Jurong Frog Farm: Frog in the well hops into your claypot!

Hiya dudes! After a week’s hiatus, we decided to get closer to the wild outdoors of our sunny island, and we arrive at the Jurong Frog Farm because XL says she wants something ‘special’, and I honestly don’t know if this is ‘special’ enough for her, but I guess a farm full of American Bull Frogs should do the trick! (Kill me please if this is not good enough for her, it’s alright if you readers out there like it 🙂

OK! This is how the frog pen looks like, kindda big because each pen is home to so-many-till-i-lost-count number of frogs, and yes XL is smiling, I guess she must be satisfied 🙂

$1 worth of frog food gets you a small packet of pellets to feed the frog

Pellet launched.

One Pellet Away!

Apparently some frogs (read: almost all) aren’t enthusiastic, hence the disclaimer

We caught these 2 *ahem ahem* away, OK we get the message.

Bull frog tadpoles, pretty big!

Like a boss!

Another one of the farm’s produce, freshwater patin fish

Tilapia is also on the menu!

And yes, this is the gist of our farm visit. The frogs here are reared for consumption, mainly for out favourite frog porridge, as well as for the snow jelly dessert (hashima). For that reason, the frogs are of only a single species. So those who are disappointed that there is a lack of variety of animals, do note that this is a commercial farm, and not a reptilian park.

Admission is free and you can walk around the farm by yourselves, as advised by their friendly staff. However, to fully understand the operations of the farm and handle the frogs etc (see below flowchart for more info), it would be advisable to go for one of those guided tours. For more info, refer here.

Besides the farm tours, you can also purchase some of the farm produce such as the frogs and fish. On certain days, the staff may offer some cooked food, which can be purchased and consumed on the spot (for the non-cooking folks out there)

As noted from the chart above, certain tours require a minimum group size of 20 pax. This was the unfortunate situation which we faced today….. And…. to avoid future disappointment of all of you, we have decided to collate groups of 20 or more so that you guys can enjoy the tours instead of simply milling around helplessly. *Disclaimer: Do leave your actual name, contact number, group size and intended date of visit. We do not guarantee that there would be a minimum group size of 20; and in the event that we do not gather 20 pax or more, we are in no way responsible for it since this service is provided on our own goodwill (meaning FOC). Once the group is confirmed, we will link you guys up, where you guys can then contact each other to confirm the type of tour and the date of intended visit. 🙂 So do be nice and not cancel the appointment at the last moment because many others are dependent on you to make the tour possible 🙂

As I’ve mentioned earlier, if you do not sign up for any of the tours, you will not gain much information about the farm and their produce. TO fully maximise the experience, the best time for the tour would be around 10am in the morning.

So there, we are done with Mr Frog; those poor souls we see today should land up in somebody’s claypot soon 😦

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Gardens By The Bay: Paid Conservatories, the flowers and the splash and the dash

Hi all! After leaving the Gardens by the bay without visiting the paid conservatories, we made a vow that we would be back ASAP to pay it another visit! And of course, when the attendant (whom I personally feel, is bloody business savvy) tempted me on the opening day by pointing out to the largest man-made waterfall in Singapore (surpassing the previous record holder at the Jurong Bird Park), I just can’t say more. And yes, we went back, and yes $20(for local Singaporeans entering 2 paid conservatories) was well worth the money if you ask me.

Look who’s grinning from ear to ear!

Ahhh, the roof of the Flower Dome, a pleasure to the eyes, and to the lens]

Our first stop was the Flower Dome, which is filled with such grandeur; it envelopes you the moment you step into the conservatory. Remember I mentioned that the Gardens by the Bay looks somewhat like Avatar at night? The plethora of flora, shrubs, and other plants really bring that out here, unlike the free area, which consists of mainly common shrubs and of course, the synthetic Supertrees, which have drawn a lot of flak online for being a smack in the face of conservationism, which the Gardens purports itself to be. Hokay, let’s not get into this controversial quagmire; today we will all enjoy the little pleasures of life, and what botany can bring to our concrete jungle.

The first thing that grabbed us when we entered was the whiff of air-conditioning. I felt that it was a rather ingenious little idea, given our warm tropical climate. This place is dubbed ‘Eternal Spring’, and the temperature is maintained at approximately 20 degrees celsius. So all the human polar bears, do not stay huddled in the shopping malls, this place is for you too! We’ll let the pictures do the talking for now!

Cacti family, how sweet!

Epitome of the word ‘Glass Ceiling’

Roses galore!

Basically, the Flower Dome spans 2 storey high for us to walk. You start at the 2nd storey (which is actually the ground level), then exit at the first storey (basement). Here, XL is overlooking the first storey, which is heavily planted with more species of flowers than you can ever imagine.

Marriage of man-made and natural grandeur

Some handsome looking trees

Couple pic at last, god bless the service staff there!

Exotic lilies!

If you’re really el cheapo, you can try plucking them and proposing to a girl on the spot. (‘course I’m kiddin)

Kindda interesting little bench I came across, and of course, a good rest for my legs!

which is more astonishing? XL’s big mouth or the pretty flowers?

Ehh, this place is really disabled friendly. The elderly woman here was basking in the glow of the garden!

The old and withered seems to be out of focus; let’s not let this happen to our society.

After spending almost an entire morning lazing around in the Flower Dome, we head on next to the Cloud Forest, somewhere I have always wanted to go ever since that business savvy attendant tempted me on the opening day of the Gardens. Basically, the structure of the entire Cloud Forest is centered on the waterfall. So yes, unlike the Flower Dome which covers a vast horizontal expanse of land, the Cloud Forest is more intimidating for those who do not prefer heights.

The moment we entered, a giant majestic waterfall greeted us. Wait a minute, not just the waterfall, but also a massive crowd gathered at the fall, all posing for pictures. A note of advice, if you’d like to snap a photo without any photo-bombs by others, it is wise to either (1) Act fast or (2) rush straight to the Cloud Forest when the Gardens begin operations at 9am. We suggest the latter because we really camped there for quite some time before getting this shot. Oh yes, those who have a severe fear of heights, you might want to avoid going all the way up the waterfall structure.

Finally, the waterfall is all ours!

Personally, I felt that this Cloud Forest attracts children more than the Flower Dome. For one, it is more gimmicky in the sense that, in place of diverse species of flora, you get elevated platforms to walk on, not unlike the ones seen in the giant bird cage of Jurassic Park 3.

Elevated walking platforms

Yes, there is a teeny weeny bit of resemblance. I totally felt that a pteranodon would swoop down on us anytime

Another reason I felt that the Cloud Forest gave a more ‘artificial’ feel because there is a lift inside the waterfall structure to take us right up to the last level! There isn’t much plants here, but you can see some Pitcher Plants on top though.

Le me, nursing a bad toothache.

We are now right at the pinnacle of the waterfall, amazing but fake.

Now walking on one of those elevated platforms

It is a big drop down, beware of your belongings falling overboard!

Walking along those elevated platforms are countless photo opportunities. If you enjoy taking photos with the backdrop of the Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay Sands or the CBD, this is the best part of the Cloud Forest. XL the cam-whore obviously enjoying her moment, posing beside the flowers.

Lots and lots of elevated platforms for photo opportunities, but in dire need for more flora!

Spotted a mirror near the crystal rocks (which look totally out of place) and cam whore moment for XL

The crystal rocks, you get what I meant.

The Cloud Forest is basically a walk down the waterfall structure. At the basement, there is this area which explains lots about environment conservation, because the Gardens by the Bay is an advocate of environmental conservation. Yes many have debated that the use of air-conditioning to cool the 2 conservatories are anti-conservation. But let me give you my take.

Firstly, to spread the word about conservation, the Gardens must first get a sizeable crowd to be interested. Given our tropical climate, it is more likely to see people huddled up in the comforts of air-conditioning. Hence, to attract those who are more inclined towards air-conditioning, we must first air-condition the conservatories. The next step is what the Gardens have done rather well, which is to air a video of how the temperature of the Earth will rise by 5 degrees celcius, and a frame by frame explanation of what happens each time the temperature rises by a certain quantum. The provoking video might eventually encourage more people to use less energy by weaning off their air conditioning at times, creating a multiplier effect. OK please don’t castigate me for coming out with this POV. I would be most interested to hear your views about this 🙂

This was the video I mentioned about. Quite awesomely done, though (could be) dramatised

FYI.

Next up, we purchased a $5 ticket per pax to go up the OCBC Skyway, which is actually a rickety bridge connecting some of the super trees.

The queue for this attraction is MASSIVE, so do be prepared to queue for at least 15mins on weekends.

Up up and away!

Those who have fear for heights/motion sickness, be aware that the bridge would shake. It is not a fixed structure

Wonderful photo opportunity you get up there.

To be honest, we did not feel that the OCBC Skyway was worth the visit. At $5 a pop for a extremely short walk, it was more like a novelty experience than anything else. We will say that it is something you can afford to give a miss.

As we head for lunch, we couldn’t help but think about the possible controversies that this Gardens have brought about. Was there an over-zealous urge to showcase our tiny island state’s majesty, or was it a sincere attempt to bring about greater awareness for conservation. Regardless, it is an ideal place for one to bring a book, and bask in the the presence of pollen and nectar (you can actually smell the flowers inside the conservatories). So do not be too quick to put a ‘ – ‘ to this location if you feel that it might exceed your budget, or if you do not believe in its cause. $20 might be slightly on the high side if one were to think that locations like the Singapore Zoo (which can provide an entire day of entertainment) costs approximately the same price. If budget is a issue, go for the Flower Dome if you enjoy the simple pleasures of life, the peace, tranquility of chilling out with a book all day, admiring the flowers. Or go for the Cloud Forest if you intention is to be wowed by the magnificence of the waterfall, and would prefer more photo opportunities with the city’s skylines rather than macro closed up pictures of flowers. It is all dependent on your agenda really.

The Good: 

  • Viewing a wide range of plants and floral in comfortable Spring environment (aircon)
  • Suitable for family, couples, disabled and elderly. In short, all inclusive
  • Novelty factor
  • Kudos to the Flower Dome! 😀

The Bad:

  • Can be considered pricey, even children aged 3 are charged admission rates
  • Cloud Forest is rather artificial
  • Controversy surrounding the relevance of the Garden.
  • OCBC Skyway is a disappointment

elson

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Layang Layang 2012 @ Marina Barrage: The Kite Runner

So on this (rather) eventless weekend, we head down to the Marina Barrage for a touch of breeze, and also to attend PUB’s kite flying event, Layang Layang 2012. And Layang means ‘kite’. As stated in the PUB Website, there is a whole slew of events for the entire day. Is it true?

In our honest opinion, when we reached the location @ 2pm (when most of the main events would’ve started), we sighted some kites up in the sky, while some are still WIP (work in progress). On the ground level, there are some demonstrators randomly flying some kites at low altitudes, and totally not interacting with the crowd. Big boo boo we feel. However, it soon started to rain (drizzle actually), and the kite flyers headed for an intermission in the shelters, and everything seemed rather abandoned. In short, if you’re an avid kite-flyer, there is no need to specially attend this event, because there is nothing special that you can get to learn. If you are bringing your family along, there isn’t much to see because the event organisers did not seem keen to interact with anyone. One redeeming factor though is the kite making event they have; an interesting novelty for children nonetheless.

The highlight of the event had got to be the Mega Kite Flying Display on Sunday from 1630 – 1700, there could be many magnificent and interesting kites on display. But if so, then we feel that the duration of this particular segment could have been a little too short.

We discovered one interesting fact though, it seemed to be a good event for photographers to snap away, as we have done in the photos below. Enjoy!

Spongebob kite! (:

Kite making area

Stunt area. Erm… not too interesting in our opinion

‘Say Hi to doggie’

The Good :

  • Free family fun, great for children who want to fly their kites (but well, we don’t actually need to have an event to be able to fly them)

The Bad:

  • Poor organisation of event, attempt by event organisers to interact with the crowd could have been improved, does not really invoke interest in kite flying.

elson

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TGIF! What to do this weekend?!

Another week has past, and as the weeks past, one shouldn’t let his life past him by without doing something FUN! We had an eventful weekend last week, what with the grand opening of the Gardens by the Bay and the Formula Drift event in Changi!

And this week, we are back for more, though we feel that there isn’t going to be any very special events this week, unlike last week. But hey, that’s the beauty about life, it’s unpredictability, spontaneity and how we react to the circumstances.

As some wise folks once said (OK I might have made this up), when we revisit a scene, re-read a book, re-live an experience, we gain different insights, dimensions and perspectives. With this fact in mind, we shall be re-visiting a scene from last week. Guess where?! Hint hint:

YES! We shall be re-visiting the Gardens by the Bay, but this time round with the Sun still hanging high, and we shall be visiting the paid conservatories this time round! So watch this space, it will be updated with plenty of pictures!

Anyone remember Marina South? The (pretty) derelict plot of land lying way south of sg, which serves up a kick-ass cheap all-you-can-eat steamboat, bowling alleys, arcades, and of course, kite flying! A sense of nostalgia tickles me whenever an image of a kite comes into my mind; I will never forget the place where my parents will bring me to ‘put layang’, aka fly a kite.

This photo was taken from yesterday.sg(http://yesterday.sg/buildings-and-monuments/marina_south_indulge_in_reminiscence/) and I’m sure it brings back much memories for you, as it has for me.

Nowadays, with the development in Marina South, the new haunt for kite-flying is now either in Sengkang and Punggol, or the Marina Barrage. And it so happens that there will be an event specially for kite flyers, ‘Layang Layang’, this weekend. It is organised by the PUB and admission is totally… as usual from us, FREE!

The main programs are as follows:

Eco Wind Garden Workshop

Make your own windmills and plants out of recyclable materials and plant them in our “Wind Garden”

 Kite Flying Workshop

Learn how to take over the sky with the right kite flying techniques and tricks.

Kite Making Workshop

Design and craft your own kites with eco-friendly materials. Express your artistic side and make your very own kite!

Lolli- Drop

A fun activity for kids where they can catch mini parachutes with sweets attached! Over 100 mini parachutes will be dropped each time!

International Fliers

A group of international fliers from different countries will be present to display their beautiful kites, demonstrate their kite skills and show off with stunt displays.

More details here!

So we hope to see you there! 😀

Have a great Friday and a great weekend everyone!

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Achilles Formula Drift Singapore 2012 : Different Formula, Same Results : Burnt Rubber, Race Queens and one wild experience!

Yawns! Admittedly I woke up after a whole night of blogging. Yes! One entire night blogging about the Gardens by the Bay. And yes I was told by good ‘ol SISTIC to arrive one hour before the event starts, which is 9am (because official schedule states the starting time to be 10am). So yea, blurry-eyed me and XL reached the Changi Exhibition Centre early, but lo and behold, the organisers told us to collect the tickets only at 10am. Boo Boo to you Sistic, one more hour more could’ve given yours truly much more sleep, but given that we were far too enthusiastic about the event than to nitpick, we began snapping away. (Just note this fact that, future event organized by Sistic, it might NOT be required to reach event venues earlier than their starting times.)

My very own Race Queen

Anyway, we could already smell the smoke from burning rubber caused by the drifting, and speaking of burning rubber, stand close enough and you literally can get rubber particles stuck on your clothing as the cars drift past!

Some background info before we proceed beyond this point. Yours truly’s one and only drift experience was during the screening of the Initial D movie some years back, and yup, as much as the movie seems a tad unrealistic, it has brought about ample interest for me to see some real live action! Standing right outside, a perfect resonance of engine screech with the blaring background music ala The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, serenades my senses. Ok not exactly a serenade, but somehow as a car-loving dude, it is symphonic indeed. Senses awaken after a sleep-deprived night, we’re ready to roll!

Yea! Upon entrance, the new Toyota 86 greets us with a smile, actually more like a gnarl given that it is supposed to be Toyota’s new RWD sports car. Something really nice given the fact that Toyota has been focusing on the hybrids and Uncle-mobils (read Vios, Altis, Camry) for some time, and the last bombshell was the Celica. The 86 might have been late, given that it’s jointly developed clone, the Subaru BRZ had already made its grand appearance some months back, but hey, better late than never!

Toyota 86 on display!

The Subaru BRZ, spot the difference.

Back to the 86, back to back.

Race Queen strikes back, this time at the wheel *SHUDDERS*

pleasedontdriveitpleasedontdriveitpleasedontdriveit

On the left hand side, there are some static displays of some tuned cars, some of them being the Honda Civic EG, Mazda RX8, Skyline GTR R34, Nissan Silvia S13 and S14 as well as a Toyota Supra.

Mazda RX 8

Nissan Silvia

Hey the event states that it is time for Practice drifting. Actually it is the qualifying day which we signed up for, so those racers are actually competing to qualify for Sunday’s finals to determine the winner!

The main competitors!

Event chart

And so we had our ‘first-nose’ close up experience of the burnt rubber smell. Ehh, it actually stinks pretty bad, though purists might argue that it is the smell that gives the ‘drift experience’. No arguments about that though, but note that rubber particles do get stuck on you once the smokescreen clears!

The next event that followed was a marketing segment by Toyota , and yep, Toyota is a major sponsor of this event, and they were actually promoting their 86 RWD car. Earlier on, the 86 was driven around the walkabout area but did not make a foray into the track. So they actually had their drivers drift a stock (which means unmodified) specimen of the 86 in the track area to wow the audience. To be perfectly honest, the car has got some real promise, and it wouldn’t be surprising if modified versions will be spotted in future drift events. Non-drifting fans like myself, just enjoy the nice curves of the car and appreciate that Toyota is not giving up on their sportscar segment entirely.

Drifting in…..

….and drifting out

While we were walking around, we spotted this unique looking Lexus IS250-C drift car. The first thought was ‘woah! Bad boy!’ Whenever drift events are mentioned, the usual suspects like the GTR34, RX7, Supra etc etc is being mentioned. But a Lexus? Shouldn’t it be a luxury executive convertible instead?

‘Bad boy’ Lexus IS-C. C for Cool.

The drifter. Meeting Daigo for the first time.

Curiosity piqued us, and (heng ah!) curiosity in this case indeed did not kill the cat. We found the face rather familiar, and OMG! He’s actually the grand champion of the previous year’s FD Singapore, Daigo Saito. Being non-drift enthusiasts, we were of course not familiar with that name. But he’s just got that perfect look and charisma to be a drift king. We also discovered that he started drifting at the age of 16, and he just got the Lexus not too long ago. Another interesting tidbit about Daigo is that his father did not want him to drift when he got his driver’s licence, so he got him a Mini Cooper instead. Daigo tried to drift it but yea, it was a futile attempt and he got himself a Nissan Silvia S13. His first practice session lasted a whole 36hrs, stopping only for food and fuel, but he totaled the car just weeks after.

And yes Daigo did sign for us as well! YAY! ( sorry for sounding like a Korean fanboy )

Your’s truly with THE Lexus.

Interior of Daigo’s self-constructed machine.

I happened to chance upon the blog one of the drifters in yesterday’s events, Josh Boettcher. You can read more on his take of the entire event here. http://joshboettcher.com.au/

Josh the man

Next up came one of the most highly anticipated moments, the autograph sessions. This is where all the drivers, and their race race-queens lined up to sign autographs on memorabilia like caps and posters (which were given out free! WOOHOO! HAHA) Yup and so we began our queue, like how all good Singaporeans enjoy their favourite pastime. Being bored, I chanced upon this lady in her red dress, and decided that, well, her clothes seem to fit nicely with the backdrop of the sponsor’s tent. Wasting no time, I hijacked her to get her to post for this shot. Yee Haw! Nice right? 😛

Lady in Red that got ‘hijacked’ by Yours Truly

And the queue for autographs begins!

Huat Ahhhh!

Wah!!! Free Cap!!!! *Auntie mode on*

The only female drifter there, Hiromi Kajikuma 🙂 Respect!

HER machine. Pink, how apt indeed!

XL getting autographs from Ken Gushi, another hotshot from the drifting arena

Ken Gushi!

The amount of posters they gave out was MASSIVE! And with our loot in hand, we headed out exploring the different booths, and tadah, while walking we couldn’t help but spot the elusive McLaren MP4-12C! Ehh I would trade a whole garage of drift cars for one of these automobile candies.

YES! Mclaren MP4-12C is mine! ALL MINE!

Unbeknownst to us before the event, the walkabout area is actually very open. It consists of not only the sponsors’ areas and booths, but also the place where the cars are parked before and after they leave the track. So you totally get up close and personal with the drivers, their cars and their crew. Awesomely cool!

Inception Level 2

Ken Gushi!

9tro Race Queens

They gave me this mag, I just couldn’t reject them…. because the mag costs $5 outside!

XL with Supra

Alvin and the Chipmunks! Singaporean too! HAHA

Part of Alvin’s entourage. Notice the ‘A’ insignia on her.

The rest of his entourage! Go 555!

nice piece of collage, drifters are damn artistic 🙂

Racequeen fussing over the baby

Nissan Cefiro A31

Non-competition models

Supra’s sexy back

Daigo’s Lexus’ back. Love those spoilers.

Civic EG, display model

XL with Silvia

Epik RX 7, love this rotary classic!

Skyline R34, one of my personal favourite. Former Gozilla of the race tracks

engine bay of skyline R34

cute decal

Lexus IS 250 C Engine Bay

Yours truly helping to market the 9tro mag

When he’s not drifting, he’s soaring!

XL the race queen

Next up is the main event, the qualifying race sequences. Basically, the competitors are grade for Style, Angle, Line and Speed. There were a few Zero-pointers at the start, and we (being drift noobs) did not know why. And of course, when the results were out, it was none too surprising that reigning champion Daigo came in tops for the qualifying at 94 points.

While watching the qualifying round, I can’t help but agree that people are paying for the vicarious pleasure of seeing the competitors do something dangerous. There were some near misses and they were the ones that gathered the most attention. Otherwise, the crowd was basically more pre-occupied toggling their cameras and stuff. Even when they commentator tried to rally the crowd by saying ‘Make some noise!’, all was silent. This was what captured our attention at the start, since we were not well-informed about the drifting scene, and naturally did not have much interest prior to today’s event. It was a good eye opener for those who prefer motor-sports, but do not like the crowd and hype surrounding Formula 1. What we really enjoyed was the opportunity to get up close and personal with the cars, drivers and race queens. However, do prepare some sunblock if you wanna protect your SK II embellished skins because one would be exposed under the Sun for extended periods.

Look at this guy’s skin turning bright red. So protect yourselves if you want your fairer than fair skins!

Photography buffs would also enjoy a field trip to this event, as there were plenty of photo opportunities to hone your skills and test your new toys. There is some room for improvement, which should have been in place if the event organisers would like to entice new drift enthusiasts. Firstly, it would be helpful putting up some posters informing the public on how the scoring system worked, as well as the sequence of the race, as we were left puzzled as to why certain competitors were given ‘zero’ scores at the start. This would invariably increase the level of audience involvement. Secondly, more attention could be given to explaining the difference cars on display. This would naturally pique the interest of car enthusiasts like myself, maybe some information about car modifications?

That concludes our Formula Drift even for this weekend, though the Grand Finals was held today, we did not have sufficient moolah to attend the event twice, so there. At $30 for a whole day of activities, some freebies and the exposure to the world of motor drifting, it might be value for money for some of you, but do note that there might be initial period where you have to wait for the events to begin. So there is no need to come so early. Our recommended time to arrive would be around 1pm thereabouts, just after your lunch time. So ya, we have gained some new insights and made new forays into the field of motor drifting and will be back for next year’s event again! So till then, ciao!

Updates: Daigo Saito won this year’s Formula Drift Singapore

The Good

  • Value for money event, given  that you spend the entire weekend here, but do note that parking charges are $8.entry and the location is very inaccessible if you do not have a car.
  • Great exposure for people who do not know about drifting and are interested in the sport

The Bad

  • Inaccessible by public transport (you have to walk very far in to get to the Changi Exhibition Center)
  • Lack of other activities there. (Important note for parents who want to bring their children along: There is NO other activities besides the drift event
  • The sport of drifting might not appeal to everyone, especially due to the loud noises and smokey air of burnt rubber.

elson

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Gardens By the Bay: The Green Green Grass of Home (erm, maybe, maybe not!)

So, as we have promised ourselves, we must must must make it to the Gardens By the Bay on its opening day, which is right after work. Shagged by the audit internship, but fresh for the weekend. Dinner was quick. As I asked the girlfriend what she wanted to eat, she just said, ‘Just eat at Maxwell luh, so that we can ‘hurry up get to the Gardens’ ‘ Word for word quote, purrfect.

And yes, we drove down to the Gardens and along the way, we sight throngs of cars being literally piled by the road-side as the entire road was chocked full of cars delivering people with the same ideals (to visit the Gardens on the first day) So yep, we had to park far far away. But hey, no pain no gain. Is this worth the time and effort? The answer is….. It DEPENDS. Let’s sink right into the pictures first!

Bay South Entrance!!! WE ARE HERE!!!

Hey this must surely be the symbol of the Gardens.

Speaking of it being a symbol, there must definitely be times when you’ve noticed it whilst driving down the ECP. Funnily though, I think it resembles the Dolby Digital THX Amazing Life clip which all of us (surely) must have seen before during a movie. This is the clip  in case I’ve not been coherent enough.

OK let me give you my 2 cents worth. This structure is definitely awe-inspiring. I felt that it represented life branching out from a single source. And a complex, intricate but robust network that is formed reflects the need to network, not just for benefits sake, but forming bonds with not only among our own species, but also with the environment. A perfect piece of art I’d say, really enjoyed looking at it. On the flipside though, it is but a man-made structure; it might be a tad too synthetic for those who might prefer something natural. (Well, it is rather impossible unless we live on the movie set of Avatar. But I will touch on Avatar the movie laterrr on!)

Gift/Souvenir shop

XL makes her first appearance of the night with some  procession ( I dunno whut ) seems to be going on! Is it Mardi Gras?

For the Hungry ( We are not sure if it’s nice, cos we ate at Maxwell, remember?)

Aaah! Marvelous Backdrop!

Somewhere near the ticketing booth, picture opportunity for the girlfriend.

Cloud Forest, one of the paid Conservatories

Speaking of which, there are two Conservatories which are air-conditioned and contain certain species of plants that are supposedly rarer. The going rates are $20 for two conservatory for an adult Singapore RESIDENT (yes, you need not be a citizen, being a resident would suffice) and $12 per conservatory. For Non-resident adults, a standard rate of $28 for two conservatories apply. For more details, please head on to :  http://www.gardensbythebay.com.sg/en/plan-your-visit/visitor-information.html  

Personal we find the rates rather steep, even for the fact that the Cloud Forest contains the tallest waterfall in sg. Besides, we noticed that even children were charged admission fees. This is not an encouraging fact if the place is intended for educational purposes. We propose that citizens be charged a token rate since the attraction was built with support from the money from the public. This would not exclude certain groups of Singaporeans who cannot afford the exorbitant rates. A wonderful garden like this should be accessible to all.

Flower Dome, another paid Conservatory.

Sneak peek at waterfall inside the Cloud Forest

Somehow it gives me the same feel as when I watched Avatar. Here’s some scenes which resemble the feel below

Spot the difference

More Avatar-esque pictures!

I call this picture, The Synergy. Light produced by man, and light produced by nature. Intertwining of man and nature. Absolutely Zen.

And Yes! Something that everyone must try is the SkyWay, which is actually narrow stretches of roads up above the Avatar-like ‘Super trees’

Look closely at the bridge

Tadah! there are ppl above. This really really really reminds me of Avatar and their Home Tree!

The SkyWay bridge costs $5 per pax and it is rather worth the money going up and feeling like a real Na’vi. However the ticketing booth were already closed when we went there so we did not have any opportunity to go up 😦 But we will be back really really soon!

After which, we milled around the park, and found the gateway to Marina Bay Sands!

HUAT AHHHH!!! (more likely to lose $$$ though, we have already warned you!)

More scenic sights ahead!

Blue Art Science Museum, where we went to see the Harry Potter and Andy Warhol exhibitions!

Dragonfly Pond

Jason Mraz’s concert venue!

After a long trek, civilization spotted!!!!

If you are not the walking type, there is also buggy rides for hire at $5/pax!

Shy Flyer goes into hiding!

To be truthfully brutally honest, after walking round the park and immersing in the atmosphere, there isn’t really much to shout about besides being awed by the psuedo-Avatar atmosphere. While it is really a dream come true for me (an avid Avatar fanboy), folks who prefer nature and the wild outdoors will be uber-ly, epic-ly disappointed by this. Species of plants were not carefully explained, and if one does not look too closely, one might presume that most of the plants belong only to a few species. Educational value, there is none. However, this is only the start of the Gardens and there might be more additions. Proof as shown below

Although expensive, we strongly believe that the Conservatories are where the good stuff are kept, so we will definitely be snooping around there the time time we come. Although the public area is more synthetic compared to the naturalistic feel of the Botanic Gardens, the govt might be heading in the direction of grandeur rather than natural when drawing up the blueprint for this Gardens. This might be done to fit into the ‘Atas’ feel of the neighbouring CBD as well as the Marina Bay Sands IR. Nothing to do this weekend, head on down to Gardens by the Bay. The public area is free, and definitely worth the visit, especially the spectacular night scene. BEAU—TIFUL!

The Good:

  • Great news for Avatar fans! Come at night and watch the place turn into Pandora.
  • Breezy and nice to chill out and admire the picturesque view of the city at no charge at all

The Bad:

  • Conservatories are expensively priced, and  might not be as value-for-$$$ as say, places like the Zoo.
  • Rather inaccessible compared to the Botanic Gardens. Only Bus that ply this route is Bus 400 ><

so long!

elson

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TGIF! What to do this weekend!

OK, something to change our mood from work into play! NO MORE AUDIT (yea rite, for this weekend at least.)

For those movie buffs, there are at least 3 blockbusters showing in cinemas, I’m sure you know them by now, The Amazing Spiderman, Madagascar 3 and The Dictator. Yours truly wants to watch The Dictator, but the girlfriend says Spidey, so yea as usual the girlfriend wins. 😦 Anyway, don’t just hide in the cinema yea, lots and lots and lots will be happening this weekend, and we will be heading down to those happenings!

This is gonna be one hell of a happening weekend indeed! First off, we have the grand opening of the much hyped about Gardens by the Bay! The PM just opened it officially tonight, and Jason Mraz and Corrine May will be down tomorrow for their concerts *EGGCITEDDD* Yep, actually we are god damn excited about this garden, even though we do not have green fingers. Actually we went down one whole month before the official opening, but was turned away by security because well, it was not completed lah! So now, finally it is, so we will be down tomorrow to see if it lives up to its hype. Admission for certain locations within the park is free. So yea, pretty budget friendly. More details about prices to certain conservatories.

Enough for the night it seems, because on Saturday, it is the Achilles Formula Drift day! Yea F1 is generating a bigger hype, but being a fan of drifting, this is something we can never see Fernando Alonso doing. (Duh, obviously. How can we expect F1 cars to drift) Basically, there will be the usual car events, stationary display as well as racy race queens. So head on down to Changi for this event! (for those who have yet to get your tickets, be there early at the SISTIC booth, there still might be tickets available for this event, so cya there!) Details of the event here.  Ticketing details here. For those who own a HSBC credit card, you get a 10% discount but deadline is tomorrow the 29th, so be quick or be prepared to lose it! Fastest fingers first guys! Price is only $30 for walkabout tickets, and considering that you have a whole, yes one entire day in the company of the sun, babes and fast car, hey it is quite a good deal yea?

OK, these are the pictures of the past year and similar events held around the region. We shall publish our personal review and photographs after attending the event.

For those who are interested in lobbying for the rights of homosexuals in Singapore, there is indeed a very rare and opportune moment for you to do so on Saturday. A group of lobbyist called Pinkdot SG, who are concerned about the welfare and societal treatment of LBGT (lesbians, bisexuals, gays and transsexuals) are holding a concert in Hong Lim Park Speakers Corner at 6pm! Performers include Drag Queen Kumar, Lim Yu Beng, Sharon Au and Pam Oei.  Unfortunately we can’t be there due to Formula Drift. But it is an admirable act that people who feel strongly about the status quo pertaining to LBGT are stepping up to air their views in public. So if you are supportive of such a cause, do make your presence felt by dressing up in Pink! Details of the event here.

Hokay, these are the 3 most major events happening this week,h ope to cya guys and do say hi to us if you see us!

TGIF For the WinnnnN!!  elson signing off 😀

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Harry Potter the Exhibition @ Marina Bay ArtScience Museum: Magical? We think not!

So I’ve always been a Harry Potter fan since I was a child.

I dream of receiving the Hogwarts acceptance letter (forgoing learning English, Maths and Science anyday for Transfiguration, Charms and Flying. I mean, who wouldn’t right!)

Aww, how I hope this is for me! HAHAHHA!

I collected Chocolate Frogs cards like any real witches and wizards would. On the right you see Chocolate Frog cards ver1.0 I first collected when I was around 11-12 years old, which actually depicts scenes from the movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  And on the left, is the Chocolate Frog card I bought from the recent Harry Potter Exhibition at the ArtScience Museum, which depicts characters from the series. I’ve got Professor Sprout here, which isn’t exactly my favourite character, I would have so much prefer to get a Sirius Black or Remus Lupin card HAHAH!

And so when the Harry Potter Exhibition comes to the ArtScience Musuem at Marina Bay Sands, I was so excited. I just had to be there, especially so when elson happened to be a potter fan too. And last weekend, I finally was!

But actually this Potter fan is actually quite sad to say that she feels pretty disappointed from the exhibition. 

It was all pretty awesome in the build-up to the entry to the exhibition I must say. If you ask me, what was the most exciting time of the whole event, I would say it’s the time when you are queuing up to enter the whole exhibition. Even though there was a long queue, but we couldn’t feel the usual frustrated, exasperated kind of mood that usually associate with waiting in a queue. Instead, everyone was evidently buoyant and joyous, and that includes me of course!!

Snaking (yes pun intended, Parsel-tongue anyone?) queue into the exhibition hall! Everyone’s feeling excited!

Aww! They had this (flying) Ford Anglia too!

Movie posters! I still remember how excited I was when they first came out!

As we were queuing, they had this green screen whereby you could take photos with your friends, complete with wands and house scarfs which they would provide, and they would superimpose your photos into some background from the movie. May be a marketing gimmick but being a fan, this sounds like fun to me! I was all ready to buy it already to be honest, but I was really disappointed when I saw the end product. For one, we looked too photo-shopped into the background, period. We don’t look like one with the background, rather, I feel we forced ourselves into the background. Hardly very magical.

And another, they don’t have Slytherin scarfs. We wanna to feel like ‘real’ Hogwarts students, and one of the hallmarks is that once you are sorted into a house, you’ll always be that house. HAHA! And since the closest we can get to the actual sorting is the Pottermore website created by J.K. Rowling herself, so we decided to use it as the gauge. HAHAAHA!! It’s all fine for me, cause I was sorted into Ravenclaw in Pottermore, and I got my blue scarf all right. But elson was sorted into Slytherin, and they don’t provide green scarf as it ‘can’t be seen due to the green background’. Well, erms… So yup, for all you Slytherin fanboys out there, this may be a little dampener for you.

So yes, this photography thing, aye or nay for me. I would say, nay.

So, moving on, after snaking through the long queue, we finally entered the exhibition. No photography allowed from now on so we wouldn’t able to snap anything. The first thing I felt was that, I felt like a first-year Hogwarts student. They had this mock sorting ceremony, where a few lucky kids could get sorted into the house of their choice. (I had wanted to try it! But it would be so embarrassing to fight over it with what, 5-year-olds? HAHAH!)

Here’s my Harry Potter Sorting lego set which I collected years ago haha!

And they had this whole gigantic mock-up of Hogwarts Express, complete with a lady holding the familiar lamp that Hagrid always held. I half expected her to say, ‘First-Years, this way!’ but she didn’t, and that’s about all that is left of feeling like a budding witch and wizard. From then on, it’s more like feeling like a spectator and a tourist. You don’t feel part of the exhibition and I thought that is pretty wasted actually.

I’ve been to the previous Titanic exhibition at the ArtScience Museum too, and it was nothing short of being fantastic, really. It traces the ‘life-cycle’ of the Titanic, from how it was built, to the grandeur of its maiden voyage, to the fateful sinking and to the recovery of the ruins and artifacts. They gave us a boarding pass each too, complete with the name of an actual passenger. So you actually feel, you are boarding the ‘ship of dreams’ as that very person. To top it all, they had all these awesome mock-up of the famous Titanic Grand Staircase, First-Class stateroom, the deck of the ship, and so forth. The whole feeling of being ‘involved’ in the exhibition was the most awesome part of it all, and I would have thought it was be something of this sort at the Harry Potter exhibition too.

here’s elson at the Titanic Exhibition last December

Truth to be told, it was pretty exciting at the beginning to actually see all these artifacts used in the movies. And one would inevitably go, ‘OH! Look at that nimbus 2000! OH! So that’s what Daniel Radcliff and co wore at the Yule Ball!’ But after a while, it did get a little boring. Like what elson said, one of the most magical things about these props in the movies is that, well, they are magical in the movies. When you see the golden snitch in the movie, you saw it darting around the Quidditch pitch. But here you see it lying behind a glass cupboard, looking all dead and plastic. I guess, if they had made us feel more ‘involved’ in the whole walk-through, it would have been so much more exciting, like for the Titanic case.

And another thing, it seems to be a little inaccurate. For example, I’m sure any Potter fan would remember Gilderoy Lockhart, yes the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher from the Chambers of Secrets. His props were displayed in front of a very big and prominent Hufflepuff house flag, but in no where in the book did I remember him being a Hufflepuff; and what’s more, they displayed a photo of him wearing a Ravenclaw Quidditch robe, so I guess he must be a Ravenclaw instead, so it doesn’t exactly make a lot of sense putting his materials in front of a Hufflepuff flag.

You can see the Ravenclaw badge here :p

They did have some hands-on segments as well which was commendable actually. For one, they did have this Mandrake area where you could pull out the ‘Mandrakes’ and hear their ‘cries’ but don’t expect to get knocked out by them so you won’t need earmuffs! And they have this area where you could throw these ‘Quaffles’ into the hoops and hear the ‘ding’ sound every time you score, but it feels more like the basketball you play at the arcade.

I was actually looking forward to the souvenirs shop. I mean it would be so exciting to see all the momentos and of course, to get some for myself! But the really sad thing is, the souvenirs are really expensive, expensive for us any way, that I couldn’t exactly bear to get anything much except for that Chocolate Frog, which incidentally comes at $6 per piece. Wands were going at $75 per piece; time-turner necklaces, which I really liked actually, at $120; wizard chess set, around half the size of a foosball table, $800. The T-shirts, which I had expected to be a hot-seller, were not exactly popular; mainly because there actually isn’t much design, which was basically the house logo splatted right in the middle of the shirt. So yes, it was actually pretty disappointing for me.

 that’s me in front of the souvenir shop

Besides Harry Potter exhibition, we also went to the Andy Warhol exhibition too. If you don’t exactly know who he is, he’s the white-haired guy from Men In Black III.

That’s Andy Warhol with Agent K from Men In Black III. I didn’t know the silver factory they visited in the movie was so sensational until I visited the exhibition!

Well, I wouldn’t go too much into it since that’s not the main point of the post. But my conclusion would be that, it was really quite a refreshing experience. It was awesome to see the famous Campbells’ Tomato Soup Can artist (He claimed he drank Campbell soup everyday for the past 20 years! Erm, coincidence that he died from gall bladder related illness later in life?). Even though we never really see ourselves as very artsy people, it was actually pretty fun. But I guess, it was also because we are not that artsy, that we could never fully enjoy the essence of the exhibition, but I would still say that, even for laypeople like us, it was fun, it really is.

The Good:

  • Pretty decent collection of costumes and props. If you are a Potter fan like I am, you’ll be sure to recognise many familiar items!
The Bad:
  • Lack of ‘involvement’ with the exhibition; inaccurate link to the movie at times; expensive souvenirs. -Look up for more!- (:

Some ticketing snippets for those of you who don’t know:

– You got to enter the exhibition within an one-hour window

– It’s best to buy the tickets from the ticketing office in the mall, in case it gets too crowded in the museum, especially if you met with private event like we did. It would be good to get them online too, but do note that Singaporean discounts will not be available for online purchases! When we were there, there was the Schneider’s family day going on, and the ArtScience museum was only opened from 3 onwards, and these were what we saw.

‘Too bad you can’t enter nowwwww!’

Look at the horribly long queue when the museum just open :[

– For Singapore residents, there is discount too.

For the full list of ticketing information, http://www.marinabaysands.com/Singapore-Museum/Ticketing/

Cute big dog spotted outside the museum

‘Knight to E5!’

Last but not least, another of my Lego collection, Harry vs Professor Qurriell for the Philosopher’s Stone!

Ciao,

XL

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YFest 2012 @ Esplanade : Tonight…… We are YOUNG!

TGIF for the win! Yes tonight is the night of YFest, which is organized by the Esplanade for youths, and of course the young at heart. So being hot blooded youths, how can we not grace this event?

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Tired audit interns that the both of us are, we manage to leave the office on-the-dot (damn lucky we know!) to check out whatever that’s brewing at the theatres on the bay. OK admittedly, elson wasn’t too optimistic about the event initially. Ehh IMHO, the marketing is not exactly too targeted and does not set to differentiate itself from other run-of-the-mil events held at places like Scape, with the usual flea-market, skate boarding stuff, yada yada yada. But still, we had to give it a shot, and boy were we really really glad.

Upon arrival at the Esplanade, we were bombarded by a loud concert-like noise, and the honour goes to a group of performers on the stage who were performing a kind of dance called ‘popping’. We ain’t too familiar with dances, and hence would not be able to explain the nuances behind them, but do experience the dance and judge for yourselves. We have to admit that, given the large crowd and thundering applauses, it must’ve been good. Indeed a very good way to propagate the art of dancing!

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Next up, we headed towards the area with lots of carnival tents (and this is where it really really really got us interested, INTERESTED!!! :DDD), the first stop for us was the ‘Swop Shop’. So what is this ‘Swop Shop’ thingy about? It turned out that it is actually a global movement. What you do is, bring down items you do not want, but are in workable conditions, and simply exchange them for any of the items displayed there. It was form of ‘free-cycling’, which is actually an aberration of ‘recycling’. This reduces the disposal of items and is actually a marvelous concept. Barter trading anyone? It is an impressive movement by this YFest, and a very noble and innovative one.  

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BOOTHS !

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All the above available for ‘barter trade’ or rather ‘free-cycling’!

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XL with Swop Shop lady! Thumbs up for the environment!

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Next stop, guess what?! Another darn interesting concept! You see people writing stuff on cards around? The concept actually revolves around writing a card to our friends and the Esplanade will send it only a year after! So it’s like a you in 2012 writing to a friend in 2013, pretty awesome we feel! This concept purported by the YFest is to promote friendships; if we are still in contact with the friend, well, it serves to reinforce the friendship; and even if we were to lose contact, it serves to rekindle the friendship. Aww! What a sweet gesture! XL got so hyper about it that she did not hold her horses back and immediately plonked down onto a chair, and started writing! (Hint hint: We will both receive a letter one year on! WAHAHAHAH!)

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How it works!

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Cheapo XL smiling at the prospects of sending postcards for free!!!

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elson writing his secret post!

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XL writing her stuff!

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Cute letter box!

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Popping the letters in !

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 Yes and we deposit those letters into the uber cute chutes and get to see the letters only a year on! And oh, did we mention that the service is totally FOC! YES FREE OF CHARGE! (yes don’t have to pay admission charges, don’t have to pay for Swop Shop, don’t have to pay for ANYTHING in this YFest! Shiokness! Everyone loves a good deal and everyone relishes a FREE deal!)

Our third stop in the carnival-like tents was this toy-making event, where you would be provided with a mould, and some clay, and DIY your own toys. Basically this event does not seem too unique and special to be honest, but it does allow one to play around with the clay and other art and crafts gadgets, in case one has been away from school for too long. So yea, get your hands dirty and get back to school! Unfortunately for us, we could not get to make the toy because the clay takes around 1-1.5hrs to set and the booth will be closing soon 😦

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Made by Singapore Boys’ Hostel!

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Right smack at the center of the carnival tents is this friendly Caucasian guy who is from the University of Melbourne’s faculty of arts. He called out to us, and how could we not show some Singaporean hospitality, tio boh? Anyway, he asked us some questions pertaining to friendships and he filmed our replies on camera, to be uploaded on Facebook (can’t wait to see it being aired HAHAHAHHA!)

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Steve from UMel!

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elson makes a new friend in Steve!

Although the question about friendships is rather cheesy, we really like the whole getup about promoting friendships, particularly with the Postcards thingy from the previous booths. Kudos to YFest! A good reminder that it’s really special to find someone whom you can relate to and click with among the torrents of people.  No matter how bad the going gets, there’s always someone out there watching our backs. We like that, we really do :)) Double smiley for this one!

Last station is actually a Cosplay station. Although Cosplay is a common trend, what makes this booth special is that, we can actually partake in the Cosplay! Yes the Cosplayers will provide all the equipments, including the makeup, and turn you into someone out of Naruto or One-piece. One caveat though, there’s only 4 choices to choose from, but it can really be enjoyable! Here’re some photos (We failed to do the Cosplay thingy because of time constraint yet again 😦  )

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Wolverine?

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Cosplay artefacts!

Walking out back towards the air-conditioned comfort of the Esplanade, we dropped by the Giant robotic statue where everyone is allowed to draw/write/doodle anything they like on those structures! Graffiti at its finest, and no legal penalties at all! WOOHOO!!!! We got down to work, and decided to leave our mark here! Artistic expression at its finest! Go ahead, write ‘My grandfather’s road’ here or imitate the Sticker Girl for all your heart desires without any consequences!

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Let’s put some graffiti on this robot!

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NAISE!!!

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We were here! :DDD

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Graffiti Art Attack!

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Singaporeans exercising their artistic freedom

We headed towards the entrance, and were greeted by more performances as we left. Tonight, we were truly young and awesomely awed by the wonderful concepts thought out by YFest. As Jessie J sang ‘It’s not about the money money money….’ This event serves as a yardstick for future events to be organized. Low in budget, but full of innovative concepts and meaning for our youth. The subtle lessons that would be inculcated into the audience is mind-boggling, especially the ‘Write a card to your friend’ and ‘Swop Shop’ movement. The intricate weaving of the fabrics of art, youth and altruism is indeed something worth celebrating. A successful event is not judged only by its ability to wow our external senses, but one that is able to warm the cockles of our hearts. In our humble opinion, YFest has managed to do that. We applaud the effort.

Some of the random pictures we took!

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Interesting picture. We like!

The Good:

  • Awesome concepts, values and great integration of youth and art.
  • Great for family, couples and folks who love the arts!
  • Best of all, everything is entirely FOC!

The Bad:

  • Operating hours are rather short. Seeing that the Cosplay and Toy-making might take some time, it would be good to head early so as not to miss the hands-on events.
  • Outdoor event, have an umbrella ready or prepare for wet weather program.
  • Not as many booths as we would like, but hey, each booth is interesting with a refreshing concept, so well, cannot really complain too much too 😉

How to get there?

Esplanade: Theatres by the Bay

Nearest MRT Stations: Esplanade station, Cityhall station

Event only runs for this weekend! 22nd June to 24th June

23rd June (Sat): 7pm – 11pm

24th June (Sun): 7pm – 10pm

Visit www.yfest.com for more details on the event!

Signing off,

elson

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Written in the Stars – Science Centre Singapore Observatory

Hi everyone! Welcome back to our little enclave in the amazing Milky Way blogosphere! Speaking of the Milky Way, XL and I will be heading down today to observe the heavenly bodies in their original glory, unedited and unadulterated. Where to, then?

The Science Centre Singapore is home to the 3rd largest observatory in Singapore, the bigger two are not accessible by the general public, sad to say.

Whoopee! Finally at the Science Centre…. Erm… knock knock, anybody home?

When there is need for help, ask and it shall be given. We approached the wonderfully nice security guards, and realize to our pleasant delight that, YES! We were at the right place after all, we just needed to trace the orbit (pardon the pun) of tunnels to reach our destination.

Approach the first security guard and she will lead you on to the next security guard in the tunnel (Amazing Race anyone?)

First sign of hope (Aah, we are in the right track)

Second sign of re-affirmation (Good things come to those who are patient)

Third sign of restlessness (Mommy! Are we there yet?! @.@)

AAHHHH Hell yeah! Cool stuff beckons! Let’s push that door… and let’s see what awaits us!

Upon pushing the door, alas! What greeted us was a pitched black sky enveloped by the heavenly bodies that we will be observing tonight! And here is what it actually looks like, from the eyes of our lousy, old Panasonic camera though, with no editing whatsoever.

A small note to our dear readers, do expect a higher volume of visitors during the holiday seasons.  So either be there early or endure the queue under the starry starry night.

Time check: 8:06pm, we had to take the second option, which is to queue. YAY! Indeed Singaporeans’ favorite past time, could we not enjoy it, especially since we have the privilege of queuing under the sky-lit night?

And up the observatory we went!

Cam-whoring while queuing! (and elson can’t seem to open his eyes in the flash…)

Do enjoy the cool breeze under the romantic night skies while queuing.  What is life, if full of care, we have no time to stop and stare. So go ahead! Stare at the skies all you want to! If you are armed with a smart phone, we would advise you to download an app on your smart phone’s app store, Android market, which allows you to point your phone at the skies to identify the star/cluster of stars you are currently staring at? Bazinga! Go try it now, if you own an iPhone, you can try this out using the free Distant Suns app! 

Finally! We are right in front of the 3rd largest telescope in Singapore! Apologies for the lack of photos here, as no flash photography is allowed in here. The main attraction for tonight is the planet Saturn. You can find a complete schedule of the optimal time of the year to view certain planets right here (http://www.science.edu.sg/events/Pages/Stargazing.aspx)

The main treat for tonight is Saturn! It was certainly a delightful experience seeing the planet in the flesh, after reading so much about it, particularly in primary school. Gosh that is wayyyy back in time!

Anyway, here’s some Saturn tidbit for all of you:

  •  Saturn is not colored as depicted by most books, but rather, monochromatic. (There is a friendly Caucasian chap manning the telescope, dishing out tirades of astronomy facts. Do say hello to him and fire away your doubts!)
  • Our Milky Way is that ex-planet Pluto is 15years (!) away from earth and currently there is a spacecraft being sent on an expedition there. No signs of life and water on Mars? No problem. Pluto is close enough; challenge accepted and we shall hunt for life on Pluto, says the folks of NASA. We don’t know about you guys, but this idea sounds out of this world (well it is, literally!)

And here’s Saturn projected on the computer next to this mega big telescope where everyone is peering into.

OK, mission completed. We trudge down the observatory with a sense of achievement. It was our virgin experience viewing planets through the lenses of a telescope.

BUT ALL IS NOT SETTLED YET. Wait a minute, there are a few other telescopes below the observatory. We discover that most of the staff are actually volunteers rather than paid employees of the Science Centre. There are even astronomy enthusiasts who bring their own telescopes here to share with members of the public. Uber generous dudes! Thank you guys for your generosity and sharing of your astronomy knowledge. 

Clusters of people gathering at the different telescopes

While queuing up to view the Alpha Centauri (ehh pardon me, Alpha Whutt??? Was the first thing that came into out minds), we had the opportunity to interact with two of the volunteers. Let us share our newfound knowledge here. The Alpha Centauri is the closest cluster of 3 stars to our solar system, and it is 4.3 light years away from us (in human speak, it takes a beam of light 4.3years to reach our eyes) Speedpost anyone? HAHAHAH! Well the implication of this fact is that we are looking into the past of the star, to be exact, the image of Alpha Centauri that we are seeing through our telescope is the image of the stars 4.3 years ago.

There was a heated argument between the both of us and I must admit that I had a heated discussion with XL about this. EHHH! Are you saying that we can travel back into the past?

Finally we managed to clarify our doubts. What actually happens is that the PAST of the star is what we see in the telescope. It does not mean that the star is currently living in the past. CLOSE ENOUGH! (insert meme)

Dudes and dudettes, if you own your own spanking DSLR, and are interested in taking pictures of the planets and stars through the telescopes, do head down to a photography store and purchase an adaptor which allows you to mount your DSLR onto the telescope to capture images of the heavenly bodies. According to one of the astronomy buffs there, it costs around $60. Do note that it might take awhile to mount your camera, so you will only be able to do so when the crowd disperses, or alternatively head down when it is not the school holidays.

The Good:

  • Enriching night for the both of us! Friendly
  • Excellent place for all, whether it is for couples to romance under the blessing of the stars and planets. or for  families to educate their children on astronomy. Best of all, at totally ZERO admission charges, it is completely free! Free parking at the Science Centre as well. So do not spend your Friday nights simply going to the same few places in town. Take the path less travelled, and be rewarded with a splendid experience.
The Bad:
  • Some of the telescopes belong to private enthusiasts, who have been very generous to share them with all of us. Hence do not be alarmed if they are not service-oriented like how Science Centre employees would have been.
  • It can get rather hot on humid nights. (as in the case in Singapore most of the time) So it might be a cool relieve to bring along a fan of sorts to fan yourselves while queuing up to enter the observatory.

(imagine we can afford a fan made of these, hah!)

  • For non-astronomy buffs, do note that it is not possible to see all planets in a single night.
Getting there!
Here’s the detailed link as to how to go there for anyone who might need it!
What we felt could have enhanced our experience would be for the Science Centre to be more involved instead of relying a lot on the kind volunteers. Perhaps there could be commentaries to explain certain astronomical bodies that will be observed for the evening.

But hey, at a grand total of $0, we really couldn’t ask for more. It has been an astronomical experience for us, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do. Cya on our next expedition! Ciao!

elson

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