Singapore – Theme parks

Don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you with descriptions of heaps of crazy, packed, overwhelming expensive theme parks. We did go to Universal Studios and I’ll tell you about that but if you read on, I’ll tell you about the chance to see animals at night and another place we visited, described as WTF Theme Park …
Night safari
I have been to the Night Safari before and really wanted to take the boys there because I enjoyed it so much. Because we had time and the safety of numbers we decided to catch public transport there and back rather than go as part of an organised tour. In one respect this was a great idea. We enjoyed a train and bus ride in either direction through the suburban streets of SG. However the queues and the wait at the Night Safari almost ruined the whole experience. Joining an organised tour bypasses all of that. If you go alone I suggest you walk the zoo while everyone waits for the train rides and then do the train ride later. Despite the queues and the waiting we had a good evening (with a cranky Piper). We got to see the porcupines doing laps and finally appreciate just how big they are and how long their quills are! We got to see the giraffes with no one else there to disturb us. We decided to skip the Australian animals section but we did see the tiger very close up to the glass, something I also saw last time I visited the attraction.  Oh and if you do have to wait, at least you get to enjoy a performance of fire breathing and dancing (that seems to be a lot shorter in duration than it was when I visited the park 10 years ago).

Universal Studios Singapore
USS is on Sentosa and despite being in SG twice before, I hadn’t been over to Sentosa. I also wanted to try Universal to compare it Disneyland. The verdict is they are both much of a muchness. The queues were long and so, other than one ride, we chose those with shorter wait times. The 3 of us screamed our way through an inside roller coaster themed from The Mummy. Not that you can see anything! We queued for too long to ride a raft through Jurassic Park, before plummeting over a waterfall and spending the rest of the day with wet feet! Over in Far Far Away we watched Shrek rescue Fiona in 4D and met Donkey live, before we hitched a ride to find the Fooza in Madagascar. The Lights, Camera, Action attraction was a great experience of a movie set, before the boys sealed the day with a crazy Battlestar Gallactica roller coaster, shooting through the sky. We did fit in what I thought would be a gentle ride on the Canopy Flyer in Jurassic Park. Luckily I was forward seating. We laughed at the sensation that our hanging feet were vulnerable, but survived intact to walk back across the boardwalk to the mainland – the 45 minute queue for the Sentosa Express sealed that decision.

Haw Par Villa
Because I was in SG for work I have a great local contact and also lots of colleagues who have been there before. This means I got some advice on places to go including a visit to Haw Par Villa. My Singaporean college described her experiences of the site as a child and in particular the scary 10 courts of hell. My Australian colleague described the place as unusual yet beautiful and surprisingly quiet. With direction on how to get there (go to Haw Par Villa station on the MRT and follow the signs), we headed that way on our last day in SG. The trip is simple (like every trip in SG) and we arrived at the station and the Villa quickly. The entry gates are a monument to Haw and Par, the brothers who built the park, and further inside there are huge monuments to their parents and wives. Basically, Boon Haw built the park for his little brother Boon Par in the late 1930’s and it was opened to the public as an attraction in the 1970’s and 80’s. It fell in disrepair and was then bought by the SG tourism board and is now a free “attraction”, full of diorama’s of Chinese mythology and stories.
We barely scratched the surface of the park thanks to a huge thunder storm that struck about an hour after we arrived. But we did wander the 10 courts of hell (I can see why kids were scared) and we saw the turtles in the ponds and the refreshed temples with the darkening sky illuminating their fresh paint. I am disappointed we were rained off and although the Piper won’t be keen to go back, I will revisit the park next time we are in SG, to explore it further and maybe find the geocache hidden there.

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