Friday, May 17, 2013

Changi International Airport Terminal 3: "The Slide @ T3" and Gallery Exhibits

Fancy going down a 12 metre (4 storey) slide? It's only Singapore's tallest. More information about it at this website. Warning, you'll have to scroll quite a bit to get to the bottom of this panoramic shot!

We happened to be meeting some friends at the airport for dinner and A was keen to give the slide a go. K on the other hand, was worried for A as the slide looked scary, but she was unsuccessful at trying to convince A to give it a miss.

The girls observe other kids going down the slide!

Instructions and safety information board.

A started with the lower 1.5 storey slide that was free. The slide begins at basement one and ends at basement two. Television monitors indicate the speed of the participant, the number of riders to date, and show a live feed of the exit chute to ensure that the previous rider has exited before the next rider is allowed to enter. A turnstile gate limits the ride to one person at a time, and is usually manned by a staff member.

Waiting in line for my turn.

Waiting for my turn...

A monitor for parents waiting at the finish chute to watch their kids in the queue upstairs.

Children exiting the finish chute at Basement 2 downstairs.

The full 4 storey giant required a minimum spend of $10. We proceeded up to level one, all hyped up and ready to go. Daddy got into ambush position at basement two to get ready to snap the speeding bullet flying out the chute. All this came to an anti-climax when we were told A did not meet the minimum height requirement of 1.3 metres. Looks like this will have to wait a little longer than expected!

See-saw near the slide.

After a number a rides (close to ten perhaps?), we left the slide to go book our dinner table before the evening crowd. However, we found out the hard way that the airport is a popular Sunday evening hangout, and we ended up waiting longer than expected in queue for a table. Still, we're glad we found something else to entertain us while we're waiting, didn't we?

Before dinner, Mummy brought A to go look around at the viewing gallery, and some of the exhibits there. Besides marveling at jumbo jets take-off and land, there are a number of interesting exhibits there as well. Many of these depict interesting facts about the airport.

Topics covered at the gallery.

The gallery has become a cosy place to lounge around. There were even a number of students studying there. Climbing is not allowed on the exibits, although many children were seen clammering all over the structures. This probably explains why a handful of exhibits were not working properly.

Still, the exhibits were a drawing point and definitely educational for curious children of all ages.

The exhibits prompted our curious A to ask many questions about the airport, and a simple stroll among them turned out to be extremely enlightening, both for her as well as for us parents, who had to explain to her a number of facts she did not understand.

This exhibit helps us appreciate the artworks seen around the terminal. It requires children to match the close-up of the work above with the picture below. If the match is correct, both light up!

This explains how the food in airlines is prepared. Apparently, the kitchens are huge. Think assembly lines in a car factory!
A sliding puzzle which was almost impossible (for me) to solve. A little boy came over to help and did a way better job than I ever could!

We spent quite a long time there and A requested to go back for another stroll through the gallery after dinner, this time with Daddy.

Overall, this trip to T3 was a nice outing with the family and an opportunity to meet up with friends. Look forward to coming back.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Gardens by the Bay

Tulipmania exhibition is now on at Gardens by the Bay (29th April to 20th May at Flower Dome) The flowers are flown in directly from Netherlands and since it is too expensive for the whole family to fly to Netherlands, we decided it was a must to be part of the Tulipmania.

The girls and I woke up bright and early, all ready to start the day. We took the train to Bayfront station on the circle line and met another friend of mine. She, too, was eager to be part of the mania. From Bayfront station, we walked through the underpass at Exit B and was greeted with lush greenery.

Getting orientated

Running down the passageway with delightful laughter

It was indeed a relaxing way to start the morning. That day, being a school day, saw very little crowd and we had no qualms taking it slow. A shuttle service runs from Bayfront station to the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest from 930am onwards, the very moment we reached the pick up point. How timely. A loves tram rides so needless to say, we hopped on. It costs only $2 per person and it covers your way there and back. The shuttle service bus route covers the OCBC Skyway too but we knew we had to satisfy our cravings for tulips so we figured we would drop by the Skyway on the way out.

Banners along the walkway. Worked wonders in keeping the level of anticipation high.

An interesting display along the way. The girls ended up asking me a lot of questions. :)

For those who want to cover a bigger area in a shorter time.

Prices for Admission tickets. Citizens need to produce their identification cards to get the discount.
Lockers are provided at the entrance of Cloud Forest.
Wheelchairs, baby prams and audio guides can be rented at the service centre.

At the ticket counter, we were informed of the Mothers' Day Special - 15% discount off ticket prices. It would only last three days, (10th -12th May) so we sure were glad to be among the early birds. A wanted to go to the Cloud Forest first so off we went. Once the doors swung open, an impressive waterfall stood before us. A was all excited and walked in with her mouth and eyes wide opened. K, on the other hand, started crying and refused to enter. "I am scared." Even my offer to carry her was rejected. It took her a while to finally relent, on one condition, "Do not go to the waterfall." "Alright, Mummy promised. We will just walk pass it." I could understand why she was so apprehensive. The waterfall, towered over us like a giant. Standing at 35 metres in height, it was no wonder little K, was in tears. Even Mummy was in awe. The sound of the cascading water was so therapeutic that I, too, found myself rooted to the ground. That was until I realized A had moved on with her own exploration.

One word - WOW!
The high wall is home to many different plants, from orchids to pitcher plants and ferns. We spotted a lot of pretty flowers on the wall and they all added beauty and serenity to the waterfall. Trees and plants flanked our sides as we walked and are interjected with information panels. Numbers for audio guides are also marked clearly. I must admit that I was impressed. I relied on audio guides a lot whenever I visit non English speaking countries and was hoping that such service should be more widespread in Singapore. Hence, I was glad to see such service in Gardens by the Bay. 

One of the many information panels along the way

The towering wall of plants. Cloud Walk bridge just overhead.

Areas are marked for audio guide

Fancy seeing a train set in the middle of the forest!

We followed the signs and went straight up to the highest floor. As expected of A, she walked towards the Cloud Walk without any hesitation. K followed along with me but soon, she took to the bridge with the same level of bravery as her dearest sister. I, on the other hand, tried to conceal my fear of heights by marvelling at the beautiful flowers on the tower wall. The girls persuaded me to walk along the sides of the bridge, where one can see 35 metres down to the first floor, even though it looked more than 35 metres from the Cloud Walk. This is the reason why I avoid sports that require me to go to extreme heights like bungee jumping. I started playing games with the kids. I appeared really scared and held onto K for assurance. Their mission? To save mommy and to teach her how to be brave. A:"It is ok. You just have to walk." K:"Ok, first, you have to be scared, like me. Then you would not be scared anymore." I was really amused by her logic. True, she was scared when we first came in but it doesn't mean that one has to undergo fear before she can be brave. I marvelled at my girls' intelligence. Hahaha! In fact, the girls had so much fun on the Cloud Walk that they went for another round. I had to stop them from going again for  the third time.

A led the way, on the see-through railings

The tedious maintenance work. Good for the girls to see the hard work needed to put up the beautiful display.
Hopefully it would help them to appreciate their surroundings, and the workers, more.

The fruits of their labour

My brave warriors marching on

Dwarfed by the crystal mountains on the 4th floor

Never seen such a huge snail before. Maybe because we were at the Secret Garden?

+5 Degree at Level One

Focuses on the importance of trees in our surrounding and how Gardens by the Bay seek to contribute to the sustainability of the environment.

A video screening was also available but K was too scared to enter. My friend had to bring Anna in for the show instead.

Next stop

The flowery passageway upon entry

Each screen shows the life cycle of the particular flower featured on the panel

One gets greeted not only by space but by the fragrance of flowers

We started our journey into the Netherlands by getting into their shoes, I mean clogs

Representations of the Netherlands - windmills - littered along the railings

Information about the Netherlands and tulips are scattered along the walkway, on giant tulips.

A happy flower girl

Beautiful flowers everywhere to lift up one's mood

However, the main attraction was not available. Apparently, they had just changed the whole batch of tulips and we would have to come back after 4-5 days to witness the beautiful full bloom in display. Yes, we were disappointed but there were a lot of other things to distract us...

Entering the Mediterranean Forest

Getting down and dirty is all part of exploration. Watching a colourful display of roses patterns.

Tulips in full bloom. One of the only 2 kinds we saw that day. Not part of the Tulipmania display apparently.

Interactive panels at the exit.

Art and craft sheets were given out at the exit.

Everyone was tired after the 3 hours visit and it was clear that making a trip to the Supertrees was not a viable option anymore.  It was past noon and the weather was getting hot. Girls were hungry so we started making our way to Marina Bay Sands. We took the shuttle back to the Bayfront station, crossed the overhead bridge to Marina Bay Sands in dire search of food. The snacks that I had brought were all wiped out by the kids in no time. They were that hungry.

The Supertrees that would need to be conquered the next time.

"I can see..."

...Gardens by the Bay...

...and Singapore Flyer!"

Marina Bay Sands(MBS) is huge and as that was only our second time there, it took us a while before we could orientate ourselves and find the food court (which was a long, long walk. Didn't help that we did not know the way well). On the way, we spotted a small waterway in the middle of MBS. There were some sampans and out of curiosity, we made an inquiry. It turned out that one can take a ride down the 'river' for $10 a person (adult/child). K was too scared to give it a try so my friend had to accompany A for the ride. It was really great to have my friend around. She loves the children and they love her too. Without her, the outing would definitely have been more challenging for me and more disappointing for the girls. I am just glad that everything had been smooth thus far.

A round about turn in the center...of attention

A trying her hand on rolling the boat all the way till the end point.

Enough play. We were famished by the time we got to the food court. It was crowded and we were so blessed to find a table very quickly. Needless to say, we all finished our lunch in quick time too. There is an ice skating rink just beside the food court. A was eager to try but K and I were simply too tired to contemplate any more activities. Not sure if we would give it a try the next time because any fall would be open for all to see. Maybe after we have mastered our skills. A the moved on to making a tulip for my friend. She finished it very quickly and it was beautiful. It sure is a very interesting way to end the visit to Gardens by the Bay.

The craft was easy enough for the girls to catch on quickly. We had some extras which we continued at home, while chatting about the beautiful flowers we saw that day. I am impressed by the design and purpose of Gardens by the Bay and I am certain that it is worthy to be called a Singapore attraction for the years to come.