Now, everyone can go abroad provided time and brilliant financial budgeting. Traveling either locally or abroad is good; it opens your horizon to an alien atmosphere and let you to have a peekaboo of the cultures and heritages lie on these places you are never being exposed towards to. I have make promise to make myself amenable for all these diversified cultural-tasting experiences; just to enrich my thinking horizon and explore the world out from my cocoon!
Initially, it was planned that 3 families would be joining the trip but due to some technical eleventh setback, only our family proceeded the plan. With the one-way flight ticket already bought and canceled (thank God it was merely a one ticket and purchased during the promo pricing! LOL!), we (Kakak, Abg Zam, Rifqi, Abg Zam’s niece-Along and me) headed to Johor Bahru via car. Arrived at Danga Bay’s Tune Hotel and then eased ourselves whilst at the same time cracking our skulls trying to figure out how to plan our trips to Singapore. Apparently, Tune Hotel provided a trip-with-bus to Universal Studio Singapore but it was only available for those online purchasers!
Kakak, the main itinerary planner was a bit flabbergasted with the sudden revelation but remained poise. We then asked one of the Tune Hotel staff named Fyda (go find her! She’s good!) who kindly explained to us an alternative route/transportation to go to Universal Studio Singapore. Honestly, we were a bit anxious to travel using public transport in a country we’ve never been but given Kakak who already travelled back-packing style in Aussie, we were quite confident of the en route.
The next day on 2nd February, we went breakfast at Kotaraya II Terminal and then around 9.45 A.M., we boarded a hop-in mini van to Universal Studio Singapore. It only cost RM5 per person. The mini van carried us until The Southern Integrated Gateway where the customs and immigration procedure is being carried out. Obviously, we like in bewilderment and did not know what to do when suddenly, everyone boarded out the mini van and rushed all over to the elevators! We simply followed them suit and finally reached the immigration checkpoints. After that, we rushed back to the mini-van only to find out that we were the last passengers (well, we’ve learned to be fast after that! LOL!). At the Woodlands Checkpoint, I was quite mortified with the stringent immigration procedures of the Singaporean officers; not that it’s a bad thing- they were meant to safeguard their country’s borders, aite? Only that the customs are not really “public-friendly”, still that’s the nature of being a custom officer, I guess.
Universal Studio Singapore is located at Pulau Sentosa, a small island at the most bottom part of the main island of Singapore. At the entrance (HarbourFront) of the causeway/road linking between Pulau Sentosa and Main Singapore, a shopping complex called Vivo City is located. It is the largest shopping mall in Singapore; you can also take MRT to head for HarbourFront and then take a bus to Universal Studio Singapore from Vivo City. Anyway, we arrived there around 11.45 A.M. and….. off to Universal Studio, people!
The main welcome icon would be of course the big round globe, the epitome of Universal Studio emblem. The amusement park is segregated into several sections such as The Madagascar’s, Shrek’s Far Far Away Castle, The Sci-Fi City, Ancient Egyptians, The Lost World (Dinosours), The Old Hollywood, Old New York and many more! We didn’t hesitate and tried :
- The Madagascar pony-rides;
- Photographing with the stars of “Madagascar”, “Shrek” and Old Hollywood starlet;
- Exploring Shrek’s swampy hut; entering Enchanted-Roller Coaster-Ride Airways (I was freaking scare that I hold tight to the iron panel in front of me and murmured prayers! LOL);
- Far Far Away Castle (3D experiences where you have to wear the 3D glass and get the feel of Shrek’s adventure. Example, when The Donkey sneezed, you felt the water upon the face!);
- The Dinosours-Fly-In-Me (awesome! I felt like I am one of the pteranodons!);
- “Lights! Camera! Action! Hosted by Steven Spielberg” should be one of the best ever (you can witness with your own eyes of how basic GCIs are made! Awesome!)
- Battlestar Galactica : Accelerator! (Nice one. Spun in a cup-like space and tossed around in jerky manner! Hehee)
The day went with awesomeness. Initially planned to eat at the so-called Bryani Rice Shop at Ancient Egyptians but we didn’t see any (well, better save the money and eat at JB!). Took the mini van of 4.00 P.M. and off we went back; but the traffic was so ever congested on the Johor-Singapore Causeway due to the fact that many Malaysians who work in Singapore were queuing up to go back to Peninsular Malaysia for Chinese New Year!
That night we went to eat at the so-called famous ‘Singgah Selalu” Restaurant at Johore Bahru. It was an alright/OK. The foods were not that spectacular but were alright. After that, Kakak and I planned out the itinerary for tomorrow as we were planning to take public bus and Singapore’s MRT to venture into the island once again- with neither of us ever explore the island. With certain amount of information obtained from Internet and some bloggers transcription of their own back-packing adventures in Singapore (see, blogging does help others! Thanks a bunch!), we managed to carve out the itinerary.
On February 3rd, we breakfast once again at Kotaraya II Terminal, then hoped into SBS (public bus) bus which was heading towards Singapore’s MRT Kranji. The MRT (mass rapid transit) is something like Malaysian’s LRT, STAR or ERL- only that it comprises nearly 90 over stations located all throughout the island of Singapore! I love the MRT, to be honest. It’s fast, sleek and easy. The bus stopped at MRT Kranji and then we took the MRT straight to the Raffles Place (which by the way is situated at the south part of the island- nearly 10-11 stations apart!). The Singapore law practices “deposit” method as opposed to the Malaysian’s law of “penalty”. We pay more for the MRT cards inclusive of deposit 1 Singapore Dollar for each cards; after arriving at the destination, scan the MRT card and the machine would refund the 1 Singapore Dollar. There is no people selling MRT cards like in Malaysia; only customer services. Kinda cool, huh?
Raffles Place happens to be the financial hub of Singapore. It is like Malaysia’s Jalan Raja Chulan-Jalan Sultan Ismail. All the big, local and foreign banks are located there (including our Maybank Tower!). I am captivated by the New-York aspired Raffles Place’s Centre Square – the moment you go out from the MRT station, you will see it. I honestly feel as if like I was in New York! Not far ahead is the Esplanade that houses the Merlion Park, The “Durian” Esplanade-Theatres On The Bay and from there, we can witness the amazing Marina Bay Sands, the 3 tall buildings with a big horizontal ships on the top of them at Marina Bay! A victory to both Kakak and I for finally succeed in our planning to set footsteps of the soil of these landmarks! *Highfive!*
With Starbucks coffees sipped, we boarded MRT to Orchard station; meaning to go to the famous Orchard Road. Originally, we planned to go to Arab Street which is said to be located in Orchard Road (little we knew that the road is one heckuva LONG road!). Upon arrival to the famous heart of shopping haven of Singapore, we didn’t see any signs of heading towards Arab Street. We then asked a friendly guard who then told us that Arab Street is situated at the farthest side of the street and we have to board bus/taxi to go there! Since we are planning of going back to Putrajaya within that day, we couldn’t manage to board the bus. I then was told that we can simply take the Bugis MRT station (well, perhaps next time!) for Arab Street which is said to be famous with its Sup Tulang Merah. We simply strolled along and had a peekaboo of the shopping lots there- Wisma Astria (something like Pertama Complex), Ion Orchard (extravagant exterior landscape : Starhill’s twin sister) and many more.
We took the MRT back to Kranji station and then the bus to Johor Bahru. Around 6.30, we dined at JB then off back to Putrajaya. Alhamdulillah, it was an eye-opener and horizon-enriching experience. I have to say I LOVE the clean landscape, the sleek-corporate accentuated feel of Raffles Place and the Penang-feel which is heavily accentuated with colonial aura…BUT, I hate the fact that Singapore emulates what the Westerners do- no water in toilets! They simply use tissues, I guess. Ewww, right? Luckily I didn’t feel like pass motion. Ewwww…. Hehehehe (,”)