PEr FYI

May 1, 2017

Camp Greaves, Seoul…reel to real

The chance to spot movie locations is a favourite game the world over. But even better than spotting recognisable places on the screen is spotting recognisable film locations in real life.

Home to one of the major hit 2016 South Korean television series – Descendants of the Sun – Camp Greaves,  the former US military camp near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in Paju, north of Seoul, is one of the best movie sites in the city. Here you get to visit Song Joong-ki’s waiting room, try on soldiers’ uniform, make military dog tags, get a photo taken in front of a green screen photo booth.

Though I am not familiar with this K-drama, judging by the high octave excitement of the folks in my group, this has been a reel to real experience for them. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 18, 2017

Asia Tour MICE and Leisure Co, Bangkok…fixer – par excellence

The popularity of escorted tours is on the rise.

Asia Tour MICE and Leisure Co, led by Panyawat Peter Tongprasert (CEO – Chief Entertainment Officer) has proven itself to my evident satisfaction. Its portfolio is wide-ranging: from Fototastic Challenges and party vehicles to team building activities and golf tournaments and police escort services. They customize sophisticated itineraries which cater for every type of traveler. With excellent planning, good contacts on the ground and close attention to detail, they set extremely high standards of customer service and his staff have consistently delivered.

If you are looking to book anywhere in Thailand – either a detailed itinerary or a fairly straightforward trip – you won’t do better than to get quotes from Peter and Asia Tour MICE. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 27, 2016

Jiu Fen Old Street, Taipei…winning combination of crazy good food vendors and a bustling stretch of shopping

Jiufen is a great mini-trip out of Taipei, less than an hour away. With gorgeous views of the ocean, quaint streets and beautiful tea houses, Jiufen thrives as a trousit spot for a taste of Taiwan culture and history. When it first formed, there were only nine families, so the city would always request “nine portions” when shipments came in, hence the name.

Jiu Fen Old Street is series of narrow alleys which feature stand after stand of local snacks and handmade souvenirs. Be prepared to shove past throngs of tourists crammed into the narrow alleys. The offer samples of ginger tea which brings with it a host of powerful health benefits. Another popular food item is the mochi – glutinous rice balls which are as soft as marshmallows.

Don’t worry, there alleys are all covered by awning should the heavens open. It’s worth planning an adventure to Jiufen as well as an obligatory stroll down Old Street. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 20, 2016

Penang Trick Art Museum, Penang…become part of a painting

Two dimensional painting that trick the viewer into thinking they exists in three-dimensions allowing visitors to ‘crawl into’ the paintings to take amusing, and often bizarre, photographs. This art form originated in Japan and is gradually gaining worldwide popularity.

Sitting on a flying carpet, pulling Sadako out of the TV by her hair, battling mummies are all possible at Penang Trick Art Museum. Unlike other museums where signs such as “do not take photos” or “do not touch” abound, this museum is all about taking photos and being part of the art. It’s a surreal experience walking among art that seems to leap out of the frame.   This is a great place to have some silly juvenile fun.

During an age when ‘virtual reality’ is taking over the digital world, artists have shown that all you really needed is a brush and a canvas to trick the mind. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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November 15, 2015

Capital Segway City Tour, Washington DC…best way to see any big city

Segway tours are the best way to see any big city. It’s a wonderful feeling – zipping around in the crisp air and the front row seat to the city with tour guides and you don’t have to deal with parking, buses or throngs of tourists. Plus it’s fun!!

The tour stops at all of the highlights you will want to see. As far as the Capitol & the White House. Be advised that you don’t get to go in anything on this tour only learn about the area and see everything from the exterior. There is one stop on the tour where we were able to get off the Segway – at the Abraham Lincoln Memorial.

Having been on many Segway tours, I can knowledgeably say that the difference between one Segway tour to another is the quality of the tour guide. A funny, witty, informative and animated one who gives fun facts along the way would make the tour worth every cent you’ve paid. Our guide was not the best, but he was not the worst either.

Do it! This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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November 1, 2015

Madame Tussards, Singapore…How much fun did I have? About 15 minutes worth

Since I am obviously not cool enough to have real celebrity friends, I usually like to spend a day at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum everywhere I go and pretend to mingle with the A-listers.  I would take selfies of me shaking hands with President Obama, posing with Angelina Jolie, or fulfilling my dream of doing sit-ups alongside David Beckham!

Madame Tussauds, which considers itself the plus ultra of wax artistry has sunk to the depths with this overpriced and cheesy display in Singapore. The exhibits in Singapore are boring and it’s way too short. The four-minute boat ride called Spirit of Singapore does not add any value to the museum. If you have been to Madame Tussaud’s in London, Los Angeles or New York City you will be extremely disappointment by this museum.

How much fun did I have at Madame Tussards Singapore? About 15 minutes worth. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 10, 2015

DreamWorks Animation The Exhibition, Singapore…pretty amazing to get to peek behind the scenes of your favourite movies

As it’s name suggests “Journey from Sketch to Screen” is divided to three sections: character, story and world, the exhibition shows the entire creative process from start to end. There are lots to see on how a motion picture is born from a scratch pad idea to the details of the muscle movement of the characters.

Love the various storyboards, models and reference material from the films that they have posted around. It’s all around so cool. It’s pretty amazing to get to peek behind the scenes of your favourite movies and see the inner workings. There are plenty of photo ops with the displays. Lining the halls and walls, I was fascinated with the models/sculptures, detailed art, and drawings. The highlight for me was the panoramatic, 180-degree cinematic experience of Dragon Flight. Giving viewers a virtual and dizzying ride on the back of a dragon as you fly over Berk, the township from How to Train Your Dragon.

All in all, a pretty awesome exhibition. I loved every bit of it! This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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June 5, 2015

Impression West Lake, Hangzhou…visual uniqueness

Impression Westlake is a 1-hour award winning open-air musical extravaganza created by renowned film director, Zhang Yimou on the West Lake of Hangzhou at night. A dazzling light display turns the lake’s natural surroundings into an intricate part of the show. The stage was built 3cm below the water. The performers seem to be walking, running, dancing on the water.

The story is based on the local folklore “The Legend of the White Snake” – one of West Lake’s most famous legends set in the Southern Song Dynasty.

Kitaro, the music director, is still at his best after so many years of magical and glorious musical landscapes. The pieces here are different from his 80’s and 90’s style, but it still has the core elements that he has been using all of this time. The beautiful melodies and themes from impressions west lake were so hauntingly beautiful, it gave me goosebumps listening to it.

The best way to enjoy the show is to simply sit back and absorb it for it’s visual uniqueness. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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May 1, 2015

Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N., New York City….doesn’t deliver enough bang for the buck

At this Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. (Scientific Training and Tactical Intelligence Operative Network), we went through an “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” recruitment simulation and given an ID card and then led to a debriefing room.  We were then taken right into SHIELD and the Avengers HQ with supposedly what is meant to be interactive displays devoted to Captain America, The Hulk, Iron Man and Thor, with all kinds of computer screens and places where you can test your grip against Captain America, see Iron Man’s armour.

The Captain America room was first, in which you could take a number of physical tests showing the difference between what Captain America could do and what you could do. In The Hulk room. witness the neurological effects of Bruce Banner’s transformation into the Hulk. The Thor room boasts a hologram representation of his hammer and is filled with Asgardian memorabilia like Loki’s helmet and scepter and the obligatory Chitauri costume. The Iron Man display, is the most polished of the lot, but even this feels somewhat barebones because of how few artifacts they have for a rather oversized room. The animatronic hand (which was broken down when I was there) and the motion detector showing technology similar to video-game technology we already have,  wasn’t as fulfilling as it could have been.

At $30 a pop, this exhibit doesn’t deliver enough bang for the buck. Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. may be a co-production of Marvel and NASA, but it is not as revolutionary as one might expect. IT certainly won’t convert anyone who finds superhero movies immature. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 8, 2013

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore…should be on everyone’s bucket list

Gardens by the Bay is absolutely beautiful and a great fun place to spend the entire day. Be sure you buy the passes for BOTH Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. We were completely surprised at how magnificent and interesting both the gardens were. I had no idea of the extent and beauty that it held.

I have to say I was totally amazed when I went through the exhibit! It was huge! The The gardens themselves were lovely, well designed with mature flowering shrubs, trees, and well positioned sculptures, every square inch is beautifully landscaped with many colours, varieties, fragrance and mixtures of trees and plants from around the world. The breath-taking 8-storey stepping waterfall in Cloud Forect makes me feel like I was walking in the jungle. The floating walkways were a bit too much for me – with  my fear of heights – I gave it a miss.

There is an educational look at the effects of climate change and global warming – which was totally absorbing and mesmerizing. It was beyond fascination.

Singapore is hot and humid 365 days a year. This place is the only place I can enjoy a nature walk in a climate-controlled airconditioned dome.

Overall, a great day, learned a lot while enjoying it!  A visit to Gardens by the Bay should be on everyone’s ‘bucket list’! This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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