Short Getaway to Singapore – Part 4 (Universal Studio Singapore USS)

Universal Studio? Yes! It’s Universal Studio Singapore. The first and only Universal Studio in Southeast Asia. Can we just share an interesting fact of Universal Studio? Oh ya, there are currently only 4 Universal Studio all around the world which is 2 in US (Los Angeles and Florida), Japan and the 4th one are in Singapore. The 5th Universal Studio will be in South Korea and expected to be opened in 2016 with 20 times bigger than Universal Studio Singapore! Wow! So, if you’re in Singapore, plan your trip to USS as it wouldn’t be complete without spending your time here in the theme park.

This world-class theme park is located within Resort World Sentosa which is extremely accessible and convenient via various modes of transportation. As for us, we opt to get there by MRT (North East Line or Circle Line to Harbour Front Station) proceed with Sentosa Express with only 1 stop to Waterfront Station. Operating hours varies each day (which based on year and day of the week) and it’s advisable to check out the time via the official website. Be there early! Another important tips is to get your ticket beforehand especially on weekends. We managed to secure our tickets online with some promotional rates.

The Famous Universal Studio Globe!
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The happy faces of Big Bro, SIL and lil sis.
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So, before we hit all the rides and shows, ensure that you ticks all of these.

  • Camera with full batteries
  • Bring your own water
  • Wear cotton top and comfortable bottom with comfy shoes that doesn’t get soaked up water. Dress comfortably! Don’t forget your sunscreen and light umbrella as well
  • Prepare for wet weather! You’ll never know. Go get a poncho!
  • Pack all stuff in one bag – There’re a lots of rides that doesn’t allow you to bring your bag and place your bag safely in the lockers
  • Chill pill and go have fun!

Before the gate open to all the visitors, we were given a map and the show schedule as well. Hence, we planned out our route and guess what? The first rides on the list will definitely The Transformers – The Ultimate 3D Battle located within the Sci-Fi City. It was so much fun! The best ride ever where you fight evil forces in a heart pounding 3D Combat! Phewwwwww!

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Next on the list are the Ancient Egypt section where you travelled back to the era of 1930s, the golden age of Egypt exploration. There’re 2 available rides here which is Revenge of the Mummy and Treasure Hunters. All the ladies decided to skip Revenge of the Mummy ride as we assumed that this must be something thrilling once the crew asked us to put all the bag in the locker and not to bring anything with us. We let the big boys to have fun then! While waiting, we check out the Treasure Hunters ride which suitable for young explorers where they can actually drive the own desert jeep through Egyptian excavation sites. Once they’re done, we have been persuaded that it’s a NO BIG DEAL ride. Big bro even offered to accompany us while FF looking over our stuff. We took the challenge and it was a big mistake! OMG! It was an indoor high-speed roller coaster in total darkness! We screamed out loud until we decided just to close our eyes in the second section. The ladies has been blown out by Big Bro and FF! Arggggggggghhh!

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Let us continue our journey to the Lost World section. It features a white water raft system where you will be tossed on waterways within the Jurassic Park compound and prepared to get wet. Don’t miss the Waterworld live action pack show too! We queue for 20 minutes in a hot scorching sun just to get our place in the Amphitheatre. The show are based on the blockbuster movie, ‘Waterworld’ starring Kevin Costner.

Jurassic Park
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Apple crush! We had to refill 3 times!
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The Waterworld show
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Enough with all the adventure and action pack thingy, we then continue our day to the Far Far Away Kingdom. It’s time for a reunion with the beautiful Princess Fiona, Shrek and the naughty Donkey. We managed to catch the Shrek 4D adventure and Donkey live show. That was basically our first time on a 4D adventure. You’ll SEE, HEAR and actually FEEL all the action from the seat complete with bounces, bumps, water spray, air blasts and etc. The Donkey live interactive show was totally awesome too! It’s not only attracts all the kids but adults too! It makes us feel like a child again.

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You can actually enjoys street entertainment within the theme park. We managed to catch The Rockafellas, up close and personal taste of B’Boyin and Mel’s Dinettes which showcase Mel’s Drive In waitresses. As we are starving, all of us decided to dine in at one of the Halal restaurant, Mel’s Drive’s In. There are several Halal certified restaurant within the park besides Mel’s Drive’s In which is Friar’s and Goldilocks at Far Far Away, Oasis Spice Cafe at Ancient Egypt and Marty’s Casa Del Wild Food Court. The choice is all yours!

While waiting for the upcoming Rockafella Street Show
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Mel’s Dinettes. Great vocals!
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With full stomach on, we then continue our journey to the New York and Hollywood section. We had to wait almost 20 minutes in the queue just to fit ourself for the Light, Camera, Action hosted by the brilliant and famous film director, Steven Spielberg. It was worth waiting! We got blown away as the empty stage transformed to a major hurricane which is about to hit New York City, right in front of your eyes! And we squeezed ourselves for the Monster Rock Show too! Unfortunately, it was really a big failure as for us. From the music arrangement to the singer, there’s nothing to WOW about. Sorry!

Well, Hello Mr Steven Spielberg
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Meet and greet session with the Cookie Monster
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The boring Monster Rock Show
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Last but not least, the Madagascar Zone. This zone brings us to a dense tropical jungle filled with incredible animals around. We then embark on the river ride of Madagascar – A Crate Adventure. Get prepare to be drenched in this wet river boat ride. It was totally awesome and that was the final ride for us. 😦

Our final ride of the day. Let’s do this!
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In overall, we managed to cover all the zone in a day! But we missed a few street entertainment and meet and greet session too. All the rides and performances are equally spectacular. If you ask us whether we will go again to USS? Absolutely! It’s a YES! We had so much fun! MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

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Simply us,
Zara AB & FF
The Province of Chroma

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Short Getaway to Singapore – Part 3 (National Museum of Singapore)

We’ve been receiving endless questions by our families and friends on why both of us will go to the museum when we travel to a new places? As for us, every places that we visited holds and carries their hidden charms of its traditions, customs, culture and last not but least, history. Besides, curiosity or eagerness is another factor that make both of us to look beyond of things that are currently visible to us. We definitely try our best to visit the local museum as long as the time permit us, the place are easily accessible by public transport and not to forget the cost of visiting the museum (entrance fee) which can be expensive as well.

While we were in Singapore, we managed to fit our times to visit the National Museum of Singapore. This museum is the oldest museum in Singapore and also one of the city’s architectural icon. The museum is easily accessible by MRT and the nearest station is definitely Bras Basah MRT Station. 5 minutes walking across the Singapore Management University and you will then reach the destination.

The tunnel passing through Singapore Management University

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National Museum of Singapore

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The museum operated daily from 10.00am to 6.30pm while the last admission of the day is at 5.30pm. The admission fees to the Museum building is free and charges are only applicable to the galleries and selected exhibition or programmes. While we there, there’s a few exhibition currently running which is the Genesis and We Defining Stories.

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There’s a few selection of cafes and restaurant within the museum too which offered a wonderful dining experiences too.

Flutes

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Once we entered the main entrance of the museum, we extremely amazed with the wondrous structure of the building where it is a mix of an old and new structure. While keeping the elegant classical building as the grand entrance, it then extended with a new modern glass and metal structure. The combination are totally amazing!

The elegant classical building section

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The new modern structure

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The 1st exhibition that we went through was Genesis by Sebastiao Salgado. It was mentioned that the most epic of his 8 years photography journey was first unveiled in Asia here in Singapore. This collection of black and white photography covered 5 amazing geographic section of landscapes, seascapes, animals and peoples in the Amazonia, Planet South, Africa, Sanctuaries and Northern Spaces.

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2nd exhibition was the ‘We Defining Stories’ in conjunction of the Singapore Independence Day celebration. We spent most of our times here turning back time to the good old days. ‘We Defining Stories’ is a series of photojournalist images of Singapore’s iconic moments since the post war years from 1950 till 2013. At this exhibition, one could revisit some of the significant events in the Singapore’s history and how all of this could continue to define their future. Some of the photos that attracted us are definitely the photos of Tunku Abdul Rahman (Malaysia’s 1st Prime Minister) and Lee Kuan Yew in tears announcing the separation of Singapore from Malaysia. Besides, riot in between Muslim and Christian in related of Natrah (or Huberdina Maria Bertogh). It brings back all the memories as we actually read the whole book by Datin Fatini Yaacob.

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Taking a short break before we continue to the next exhibition hall in the upper floor.

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The highlight of all is definitely the Singapore History Gallery. Reason why? The gallery is using a narrative approach and without using even a single printed word to describe seven centuries of Singapore’s history. As there is no printed text anywhere around the gallery, visitor will be given a companion throughout the journey which is the audio visual guide that comes in four languages, LCD display, a pair of earphones and a keypad which enables us to enjoy the audio, visual and the content. Every visual display in the gallery amazed us. It gave the gallery a total new fresh face!

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In overall, we spent more than 3 hours here. National Museum of Singapore is totally a place to learn the history and culture of Singapore. It tells you the whole story of the country in a manner that both fun and rewarding!

One happy face!

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We will continue our journey on the one and only themepark located on Sentosa Island, Universal Studio Singapore (USS) soon.

Simply us,
Zara AB & FF
The Province of Chroma

Short Getaway to Singapore – Part 2 (City Explore)

As mentioned earlier, we are here in the Lion City this time around for our annual family trip. Yeah, we’ve been here a few times around but we just love to explore the city even more. Insha Allah, there’s always new things to see and explore. Again, we would like to apologize that it takes us more than 2 months (from our earlier post) just to finish up the Singapore entry. Our desktop doesn’t treat us well lately. That’s about it. Let us just continue with the post.

Upon reaching the Singapore Island, it looks like we are at a war zone. You can see big ships scattered around the open sea. Alhamdulillah, nice weather too! We finally landed at Singapore Changi Airport, one of the busiest and best connected in the world.

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It’s fairly easy to get around the city with their reliable public transport system. The most convenience and the fastest way to travel around Singapore is definitely by the Mass Rapid Transit Train System or MRT but the stops are sometimes far apart. Not to forget that we did found that the bus system works comprehensively, convenient and comfortable. And cheaper too! We rarely have to wait more than a few minutes for the bus. You just need to swipe your EZ Link card and to swipe again right before you disembark. If not, maximum fare will be charged. In this trip, we did used the bus system more than the MRT. Taxi was not in the list as we need to safe our pockets. 😀

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Our first destination of the day is definitely to visit the most famous images of the country, the Merlion. The 8.6 metres high with 70 tonnes weight statue is located in the vicinity of Merlion Park, right in front of Fullerton Hotel and facing the beautiful Marina Bay. Looking at it closely, the head of the statue represent ‘Singa’ or Lion and the lower part of the body are fish tails which symbolise the old city of Temasek.

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The Fullerton Hotel
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Marina Bay
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Next on the list will be the Singapore Botanic Garden. It’s very convenient to get here and what you need to do is just make a stop at Botanic Garden MRT Station via Circle Line. It’s open daily from 5 am till 12 am and it is the only botanic garden in the world that opens early in the morning till midnight without any entrance fees (except the National Orchid Garden) every single day of the year. If you come early in the mornings on weekend, you’ll get to see families having their picnic, joggers and even tai chi and yoga practitioners too. Hope it will be listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site soon!

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Since the Orchard Road shopping district is just a mere away from the garden, the whole family decided to go to the shoppers paradise and do some damages to our pockets and credit cards. These 2.2 km stretch of Orchard Road offers a wide range of local and international labels and boutique. This is a definitely a place for a retail therapy. Oh ya, allowed us to share about the Singapore Tax Refund Scheme. As a tourist in Singapore, you’re illegible to claim a refund of 7% GST paid on the purchases of more than SGD100 at participating outlets. The best things to do is to check with the retailer whether our purchases are illegible for a refund or not.

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We will continue our journey on the National Museum of Singapore soon.

Simply us,
Zara AB & FF
The Province of Chroma

Short Getaway to Singapore – Part 1(Accommodation and Halal Food)

Where did we stayed and ate while we were in Singapore?

Accommodation – The Plot Hostel 
As the whole family had finally decided to go to Singapore on Labour Day, we could only managed to secure a hostel instead of hotel. All the hotel are either fully booked or way too expensive for us. In short, it’s beyond our budget. After some considerations, we finally landed here at The Plot Hostel which located in the friendly neighbourhood of Tiong Bahru. Plus, it’s just 10 – 15 minutes away from the Outram Park MRT Station and Outram Road bus stop are just right in front of the hostel.

We stayed here for 3 nights as a family of 7, all in 8 bedded room with en suite bathroom and access to shared facilities along the corridor. As this is definitely our first experience staying in a hostel with the rest of the family members, we found that the room was a little small as there wasn’t much room for the luggage. That’s the only setback.

The room comes with an awesome electronic key bracelets. The best features are definitely the bed where it is designed like capsule hotel. Curtains was provided to ensure privacy, reading lamp, electric socket and electronic locker too!

The Receptionist

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The big and spacious common area with such a minimalist design
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DSCN3889-2In overall, it’s a neat hipster area if you want to avoid crowded backpackers area such as Little India or Chinatown. Gentle reminder – It’s a flashpackers hostel where it’s a lil bit more expensive than the Singapore’s average backpackers hostel.

Halal Food
Hjh Maimunah Restaurant & Catering @ Jalan Pisang
This restaurant offers a huge varieties of authentic Malay dishes as well as mouth-watering ‘kuih’ and desserts. It’s a very familiar name if you wanted to get a traditional Malay cuisine. But, get ready for a very long queue especially during lunch time. There’s a few outlets within the island which includes the outlet at Joo Chiat Road and Bedok.

In overall, the food was just nice to fill our appetite. But what make it more interesting is where the restaurant is located. We definitely fall in love with the old lane where it bring back the good old days.

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Fluff Bakery @ Jalan Pisang
We got attracted to this bakery as we saw a long stretch of people queuing all the way around the block. While getting our lunch, sis google on the bakery and we found out that it’s the most popular Halal bake shop in Singapore. As a desserts and pastries lover, mum’s insist to try it as she heard the statement. The cupcakes are extremely popular among the Malay community and they are constantly sold out daily. They open at 12 noon and the cupcakes are sold out within 2 or 3 hours. Local told us that we shall at least wait a minimum of 30 minutes (which can be considered as lucky) or  up to an hour or more. Wow!

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The cupcake menu changes every week with some local elements such as Bandung, Ondeh Ondeh, Triple Milo, Horlicks and etc. Each cupcakes are sold at the price of $4 each.

Nutella Red Velvet, Salted Caramel and Dark Choc Nutella Hazelnut.
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Mural that can be found around Jalan Pisang and other chic bakery shop as well. Jalan Pisang ROCK!
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Singapore Zam Zam Restaurant @ North Bridge Road
Next on the list are definitely the so-called Singapore Murtabak and Beriyani Specialist. It is located right in front of Masjid Sultan. The beriyani was awesome but the murtabak was nothing compared to the original Murtabak Mengkasar that we normally used to have in Kuantan. The fillings are a little bit dry.

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DSCN4161-2While walking to the restaurant, we bumped into our friend, Fida as she was travelling alone. We invited her for lunch as a birthday treat!
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The chaos
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Deen Tulang Specialist @ Golden Mile Food Centre, Beach Road
This is not something new in Singapore as it was one of the famous local delicacies here. This stall is located at the Golden Mile Food Centre and the nearest MRT station will be Lavender and Bugis MRT Station. But, we need to walk an  average of 500 meters away by passing through a few HDB flat too! Menguji kesabaran betul. Dah la lapar! We do find that the easiest way to get here are by bus as the bus stop is located very near to the food centre.

‘Sup Tulang Merah’ is a bone marrow of mutton in a spicy tomato and a mixture of chillies sauce. This was served with a plate of sliced bread and it looked kind of freaky when it was served in front of us. But, it was tasty and appetizing.

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DSCN4180-2As this is our first time here, we couldn’t comment much. We shall try other outlets of Sup Tulang Merah in Singapore next time just to make some comparison.

Satay Salim @ Golden Mile Food Centre, Beach Road
We found this stall by coincidence as it was located next to Deen Tulang Specialist. The satay was good and it reminds us of our all time favourite, Satay Zul. It was worth waiting as we ordered a batch of it.

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Not to worry much as it is not difficult to get Halal food and good accommodation around in Singapore. Just pick your restaurant / stall and hotel / hostel as preferable within budget. Prices can be high because of the currency exchange rates.

Simply us,
Zara AB & FF
The Province of Chroma