Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ooh la, lah!

“Ooh la, lah!”
Sun.Star Davao, May 28, 2011
Trust me, lah.

(For the unfamiliar, lah is a term used by Singaporeans to place emphasis on the sentence/word before, much similar to our Dabawenyo expressions of man, gani, gyud or lagi).

Aside from Hong Kong, Singapore is one of the must-visit family-friendly getaways in Asia.

With its ideal combination of zoological gardens, theme parks, manmade marvels, glorious (oh, glorious!) food, fabulous shopping as well as pleasant and friendly citizens, adults and kids alike will surely treasure every moment of their holiday in this world class Lion City.

This year’s family vacation was different from our past travels as our intimate group was only composed of my husband, kids and I. Consciously, we planned for an “easy breezy” type of itinerary that was relaxed yet offered a variety of sights and flavors that would fascinate our children who were both first timers in the city.

It’s a jungle out there

A mesmerizing animal adventure awaited us at the 28-hectare Singapore Zoo which is dubbed as the “world’s best rainforest zoo”. Open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., the verdant tropical rainforest is home to over 2,500 animals.

Our daughters particularly loved seeing the white tigers, elephants, pygmy hippos, Hamadryas baboons, otters, giraffes, zebras, grey kangaroos, penguins, lions, and a lot more in the different exotic areas such as the Treetrops Trail, Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia, Elephants of Asia, Australian Outback, Primate Kingdom, Wild Africa, Fragile Forest, Rainforest Kidzworld, etc.

Don’t forget to catch the entertaining and interactive animal presentations at the “Rainforest Fights Back”, “Elephants at Work and Play”, “Splash Safari” and “Animal Friends Show” which are guaranteed to make your kiddos giggle with delight.

For families with small kids, it is wise to avail of the unlimited tram rides (adult $5.00/child $3.00) as the humid Singapore climate and the vast area of the rainforest can take its toll on your junior travelers. With the tram, you can fully appreciate the zoo at your own comfortable pace.

Up, up and away

The Singapore Flyer, the “World’s Largest Observation Wheel”, was our nighttime stop after our sumptuous dinner at Lau Pa Sat, one of Singapore’s most popular hawker centers, where we savored delectable satay, roti and Singapore style noodles.

Prior to riding the Singapore Flyer, we took our sweet time at the new interactive gallery, Journey of Dreams. Here, the kids learned more about Singapore’s rich history as well as future plans and development through high tech animation and awesome technology.

Experiencing the Singapore Flyer, which magnificently towers 165 meters above the city, took our breath away. At night, the panoramic view of Singapore was both romantic and cosmopolitan with its dazzling lights and splendid landmarks.

A star-studded adventure

On our third day in Singapore, Universal Studios was the main agenda from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. We literally opened and closed the gates of this famous movie theme park.
After dropping by the thrilling “Lights, Camera, Action!” which is a sound stage with a simulated hurricane disaster, we decided to head back to “Madagascar” for its kid-friendly attractions.

The “Madagascar: A Crate Adventure” was an exhilarating river boat ride with the movie’s well-loved heroes, Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria. On the other hand, “King Julien’s Beach Party Go-Round” was a whimsical carousel ride that featured Madagascar’s colorful characters.

At “Far Far Away”, we had a jolly good time at the “Shrek 4-D Adventure” (a 4-dimensional movie extravaganza), “Donkey Live” (an interactive musical live show hosted by Donkey), “Enchanted Airways” (an action-packed junior roller coaster) and “Magic Potion Spin” (a mini medieval ferris wheel).

Heeding warnings from friends that “The Lost World’s” “Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure” was a “wet” ride, we saved the best for last and proceeded to try the “Canopy Flyer”, “Dino-Soarin”, and watched the “WaterWorld”, a live water show with adrenalin pumping stunts and explosions.

“Revenge of the Mummy”, a terrifying indoor roller coaster and “Treasure Hunters”, a leisurely desert jeep adventure at “Ancient Egypt” were also among the most unforgettable parts of our visit.

The “Sci-Fi City” with its “Battlestar Gallactica: Cylon and Human” roller coaster rides is not for the faint-hearted. I was so proud of my nine-year old daughter who bravely faced her fears of heights and “wild” rides.

We first started with the Human ride which zoomed at 82.8 km/h, twisting and turning until it catapulted us to 14 storeys into the air. This was followed by the suspended Cylon coaster which was even more intense with its heart-stopping corkscrew and cobra roll. After trying these two gripping rides, the “Accelerator” was such a welcome and “tame” change.

Finally, after a long and tiring day, we were super ready for the “Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure”, a rousing dinosaur-themed river raft ride. Indeed, our visit ended with a splash and what a splash it was. We got soaked and had barrels of fun!

Exploring the magic of Science

Science Centre Singapore features 1,000 interactive exhibits highlighting the “wonder and beauty of science”. The centre is made up of 12 exhibition galleries such as the “Mind’s Eye”, “Mathematics Everywhere and Everyday”, “Sound Exhibition”, “Discovery Zone”, “Tesla Coil”, “Genome”, among others.

Meanwhile, the 18,000-square meter outdoor space showcases the Ecogarden, Kinetic Garden and Waterworks.

It is said that even if you “spend a mere 5 minutes on each exhibit, it will take at least seven days to see what the centre has to offer”. Remarkable isn’t it?

During our visit, there were plenty of Singaporean students from pre-school to high school who were there for their school field trip. Most of them were eagerly answering their guide questions on the spot as they carefully observed the various interactive exhibits.

We also didn’t dare to miss watching the awe-inspiring “Hubble” documentary at the Omni-Theater, Singapore’s only dome-shaped IMAX theatre.

Witnessing the astronauts repair Hubble through the impressive five-storey high, 23-meter wide giant screen was like journeying with them in outer space.

Dream come true

Eleven years ago while my husband and I were on our honeymoon, we watched Disney’s “The Lion King” musicale at London’s West End. So enthralled was I with the show that I vividly remember whispering to my hubby, “I hope someday, we can let our kids watch this show”.

At last, this long-time dream came true in Singapore when we saw “The Lion King” musicale at the Sands Theater (Marina Bay Sands) with our two daughters.

We were glued to our seats throughout the musicale captivated by the incredible costumes and props, flawless choreography and enchanting music.

Simba, Nala, Scar, Mufasa, Timon, Pumbaa and other well-loved characters came to life that magical night amidst the spectacular African wilderness.

Truly, that perfect evening made our Singapore family vacation more complete and doubly memorable.

What more can I say but, “Ooh la, lah!” ?

(Photo credits: "The Lion King" programme)

E-mail the author at Visit.

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