‘Frozen 2’ Fun @ Singapore Changi Airport

Look out for a giant Olaf at Singapore Changi Airport T2!

If you or your kids are big fans of Disney’s Frozen 2, do make your way down to Singapore Changi Airport where there are loads of fun Instagram-worthy opportunities with the lovable characters from the blockbuster animated film, which has since grossed over US$1 billion (S$1.36b) at the global box office.

The main highlight of A Frozen Wonderland At Changi is located at the airport’s Terminal 3 Departure Hall (in front of Departure Immigration). Here you will find a handful of life-sized sets inspired by the enchanting film featuring key characters namely Queen Elsa, Princess Anna, Olaf, Kristoff, Sven, and Grand Pabbie.

Every night till Jan 5, 2020, there will be an entralling light, sound and snow show at 7.30pm, 8pm, 8.30pm and 9pm, which primarily tells the story of Frozen 2, in which Queen Elsa and company go in search of a mystery voice she’s been hearing that or who may save the kingdom of Arendelle from grave danger. Needless to say, spoilers galore at the attraction (and this blog post) if you have yet to see the film!

Grand Pabbie, the wise old troll, should be the first figure you see if you approach the set from the front as he’s extremely well lit.

Over to the right, you will find Anna and Olaf in a boat, depicting the scene when Elsa sent them away for their safety.

At a lovely autumn-inspired spot, and besides four elemental pillars, you will find macho Kristoff and his faithful reindeer, Sven, in the midst of life-like looking trees and plants and in a great rush to find his beloved Anna.

Last but not least, on the biggest structure, you will find the getting-more-powerful Queen Elsa tackling Nokk, the mythical water horse spirit, in stormy seas. This set has a big part to play during the daily show, so make sure you have a good view of it during the performance!

LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW

Each show will end with a dramatic snowfall scenario that everyone of all ages thoroughly enjoyed! It’s mainly soap suds in case you are wondering!

This moment lasted quite long and, have to say, my pal and I had great fun taking wefies and being covered in “snow”, as did everyone around us!

OTHER FROZEN 2 SIGHTINGS…

Elsewhere in T3 Departure Hall, you will find an Enchanted Forest as well as an Arendelle Castle, where you can pose with cardboard cut-outs of Elsa and Anna, or check out these utterly cute 1-metre-tall plushies of Olaf and Sven.

These sections have areas and activities primarily designed for kids, but you would require a pass (and probably need to spend some money on a single receipt that kind of thing.) Visit https://frozenwonderland.changiairport.com/ for more information on how one can participate.

Over at Jewel, there is also some Frozen 2 content. At the Cloud9 Piazza on Level 5, there is an Arendelle-inspired festival market with a few stalls selling Frozen 2 merchandise. But the draw is definitely these life-sized models of Princess Anna and Queen Elsa. An Olaf figure can also be found at one of the festival’s gates.

For a great shot of the lovable snowman though, you have to pop to Terminal 2 for this larger-than-life, 3-metre-tall, spinning Olaf which is easily a big draw. Don’t miss it!

A Frozen Wonderland At Changi will be at T3, T2 and Jewel until Jan 5, 2020.
For more information, visit https://frozenwonderland.changiairport.com/.

Read also:
* ‘Frozen 2’: The 20 Best Quotes from the Disney Animated Blockbuster Sequel
* ‘Frozen 2’ Leaked Image Shows Elsa and Anna in an Autumn Setting

Top 5 Highlights Of ‘Walking With Dinosaurs – The Live Experience’

Mama T-Rex eyeing the audience in Walking With Dinosaurs - The Live Experience. [Photo: Marguerita Tan]

“Open the door, get on the floor, everybody walk the dinosaur!” Ever since the globally-acclaimed show, Walking with Dinosaurs, arrived on our sunny shores weeks ago, the catchy refrain from the 1988 Was (Not Was) hit, “Walk The Dinosaur”, kept playing in my head. When opening night for the live arena spectacular came last Thursday at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, I still didn’t get a chance to walk with a dinosaur, but I sure saw a good lot of them doing, well, a whole lot of things!

Based on the 1999 award-winning BBC docu-series of the same name, Walking with Dinosaurs – The Live Experience is a US$20 million (S$27.7m) production that features 18 life-sized dinosaurs—the tallest of which is almost three-stories high!—comprising nine different species and operated by skilled performers who bring them to life.

WWD paleontologist Huxley hosts and narrates the theatrical show amidst vibrant lights, projections and special effects. [Photo: Marguerita Tan]

Through the show’s paleontologist Huxley, the audience is given a 200-million-year paleontology lesson deftly compressed into a 100-minute show (with a 20-min interval) filled with special lighting and projection effects, and not forgetting, some amazingly realistic-looking dinosaurs!

Musings on the M49 was delighted to be invited to the Walking with Dinosaurs‘ opening night rehearsal (partial) and performance. A unique educational yet fun show for both young and old—and a real treat especially if you are a big dinosaur fan—here are the top 5 highlights of Walking with Dinosaurs – The Live Experience.

Walking with Dinosaurs – The Live Experience: Top 5 Highlights

5. Battle of the Torosauruses

Territorial Torosauruses on the Warpath.[Photo: Marguerita Tan]

A herbivorous dinosaur, the Torosaurus immediately catches your eye thanks to its hardy elongated frill and two long sharp horns atop its bulky head and build. And when two of them are strolling around and grunting at each other, you know they are going to lock horns when they come head to head. For every big dinosaur, a team of three people is required to operate it – two puppeteers called Voodoos (who handle various movements) and one driver who makes it walk on steerable polyurethane wheels (the thick plank-like structure seen between the dino’s legs pictured above).

4. Carnivore & Herbivore Fight

Let’s face it, even among us humans, meat eaters and vegetarians seldom see eye to eye (thankfully, just a small faction). But in prehistoric times, the herbivore IS unfortunately meat for its carnivore counterpart, represented here by the Stegosaurus and Allosaurus respectively. The Stegosaurus, highly recognizable by its broad, upright plates, has a spiky tail which it uses primarily for defence and which, as you can see in the video above, it is furiously swinging for dear life as it tries to avoid being dinner for the rampaging Allosaurus.

3. Snappy Utahraptors Eating Their Prey

Fast and snappy, the carnivorous Utahraptors.[Photo: Marguerita Tan]

At just 2.5m tall, Utahraptors may look scrawny compared to their massive counterparts, but they are fascinating to watch as they move and run very fast because of their size. And also being meat eaters, they have no qualms of eating one of their own, or hunting down large herbivores in packs of two or three. Brrr!

Performance-wise, it is also very intriguing as these critters are small enough to be operated physically by one puppeteer in a costume suit (which alone could weigh about 35-40kg), simulating not only limb movements but everything from the eyes to the tail to even the sounds the creature makes.

2. Mama T-Rex Rescuing Baby T-Rex

Mama T-Rex(top left): "Nobody puts baby in the corner!" [Photo: Marguerita Tan]

Hell hath no fury like a Mama T-Rex’s wrath. When a tiny scruffy Tyrannosaurus Rex came galloping out, everyone thought it was oh-so-cute until it was caught between a rock and a hard place – or, more specifically, the armored porcupine-like Ankylosaurus and the winning Torosaurus from an earlier scene. Just when we thought Baby T-Rex is going to end up as dino snack, out came ferocious Mama T-Rex, in all her 7m x 13m glory, showing the two predators exactly who’s boss.

Mama and Baby T-Rex sharing a tender moment. [Photo: Marguerita Tan]

It’s no wonder that WWD touring director Ian Waller calls the T-Rex the “star of the show”. The moment the towering adult T-Rex steps into the arena, first as a silhouette, then under the spotlight, its imposing build is not only instantly recognizable but also extremely intimidating. Yet the creature also shows an inquisitive nature (as it looks over the audience, see top main picture), plus a tender side when consoling its precious baby.

1.The Brachiosaurus Ballet

The T-Rex may be the superstar but if truth be told, the graceful long-necked Brachiosaurus is the one that took my breath away. Measuring 11m tall and 17m from head to tail, it is also the biggest dinosaur on the show. And Baby Brachiosaurus ain’t exactly tiny either (unlike baby T-Rex) – it is just a tad smaller at 9m tall and 15m long. And it also needs its mama to rescue it from bullies and/or predators. There is a moment in the show where the pair just glides around, occasionally munching on greens, as if waltzing to a ballet. Simply lovely. And even though you know it is not real, you just can’t not wave to Mama Brachiosaurus when she is looking directly at you during the show!

WALKING WITH DINOSAURS: BEHIND THE SCENES

At the Walking with Dinosaurs rehearsal, besides the rare opportunity of seeing and filming selected scenes of the show itself, Musings on the M49 also had the chance to hear Lead Voodoo Puppeteer, Amanda Maddock (above left), showing us various equipment used by Voodoo puppeteers and drivers to operate the large dinosaurs.

One Voodoo will operate head and tail gross motion, while the other is in charge of minor movements such as jaw, blinking and sounds. As you can see on the keyboard machine (above right), the sounds that can be made include snorts, roars and even farts! Yes, modern-day puppetry has come a long way since the days of using just fingers and strings!

Walking With Dinosaurs – The Live Experience runs until Sept 8, 2019 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Performances : Tue-Fri 7pm; Sat-Sun: 10.30am, 2:30pm and 6:30pm. Tickets: $78-$148 from www.sportshubtix.sg/WWD2019

All photos by Marguerita Tan. No text or images from this post are to be used without the blog author’s permission.

Langkawi: Sun, Sand & Sea @ Pantai Cenang

All Photos by Marguerita Tan

When in Langkawi: If you are into sun, sand and sea, the offshore island(s) district of Kedah, Malaysia will be right up your alley. Located off the northwestern coast of West Malaysia, the 99-island archipelago is well known for its many great beaches, of which Pantai Cenang is one of the most popular especially for swimming and water sports.

I personally am a lounge-by-the-pool lizard myself but if a holiday resort has great access to a nice beach, I’m all for it. It was thus why I opted for Casa del Mar which is strategically located at a relatively quiet section of the 2km-long Pantai Cenang, said to be the longest beach in Langkawi.

One of things I loved doing during my stay was walking up and down the pristine beach via a cosy boardwalk that seemingly starts from Casa del Mar, all the way southwards to a spot where you will find the rainbow-colored “Pantai Chenang” sign (see main picture) and where the beach is arguably at its most crowded.

Views From A Boardwalk

Clean white sands, clear blue sky, warm sea, and idyllic islands on the horizon – that will be the first things that take your breath away on Pantai Cenang. Even if not on the private beaches of the fancier resorts, the elements are still wonderful sights to behold.

Walking along the stretch also allows you to check out the other beach accommodations available, many of which are rustic chalets such as this…

…and there were even beachfront tree houses such as this cool one here! There are also resorts which have swimming pools right alongside the beach.

Food and drink outlets are in abundance in Pantai Cenang too – along the beach, such as the popular Kalut Bar, and especially along the main road of Jalan Pantai Cenang.

Needless to say, al fresco wining and dining is very popular on the beach (as long as you don’t dirty the surroundings)…

Water sports is also very big here – you can go jet skiing, paragliding, kayaking, sailing on a banana or longboat, or even parasailing on a “flying machine”. It’s fun just to watch brave souls taking to the skies in various contraptions.

Colorful jet skis of various shapes and sizes can be seen parked, as well as in action, up and down the beach.

Loads of boats too… including signs to please “keep clean our island”. And I have to say, Pantai Cenang is one of the cleanest beaches I’ve ever been to in all my travels.

As mentioned, you will find food and drink options aplenty up and down the beach, with signs to direct you if you aren’t quite sure of where to go…

Random beach bars and “discos” do pop up on the sands which is really cool…

There is even an artistic compound, complete with cool graffiti art and tree swing…

Last but by no means least, Pantai Cenang is a great place to catch sunsets. Many people would gather around the Pantai Chenang sign—it’s directly opposite Cenang Mal—and just catch the sunset every evening (usually between 7.15-7.40pm). Or you can watch it while having dinner at any of the eateries or bars along the stretch.

There are actually lots more things one can do in Langkawi, but if you are happy with just sun, sand and sea, Pantai Cenang is one beach worth visiting once in your lifetime.

Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ The Musical – 8 Reasons To See The Show

If you are a fan of Disney’s Aladdin, 2019 has been a good year.

On the week that the 2019 live-action adaptation of the beloved 1992 animated film crossed the magical US$1 billion (S$1.36b) mark at the global box office, the hit Broadway adaptation made its debut in Singapore and is entertaining audiences in a whole new way.

Boasting energizing song-and-dance sequences, amazing sets and effects, and stunning costumes, Aladdin the musical—which is based on the 1992 Oscar-winning film—premiered on Broadway in 2014 with book by playwright Chad Beguelin, music by Alan Menken, and lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Beguelin. Singapore will be the only Asian stop and final run for this Aladdin tour.

Musings on the M49 was chuffed to be invited to the official opening night at Sands Theatre in Marina Bay Sands. Here are eight reasons why Aladdin the musical is a must-see, especially if you are a fan of the Disney films or musicals in general. (Aladdin Photos Credit: Base Entertainment Asia)

1. “Friend Like Me”

The Genie’s signature song in the treasure-hoarding Cave of Wonders is a spectacular 14-minute showstopper comprising breath-taking choreography and cool magical effects. The scene-stealer was without question Gareth Jacobs whose creative genius as the Genie made the vibrant and pulsating sequence an absolute joy to watch.

2. “A Whole New World”

The Oscar-winning song is a timeless classic and watching Aladdin (Graeme Isaako) and Princess Jasmine (Shubshri Kandiah) singing it while seemingly flying on a magic carpet for real on stage is simply a thrill – even though you know it is manoeuvred by a special albeit well-hidden contraption. Easily the show’s second top highlight, drawing lots of oohs and aahs from the audience.

3. A Genie Like No Other

He’s not blue (except for his costume) and does not appear vaporizing from a lamp, but Gareth Jacobs’ Genie totally stole the show from the word go. He sang and danced with gusto, and his wisecracking had the audiences in stitches. His shout-outs to Singapore at appropriate times was a nice touch as well.

4. Classic And New Tunes Combo
Besides the unforgettable tunes from the 1992 film such as “Arabian Nights”, “One Jump Ahead” and “Prince Ali”, fans can savor seven new songs in the musical. Menken and Beguelin wrote four tunes specially for the stage production and these are “These Palace Walls”, “A Million Miles Away”, “Diamond in the Rough” and “Somebody’s Got Your Back”. Also included are three songs by Menken and Ashman that were cut from the original film – “Proud of Your Boy”, “Babkak, Omar, Aladdin, Kassim” and “High Adventure”. Let’s hope for future productions, they will consider adding “Speechless”, Princess Jasmine’s empowering anthem from the 2019 megahit, too!

5. Stunning Set Design

From the colorful mythical city of Agrabah, to the Sultan and Princess Jasmine’s luxurious palace, to the gold-glittering Cave of Wonders, the show’s 500 captivating sets, props and backdrops are to be lauded. The audience is easily transported to every location in a blink of an eye, whether it is a Middle Eastern-influenced marketplace or a cave in a dark, isolated desert.

6. Shining, Shimmering, Splendid Costumes

The costumes in Aladdin have to be one of the most vibrant and sparkling set of outfits I’ve ever seen in a musical. And this is thanks to some 1000 fabrics and half a million Swarovski crystals that were used to make and decorate the 300+ costumes in the show. There was so much sparkle, they should have warned us to wear shades…

7. Incredible Special Effects
Besides a believable flying magic carpet, the show also employs a great number of whoa-inducing magical effects on stage such as slide of hand tricks, disappearing box acts, and quick change illusions, some of which were even executed effortlessly during song sequences.

8. Funny Bytes Galore
Thanks to some great one-liners and hilarious ad-libs, there were plenty of laugh-out-loud moments that didn’t just materializes out of the Genie, but also from supporting characters such as Jafar (Patrick R Brown) and his scheming sidekick, Iago (Doron Chester). I would arguably say there were more laughs generated from the musical than from the cinematic version!

All in all, Aladdin the musical is great fun, a spectacular that is easily enjoyed by both young and old. Though the first half felt a tad draggy (though understandably having to introduce every key character), the show nonetheless does present a whole new world of Disney’s Aladdin that is truly worth a watch.

Rewind: At the Aladdin Red Carpet
Attending stage shows, it is always fun to see people dress up for the occasion or are game to participate in entertaining activities. Prior to the show’s start on opening night, we witnessed a few folks who shook a tail feather or two on the “purple” carpet! (Photos by Marguerita Tan)

For starters, you always want to give a thumb’s up when theatre goers take the trouble to dress up according to the theme of the show!

And from the young to the young-at-heart, a few were sporting enough to sing ‘A Whole New World’ in front of cameras!

And here’s some of the famous faces spotted: 2009 Singapore Idol Sezairi Sazali (left) and author/humor writer Sylvia Toh Paik Choo (far right)

Aladdin the Broadway musical plays at the Sands Theatre in Marina Bay Sands, Singapore till Sept 1, 2019. Performances: Tue to Fri, 7.30pm; Sat 2pm & 7.30pm; and Sun 1pm & 6.30pm. Tickets from $68++ from www.sistic.com and www.marinabaysands.com/ticketing.

Read also:
* Top 10 Songs by Disney Princesses – From “Let It Go” to “Speechless”

Wine Tasting @ ONE°15 Marina

IMG_20170715_232400_727There’s lots of things you can do on a yacht and having a wine tasting session while cruising to an offshore island is one of them. As mentioned in my previous blog post on WOK°15 Kitchen, Musings on the M49 was also invited to ONE°15 Marina Club last week for the launch of Jules Taylor Wines in Singapore.
L1160967 (640x372)Hailing from Marlborough, New Zealand, Jules Taylor Wines (JTW) is a boutique, family owned and operated company with winemaker Jules Taylor (hence the name) at the helm. Ms Taylor unfortunately wasn’t present at the session but we have her husband and JTW CEO, George Elworthy, to tell us all about their love for wines.
2017-07-12 15.38.19 (2) (640x635)The tasting session took place on board the ANKA, a 75ft monohull and the latest addition to the fleet managed by ONE15 Luxury Yachting, which charters yachts for events and special occasions. As we set sail towards Lazarus Island, the wines started flowing into our glasses as we piled our plates with various cheeses. (Not forgetting, tasty canapes from WOK°15 as well).
L1160974 (640x480)JTW has three tiers to their portfolio: Classic (‘The Better Half’), Premium (‘Jules Taylor’) and Elite (‘OTQ’, whcih stands for “On The Quiet”). Jules Taylor is responsible for the latter two, while no prizes in guessing what her “better half” George (pictured above) is the winemaker for! The couple source their grapes from vineyards in the Lower Wairau, Omaka and Awatere Valleys in Marlborough, located on the northeastern tip of New Zealand’s South island and the region that placed New Zealand-styled Sauvignon Blanc on the world map.

As we sample each brand, George fills us in on the types of grapes and the conditioning that went into the production of each wine. Here’s a sampling of what we had:
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Jules Taylor Chardonnay  2016: Fresh and light, with hints of vanilla and oak. Smooth on the palate as well. Goes well with fish items, either steamed and deep-fried.

The Better Half Pinot Noir 2016 : This red is a delight with rich berry flavours and a robust aftertaste. Goes well with savoury items the likes of roast pork or grilled beef cubes.

2017-07-12 16.33.20 (426x640)

Jules Taylor Pinot Gris 2016: I’m not a white wine person so it takes a real good one to take my breath away and this one did. Its strong fruity and floral notes hit you by the first sip, and even more so by the second gulp. Very rich and complex, with a lingering finish. Nice.

The Better Half Sauvignon Blanc 2016: This has a fruity aroma, crisp and vibrant, and smooth on the palate. Goes well with crunchy food such as deep fried fish skin with salted egg or corn chips with guacamole.

2017-07-12 16.48.51 (640x640)

OTQ was created “on the quiet” by Jules (hence the name). According to George, it is made of special grapes that are hand harvested and then pressed into old Chardonnay French oak barrels for fermentation and maturation. Limited in quantities, the collection comes in bespoke bottles decorated with birds and flora found in vineyards around Marlborough.

OTQ Sauvignon Blanc 2016 : Pale green-gold in colour, this has a nice blend of fruity flavours with notes of pecan and honey. A tad gassy, but a strong refreshing taste nonetheless.

OTQ Pinot Noir 2016
: Dark ruby red in hue, the fruity flavours are intense with oakly notes. Have a very strong rich taste. Was hoping to have more but the yacht had returned to its ONE°15 Marina berth by then. Sad.

OTQ is priced from S$100, Jules Taylor from $$60-$70 and The Better Half from $$70-$80. For more information, visit www.julestaylor.com or contact its Singapore distributor, SUTL Consumer Goods at www.sutl.com or 65 6266 3378

 

 

Sunshine Coast – Sun, Sand & Sea @ Noosa Heads


When in Brisbane: Take a day trip up north to Noosa Heads in the Sunshine Coast to take in some of the most beautiful sights of sun, sand, sea and sky you will ever see. This is Laguna Bay where you can folick in the waters, build sandcastles, or stretch your leg mucles on the boardwalk that takes you all the way to the top of Noosa National Park where a lookout offers breathtaking views of the entire area. Actually, considering the long drive – 3 hrs each way – best to stay a night or two cos you still need time to check out all the shops and cafes along the main street, Hastings Lane. Hmm, should I go again?… 

Photo by Marguerita Tan

Celebrate Canada150 in 2017!

moraine-lakeMoraine Lake in the Canadian Rockies (Credit: Angsana Seeds Photography)

“Blame Canada, blame Canada!” That’s the chorus of a silly song from the hit animated film, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999), which I would sing out loud whenever I hear anyone mentioned “Canada”. In 2017, I might change it to “Go Canada” instead as this is the year that the country with the swoonsome PM celebrates #Canada150 – the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada.

Truth be told, there’s nothing much to blame Canada for – not Celine Dion, or Ryan Reynolds, and definitely not Justin Trudeau. Maybe, just maybe the Justin Bieber of some years ago but all is forgiven after his last pretty good album, Purpose.

Anyway, there’s definitely more to Canada than just standout entertainers and hunky politicians. It’s a country long famous for its picturesque gardens, lakes and mountain ranges; exquisite activities such as whale watching and northern lights sightings; and cultural festivals ranging from music and film, to flowers and giant balloons.

A fortnight ago, Musings on the M49 was chuffed to be invited to attend a Canada150 event organised by Trafalgar Asia and the High Commission of Canada. Held at the official residence of the High Commissioner of Canada to Singapore, Ms Lynn McDonald, we learnt from her that there will be all kinds of exciting Canada150 events taking place in almost every key Canadian city and state throughout 2017. So, if there is ever a good time to visit Canada, it is NOW.

Mark the Date – July 1, 2017 is Canada Day!
c150_banner

If you want to be at the height of the C150 celebrations, the date to aim for or plan your travels around is  July 1, the official Canada Day. Below are but a very mini selection of the interesting things you can do in the land of Mounties and Maple Leaves, plus some of the Canada 150 events happening in and around July 2017 in these regions.

ONTARIO (www.ontariotravel.net)
Here’s where you will find the capital city of Ottawa; the country’s largest city Toronto; and the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Things you can do here includes shopping/dining in the cosmopolitan cities, seek adventure on hiking trails and waterways, or chill out at lakeside resorts. Canada150 activities include:

July 1: Ottawa – Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill and throughout Downtown
July 2: Ottawa – Interprovincial Picnic on the Bridge
July 26-30: Ottawa – Urban theatre group La Machine featuring larger-than-life mechanical creatures (pictured – Credit: Ottawa2017.ca)
July 28-30: Toronto Festival of Beer
00-visuel-longma-lamachine-1-640x300
ALBERTA (www.travelalberta.com)
This is where the glorious Canadian Rocky Mountains lie, plus four other World Heritage Sites such as Dinosaur Provincial Park and Wood Buffalo National Park; and also the political/commercial/cultural hubs of Calgary and Edmonton. Most people come here for the Canadian Rockies which offer breathtaking sights in every season. Canada150 events include:

July 1: Calgary – Canada Day at Heritage Park
July 7-17: Calgary Stampede
July 7-17: Edmonton International Street Performers Festival (pictured – Credit: travelalberta.com)
edmonton-international-street-performers-festival-l-5
BRITISH COLUMBIA (www.helloBC.com)
In BC, Vancouver is the city most people are familiar with but this is where you will also find spectacular scenery off the beaten track such as Cariboo C0untry and The Okanagan, as well as Whistler, one of the best ski resorts in North America. Canada150 events include:

July 1-2: Bella Coola Rodeo
July 7-9: Whistler Children’s Festival (pictured – Credit: Tourism Whistler/Mike Crane)
July 14-16: Vancouver Folk Music Festival
July 20-23: Victoria Festival of Food and Wine
Whistler Children's Festival
QUEBEC (www.bonjour-quebec.com)
Bonjour! For French culture and style, this is where you will find it in Canada. Quebec City is a World Heritage listed city, highlights of which are its Winter Carnival and Summer Festival, while Montreal has its fair share of classic buildings and modern commercial spaces. Canada150 festivities include:

June 29 – July 8: Festival International de Jazz de Montreal
July 6-16: Festival d’ete de Quebec (pictured – Credit: Quebec City Tourism)
July 14-30: Montreal – Just for Laughs Festival
quebec-festival
As mentioned, the above is but a very small selection of events that will be happening throughout the year in Canada. For more information, visit the various websites listed.

For Canada150 events in Singapore, follow the High Commission in Canada (www.singapore.gc.ca) on Facebook (Canadainsingapore) or Twitter (@CanHCSingapore).

For info on Canada tours, visit Trafalgar Asia at http://www.trafalgar.com.
ottawa2017-ca_150                                                                 (Credit: Ottawa2017.ca)

Main Photo of Moraine Lake in the Canadian Rockies by Ivy Ho of Angsana Seeds Photography.
If interested, you can purchase prints of this gorgeous photo at:
https://www.etsy.com/sg-en/listing/205859208/canadian-rockies-photo-moraine-lake

No text or photos from this post are to be reproduced without permission of the blog author.

 

 

 

Cairns: Thrills & Spills (IV)

 

When in Cairns: When all is said and done, you cannot go to Cairns and not visit the Great Barrier Reef. Just remember that there’re many other things you can do on dry land as well, in and out of the city!

Find Nemo
snorkeling-in-great-barrier-reef_by-reef-magic-cruises-640x425                      Yours truly snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef (Credit: Reef Magic)

One of the world’s seven natural wonders, the Great Barrier Reef’s coral reef system is the largest on the planet and a spectacular sight to behold.

There are daily day tours and cruise providers, such as Reef Magic (www.reefmagic.com.au), that offer a host of activities including snorkelling, diving, glass-bottom boat rides, helmet dives (note: Not for those with asthma) and even helicopter rides (www.gbr.com.au) where you can admire the vast expanse of the reef from high above.

If you cannot swim or are a poor swimmer like me, opt for a guided snorkelling tour with a marine biologist who will steer you through the waters with a life buoy, and explain and point out things underwater such as clown fishes (“Nemo!”) hiding in sea anemones. If you can dive or swim well enough, take the plunge into deeper waters, where you will get to see a greater variety of corals and fish species.

Embark on a Food Trail
tea-coffee-and-scones-by-lake-barrine_atherton-tableslands-tour_by-marguerita-tan-640x549
                   English Devonshire tea at Lake Barrine teahouse (Credit: Marguerita Tan)

If you enjoy food and nature in equal measures, embark on a food trail tour to the Anderton Tablelands (www.foodtrailtours.com.au) located south-west of Cairns, where you will learn how regional foods are produced there, while zipping through the Wet Tropics rainforest, dry plains, rolling hills and mountain ranges.

For this foodie, there was no greater joy than feasting on delicious tea and scones in a historic teahouse by Lake Barrine; sampling fresh cheeses and chocolates in Atherton; learning how macadamias, Australia’s most famous nut, are grown and harvested; and tasting over 20 fruit wines, ports and liqueurs at a Mareeba tropical fruit winery.

For more info on this food trail, check out my blog post on it at this link:
https://musingsonthem49.wordpress.com/2016/04/13/cairns-grub-grog-atherton-tablelands/

On route to the area are many nature highlights including this massive 500-year-old, 50m-tall and 44m-wide Curtain Fig Tree sited near the town of Yungaburra. Simply ask your tour guide to point them out to you (although he would probably do so anyway without your asking!)

l1140962-480x640                      The 500-year-old Giant Curtain Fig Tree (Credit: Marguerita Tan)


My article on Cairns was originally published in TODAY newspaper
 on December 15, 2016.
http://www.todayonline.com/lifestyle/travel/eight-ways-cairns-will-impress-you-its-great-outdoors

 

Cairns: Thrills & Spills (III)

When in Cairns: Yes, there’s loads to do in this Australian city that is flanked by the Great Barrier Reef. Here are two more options:

Inhabit the Island

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Sunset as seen from Fitzroy Island (Credit: Fitzroy Island Resort)

Just a 45-minute ferry ride from Cairns, Fitzroy Island (www.fitzroyisland.com.au) is a 99-room tropical island resort with its own rainforest and beaches, located on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Snorkelling is great here as beautiful corals and fish are located close to its many beaches, such as Shark Bay and the scenic Nudey Beach. If you are lucky, you can even spot giant turtles in the waters.

You can also check out the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, which nurses injured and sick turtles back to health. There are various bush-walking trails that lead to sights such as a working lighthouse, crystal-clear springs and panoramic views of the Barrier Reef at the summit.

A rare evening storm ruined our chance of catching a gorgeous sunset, but then again simply chilling on a breezy beach with a cold beer in hand and ending the night with scrumptious Australian cuisine at the island’s only restaurant more than made up for it.

Push your Vertical Limit

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                              Soar above a rainforest canopy on the Kuranda Skyrail (Credit: Kuranda Tourism)

Kuranda is a picturesque village set amid the World Heritage Site Barron Gouge National Park, and the best way to explore this ancient rainforest is by taking the Skyrail, a 7.5km cableway that glides just metres above the rainforest canopy. (A Diamond View glass floor gondola offers rarely-seen views of the treetops.)

There are three stops where you can hop off and get onto boardwalks and lookouts to take a closer peek at the diverse fauna and flora, as well as stunning views of the 260m Barron Falls and Gorge. Look out for signs that list the guided tours by Skyrail’s Rangers.

For an alternate return trip, hop onto the Kuranda Scenic Train for different viewpoints of the gorge and its waterfalls as it travels through 15 hand-carved tunnels.

To be continued…

My article on Cairns was originally published in TODAY newspaper on December 15, 2016.

 

Cairns: Thrills & Spills (II)

When in Cairns: There’s more to do than just diving and snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef. Check out other fun activities like the following:

Claim the hunting ground
learning-to-hunt-on-cooya-beach_by-marguerita-tan-480x640                                  Mangrove walk at Cooya Beach (Credit: Marguerita Tan)

Cairns is filled with lovely beaches. At Cooya Beach, an hour’s drive north of the city, you can embark on the Kuku Yalanji Cultural Habitat Tour (www.kycht.com.au), an educational walk through the beach, mangroves and mud flats, where you learn more about the land and how to hunt like the natives.

Led by an indigenous guide of aboriginal heritage, we were first taught how to spear, before trekking barefoot gingerly through a muddy mangrove swamp. Upon reaching a sandy coastal reef, we looked high and low for crabs, clams and the occasional snail, while making time to embrace the clear blue skies and fresh air. The tour ended at the guide’s home where our catch of the day became our yummy lunch.

Check into Zootopia

Hartley's Creek Crocodile Farm

Feeding time! (Credit: Tourism of Port Douglas & Daintree)

About 80 per cent of Australia’s plants, mammals, reptiles and frogs are unique to the country, and hence the wildlife attractions in Queensland are really worth visiting both for adults and children.

Located 40 minutes from Cairns, Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures (www.crocodileadventures.com) is the best place on the continent to see crocodiles as it has some 4,500 crocs, complete with a remarkable man-made lagoon. It also has an open-concept zoo where you can handfeed a kangaroo or wallaby.
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Cute little girl gets up close and personal with a resting kangaroo
at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures zoo. (Credit: Marguerita Tan)

If you want to see more animals, go to Kuranda Village (www.kuranda.com.au), located 1,000 feet (305m) above Cairns. Its Rainforest Nature Park has a koala garden, a butterfly sanctuary, a bird park and even a “venom zoo”, offering opportunities to see exotic creatures such as Australian tarantulas and cone snails you would rarely encounter up close.

To be continued…

My article on Cairns was originally published in TODAY newspaper on December 15, 2016.