Universal Studios Singapore

Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica Ride: red for humans, blue for cylons!

Yes its been while since we were in Singapore but we felt that we needed a review for the theme park and what better way of doing than a shared post.

Justin: I have been to Universal studios 3 times and this recent visit wasn’t the most exciting, as the rides and food are still the same but the experience is always enjoyable. Having fun hanging with the family and going on fast-paced rides where your heart almost leaps out of your throat. It’s always fun.

It’s my dream to have the park to my self for a day… no lines, no waiting, everything is clear but this is not the case when going during the school holidays.

Shaun: I second that! School Holidays suck for everyone who doesn’t go to school. It’s loads of kids running around, making noise and generally slowing your queue time to a dead stop. Ever waited 2 hours to get onto a ride before? Well that’s because you live somewhere other than Singapore.

OK, so I am ranting but that’s only natural because I am no longer on holiday and would really like to be again.

Universal Studios is an experience, it suspends your disbelief for a while and you remember your childhood. Jurassic park for me has one of the more complete visual escapes with the docking bay looking all docking bay like, you’re ready for adventure. Jump on the Battlestar Galactica Cylon ride for the thrills for sure; you’ll love the forces it puts on your body (make sure you look bored for the cameras).

Transformers Ride

Transformers Ride: Totes looks like this

Best Ride?
Transformers the ride is in every way better than the movies, there is actual use for explosions and the 3D effect. The idea is you’re in a short roller coaster ride that imtermittently parks itself in front of ginormous screens at various points. The screens are ginormous so you don’t really see the edges and they blend seamlessly with the physical sets. The whole shebang  makes you feel like you’re part of a massive city wide chase with Decepticons and Autobots, it’s amazing. Downside? 2 hour wait time in the peak of school holidays so go when it’s school time for both Singapore and Malaysia.

I go everytime I am in Singapore, maybe it’s because I am such a child. Love the rides, love the atmosphere, love the heat… wait no don’t love being outside in Singapore for an extended period of time.

Steph: Ok, so I’d been to Universal Studios previously but as it was still not finished, I just paid $5 to get in, walk around and check out the place, and then had dinner with some family at a restaurant there. So this time was lots of fun for me, despite the long queues as my brothers have mentioned.

I also really enjoyed the’ Transformers’ and ‘Battlestar Galactica’ rides as they were the most thrilling and well-designed in my opinion. ‘Revenge of the Mummy’ was also not bad. I don’t usually enjoy going on scary rides, but this one was not too scary and it had some thrilling parts. Also ‘Lights, Camera. Action!’ was pretty interesting. A bit of movie magic is always enjoyable!

Yes, we went to the park during the school holidays but unfortunately this was the only real way that we could go along with our cousins. One thing I will say that is really worth it is to try the Single Riders line even if you’re in a group. We walked by the Transformers ride about 4 times, and each time the wait was well over 90 minutes, so eventually we decided that we’d try the 90 minutes and hope for a quicker wait. We split up and took the single riders line and how long did we ‘wait’ in the end? 5 minutes and we were all seated! We also got to go at around the same time, just in different carriages or rows. Totally worth it.

Also, and this is common knowledge, but try to avoid buying food there if possible. We had the worst fish and chips ever and to top it off, it costed an arm and a leg.

The long queues and of course, the heat. Though they were selling nifty spray bottles attached to fans which looked like a good idea.

Next time hopefully we can go to the one in the US!


Memoir of a sweaty adventure

Happy new year!

As you’ve already read, we are all back in our countries after a great two weeks in Singapore. We didn’t end up going to Legoland because we had heard from our younger cousins that it is very much for young children, however we did manage to spend an eventful and hot, humid day at Universal Studios, eat plenty and do a whole lot of shopping. We also did go to Malaysia for a day, but our time was mostly spent in a shopping centre. Singapore is the land of shopping and eating, so you could say that the trip was very fulfilling. Though we’ve all been there countless times to visit family, there’s always something new to do because the country is constantly growing and changing despite its small size.

View from The Esplanade

View from The Esplanade

The main new attraction that we visited this time round was the Gardens By The Bay. I like nature, but this takes it to a new level. It is quite an amazing display. We visited with some friends at night to avoid the heat of the day and I must say that I think that it is more spectacular at night. The lights are shining and the park is a plethora of colour and magnificence. It’s really changed the cityscape. We didn’t have to pay an entry fee to walk around, but if you do plan to visit it costs $25 general admission and then further fees if you plan to enter the two main attractions there: the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. Looking out from the Marina Barrage, you see the Singapore Flyer (Singapore’s version of the London Eye), the Marina Bay Sands and the Gardens By The Bay, and if you’re into cityscapes, the view is beautiful. Also from The Esplanade (theatre) you can see the hotel, Merlion and other key structures.

Gardens By The Bay Supertrees

Gardens By The Bay Supertrees

I must say that I am not someone who enjoys or can even stand humidity, which is why it’s always a little struggle for me to spend a lot of time in a country like Singapore, but thankfully December is relatively cool compared to the rest of the year. Monsoon season is the only somewhat bearable season for me, so if you’re anything like me, I’d recommend that you visit Singapore during December because not only is the weather more manageable, but the city is really lit up and although it looks a bit cheesy with all the decorations which scream WINTER!!, there’s something nice about it. Also, if you are there to shop, you will be fine because basically every MRT station is attached to a well air-conditioned shopping centre, so you could technically travel around Singapore without being more than 5 minutes in the humidity.

This time round we got to be more touristy than normal because Michael had never been to Singapore before, making it an even more interesting experience. I really enjoyed seeing the new attractions and just having a really chilled-out trip without feeling like we had to cram every experience in and spend every free minute doing something productive.

Life is back in full swing now though with an exam on my second day back and regular classes. Looking forward to future travels already! The travel bug definitely bit me hard…


Qatar Airways: A Review

As Shaun mentioned, we’ve all been recovering from stomach bugs and having had a terrible day yesterday, I am finally over the worst of it. At least I hope!

I flew on a Wednesday from Frankfurt Airport to Singapore via Doha with Qatar Airways in economy class. The first flight was with a 747 and the second with a 330. Usually I make a stopover in Singapore on my way to and from Australia, so this journey was shorter and more comfortable than usual. 6 hours of flying followed by a 55 minute break and then another 6-7 hours of flying.

I expected a little more of Qatar Airways than I usually do when preparing for a big trip because I had heard lots of great things about the airline, and I have to say that I have mixed reviews.

The Service

In general the service on my two flights was great. On the first flight I had the nicest stewardess I have ever had. She brought all the things requested with a smile and even had small chats with me and the girl sitting next to me. We had a great time on the flight and were treated exceptionally well. At one point we ordered a drink and she brought it to us with a chocolate. She also said that if we ever wanted a cocktail in future that we should just bring the recipe with us and they’d make it.

The Food

On the first leg I had a dinner which was beef and potatoes with herbs (the other choice being chicken) which was quite good. It didn’t taste too much like the typical airplane food which was great. They also offered drinks many times during the flight which made it a very comfortable journey. At no point did I have to push the service button. On the second leg we were served breakfast and it was a choice between an omelette and garlic rice with chicken. I chose the chicken but regretted it. It was not very good and I did not end up eating much of it.

The ‘Bonuses’

One thing that I was quite disappointed with was the ‘warm towel’. Maybe I’ve just had it too good previously on Singapore Airlines flights, but these were mentioned on the Qatar Airways website so I was expecting real towels, but instead we were basically offered moist towelettes which had been steamed. The end result was that we received tiny cloths which were burning hot when still folded into tiny squares, which quickly became cold once unfolded.

The little bag which all passengers in economy class receive contained a pair of socks, ear plugs and a toothbrush. Pretty standard stuff.

The Negatives

The main thing that I was not so happy with was the stopover. I had 55 minutes to get to my next flight which I thought would be just adequate, however I got out of the first plane with only about 20 minutes to go. After this, I had to get on a bus to the airport where I then had to proceed to the next gate (which had changed location without any notice to connecting passengers) and then wait for another bus which took us on a 20-minute journey to the actual plane. I was not the only passenger who had this problem. By the time we got to the plane we were at least 30 minutes late, and then it took even longer until more late passengers arrived and the plane was ready for takeoff. It was a nerve-wracking experience which I would not like to repeat. I think the main concern of mine is that we were told nothing and I had no idea if the second flight had already taken off. The least they could do is to inform connecting passengers about what’s going on and get us to leave the plane first. When I got to the gate written on my boarding pass, the staff told me that the flight had already left, and I was left to worry until another staff member said that the gate had merely changed. You can imagine the sighs from all the other connecting passengers behind me as well.

This one is more my own fault, but another thing was that online check-in starts 36 hours before the flight. I assumed that it was 24 hours like the other airlines, and therefore did not get a good choice of seats. On the first flight I was in an aisle seat but for the second, longer flight I was squashed in between two men. So be aware of this!


All in all, I think that Qatar Airways is a relatively good airline and I have definitely had worse, however I would be wary when booking flights with a layover that is shorter than an hour. Of course, every flight is different and stewards and stewardesses vary, but my experience was generally positive. Once I return to Germany perhaps I’ll have some updates for this post…


Singapore – Getting around town

If you haven’t been to Singapore yet this is key info because there isn’t a transport system as good as this, except in Switzerland. The busses are regular and in 10-15 minute intervals everywhere I went. The trains are only ever 5 minutes away and the stops are comprehensive to the point where you are always a hop and a skip away from anything. Taxis are reasonable with their SGD3.40 initial charge but with the train and bus combo it’s virtually unbeatable, why would you need a cab?

Tickets Please!
If you’re going to be here for a couple of days get yourself an EZ-Link card. It is like London’s Oyster card where the public transportation system is open to you. All you do is top it up with your hard earned cash at any station before travel and you’re set. Stick it in your wallet or lanyard and when you get to the station you place the card on the contact point to tell you how much credit remains. Remember to always check in and check out of the bus or the train station or you might have explaining to do. Just listen out for the *beep* and you’re set.

Cough Up kiddo
Now that you have the EZ-Link card you’re moving but how much does it cost to get around? This is one of the easiest and best value transportation systems around at approx SGD1.20 for the longest bus route A to B or SGD1.88 for the run between Punggol and Harbourfront which are on the opposite sides of the North East line that I frequent daily. I think the most I’ve spent in a day is approx SGD5.00 for bus and train travel… pretty good huh?

The carriages are clean and similar to the London tube except:
– It’s cleaner
– The seats are not soft, they are hard fibreglass
– It’s bigger and shaped for people who stand upright
– It’s always on-time (I’m serious always)
– The drive is automated, you can stand in the front of the train and fulfil your conductor fantasies.

They come in the single and double decker variety. All are airconditioned (A must in this heat) and are clean and comfortable, just remember to enter in the front next to the driver to buzz in and then buzz out the side of the bus when you leave or you haven’t validated which is bad.

I keep saying the transport is clean and that is because there is no eating or drinking or smoking or durians allowed on them. It’s illegal and I don’t know the fine (maybe a massive spanking) so just don’t do it.

All in all this is a fantastic system, get on it!

Check out this handy info provided by Changi Airport for info on the EZ-Link card as well as other things you need to know:

Click Here -> Changi Travel Guide!

Singapore! However…

You may be wondering why the posts haven’t been rolling in these past few days. It is true, all the team are here in Singapore but we’ve all gotten ill! I don’t know if it was the food which has so far been great or the water (that should be fine… it’s Singapore!) but we’ve all had stomach issues of varying degrees. Don’t let that change your mind about visiting Singapore sometime in the future because after a fun packed couple of days we will be blogging about:

– Universal Studios
– Food
– Shopping
– Getting around town

I have just bravely gotten over some bad bits of the bug and am ambulatory so I left the apartment to get some lunch. I decided against the heat of a hawker centre and took refuge in a local shopping mall in Kovan. I wanted something simple and hopefully containing nutrients and good stuff to help me get going again. So I hit up “New York New York” for a sandwich, something un-stuff-up-able. I didn’t think mayo was served in kilos nor did I know that chicken burger patties could look more like spam than anything else. In short just avoid.

Packing and almost ready to go!

As you would now be aware, the Kokstars are reuniting in Singapore very very soon. I fly off tomorrow from Frankfurt but am packing now, the day before I fly. If I were going for longer I would have probably started last week, but I’ll be there for 2 weeks so it should be easy.

For Singapore, because they basically have one, maybe two seasons, it’s quite simple to pack for the climate. It’s always hot and it’s always humid, it just depends on whether it rains. Right now it’s monsoon season so it’s quite rainy, with temperatures between 30°-32°C. I’ve basically packed a bunch of shorts, skirts and dresses.

We’re planning to check out Singapore’s new attractions such as Gardens By The Bay as well as go to Legoland in Malaysia for a day. It should be good and I’m so psyched for it!

I’m also going to be flying for the very first time with Qatar Airways. I’m pretty excited about it because I tend to fly quite a lot and have used many different airlines, but Qatar Airways was rated the World’s Best Airline in 2011. At the moment, Singapore Airlines is my favourite in terms of service, food and entertainment for long-haul flights. I flew once with Virgin Australia in premium economy and that was incredible, but you can’t really be comparing economy and premium economy.

Anyway I’m sure you’ll be reading more from us while we’re in Singapore and I may do a review of Qatar Airlines on my trip Frankfurt-Doha-Singapore-Doha-Frankfurt.

A lot of people have been wishing me a ‘happy end of the world’, but I won’t do that to you. I hope you have a merry Christmas and a wonderful start to 2013!


Long-haul Travel Tips

Two days ago marked the one month point to my arrival in Singapore in December. In light of this, I am reposting something that I wrote a little while ago to prep for the long-haul flight. Some of these things may seem silly if you’re a seasoned long-haul traveller, but nonetheless I think that they are helpful!

Living in Germany and having most of my family in Australia and Singapore (and in general, an insatiable lust for travel), has made me a frequent long-haul traveller, mostly flying from Sydney to various parts of Europe and stopping over in Singapore. One of the longest distances I can imagine. I have made this trip many times, and will probably do it many more times.

I understand that there are only about a million articles on this topic, and a lot of it is just common sense, so I will keep this one personal as I really believe that it depends on the individual.

1. A good personal music (and/or media) selection.
This should consist of not just ‘good music’, but songs and/or artists that make you feel good and relaxed. I, for example, have a playlist called ‘Train rides’ because I used to commute 2 hours a day back in Sydney, but it’s really useful for flights too. I was on a Virgin flight once where you could also plug in a USB device and watch movies or listen to music. I hope this becomes more standard with time!

2. Hydration.
A lot of the articles about long-haul flights that I have read, say to drink plenty of water, but I say (from no health/medical perspective) just drink how ever much you need or usually drink. It sounds silly, I know, but if you drink more than usual because of an article you read online, the result is that you will just need to go to the toilet more frequently and will have a stomach full of liquid which will make you feel uncomfortable.

3. A good stretch.
I think you tend to notice it less when you’re sitting for such a long time, but your joints get quite sore and it really helps to walk around now and then (granted, there is limited space on a plane for this) or even to go to the bathroom when there is less of a queue to freshen up and have a good stretch.

4. Security.
In light of the last point, I think this one is an important one to keep in mind. I tend to leave my things at my seat (or, under the seat of the person in front of me, as we are instructed) when I get up, but seriously, don’t tempt fate. Take anything extremely valuable/important with you if possible, or stow it away in your bag in the overhead compartment. Also common sense, but don’t go flashing your valuables around during the flight, and check that all your things are still in the same place when getting ready to get off the plane.

5. Toilet breaks.
Many people seem to try to go to the bathroom at the same time, creating a huge backlog of people lining up around the toilets and inconveniencing those who really, REALLY need to go immediately. Spread them out, and try to avoid the typical rush times like the hour before the plane lands, and around meal/refreshment times. Also, consider that if you’re a person who needs to go to the bathroom frequently, choose an aisle seat.

6. Noise-cancelling headphones.
These feel like a bit of a luxury when flying because it gives your ears a break from the constant sound of the plane pushing its way through the air. I have a great pair of Sennheiser foldable, noise-cancelling headphones which can be used as regular headphones as well, with just the flick of a switch. They also can be used without the noise-cancelling function without using up your battery (unlike my Bose headphones), which is a real advantage and something to take into consideration when purchasing. Depending on which airline you fly with, you may also require an adaptor to allow you to plug your headphones into the armrest, but adaptors are pretty cheap and usually available at the airport.

7. Reading/entertainment materials.
Personally, I don’t read much on planes. But, if you’re so inclined, or don’t think you can handle the long journey without a good book or magazine, or even sudoku puzzles, then why not. Whatever makes you more comfortable when thinking about how you will occupy your time. Remember, to save weight, there is usually a good selection of movies and tv shows in-flight, and increasingly, airlines are also including a larger selection of games in their entertainment systems. A favourite of mine is playing Super Mario on Singapore Airlines.

8. Snacks and/or drinks during the flight.
Don’t be afraid to ask for them. On offer is usually a good selection of drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and snacks to cater for a range of tastes, and also flight attendants who will bring them to you. Press the attendant button, make the most of these if you need them, but try not to annoy them! Plus, it’s free unlike on domestic flights!

9. Rest.
This one is definitely an obvious one, but whenever you get the chance, get some shut eye. I tend to get sleepy right around take off, and grab the opportunity to have a nap. Even if it’s only for a short time, it’s better than nothing. If you’re a heavy sleeper, or don’t go to the bathroom so frequently, it’s an idea to choose a window seat. Also, try to time it so that it matches local time (if possible). This helps with jetlag, and means that when you see your loved one(s) again, you will be less of a zombie.

10. Take a break – stopover.
To round out this list,  this point is about taking the opportunity to breathe some fresh (albeit, airport-recycled) air, and make the most of a short (or long) break before hopping onto another plane to complete your journey. I have never done a long-haul trip without stopping over, for example, in Singapore for a few days, or even a few hours and I wouldn’t want to experience it. Sometimes a stopover will only be for 2-3 hours, giving you just enough time to grab a treat for yourself (there’s duty free, but just make sure you’re not taking more than your allowance) and head to the next gate, but this tends to be enough. Just follow the ‘transit’ or ‘transfer’  signs as you get out of the plane and the air bridge, and check which gate you need to head to next. If you didn’t get a boarding card for the second flight when you checked in for your first flight, then head to the relevant airline counter to get one printed and then be on your way. Not too long to go now…