Thursday, April 25, 2013

My first Zalora purchase

I just got my order of shoes from Zalora. Generally, I need to see if something fits before I buy it. In this particular instance, I had been looking for brown shoes and I haven't been able to find a pair that appealed to me. When I saw a pair in Zalora, I decided to throw caution to the wind and try something outside my comfort zone LOL. The site does have a return policy so I thought I had an out in case the purchase was a mistake.

As it turns out, I got the wrong size. Not my fault, really. Apparently, the size conversion chart was a bit inaccurate so I ended up getting shoes that are one size too big. Now I will get to test the return policy and process. :) Wish me luck!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Fantasia performs "Lose to Win" on American Idol

During the American Idol results show last week, Fantasia performed "Lose to Win", a song from her album "Side Effects of you" to be released this week. I remember seeing Fantasia during last year's finale with Joshua Ledet and I was really disappointed because her performance was a bit of a mess (not to mention her look). But she totally redeemed herself with this stirring and soulful performance that had the audience and all four judges giving her a well-deserved standing ovation.

video uploaded in youtube by RocstarrBlanco

When Fantasia is on, she is really on and she shows everyone exactly why she won season 3 of American Idol back in 2004. Nicki Minaj admitted to getting chills and even said "Fantasia just had the best performance of this season. Wow." There is a truth and genuineness in her delivery that few artists have. And while she's had a couple of misses in her returns to American Idol, I go back to her Truth Is/I believe medley in Season 4 and her rendition of I'm Here in Season 6 that just stood out and put almost everyone else in those seasons to shame.

I can't stop listening to this song and re-watching this video. I'm now planning to get her album. I hope Fantasia sticks to performances (and styling/looks) like these as she moves forward in her career. The world definitely needs to see and hear more of her and her tremendous talent.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The streak is over

It was bound to happen at some point. Rafael Nadal's bid to win his 9th consecutive Monte Carlo Masters title was halted by Novak Djokovic. That wasn't the only Nadal streak that was ended by his straight sets loss against the world #1. He also hadn't lost a match in April in his previous 81 matches until now. His 19 match winning streak this year was also cut short. Not a good day for Rafa and his fans.

Nevertheless, he did get to his 5th final in a row this year and he remains to be a very strong contender for the rest of the clay court season (and well, the rest of 2013). It was also his first match against Novak Djokovic since his 7-month lay-off, and Novak himself has been in fine form this year. Hopefully Nadal can rebound from this loss and get back to his winning ways on his favorite surface. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that he can win the French Open.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Final thoughts: Family Trip to Singapore and Malaysia

It was a short but very eventful weekend in Singapore and Malaysia that involved a lot of firsts. It was my brother's first time in Singapore. We passed through Terminal 2 at Changi Airport for the first time as a family. We feasted on the Singapore classic dish Chili Crab in No Signboard Seafood for the first time as a family. We also tried Four Fingers Crispy Chicken (I think I like Bon Chon better) and Twelve Cupcakes. We got on Transformers: The Ride in Universal Studios Singapore for the first time. It was our first time in Legoland Malaysia.

I have to say that the restrooms in Legoland are pretty interesting. They have really cool lego art on the walls. Usually it's bad form to take photos inside a toilet but I guess this case was a bit of an exception as I wanted to take a shot of the wall-mounted artwork. :)

Another interesting first was getting to travel from Singapore to Malaysia via bus and going through immigration twice on the same day. I have to say it's a quick trip through immigration. Considering that everyone on the bus has to get off the bus, go through immigration, then get back on bus, it didn't take very long for us to be on our way again.

One thing that stayed the same was the fact that we stayed again at Royal Plaza on Scotts. I really enjoyed staying at this hotel back in 2011 so I decided to stay there again. Thankfully, I booked our accommodations about two months before we got there because the room rates were still quite low at the time. I recall checking a few weeks later and the rates had already increased! Even better was the fact that I saw this small link on the Royal Plaza on Scotts website indicating a free gift, so before booking my room, I decided to check it out. The free gift: SG$5 buffer breakfast for everyone in the room. Wow! That's even cheaper than breakfast at McDonald's and about the same price as a coffee at Starbucks

Another thing that stayed the same was us flying to Singapore via Cebu Pacific. Which reminds me of a borderline rude joke from the lady who checked us in. It seemed funny at the time but as I stepped away from the counter, I realized it was actually quite offensive. Once we had completed everything, the lady asked us if any of us was pregnant, then she pointed at my stomach and then smiled. If it was a friend or someone close who made that joke, it would have been fine. So my initial reaction was to smile. Then as we walked away, I was like, "okay, we aren't close so from a customer service standpoint you shouldn't be making jokes like that." Anyway, water under the bridge.

I guess to make up for that, I did win an iPad case while on the plane during the Cebu Pacific inflight game. Since it was still February, the game involved the flight attendant giving clues about a popular couple, whether real or fictional, and the person who answers correctly gets a prize. The question I got? "He's immortal, she' mortal." I recall raising my hand when no one else did (I could see easily because we were seated at the back of the plane). I actually almost forgot the answer - I just knew it was the lead couple of Twilight - but thankfully after a couple of seconds I remembered their names. "Edward and Bella!" Haha.

My mom commented that we've been to Singapore a couple of times now but we haven't really been able to check out a lot of the other parts of the city. Maybe the next time we go, we can spend a significantly longer time there so that we can visit a few other parts of Singapore that we wouldn't get to see during a short trip.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Return trip to Universal Studios Singapore

To complete our amusement park weekend in Malaysia and Singapore, my family and I headed to Universal Studios Singapore. It was a bit expensive, but for the experience, we decided to take the cable car going to Sentosa.

We got there a bit past lunch time and it was still sunny but we weren't sure if it was going to rain so we decided to get on the outdoor rides first while the weather was still cooperative. My brother and my nephew decided to get on Battlestar Galactica. They were a bit more interested in the Cylon segment since it was a suspended roller coaster. Unfortunately, the waiting time was a bit long. The good thing about it was that it allowed me to practice taking shots of the roller coaster while in motion. When I finally spotted my brother and my nephew as their coaster was heading out - they were seated in front so it was easy enough for me to see them - I managed to take a photo of them. You can't really see them though, only their shoes. :)

My other nephew was getting a bit antsy since we waited for about an hour so when we were all together, we headed over to Transformers the Ride. This is probably the best 4D ride I have ever been on. It was awesome!

The first time I tried Revenge of the Mummy, I didn't know what to expect so I had my eyes closed for most of the ride LOL. This time around, I got to enjoy it a lot more. Getting on a roller coaster in the dark is a different experience. (Unfortunately, the ride photo is taken at the main drop so I do have my eyes closed in the picture hehe.)

One of my nephews wanted to try the Amber Rock Climb in the Lost World again so we headed that way. He wanted to try the toughest section to climb and while there was a bit of a wobble as he was close to the top, he still managed to make it all the way. It's even more impressive that he did it since an adult who tried this section right before my nephew had to quit after getting about two-thirds of the way to the top due to fatigue.

I wanted to try the Canopy Flyer since I think you can get a pretty good view of the park from this ride but it started to rain so we ran over to the Shrek 4-D Adventure so we would have some cover. As we got out, the rain was abating so we headed over to Enchanted Airways, a kiddie coaster that is still pretty fun to ride. By this time it was getting a bit late so we decided to wrap up our day at the Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure. We chose this to be our last ride because we knew we were going to get wet and we didn't want to lose too much getting dried up after it. I knew when the ride photo was going to get taken so I reminded everyone about it. The result was a pretty good picture, I think.

It's too bad there were so many people in Universal Studios when we were there because the lines were pretty long and we didn't get to try as many things as we wanted. Nevertheless it was still a lot of fun.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Legoland Malaysia

One important thing to note about Legoland Malaysia - it is really geared towards young kids. There aren't any scary or thrill rides here so if that's what you are looking for, then you might not enjoy. However, if you are going with your family and you have kids with you, it does become a very good family experience.

Actually, Legoland is my ideal amusement park because I'm not a fan of scary rides so kiddie versions are  perfect for me. :) I do have to say that the big drop in the first coaster we got on, Project X, was thrilling enough haha.

The Dragon, another coaster, is a longer ride than Project X but is also lot of fun. (I have to say that I really love the Canon camera I got for myself and my mom last year. Pretty awesome zoom and it can take steady shots even when the target is in motion!)

What I also love about Legoland is that there are so many great photo ops. You have so many sculptures built out of Lego blocks that are scattered all over the park. I can only imagine how much careful planning and time and effort went into building each of these Lego sculptures.

Miniland is an incredible display of replicas of different cities in Asia built out of Lego blocks. Among the popular landmarks featured here are the Taj Mahal in India, the Merlion Statue in Singapore, and the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur. The pirate section is also pretty amazing, with moving boats and firing cannons. Naturally, we had to look for the Philippines. The city they chose to replicate is Bolinao in Pangasinan (interesting that I was just in Bolinao a couple of months before our trip to Legoland).

There are a lot of interactive activities too. The Kids Power Tower is not your typical free-fall ride. You use the rope to pull yourself to the top (it's not heavy at all) and then you also have to release yourself to drop all the way back to the bottom (it's not a scary drop). Then you do it all over again until time is up.

And while we are talking about rides that involve dropping, the big surprise for me was the Beetle Bounce. This ride simply bounces people up and down. Looking at it, I thought it was a bit boring. But since my nephew wanted to get on, I decided to join him. As it turns out, it was actually a lot of fun! And I'm not the only adult who enjoyed. Groups of adults who tried it before I did all seemed to be laughing as they were bounced up and down. Who knew a simple ride like this would be enjoyable?

One of the most fun family activities is Rescue Academy. You need at least three people for this. Two people will move the police truck or fire engine using a pump. When you reach the end of the (short) road, everyone gets off and this time, two people have to pump water out of the fire hydrant while another person aims the water guns at the "burning" building. Once the fire is out, everyone gets back on the truck and heads back to base. There is a "coach" on the sidelines who shouts out the instructions and give encouragement, making it even more fun.

It was a very hot day when we were there so thankfully we signed up for Lego Mindstorms once we arrived. The earliest session available was at 2:15 PM, and initially we weren't keen on having to go back. But thankfully we did, because by mid-afternoon, it was so hot that doing something indoors was the most logical thing to do and it allowed us to stay cool. Participants are given tasks that they need their robot to do and they use a computer to control the robot. My nephews had so many questions but maybe it was a good thing because they ended up being the first two to finish. Cool!

Another thing I absolutely love about Legoland is that the photos taken of you from the different rides are available for download once you purchase the photo. This saves me the effort of having to scan pictures that we purchase. Here's one of the photos from the Lost Kingdom that I downloaded:

 Of course, our trip to Legoland wouldn't be complete if we didn't buy some Lego. I owed my nephews Christmas gifs so I got them one each, and I got CJ one more for his birthday. We were also incredibly lucky that there didn't seem to be a huge crowd in Legoland when we were there. We barely had to wait to get on the different rides, which meant we got to get on many rides at least a couple of times. After we left the amusement park, one of my nephews said he wanted to go back. I guess I should start setting aside money for a return trip. :)