Saturday, 12 March 2016

Singapore via Legoland

Assalamu’alaikum,

After less than 2 months, we paid a visit to Singapore again during recent CNY holiday.  The main objectives were to go up to the MBS SkyPark and also its SkyWay at the SuperTree Grove.  Since we got free tickets to the Legoland, we  made a detour to the theme park for the 2nd time to at least experience the Dragon coaster ride.
Legoland from the above
On the way to JB, we spend a night at Batu Pahat for JJCM and meeting an old friend there.  The following day we head straight to Legoland before spending 2 nights in JB.  Luckily, the condition inside the park was very nice and accommodating considering the generally very hot weather in the whole country at that time.  We managed to get on several attractions that we missed the 1st time we went there including the Boat ride, Driving school and the Dragon coaster ride.  Mission accomplished there.
Dragon coaster ride
On the 3rd day, we drove and parked our car at the Larkin bus terminal in order to take a bus to Singapore.  We bought return tickets and had to get off and on the bus twice for passport checking and clearance.  Surprisingly, the immigration process was very smooth with much lesser crowd that we had expected. 
Inside Sultan Mosque
Upon arriving at the bus station at Bugis, we went to the Sultan Mosque for solat and lunch at a famous nasi beriani and murtabak nearby.  After that, we walked to the nearest MRT station to go to the MBS.  We went up to the SkyPark before proceeding to the SuperTree Grove.  The view from the SkyPark was not disappointing even though the tickets were quite pricey. 
MBS SkyPark
Then, we went down and walked towards the SuperTree.  After purchasing the tickets and while queuing to go up the SkyWay, the weather became a little bit windy.  Suddenly, it got a little bit stronger and stronger until the visit up the SkyWay had to be stopped. 
MBS behind the SuperTrees
We were given the choice to try our luck later on that day or come again within a month before the ticket expires.  We decided to give it a miss and went back to JB by bus.  By that time, the weather became a little bit cloudy and rainy. 

SkyWay between SuperTrees
Generally, the trip was ok except the bad luck of missing the SkyWay experience once again.  Maybe that will be a reason to pay yet another visit to Singapore in the future and maybe driving our car all the way there, insyaAllah.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Singapore Maulud & Xmas trip

Assalamu’alaikum,

During recent Maulud & Xmas holidays, we went to Singapore with the main intention was to visit the zoo and Gardens by the Bay.  We have been to Singapore several times which includes a trip to USS, but those 2 attractions were the places we really wanted to experience this time around.  Instead of going overland, we took a flight from KUA @1335 hrs and arrived @1440 hrs. 
Upon arriving at Terminal 2, we bought 3 Singapore Tourist Passes, STP, valid for 3 days.  Then, we went to the Ground Transport Desk to book an airport shuttle to our hotel.  However, we were advised to spend a little bit more and just took a cab considering the size of our party with accompanying luggage.   We followed the advice and the cab took us to our hotel located near the 24-hr Mustafa Shopping Center. 
The hotel room turned out to be very small to our liking with limited space to perform solat and other things besides sleeping.  We decided to stay in the hotel instead of losing valuable times searching for another one.  After a little rest, we took another cab to our first agenda which was to have a lunch with the famous tulang merah.  We could have it in any other place, but we went to a recommended eating place near the Beach Rd.  The taste was a bit sweeter with a lot of coloring.  It would be our first and probably the last one.
After that, instead of walking to a nearby MRT station, we took a bus to the Bugis St.  STP was used to pay the bus fare which needed to be swapped twice upon entering the bus and during exiting in order to complete the journey.  From Bugis St., we went to Raffles Place St. since we wanted to go the Merlion Park which overlooking the Marina Bay Sands, MBS, on the other side the Singapore river.
After some photo shootings and seeing a laser light show similar to the one we had at HK Avenue of Stars, we took the MRT back to our hotel.  Actually, we were supposed to go the Mustafa Center next as per the agenda, but we skipped that due to fatigue.  Instead, we had a dinner at a restaurant near the hotel before went straight to bed. 
On the 2nd day, after having breakfast in the hotel room, we took a bus to Ang Mo Kio.  The bus was the better choice since it took us directly to Ang Mo Kio bus station instead of taking MRT and changing lines to reach there.  Then, we took bus no 130 to the zoo.  We bought a combo tickets online to visit the zoo and the river safari next door.  At first, we wanted to go to the zoo as well as the night safari, but abandoned that idea since we wanted to spend the night going to Orchard Rd. 
Even though it was raining most of the time we were at the zoo, it was a worthwhile and satisfying experience since the set-up of the award winning zoo was very clean and accommodating compared to the other zoos we have been before.  The highlights of the zoo were the white tiger, proboscis monkeys, koala bear and the polar bear.  We had our lunch at the halal KFC outlet inside the zoo. 
Afterwards, we walked to river safari nearby.  Before entering, we performed solat at one of the rooms with the help of the friendly staff there.  At that time, the rain already stopped.  The highlights of the safari were of course the different species of fishes including the sturgeons in major rivers around the world.  There were also giant pandas, red pandas as well as the Amazon River quest ride.
At around 1700 hrs, we went out from the river safari to catch a bus back to Ang Mo Kio.   That time, we could not manage to get a seat on the 30-min ride and had to stand all the way to the station.   Upon arriving at the bus station, we walked to the MRT station across the road and went to Orchard Rd.  The only reasons for stopping by here were to see the Xmas lighting and decorations along the famous street and to buy some HRC T-shirts.  The HRC was located quite a distance from the Orchard Rd main attractions. 
We also wanted to have dinner there, but could not find a suitable place to settle down.  Since we were all very tired already, instead of taking the MRT, we took a cab back the hotel.  At the end, we had our dinner at the same restaurant we found on the 1st day.   After that, we walked to the Mustafa Center nearby to buy some stuffs, but mostly window shopping, before calling it a day.
The following day, our main objective was to go the Gardens by the Bay. Since we planned to go there later in the afternoon, we decided to pay another visit to the Merlion Park for a daylight photoshoot.  We spent there for about an hour before taking MRT to Bugis St. in order to perform solat Jumaat at the majestic Sultan Mosque, but not before having lunch at a famous restaurant nearby.  We had a delicious mutton beriani and of course Singapore murtabak.
Then, thinking that the day was still early, we decided to go back to the hotel for some rest before going out again to our next destination.  That was where we made a big mistake and you would find out why later in this blog.  Afterwards, still thinking that we had ample time to spare, we made a detour to the Chinatown to buy some souvenirs such as key chains, fridge magnets and t-shirts. Finally, we made our way to our main agenda of the day, the Gardens by the Bay.
By the time we arrived at Bayfront St., it was already 1830 hrs.  Normally, it should be a perfect timing to experience the gardens day and night scenes.  However, since it was Xmas, the tunnel from MRT leading to the gardens was fully packed with holiday makers.  We spent nearly 30 min in the tunnel alone before emerging at the gardens at the other end.  We even had to forget about a detour to the MBS because of that.
We followed the crowd towards the flower and cloud forest domes.  Before entering the domes, we had to join a very long queue to buy combo tickets for both domes.  Meanwhile, the ticket to the skywalk at the supertrees were already sold out.  In my opinion, the domes should be best visited during daylight.  We could barely see and enjoy the flowers during the night.  Interestingly, we think that the adjacent supertree groove was best viewed at night. 
After spending less time that it should be considering the ticket price and the hassle that we had to through to reach the place, we went out from the dome and walked towards the nearby supertrees.  Thereafter, we wanted to walk back to the MRT station, but decided to join a long queue again for a cab.  By the time we arrived at our hotel, it was almost 2300 hrs already.  We had dinner at the same restaurant again and went to bed feeling so tired, exhausted and a bit disappointed since the gardens experience was below our expectation. 
On the last day, we paid a final visit to the Mustafa Center before checking out from the hotel.  We then booked a cab to the airport and had breakfast there.  We returned the STP to claim back the deposit.  We boarded the flight @1130 hrs and arrived safely at KUA @1235 hrs.  Overall, it was a mixed experience for the trip, but it did not deter us from planning another visit to Singapore in a very near future, InsyaAllah.