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22nd Jun
Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

Tokyo Dome City and LaQua Luna park, Tokyo Japan

Posted by Shaun at 10:14 pm under East Asia, Theme Parks | 69 Reads | Post Comment

Tokyo Dome City is a massive open concept mixed-use shopping mall and theme park located in the heart of busy Tokyo city. In addition to an attached amusement theme park, it comprises of an events space housing the world’s largest roofed baseball stadium, a shopping mall, spa and fitness center. It is easily accessible it by travelling to Suidobashi subway station on the Toei Mita Line.

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Suidobashi subway
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Laqua Mall
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Mall overview

The theme park is split into 2 main sectors comprising of 4 zones spanning over 4 different floors with flat rides littered all around the compound. The bulk of the rides are located on the ground level (Viking Zone) with an open fairground concept, making it very inviting to visitors, particularly young families who are can bring their children for rides while shopping at the mall.

Aerial view of Tokyo Dome City and LaQua Luna park from the Big O Ferris wheel.

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The ground floor is also where you can purchase tickets for the rides. A full 1 day pass valid for the day of purchase allowing for unlimited rides within the park will set you back 3,900 yen. Due to a limited number of good rides here, I personally recommend a ride 5 pass for 2,600 yen, giving you a choice to go on any five attractions.

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Viking Zone
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Log flume splash down
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Carousel

Given the close proximity of the theme park in the shopping mall, it is not unusual to see a ride entrance, or ride path situated right beside a food or shop. One such ride will be the Log Flume and Carousel. The LaQua zone located on the upper mall floors are where all the thrill rides are, with key attraction being the Thunder Dolphin roller coaster.

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17th Jun
Saturday, June 17th, 2017

Fuji-Q highland Themepark, Yamanashi Japan

Posted by Shaun at 11:08 pm under East Asia, Theme Parks | 74 Reads | Post Comment

Fuji-Q highland is a Japanese theme park located not too far from Tokyo at Yamanashi, getting there involves about an two hour bus ride from Shinjuku central bus station, served by Kieo/Chūō Kōsoku bus services costing about 7800 yen for a return trip. You can purchase the bus and park tickets at an inclusive discounted fare on the day of departure. Given its geographical proximity to Mount Fuji in Fujiyoshid, the park is possibility one of the few theme parks where you get snow (with the exception of summer). There was plenty to go around when I was there.

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Mt Fuji
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Bus from Shinjuku
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French plaza

Getting to the park from Tokyo will bring you along a freeway with sights on Mount Fuji up north. Upon arrival at the park bus terminal, entry to the park will bring you through a very nicely themed French plaza, complete with authentic store, cafes and restaurants with very nicely themed interiors.

Fuji-Q is known to be a thrill seeker’s paradise, and for its high intensity roller coasters. It is home to 7 roller coasters, with 3 of them taking honorable mentions. Entry to the theme park offers a number of ticketing options, such as free entry to the park where you can selectively choose to pay-and-ride each ride, or an all-ride inclusive ticket band, with the latter being the more cost-effective option if you plan to do most of the rides in the park. There is even a central ice skating rink in the park’s main plaza.

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Nice restaurants
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Fuji-Q highland!
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Ice skating rink & Ferris wheel

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Dominating most part of the Fuji-Q skyline and the park entrance will be the Fujiyama hyper-coaster. It is a speed coaster reaching speeds up to 130 km/h from its 79 m-tall hill lift. Opened in 1996, the distinctive golden coloured trains do give the ride some character, but the coaster do seem to show its age with its older more clunky supports, rail structure and less than ideal ride smoothness. The coaster was once the world’s tallest roller coaster, but now is the 8th tallest globally.

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8th Jun
Thursday, June 8th, 2017

Nagashima Spa land in Kuwana, Mie, Japan

Posted by Shaun at 11:55 pm under East Asia, Theme Parks | 132 Reads | Post Comment

Nagashima SPA land is a theme park not too far off Nagoya Japan in in Kuwana, Mie. With a large number of roller coasters, a waterpark and hot spring resort all within the theme park grounds by the Ibi River bay, Nagashima spa land is synonymous to almost to like the Cedar point of Japan- the park is one of the few “traditional” full theme parks in Japan with a massive compound complete with 45 rides and home to 12 roller coasters.

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Nagashima spa land
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Steel Dragon 2000
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Acrobat B&M Flying coaster

Dominating the entrance of the park is The Steel Dragon 2000 hyper-coaster with its 97.01m tall hill lift and 93.51m first drop. The coaster runs over the main entrance through both ends of the park and is the 6th fastest (153km/hr) in the world, you can recognize it by its distinctive red tubular tracks and red coaster trains which regulars does their roaring runs through the park. Steel Dragon does offer a pretty good first drop, gaining speed easily through urethane wheels on B&M trains, not only offering a smooth ride, but smoothly taking the over-banked corners with ease too. The 2,479 m continuous looping circuit lasting 4 minutes ends with a sequence of bunny hops, offering really good airtime.

Over view of Nagashima Spa land theme park at sunset from the park Ferris wheel.

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The other main coaster here will have to be Acrobat “flying bat” coaster, a B&M flying roller coaster, which is technically a clone of the Seaworld Orlando mantis roller coaster. You even get the same water jet elements when the train passes over the water. Two coasters Ultra twister and White cyclone were not operating on my visit.

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Shuttle coaster
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Space shuttle
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Drop tower

Nagashima Spaland is also home to a variety of classic rides, almost bringing you back in time, such as a corkscrew coaster, space shuttle, an elevator-style vertical drop tower and even a looping shuttle coaster. Interesting rare rides will also include electrical bobsleds, where you can zip through half-pipe tracks at rather blazing speeds. The log flume ride will get you totally drenched; the park recommends you to ride it with a poncho, which they will sell to you at the ride entrance.

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27th May
Saturday, May 27th, 2017

Army Open House 2017 at F1 pit building

Posted by Shaun at 9:09 pm under Events | 179 Reads | Post Comment

The Army open house was on this weekend at the Formula one pit building, just off Marina bay by the Singapore Flyer. The event coincides with NS50, a celebration of the 50 years of National service since it was introduced as a mandatory rite of passage for all Singapore males since 1967 across multiple service arms. The Army open house is usually organized on an ad-hoc basis, with the last one similarly held at the F1 pit-building in 2012. Usually, we will see a rotation of open houses across all the services in Singapore, with the Singapore Navy (RSN) running theirs a couple years back and the Airforce (RSAF) having their just last year at Paya Lebar airbase (in-conjunction with RSAF 50 too). The Open house runs from the 26- 29th May on public days.

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Entrance
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F1 Pit building
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Event overview

The Army, being the largest service in the Singapore armed forces (SAF) comprises of multiple active divisions made up of constituents of the Army formation, as such, the Army open house had always been a public favorite given its extensive reach to most Singaporeans. Entry to the open house is located across the youth Olympic park (Floating platform), with Promenade station being the closest MRT stop about a 5 minute walk away from the event. A quick security check will bring you along the road (F1 track) encircling the Singapore flyer towards the pit building.

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Dynamic display seating
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Static Displays
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New AFV

The Dynamic display stage sits at the entrance passageway into the event before leading into the Pit building where bulk of the exhibits and static display reside. The Dynamic display is a twice-daily live performance comprising of performances and capability demonstrations of the SAF as well as parachute landings. You get a variety of mostly land-based Army platforms on display parked along the starting grid of the F1 pit building. This includes offensive vehicles such as the Leopard 2SG main battle tank, Bionix 2 the new AFV, armored wheeled vehicles (Terrex, Peacekeeper), indirect fire vehicles such as our self-propelled 155mm howitzers to engineering support, mine-clearing, radar and bridging equipment. You also get Air and Naval elements such as the Apache attack helicopter and VSV (Very slender vessel) on display too. Fancy a ride on some of the vehicles? The open space behind the pit building is a small driving area where visitors can load up and go for short experience rides on a Terrex.

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16th May
Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

IMDEX 2017 Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference at Changi Exhibition Center

Posted by Shaun at 8:28 pm under Events | 226 Reads | Post Comment

The Maritime Defence Exhibition & Conference 2017 is on this week at the Changi Exhibition center from 16-18 May. I was present to check out on the latest maritime developments as well as the static warship display at the Changi Naval Base (CNB). Vehicular entry to the Changi exhibition center this time is open to both taxi and private hire cars, unlike the previous airshow which does not allow private hire cars without a vehicle pass. If you are coming from Singapore Expo, there is a shuttle bus pick up point at the bus stop 50m before Expo MRT.

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IMDEX 2017
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Exhibition grounds
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Ships berthed at CNB

Exhibition portion of the event occupies half of the Changi exhibition center comprising of the big names in the maritime and defense industries. Thankfully, attendees are strictly by delegates and trade show visitors, giving the show a more professional ambience and completely eliminating the rowdy and chaotic Singaporean public crowd typically seen in the Singapore Air Shows, especially on public days.

Highlights for visiting will be naval warship display and tours. Warships from 20 countries are all here at Singapore’s first international maritime review. This includes ships from the United States Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Australian Navy, Thai, China and Russian navy (just to name a few). You can get to learn of on-board operations and even have a chance to buy merchandise from the ships (especially the US ships).

Unlike the Singapore airshow, where planes can be convenient parked within the exhibition grounds right next to the exhibition center with a nearby serviceable runway. The ships on display here only can be berthed at the Changi Naval Base, which is accessible through changing between two shuttle buses- one bringing you from the Exhibition center pickup point into Changi Naval base, and, after clearing another round of security, hop on another smaller looping feeder service bus service bringing you to 7 different stops along the berthing piers where the ships are.

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Ships pier-side
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Izumo CLS
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Izumo Flight Deck

One of the largest ships at the maritime display is the Japan Navy Izumo CLS (JS Izumo P/N 183) Helicopter Carrier. You enter the Carrier from the aircraft bay where you ride the hanger elevator up to the flight deck level. Another aircraft carrier berthed there is the HTMS Chakri Narubet (P/N 911) from the Royal Thai Navy.

Similarly, the warships on display are berthed at and only open to registered visitors and delegates. The Warships Display offered a rare opportunity to get first-hand experience to meet with senior naval officers from various countries who will bring you on tours of their ships. Almost all the ships berthed at the Changi naval base were open for tours when I was there, with the exception of the Izumo, in Japanese fashion runs on clock work with fixed tour times.

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HTMS Chakri Narubet
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USS Coronado
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Coronado Hangar

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6th May
Saturday, May 6th, 2017

May 4th Starwars Festival at Gardens by the Bay

Posted by Shaun at 3:08 pm under Events | 189 Reads | Post Comment

May the force (May the 4th) be with you at the Gardens by the Bay Supertree Grove and The Meadow this weekend. In conjunction with the Starwars run happening this weekend on the 6th (Saturday), Gardens by the Bay and Disney are teaming up to run a line of Star War activities ranging from movie screenings, fan activities, photo opportunities with cosplay fans (and an AT-ST walker stand-in) and even lighting up the Supertrees in the supertree grove as light sabers (Saber trees) from 8pm to midnight. The beams are even visible from across the Marina Bay.

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Saber trees
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AT-ST walker
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Toy displays

Within the supertree grove, you get a number of white tent stores littered all around the attraction boundaries. This area is also where Gardens by the bay hosts their annual winter wonderland carnival stores, only that this festival charges no entrance fee. The supertree grove open grass patch is home to the silent disco, which is a modern take of blasting streamed music through wireless headphones from the DJ booth. To an onlooker not plugged-in, it looks tad unreal seeing party goers nodding their heads to a mystery beat in unison.

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Various stores
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Silent Disco
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Photo opportunities

The festival runs from 4 to 6 May 2017 (Thursday to Saturday) from 3.00pm to 11.00pm, with the garden rhapsody playing the Starwars tune all the way to the 2nd June.

30th Apr
Sunday, April 30th, 2017

Singapore Heritage Festival at Caldecott broadcast center

Posted by Shaun at 3:04 pm under Events | 202 Reads | Post Comment

With much of Singapore’s Caldecott broadcast center operating at the new Ayer Rajah- Portsdown media hub. The once restricted areas are now opened to provide a rare glimpse of the media compound. The festival comprises of 8 main areas of interest, comprising of 2 outdoor prop areas, 2 tented market carnivals including an outdoor stage and movie-screening area, an indoor stage and a prop warehouse. The broadcast center is accessible via Olive via the OMG gate (old main gate). Free shuttle services are provided too from Caldecott and Bishan MRT stations. There are plenty of very professional and friendly event staff and security personnel to guide you and address your queries to and at the event. Admission is free.

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Event entrance
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TV50 exhibition
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Movie-screening area

If you are a visitor looking to see and learn more about the Caldecott broadcast center, as well as Singapore media history, you will be in for a rather big disappointment given the lack of any such content (the national museum might be a better place). I remembered watching Under One Roof live over a decade ago in one of the studios in the main Caldecott radio building, having the impression that I can enter that same building to show my family around the now-decommissioned building.

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31st Mar
Friday, March 31st, 2017

Learning forest walk at Singapore botanic gardens

Posted by Shaun at 4:06 pm under Places | 219 Reads | Post Comment

The Learning forest is a new secondary forest extension of the Singapore Botanical Gardens. Located at the South east portion of the gardens at the new Tyersall-Gallop core, the new attraction sector sits on the outskirts beyond the USENSO portion of the botanical gardens. If you are coming from the south Tanglin gate, the new attraction is walkable (wheelchair accessible), and is a short 15 minute stroll past the Swan lake, where a short uphill climb will bring you to the iconic “walk of giants” and cargo net play area.

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The SPH walk of Giants
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View at top
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Tree top walk Nets!

The SPH walk of Giants is a 2-storey free-standing open structure which elevates you from the ground level right up to the upper tree line. You can either take the stairs up or use the elevator. On the top platform, you will be greeted by two large 5 by 5 meter openings in the structure, made to accommodate the trunks of two mature trees. A combination of interlinked cargo nets bridges this gap to the trees, suspending you a full 2 floors over the secondary forest foliage below the structure which you can use as a giant hammock or trampoline (just don’t bounce off anyone else currently on the net). Not quite for those with vertigo!

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The learning forest broadwalk
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Info boards
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Entrance of Learning forest

The forest walk section of the Learning forest connects to the walk of giants and brings you deeper into the forest on a wooden broadwalk path lined with a variety of information boards and point of interests along the route, such as the “Products of the forest” and “Bark of trees” sections. As the “Learning forest” attraction name suggests, you get to learn about the type of native trees, general ecosystem and the resident animals which natively reside here. Midway through, you will go past a lake man-made lake called the Keppel wetlands.

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4th Feb
Saturday, February 4th, 2017

Singapore Philatelic Museum- Adorable Chicken And Egg: A Fowl Tale

Posted by Shaun at 10:57 pm under Museums, Places | 123 Reads | Post Comment

Chicken And Egg: A Fowl Tale is a temporary exhibition on now at the Singapore Philatelic Museum. The Singapore Philatelic Museum used to be an old colonial school and postal office and is a little gem of a museum tucked along Coleman Street just off Hillstreet, just behind the Hillstreet fire station. The mini exhibition runs from 20th Jan to18th Jun 2017 in conjunction with the Chinese new year of the Rooster.

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Chickens at the Philatelic Museum
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Exhibit overview
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Info Boards

The mini exhibition sits in a tiny room on the second floor of the museum, which comprises of wall lined info boards throughout the room featuring really adorable chicken illustrations with a strong sense of humor. Here, you get to learn about chickens being really intelligent animals, how chickens came about as domesticated animals through a combination of exploratory flip-out style displays and audio-visual displays. Interesting to see how these flightless birds came into popular culture and viewed across the world (Some have royalty connections too!).

A mini barn sits at the center of the room, filled with kid-friendly stuffed toys and hay, allowing kids to explore the life inside a barn coop. The exhibit also features a mini mock-up cooking area about the various ways to cook eggs for consumption. Being a Philatelic museum too, the displays are not complete without an extensive collection of stamp featuring chickens all over the world. There are decorative eggs, comparison of egg sizes across various bird species in relative to our humble chicken.

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Mini Barn
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Stamps
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Decorative Eggs

The exhibit is really well put together, informative and worth visiting despite its small size, which is good for a 30-60 min visit if you are around town. The museum opens from 10am to 7pm daily. Entry to the entire museum costs $8 for an adults and children, $6. Admission is free for Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents. Just bring your NRIC over to the counter for scanning where the friendly counter staff will pass you the entry sticker.

Happy clucking!

View more photos of the Chicken And Egg: A Fowl Tale exhibition here.

1st Feb
Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Singapore Philatelic Museum- Harry Potter, Collecting Magic: From Stamps to Wands

Posted by Shaun at 11:01 pm under Museums, Places | 129 Reads | Post Comment

Harry Potter Collecting Magic: From Stamps to Wands is a temporary exhibition running from 2nd Nov 2016 to 18th June at the Singapore Philatelic Museum, it is focused on stamps and movie memorabilia related to the Harry Potter universe. The museum is tucked along a side street along Coleman Street just off Hillstreet fire station (near the old Funan mall site), the museum building used to be part of ACS compound and is now home to a variety of mini-exhibitions in the museum which usually runs for the duration of half a year.

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Overview
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Wall prints and animated screens
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Lego Diagon alley

This mini exhibition sits on the second floor of the museum. Entry to the museum is free for Singaporeans and PRs. While regular entry cost $8 for adults and $6 for children, entry grants you access to all the museum’s permanent and temporary exhibits. The staircase leading up to the second floor is narrow and quintessentually British. It is lined with silhouettes of various animals of the Harry Potter universe and “animated” portraits reminiscent of the wall-hung portraits and newspapers in the Harry Potter movies too.

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Box Sets
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Stamps!
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Quidditch mockup

In the gallery, stamps, robes and posters hang from the cluttered walls, made to look like a typical small British home. Displays include animated portrait screens featuring students posing in looping animations from our local polytechnics, movie memorabilia from private collections, comprising of limited edition box sets, postcards and even a Lego recreation of Diagon alley. Green screen area where you can picture yourself flying over Quidditch fields.

Viewing all the exhibits will set you back about 20mins, or longer if you are a Potter fan. I found the exhibits, though very well put together and very well-themed seemingly rather unfocused on the expected content displayed. As a philatelic museum, of course you have stamps in one area, but that just offers insufficient content to fill the gallery. As such, the remainder exhibits seems like content simply added to to fill up spaces in the exhibits, feeling rather out of place.

View more photos of the Harry Potter exhibition here.

28th Jan
Saturday, January 28th, 2017

Happy Lunar New Year of the Fire Rooster!

Posted by Shaun at 10:57 pm under Occasions | 109 Reads | Post Comment
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To all our Chinese friends and alike who celebrate the occasion alike, time to say good bye to the monkey and hello to the Rooster!

Wishing you a very happy Chinese new year and many happy returns!

1st Jan
Sunday, January 1st, 2017

Happy New Year of 2017!

Posted by Shaun at 10:40 am under Occasions | 148 Reads | Post Comment

A new year ahead, a new celebration for the new year. As 2016 comes to a close 2017, my family gathered at the Gardens by the bay with my grandmother for the New Year’s celebrations and countdown tonight.

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Eve Dinner
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Chilli crab!
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Fireworks

For new year’s eve dinner, I hosted a Seafood get together at Punggol settlement with grans and my cousin’s family at the House of Seafood to try out their signature Chilli crab. The restaurant was packed and rather cramped, but other food pretty OK for its price, offering a new chill night to spend the new year’s eve by the straits of Johor.

Happy New 2017!

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