2 Treats in 2017 for ‘Frozen’ Fans

frozen-cast                                               Till Frozen 2 comes along… (Credit: Disney)

Since its launch in 2013, Disney’s Frozen has become the highest-grossing animated feature of all-time, grossing more than $1.27 billion in box office sales worldwide. Yet, its much-anticipated sequel is seemingly still on ice (pun intended).

But a #Frozen2 there will be, as #Disney has officially confirmed it in early 2015, just that we are unlikely to see it before *gulp* 2019, as it was not included in the House of Mouse’s theatrical schedules for 2017 and 2018.

Of course, there was the 2015 short film, Frozen Fever, but let’s face it: That was just an appetizer (plus we were rather distracted by Queen Elsa’s bad cold and her mischievous snots, cute as they may be.)

frozen-2-elsa-snots                                                 Elsa’s snots in ‘Frozen Fever’ (Credit: Disney)

There was also the LEGO Frozen Northern Lights series of shorts on the Disney Channel, which featured building block versions of key characters Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven on a quest to restore the Northern Lights before they disappear from the kingdom of Arendelle’s sight. It’s a cute (and extremely corny) series, meant for very young kids, but it’s not quite like the real thing.

frozen_northern-lights                                               LEGO Frozen Northern Lights (Credit: Disney)

Till the eagerly-awaited sequel comes along, here are two things Frozen fans can look forward to in 2017:

1. OLAF’S CHRISTMAS SPECIAL

frozen-olaf                           Olaf the adorable snowman gets his own special (Credit: Disney)

This Christmas, a Frozen TV special, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, is set to air on the ABC network in the US of A. Focus will be on the lovable snowman, with Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and Sven also set to return, including the original voice cast of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel and Josh Gad. New songs can be expected too, woo-hoo!

2. ‘Frozen’ Goes to Broadway

frozen-broadway-musical-logo                                                                    (Credit: Disney)

There’s already Disney on Ice Presents Frozen, now meet Frozen — The Broadway Musical. The stage musical adaptation of the hit movie will take its bow at the St. James Theater in New York in Spring 2018. Prior to that, a two-month test run will take place at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts in August 2017.

Much is expected from the musical, as it is written by the same Oscar-winning team behind the 2013 film — book by Jennifer Lee, screenwriter and director (with Chris Buck), and music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, responsible for the film’s brilliant songs including the stirring “Let It Go.”

The cast has yet to be confirmed, but just for the fun of it, which current pop star do you think is best to play either Elsa or Anna? For instance, Dove Cameron, who was impressive playing Amber in Hairspray Live!, could make a nice Elsa. Let me know in a comment below!

For what we can expect to see in Frozen 2, check out my original article, “7 Things Frozen Fans can look forward to in 2017 and Beyond” at this link: https://creators.co/@margueritatan/4180312

For my other pop culture features on movies (eg King Arthur: Legend of the Sword) and TV shows (eg, The Young Pope), click this link:
https://creators.co/@margueritatan

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
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                   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.
kid-handfeeding-kangeroo-at-hartleys_by-marguerita-tan-480x640

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.

 

Cairns: Thrills & Spills (I)

There is more to Queensland, Australia than just sun, sand and sea. I had the privilege of finding this out while on a press junket to Cairns last year, on behalf of a local newspaper.

Mention Cairns and most people think that the only thing you can do there is snorkel or dive at the Great Barrier Reef. This could not be further from the truth. From zip-lining through the trees in a World Heritage Site rainforest, to shooting the rapids in the middle of a national park, or hunting like an aborigine on a coastal reef, there are a great many other activities in Cairns that would bring out the adventure seeker in anyone.

Here is how you can go from cubicle rat in whichever country you are in to thrill-seeker in Cairns.

Brace yourself for the river wild

raging-thunder-640x425                                  White-water rafting in Barron River (Credit: Raging Thunder)

For an adrenaline-charged activity, consider white-water rafting. Located 20 minutes from the city, Barron River features rapids of grade two and three. While that means a fair bit of raft manoeuvring is required, it is still suitable for first-timers. Be prepared for a vigorous yet fun, wet ride, and hold on tight. You will need to dress right (covered shoes, no jewellery or mobile devices, etc) for safety — your own and your belongings.

Our raft was manned by a qualified instructor from Raging Thunder (www.ragingthunder.com.au) who ensured everyone got through the relatively strong rapids safely, with time to enjoy the beautiful rainforest surroundings as well as indulging in friendly water fights with people in other rafts. Even a brief heavy shower could not dampen our spirits.

Crown yourself lord of the jungle
ziplining-in-daintree-rainforest_by-lim-lai-meng-360x640                   
         Jungle surfing in Daintree Rainforest (Credit: Blog author’s own)

At Cape Tribulation, about a three-hour drive north of Cairns, lies the World Heritage Site Daintree Rainforest Reserve, which is the gateway to the thrill-filled adventure that is jungle-surfing.

Led by professional rangers from Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours (www.junglesurfing.com.au), you will be harnessed and taken to the heart of the verdant rainforest, where after a short, steep climb, you will get to zip-line across six tree canopy platforms spanning over 350m amid majestic trees and dense foliage. My favourite bit was when we were dangled above a gushing river for what seemed like forever. It was a heart-stopping moment, but one that allowed me to take in the natural beauty of what is a small part of the largest tropical rainforest in Australia.

To be continued…

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

 

Maison Ikkoku @ Kandahar Street

2016-12-23-23-48-27-640x394A group of pals invited me to go waterhole-hopping just before Christmas last year and we had a blast. One of the places we went to just before midnight was this cool place, Maison Ikkoku Cocktail Bar, located on the second floor of a shophouse unit on Kandahar Street.

The Cafe at Level 1 is known for its all-day breakfast, gourmet sandwiches and gourmet coffee, while the cocktail bar upstairs – which only open from 4pm to 1/2am –  is renowned for their bespoke cocktails which are priced from $20-$26++. Though narrow and tight, the place does have a cosy feel and gives good vibes to anyone who simply wants to chill with good drinks and snacks.
2016-12-23-23-38-17-640x480Managed by three enterprising young lads behind the bar counter at any one time, just tell them the poison craving  you are feeling (rum, vodka, brandy, lime juice, mint, chocolate, etc) and they will conjure up something that is most likely to satisfy your palate (and if not, I suspect most people are too polite to say so or make a fuss ‘cos, hey, you did allow them to come up with anything!)

The one in the group who is a regular here recommended the Tom Yum cocktail. It’s super spicy tom yum alright, just with liquor, but I prefer my tom yum with rice and not sipped from a glass! The adventurous among us then asked for various concoctions that would include (separately) rum (with lime juice or mint), green tea and fruit punch. And one ordered a Mojito. Ok, maybe we weren’t that adventurous but we did have a couple of drinks before coming here and so, were kinda not wanting to mix our drinks (which on hindsight, is a tad too late!) The cocktails were served in various types of glasses and in general, gave us the taste we wanted. Whether we would order the same again was very unlikely though, but then it give us cause to order more specific ingredients the next time round.
2016-12-24-01-17-57-640x640One cocktail we would order again though is this chocolate-based “martini” that has Nutella spread evenly around the glass. It was sweet and refreshing but seriously, we were happy just using the ice-cream stick to spoon every bit of the Nutella out to lick!

2016-12-23-23-59-26-640x480The bar food was not half bad too. The meaty nachos with cheese and mayo was delicious…

2016-12-23-23-59-47-640x597So was the trio of fries comprising french fries, sweet potato fries and luncheon meat fries. (And which probably would go better with beer actually…)

2016-12-24-00-16-34-619x640One must try is their signature Mac & Cheese Ball ($12) which – be warned – is one giant tennis ball sized. We thought it was going to come in six tiny balls but no, it’s just one ball which we had to share by scooping one spoonful each. A bit unsightly and quite heavy for just one person, but it was very yummy.

2016-12-24-01-07-15-491x640Lastly, our table was given this stack of toasted, ice-cream-covered marshmallows to munch on in the midst of our various flavoured cocktails. Love it when a bar keeps serving you tidbits inbetween drinks. 🙂

In all, six of us spent about $60 each on the cocktails and food over a few hours. A charming place that is definitely worth a few more visits, especially if you are into craft cocktails.

Maison Ikkoku Cocktail Bar is at Level 2, 20 Kandahar Street.

 

 

Obi-Wan Kenobi returns in ‘Star Wars Rebels’ Mid-Season Trailer

Fans of #StarWarsRebels were already elated when no less than 4 Easter Eggs that made references to the #Disney animated series appeared in the blockbuster, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

And now, with the release of Season 3’s mid-season trailer, more joy is in store as it is officially certain that Master Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi will be (re)appearing in the series to take on his adversary from Star Wars Episode 1: the Phantom Menace (1999), Darth Maul (or just Maul, as the ex-Sith is known on Rebels).

Watch the trailer here:

Cool, aint it? Complete with Obi-wan’s trademark opening strike stance at that (pictured below). Till now, Anakin Skywalker’s mentor was mainly seen as a hologram on a holocron, sounding a warning to any member of the Rebellion who would listen.

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Obi-wan Kenobi is ready for Maul (Credit: Disney)

Other than the fact that it is arguably the most exciting trailer for an animated series to come along for some time, here are 5 other exciting tidbits – just to name a few – of what we can expect from the rest of Season 3:

1. Loads of #RogueOne connections such as Death Troopers 
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Grand Admiral Thrawn flanked by Death Troopers (Credit: Disney)

2. Rebellion leader Mon Mothma’s first appearance on Rebels – and could that be Cassian Andor (played by Diego Luna in Rogue One) sitting behind on her right?

3. Sabine meeting her Mandalorian warrior mother with the darksaber (previously owned by one Darth Maul) in hand
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Sabine with the darksaber (Credit: Disney)

4. Grand Admiral Thrawn exhibiting some serious kung-fu moves. Not as stoic and rigid as we thought he was…

5. Freedom fighter Saw Gerrera (played by Forest Whitaker in Rogue One) making his much-anticipated appearance. The character previously appeared in The Clone Wars.
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Saw Gerrera will be voiced by Forest Whitaker in ‘Star Wars Rebels’  (Credit: Disney)

For every Rebels fan, these are great stuff to look forward to. Especially it is a clear indication that Rebels will soon be leading into Rogue One territory, tying up loose ends hopefully, which would only make the Star Wars Extended Universe that much more enjoyable.

See also my other Star Wars-related articles below:
* Princess Leia’s 10 Most Iconic Quotes from Star Wars
* 4 Star Wars Rebels Easter Eggs in Rogue One
* 7 Great and Not-So-Great Surprises from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
* Star Wars Rebels 3: Bring On The Empire

Star Wars Rebels Season 3 returns on Disney  X D on January 7.