Monday, August 25, 2014

A water park made of toy bricks - LEGOLAND Water Park in Malaysia

Part of our day tour from Singapore to LEGOLAND in Johor Bahru, Malaysia today was to have some water activities. LEGOLAND Water Park is situated inside the same estates of the theme park and the hotel so we had a couple of hours before our trip back to Singapore to have fun on the pool and slides.

LEGOLAND Water Park was an optional add-on to our trip and since my son is eager to go swimming again, we decided to go here as well. The water park is accessible even to those who do not plan to go to the theme park and requires a separate ticket. Inside slides of all sizes, rafts, floaters and all can be found which is quite amusing as it still is patterned to toy bricks living into its name.

We had fun at Build-A-Raft River where a lot of kids were having fun building their own rafts using big floating toy brick pieces.

Once you're done and good to go, you just go and catch a floater or use your built raft and let the flow of water take you around like a lazy pool.

There's also the LEGO Wave Pool where swimmers may be able to experience slight waves while dipping and relaxing in the pool.

There were also a number of slides available at the water park both for adults and kids alike.

Food were also available at the water park (but not on the swimming pool of course) so before we headed back to Singapore, we grabbed some food to eat (and took a few on the way) as we ended our quick day tour in LEGOLAND.

It was a hasty trip covering both LEGOLAND Theme Park and Water park and I wish we had more time. Have I known that border crossing from Singapore to Malaysia will take some time, we should have taken the earliest bus going to Malaysia and last bus back to Singapore to maximize our time here. If there will be next time, perhaps I'll consider staying in LEGOLAND Hotel for a night.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Finally... Boracay de Cavite!

This place is fondly referred to as Boracay de Cavite by visitors. Officially, it is called Katungkulan Beach Resort - located inside Gen. Gregorio Lim Marine Base, a military camp in Ternate, Cavite which is roughly an hour away from our place in Kawit. As it is inside a marine base, security is quite obvious and a few rules has to be followed, like off-limit areas and restriction in photography in some places.

We went here today, paid PHP100 per person as entrance fee and an additional PHP50 for our vehicle entrance/parking. Each person was asked to alight the car and walk thru the gate. Following the signs, from the gate we drove a few minutes until we reached the beach area.

At around 7AM, there were already a number of people by the beach. Turns out, a number of them have camped overnight which is allowed, although more of the visitors are daytrippers like us.

My first impression was that it really wasn't as white like a number of blog post I've seen over the internet. It is grayish-brown but the sand is indeed very fine and soft and felt good to step to. The water is very clear, calm and serene.

It took some time for us to be settled as the person whom we can coordinate with regarding cottage rentals wasn't available. After half an hour of waiting, we decided to get into one that is vacant before everyone else does (as there were only a few left with a good location) and will just pay with the personnel when he's around. We paid PHP350 for a day's use of the cottage.

There are also areas available for grilling and can be used by visitors (bring your own charcoal or buy from the store nearby).

There is also a big hall available for rental for larger groups.

Excited as always, Ethan went straight for swim as soon as we settled. He was happily playing with the sand and water by the shore.

The cottage on the left is similar to the one we have rented today. Even if there is a lot of cottages in the area, most of them were already occupied by the time we came.

There were also more premium cottages available for rent, and more near to the proximity of the beach but none is available so we didn't get a chance to inquire how much it costs.

Tents can also be pitched and as I understand is free (bring your own of course).

On a far side, and can be seen from this picture are some rooms that are available for rental. There are also other rooms available for rental near the entrance but they were all full today.

view of the place from the water

By mid-day, when the sun is out and about, the beauty of the whole place is very evident and as deceiving as it may seem, the sand indeed looks white when sun is shining bright.

One major problem today however was that the pump wasn't working as such, the comfort rooms were dirty and beach-goers were relying on a small water line just outside the restroom and there was a line most of the time. We had to resort to buying a 5-gallon purified water instead so that we can wash ourselves and take a quick bath. I hope this doesn't happen frequently.

another view of the beach

We came ready with meat for grilling, snacks to munch on and cooled drinks. It was just unfortunate that the water situation was killing what was supposed to be a good time for our family. Right after lunch we left the place but we hope to be back again one day, knowing the proximity of this beach from our place, but hoping things will be better then.

I would still recommend the place to my friends who are looking for a quick getaway - simple, picnic-style and affordable as compared to the other resorts in the area. Overall the beach itself is well-kept and clean, and the beauty of the place is something I would look forward to keep coming back to.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Skiing at Nashoba Valley

For someone living in the tropics and only have summer and rainy seasons, it's always been a wonder how it feels to play with snow. We went to Nashoba Valley today to try either skiing (or tubing but we ended up just skiing due to time) as it will be quite an experience for sure. It has been snowing hard with up to 14 inches of snow in the area the past couple of days and the sun is up this day so it's a good time to go. I've been to Whistler, BC but its more like a sightseeing than for adventure, so this would be my first.

view upon our arrival

There is quite a number of people in the resort today, although I was told there could have been more. Still it didn't stop us from pursuing our plans. We left around 10am-ish from Brighton, MA and arrived in this resort located in Westford, MA almost an hour after and since we were a bit hungry at that time, we had our lunch first before we proceeded.

The number of people were starting to get less at that time and people started to leave, although the food cafeteria is very packed that we had to wait for sometime before we got settled.


After lunch, we immediately signed up for the rentals and lessons. Yes lessons, but more about that later. We paid $92 each, inclusive of lift ticket, ski (or snowboard) rentals and group lesson.

We were lead to an area after to sign some sort of a waiver, formal registration, then had our shoe size taken and we were almost ready to go.

We had a hard time wearing the ski shoes. It is very uncomfortable and tight, and I had a hard time slipping my feet on it. I was told it's really supposed to be tight, but I should have followed my instinct and had it changed to a slightly bigger size because my feet was tired the whole time after.

Wearing the ski shoes itself was frustrating. It took us like 15 minutes or so and needed help from one another to actually have it worn correctly.

Afterwards, we were given our skis and poles and headed out. It was hard to walk with the ski shoes, and slightly harder with the ski blades on it. We went out the ski area and waited for an hour before the lessons started.

I sure am glad we did the lessons, because I don't think I'll have a good time as it is frustrating at first to try to ski. I sure am glad our instructor were very patient with us. I had a hard time though keeping my feet parallel.

An hour of lesson and off we go. We were thought the basics of skiing, walking with skis, maneuvering and most importantly, stopping. I still found it hard to go up the slope by walking and I mostly slide back down that I have to control the sliding with the poles. It was tiring but fun, and felt like I had a workout of weights (for my feet) and cardio right after.

had fun!

It was a fun-filled day. I had a good time actually to finally try to ski minus of course the problem with my shoes but overall, I'm sure glad we did this today. To cap the night, we went to a Yangtze River Restaurant in Littleton, MA nearby IBM Mass Lab - Littleton Campus to reward ourselves for the hard work.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Short walking tour of Boston at New Year's Eve

Nothing much to-do today so I headed to Boston, armed with my CharlieCard and camera, and walked and basically followed the route I took more than 5 years ago during my first time in the city.
Despite the cold weather and light snow, I braved my way even without the proper winter gear. I took the subway train, MBTA green line, coming from Washington Street station (in Brighton) and alighted 17 stations away at Boylston Street station. In less than an hour I was already in Boston (I fell asleep throughout the journey and woke up a couple of stations prior).

As I exited the subway station, the familiar look of the park I've been to a couple of time prior greeted me. Boston Common is said to be the oldest park in the US and the massive 50 acres space is host to a number of walking and jogging paths, playground, and for this season, a skating rink. In fact, Boylston Station where I just came from is also considered the first subway station in the country!

Boston Massacre Memorial

As it is winter, a number of people were skating this afternoon and there was a long waiting line for people to get in.

Nearby sits the TADpole Playground.

They even have ice carvings of the TADPole Playground signage too!

Benches are available to sit and relax within the park as well. I would have stayed if it wasn't for the weather.

Just across the street is the Massachusetts State House. You cannot miss this building as it features a 23 karat gold dome atop.

statue of General Joseph Hooker

another view of the statue and the state house

Nearby, walking distance, is the Granary Burial Ground. Referred to also as the Granary Burying Ground, the cemetery is a burial site for a number of key names in American history, such as those who signed the Declaration of Independence (Sam Adams, John Hancock and Robert Treat Paine).

Unfortunately the site was closed today. I was also informed that it seems to be closed most of the times already unlike 5 years ago when we were free to wander inside.

Walking further down the same street is the King's Chapel, an Anglican Parish ordered to be built by King James II.

The first public school in the US is just behind the King's Chapel. Other references also say it once served as a city hall (and thus referred to as Old City Hall).

Walking further down the street leads to these nice older structures, just across Irish Famine Memorial.

Across the memorial is the Old South Meeting House, where the famous Boston Tea Party was held in December 16, 1773. 

Following the arrows pointing to the heritage trail lead me to the Old State House, or Towne House. It is where the Declaration of Independence was read in public on July 18, 1776.

Nearby, perhaps a block or so away is the Faneuil Hall, a marketplace and meeting hall during the old colonial times. There are a number of shops housed inside this building (as well as on the North Market and South Market buildings beside it).

In front of the hall is the statue of Samuel Adams and right in front of it is an ice carving that states "Red Sox, World Series Champions" as a banner for their Major League Baseball title of Boston Red Sox.

Behind Faneuil Hall is the Quincy Market building. Today it is filled with food carts and stalls of all sorts making it a perfect stop to eat something that you may fancy.

inside Quincy Market

At the center of the building is a big dome that is a nice sight to see while you eat at the foodcourt.

I had the daily special form Boston Chowda Co. which includes a lobster roll (cold), soup or clam chowder (but of course!) and a small soda cup for $19.78. The roll was very good and the lobster meat was very plump and juicy. Great to have the hot clam chowder on the side as well to balance it all!

An 83-feet Christmas tree stands proudly just right outside as I exited the other side of the Quincy Market. Nice to look at with the Custom House at the backdrop located just nearby.

The Custom House, a 17th century structure (although the tower was added during the 20th century). It is an icon on its own and can easily be distinguished from afar, specially when you are at the waterfront. Today it operates as Marriott's Custom House, a vacation club/timeshare resort.

Walking towards the waterfront from the Custom House will bring you to see a queer looking hotel called Boston Marriott Long Wharf

Boston HarborWalk or also referred to as Long Wharf is the name of the place that refers to the pier/port nearby which today functions as a docking point for passenger vessels, mostly for tourism. At the end of the wharf is a plaza which has a nice view of the surrounding waters of the area.

Boston is such a beautiful, (and for me) laid-back and quaint city to visit, just for relaxing, without the usual hustle and bustle that would otherwise add stress to your visit.