Monday, August 12, 2013

Megabugs Return & Water Works @ Singapore Science Centre

The girls had such rave reviews when they returned from a school organised trip to the 'Megabugs Return' at the Singapore Science Centre that they were more than eager to "bring us there" and be our tour guides. Apparently, the original exhibition was held about 20 years ago! Considering that Mummy and Daddy hadn't been to the Singapore Science Centre in a while, the girls were ecstatic when we told them that we'd be happy to go with them again. After all, the trip would be educational, and there was a water-themed playground there to try out.

A life-sized dino display at the entrance of the Science Centre.

We arrived after lunch on a Sunday afternoon and quickly proceeded to the ticketing counter. Admission fees for both the Science Centre and Megabugs exhibition was $20 per adult and $15 per child. However, there was an on-going promotion where a child goes free with every 2 paying adults. It sure helped with the cost and we welcomed it. In addition, each admission ticket to the Mega Bugs exhibition entitles you to one voucher for a free ice lemon tea at E18hteenchefs outlets.To save on snacks, Daddy had prepared sandwiches with either sardines, tuna or cheese. These proved popular and nothing was left by the end of the day.

Getting our tickets!
Promotion rates between 13 July and 18 August.

Drink vouchers with every admission

Before beginning our exploration, we stopped by the lockers to dump some baggage excess we brought along. To get to the Mega Bugs exhibition hall, we had a short exploratory stroll past some of the passage way exhibits. Many of these appeared to feature optical illusions. Right outside the exhibition hallway to Mega Bugs was an interesting temporary exhibit on heat energy, covering interesting topics such as uses of fire, light and explosions. Right around the corner was the Coffee Hive, which appeared to be well patronized as it was a crowded weekend lunchtime. The food looked good too, with various combinations of meats, rice and fries being very popular among the crowd.

The centre-piece in the entrance hall was a complicated kinematics display.

Storage lockers were available for rent and can be activated by inserting $1 or 50 cent coins, depending on the size.

This display did a good job catching the attention of young children. It combines a mock-up canon with a video screen, and  the success of the mission depends on how well the kids load up the canon.

The Coffee Hive cafe outside the exhibition hall.

K. explores some of the information panels.

A simple hydroponics display that seemed a bit out of place between the cafe and the exhibition hall.
Nonetheless, it serves as a good talking point for young children.

The exhibition hall is designed such that there is a designated route winding through a dark, dimly lit setting. The giant garden and vegetation set-ups made me feel like a character from the movie 'Honey I Shrunk the Kids!'. Every corner had giant mechanized bugs that moved their heads or feelers, and there were were some tunnels for visitors to explore. A couple of activity corners were situated in the hall. Some involved art and crafts, aquariums holding living specimens, but the most popular one was an opportunity to have the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach crawl on your hand. We spent quite a bit of time at this one as it took that long for the girls to go from fearful to 'Daddy can you hold my hand while I let the cockroach crawl on it for a short while?' Well, only the older girl that is. The younger one got protective of her older sister and tried to stop her, but after showing them that it was harmless despite its gaudy appearance, A. was game to try.

(Apologies for the poor quality of the photographs. It was difficult  impossible to take good shots in the poor lighting using my mobile phone)

Giant insects outside the exhibition entrance.

A dimly lit maze of passages and giant mock up bugs welcomes you! Mind your step!

Walk right into the spider's liar!

The 'Stick Feet' booth allows the kids to feel what its like to crawl like an insect!

Is this a bug?

Even this giant can of insect repellent is no match for the giant mosquito.

Giant fungi?

Scorpion on the left!

Rhino beetle!

There were stand alone booths offering art and craft activities...

Didn't mummy ever teach you not to draw in the dark?

Watch your back sir! 

Information panels that light up at the touch of the buttons!

Giant centipede!

Dung beetles with their giant ball of poop... this one didn't smell too bad though.

At a corner were a row of aquariums with living specimens.

Checking out a stick insect. Can you spot it?

Kids intrigued by colonies of living cockroaches!

Another craft corner for the kids.

The highlight of the day: getting to handle the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach. These animals aren't anywhere nearly as disgusting as the trash dwelling critters we find in rubbish chutes. They're actually rather tame.

They feel smooth!

We did take a break from the Mega Bugs exhibition for a while to catch the 'Fire Tornado' demonstration outside the exhibition hall. Good thing re-entries were allowed. The demonstration proved to ignite the senses, the girls were intrigued by the giant pillar of fire. We still didn't really understand the science behind it except that vaporized kerosene was passed through a channel of fast moving air, but it was an impressive sight. The demonstration turned up the temperatures so that A. had to remove her jacket and began to perspire.

The crowd is awed by the power and energy of the pillar of fire.

A 3D film entitled 'Bugs' was screened in conjunction with the exhibition, and the girls had a chance to watch it the last time they were here. Due to time constraints (and tired parents), we decided to give it a miss. After spending a couple of hours at the exhibition hall, a little longer than we had planned, we realised that we might not have time to explore as much of the Science Centre as we initially planned. The Omni-Theatre was under renovation, but there were many other displays such as the Marine Cove that would've been fun to check out. The girls however had been looking forward to the Water Works playground and based on our budget for time, we would have to end our day there. We took a little bit of time to figure out where the entrance to the play area was, which allowed us to glance over some of the other displays. After gobbling down a few more sandwiches and a quick change, the girls were off to get wet and have some watery fun! Being a long weekend, there was no shortage of playmates as there were many other children there. Parents and guardians littered the border of the playground, many settling for seats on the ledge or stairs as most of the benches were already occupied.

Rules and regulations

Panoramic view of the play area

Fountains everywhere!

Navigating the watery maze. 

Dropping plastic balls into the 'vortex' and watching them spin round and round.

The Sunday crowd.

It was nice to see K. up and about, enjoying herself, trying to get into the action with the other kids. Being the more timid of the two, she usually either plays on her own or sticks to mummy and daddy. Today we enjoyed a different side of her, and we could see that she would genuinely enjoying herself, being adventurous and more sociable.

We left shortly after the play as dinner time was approaching and the girls were getting tired. By the end of the cab ride home, all four of us were in dreamland. It was a tiring, but enjoyable day out together.

The Megabugs Return exhibition may be over, and chances are that by the time this review is written, you'd have missed your chance to catch it. However, you never know... the Megabugs might just... return!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

National Day Rehearsal

We managed to get tickets to the rehearsal show for Singapore's 48th National Day Parade as Daddy was part of the working party. We arrived at the fun-pack booth at 4pm to meet some friends who were also joining us for the show. There was a light drizzle that had been dragging on since early morning, but Daddy had told us that ponchos were available in the fun-packs, which we donned on quickly before heading up to the spectator gallery. This was helpful as it meant we didn't have to bring our own raincoats, which would have added to the weight Mommy had to carry. In the fun-pack were a number of small packaged snacks, packet-drinks and bottled water, pamphlets and vouchers, and light-sticks which we will have fun with after the sun sets. Daddy had been on duty since the morning and he would be meeting us later midway through the show. Before heading to our seats, Mommy made sure that the kids made a visit to the toilet.

Guess who made a special appearance? Nila, the beloved Singapore Community Games mascot mingles with the crowd.

Merlion shaped biscuits come come in the Fun Pack! Snacking was never so patriotic!

We were allocated a section with a wonderful view. The seats were still wet due to the drizzle, which was slowly clearing up just in time for the show.  Throngs of primary school students were still making their way to their seats for the National Education Show. They looked so colourful as a result of the ponchos they were wearing.

Before the show started, the early birds got a kick out of spotting themselves on the big-screen as the roving cameras panned the the spectator stands for random shots. There were also some very creative on-screen games, when the big-screen video will focus on one person in the stands and flash a multiple choice question. The person can answer the question by flashing his or her choice of the answer by showing a 'one', 'two' or 'three' using their fingers.

"Busy-Bees" leading the songs!

Our beloved "Kacang Puteh"men! Note the ponchos on the spectators as the drizzle clears up.

The pre-parade segments began at about 5pm, with the Busy-Bees, motivational cheer and song leaders made up of volunteers, led us in a sing-along medley of local songs, one in each language. We were pleasantly surprised by the Kacang Puteh men who spontaneously appeared out of nowhere and tossed yummy peanut snacks into the crowd randomly. Our emcees for the show were the Gurmit Singh, Vernetta Lopez, Sebastian Tan and Siti Khalijah. Despite the number of rehearsals already done and hours put in before, they seemed to be full of energy and were dynamic and energetic from the start. You could see they were having fun doing their job, as they interjected and interrupted each other with humorous lines much to the delight of the crowd. The SAF Red Lions are an annual crowd favourite and they did not fail to please once again. This year features the first woman Red Lion, Shirley Ng.

"Kacang Puteh!!!" These were the most generous peddlers we've ever seen, throwing out packets of peanuts in all directions! It must be the pay-it-forward movement!

It's time for some local hits! "Rasa sayang eh..."

"It's a bird, it's a plane, its... the Red Lions!"

Birdman flies over the Flyer... to another perfect landing!

Vernetta interviews the rose among the thorns...

 To usher in the Dynamic Defence Display (D3) were four little children alter-egos of the emcees! The D3 storyline was presented in the form of a drama involving sophisticated pyrotechnics and hardware from the Army, Navy, Airforce, Civil Defence and Police Force. The presentation brought the spectators very close to the action through the large video screen info-grabs and the occasional movement of the participants through the crowds in the stands. The display concluded with a very special appearance, but I’m not going to spill the beans at this point (hint: think movie stars!)

Anti-terror police move in to take down the gunmen...

... they move into the crowd to seek out the fleeing terrorists...

The army has been deployed and are combing the built up areas...

The SAF's monsters of the road... Leopard Tanks!

The Civil Defense tending to the injured civilians 'hurt' in the terrorist attack...

A final wave goodbye from representatives of the real life heroes who keep our country safe!

The Parade and Ceremony segment kicked off at about 6pm, and the contingents were marked in like clockwork to the steady beat of the SAF band. A pleaser for us was how much ‘thump’ we were able to experience just being there. Every year we would watch the parade and show on our television screens, but being in the spectator gallery, we could feel every beat of the bass drum shaking the ground, every powerful shot of the 21-gun artillery salute pounding the stands, feel the sonic boom of the aerial flypasts and watch everything unfold around us wider than wide-screen. It was truly an eye (and ear) opening experience, so much so that certain parts of the parade required us to cover our ears due to the loud noise! One of our favourite parts of the parade was when the National Anthem was played, the Chinook brought in the flag fly-past flanked by two Apache attack helicopters. However, we did not manage to get any pictures of it as we were all at attention! You can Google for photos of the majestic sight I guess.

Marching in of the Colours Party.

Contingent march past.

F-16s doing the 'double shackle'!

The traditional 'Starburst' formation by the F-16s! Powerful sonic booms here!

The theme ‘Many Stories, One Singapore’ was strongly emphasized throughout the show segment, beginning with traditional legends of Singapore told by the energetic child emcees. There were numerous dance items by different groups, of which some photographs are featured here. Each act was a treat for the senses, either music to our ears or a spectacular combination of lights and sound. Kudos to the participants and artistic team led by Dim Sum Dolly Selena Tan!

Little Gurmit tells the legend of the swordfish!

What's a story session without the legend of the how Singapore got its name?

Note that the background imagery is innovatively made up of pixel boards held up by student participants!

This segment celebrates how Singapore's city skyline has changed over the years.

Light sticks from the Fun Pack come in handy as we sing along!

This shot of the stunt-bikers, roller-bladers and skate-boarders is blurry due to the fast speed they were moving at and the fog effects that accompanied it!

With the setting of the sun came a very different atmosphere.... and fun with lights!

Each item became more and more brightly lit!

There was a special appearance by our beloved mascot, the Merlion! What's he doing on stage?

Before the show comes to an end, there's always the much anticipated volley of fireworks we've seen from a far or on television many times. Being on the scene gave us a different dimension, as it was not confined to a spot on the skyline. It was everywhere, like the difference between watching a movie on the television and being in a 4-D movie theatre! It seemed like despite it being simply a rehearsal, they were letting it all fly! Perhaps they needed to test the full effect! More photos here for us to enjoy!

The Finale was a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem with all our performers on stage together, followed by an impressive display of fireworks again.

The show ended a little past 8 pm and we had to walk quite a bit to find a spot we could conveniently take a cab from due to the competition for public transport and road closures. Mommy did a good job of shepherding two tired kids out of the Marina Bay Float as Daddy was on duty till much later that night. However, the reward for all that effort was an opportunity to experience a preview of the nation's biggest party, and what an eye-opener it was. The kids enjoyed it thoroughly, and we'd hear them bellow their own rendition of the songs and re-enact out their favourite items for the rest of the week.