WoT's Hot

Scintillating Singapore and Magnificent Malaysia

Saira Shah Halim

If you are planning to visit Singapore, one needs to keep at least a minimum of five days to a week in hand to fully savor what the city has to offer as there is so much to see.

A lot of people make the mistake of not doing proper research while planning Singapore, so if you are planning to visit this city, its best clubbed with Malaysia, and if you have young children then Legoland Malaysia should be a must on your bucket list.

A trip to Singapore requires some planning and one has to fulfil certain formalities for the visa, which is generally a smooth process.

Once our visas were done, my husband Dr. Fuad Halim, daughters Nura and Farishta and a close friend Ruchhita took the midnight flight to Singapore.

Photo credits:Legoland Hotel                                                                                                        Photo credits: Johur Bahri:IProperty

When we landed at Changi Airport at midnight on the 6th morning, we headed straight to Johur Bahuri Malaysia without wasting anytime. All 5 of us – my family and dear friend Ruchhita, immediately boarded our pre-booked car which was comfortable and spacious that drove us to Johur Bahuri, Malaysia. The idea was to make the kids experience Legoland in Johur Bahuri. We decided to book a three days and two nights stay at the Legoland Hotel − a fantasy land to boot!

This also happens to be Malaysia’s first international theme park, just across the causeway and barely an hour’s drive from the Singapore airport. Immigration on the road itself was a smooth process as we enjoyed the picturesque drive.

We arrived at Legoland by 10.30 am and literally had the day to ourselves. After we checked in, we made our way to the water theme park which was offering an array of exciting roller- coaster rides and some fun and frolic by the pool area. Sampling all of it, we decided to retire to our room which was theme-based comprising of a suite that included a children’s area with three bunk beds which was quite an experience itself, akin to reliving one’s childhood fantasy.

We then proceeded to the Johur Bahri area to soak in the sights and sounds of the city. Nothing beats the flavor of local food at a local place as we sat down outside a shack savoring fresh coconut ice-cream that was followed by Chicken Satay for starters and ended with a sumptuous bowl of Steamed Rice with Chicken Curry, truly an experience worth cherishing!

On the second day at Legoland Malaysia, we had ensured booking of passes for the numerous rides that were to keep us engaged courtesy our travel agent. So off we went exploring the place, forget the kids, I think we adults too were having a whale of a time. At one point one could be a knight battling dragons or an ace racer speeding down raceways. The children had their own driving zones where one gets so absorbed in the role play that one forgets that it’s a fantasy world.

Photocredits:LegolandMalaysia                                                                              Photo credits: Legoland Malaysia

Legoland also has these quaint miniature cities built inside its massive area. There is a miniature version of the Taj Mahal at Agra as well as the Great Wall of China.

Then there are Lego kingdoms to explore, the area replete with brave knights and legends galore.

Photo credits:Carousel: Legoland Malaysia                                                                                                          Photo credits:Hello Kitty

Once we had explored the area we moved onto enjoy the carousel rides followed by the Dragons apprentice, a scary and exciting ride in itself.

On the third day as we braced ourselves to return to Singapore, we stopped by at Hello Kitty Town. Our little girls were thrilled to check out Hello Kitty’s home which is replete with a drawing room, kitchen and a bathroom, and all of us managed to paint on Hello Kitty cookies, which were edible of course. The place is also excellent to pick up Hello Kitty memorabilia and for candid photo opportunities.

As we left Hello Kitty behind and proceeded to drive to Singapore, it took us less than an hour to arrive at our hotel –the Orchard Parade Hotel on Orchard Road. We had booked two interconnecting rooms so that everyone could get their due space.

Photo credits:Night Safari:As we saw it                                                      Photo credits:Night Safari: Travel Triangle

As evening dawned on us, we headed straight for the night safari. You can get your entry pass booked online or buy an entry pass at the entrance itself. The night safari is an exhilarating experience for you and the children as one get immersed in the world of rare nocturnal animals, live animal shows and soak in an environment that lays stress on preservation of forests and wild life. It also happens to be the world’s first safari park for nocturnal animals with over 2,500 animals over 130 species. Soon enough our team of five was on the tram ride through dense forests where the creatures of the night roamed in their natural surroundings. Flash photography is prohibited for obvious reasons.

The most memorable trails were the fishing cat and leopard trails. We also got to see rare animals like the fruit bat, striped hyena, bat-eared fox, white lions, pangolin, gaur, tapir and bearded pigs.

Photo credits:Universal Studios:Buffalotrip.com              Photo credits:Universal:AspirantSG

On the following day we proceeded to Universal Studios and immersed ourselves in the awe- inspiring architecture and amusement the place had to offer. From exhilarating, fun, roller- coaster rides as angry dinosaurs waited for us at the end of the ride, prior to which the entire rubber boat we were in getting overturned as one went tumbling down into a man-made stream.

The theme park measures 20 hectares and an entire day spent here would not do full justice to the place with several movie-themed zones and mock-up of Puss in boots, fairy godmother to vintage castles are all present here.

Photo credits: Arab Street: Meetrip                                                                                                               Photo credits:Zam Zam Singapore

After completing a full day we proceeded to Arab Street which is a twenty minutes ride by cab to meet a friend Mr. Jina for dinner here. The place has its own unique character, a walk down the by-lanes reminds one of Egypt or a gulf country. We dined at a restaurant called Zamzam which serves some of the best Singaporean food, so intrinsic of this cosmopolitan country. We left with the lasting impression of the magnificent Sultan Mosque just opposite to the restaurant.

Photo credits:Sentosa:World and Traveland                                                                                             Photo credits: S.E.A. Aquarium

The next day we reserved for Sentosa Island which is a wonder by itself. From the S.E.A. aquarium to the fantastic beaches, the beaches are sparklingly clean, small as they are man-made, yet replete with adventure sports, shacks and restaurants to give a beach vibe Some of the noted ones where we spent time at were the Palawan Beach and the Siloso Beach. Sparkling blue waters and squeakily clean this was indeed a sight for sore eyes.

Beaches done we proceeded to the S.E.A. aquarium which is home to 100,000 marine animals of over 1,000 species. We experienced an awe-inspiring time as we soaked in the wonders of the sea, sensing the vibe of tranquility all around.

Photo credits:Gardens by the Bay: Indie                                                                          Photo credits: Thousand Wonders

On our penultimate day we proceeded to Gardens by the Bay and Sound and Light Program in the evening. The Gardens by the Bay is a nature park spanning about 101 hectares of reclaimed land and truly epitomizes Singapore as a garden city. This is home to rare plants. The main attraction of the Gardens is the amazing skywalk just over it that gives a vivid view of the Marina Bay Hotel and the Singapore Eye. One of the fascinating finds of the place is the super tree grove around it, and as the evening stars fade, the lights comes across and shine like a million fireflies across the night sky.

Just as the sun was about to set we made a quick dash to the Singapore flyer or the Singapore Eye as popularly known which lies adjacent to the Gardens. We had to literally hold our breaths for this one − what a breathtaking 360 degree view of the city in all its many a splendored glory. This was followed by the sound-and-light show which is the signature attraction of the Gardens. We got completely immersed in the pomp and show of the ‘Garden Rhapsody’ wrapping the beautiful evening.

Photo credits: Yumyumformytumtum              Photo credits: Bugis Street:Justgola

We had something else to look forward to and that was catching up with friends Amit and Shalini over a sumptuous dinner of signature dim sums at Din Tai Fung at the Marina Bay Hotel and the mall area.

On our final day in Singapore, we decided to take it easy and to visit the famous Mount Elizabeth Hospital and do some serious shopping at Bugis Street where one can get some great bargains besides being a foodie’s paradise.

A lovely and memorable trip came to an end as we carried back a bagful of happy nostalgia to Kolkata as we boarded our late evening back home.