Crawl-less year end staycation

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Excerpt from The Straits Times

The causeway has been in the news recently, being the source of frustration to travellers when they are stuck in a 5 hours jam to cross it. I can relate to this, as I myself was stuck in jam lasting more than 3 hours. On 11 December, a Friday, I joined the queue into the CIQ from the EDL at about 420pm, and managed to exit Woodlands Checkpoint only at 730pm.

The jams are happening despite an improvement in the workflow at Woodlands Checkpoint, whereby the vehicle inspection is done at the same time as the immigration clearance. This would have reduced the overall waiting time by probably half an hour, but apparently this wasn’t enough to relief the congestion, which one frequent causeway user said was the worst ever. It was so bad that she decided to put up in a hotel in JB. Looks like i’m not the only one having the same idea.

Excerpt from The New Paper
Excerpt from The New Paper

The best ways to avoid the causeway crawl are obviously air travel, or don’t travel! This is certainly not a good time to drive into Malaysia (and vice versa). Here are just some ideas of what one can do, free of charge (not counting transport and food of course), while staying put in Singapore. Yes, my kind of staycation. I simply don’t believe in spending money to stay in a local hotel.

Christmas light-up

This year, there is a new venue to view Christmas light-up other than the obvious Orchard Road. Yes, you probably already know it – Christmas Wonderland @ Gardens by the Bay. Judging by the popularity of this event, i have a feeling this will be held annually. A friend of ours who tried to go there (by public transport) was stuck in a queue for 3 hours. On my first attempt to get there, i immediately scrapped the idea on seeing the multi-kilometer tailback of cars queueing to get into the carpark. It was absolutely crazy!

Anyway, i went a second time, before 6pm on a Monday, and the car parks were already full, but the car park at Marina Barrage had plentiful parking (apparently the cars that were queuing were not aware of the availability of this car park that is within easy walking distance into Gardens by the Bay). Our plan was to have an early dinner at Satay by the Bay. It was quite empty before 6pm too, though before long, queues started to form at the food stalls as well.

It is certainly worth a look, but not quite pleasant having to contend with the crowd, especially when visiting with young children.

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The centrepiece
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A very elaborate Christmas tree

Sentosa is another plausible option even if it is slightly cheesy.

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Get in touch with nature

I took the opportunity this week to check out Coney Island Park, which was only opened recently, and found it to be quite serene. If you’re fortunate, you might see the cow.

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The trees and vegetation are quite unique
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You might have the beach to yourself

On New Year’s day this year, we made a visit to Pulau Ubin, something i have not done for two decades! It was the first time i saw Chek Jawa and i found it to be quite interesting. We decided to visit on the upcoming New Year’s day again.

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The wetlands is the star of Chek Jawa
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Multi-coloured stones
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My son enjoying his first ever bicycle ride
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Didn’t expect wild boars to be this friendly

Go to a park

If “raw” nature is too rough for you, then a park may be the thing for you. I’ve been to the Botanic Gardens umpteen times, but there is always much to see. Well, i went today without having any specific objective in mind, and i ended up having some fun just shooting photos.

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Colour of the season
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Magnificent tree
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Flowers are my favourite subject because they’re pretty and they keep still
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The blue coloured tongue reminds me of Mystique in X-men
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Lone ranger
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Like i said, flowers

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Go on an MRT joyride

I’m not sure if it is intentional, but SG50 ends with the launch of Downtown Line 2. It opens on 27 Dec and will offer 6 days of free travel (EZ link card is required), until 1 Jan 2016. Well, my son loves to take public transport, and i think there’s no better chance to let him do so than trying out DTL2. The map from LTA’s website helped me plot my itinerary. I’ll be parking my car at Dairy Farm Nature Park car park (free parking as of the last time i was there S$1 per hour, obviously they realized people will be taking advantage of a car park that is next to an MRT station), and taking my ride from Hillview Station. I will head to Rochor Station just to see out how well it connects to Sim Lim Square and places around there. Then i will stop at Beauty World station to check out the place for fun and for nostalgia.

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LTA’s map showing points of interest along DTL2

The commercial buildings around Beauty World station are definitely the biggest benefactors of the newly opened Downtown Line 2. They have been languishing for years. The Downtown Line now brings in a fresh stream of customers and capital.

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Beauty World Hawker Centre, the only open air hawker centre that is located in a shopping centre. I have not been here for 20 years and it remains largely the same. The air well makes the place feel very breezy, unlike many other modern hawker centres that has to rely on fans.
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The Xiao Long Bao that has Leslie Tay’s recommendation from 2011. The skin is very nicely done – elastic. The filling was good but not fantastic – has a slightly mushy feel.
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Kids enjoying the view of the tracks of Downtown Line 2.
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