Taking a new challenge – It has been a while since I last took a vacation. This time, I wanted to take Malicca (5 y.o) with me. The destination was to Universal World. Where was the nearest? Of course, Singapore.
Turned out it was not a mother – son only adventure, but was even more interesting since my sister in law Mba Dyah and her daughter Dinda (10 y.o) decided to join. It was a planned holiday. Though Malicca was ‘only’ in Kindergarten, I did not want to set a bad habit to ‘kidnap’ him from school for our holiday. Luckily, we got a promo ticket from Air Asia way before our departure.
We could not have a really long holiday due to my limited leave rights and budget, but I was sure it would not lessen the fun. The journey itself was held in May 19th – May 23rd 2012, an ode to Malicca’s fifth birthday. I have been to some other places, but not Singapore. I have been travelling with bunch of people who travel a lot, but never lead. So all in all it was a challenging adventure. It was my first time conquering Singapore, Malicca’s first time going abroad and going backpacking, we were!
Not a surprise and just like what I predicted, Malicca got up exactly at 4am without hassle. Our flight was on 5.45 AM. He took a bath, had his breakfast (though not much) without being fussy, he knew he was going to have a big holiday. Too bad, he had the same ugly tummy as his mom. He threw up in the cabin and refused to eat anything.
As we arrived, the first thing I did was to buy some Singapore dollars. That day, its rate was exactly the same if you bought in Jakarta (around Rp. 7500). Then we strolled to the tourism board to get some maps and took a peep of all happenings around the city. We waited until 9.30 AM in order to get the taxi cheaper and went straight to our hotel.
It took us S$ 18 (about Rp. 135.000) from Changi to Mayo Inn Hotel in Mayo Street. Thanks to tripadvisor for recommended the hotel, we found the hotel was nice, clean, cosy and strategic (this one I found out later on, after mastering the city map). Mayo Inn was located on Mayo Street, right in the middle of Bugis Junction and Little India. We stayed in the Family room that cost S$ 150 (about Rp. 1.25.ooo with tax). The room was worth the money for the four of us. 1 queen bed plus a single bed and you could ask for extra bed, very rare policy for most hotels or hostels in Singapore who did not allow extra beds.
We arrived early, way before we could check in the hotel room. So after we put in our luggage, we started our adventure. Looked at the kids, I somehow knew they needed some rest. But what could we do, we could not check in the room yet and there were no early check-in or late check-ups. So there we were went through the Mayo street and Bencollen Street and accidentally found the Bugis Village and Bugis Junction. We tried some street snacks there and finally got to the MRT station.
We bought a 3 days pass ticket and started to learn the MRT maps. To tell you the truth, I was so afraid of getting lost. But since I lead this little group, I could not show my worry face, couldn’t I?
Then I learnt that travelling with family and travelling with buddies were way different. With buddies, we have targets to achieve. Sometimes, neglecting our physics yet we pushed ourselves to explore the place as much as possible. But travel with family required more patience. We needed to see people’s condition, and more over they were kids.
So, yeah … I canceled my plan to explore Orchard road and stopped at Ion Orchard mall where the Orchard MRT station was located. We tried the famous Singapore Hainan Chicken Rice at the foodcourt and bought some things for my friends at Sephora. For beauty babes, Sephora was a heaven on earth for your make-ups hauls, with cheaper price compare to Jakarta.
Then I saw Malicca’s tired face. He was no longer looked excited. Of course, he woke up at 4 AM and it is almost 3 PM and started whining wanting to get back to the hotel.
After had a 3 hours nap, we continued to explore the left wing of Mayo Street where we found Bugis area. We strolled for its street snacks and ended up in McDonald’s for dinner. We went earlier to bed, since tomorrow will be a tiring day.
Conquering Singapore Day 2
Wakey wakey kids, the sun rises earlier in Singapore! But out of our expectation, there were storms. So, while waiting for the storm to stop and kids were still cuddling each other anyways, I took the last minute glance to the map and Singapore Zoo’s website.
This morning’s objective was to find a shuttle bus to the Zoo. Singapore zoo is quite far. Well, even though everywhere is near in Singapore, the zoo was located in a kind of place we cannot reach with MRT. So, the easiest way to get there is first, by taxi. Secondly, by getting the shuttle bus. Of course, in the spirit of backpacking and exploring, we decided to take the second option.
The shuttle bus’ pick up time is on 09.15 and 10.25 AM. We picked the second round. Because this is an automatic country (and so Uwak Dyah said so), therefore we needed to be on time. Thank God, the kids were very cooperative and no drama.
To get to the shuttle bus, we needed to find The Verge (and so the Singapore Zoo’s website said). The Verge was located near Little India. It was on the right wing of Mayo Street while Bugis was on the left wing. So, it is another corner of the city we needed to explore and we need to do it quickly before the shuttle bus arrived.
Then again, if I were alone or if it was a travel with buddies, that might not be a problem. But traveling with kids? Well, everything should be in a good precision. The kids friendly route (try to look for shady routes and slow traffic), the kids walking phase and keep water bottle handy. So, after I tell the kids that we were going to take another long walk to look for The Verge, we started our journey to the zoo.
It took us quite a while to find The Verge. At first, we waited in The Verge Bus shelter. After quite sometimes, I realized that the bus shelter was located in the corner and it is impossible for a big bus to stop and picked up passengers. There, I started to ponder. So, I asked people around, but nobody knew where the Zoo’s shuttle bus usually parked. We decided to take a turn of the neighborhood and found The Verge building. In front of the building, there were some busses but I saw no shuttle bus to the zoo.
Then we stopped by at 711 to buy milk for the kids and waited for almost 20 minutes.
As we about to get a taxi, hey look! There came the big bus to the zoo. Yeay!
I thought the bus was going to be a big, cheetah pattern painted bus and a roaring horn. Naaaah, it was a regular white, big bus with a big label on the front mirror: ZOO
Awrite kids, here we go!
Hello Zebra, here we come!
We were so happy we could find the shuttle bus to the zoo. It required a long walk, courage and patience of course. I think getting the shuttle bus made me happier than the zoo itself. It felt like winning the day!
But it was even happier to see the kids’ eyes as we arrived to the zoo. Nothing beats the sexiness of Zebra’s ass, seriously! It took us about forty five minutes to get to the zoo. Malicca, of course, fell asleep. Soon as we got there, he was stoned still.
Speaking of the zoo, or course we could see various animals. Nothing new, but it was fun. The kids were having fun especially on the water world in the middle of the zoo. Don’t forget to bring swimsuits and extra changes when you go to Singapore Zoo. Beside of Singapore’s hot and humid weather, you won’t be able to keep their clothes dry when they play in the water world section.
My worry rose when I found out McDonald’s did not serve rice, only mashed potato with a huge taste of monosodium glutamate. After 6 hours strolled the zoo, finally decided to get home. But what? Got back to the hotel in this hour? For sleep? Not a chance, kiddo. Let’s go to IKEA instead!
Happy mommies happy kids at IKEA Alexandria
So much of backpacking spirit. After half day trip strolling the zoo, let’s just get a cab to IKEA Alexandria then. Being very tired, the kids slept as the taxi hit the ground.
I smiled as I saw the big blue square building that has Ikea name on one of its panel. Ikea has a day care where we can put our children for one hour, free of charge. The kids would love to go there. Mommies were happy too, knowing we would be ecstatic inside, without interruption.
But you know what, despite all those cute stuffs, I mesmerized with the best ice cream I found in Ikea. It melted in your tongue, no after-taste. Only with S$2 we got a package of hotdog, coke and a cone of delicious vanilla ice cream. Malicca loves it too, he took 2 packages.
After exploring Ikea, we went to a little shopping store in front and found some Cotton On tees for Malicca. After that we went back to the hotel and went off to Little India to find some good food for dinner.
Malicca began to get used with the situation, that he needed to take a long walk. On first day he protested a lot because of the long walk. Today is the second day and not a single time he complained. That was what made this night walking journey was so full of fun. There were always much to see in Little India. From flowers, temporary tattoos, sparkling lights, incense, exotic reptiles and so much more. We stopped by at Mustafa too, a 24 hours shopping palace where you can find almost everything to bring home. Chocolates, biscuits, assorted nuts, key chain, t-shirts, everything Singapore you can name of. Too bad, we could not find any common foods for the kids. Another consideration for travelling with kids: go to safe restaurant kids can take the taste rather than exploring new foods for your taste bud. Since we were too tired to stroll for more restaurant, we got back to hotel and ordered pizza instead.
The day I got back to childhood
We were on our third day in Singapore. Today I felt a bit relaxed because the hardest-to-reach-destination of our trip (zoo) had successfully managed yesterday. Plus, I had my ‘hajj’ ticket to IKEA! And to add with, now I have a bigger picture of the city compared to two days ago.
Our objectives on our third day were Universal Studio and watched Song of The Sea in Sentosa island. Luckily, the transportation was very easy and the kids were very cooperative too. Even though Malicca and Dinda did not really enjoy the MRT rides and they preferred bus, they did not complaint at all.
Going to Universal Studio reminded me to my journey to Hongkong Disneyland a few years back. By the time I stepped my feet into the MRT, it felt like I entered a time capsule that was taxing to my childhood.
Singapore was very packed that day. It was like everyone was going to the same place and I was a bit afraid the Universal Studio might be full. I heard that we should book the ticket first, but I tried my luck that day. And we were very lucky.
Seeing the very crowded visitors, I decided to buy the Express tickets in order to avoid long queue and unnecessary hassles. It was to save time too.
The kids were very happy. Malicca was only five and I was very surprised he could enjoy the extreme games. I remembered I had cried when I ride my first roller coaster when I was 9 (*shame on me*). Malicca was even more happier when he saw all the vintage American cars. Though not long after that he started to look tired and not as enthusiast as we arrived. Understandable, because the weather was very hot and humid. Thank God, some cups of bubble tea and smoothies cheered him back.
Kids favorites were of course Transformer and the Water World. Too bad, Malicca could not enter the Mummy Returns studio because he was only 5. Thanks to Dinda who reminded me about the Water World show, it was the best show I experienced that day and so perfect to close our visit *big grin*
The Song of The Sea
Me and Malicca got splited up with uwak Dyah and Dinda at the souvenir store. While waited for them, we sit in front of the store and watched the character carnival. For this matter, Disneyland had done it better. Even better.
While my eyes were mesmerized by the costume colors of universal studio’s characters, I felt Malicca who was sitting on my lap was a lot heavier. Oh well, he fell asleep. Deep sleep he had he would not wake up though I did everything I could to wake him up.
I kept walking and carried him. We encountered the long queue, because apparently everyone off the venue altogether and aiming to watch Song of the Sea as well.
We headed to the last stop of Sentosa Island and had a few more hours free before the show. We got to the tram and had a little excursion through the island of Sentosa.
We bought the VIP seats to watch Song of the Sea, we were on the first row! Budget limitation only went for accommodation, but not for the fun part.
It was a beautiful performance, I must say. All the vibrant colors from the fountain, the beautiful voices and breezy wind from the beach made the performance perfect kids did not look bored watching it.
These are all for day 3 adventure. It was very fun and all I wanted when I reached our hotel was a pair of new legs. Oh yes I wanted it more than a pair of Christian Loubotin, seriously.
We reached the last day of our Singapore adventure. Our flight to Jakarta was at 4 PM, so we still have our last 6 hours to run around the city.
We went to the Esplanade with MRT. We did early check-out but put our luggage in the hotel and would picked them up later on.
It was easy to find the Esplanade via underground city link mall. Luckily there was Singapore Arts Festival held in Esplanade. I was so happy to see the installation art that filled up the whole wall in the basement. Too bad, there was no performance until 1 PM yet we were in a hurry to get to the airport. How sad.
So there we were, in a very hot and humid day, took a walk and explore the Marina and, since we were in Singapore and The Merlion statue was very famous, we took a picture there JUST BECAUSE.
After finished taking pics and bought some ice cream and pop corn and hot dogs, we went for a taxi. It was a very sunny day and it was lunch time we barely got a taxi. But we are lucky. We only needed to walk to the next building and found an empty queue for taxi. Then we picked our luggage back to Mayo Inn and went straight to the airport.
We know we still have so many things to see. We had not conquered Singapore museums and its exhibitions and many other things. But I loved the highlights of our trip where I and my son bound even more tightly, … and that was enough for me.
We will be back someday, when I got my extra legs for sure!