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Legoland: Perfect Theme Park for Kids Under 7

September 13, 2012 Leave a comment

One of the highlights of our trip in the US is visiting theme parks because there’s no way a three year old kid would enjoy a trip without this.  However, as we all know, even theme parks tend to be for young adults (13 yrs up) or big kids (7 yrs and above).  Therefore, in theory, there’s not much of a choice.

Learning from Previous Trips

When we went to Hong Kong Disneyland in 2010, my little princess did enjoy being with Mickey and Minnie (waiting for 2 hours on the queue) and taking some family rides like the train (going around the Disney Land), some 3d show (like Shrek) among other things.  I would not say that at age 2, Disney is not advisable because she already had her fondest memories with that.

What I learned is that you cannot really ‘maximize’ a theme park trip by riding all you can and running here and there if you are with a toddler or for a little kid aged  5ish or below. You have to leave kids be kids.  That means letting them ride what they want and expect some snooze time as well.

My Legoland Perception

While planning our trip to California last March, Legoland was part of the itinerary designed by my sister.  Though I have not heard of Legoland before, by its name, I can sense some interesting things there.  Surely this is created by the Lego company known for this toy bricks you put together to come up with something.  But I could not imagine anything else.

My Legoland Experience

Legoland Carlsbad was just across Palisades where we stayed.

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In Legoland, everything that Midas touches becomes a masterpiece of lego bricks!

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While Aurora, the Sleeping Beauty laid on her bed, all other creatures were turned into statues made of lego…

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Other interesting sights at the Legoland

Bonding moments with the neighbors in the backdrop

Older kids can also try this!

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While queuing, there are play areas to keep little princess from getting bored

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Here goes the rides!

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This one requires motor skills to control the cars. Too much for a three year old. See her face?

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The horse ride requires kids height at least .9 m.  She almost missed this ride. Look at her toes!

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Short slide that has scary moments. Look at my face!

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Most of the rides were really fit for young kids aged 7 and below.  I can imagine older kids being bored with the rides already.  Well that makes it really for young kiddos!

We tried a mini-roller coaster that left my little princess shaken a bit though she’s fine.  For my standards (I don’t ride roller coasters), I won’t go for it again.

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At the Lego factory ‘museum’

 

Legoland Comes to Southeast Asia

Now that the Legoland Malaysia is opening in a few days, assuming they have the same standards which I expect it would have, I definitely recommend this for those who have kids under 7 years old.  Surely, it’s worth a trip to Johor.

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Categories: Parenting, Reviews, Travel

Don’t Fly United If You Have Kids

April 23, 2012 2 comments

After a hiatus of weeks, I am finally back with a revenge! We spent three weeks of vacation in California visiting family and relatives.  The worst thing that could happen is end this with a bad experience on the plane.  I have ranted this out on social media including Facebook and even Instagram so let me do this for the record on this blog.

Me, my wife and my three year old daughter all in middle seats.

 

Last day finally came, a day after my birthday, 28th March. At the airport, while checking in, I was told by the ground attendant that my seat will be separate from my wife and daughter. Well, that’s not good news. So I asked if she can arrange for us to be together. She said she cannot do anything about it. So I thought I’ll try to find a way when we get there and hopefully I could find a good soul willing to swap seats.  So we got into the plain and there turned out to be a crazy situation awaiting us.  We learned that we were all assigned to separate seats including my three-year-old daughter. What the heck! I did not bother to check that out when I was checking in but who would have expected this?  I have not traveled so much with my family but most in my experience was that it was always common sense that we were assigned seats together. A three year old kid sitting beside a parent really makes sense.

Fortunately, I was able to arrange a swap with  a gentleman so my wife and daughter could seat together.  I did not bother to ask the other guy seated on the other side because it was obvious that he was not interested.  I wanted to seat close to them for obvious reasons. I found a seat on the aisle still unoccupied and so I sat there hoping that no one will show up or at least I could ask to swap.  While waiting, I talked to one stewardess and told her what happened and my intention to swap, her only comment was something like “Oh that’s the usual thing that happens every day”.  She brushed off the incident casually and said I can wait and see if the passenger assigned to the seat will not show up.  After some time, the person came assisted by another matured stewardess. So I asked if I could swap and explained what happened.  Her reply was that I cannot do that. She said I could only swap if the person does not show up and that I cannot talk to the passenger to swap. What kind of crap is that? They were comfortable that I managed to swap a seat so my wife and daughter could seat together but they never offered any consolation.  Now, I may be asking for more than the minimum, but can’t you at least be nice?

I wonder now what would have happened if we did not get to swap a seat for my wife in the first place!

Moving on, I shared this in the social media and was thankful for those who shared my story.  One United Airlines staff picked it up from my Instagram post. Thanks for the comment but did not offer any other solution to move on with that.  Lastly, I logged on to their website to report the issue and never even got an email acknowledgement of my complaint-  which is odd because I would normally get this even from the most ordinary company or even government agencies.

Well, as I learned, some friends who fly using United Airlines have expressed that indeed this airline is the worst- and yet they do not have a choice because its routes seem to be the only convenient choices from america to Asia. Oh my,  see how a monopoly could kill good customer service!

I missed my wife and daughter during that 12 hour trip from Los Angeles to Japan stopover.  It was like missing them for weeks and months! I could only look at them from afar and would drop by once in a while.  I would not have let the airplane take off if we were not together on our final destination trip back to Singapore. But the same ground attendant did it correctly for this flight.

So  then, would I have a choice next time I fly?  The lesson I learned here is never assume companies will provide good service.  Next time I check in, I will give a dumb instruction: “Can you please make sure the three of us are seated together? You see, in our last flight with United Airlines, we were given seats apart from each other including my three year old daughter. “  Seriously. This is something I have always taken for granted. Now don’t wait for your turn. Remember this and you’ll be forever grateful to me!

My priority is United Airlines' priority except my family 😦

 Update: On 26 April 2012, I received an email from their Customer Care undersigned by Martin Hand (Senior Vice President, Customer Experience) apologizing for not replying immediately and explaining that the United and Continental merger caused some trouble in their systems. Strange that this email came just days after I published this post. They said that they have documented my complaint and promised to send an electronic travel voucher as token of appreciation for the feedback. Thank you, United for the gesture. Surely I had to write this on my blog to reach you.

Now, I have this song in my head: “A man can tell a thousand lies; I’ve learned my lesson well; Hope I live to tell the secret I have learned till then; it will burn inside of me…” (Live to Tell, Madonna).  😉

Coming up next…  Bring The Right Baggage Going to US

Categories: Parenting, Reviews, Travel

Moments: Golden Gate Pose Card

March 23, 2012 2 comments

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Categories: Moments, Travel

Blog Hop Feature: Journeys and Travels- Don’t Read Or You’ll Die of Envy

February 18, 2012 Leave a comment

The presence of this blog is never unnoticed with his constant tweets.  But clicking on the link is worth it as you see breath-taking photos of lands “unknown” to us. I am talking about Journeys and Travels by Doc Wendell Cagape.

Upon landing on the blog, you will find the title like that engraved on a coffee table photo book “Journeys and Travels”.  Very inviting, a bit formal and -oh-something I will just see and dream about perhaps. Haha.

Pictures, pictures and pictures. Those crisp colors, clear images and crafted shots are just amazing.  It starts with the photo view just below the blog ID that encapsulates the passion for travel.  All over, the pictures will give you a true vision of where this blogger has been to.  And yes, what he’s enjoyed – the food and the company of backpackers.

Navigating through the blog, here’s what caught my fancy: The ABCs and Lessons of Backpacking. It is a masterpiece post- written with simplicity and honesty- no pretensions. I thought the ABCs would talk about the how-to’s.  Nevertheless, it introduced me to Doc Wendell’s backpacking adventure.  It looked to me like he’s travelled practically the world over- and to find out that he’s only just begun- makes me feel- well I want to start doing that too!

An adventure-loving backpacker is never too killjoy to wear  Samurai costume for a shot. Neither is he too simply after the good shots for the sake of it but he also shared his disappointment, in photo, about Virgin Island in Bohol.

My favourite pictures in this post are the serene Lake Apo ( Makes me dream about living in a house “beside the lake”) and the beautiful boat posing on the beach.

Lake Apo: Sets mood for meditation

Yeah, it's true- it's more fun in the Philippines!

A cliffhanger- he met a “beautiful girl” but he never got her contacts. Too bad.  But a backpacker will always have a next time. 🙂

Blogs like this- is a must read for everyone who dreams of travelling. Why not try the backpacker route?

*****

Pictures from www.journeysandtravels.com – published with permission.

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Categories: Blog Reviews, Travel

Spending CNY in KL

March 13, 2011 2 comments

Chinese New year weekend was too long to spend at home so we decided to get somewhere else. Kuala Lumpur was not very appealing as it sounded considering it’s just close by and I have been there myself (on business trip)- I did not think of anything exciting.  However, I only looked at the prospect of relaxation- maybe taking advantage of getting out of our jungle to go to another jungle 🙂

Maybe this time- take advantage of the hotel amenities (mmm spa indulgence?) and do some strolling on a Hop On Hop Off Tour Bus. Well then, this is one adventure.

Is this expensive?

Transportation:
— SG to KL (Bus): SGD 171

— KL to SG (Plane): SGD 141

—Cab from bus terminal to hotel: roughly SGD 60

—Cab from hotel to airport: roughly SGD 80

—Hop On Hop Off Tour Bus: RM 38 (Standard adult ticket)

Typical Meal: roughly RM 12 per person (local eateries and fastfood)

Hotel (4-star): SGD 77 per day

Exhausted but still in the mood to pose

It was a gruelling 7 hours trip from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur.  We estimated we could have saved an hour if the bus was faster.   We took the “ordinary” aircon bus- not quite luxurious, not spotless clean but bearable.

 

We stayed at the Swiss Garden Hotel

 

After settling down, we made a church visit to give thanks!

I remember this place from my last KL trip 5 years ago- because I had a picture taken here- one of the few.

Shopping and bargaining!

At the Central Market- softer version of Tutuban in Manila

Merdeka Stadium (shot from the bus)

View from the bus: Sultan Abdul Samad Building

Lazy take from the bus: Muzium Negara

We took a few “hop offs” and (as my girls) preferred to stay on the bus to take a view of the city.

In Istana Negara- Palace guards display traditional costumes

I like seeing garbs that has heritage value (left) – similar to those in southern Philippines.  Thank goodness we had to “hop off”in this place to change diapers 🙂

Don’t leave without a “stolen” shot

Main stop was at Petronas.  Sun was high so we took quick shots.  Samson pose was hard to do.

Well as I said, maybe take relaxation as part of the holidays. So just enjoy the hotel amenities.  The pool was small- if you see the photo in Swiss Garden’s website or promo materials, don’t be deceived. The pool was about to be cleaned so we asked for some 15 minutes.  Hence, I extended the fun in the tub. I think that Yanna enjoyed the short swim most of all in this trip. She kept talking about it afterwards.

Some more sweet shots before we left

We still enjoyed taking shots thinking we were ahead of time. Surprise! We were booked for Cebu Pacific and we cannot find it in the list of airlines on screen.  Yes, the cab dropped us at the KL International Airport not knowing that our airline was also “parked” in the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT)- a budget terminal similar to that of Singapore.  Yes, maybe not as many cab drivers know, it’s not only Air Asia that’s found in LCCT.  So be sure to know which airport you need to go. So we had to take another cab to take us there! One last hurdle in the trip!

Categories: Travel

Macau – Romantic Place to Celebrate Birthday!

February 28, 2011 3 comments

Macau- December 28, 2010

It was not intentional to celebrate Yanna’s birthday in Macau.  It just fell into place according to how things worked out. Looking back, it was a cool memorable one for my family.  We did this as a side trip from Hong Kong.

Budget

Round trip ferry to and from Hong Kong:  SGD 44 per adult; roughly SGD 35 for 2 yr old kid

Tour cab: SGD 120

Restaurant dinner: SGD 62

Fast food meal at the terminal: SGD 12 per meal

Tips:

–  Take the early trip to get there the earliest as you might get stuck at the immigration at a peak season.

–  Take a tour cab if you are staying in Macau for a day. Know your destinations so you can tell the driver where you want to go without
having to rely solely on his advice.

Happy Birthday Sweet YANNA (Dec 28)

Ferry to Macau

We rushed to the ferry terminal at Tsimshatsui in Kowloon.  The ferry leaves every 30 minutes.  When buying tickets, be patient as the ticket
personnel do not speak good enough English. Make sure you buy round trip ticket and choose flexible time getting back.  Actually the “flexible time”is just getting a late schedule and being able to get a seat as chance passenger on earlier trips.

The trip took about an hour.  When we got at the immigration upon arrival, swarm of people crowded the place.  It was disorganized and did not foresee the load of people coming at a time so it is inevitable that a big crowd will lead to chaotic thick queue. The big crowd must have been due to the holidays.  We spent an hour and a half waiting for our turn. We were tired by the time we got out of immigration.

Hiring a Tour Cab

A number of Filipinos tried to lure us to hire them as tour guides. But we ignored them.  After taking lunch, we realized we’ve already lost half the day and it was mid-afternoon.  Getting some help is the wisest thing to do.  We waited for the Filipinos to pester us again but I guess they already knew us and did not want to waste time.  One more thing we were not sure if they had vehicles to offer our would commute with us during the tour.  So we approached the station where tour cabs are.  We arranged for the trip choosing from the menu of attractions. Voila!

Say a Little Prayer in the Ruins

Macau’s favourite destination: Ruins of St. Paul’s

A View of Macau

Macau is a feast for fans of heritage sturctures.

Special dinner to celebrate Yanna’s birthday. Truly romantic!

 

Categories: Travel

Hong Kong Holiday Part 3

February 22, 2011 1 comment

December 29 – Ngong Ping: Cable Car and Village

Cable Car

The Ngong Ping  Cable Car reminded me of what I knew about Hong Kong when I was a child about country landmarks and tourist spots.  Riding on it is like a “dream come true” in a sense.  In this ride, we saw a glimpse of Hong Kong’s green hills, top view of the city, and some interesting sites such as the Giant Buddha.  Comparing from Singapore’s cable car, the trip was longer and there was more to see.  Hence, I found amusement on it.

Stop at the Cafe House Display

Ngong Ping Village had interesting things to offer- both fancy man-made stuff and meaningful landmarks/destinations. While, of course, we still enjoyed posing for these showcase in the themed village, I preferred the more relevant ones that reflect the culture of the Ngong Ping area.   After all, they are the reason why the place is more unique and worthy of a visit.

Giant Buddha at the backdrop

We were happy to take pictures of the Giant Buddha by the background.  We did not attempt to get close to it as that means having to walk further and climb stairs. That’s too much for Yanna and us to bear.

The mini-theatres offered shows that were fascinating because they were interactive. “Walk with Buddha” was cool where you get to move from one part of the place to watch Buddha’s bio in animation, to experience the prayerful silence  and some other audio-visual experience.

Street Adventure

And oh, the crowd.

Lastly, we attempted to go to the crowded shopping places in some street market but were too tired to make the effort.

Malls Are Not Baby-Friendly

We found that while in the shopping district area, it was difficult to find a mall with a bigger space- they all looked like small commercial centres with all stalls and boutiques all over.  Hence, finding a toilet to change diapers for my daughter was difficult.  We had to walk around not in one mall but along the street to find other locations. We finally found one where there is a room for the disabled. Little did we know we have yet to endure a more  disappointing experience.  While queuing (although it was not long), there was one who tried to enter the toilet as if he did not see the queue. That was pathetic. One more thing, before we got inside the toilet, some security man was knocking on the door and so we told them there was someone inside with a baby.  And so he left.  When we had our turn, the same security man, it seemed, started knocking at the door.  We ignored.  But he persisted and after a while he unlocked the door! Oh my, oh my- I was not able to scream in anger but instead with my tired but patient face, I  told him we’re in with a baby. Grrrr. One more story to tell about Hong Kong!

Great Time

I would not want to end this with a sad note about the toilet experience.  Indeed, our last stop- Victoria Harbour waterfront was another fun shooting time- Avenue of Stars, Hong Kong skyline, Junk Ship and the Museum. Further, the cool breeze of the night condensed the heat of our tiredness.  I must say, overall, we had a good holiday after Christmas.

COMING UP NEXT: Macau Side Trip…

Categories: Parenting, Travel
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