Posts Tagged ‘Singapore’

Chinatown (Singapore)

Since my recent trip to Singapore was already my second time, you could say that I was not as much scared to venture out on my own as compared to the first time I had been there. I was able to figure out how to ride the bus and the MRT on my second day which surprisingly was quite easy as long as you read and follow the maps available in the stations. I happily explored Singapore while my sister was slaving it out in her office. The one place that I frequented to when I was there was Chinatown. I simply love the place. For one thing, they sell so many interesting pieces at a bargain (and I am a sucker when it comes to shopping)–Jades, Chinese bags, fans and wallets, pashmina, shirts, quirky chinese amulets, I mean they are all over Chinatown. This is, to me, the best place where you can buy stuffs to bring home. You can get great finds for like 3 for 10 dollars and sometimes 4 for ten dollars.

I love Chinatown

one of the best places indeed

one of the shops

rickshaw

busy street

In one of my outings to Chinatown, I chanced upon the Sri Mariamman Temple, a beautiful Indian temple. I got curious and went inside since it is open to tourist. As soon as you enter the gates though, you have to take off your shoes and walk barefoot since you are standing in what they considered as holy ground. If you want to bring your camera with you and take some pictures, they also charge a minimal fee of 2 dollars. I was mesmerized by the beautiful hand painted ceilings and big statues of their Gods.

at the entance

handpainted ceiling

work of art

looks like a tombstone

main door of the temple

worship area

Indian Gods

On the other side of Chinatown stood the Buddah Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, a buddhist temple. I specifically looked for this place because they said it is beautiful. True enough, it left me awestruck. You do not have to take off your shoes here but you have to be careful not ot disturb the ones worshipping. The security team is also very strict with the distances so you always have to respect the line. You cannot go past it or else they will get upset, after all it is their place of worship. When I went there, there was a worship going on so I had to wait for it to finish so I can see up close the giant buddhas made in (sigh!) gold. I made sure I did not miss anything, there is just so much to see. In one of the floors, there is this Sacred Buddha Tooth Relic made in stuppa and pure gold. You can go inside the room but you cannot take pictures so I just stayed long enough for me remember how it looked like since I cannot capture it in film. This Buddhist temple is truly, truly beautiful. I was lost in this place for hours just drinking in the sights.

Buddhist temple

Universal Wisdom Hall (with the giant buddhas)

Pagoda of A Thousand Buddhas

Prayer wheel

just a small portion of the thousand Buddhas (mini ones)

lots of Buddahs around

My Zodiac Sign God

Buddhists in worship

Worship Hall

Posing with one of the Wisdom Buddah

last shot before stepping outside

looks majestic from outside

This is one of the things that I love about Singapore, the abundant culture clearly present there. It is very rich and diverse. Whether you’re a foreigner living there or just a transient visitor, the place, it just grows on you.:)

Universal Studios Singapore

I am way behind my blogs I know. It is already June but I am still stuck in Summer. After my last trip, everything just went crazy. Summer saw me, like I said, in one of my favorite city, Singapore. My second time in this Tiger City actually. For me, the 10 days I spent there were not enough for everything I wanted to see. I guess I’ll never get tired of going there. l was amazed by the many changes that happened since the last time I’ve been in that place which was just a little over a year ago. In the area of Mustafa for example, what was once been a busy Indian street full of restaurants and stores is now the Metro mall which is said to be the first eco mall in Asia. The vast area of contructions along harbor front, which we saw while we were riding the cable car going to Sentosa last year, now boast of Resorts World and Universal Studios. So many developments in a span of one year!

Metro Mall

Universal Studios ahead

Resorts World

The main objective of my Singapore trip really was (well, aside from visiting my sister) to experience Universal Studios, and experience it we did, my sister and I. We arrived at Universal Studios at exactly 10 am, just in time for the opening because we didn’t book ahead. They sell only limited tickets to walk ins so you have to be there early or else they will close out the booth on you. Normally, you have to reserve tickets via the internet. Universal Studios is fun, fun, fun! This particular blog is solely devoted to my Universal Studios experience. The rest of the places I went to in Singapore have to wait.=)

Universal Studios Singapore has six fun filled areas.

tickets!:)

the famous Universal Studios logo

We were welcomed by none other than Mr. Woody Woodpecker himself.

In the Lost World, there’s the Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure (a river raft ride), Canopy Flyer, Dino-Soarin’ and Amber Rock Climb. This is where you can watch also the Waterworld, a live water show of death defying stunts and explosions. You will be entertained at the start by some of the actors who would reenact a scene from the movie itself. If you don’t want to get really wet I suggest you stay on the top or at the rear side of the ampitheater.:)

In front of Jurassic Park

Waterworld

In Madagascar, you can try the Crate Adventure (another river raft ride) and King Juliene’s Beach Party Go Round (in short carousel). The cast of Madagascar usually go out every hour to do some meet and greet and to do some nasty moves on the dance floor which is quite amusing, so don’t miss out on that if yu’re there. Get ready with your cameras also because the lines can get really long.

Madagascar!

the penguins!

In Ancient Egypt, there’s the Revenge of the Mummy (a roller coaster ride) and Treasure Hunters for children. There are also tall towering Egyptian replicas scattered along this area which are great for picture taking.

Big Egyptian Replicas

Another Egyptian replicas

Far, Far Away which is my favorite place at Universal Studios, has Shrek 4D Adventure, a must see show for the kids and kids at heart. I totally loved it. It is better than The Pirates 4D Magix at Sentosa Themepark. Donkey Live, another hilarious live interactive show is also a must see. The rides here include Enchanted Airways, another roller coaster and Magic Potion Spin, a mini ferris wheel for kids. We ate at a restaurant in this area, Goldilocks, which serves the yummiest mashed potatoes and fried chicken. They also have other restos such as Friar’s and Fairy Godmother’s Juice Bar with relatively low prices as compared to the others inside Universal. Princess Fiona and Shrek also come out of their tree house to pose with tourists every hour, too bad we weren’t able to catch them.

Shrek's house

Kingdom Far Far Away

outside Goldilock's restaurant

Hollywood area is a nice place for taking pictures with its striking facade. Don’t forget to watch Monster Rock at Pantages Hollywood Theater if you happen to be there because it is an awesome show. They also stage the Kowabunga Kove singing sensation along Hollywood every hour.

Hollywood

Performance to the highest level

New York City has the Lights, Camera, Action by Steven Spielberg, a special effects and sound stage show. It is something worth seeing. It is like being right there on the set of the filming of a major hurricane about to hit New York, it left me dazed. This part also has many picturesque areas where you can take some nice shots. Celebrities like Manilyn Monroe and Charlie Chaplain come out ready to pose with guests. The Rockafellas perform some street dancing live also in the streets of New York. A saxophonist can also be seen in the afternoon serenading visitors. It really has that distinct New Yorky feeling.

New York!

Steven Spielberg Studio behind me

Sci Fi City is not open yet when we went there, but there were already aliens going around, ready to greet guests.:)

Aliens at Sci Fi City

Of course, Universal Studios will not be complete without the shopping experience. I particularly liked the Universal Studios Store with its themed collectibles, toys and other apparel. The Brown Derby has some really fun products (think Betty Boop) that you’ll find hard to resist and Fairy God Mother’s Potion Shop has so much cute fantasy merchandise all from the world of Shrek. There is also the Penguins Mercantile that sells silly keepsakes inspired by the Madagascar characters. You can also load up some Hershey’s chocolates at the Hershey’s Store where they come in not just small but big packaging as well.

Universal Studios Store

Hershey's Chocolate Store

trying on hats at The Brown Derby

Penguins Mercantile

We went there for a day and we still missed out on a lot. Although the land area is small and can be toured in half a day, there’s just so much to see and explore. It really is a feast for the eyes. I truly enjoyed my whole Universal Studios experience and I am looking forward to going back there again next year with my little girl.

RATES: When we went there, the rates were 72 dollars for weekends and 62 dollars for weekdays. You will get a 10 dollar meal voucher (meals in restaurants ranges from 14-20 dollars) and 4 dollars shopping voucher. Not bad, not bad at all.
TIPS: Come early if you did not do internet reservations, they only have limited tickets for walk ins. Buy softdrinks instead of the water inside because they only sell Evian which is a bit expensive compared to the softdrinks, you will definitely get thirsty as you go around. Bring extra shirts with you because it can get really hot and humid in Singapore plus you will get wet when you go try the rides. Bring an extra battery for your camera because you will get crazy at the nice places there where you can pose and take pictures. Check out the schedule of shows first before you go around so you will know where and when they’ll be so you won’t miss out on them. Lastly, be nice to the other tourists and graciously accept their request for you to take their pictures. There are a lot of Pinoys working there, it wouldn’t help them at all if a fellow Pinoy becomes haughty in their dealings with other tourists.
Although Universal Studios is small compared to the ones in the States, every minute and every penny you will spend there are worth it because well, the rare chance of being a kid once again in this little place called Universal Studios is to me, just plain priceless.:)

My Great Singapore Experience

I have to say, that this is one of my best summer ever for I was able to travel and visit one of the most interesting country in Asia, Singapore. For a small country in terms of land area, I must say that Singapore has it all. Every space is maximized and not a single space is wasted. Smack right in the middle of the city you will find parks, mountains, rivers and forest reservations. It is urban planning at its finest. I love Singapore because it is very tourist friendly. I also like the no fuss, no frills, straight forward style of living. Everything is well thought out and organized. You just have to read and follow instructions well. We stayed for about a week and during this time we visited quite a number of interesting places…

ESPLANADE
This is an events place where plays, concerts and large functions are held. When we were there, the stage play, CATS, was showing. It is also known for its Durian-like structure which makes it one of the most popular architectural structures in Singapore. We had fun taking pictures around the place because the view is just great.
CHARGE: Free of charge (unless you would want to watch a concert or play)

MERLION PARK
Of course, trip to Singapore will not be complete without paying tribute to the famous Merlion (don’t ask me about the legend because I’ve simply forgotten all about it, pardon my anesthesia induced short term memory). It is a good 5-10 minutes walk from the Esplanade. We passed by this wonderful bridge with the great view of Singapore skyline at night. Better go there night time because the view at night is just perfect. We had to make lots of stops along the bridge to take pictures. From here you can see the flyer, the largest Ferris wheel in the world. The statue of the Merlion in this park is better looking than the one in Sentosa and this one is also a fountain, thus making it picture perfect. From here we rode the really nice tugboat that took us on a wonderful river cruise. We got a good view of the posh Fullerton Hotel and the strips of restos lining up Clarke Quay, which is the endpoint of the river cruise. You will love the gentle breeze and all that romantic feeling that a river cruise always brings on so better have your hubby along if you plan to do this. I didn’t, so I was just imagining him beside me.:)
CHARGE: Free of charge for the park and $ 6.00 per pax for the river cruise


CLARKE QUAY

Clarke Quay is the place to be if you’re looking for that perfect night out with friends. It has loads of restaurants and bars. There’s the Clinic Bar with an interesting set-up. Hospital beds as lounges and wheel chairs as guests chairs. You will be served in dextrose and get intoxicated by the alchohol shot! Nah, just kidding. Of course famous Hooters and Fashion bar are there together with the other popular restos and bars. There are about a hundred or so restaurants to choose from with delectable food and yummy cocktail drinks.
CHARGE: Free of charge when you step into Clarke Quay but full of charge if you take on one or two drinks and eat some yummy food there.

CHINATOWN
Since this is a Chinese country of course there’s a Chinatown, where you can get the best bargains for your pasalubongs. If you’re going to SG, I recommend you buy most of your pasalubongs here because the signature SG shirt is really cheap here compared to the ones in the mall. You can get them for like 3 for $10. See, such a bargain. You can also buy lots of cute trinkets and other Chinese goodluck charms for cheap. We bought some really cute jade bracelets and cellphone charmers as giveaways. Plus, picture taking is great here because of the bursts of colors. There are also temples around such as the Burmese and Indian temples that you can visit.
CHARGE: bring lots of money because you won’t be able to resists the good buys here

MUSTAFA
This is the place where Indians abound and I must say this is a shopper’s heaven. Everything in Mustafa is cheap, cheap, cheap. From branded perfumes, watches, shades, bags and homewares down to the candies, chocolates. The goods are cheap in this place because it has something to do with the tariff cuts/agreement. Anyway, basta cheap that’s all that matters. You can get a very good bargain there. Another place where you can indulge yourself and where you can buy your pasalubongs.
CHARGE: No charge except for the ones you’ll buy

ORCHARD ROAD
If you love hitting the malls, this one’s for you because here you can find rows and rows of malls which at the time we went there were mostly on sale. In Takashimaya mall, there was an on going shoes and bags sale. 50% -70% off on branded items like Lacoste, Guess, Nine West, Aldo, Calvin Klein etc. etc. All your favorite shops you can find here, just wear your most comfortable shoes and be prepared to do a lot of walking.
CHARGE: Free of charge except for the ones you’ll buy

SINGAPORE ZOOLOGICAL GARDENS
This is one of the best place I have been to in Singapore. It is home to one of the world’s vast primates collection. You will encounter here animals that are not present in most zoos such as the white polar bear, endangered species like walrus, penguins and sea lions, pumas, Leopard, cheetah, wolf and jaenas. One of the interesting species in the world, the white tigers, can also be found here. They also have a huge reptile collection as well as the animals that we come to love as we grow up like the giraffes, zebras, hippopotamus, elephant, kangaroos, white rhinoceros, flamingos etc. What is good about this zoo also is that it is a conservation and research center as well as a breeding site for most endangered animals. The zoo was able to recreate a place that is so close to the natural habitat of these animals that is why most animals are not in cages (well, except for the wild ones), they roam around their personal spaces. You will really get to be up close and personal with them. As you enter you will be given a map, you can either walk on foot and explore the whole zoo or ride on trams and just get off at certain points if you like. My sister, daughter and I decided to explore the zoo on foot and so we were leisurely walking around when we noticed at the side of the road a lizard/iguana looking reptile that is about one meter long cautiously walking along the road. When it spotted us rooted on the ground with our mouths hanging open, we quickly turned our backs and rode on the next tram that passed by. I’m sure it is harmless or else it wouldn’t be allowed to roam around but my sister remembered this tiny bit of information that those kinds like to chase people around so, just imagine us at that moment and you will get the picture. There are also scheduled animals shows such as Elephant Show, Dolphin Show, Bird Show, Penguin/Sea Lion Show everyday where you can pop in and watch. My daughter absolutely loved this. This is truly a great place to bring kids and kids at heart.
CHARGE: Entrance – Adult $16.87 and Child $8.41 ; Tram ride – Adult and $5 Child 2.50

NIGHT SAFARI
This is also one of the must see places in Singapore. As the Singapore Zoo closes at 6, Night Safari opens at 7 in the same place. Of course here, you will get to view their vast collection of nocturnal animals. You can either go and explore on foot by yourselves or ride the tram. I suggest you ride a tram because you never really know what animals are lurking in the dark out there because like I said some are free to roam around (awoooo…hehehe). Flash photography is strictly prohibited for this will definitely render these nocturnal animals blind. There is an excellent tour guide in the tram who will get everyone familiarize with all the animals that you can see there. There is also a scheduled Animal show every night at 7:30 and 8:30. It was an entertaining show, the animals are very well-trained to show-off.:)
CHARGE: Adult $30 and child $27 : Tram ride $11

SENTOSA ISLAND
And now we come to my favorite place in Singapore, Sentosa Island. You have two options if you plan to go there. You can take the monorail from Harbour Front to Sentosa and back, or you can take the cable car (which we did) from Harbour Front to Sentosa and back. It was my first cable car ride and I must say, I felt a different kind of high when we were up there seeing the whole Singapore from a hundred feet high and seeing Sentosa island slowly coming into view. My daughter and I were all giddy and excited. I totally enjoyed this whole island very much. For me it is better than Disney. They have so much to offer, it’s like having a great birthday treat. There’s the Animal Encounters, Underwater World, Sky Tower, 4D Magix, Images of Singapore, Butterfly Park and Insect kingdom, Luge and Sky ride, Merlion Walk, Flying Trapeze and Songs of the Sea. There are also lots of beach bars, restaurants and cafes/ bistros in the island so food and comfort are not a problem. My daughter and I particularly like the 4D magix where you can feel the crabs pinch, the bees sting, birds flying and water splashes and oh what the heck, that whole kiddie feeling . During that time Pirates was showing. We were also surely captivated by the Songs of the Sea, a 30 minute show featuring pyrotechnics, water jets, brilliant lasers, captivating music and other dramatic effects. It was just simply amazing, that’s the only word that can describe it. You can also go visit and explore the three beaches in Sentosa, the Siloso beach, Tanjong beach and Palawan beach, which is considered as the southernmost point of Continental Asia. I suggest you allot two days if you plan to explore this island because the one whole day that we were there was just not enough.
CHARGES: Cable car two-way A $19/ C $9.50, Entrance $ 2, Animal and Bird encounters (free), Butterfly park and insect kingdom A $16/ C $10, Desperados $ 12, Dolphin Lagoon A $22.90/ C 14.60, Images of Singapore A $10/ C $7, Sentosa 4D Magix A $18/ C $ 11, Cine Blast A $18/ C $ 11, Songs of the Sea $10 per person, Underwater world A $22.90/ C 14.60, Tiger Sky Tower A $ 12/ C $8

CITY TOUR
Of course not to forget, before you head home, the city tour. Singapore downtown has a lot to offer. There are great structures that truly are an architect’s delight in this city. When we were there we visited Vivo City, which was cited as one of the best mall in the world. We also dined at Suntec City mall where IT Fairs are held. We checked out the Fountain of Wealth and passed by Rendevouz Hotel and Raffles Hotel, two oldest hotels to date. We also visited this quaint place Chijmes, which was actually a convent before but is now a fabulous place that is home to some nice restaurants. We also visited Singapore Art Museum, National Library , Singapore Management University and City Hall. The city is definitely as engaging as the other tourist spots.
CHARGE: free of charge (just a leisure walk around)

FOOD
There are lots of different restaurants around–Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Thai to name a few, with great food. If you like food adventure, I highly recommend Glutton’s Bay near Esplanade, which serves all the local dishes. McDonald’s, KFC and other fastfood restos don’t serve rice plus the chicken that they serve is a little spicy. The food rates are relatively high if you will convert, so do not convert anymore if you want to really enjoy your meal.:)

Some travel tips: Although there are lots of taxis around with honest taxi drivers better ride the MRTand the bus to save money that you can just use for shopping and sight seeing. Buy a store value card in one of the stations to avoid having to get a ticket for every ride. You can also use this store value card when riding the bus. If you plan to ride the bus, check which bus no. will pass by your destination at the bus stations/stop because not all buses go there, the places are bus coded. When in an elevator or stairs, always keep left, because the right side is always for the ones who are in a hurry. When crossing the street, wait for the walk signal to light up, you can’t just cross the street just like what we do here. Always bring along hand tissue and wipes although most public toilets in restaurants, stations and malls are very very clean with tissue and all, some foodcourts do not provide tissue. And lastly, do not forget to smile and say please, thank you and excuse me all the time, Singaporeans are known to be very polite.

We had a great, great time in Singapore. The one week that we were there was simply not enough. There are lots to see and to appreciate there. It is not true that you can tour Singapore in one day, those who claim to have toured this city in just one day is simply stupid because who in his right mind would just go around driving in this beautiful city. It takes 4 or more days to actually unearth the beauty, get immersed in the rich culture and be totally captivated by this beautiful Tiger city which has so much to offer. T’was love at first, second and third and fourth and….sight for me.:)