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Archives for February 2014

Singapore: “A Moving Experience”

In these mystery trips, one of the goals is to hit some of the main attractions the city has to offer. This destination, which was opened in 2008, is called The Singapore Flyer.

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It looks like a ferris wheel. But, instead of cars, it’s a capsule meant for multiple people to sit and walk around as it makes it’s 360 degree turn. It’s an observation tower wheel!

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Aside from just observing, they also offer unique experiences. This can include:

  • full butler sky dining
  • high tea flight

Could you imaging getting proposed to in this fashion? We got to see them setting up for a sky dining experience, which you can see in the following pictures. The main set up was already in place. But, people would rush in and out quickly with the smaller items before the capsule would leave the platform. It was something different to see.

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One full rotation takes about 30 min. So if you did indulge in a dining experience, you would be in the capsule for 2 revolutions. Better enjoy your food and the view! We just did the observation experience.

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It was a good way to get a 360 degree view of the city!

A fun tid-bit: the Singapore Flyer has an official mascot called Captain Flyer. And while this image isn’t the offical get-up, I picked this one because it’s wearing my Chinese zodiac animal, a dragon (worn like the Kirby character) for Chinese New Year (they had all the animals). I was biased in my own zodiac animal =P

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Happy travels friends!

Singapore: Largest Display of Tropical Orchids in the World

I spent New Years Day on a plane … to fly to the other side of the world with a total time travel of 24 hours from Newark, to Narita, to Singapore (the intended destination). What a way to start off the new year with a mystery trip with my parents! At this point, these are the faces of people who had been traveling for about 19-20 hours.

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We arrived in Singapore in the early AM. So, we got to our hotel/apartment and knocked out. A few hours later, we were ready to take on Singapore, weather (75F-80F with humidity… year-round!), sights, food, and all that good stuff.

They were setting up for Chinese New Year, so there were decorations all over China Town:

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One of the places we went to was the Singapore Botanic Garden, and specifically we walked through the National Orchid Garden. It was beautiful.

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This is the map of the Orchid Garden taken from their website. It was a lot to take in with only 45 minutes to walk around.

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But, the best part is: no words are needed to admire the largest display of orchid flowers.

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The weather is just right for these beauties to bloom… the flowers that is, not me ^_<

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More lovely sights and pictures to see in Singapore in the coming weeks. Happy travels friends.

London, England: Food Coma

It seems when we go on mystery trips, I never really know when the next meal is going to be, or if there is even going to be one! But, we lucked out with our hotel having breakfast. At least there was that. Then for dinner, when we returned from visiting the sites, we just walked to a restaurant down the street from where we were staying. So, are these the best London eats ever? There is probably better. But, this is what I experienced.

I do enjoy breakfast here. For me, that means A LOT of bread and cold cuts =) It’s a good change for my stomach.

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Dinner on our 1st day of touring was at a steakhouse. The standard food fare of a steakhouse, but equally delicious. For starters was calamari, then we moved onto a salad with steak (because I needed to balance out so I wouldn’t feel entirely sick moving into the next day).

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Then we finished it off with an apple tart and a scoop of ice cream. Yum!

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Our dinner after the 2nd night of touring was at a diner. Here I had Pie and Mash (steak & ale), which I felt leaned more towards the local food offerings. But, really had nothing to base it on, so not sure if it was authentic or not.

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That went well with some London Pride. Again, something I had not tried, so did not know what to expect. But, I did like it. Maybe that’s all that matters.

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I’d really like to hear some thoughts of what to try in case I ever do go back to England. Can range from normal to the “very strange” food and drink options.

Happy travels friends.

Oxford, England: Christ Church, Harry Potter & Nursery Rhymes

 

The particular college we visited was Christ Church  College at the University of Oxford. The university is comprised of 38 different colleges. So if you want to be that person, you can tuck that little tid-bit  away and educate your friends when you hang out next time ^_^. You’re welcome. christ_church_garden_oxford_england_day_with_kaye christ_church_memorial_garden_oxford_england_day_with_kaye christ_church_gardens_oxford_england_day_with_kaye It’s one of the oldest and largest colleges at the University of Oxford. It is also noted that Lewis Carroll, among other influential people, was a professor here before making his way to becoming the known author of Alice in Wonderland. Alice in Wonderland is based upon stories and tales that Carroll would tell the Dean’s children (Harry, Alice, Lorina & Edith) and its location at Christ Church College. The story of going down a rabbit hole was inspired because in the Great Hall, in the area where the professors sit, there is a small staircase they can use instead of walking up the student entrance. In a way, they just “disappear”. christ_church_college_vines_oxford_england_day_with_kaye christ_church_college_greenery_oxford_england_day_with_kaye  There is a painting of Carroll as well as other distinguished men are hanging in the Great Hall. In the stained glass window, there are some familiar Alice in Wonderland characters! christ_church_college_lewis_caroll_oxford_england_day_with_kaye  christ_church_college_dining_hall_stained_glass_oxford_england_day_with_kaye christ_church_college_dining_hall_stained_glass_alice_in_wonderland_oxford_england_day_with_kaye  christ_church_college_dining_hall_stained_glass_alice_in_wonderland_rabbit_oxford_england_day_with_kaye Zooming it out, this is the Great Hall, where the students and the professors dine. And to the Harry Potter fans, this may look familiar, to where all the houses meet to dine as well, and for the sorting hat ceremony. This is the room that was replicated at the studio, so it was not actually filmed on site. For example, there are only 3 rows of tables instead of 4. Nevertheless, just picture the magical floating candles, and you’re good to go! christ_church_college_dining_hall__oxford_england_day_with_kaye The tables that go all the way through the hall is for the students. This table here is where the professors sit. christ_church_college_dining_hall_professors_seats_oxford_england_day_with_kaye In the first Harry Potter movie (Sorceror’s Stone), Harry Potter, along with the other first year students are greeted by Professor McGonagall on this staircase. christ_church_college_staircase_harry_potter_sorcerors_stone_oxford_england_day_with_kaye christ_church_college_staircase_harry_potter_and_the_sorcerors_stone_oxford_england_day_with_kaye Moving along through the college, we reach the courtyard area. It was supposed to have a roof and be an enclosed area. You can tell that by the sections jutting out into the center of the courtyard. If you follow that line up the wall, you can see the arch supports in place. In essence, it was supposed to be a cloister instead of an open courtyard. christ_church_college_courtyard_quidditch_oxford_england_day_with_kaye A scene from Chariots of Fire was filmed here, and yet again, and not surprising, scenes of quidditch (Harry Potter) were filmed here as well. christ_church_college_courtyard_chariots_of_fire_oxford_england_day_with_kaye On that note we ended our tour at Christ College and moved through and passed by different buildings at the university. This is the Bodleian Library, where there are more than 11 million printed items. What’s neat about this library is there is a conveyor belt system that delivers particular books to the different library buildings. oxford_university_bodleian_library_oxford_england_day_with_kaye This section of the library was also used as the infirmary in the Harry Potter movies. oxford_university_library_harry_potter_infirmary_oxford_england_day_with_kaye Our guide was into architecture, and I was intrigued. So with the different buildings and areas we walked through, he noted certain things and how it has a Greek and Roman structure to it. This for instance, it’s difficult to tell, but with each column that stands out,  is a representation of the different periods (doric, ionic, etc.). oxford_university_architecture_greek_roman_oxford_england_day_with_kaye This was the first university museum, which showcased the Cabinet of Curiosities, which was the personal collection of Elias Ashmole. oxford_university_cabinet_of_curiousities_elias_ashmole_oxford_england_day_with_kaye As we rounded the end of the tour, our guide informed of nursery rhymes and its not so innocent beginnings. For example, Mary Mary Quite Contrary… Here’s the breakdown, according to our guide: Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary (referring to Mary, Queen of Scots) How does your garden grow? (How does your graveyard grow? – During this time, the ruler [Queen Mary] was Catholic, and there was a struggle of power of faith [Protestant]. So there were mass slayings for those who didn’t follow the same faith as Queen Mary – hence graveyards, or more lightly, garden). With silver bells and cockle shells (Silver bells refers to the weapon of the ball and spikes. Cockle shells was described as the inhumane way of torturing men by holding them by their you know what – yikes!) And pretty maids all in a row (A sugar coated way of describing the guillotine, also known as iron maiden. Again, a description of how Queen Mary’s method of mass slaying). If this sparked your interest in any way, there is a book called Pop Goes the Weasel, and it takes nursery rhymes and its meanings behind it. And that does it for the tour today. Happy travels friends!