Monday, 16 July 2018

Ba Na Hills, Danang (Vietnam)

We did a 7D6N Vietnam - Danang and Hoi An with our friends, Angs, during the June holiday.

We spent 2 nights in Danang, at Bana Hills Mountain resort. It is located in the Truong Seon Mountains west of the city Da Nang, in central Vietnam. The place was founded by the french colonists in 1919. Home to French, the resort was a recreational place for French visitors who would come to enjoy the villas, clubs, bungalows and restaurants. The place was unfortunately ruined after the World War II. 

It was restored and remodeled by investors in 2007. A popular local and foreign attraction in Vietnam today. Thanks to its altitude, about 1500 metres above sea level, we got to enjoy cool and fresh air throughout our stay. Day time was quite alright for us, but night was cold. About 15 to 20 degrees Celsius in the night.  

We booked our hotel stay with Mecure. The only hotel as of 2018. Our hotel booking did not come with cable car ride, it needs to be purchased separately at the foot of the hill. Another way up would be by car. Enjoy the cable car ride, it is the longest and highest non-stop cable car in the World!


Hotel Room

There are many activities you can do within your stay:

1. FRENCH VILLAGE
It is the 'town' you are welcomed daily the moment you step out of your hotel. A place built to the romantic and elegant taste of a unique and ancient french architecture. It is unbelievably beautiful and assuredly a great place for photography. It was however, much crowded on the days we visited. We did it over the weekend. It may be better during weekdays. Most local tourists do their one day getaways over the weekend here. We know crowd aren't great for photography.

A better time for photos would be the evening, when most crowd make their way down hill. When most shops and restaurants close at 5pm. With a handful opened for those still lurking around.


View from hotel

Awesome architecture

Front of Cathedral

Unique architecture

Great view

Lovely walk


2. FUNICULAR
This railway train brings us from Ba Na station to Le Jardin d'Amour Garden. A fun and simple ride to get the kids a little thrilled. 

Funicular

Service hour: 8am to 6.30pm (Till 5pm in low-peak season) 

3. LE JARDIN D'AMOUR GARDEN
There are 9 gardens in this mega garden. Each garden is themed to different feelings of love and classical art. It is less crowded with ample space for the kids to roam and expel some energy. The kids loved playing in the garden maze.

Le Jardin D'Amour Garden

'Cable car ride'

Play with me?
Awesome Hand statue

4. FANTASY PARK
The largest indoor entertainment park in Vietnam. Within it consists of games, shows, kiddy rides, theme park rides, not exactly equivalent, but mostly. There were bumper cars, arcade games, playground for toddlers and mostly satisfying for any child. 

Everything is free to play in here, subject to minimum height for some rides. No additional charges unless otherwise stated. Which explains why cable car ride fees are rather exuberant for the locals who are making their way up. 

Pros and cons. You can play till the cows go home! But free play can also mean a long wait for your turn at popular arcade games. After watching a boy 'game over-ed' and 'played again' four times, I decided to ask if my son could play. Trust me, you may have to do this at the park.


Fantasy Park

5. WAX MUSEUM
We skipped this. Doubt it was any exciting. After all, we have a wax museum in Sentosa. 

6. ALPINE COASTER
Alpine coaster is outdoor, not within Fantasy park. Jazz had really want to do this thrilling ride, but the queue was snaking long! Considering that the ride takes only 1 or 2 riders per play, it moved steadily slow. We knew we were not game to queue. Moreover, the younger boys weren't able to ride. It opens from 8am to 5pm. We tried checking it out at 8.15am, it was just as long as any other timing of the day. Oh well, it is said to be the top favourite of all visitors.


Alpine Coaster


7. CARNIVAL SHOW
From parade to street entertainment, performers are frequently seen hanging around French Village.

Carnival Parade

8. HOTEL'S RECREATION
The hotel's facilities are sprawled all across French Village. While French Village is also open to non hotel guests, access to use the swimming, kids and sports room are strictly for hotel guests only. You will require your hotel's access key to enter.

There are pools for adults to swim and toddlers to wade. To swim in the night (pool closes at 10pm I think), you will need to brave the cold to walk back to your hotel. Not too far of a distance though. The robe in the hotel room was good for that brisk walk. Good thing, water in the pool is heated. Our little swimmers feedback that there was some funny smell in the pool. I didn't verify that though.

There was also nightly movie screening by the pool. Just a projector and screen, not some high resolution images though.

The kids' playroom room are more for toddlers to really young kids. We didn't stay long, it wasn't well ventilated, and there was a stench of stale air lingering.


Kids' playroom

Kids' playroom

Heated pool

Slide fun

9. RESTAURANTS
Breakfast was included with the booking of the hotel. We needed to settle lunch and dinner out of the hotel. We did Vietnamese lunch at French Village, not sure what its name was, but pho was really good! And probably the best tasting one we had throughout our stay in Vietnam. We also tried the dinner buffet in the hotel and another Japanese buffet out of the hotel, which we belatedly realised they weren't good at hosting buffet. There was variety, but not satisfying in quality.

Vietnamese food may be the best bet in there.




10. STREET SNACKS
Surprisingly, street snacks were yummy! We tried their sweet potato ball, custard puff and mango smoothie. All good!


Street Food

These pretty much summed up on what you can do in Ba Na Hills. Spending 2 nights at the hotel was just nice for us, but I am sure 1 night or even a day trip may be good too. A tad disappointed that the family bunks room we booked were unavailable upon check in. We were given 2 connecting rooms instead.

The place was really beautiful and made even more enjoyable with its cool weather. However, I find most facilities and attractions, even our hotel rooms looked like they were due for a major clean up or renovation. Even though the place was built in 2007, it did not look well maintained. Expect too, a difference in culture. I was watching the parade gleefully before a lady gave my shoulder a sudden strong tug just to make way for her view. I was literally shocked! I looked at her and went speechless. It looked like a norm to her. Shoving and pushing seemed almost ordinary in there. So yeap, that was my experience.

After Ba Na Hills, we booked a taxi at the hotel's reception before heading down hill. It was a 45 minutes ride to Hoi An. 

Coming up on next post!


Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Tales of Grimmsneyland by ANDSOFORTH

Brought to you by ANDSOFORTH, Tales of Grimmsneyland is the first multi-dimensional immersive and interactive theatre experience catered to young audiences in Singapore. Discover the magical world of fairy-tales with your very own Fairy guide who will lead the way through Grimmsneyland.


With Fairy godmother in training as guide, you explore the wonders of this strange land and its inhabitants.

Travel through 5 different rooms in groups and play the role of village families in these familiar and often-told stories. Interact and play, be a part of the story alongside with the characters from the fairytales - the tinniest Mermaid, Mirror Mirror (First name Mirror, last name Mirror), Napping beauty, The Fabulous Fairy Godmother and Snow White.


Join them as they flip the fins off little Mermaid, pick the lentils out of cinders with the Fairy godmother, awkwardly awake Sleeping Beauty and dance with Snow White in the forest. An amazing fairy tale adventure your child will never forget! 

The show is an excellent and interactive way to introduce children to various aspects of  performance arts and to the power of imagination and creative drive through the stories of the brothers Grimm, in a more modern context and twist on the classic tales. 




Filled with games, dance, fun and fanciful characters, this show is sure to enchant and delight all little children with valuable lessons on self esteem and respect of others.

Suitable for age 4 and above and for both boys and girls!

Read here on our previous experience with 'Wonderland', another sold out show by ANDSOFORTH. 


Get your tickets here!

Dates: 28, 29 Jul, 04, 05, 09 and 10 Aug
Time Slots: 10.30am, 11am, 11.30am, 2pm, 2.30pm, 3pm
Price: $35 per person
(Intimate group of 30 per time slot)
Duration: 1h 30 mins
Venue: 16D Lorong Ampas, GS Building S328778


*Children younger than 7 years old will require parent accompaniment

Monday, 2 July 2018

10 lessons from The Lion King Musical

It was Jazz's and my second date with The Lion King Musical last Friday. This time we had Jare along. The musical is as good as I remembered it to be in 2011, when it first roared into the Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands. Though Jazz totally don't recall watching it at 2.5 years old.




More than 90 million people around the world have experienced the phenomenon of Disney’s THE LION KING, and now the world’s best-loved musical returns to the Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands from now till 23 September 2018. Extended for one final time from 23 August.

You have to believe when they say it is World's number one Musical! 


I was most glad to have caught it with the kids, where from it, floated much thoughts and emotions as it played along. It was really musically moving! I got reminded and encouraged about parenting and life.

Here are 10 lessons I learnt and taught my kids from this Musical:

1. Humility. Mufasa conveys to Simba the importance of humility. Lions are predators of antelope, but some day when lions die, they become the grass and get eaten by the antelope eventually. That is the connection in the great circle of life, where all creatures are connected in a way or another.

2. There is curiosity and recklessness disobedience in every child. Even if it means deep danger ahead. We do need to use empathy and firmness when it comes to reprimanding with love. Mufasa chose no anger, but expressed that he was disappointed when Simba went to play in the forbidden, elephant graveyard. He explained exactly what was wrong in a way that Simba could understand. When it comes to family, forgiveness and love will always be present even when we make mistakes.



3. There will be consequences for any defied order, sometimes dire or even irreversible. We do need to think of our actions carefully and how it affects the people around us. Simba not only endangered himself, but his best friend, Nala too. 

4. What is worse than a scheming plot by your family? Scar plotted to eliminate his brother and nephew, to covet the throne. Guard our heart and never allow jealously to consume us.

5. Fleeing is not a solution for guilt and fear. Simba chose to flea when he was convinced by guilt and fear. Scar ruled the kingdom, and Pride Land became drought and famine stricken. Fleeing does not make a problem any better.

6. Childhood friends are great keepers. They offer valuable perspectives. Nala persuaded Simba to return home, to take on his rightful throne.


7. Try new things! When Simba became goods friends with Timon (meerkat) and Pumbaa (warthhog), he led their carefree lifestyle and ate their kind of diet. Friends are not segregated by differences, status or boundary. 

8. Success gained through the wicked plan brings emptiness and loneliness. Scar may have became the King, but he was empty and lonely within. He felt no love.

9. The truth will always prevail, it is just a matter of time. Scar had plotted for Simba to take on the blame and guilt of causing his Father's life. The truth came to light when Scar was forced to confess the truth.

10. The past can hurt. You can either run from it or learn from it. That was Rafiki's (the baboon) wise knowledge to Simba. It hurts to mess up, but we can't run away forever, so confront it and move on!



So Yes, watching this musical from a parent's perspective has closely re-connected me to the story in a different way. It was also visibly clear that a parent's influence lasts forever, even after we're gone. What we teach and impart live in our children.

The Lion King Musical is one that our ears and eyes feasted on. It is visually astounding! It is one spectacular performance with great music, extensive props, exquisite costumes, impressive makeup and talented actors. These actors played the challenging roles of animals in the wild, which were very well portrayed.

This edition playing in Singapore is also tweaked to include some local taste of humour. Upon its already hilarious script. It is a great treat for anyone of all ages, and definitely worth the bucks and time. Get your tickets soon because we do not know if it will make a return into our jungle again. And if you are getting the tickets, book your seats along the aisles as the 'animals' make their entrances through the audience aisles.  

Js and myself are very much blessed by the musical. We enjoyed every second of the 2.5 hours. It was a standing ovation the night we went!




 Be convinced! 


Event Date
Wed, 27 Jun - Sun, 23 August  23 Sep 2018
Tue - Fri: 7.30pm
Sat: 2pm and 7.30pm
Sun: 1pm and 6pm

Venue
Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands

Ticket Pricing
(Excludes Booking Fee)
VIP Reserve : S$230
A Reserve : S$195
B Reserve : S$165
C Reserve : S$135
D Reserve : S$105
E Reserve : S$85
F Reserve : S$65
VIP Box (For 4 seats): S$920
C Reserve Box (For 4 seats): S$540
D Reserve Box (For 4 seats): S$420

Ticketing link: sistic

Disclaimer: Tickets were given for the purpose of this sharing. All opinions are solely ours.