt it out if it was only me. Though if you insist, better start from Mt. Faber and be on a big group (4 or more) so you could have the whole cabin for yourselves.

We only got to ride the Skyline & Luge ride and ate at KFC while waiting for to stop. We were still supposed to visit Palawan beach but we just decided to cut our trip around Sentosa and move on to our next stop. Boo rain! 


The evening was spent visiting the Merlion which we missed during out first night. We took the bus (Bus 57 or Bus 131) across Vivo City and alighted at Fullerton Hotel which is just a few steps away from the Merlion Park.

And as usual, we took all the photos we could get while having fun posing weirdly with the Merlion. We also tried to look for the S$1 ice cream which we eventually found near Esplanade. Unfortunately, it was already sold out when it was already our turn. Boo :( And it is already priced at S$1.50, btw.

We had our dinner at Makansutra Glutton's Bay which offers a variety of Asian cuisines where you dine in a open area near Marina Bay. 

After dinner, I only came to realize that our voucher for the SG Flyer was missing. And it was my fault, as I forgot to bring it before we went out earlier. We got stressed for awhile as we tried looking for a printing shop where we could print the voucher from our phone as it was instructed to have a printed voucher upon claiming. It was already getting late as we decided to just go to the ticket claiming booth and fortunately, everything ended up fine. I only presented my passport/ID and the voucher number. Lesson learned: Don't hesitate to ask and DON'T ever forget your documents before going out. I really felt bad that night but good thing I have nice and supportive friends so we still enjoyed the ride even if it was already late. :)

The plus side of riding the SG Flyer an hour before it closes - having the whole capsule by yourself or atleast with a few people. :)
My camera already died earlier that night so I'm only left with my phone (which is also running out of battery and barely living out of my powerbank), thus the crappy photos.

Indeed, it was the most jam packed day out of our trip. We got to visit Chinatown, ride a cable car, get thrilled through the Skyline Luge, try out unique dishes at Maxwell and Makansutra, pose with the Merlion and see Singapore's city skyline and city lights, 540 feet high from the ground, all in one day! 

A Quick Trip to S.E.A. Aquarium and DTF's Xiao Long Bao for Dinner!

We got out as early as 5:00pm from Universal Studios Singapore as the park closed early that day due to a private event to be held that night. 7 hours is just not enough for USS that day as it rained from time to time so some rides were closed for awhile while we’re in line. But at least, we were able to cover all the best rides in the park.

After USS, we headed to S.E.A. Aquarium. By the way, we already bought our tickets online days before through AsiaTravel. They have discounted tickets and bundled tickets that could help you save more. You just have to print the voucher as there are designated areas near the chosen attraction, for claiming of the actual ticket. As for USS and S.E.A. Aquarium, the AsiaTravel booth is located at the basement parking, just take the escalator near the globe.

S.E.A. Aquarium is also located in Sentosa Island, just across the USS globe. Before you get inside, you’ll get to pass an exhibit showcasing some cultural pieces from various countries. I can’t exactly remember what the exhibit is for as we only rushed pass through it.

S.E.A. Aquarium is said to be the biggest one in Asia which houses a large collection of sea creatures, from manta rays and sharks to the smallest colorful sea creatures you’ll love to bits. The whole area was very spacious which probably could accommodate busloads of tourists. But if you don’t like crowds, opt to go here around 5pm as there’s only a reasonable amount of visitors during our time of visit.

Basically, this is a place full of aquariums in various shapes and sizes. There are digital boards available that could give a bit of info regarding the species. I read that there’s also a dolphin show but I guess they have an early time schedule for that. Just check in advance if you’re expecting to see that. And as always, you could take pictures but camera flashes are not allowed.    

The open ocean habitat is, for me, the highlight of S.E.A. Aquarium. A large glass viewing panel is situated in an open space area where you could sit on the floor, perfect time to rest your tired feet.
Honestly, I still prefer Ocean Park in Hong Kong, maybe because of the fact that they have penguins there. Haha! We finished touring the place in 1.5 hours.

How cool is this jellyfish!
Jellyfish is now one of my favorites!

For dinner, we dined at Din Tai Fung which is also just nearby S.E.A. and USS. It was already 8pm and their waiting list is still on the roll. They gave us a number and we waited it to be flashed outside which took us about 30 mins before we got our table. They also have this paper with their menu where you just tick off what you would like to have. We handed this back to them while we are in line so we only waited for about 5 mins for the food to arrive as we got seated.

They also have pictures to help you in choosing.
Hot tea is immediately served once you're in the table just like in other Chinese restaurants. The tea is free but a glass of water is not, they charge SGD .50 for one.  It was a busy Saturday night so you have to put some effort in getting the server's attention when you need something as they are busy taking orders and serving meals. Also, be mindful of what you ordered as they might forget to serve one of it and still be charged after. We are already in the middle of the meal and our shrimp and pork dumpling was still not in our table, so we did a follow up and had it served in less than a minute. Just remind them when it already seems too long.

When in Din Tai Fung, never ever forget to try their famous Xiao Long Bao! If you're like me that can't stand anything hot, poke a small hole first to let some steam off. It was definitely a feast in your mouth, with the tasty soup and meat. Perfect!

Steamed Pork Dumplings
Fried Rice with Shrimp and Eggs - S$12.80
THE Xiao Long Bao (starts at S$8 for 8 pcs.)
Everything was definitely good as expected in a Michelin rated restaurant like Din Tai Fung. Each order arrived fresh and hot. There's also a kitchen window where you can see how they prepare and cook the food which is a perfect proof of freshness.

Crispy Golden Prawn Pancake - S$8
Fried Rice with Pork Chop - S$11.80

For a group of 4, we spent less than SGD 80 all in all for six dishes to share which is just enough to satisfy our hunger. Not bad. Prices are still subject to 10% service charge and 7% GST.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Don't leave Universal Studios Singapore without trying out these attractions!

The whole 2nd day was supposed to be spent to Universal Studios Singapore (USS) till closing. The sad part is that there's a special event to be held at USS that night so they closed early at 5pm. grr! So we strategically planned on what rides we are going to try. We haven't even got to have a picture with any of the characters. Well, we tried once, but the line cut when our turn was next. What a fortunate day.

So here's a list of the top rides you shouldn't miss when in Universal Studios Singapore. Be sure to be there early, like 9am be at the gates already. haha! And make these in your top list to ride first thing when you enter or else you would suffer long lines with a minimum of 90mins waiting time. Yes, I know you know that by now.

Go first on the rides you really want to try while most of the people take photos around, you could do that later on that day when you're already tired. Enjoy! :)

#1  TRANSFORMERS The Ride: The Ultimate 3D Battle

No doubt, this is my top favorite attraction in Universal Studios Singapore, by far. This was still under construction during my first visit but all I had ever read since it opened to the public, were rave reviews. That’s why I made it a point that I’ll be lining up here first thing when we get in. 10:30am and the lines where already snaking its way up inside. Yes, that early, expect a crazy long line already. We waited for about 45mins. Video were constantly playing on the screens on the wall while on queue so you won’t get that bored and instead heightens up your anticipation. Carry along your patience as IT WAS ALL WORTH IT. It was incredibly thrilling and exciting to be part of the freedom fighter in the world of Transformers. Everything’s so real, like you’re exactly in the movie itself. Tilting, halting, water splashing and even heat effects are on point! The 3D experience was a blast with the cool car you get to ride on. If you ever get the chance, go for the front seats! You’re welcome J 

DON’T CLOSE YOUR EYES or you’ll be missing the experience. BE SURE TO TRY THIS RIDE or else your USS trip won’t be complete. The long queue might be discouraging but just make sure to get there first thing when you arrive so you at least get the shortest possible line for that day. 

#2 Revenge of the Mummy

This was my most favorite ride when I haven’t yet tried Transformers. And luckily, we were able to do it twice that day! :)

This is an indoor high-speed roller coaster which will lead you in a dark alley along the ride. Be sure to leave your belongings at the locker (free for the first 30 mins.) just beside the entrance. Added excitement is the long way going to the ride. With the dark music playing and the lights dimmed, some people even back out in the middle of the way. Don’t mind them you would just regret not trying this thrilling ride. But if you are afraid of the dark, ok, maybe this ride is not for you. Surprises are in store so I won’t go into details as it’s for you to find out J You can’t see much of where you’re going so that’s the best part of this ride, you won’t know when the great drop (or drops? J ) is. Just some spoiler alert or insider tip: be sure to smile or ready your wacky face when it gets to the part where the ceiling starts to get on fire as the photo is taken sometime here.

#3 Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure

Be prepared to get soaked. As for me, I got really dripping wet. I don’t have an extra shirt so I walked along the park with a shirt and hair dripping wet. Whatever, no one knows me anyway. Haha! Honestly, the ride was a bit boring but it gets a bit exciting on the end part as you just hope and wish that you’re on the right part of the boat. Nevertheless, Park Rapids Adventure is still one of the rides you shouldn’t forget to try while at USS. Ponchos (cheap plastic raincoat) are sold in the entrance for $3. But what I can suggest is just forget the poncho and enjoy what’s in store for you. Just leave your valuables in the lockers as they may just get wet. Large drying pods (could fit 4-5 persons) are available outside for a fee of $5.

#4 Waterworld

If you want to get drench, go seat at the blue and green seats! J This action packed show is full of amazing water and aerial stunts that will leave you in awe. Be mindful of the schedule and come early if you want to be seated. I don’t know how they get to repeat that set and show for more than twice on a day with all that effects and huge props. Definitely don’t miss this show!

#5 Lights, Camera, Action! Hosted by Steven Spielberg

Be in awe with the really super amazing special effects this attraction offers. You get to experience on how it’s like to be on the set of Steven Spielberg. The type 5 hurricane experience is the best, be on the front part so you get to see what will happen face to face. It’s totally hot! J
Canopy Flyer: I haven't tried this yet. Lines are always long so I guess this is a good one, too. It looks like a cable car that could maybe give you an aerial view of the Jurassic Park Zone.

Watch out for :

Battlestar Galactica
 This was under renovation as of writing. From what I've read on sites online, this popular attraction is set to open early 2015. While we are there on the park, test cycles were done for both trains so I guess it's true they are already on their way to the finishing stage and probably just waiting for re-certification before the ride finally opens again.

Puss in Boots' Giant Journey
This is the Universal Studios Singapore's unique (aka "World Premiere") attraction which uses a ride system by Zamperla. It has a custom track layout, all-new props and scenic elements, and specially designed ride vehicles. Shaped like wagons that fly un th eFar Far Away univers, the suspendedride vehicles ascend from the spiral lift hill and fly out of the tower. the ride vehicles are themes to characters in the "Puss in Boots" films. Source  

Friday, November 21, 2014

How to enjoy Gardens by the Bay at night and a sample 4D3n SG intinerary

After 2yrs, I was able to set my feet back in Singapore. This time, with my friends. Woot! Fortunately, one of my friends has a tito living in SG that made us stay for free. Yay for free accomodations! :) One of our friend is also currently staying at Singapore to hel her sister recover from leg injurjy, so we were also able meet up with her. Instant reunion! haha! Talk about right timing. :)

I was, again, the one in charge of our itinerary. I didn't include the zoo spots as it was far from our place and 3 and 1/2 days would not be sufficient.  But here's the original itinerary I made that, as expected, was not the route we did in reality. haha! But anyway, what's important is we had fun! Itineraries are just made as a guide, and there's a lot of things that get out of your hand so half the trip, we just go with the flow :)
Here's our itinerary:

Upon arrival and after passing immigration, we first claimed the portable wifi router we will rent for 4 days at Changi Recommends (see review here) then took the taxi to Simei. Train is also an easy way to get to your hotel but if you're destination is just near the airport or you're a big group, taking a taxi would be more convenient. Taxi rates vary (blue and yellow cabs has a lower flag down rate) and also added charges if you're coming from the airport and/or traveling from 10pm-6am.

On my last visit in 2012, Gardens by the Bay was still inexistent. So for our first night, we decided to go first to Gardens by the Bay. From Simei, we rode the train, made an exchange then alight at Bayfront station. Take Exit B and after going through the underground linkway, you will see the bridge going into the garden. We arrived late for the light show but just in time to catch 3-4 songs before it ended.

There are a lot of areas to stand at while watching the show. But I highly recommend being on the ground level. Secure a spot on those cement bordering each of the Supertrees in the middle.

photo grabbed from Wikipedia

See that part on the picture above where the people are sitting under the tree? Yes that's it! Go lay down there when the show starts. Perfect place to savor the moment watching the lights dancing to the beat of the music. Crazy good! :)

The bridge is a good spot to take a photo of the Marina Bay Sands!
After the Gardens we were supposed to walk towards Marina Bay and watch the Wonder Full Light and Water Show but then we were kinda lost when we went inside the huge mall which I think is called The Shoppes so we weren't able to catch it. We were even supposed to walk towards the Merlion but then we already got super tired as we ended up traversing the whole stretch of the mall while in the first place we should have just walked outside. haha! WTH.

So we ended up sitting along the bay, screw the plan. We just enjoyed the cool breeze and the city lights.
We just stared at the Merlion from afar cause were just too tired to walk farther. So my only tip, is don't go inside that mall. haha! Just ask straight for the directions. We could have possibly finished our plan for that night only if we didn't get "lost" inside the mall. 

For our second day, we went to USS and SEA Aquarium then had dinner at Din Tai Fung.

Garden Rhapsody

Every evening at 7:45 PM and 8:45 PM , *9:30 PM
*On Fridays, Saturdays, Eve of Public Holidays and Public Holidays

Marina Bay's Wonder Full Light & Water Show

Sunday - Thursday: 8:00pm, 9:30pm
Friday & Saturday: 8:00pm, 9:30pm, 11:00pm

Events Plaza at The Promenade