Bukit Larut Is An Undiscovered Genting Highlands, Just A 1-Hour Flight From Singapore

Bukit Larut Aka Maxwell Hill In Perak Is An Untouched Genting Highlands

Genting Highlands’ breezy resort-town is a popular destination because of its numerous theme parks, shopping destinations and hotels — but what if you want a weekend getaway surrounded by nature?

Bukit Larut – also known as Maxwell Hill – is a hidden retreat that boasts of majestic waterfalls, crystalline pools and lush green gardens.

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The resort is relatively untouched by humans as compared to Genting and Cameron Highlands.

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If you’re ready to visit this fairytale-like destination, here’s what to expect.

6-story waterfalls & clear pools

Unlike Genting Highlands there are no entertainment facilities, but you can see natural wonders like a 6-storey high reservoir waterfall.

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The path to the falls features flowing streams cascading down soft rocks and hard rocks.

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The region accumulates 98 inches of rain per year and is located in one of the wettest places in Malaysia. Heavy downpours and pools are pretty common — but we’re sure you won’t mind soaking in these gorgeous pools.

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Enchanted forests & gardens

The hilltops of Bukit Larut look like an enchanted forest embellished with flowers, birds and tree ferns.

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A nature getaway conjures images of pine trees amid gorgeous cityscape views, so you’ll be pleased to know that you can sit on rocks and enjoy a scene guaranteed to take your breath away.

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To reach the top, you’ll need to take a ride inside land rovers or hike for four hours. The roads are very steep so private cars are not allowed. If you’re going to ride the land rover,  buckle up because the road has many twists and turns.

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Whether you’re hiking or riding a car, you’ll get the opportunity to marvel at the towering trees and plants.

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The temperatures can fluctuate between 10 to 15 degrees so bring some sweaters and umbrellas – then prepare for some rainfalls and fog.

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You’re bound to feel like Indiana Jones after trekking these narrow bending roads that are 13km long.

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Bungalows & parks

The Bukit Larut Hill resort was built under the direction of William Edward Maxwell who served as an Assistant Resident of Perak during the 1800s.

Several bungalows were built and maintained by the government for the European planters. While these bungalows were traditionally meant to help Europeans take a break amidst the tropical heat, tourists can obtain permission to stay inside a bungalow from the Bukit Larut office.

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Those bringing their kids along will be happy to find a spacious playground where kids can ride swings, run and play games.

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Located in the park is a hanging bridge where you can take pictures guaranteed to make your friends jelly.

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The bridge leads to a lookout post which is an ideal spot for bird watching on sunny days.

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Booking your trip?

Bukit Larut is certainly a sight to see for nature lovers seeking a place of serenity away from bustling crowds. To get to the resort, you can book a trip from Singapore to Perak’s Sultan Azlan Shah Airport via Scoot or AirAsia. From there, take a 1 hour and 10 minute cab ride.

To find a place to stay, check out their website. You can also check out the bungalows and rates here and the schedule of land rovers here. To make a reservation, contact their Bukit Larut office for more details.

Don’t forget to bring some sweaters, jackets and umbrellas because it can get chilly and rainy.

Address: 34000 Taiping, Perak, Malaysia
Contact details of Bukit Larut Office: +605-807 7241/7243
Website: MPTaiping

Featured image from YouTube and Instagram.

VivoCity Hypermarkets Close On 17 Feb; NTUC FairPrice Only Opens In Late 2019

Giant & Cold Storage Close On 17 Feb, NTUC FairPrice Opens Late 2019

Just a few months ago, we gave a PSA about Giant at VivoCity or Vivomart closing in early 2019.

Now that dreaded time has come and the supermarket is leaving with its counterpart, Cold Storage, too.

TODAYonline reported on Saturday (2 Feb) that Giant and Cold Storage will be exiting VivoCity on 17 Feb.

No supermarkets from 17 Feb

Giant and Cold Storage, both under Dairy Farms International Holdings, will allegedly be closing in 2 weeks.

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We’re not sure how nostalgic you’d get about the latter, but most of us will certainly miss the two-storey Giant hypermarket.

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The huge store with endless arrays of household products has been a comforting refuge from the sea of retail stores in the mall.

Customers who regularly shop for groceries there will miss the variety of fresh produce that are sold at affordable prices.

With Cold Storage leaving VivoCity at the same time, there will be no other grocery stores available — unless you can survive on products from Marks & Spencer’s food hall.

Alternative options for groceries

FairPrice, Singapore’s largest supermarket chain, will open at VivoCity only in the third quarter of 2019.

That’s somewhere between July and September.

What can customers turn to in the meantime? There’s always online grocery shopping at RedMart, FairPrice On, Giant or Cold Storage.

But if you prefer to pick your products yourself, the nearest supermarkets are:

  • Cold Storage, Harbourfront Centre, 1 Maritime Square, #01-48 to 50, Singapore 099253
  • NTUC FairPrice, Blk 1, Tanjong Pagar Plaza, #01-01, Singapore 082001
  • FairPrice Finest, 100 Tras Street, #B1-01, Singapore 079027
  • NTUC FairPrice, 78A Telok Blangah St 32, #01-01/02, Singapore 101078
  • NTUC FairPrice, 460 Alexandra Road, #01-09 & #01-16, Singapore 119963
  • Habitat by Honestbee, 34 Boon Leat Terrace, Singapore 119866

High expectations for FairPrice Xtra

A FairPrice spokesperson has said that the FairPrice Xtra opening at VivoCity will have “unique features”.

No further details have been given, but with self-checkout machines becoming a fixture in their stores, we can expect more exciting additions.

Perhaps they could take after Habitat by Honestbee and implement fully robotic checkouts, both in-store and via phone apps.

Dining places offering food cooked from fresh produce right from the store could also make a wonderful addition.

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The FairPrice Xtra outlet spanning roughly 8,361 square meters will be the largest in Singapore, so there’s more than enough space for these interesting features.

Out with the old, in with the new

We’re sad to see Giant and Cold Storage go, but perhaps the new year bids a new beginning at VivoCity.

We hope that the new FairPrice Xtra outlet will turn out great and be worth the wait when it opens later this year.

For now, if you want to bask in the glorious air-con of Vivomart or Vivo’s Cold Storage one last time, plan a trip to VivoCity soon.

You’ll only have a few days left before they’re gone forever.

Featured image from Google Maps.

First Starbucks In S’pore Reopens At Liat Towers Today, Giving Us Major Nostalgia

24-Hour Starbucks At Liat Towers Opens On 2 Feb

Remember the first-ever Starbucks store at Liat Towers?

Starbucks fans from the ‘90s will know that it’s the branch where they first had a taste of mid-week feel-good frappucino – which led to many, many more visits for years to come.

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If you wanted to live the good ‘ol days, you can still visit the branch but expect a massive upgrade.

The iconic store has reopened after renovations, and here’s what you can expect.

Golden brown revamp

The new interiors feature a cascade of lights illuminating the patio-style seating and wooden interior designs, giving it an overall golden brown theme.

It includes a large art wall with more than 100 cup art designs from local Starbucks baristas. Each cup symbolises the relationships and strong ties that the brand has built with coffee lovers from across the island.

The more intimate setting creates an immersive experience for coffee connoisseurs.

Bring on the nostalgia

The Starbucks at Liat Towers has been around since 1996.

For the past 23 years, it’s been the site for many date nights and late night conversations. You might’ve enjoyed several shots of espresso to stay sane during long cramming sessions. Or met up with old friends and rekindled relationships.

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It’s undoubtedly been a long time and we bet that the first local fans are probably in their 30s – starting their own family.

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While the spot has carved a special spot in the hearts of Singaporeans, the revamped space is also a site to commemorate old memories and make new ones too.

Out with the old, in with the new

The new Starbucks store is right at the heart of Orchard Road – Singapore’s main shopping district.

It’s open 24 hours so you can visit to endure more late nights from work or school. The interiors are a far cry from the old branch, but we’re definitely happy to move forward and enjoy a cup of coffee at a gallery-esque setting.

Starbucks’ Liat Towers Branch
Address: 541 Orchard Rd #01-10A, Liat Towers; Singapore 238881
Operating Hours: Open 24/7
Website: Starbucks SG

Featured images courtesy of Starbucks.

China’s Zhongshuge Bookstore Has An Inception Mirror Maze That’s Mindbendingly Beautiful

Zhongshuge Bookshop In Chongqing, China Is A Mind-Boggling Masterpiece

Chinese bookstore chain Zhongshuge (钟书阁) is no stranger to outlandish, mind-boggling designs. That’s probably what earned one of its stores – in Xuhui (徐汇), China – the title of “Most Beautiful Bookstore In China“.

On 25 Jan 2019, the bold bookstore expanded its enterprise — this time with a store featuring an Inception-like, M.C. Escher-esque library in the hilly city of Chongqing (重庆).

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Yes, that’s also the province where the Mala Hotspring is located. Let’s take a closer look at this mind-bendingly beautiful library.

Mind-bending & mirrored communal area

The unorthodox bookstore houses multiple sections, each as intriguing as the other, but all guided by a single aesthetic — haphazard geometry and mirrored ceilings.

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Those familiar with the paradoxical stairs in the movie Inception – adapted from M.C. Escher’s famous painting – may have already begun theorising from where the bookstore designer got his inspiration.

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Trippy mountain book shelves for kiddos

Reading is a habit best sown when young.

With vibrant colours and shelves shaped like mountains, the dreamy pink children’s section will easily steal the young ones away from their electronic addiction.

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Though not as extravagant, the quiet reading spaces are equally stylish with dark wood and cosy curves.

For those who prefer more privacy, there are cushioned ‘caves’ perfect for both solitude and refuge from the clamour of the crowd.


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‘Infinite’ tunnels & Alice In Wonderland themes elsewhere

If there’s one thing about Zhongshuge bookstores, it is that every one of them will dazzle and impress.

The Yangzhou (扬州) store features an ‘infinite’ space-age tunnel — once again making clever use of reflective surfaces.

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Li Jiang’s (丽江) branch takes you down the rabbit hole into a colourful world not much different from the one Alice discovered.

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Finally, Zhongshuge in Hangzhou (杭州) will give you glimpse of a distant, sterilized future. Or the inside of an alien abductor spaceship — we’ll leave it to your imagination.

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Chongqing, China is a 5-hr flight away

Chongqing is a major city in southwest China. The city is about a 5-hour flight from Singapore — same as a flight to Shanghai and about an hour shorter than one to Beijing.

Zhongshuge’s Chongqing store, the brand’s 14th, is at a part of the city called Yang Jia Ping (杨家坪). The city’s trains run directly to the area, and from what we’ve read, the bookstore is only a short walk from the station.

Opening hours: 10am to 10pm daily
Address: 3 Floor, Zhongdi Plaza, No. 8 Yangzheng Street, Yangjiaping, Jiulongpo District (九龙坡区杨家坪杨正街8号中迪广场3楼)

Many ‘Zhongshuge’s scattered across China

The inventive bookstore has footprints all across China — Shanghai, Hangzhou, Yangzhou, Chengdu, Suzhoi, Wuxi, Xi’an, Guiyang and Chongqing.

If for some reason you’re flying to any one of those cities during the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday, it will be worth your time paying a visit to a Zhongshuge bookstore.

They say reading feeds the imagination. But sometimes, the bookstore feeds it just as well.

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Featured image from Sohu.

Istana CNY Open House On 6 Feb Lets S’poreans Bai Nian Inside For Free

Istana Hosts CNY Open House On 6 Feb

Mention visiting the Istana and you may get bewildered looks from your family and friends, followed by a “can go in one meh?”.

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The answer is an indisputable ‘yes’. In fact, the Istana has a few open houses every year, one of which is happening very soon on 6 Feb, the second day of Chinese New Year (CNY).

The open houses are held in celebration of various public holidays in Singapore, such as CNY, Labour Day, Hari Raya Puasa, National Day and Deepavali.

The Istana is the official residence and office of the President of Singapore, as well as the working office of Singapore’s Prime Minister.

Tours & exhibitions

Even if you’ve never been to the Istana before, not to worry as there are guided tours available.

Take a tour of selected function rooms in the Istana Main Building, and view a special exhibition of gifts presented to Singapore’s Presidents and Prime Ministers over the years.

Istana Main Building

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Sri Temasek building

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The Villa building

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Military Guard Room

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Here is a picture of what you can expect from a past open house:

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You can also try your hand at Chinese calligraphy booths.

Furthermore, there will be a display by Wildlife Reserves Singapore to educate the public on wildlife conservation issues.

But, if you prefer to enjoy the scenery and festivities of the Istana on your own, you can choose to do a self-guided tour using the Istana Garden Walk mobile app.

Wushu & musical performances

Expect to be treated to an array of performances such as brass band and Chinese martial arts (wushu) shows.

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And of course, the all-time CNY favourite — lion dance.


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Istana Nature Guided Walk by NParks

If you love greens – admiring them, not eating them – you may also choose to join the Nature Guided Walk.

A collaboration between the President’s Office and the National Parks Board (NParks), the walk will take you through the Istana’s flora and fauna displays.

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You may even be able to catch a glimpse of swans at the Swan Pond!

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The guided walk will be conducted hourly from 10am to 4pm. For those who are keen, do look out for signs on the Istana grounds to find out where to register.

Guided Tour Fees:
– Children aged 4 years & above: $2
– Singaporeans/PRs aged 13 & above: $4
– Foreigners aged 13 & above: $10
– Singaporeans/PRs (Family of 4): $12
– Foreigners (Family of 4): $30

150th anniversary of the Istana

This year is undeniably a special one for Singapore, since we’re commemorating SG’s Bicentennial Year — aka the 200th anniversary of Raffles’ arrival in Singapore.

But did you know that the Istana is also commemorating its 150th anniversary?

To mark this occasion, President Halimah Yacob will be launching an Istana 150 Souvenir Series of Medallions and FlashPay cards on that day.

Jointly brought to you by the Istana and The Singapore Mint, the souvenir series will consist of a range of unique silver medallions and card products featuring the architecture of the Istana buildings.

Security screenings will be done

Before you head down to the Istana on that day, do make a mental note of these rules.

For security reasons, do not bring the following items with you:

1. Pointed & sharp objects (e.g. knives of any size, forks)
2. Flammable items (e.g. lighters)
3. Canned food & drinks

To ensure a safe and enjoyable visit and to prevent damage to the premises, visitors will have to undergo security screening before entering the Istana grounds.

The sale of tickets for the Istana Main Building will close at 5.30pm, subject to crowd conditions. As for the guided tour, registration will close by 3pm for the main building, and 4pm for the Nature Guided Walk.

Bai nian at the Istana this CNY

So if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like inside the Istana, head on down on their CNY Open House!

But if you happen to be busy with CNY visits that day, there are still more Istana open houses later in the year.

You can take a look at the schedule here.

Address: 35 Orchard Rd, Singapore 238823
Date & time: 6 Feb 2019, 8.30am-6pm
Entrance fee: Free for Singaporeans & Singapore Permanent Residents (PRs), S$2/person for all other visitors

Featured image from Wikipedia and the Istana.

This Album With 30 Years Of Singapore In Pictures, Lovingly Depicts How Our Nation Has Grown

30 Years Of Singapore In Pictures

The son of an American photographer has uploaded his or her own version of the #10yearchallenge that’s been going viral on Facebook.

As for the subject matter? Singapore in her early 20s.

In an uncredited post on Imgur, the original poster (OP) creates a poetic ode to his father’s work — by revisiting the spots pictures were taken at back in the late 1980s, after his father’s death in 2014.

Turns out, Mr Adam Snyder has been posting these incredible photos on his Instagram account as well.

Here’s the post in full.

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The resulting album is a stunning collection that highlights how much Singapore has grown in just 30 years. And in many ways, how not much has changed at all.

1. Ann Siang Hill

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A surreal sight indeed, as not much has changed except the shophouse fronts getting restored. We’ve identified the blue building in the background, as housing units located along Smith Street at Chinatown Complex.

2. Jalan Besar/Kelantan Road

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Besides the quaint row of shophouses receiving a paint job, we love how Adam managed to capture an SBS Transit bus in almost the exact same spot.

3. Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple

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Though the temple along Serangoon Road used to be a standalone structure, it appears many residential areas have popped up behind and beside it.

4. Boat Quay

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Back in 1988, it appears that the UOB Plaza One building was in the midst of construction.

5. UOB Plaza

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Now, it towers over neighbouring buildings, and is a permanent fixture along Boat Quay.

6. Masjid Sultan

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Playing spot the difference in this set of photos is eerily difficult — they’re almost identical. A few tell tale signs are the models of the cars, and absence of overhead wiring.

7. Arab Street

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We find it heartening that the bones of the shophouses remain the same, having undergone restoration works to preserve the structures.

What has changed at Arab Street slightly is the nature of the businesses — from shops hawking general textiles, to carpet galleries and F&B outlets.

8. Central Business District (CBD)

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Maybank’s new skyscraper and the cluster of buildings behind Hongkong Bank – aka HSBC – were erected in just 30 years. Not to mention the overpass that’s framing the left side of the picture.

9. Esplanade

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You’ll notice many iconic additions to our waterfront skyline since 1988. Spot the iconic durian-shaped Esplanade on the left, and a refurbished Mandarin Oriental Hotel building.

10. Marina Bay

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The collage of Marina Bay boasts one of the most drastic changes. Since the 80s, we’ve grown from a bustling jetty with small tugboats to a beautiful waterfront pathway for visitors.

11. Fullerton Road towards UOB Plaza

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12. Anderson Bridge & Fullerton Hotel

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For this remarkable collage, the photographer writes that the sapling on the upper right hand corner, appears to have blossomed into a massive tree now.

13. Cavenaugh Bridge & Fullerton Hotel

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As for the shrubs in front of Cavenaugh Bridge, Adam isn’t “100% sure”, but believes the trees may be the same as well in this set of pictures.

14. MRT Map

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As a bonus, the photographer gave us a glimpse at how our transport system has grown over the years from just the OG Red & Green line, to 5 new lines and 2 LRT systems.

If you love what you’ve seen, do follow Adam on Instagram here as he has promised to post more from his collection, due to the overwhelmingly positive response.

A meaningful project

We sometimes take Singapore’s cityscape for granted, having passed by familiar landmarks on our daily commutes.

Through the lens of this pair of father & son photographers, we love that we’re able to see Singapore’s beauty reflected through the passage of time.

Now, it’s our generation’s turn to define how Singapore will turn out in the next 30 years. May she continue to prosper and grow, while preserving her unique culture and architecture.

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Author Donates Old S’pore Pictures, Hopes Netizens Can Help CSI Them

Featured image from Imgur.

8 Reddest Places In Singapore To Get Extra ‘Huat’ This CNY

Reddest Places In Singapore For Extra ‘Huat’

Red is the colour of prosperity. Every Chinese New Year, you slip into your bright red clothes and undies, and find yourself raking in cash at the mahjong table faster than a Marvel movie makes money. The red works!

Surely there has to be something more you can do with the colour red to extend your good fortune.

Here’s a suggestion — place yourself at somewhere red. Presenting 8 places in Singapore that are probably red enough for that endeavour. Although we’re not really sure what you might want to do there.

1.The Red House, Katong

Snazzy shophouses along the street, who’s the reddest of them all? Goes without saying — The Red House.

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The aptly-termed shophouse was once home to Katong Bakery & Confectionery. The bakery, however, was closed in 2003. More than a decade later, the rose of the row opened its doors once more, back in 2016.

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Behind the outlandish red facade sits Heavenly Wang. We don’t mean the deity – if there’s even one – but the café. You know, the one that sells Kaya toast and Kopi and everything that makes a deeply satisfying breakfast.

So anytime you’re bored rubbing yourself against the red pillars trying to ‘absorb’ more luck, there’s always the option of taking a coffee break inside.

Location: 63 East Coast Rd, Singapore 428776
Opening Hours: 7:30am to 9:30pm
Nearest MRT: Tanjong Katong

2. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, Chinatown

This next one isn’t as red, but has just enough red for your prosperity-seeking shenanigans.

The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple follows the Tang dynasty architecture, with firebrick red running across the pillars, tiles, fences and frames of windows and doors.

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The temple opened in 2007 and houses a ceremonial space, a tea house and a museum containing about 300 Buddhist artifacts. A perfect place to educate yourself on Buddhist traditions.

But all that hardly matters, because what you’re really there for is the red — or should we say, the ‘huat’.

In case you’re afraid the red disappears at night — it doesn’t.
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Since it’s a temple, there may be a chance for extra ‘huat’ points. Just remember to be mindful of the other people inside.

Location: 288 South Bridge Rd, Singapore 058840
Opening Hours: 7am to 7pm
Nearest MRT: Chinatown/Telok Ayer

3. Lorong Halus Pedestrian Bridge, Punggol Waterway Park

Next on the list of red-ventures will take you closer to nature.

Lorong Halus Pedestrian Bridge stretches like a vermilion caterpillar over the Lorong Halus Wetland. The wetland is part of the Serangoon Reservoir and acts as a natural purifier so dirty water doesn’t get into the reservoir.

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The bridge lets you marvel at beautiful sunsets, the calm shimmering water, the metallic Serangoon Tidal Gates, and of course, the occasional white stain on your shoulder because you know, uncivil birds.

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But don’t let the view or the accidental sky-borne excretion distract you from your mission — to imbibe those prosperous red vibes.

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No cycling, swimming, fishing, feeding, pet-walking, skating or starting fires are allowed on the bridge.

This means no fire-breathing, flame-throwing or whatever else you might want to do with fire. Besides, fire is more orange than red. Not exactly helpful to your cause.

Location: Lorong Halus Wetland
Opening Hours: Forever, till bridge is demolished
Nearest MRT: Punggol MRT/Rivieria LRT

4. Emerald Hill

This one is a little bit stingy with the red, but we’ll let it pass. Emerald Hill has a large red wall which you probably can’t find anywhere else.

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What do you do when there are unadorned, minimalist-looking red walls?

You take pictures. With yourself in them. Doing something cool…like looking away. With knees bent. Or looking at your watch.

Or at some random person who you probably shouldn’t look at for too long in case he’s one of those ‘stare-means-invitation-to-fight’ kinda guy.

Location: 5 Emerald Hill Rd, Singapore 229289
Opening Hours: Eternally, till wall collapses
Nearest MRT: Somerset

5. Red Bridge at Singapore Polytechnic

Determining the prosperity-endowing level of the Red Bridge is tricky.

No, it isn’t because you can’t enter Singapore Polytechnic looking like a haggard 50-something. But because the blood-coloured bridge has a history of spook — hardly an auspice.

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Legend – or some really mischievous and imaginative students – has it that the bridge was painted a dark shade of red to conceal the blood stains of a student who had killed himself/herself on the bridge.

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Here’s how it looks in the night so you can more easily imagine the spooky story playing out.

We’ll leave you to decide if you want this bridge included in your relentless pursuit of all things red this Chinese New Year.

Location: 500 Dover Rd, Singapore 139651
Opening Times: 7am to 10pm
Nearest MRT: Dover

6. Singapore Central Fire Station

Chinese New Year is synonymous with firecrackers — at least it used to be when I was younger. At this next place you won’t have to worry about someone accidentally brushing a firecracker against your sleeve and setting you into that stop, drop, roll dance.

The facade of the Singapore Central Fire Station leaves little doubt why its often called the country’s most iconic fire station.

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The post-colonial style building was completed in 1909. It was originally painted a forest green to conceal it from Japanese bombers during World War 2. Unfortunately, the camouflage failed and the building was hit several times.

But today, it stands pristine and functional, with firefighters ready to respond to accidental blazes in CBD and Chinatown area.

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The red doors are a deep, vibrant red. That could mean more prosperity. Since it’s a fire station, you might want to get your mineral water bottles blessed at the gates. Then bring it home and take a sip every time you’re getting dealt a hand or picking up a tile.

Address: 62 Hill Street, Singapore 179367
Opening Hours: Perpetually, till you get arrested for loitering
Nearest MRT: City Hall

7. Jurong Gardens

A common post-CNY complaint is that your belly’s circumference has grown. Why not prepare for that unwelcome gain with some exercise at Jurong Gardens?

At the same time, you’ll be able to collect some prosperity points by standing among the red pillars of the Stone Boat and Tea House in Chinese Gardens — one half of Jurong Gardens.

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On the other end is its sibling — Japanese Gardens. Not all of the Japanese Gardens is red. That would be absurd. Actually, it would be quite spectacular.

But lets get away from the ‘what ifs’ because the only red thing at Japanese Gardens is the red bridge. The bridge goes over water and water is good for fengshui, so standing on that bridge is probably good for fortune. Impeccable logic.

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Address: 1 Chinese Garden Rd, Singapore 619795
Opening Hours: 5:30am to 11pm
Nearest MRT: Chinese Garden

8. Chinatown Street Market

If all else fails – as in the case you’re just too lazy to leave home till CNY – you can visit the streets of Chinatown during CNY itself. By then, they should be glowing red with lanterns overhead.

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If cars, buses and motorbikes frighten you, you can head inside to Chinatown Street Market. You may suffer an elbow or two to the ribs because of the crowd, but that’ll be all worth it when you collect enough red decorations to clad your entire body.

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Address: Trengganu St, Singapore 050005
Opening Hours: 9:30am to 8pm
Nearest MRT: Chinatown

More red to welcome the new year

There you have it, the reddest places in Singapore for Instagram inspiration and whatever peculiar pursuits of prosperity you may have.

Visiting all the places above will probably put you in the radar of the prosperity deities. So the question remains — how much ‘huat’ do you really need this CNY?

MS News wishes you a prosperous new year.

Featured image from @angelineeetan on Instagram and @happyladywarrior on Instagram.

Toys”R”Us Is Selling Nerf Guns & Other Toys At Half Price At All Stores From 24-28 Jan

Toys”R”Us Great World City Reopening Has Mascots, Free Popcorn & Candy Floss

Now that Chinese New Year is fast upon us, we can expect stores to slash prices on everything.

While you’re scrambling to get festive necessities, don’t forget about the young children who’d want something to celebrate too.

If you didn’t get them toys for Christmas, now would be a good time to make up for it because Toys”R”Us is having a massive sale island-wide, in ALL of their outlets.

Half-priced Nerf guns & Frozen merch

Your little boy might be eyeing that Nerf gun that keeps appearing on TV. The Nerf Accufire Talonstrike is retailing for $19.99, down from $39.99.

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Hold off on the Pokemon Go addiction and let them imagine getting real life Pokemon with the Pokemon Sun & Moon Gacha Machine that costs $54.99.

Nobody gets tired of vending machines, so this will be a worthwhile investment to curb their screen times.

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All toys can be played by all children equally, but we know your daughter would be delighted by cute doll sets.

The Frozen craze hasn’t and probably never will die down, so why not hop on the bandwagon and get this Frozen Whipple set.

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The set contains realistic food items, so make sure your child isn’t playing on an empty stomach.

Toys”R”Us has all that and more, so you can get something for all your kids, no matter their preference.

50% off kids’ sports sets

Instead of keeping the kids occupied with games or cartoons on mobile screens, why not have them do something more active?

The half price promo at Toys”R”Us includes deals on sports sets like badminton, table tennis and boxing.

Train your child to be the next Li Jiawei or Feng Tianwei with this table tennis set that’s going for only $39.99.

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The set comes complete with paddles, ping pong balls and a table, so you can groom the next national sports star right at home.

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Or use Loh Kean Yew‘s historic win over world champion Lin Dan to get your child excited about badminton. They’d love this cute badminton set.

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Mascot appearances & free gifts

Even if you’re hesitating to spend in light of upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations, it would be a good idea to bring your kids down to Great World City anyway.

Characters from various cartoon series will be making special appearances from 10am-5pm from 24 Jan-27 Jan.

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See your children’s faces light up when they catch characters like Pororo and Robo Car Poli ‘live’ in action. We’re sure there’ll be photo ops too.

While the kids are having fun, parents can treat yourselves to the free popcorn and candy floss.

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You can also stand to win some money if you attend the grand reopening of the Great World City outlet on Thursday (24 Jan). The official ceremony begins at 10am.

The first 50 customers get a S$20 gift certificate and if you miss that chance, simply spend S$50 and have a go at the spin and win wheel.

So take some time off and bring your children to Great World City this weekend. They’re sure to be in a good mood, ready for Chinese New Year.

Address: 1 Kim Seng Promenade, #02-117 Great World City, Singapore 237994
Opening hours: 10am-10pm daily
Nearest MRT station: Somerset

Featured image from Google Maps.

This Hokkaido Ice Village Has Igloo Beds & A Crystal Chapel For Weddings

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu Hosts Pristine Weddings In A Crystal Chapel

Those of us who’ve grown up in tropical climates often dream of winter wonderlands, crystalline snowflakes — especially after Disney’s hit movie Frozen.

While the holiday season has ended, the winter season is far from over. If you’re headed to Japan to see the Sakura trees in Feb, we’ve found a gorgeous ice hotel with rooms entirely made out of sculptured ice just for you!

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Ready to sleep like a king or queen of winter? We’ve done some research on your behalf and here’s what’s awaiting you in this luxurious destination.

Ice hotel with outdoor bath

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu boasts of an ice hotel that’s open from 19 Jan to 28 Feb.

The domed-shaped space is entirely built of ice with the walls and ceilings shining like illuminated crystals. Beds consist of expertly cut ice slabs topped with a sleeping bag which can endure extremely cold temperatures.

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If you’re not used to the cold, suit up and prepare for temperatures to drop between 14⁰C to 30⁰C below freezing.

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A night at any Japanese hotel isn’t complete without a hot bath, and you can get one here too, whilst surrounded by shimmering ice. The winter forest and bright lights make it the perfect place to relax and enjoy the Chinese New Year.

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After you’ve indulged in a warm bath, you can sit back and grab your favorite drinks at their after-bath ice lounge. We’re not too sure about the reclined seats because thick blocks of ice aren’t exactly comfy.

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We’re sorry to burst your bubble, but luxurious destinations come with a hefty price tag. One night at their ice hotel is 23000¥ or $287.

Ice Village

Don’t have the budget to book a one-night stay in their ice hotel? No worries!

You can drop by their ice village for 500¥ or S$6! If you stay at their other hotels like RISONARE Tomamu or Tomamu The Tower – which are not made of ice – a trip to the village is free of charge.

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The ice village is composed of ice rinks, bars and cafes.

Bookworms can lounge in the Ice Books & Café where they can binge on books or read their Kindles whilst relishing the warmth of the fireplace. The fire is contained around a special glass so there’s no need to worry about drops of water landing on the pages.

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We’re sure you’ve dreamed about ice castles, but what about ice bars?

Their Ice Bar has more than 50 kinds of hard liquor and cocktail. You can even add an underground water from the “perpetual snow” of Daisetsuzan Mountain – also known as the water for long life.

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Parents bringing their kids along for the trip can join an activity called Ice Gao.

Here, children can play ice musical instruments, freezing soap bubbles and sculpt ice glass and keychains.

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Of course, no village is complete without a playground, so get on their ice slides and brace yourself for a fun-filled ride from the village’s overlook deck to the ice rink.

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Since we grew up in a hot climate, we’re definitely not confident about our ice skating skills. But you’ll definitely be tempted to rent a pair of skates and lace your boots once you’ve seen their ice rinks at night!

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Ice chapel

Frozen fans rejoice!

From 19 Jan to 15 Feb, their weddings ceremonies are held in an ice chapel that has a cross, altar, and chairs which are also made of ice. Now all you need is an Elsa-approved dress to make your once-in-a-lifetime walk down the aisle.

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Skiis & snowmobiles

For thrill-seekers and adventure lovers, a trip to Japan isn’t over until you’ve skied down slopes and ridden snowmobiles.

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You’ll be happy to find that the resort has an easy auto gate system that lets you visit their majestic mountaintops and bask on these scenic views.

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Those who don’t ski or snowboard can always opt for their Moonlight Snowmobile Tour. Have fun dashing through the snow whilst looking at the exceptionally beautiful pine trees and the bright full moon.

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The ski resort and snowmobiles are only available from December to March.

Booking a trip to this Frozen wonderland?

Now that Hoshino Resorts Tomamu is definitely on your radar, how do you get there?

You can book a flight from Singapore to New Chitose Airport via Scoot, Thai Airlines and Japan Airlines. From there, ride the Sapporo railway station and exit at Tomamu station. A shuttle bus to the resort will be waiting once you arrive. You can check out their website for more details.

If you can’t afford the $287 per night stay in their ice hotel, you can always check out their non-frozen accommodations on their website. The admission fee for their ice village is only
500¥ or $6! Thrill-seekers eager to try winter sports and other activities can check prices here.

There’s many options to choose from no matter your budget – so you can have a magical holiday without breaking the bank.

Address: Nakatomamu, Shimukappu, Yufutsu District, Hokkaido 079-2204, Japan
Check-In & Check-Out: 15:00pm to 11:00am
Website: Hoshino Resorts Tomamu

Featured image from Instagram.

Largest Don Don Donki In Singapore Opens At City Square Mall On 11 Jan

Third Don Don Donki Outlet Is The Largest & Has A Food Court Inside

If you’ve been to a Don Don Donki outlet, you’d know how huge the store is with its endless aisles.

One minute you’d be looking at sashimi and the next you’d be surrounded by shelves upon shelves of instant ramen.

Their first outlet at Orchard Central is enough of a big maze, but their third and largest one opening at City Square Mall on Friday (11 Jan) promises to be even bigger.

Fresh groceries, dining & bargain sectors

Every Don Don Donki outlet is designed to cater to the unique retail behaviour of customers in its location.

Since a lot of families visit City Square Mall, Don Don Donki’s new outlet will offer three unique features all families will appreciate — dining, bargain buys and fresh groceries.

Bargain section

Bargain hunters swarm around sale sections in stores like moths drawn to a flame. We try to snatch all the deals we can get and leave with more than what we intended.

If you’re guilty of that, you might want to stay away from Don Don Donki’s bargain section. Set in a corner of the store, bargains from as low as S$1 can be found here.

Items are placed in carton boxes with handwritten price tags spelling out the extremely low prices in bold, like in the original Don Quijote in Japan.

The displays that basically scream ‘sale’ would be too difficult to ignore, so maybe you should just give in to your temptations.

Legit ramen at food court

When you’re done shopping or simply need to pause and refuel, drop by the in-store food court for some authentic Japanese cuisine.

You can find everything there as the five food stalls sell both sweet and savoury dishes.

A piping hot bowl of ramen from Hokkaido Ramen Santouka makes the perfect comfort food after a long day of shopping.

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For dessert, try Naganuma Ice Co’s creme brulee soft serve ice cream which will round off your meal nicely.

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Japanese delicatessen pantry right out of MasterChef

To avoid splurging on Japanese food at a restaurant, you might want to play MasterChef and make your own instead.

Don Don Donki City Square Mall’s extensive range of fresh produce and delicatessen is much wider than its other outlets, so you’ll find everything you’ll need there.

There’s no excuse not to include fruits and vegetables in your diet when you can get the freshest ones flown in from Japan.

If you’re not in the mood to cook, just grab something from the delicatessen section and you’ll be good to go.

Opening day promos

The official opening ceremony for Don Don Donki @ City Square Mall will be on Friday (11 Jan) at 10am.

Be there to catch the Donpen Mascot and stand a chance to win attractive prizes.

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New and existing Don Don Donki mobile app members get a chance to spin a wheel of fortune. Spin-the-wheel prizes up for grabs include:

  • Limited edition Donpen plushies
  • 10 pairs of tickets to Airzone, the suspended playground in City Square Mall
  • 100 Don Don Donki Eco Bags

The first 1,000 customers who spend at least S$50 will win a limited edition Don Don Donki Tote Bag so make sure you get there early.

Pokemon fans should make a point to stop by too as Pikachu will be making special appearances on 11-13 Jan at 1pm, 3pm and 5pm.

Address: Basement 2, City Square Mall, 180 Kitchener Road, Singapore 208539.
Opening hours: 9am-12am daily
Nearest MRT station: Farrer Park

All images courtesy of Don Don Donki unless otherwise stated.

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