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Monday, February 23, 2015

How to Enjoy Singapore at Night

2/23/2015 12:58:00 PM 0 Comments

A little intro...

It was a dull overcast morning when we landed in Singapore. It is a 2.5-hour flight from Makassar, Indonesia where we came from. We took the airport shuttle for SGD 9 instead of taking trains. It is an efficient door to door service from Changi Airport to your hotel. Our hostel is located in a nook at the Little India area so it'll be much better to take the shuttle.

what a dark welcome, Singapore!

As soon as we arrived, we looked for Foreign Exchange to change money (of course) and to buy a sim card so we can contact Beau's connections who we are supposed to meet. We also looked for a place to eat because we hadn't had anything since we stepped-out of the plane.

Singapore Flyer

In the afternoon, we managed to contact Ariel. He is his sister's boyfriend's close friend. Did I confuse you? Haha. He met us in our hostel then took us with him for some sightseeing. Before we can manage to reach the MRT station, the rain started to pour. And it wasn't just a rain, rain. It was cats and dogs! After almost an hour he decided that we should just take a taxi because it didn't seem that it'll stop anytime soon. He brought us first to the Singapore Flyer.

When we got to the SG Flyer, it wasn't accepting guests at the moment. It had something to do with the thunderstorm. The staff explained that they are still waiting for an advise when it is already safe to operate the ride. So we waited until the skies are clear which came up to about an hour again.

capsule boarding area

Finally, around 6:30 PM we were allowed to board the Flyer. I noticed that there are public (for ordinary passengers) and private (you can hire them for yourselves) capsules. I even saw dining tables set in some of them.

Marina Bay

It was still drizzling but we can already see the sights clearly. As expected, Singapore is beautiful by night. The panoramic views of Marina Bay and the entire island city were stunning. The city lights were fantastic.

Everywhere you look reflects progressiveness. That folks is Singapore.

Singapore Cable Car

Our next stop was the Singapore Cable Car. This cable car links main land Singapore to the resort island of Sentosa.
oh rain, why won't you stop?
Aside from the Flyer, this is another way of seeing the picturesque city landscape of Singapore by night.

Resorts World Sentosa at night
We took the cable car from Singapore Cruise Center @ HarbourFront Center then the ride ended in Sentosa Island.

end of the ride

Those were fun experiences for a first day in Singapore.These rides will give you another perspective of this small powerful city state. And yes, it is gorgeous at night. :)

with our friend Ariel ;)
Because of the heavy rains earlier that day, we started and finished these activities too late already. Ariel also wanted to bring us to the Singapore River Cruise but there was no more time.

Thank you kindly, Ariel! These made our short stay in Singapore memorable. Thank you for letting us experience all these for free! You are an awesome host! :)

Enjoy Good Food with Good People

The following day, we met Beau's cousin Kuya Ral. He is working for USS and also currently living in SG. We spent the whole day in USS then met him for dinner afterwards.

with our lovely host for that night :)

He took us to Earle Swensen Restaurant in Vivo City. They are known for their awesome Salad Buffet Bar. Every order of their Main Dish gives you access to their salad buffet.

salad lovers' paradise

Start you meal with your self-made salad. The choices were impressive! There's a wide variety of ingredients, garnishing and salad dressings.

make your own salad, yum!

I know it is so tempting to chow down as much salad especially if it's made up of all of your favorite ingredients, but don't forget that you still have a main dish to finish hehe.

Savory Chicken Baked Rice
I had the classic baked rice. It has chicken and sausages served with savory rice baked to perfection with special creamy sauce and a layer of mouth-watering melted cheese. I'm salivating as I type this haha.

Treasures of the Sea
Beau had the ultimate dish for a seafood lover. Savory rice topped with a mix of ocean seafood like juicy prawns, some squid, mussels and smoked salmon. You can add a dash of lime for an added zest.

We really enjoyed the food and Kuya Ral's company. Thank you for spending a little of your time with us and for the yummy dinner treat, Kuya Ral! :)

it was another fun night! :)

These meet-ups were also two of the happiest times I had in SG. I forgot all the things I didn't like about it because of these people. They are not just ordinary people but they are people from "home". :)

"To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries." ~Aldous Huxley

This is Part 2 of my Singapore travel series.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Fun Things To Do in Singapore

2/21/2015 08:45:00 PM 0 Comments
Well, at least for me... I was very vocal about not liking Singapore (SG). I decided to write about the things I enjoyed there first before anything else. I am not a fan of Utopian cities - which was what I really felt upon arriving there. Without further ado, here are places where I felt most happy in SG.

Singapore Zoo

Concrete jungle bores me. So as soon I saw the Singapore Zoo in the tourist map, I instantly knew I want to go there. You can reach it easily from anywhere in the city. We just took the MRT (Red Line) and alighted in Ang Mo Kio station. From there, we went to the bus terminal in Ang Mo Kio Hub and took Bus 138.

zoo what? ;)

The ticket we bought is just the SG Zoo Ticket (SGD 32) with Unlimited Tram Rides (SGD 5). We have no plans to do the River or Night Safari neither to see Jurong Bird Park. We came in a bit late already (after lunch).

where to go?

I have a soft spot for animals. I'm not even a zoo person because I strongly believe they should be in their natural habitat. But I've heard great things about the Singapore Zoo. SG is known to be good at everything it does, so I thought visiting it will be worth it.

African penguins

The first thing I noticed was - it is huge! It has 11 zones that you can explore. Getting the unlimited tram rides was the best decision. It is not fun looking at the animals while on a speedy tram but you can use it for transporting yourselves from one site to another.

a kangaroo confidently posing for pictures :)

Unlike other zoos I've visited, SG Zoo has a lots of animals (of different kinds, I mean) which is impressive! One more thing I've noticed is that they looked healthy and being taken cared of very well. It isn't an award-winning zoo for nothing.

hungry zebras

I also commend their efforts to make their enclosures very spacious and similar to their natural habitats in the wild.

cute lioness

One of the parts I liked the most was the Cat Country. We have canines and felines at home as pets. I am equally fascinated with big cats as much as with cute domesticated cats.

elusive puma
 Now let's talk about my least favorite part, The Frozen Tundra.

Other people probably liked this zone very much. Especially if like me, you were born and raised in a tropical country where snow is non-existent and polar bears are just seen in books and on TV. The idea of having and seeing a polar bear in Southeast Asia is of course exciting.

meet Inuka
We entered the Arctic habitat replica's viewing area which is as cold as a freezer as expected. There was Inuka, swimming tirelessly. He was born there in SG Zoo. In fact, he was the first polar bear to be born in a tropical country.

After seeing Inuka swimming back and forth non-stop, I can tell that he is stressed. Or he probably didn't like to stop and get out of the water because it wasn't as cold up there.

The zoo spent $ 8,000,000 for his enclosure and much needed space but I think they won't be able to replicate the polar environment where he is supposed to be.

what do you think? does he look fine?

They are known to be marine mammals who spends months in the sea to hunt. I don't know if I'm just thinking too much or if I just love animals, but I don't think he is happy. I felt really sad for him.

Universal Studios Singapore (USS)

Another place that I liked in SG is the USS. Again we just took the MRT (Purple Line) then alighted in Harbour Front station. We took Exit E to Vivo City then went to Level 3 to board Sentosa Express. It is just 1 stop from there. From Waterfront station, you can just walk towards USS.

Resort's World Sentosa Singapore

Admit it. If you've been to USS, I'm sure you also had fun taking photos with the candy and chocolate characters outside the Candylicious shops before entering the theme park. We also did! ;)

hanging out with the Jelly Bellies
And there it is... the famous Universal Studios globe! We bought a 1-day pass which amounts to SGD 74. That time we were able to get 10% discount for purchasing our tickets online.

yay! we're here!

The park has 7 zones. Each of them has different characters and offers immersive experiences. We enjoyed all of them but below are our favorites.

Far Far Away is never too far ;)

My favorite among all of them was the Transformers The Ride: The Ultimate 3D Battle.

Bumblebee domineering the Sci-Fi City

This 3D super realistic ride is so thrilling and intense! As soon as you hop-on to the seat, you're in for a fantastic, heart-stopping adventure. I loved it so much that we did it twice! I didn't mind the long queue at all.

Optimus Prime, yeah!

One of USS's famous rides which is also in the Sci-Fi zone was the Battlestar Galactica. It was no longer operational when we were there. But just late last year, November 2014 they announced that it will reopen early this year. Just not sure how "early" as there is still no new announcement about it.

Battlestar Galactica

Beau's favorite was this one. Roller coaster in the dark? Can you believe it? Yeah, it's an indoor coaster with awesome effects that's suppose to scare you.

Ancient Egypt's ultimate attraction

I wasn't very delighted by this. Maybe because it was too dark that I didn't see that much inside. I have a very poor eyesight especially in the dark. I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing haha!

guards of the ancient tomb

Another thing that amazed us here was the Waterworld.

Lost World's explosive and breathtaking show!
Our first impression when we got to the set location was "what's this?" But man, as soon as the show started we were wowed.

exciting water chase

The water scenes, the death-defying stunts, the real explosions - the show was superb! I just couldn't say anything but wow!

boom boom boom!

Another must-try in the Lost World zone is the Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure.

it's so fun getting wet in The Lost World!

It is very much alike to Enchanted Kingdom's Rio Grande. For me, it's more of a kid-friendly adventure but of course, adults can enjoy it too!

The rafts pass through the waterways where you will see dinosaurs "lurking". We shared the raft with a family whom we had fun with. Wear a coat and an easy-to-dry footwear if you don't want to end up soaking wet!

this ride will make you smile from ear to ear ;)

Apart from all those rides and attractions, we also took joy in taking pictures with these different TV and movie characters - especially those from Madagascar. I love Alex! ;)


Walking in the park the whole day was exhausting but it was absolutely entertaining. In fact, the best part of Singapore for me is the USS!

"You don't stop having fun when you get old. You get old when you stop having fun."

 This is Part 1 of my Singapore travel series.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Bantimurung National Park: Kingdom of Butterflies... no more

2/01/2015 12:12:00 PM 0 Comments
Makassar Day 3

We only spent a couple of days in Tana Toraja. When we came back to Makassar, we planned a picnic with our fellow surfers Karen and Kai and with my host's English students. I guess they were too busy, only two of them was able to join. Ikhsan suggested we visit Bantimurung.

It is one of the national parks that can be found in the island of Sulawesi. It is an hour drive from the city center of Makassar, about 50 kilometers. The park is surrounded by limestone hills which is known to be the second largest karst area in the world. The largest one is in the province of Guizhou in South China.

We left the house at around 8:00 am. We bought our packed lunch and other snacks before heading to the park. Morning rush hour in Makassar is no joke. We were caught in a traffic jam on our way there. It was like Manila rush hour too!

Bantimurung is a huge park. It was quite a walk from the parking lot to the entrance. We didn't mind because there are so many food stalls and souvenir shops on the walk way. We bought some buttered corn on the cob and yummy green mangoes.

a walk in the park
Beau and I were able to enter as "locals" because we don't look any different from the Indonesians. But we have to wait for Karen and Kai because they were on the Foreign Tourists queue. Once we entered the park, Kai became a superstar! The locals were so into him. Everyone wants a picture with him and his Mom. This is very common in Indonesia. When I was in Borobudur, locals are very eager to have photos taken with Caucasian tourists.

enchanted river
It was only in 2004 that it was officially declared as a National Park but this area was first explored by a British naturalist named Alfred Russell Wallace back in 1857. He found more than 200 species of butterflies, 150 of them can't be found anywhere else. He and the Dutch colonists ended up calling this place "Kingdom of Butterflies".

beautiful butterflies
When we went there, there were actually not that many butterflies anymore. We saw more dead butterflies (in souvenir shops) than the alive and free ones. How can they be known for something they aren't anymore? That was really disappointing. :(

We settled first in front of this river to eat our packed lunch. Ikhsan told us that, before, people can also swim in this area but there had been mysterious cases of drowning so people stopped going there.

Beau and our host/friend Ikhsan :)
Don't worry if you no longer see myriad of butterflies. There are other things you can do in the park. There are caves which are worth seeing here. One of them is Goa Batu (Stone Cave).

entering Goa Batu
Just hike-up at the concrete stairs the left side of the waterfalls and you will find it. There's no need for you to use your spelunking superpowers, it's that easy.

some parts are muddy and slippery
You just have to hire a flashlight for IDR 15,000 each and then you can go by yourself. There's no need for a guide since the trail is very easy.

This is the easiest to navigate they say. There is one more cave that can be accessed inside the park which is the Goa Mimpi (Dream Cave). It actually sounds more exciting because it is said to have crystal clear stalactites and stalagmites that's why it was named Dream Cave or Cave of Dreams. But it is a kilometer long and we have a baby with us so we just went for the Stone Cave.

hello darkness my old friend
After frolicking in the cave, we decided we should hike back.

Kai is a superstar once again
Another attraction in the park is the Bantimurung Fall. This is where the park's name was derived. Benti means "water" and murrung means to "roaring". These two words combined results to "roaring waters" which is the probably pertaining to the raging sound of the waterfall.

Bantimurung Waterfall
The waterfall is only 15 meters high but 20 meters wide. It is surrounded by lush vegetation of the hills and the waters were gushing down from multi-level rocky streams. It is a beauty.

locals having so much fun
This is very popular among the locals. It is the most crowded spot in the park. Their all-time favorite here is tubing. You can rent tubes for IDR 15,000. As much as we love to try this, I was put off by the large number of people. There were just too many of them, I don't think I'll still be able to enjoy the waterfalls.

obligatory "family" picture :)
We really had a fun day. It actually felt like a family day for us. You know, going to the park on a Sunday for a picnic kind of thing. It's just that, we are a multi-cultural family hehe. I wasn't very impressed by the park, it was the company that I enjoyed the most. :)

Entrance Fee: IDR 15,000 for Local Tourist; IDR 50,000 for Foreign Tourist

Some Tips:

  • You can bring your own flash light or head lamps if you want to go caving. It will save you IDR 15,000 for each rental.
  • If you want to avoid the crowd, go on a weekday. It is full of local tourists during weekends.
  • If you're also an Asian (like me), knowing a little bit of Bahasa will save you lots of money on  Entrance Fees. Most of the attractions in Indonesia charges 5x for Foreign tourists. Paying twice the amount (or even thrice) is fine, but 5x?
  • Bring a change of clothes if you want to get wet in the falls or do some tubing. 
  • Lastly, I will only recommend visiting here if you have a lot of spare time in Makassar.
You'll be the same year after year except for the people you meet, the books you read, the films you watch, the places you travel and the new things you do. ~Lorrin L. Lee

This is Part 6 of my South Sulawesi travel series.