Saturday, September 3, 2016

Thrifts and Thrills in Singapore: Universal Studios and Hawker Stalls

I didn’t really plan on coming back to Singapore. After all, I did enjoy my first time there but the activities really took a toll in my budget, especially since I always try to live frugally when travelling abroad. However, my travel buddy during my Malaysia trip insisted that we go to SG because he hasn’t been there yet, and his bargaining piece was that we can actually go to Universal Studios. He made a good point. So coming from Penang, it was only an 8-hour comfy bus ride and I am back to the arms of Singapore again!
P.S. USS pictures are not mine, so credits to the owner, Rudz!


I am glad that we have friends in SG who took us in to their humble abode (HPers, if you are reading this, thank you very much! I guess we still owe you some booze). Anyhow, unlike our trip to Malaysia wherein we did some research prior to coming to the country, I actually had no idea what else to see in Singapore that would pique our interests aside from USS. Our friends were busy with work so they were only able to take us to eat, so we don’t know if there are any hidden spots we have yet to see. Singaporean readers, do let me know what not to miss next time I come to SG :)

hainanese chicken
my first meal in SG, I really love Hainanese Chicken!
char siu noodle
another yummy dish we sampled in SG

We were pampered by our friends in Singapore that we always ended up waking up so late. It was afternoon when we decided to stroll around some touristy sights, and finally I was able to get a picture with The Merlion! Well aside from of course, the nice view of Marina Bay by night, a selfie with Merly is one of those memorabilia that attests that you have made it to Singapore, lah! I wasn’t able to take a picture during my solo trip in 2010 because I was shy to ask strangers, so three years after and I finally have that SG ultimate tourist photo.

singapore merlion

marina bay
Marina Bay

marina bay light show
light show
amazing night view in SG

Universal Studios Singapore was our destination the following day. One tip that I could probably give is to wake up early so you get to more time inside the theme park. It was another late day for us, and we immediately regretted not going to USS during the morning because it was so freaking hot during noon, and of course, it didn’t help that we were there during the summer period. \m/ I was a bit taken aback when I saw the price of the USS tickets, but my friend assured me that based from the reviews, it will be worth it. Universal Studios was really huge and at first glance, I knew it would be my kind of thing. I am not a big fan of kiddie theme parks (a friend was disappointed of my review of Everland, I know I know) so it was a good thing that USS had tons of scary looking rides that really hyped me up! Everything looked awesome and we had a hard time deciding where to go first.

universal studios theme park

We tried going to the kiddie areas of USS first because we want to save the best for last. (Un)fortunately, the queues there were really long and both of us didn’t have the patience to wait it out due to the heat, so we decided to move on to ‘Far Far Away’ to try out Shrek 4D adventure. I couldn’t really remember what the story was about, but I remember laughing so hard and being surprised by water sprays and air blasts! I wished we took the ‘Puss in Boots Giant Journey’ ride, but the line was too long, ain’t nobody got time fo that. Move on to the next.


shrek universal studios

I have no idea why my companion was taking pictures of the show

‘Ancient Egypt’ grabbed our attention because of the various cosplays or actors in costumes.  The entire set up made us feel like we were close to the pyramids, or like we were on the set of that movie, The Mummy.I recommend ‘Revenge of the Mummy’ for everyone, it’s a thrilling ride but most of all there is a spine-tingling back story! This might probably excite you more.

“Plagued on all sides by huge fireballs, swarms of scarab beetles and an army of warrior mummies, all in total darkness.Can you survive the awesome power of Imhotep’s curse or will you be entombed inside forever?” – from USS site

6 pack, pak ganern!

‘Sci-Fi City’ took the rest of our time away because most of the exhilarating, action-packed rides are located here. We had no idea that we would enjoy the ‘BattlestarGalactica: CYLON’ ride so much, I’ll let you guess how many times we tried it. (Once, twice, thrice?) Nope, I think we tried it for about eight times!!! Eight whooping times! If you love loops and fast-paced roller coaster rides, then believe me, this one you shouldn’t miss. The twists, turns, and drops were unpredictable but it was so much fun! It was a good thing that a lot of people were intimated by this ride, so there were no queues! We had no problem repeating this ride over and over again. @_@ I looked like this emoji afterwards because we were both dizzy from going up, down, sideways, and backwards and my throat got so sore from all the laughing and screaming, but it was all good times. If I had the opportunity to go back again to SG and extra money for USS entrance pass, I’d go back anytime for this ride. Oh and I forgot, a bit of a TMI maybe, but me and my friend didn’t throw up after our numerous CYLON rides together. What an achievement.

Sci Fi City

my favorite ride, Battlestar Galactica Cylon!

We probably spent an hour or so at the Cylon and when we realized we have had enough fun and were feeling lightheaded already, we noticed that the crowd was already thinning out and we were told that the park will be closing down for the day in a couple of minutes. Wait, what?! But we were still having so much fun :( So with our remaining time, we tried to look for that one ride that will best conclude our day. We looked for places nearby and we saw that ‘TRANSFORMERS The Ride: The Ultimate 3D Battle’ had people still lining up despite the time, so we joined them on the queueing, good thing we made it on time for the last ride. My friend had been constantly raving about this ride but honestly, after having a go at the Cylon for multiple times, the Transformers ride became forgettable. I’m not saying it was not good, there was a storyline that you can follow and amazing 3D effects but we still had that rush from the Cylon that the Transformers ride felt like a piece of cake for us. If I were to do it again, I’d try this ride first then go crazy-all-I-want at the Cylon afterwards.

at least, we also got to try the Transformers ride

I think I can say we were lucky enough to try out all the good and popular rides in the park, because as soon as we went out of the Transformers ride, lots of people were already heading for the exit. But if you cannot take all these kind of rides, especially if you are coming with your family, then there are still some awesome shows and attractions in the park that we were not able to explore further such as ‘Hollywood’, ‘New York’, and ‘Madagascar’ that I bet will be a big hit with the kids. Also, if you don’t like waiting in line, then there’s the ‘Universal Express Tickets’ which is like a VIP pass that you can show to the staff and you’ll be allowed to go in the ride sans the wait. Overall, I think I’d probably go again to Universal Studios Singapore if I have the extra moolah to shell out and go gaga at the Cylon again.

On my last day in the country, I went back to being the frugal mode and went to look for some souvenirs. My go-to place is Bugis Street because the prices here are almost at par with Divisoria, but there are unique items that I haven’t seen in Manila. While I was walking towards the shopping district though, I noticed this crowded building called Albert Centre and I went inside thinking they also had cheap clothing for sale, but I was in for a surprise. It was a building full of hawker stalls, woot woot! I am so happy that I discovered this and how I wished I saw this the first time I went to Bugis.  However, there were too many choices and even though, I wanted to try different dishes, I ended up just buying one.

hawker sg
unassuming entrance to Albert Centre
hawker stalls

It’s easy to overspend when buying around in Bugis Street because there are lots of nice deals and from what I noticed when I went there last 2013 that you don’t get to see the same products at each stall. There’s something unique every time you pass by a new shop, so window shopping there is also a great way to pass time if you don’t have enough shopping money left, I doubt that you’ll end up buying nothing there though. I got items for around $8-$15 SGD only, and yes, I admit it, I always try to bargain! My mom trained me ever since I was a kid. :P

cool shirts in Bugis!

It might have been a short trip to Singapore but it was fun, action-packed and full of laughter nonetheless. I know I still missed some unique spots, (Haw Par Villa, I know you are waiting for me!) and hoping to try outthe hawker stalls given Michelin starsso I am still hoping to come back, hopefully, with the whole family next time.

Any tips when going to Universal Studios? Recommended tourist spots that I missed during my first and second time in SG? Feel free to let me know by commenting below :)

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