5# Life Update: Scandi Trip

I haven’t given an update in a while and now is probably the best time to let you know what we are up to. We are currently on another trip in Scandinavia for 3 weeks. We actually left a couple of weeks ago, but since I didn’t think I would have time to travel and blog simultaneously, I am writing this in advance.

So how did this happen? Long-story-short there was amazing short study trip to Italy for my school of Museum studies. I really wanted to go, but it the logistics didn’t pan out with a 3 year old and an intensive schedule. Next thing Marco found some super cheap tickets to Finland, which we booked immediately for  between semester and here we are.

So our travel plan begins with our flight into Helsinki, then the we fly within a few hours to Oslo, Norway. We will spend a few days there and then catch a train to Bergen and from there we will do a road trip visiting Flam and Balestrand. After returning to Bergen we will fly to Stockholm, Sweden and do some site seeing and visit family. From there we take a overnight cruise ship to Helesinki, Finland. We have a few days in Helesinki, including a day trip in Tallinn, Estonia. Then we take another road trip in Finland, visiting Turku, Tampere, Ähtäri Zoo, Jyväskylä, Kuopio, Savonlinna, Porvoo and return to Helsinki to fly home. So I spent the week before making this itinerary, which includes all the sites and places to eat. Marco organised the Airbnb’s, car hire, flights etc. It was a very ambitious trip to organise with a toddler, which we hoping will be a happy traveller.

So while I have been away and until I returned I had schedule the rest of my posts. I have finally finished my Singapore Trip, which you would have already seen. Over the next week I have upcoming posts, including a book review and video for the Swedish colouring book Skymningstimman (Nightfall) by Maria Trolle, a review of Holbein Artists’ Pastel Tone Pencils and a recipe for Chocolate Chip Banana bread.

When I get back I hope to share with you some of my new colouring books. I’m hoping to get Maria Trolle’s Botanicum and Hanna Karlzon’s Smyckeskrinet, as well as a few others Scandinavian colouring books. Just before I left I bought the most recent Australian release of Colouring Heaven Issue 33: Secret World of Animals Special. This features the work of Japanese artist Kanko Egusa. It’s so adorable and I can’t wait to get back to colour it.

So until I get back you won’t see anything about this trip. But I hope you enjoy my upcoming posts and I look forward to sharing this travel adventure when I return.

Round up of Singapore Trip 2018

I have finally finished sharing my travel adventures in Singapore, which I embarked on early this year. We had such a blast over there and I hope I inspired you to visit  one day or revisit this amazing and evolving city/country again.

If you missed any posts I have included them below so you can check out some of the best attractions, interesting neighbourhoods, shopping destination and amazing foods on offer. I have also included some of my favourite things and other things that surprised me in Singapore. Feel free so share yours in the comment section below.

Continue reading “Round up of Singapore Trip 2018”

Singapore Airport: a destination

Our last hours on our Singapore Trip were spent at the Singapore Changi Airport. We didn’t have to fly until the afternoon but since the airport is a destination within itself we thought we would spend our remaining time here. This airport is consistently ranked as one of the best airports in the world. So whether your passing through or have a spare few hours before your flight you will have plenty to do here.

0296

The Changi Airport has four Terminals, which can easily be travelled between using the monorail. Each terminal has its own dining area, entertainment, displays and shopping. If you prefer stay put in you terminal or want to explore another, it is easy to see what is available in the terminals by using the maps or online directories: Facilities & Services directory; Dining directory. You definitely can’t go hungry with the amount of food vendors in each terminal. You also won’t be bored with the amazing gardens, displays cinemas, playgrounds and other entertainments on offer.

We spent most of our time this visit in Terminal 1 & 2, so this is just a snap shot of what is available at the Changi Airport. If you know your going to be here for a least 2 hours or more its worth checking out what interests you on the website, otherwise just wonder around and enjoy the sites. If you have at least 5.5 hours, do check out the Free Singapore Tour.
Continue reading “Singapore Airport: a destination”

Orchid Road: shopping nirvana

After visiting the National Orchid Garden, we made our way to a place that I had long been looking forward to on this trip, Orchid Road. This 2.2km long road is the major shopping belt, located in the Central Area and lined shopping centres. We only spent about 5 hours here but I could of spent a week combing through every store in every shopping mall.

Continue reading “Orchid Road: shopping nirvana”

National Orchid Garden

Only one more full day left on our Singapore trip and we save one of the best attractions for last. If your a flower lover or horticulture enthusiast you would really enjoy Singapore National Orchid Garden as much as I did. This garden is located in the Singapore Botanic Gardens and houses the most beautiful and exotic collection of orchids in the world.

The National Orchid Garden was open in 1995 by Singapore’s Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew. However, the Botanic Gardens has been been cultivating rare and beautiful orchids since 1859 and their Orchid House was opened in 1899. The gardens were redeveloped in the 1980s into a three core concept. These three zones are Bukit Timah Core, Tanglin Core and Central Core. On the highest hills of the Central Core is where you can find the amazing National Orchid Garden. This garden has the largest collection of tropical orchids on the plant. It has over 60,000 orchids from 1000 different species and 2000 hybrids.

To get to the National Orchid Garden we caught an Uber there. This was the quickest and most cost effective way from the Harbourfront. The driver dropped us right near the Orchid Plaza, where got a taste to some of the beautiful orchids we would later see. In this area there are a couple of cafes in the Ginger Garden. The Orchid Plaza store is also here where you can buy tickets to the garden and souvenirs. The tickets are really cheap, only costing $5 for adults and $1 for students. They are open from 8:30 am until 7pm. There are many other gardens within the Botanic Gardens that I would have loved to see if we had more time. Most are open from 5am until Midnight and are free to visit.

 

Continue reading “National Orchid Garden”

Harbour Front: Vivo City

On our Singapore Trip we booked a couple of hotels. The first was in Little India and the second was at the Harbour front, within the Bukit Merah district.  This is a convenient location if you want to visit Sentosa Island, but want to save on the accommodation. Our hotel was located across the road from the VivoCity shopping centre. Since it was my favourite shopping centre and we spent so much time there thought I would dedicate a post for it.

VivoCity is the largest shopping centre in Singapore and is both a shopping, entertainment and dining destination. No matter your budget you will be able to shop, eat and enjoy yourself in this centre since it caters for just about everyone. The centre houses Singapore’s largest cinema, biggest toy store, an amphitheatre, wade pool and four food courts. They are open from 10am until 10pm, giving you plenty of time to get all your minute shopping in or a place to hang out to get out of the heat. The Sentosa monorail and Broadwalk  leave from VivoCity, so its a convenient place to stop in at between attractions.

I found the selections of brands really great at this centre. There are international and Singaporean brands and a variety of high fashion, casual wear and quirky stores. I think the only thing that was really missing was a good bookstore. My only advice when navigating the centre is stay away from the stores leading out to the exits. This is where the beauty services are and they will try anything to get you in their shop and try to manipulate you to spend an obscene amount of money of their beauty products. I made this mistake twice, since I’m so polite. I didn’t buy from them but I did try to not return to these areas for another time wasting exercise.

0134

0107.jpg

 

Continue reading “Harbour Front: Vivo City”

Sentosa Island: beach and attractions

After a fun day at Universal Studios, we spent day 8 of our Singapore trip on Sentosa Island again. On this day we had some fun at the beach and did a few of the other attractions available on the island.

 

Continue reading “Sentosa Island: beach and attractions”

Sentosa Island: Universal Studios in pictures

I have a new dream people. My dream is not only visit all the Disney parks in the world, but also to visit all the Universal Studios parks. The Singaporean park is the first Universal Studios that I have visited so far and I really enjoyed it. This park was not as perfectly set out as the Disney parks I’ve visited but it still had plenty of nostalgia for many of my favourite movies and characters. Before visiting the park I made my own Guide to Singapore Universal Studios, so check out it if you intend on visiting.

What I loved about the Singapore Universal Studios is that its easy to get to, you can do it in a day, the lines weren’t crazy during the week and great themed areas and rides, lots rides for kids and express tickets. What could have been better is an evening show or parade (no available most of the week), better merchandise, more rides, character/movie themed food outlets and restaurants. I guess I may be expecting a bit much but I did leave the park little merchandise and don’t feel compelled to return to this park now I’ve experienced. However, I really appreciated that this park had so rides that my toddler could do and height charts out the front of the entrance gave us a good indications of what we could expect that she could visit. When we did the visited Florida last year, we decided against visiting the Universal Studios because there was little for her do it at those parks.

Another reason why this visit was so wonderful is that we were chosen as the First Family! Every day a family is chosen to open the park. We were chosen at the gates after Marco asked the nice attendant a question. We were taken in to a special room and were explained what we were meant to do to open the park. We were treated to free bottled water and 10 free Universal Express passes. We were actually going to buy some of those, so this was a big saving for us. Once we got out the park attendants introduced us, then Marco had to say ‘we are the [Surname] Family, Lights Camera Action’ and I click the directors clapperboard. Then we got a photo with Puss in Boots’, which we received for free later that day. Funny thing was is that Marco stumbled on his last name, since he pronounces different in English normally and I had already taught the announcers how to say it properly. He also held our family name upside down when we got our free photo. The whole thing was hilarious and is now immortalised in our photo.

During our visit we were able to do just about all the rides. I don’t do roller coasters, since I can’t somersault backwards, it just feels wrong. My favourite rides were Puss In Boots’ Giant Journey, Enchanted Airways and Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure. Octavia’s favourites were the Magic Potion Spin and King Julien’s Beach Party-Go-Round. For lunch we had burgers and fries at 50’s diner, Mel’s Dinettes (Hollywood), which wasn’t too bad. We also bought the Cookie Monsters Chocolate Chip Cookies from Me Want Cookies stand (New York), which tasted as yummy as I imagined.

So here are my photos from my day at Singapore Universal Studios at Sentosa Island on day 7 of our Singapore Trip. For more in-depth info on the park see my Guide to Singapore Universal Studios.

0016.jpg

Continue reading “Sentosa Island: Universal Studios in pictures”

Sentosa Island

On our Singapore Trip we spent day 7 and 8 at Sentosa Island. We moved hotel to the Harbourfront, adjacent to Vivo City, so we would be in walking distance of the Island. This was my second time visiting Sentosa. On my last trip we only spend a few hours at this beach. However this visit we had two days to make the most of the attractions on offer. We really enjoyed Sentosa and I could imagine if money was no object we could easily spend a couple of weeks there soaking up the sun and all the entertainment.

Sentosa is entertainment island is located south of Singapore. It houses a 2km shoreline, 14 hotels, 2 golf courses, and a variety of attractions. The name Sentosa means ‘peace and tranquility’ in Malay, which it totally fits. However, it was previously went by another name in Malay, which meant ‘Island of death behind’. There are many different theories to where this name came from and all don’t sound to nice. During WW2 it was a British military fortress and after it was training base for locally enlisted men to learn basic training and later the naval training base. We actually met a Singaporean man who told us he trained here for the army when he was a young man. This really surprised us since we hadn’t come across the military sites on the island.

To get onto the Island there are a few different ways. You can take a take the monorail from Vivo City, walk across the pedestrian bridge from the main land, a Cable Car from Mount Faber or take a bus from Orchard Road or Tiong Bahru. Within the Island you can also take the monorail and cable car to different stops, as well as an internal bus service. The only free way on and around the island is to walk, which is what we did. However I did notice ticket machines at entrance points, so I dare say this will change in the future.

 

Continue reading “Sentosa Island”

Clarke Quay: River Cruise

After visiting Tiong Bahru, we made our way to glitzy hot spot, Clarke Quay. We had intentions of doing the River Cruise, a bit of shopping and dinner there. This is actually my second visit to the quay. Its been about 8 years since I bump into a friend from back home while on holidays and went out to dinner with her and some friends at a fine dining Chinese restaurant. I just remember pretty colourful riverfront, the hoards of people and the extra $35 tea tax on top of our dinner bill.

Clarke Quay is a pedestrian mall that runs along the Clay Quay Jetty, on the Singapore River. In Colonial times, Boat Quay was the commercial center and Clarke Quay was where the warehouses were located and bumboats were moored. However, the Singapore River became so polluted that in the 1970s and 80s government moved the cargo services elsewhere and clean up the river. Later Clarke Quay was redeveloped into a commercial, residential and entertainment precinct. The Clarke Quay Festival Village was open in 1993 and Clarke Quay was continued to be revamped over the next 10 years. Today it is a bright and glitzy mall with colourful shop facades and riverfront dining, restaurants, bars and night clubs.

The best time to visit Clarke Quay is in the evenings, when everything is open and people are walking the strip. However, you can still visit during the day, like we did. If I were to revisited Clarke Quay I would definitely visit at night, unless I was in the area to see Fort Cannon Hill (behind Clarke Quay) or visiting the Asian Civilisations Museum and National Gallery Singapore (further down). If you do visit during the day there plenty of lunch deals.

 

Continue reading “Clarke Quay: River Cruise”

Tiong Bahru: hipsters paradise

On day 6 we visit one of the hippest neighbors in Singapore, Tiong Bahru. It’s not a really touristy hot spot and it was had a very different vibe to what I had seen in the city so far.

Tiong Bahru is actually the oldest housing estate in the country and was built in the 1920’s. It’s name actually stands for ‘new cemetery’ (thióng in Hokkien for “cemetery” and bahru in Malay for “new”), since there were a few cemeteries in the area. It  became quite a polluted and shabby part of town, so in the 1930s it got a face lift. Before I tell you about the interesting architecture, I first have to tell you what we had for breakfast.

Continue reading “Tiong Bahru: hipsters paradise”

Gardens by the Bay: Garden Rhapsody

After visiting the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest, we made our way to the SuperTree Grove, in Gardens by the Bay. This area features 12 Supertrees (out of 18) and is located in the center of the park. These special trees are man-made vertical gardens that are designed like large canopies. They give shade during the day and come to life during the night.They measure between 25- 50 meters, the tallest being 16 stories high. You can take a trip to the top of one of the trees or walk along the OCBC Skyway for an 128-metre aerial walkway. The trees contain up to 162,900 plants of over 200 species, including  bromeliads, orchids, ferns and tropical flowering climbers.

 

Continue reading “Gardens by the Bay: Garden Rhapsody”