Sunday, October 31, 2010

Public Transport in Singapore with kids

We read that we needed to purchase tickets early to go to Universal Studios, so we set off bright and early, encountering some new friends at the buffet, time got away from us and it was later than expected.
We were advised it was relatively easy to get to, walk out the front of the Novotel, get the MRT 3 stops, hop off, jump on the sky train and you're there............. sounds simple enough!

I'm sure once you have done it a couple of times it is........... however, our trip consisted of:

Entrance to Clarke Quay MRT

  • Walk out the front of Novotel 
  • cross the bridge, locate the MRT, go downstairs,
    MRT Ticket Machine
  • stand in front of the ticket machines reading EVERY notice for about 15 minutes,
  • ask the tourists next to us who shrugged their shoulders, ask the locals, who speak rapidly in Mandarin, ask some other locals who point to the ticket office,
  • go to the ticket office, chat with the man for 10 minutes who explains the best way to go is buy a tourist pass for $8 each for the day which allows entry to every form of local transport, decide to buy this, then ask how much just for the legs we are doing, realise it is about $20 dearer for the tourist pass,
  • go back to the ticket machine with correct change, pop it in the machine, realise the machine takes double that as it issues a ticket with a refundable balance once you return it,
  • go back to the ticket office for more change,
  • pop it in the machine and it spits out 4 tickets - do a victory dance at managing to secure 4 tickets and high five each other,
    No going backwards in these gates!
  • pop the ticket in the gate, walk through, retrieve ticket, Daryll does the same and Emma, realise that both parents should never go through the gate first and leave one child on the other side, run up and down the fence trying to get Gabe to put his ticket in the right slot, wildly wave at locals to help him get through, phew, all together again, resolve to front and back the children in the future.
  • Locate the MRT map and figure out which line we are going on to head in the right direction
  • Singapore MRT Map
  • Look up to see the signboard counts down and our train leaves in 12 seconds, 11, 10.......... run!
  • Retrieve 1 child from racing down the up escalator, lift them over the top of 1 escalator to the other as we pass in opposite directions in a commando move that a movie director would have been proud of
  • Get on board, settle down whilst the kids delight in standing up to see which way the train curves as it goes around bends
  • Catch one child in mid flight down the train as the train hurtles off rapidly on one bend
  • Restrain both children by clinging to one, hanging on to the overhead arm strap and winding a leg around the other one to keep them in one location.
  • Phew - three stops and we get off - at Harbourfront
  • Realise that most of our shopping centres in Australia would fit into one corridor of this location and we could miss our flight home before we find the donut shop, let alone a sky train
  • Ask directions
  • Follow said directions and find ourselves outside on the wharf, ask directions again, keep following around the waterfront
  • Arrive at ticket office to be told it will cost around $384 to board and enter universal studios - what - are these sky trains diamond encrusted - well yes, actually madame they are swarovski crystal encrusted and all newly refurbished, but if you want the cheaper sky train, go back inside the shopping centre and up to the 5th floor and right to the other end
  • OK, back along the wharf, carrying one child now who apparently has developed a crippling inability to walk one step further in the heat (even though it is still only 9.15am)
  • enter starship shopping centre, walk another 26795miles to get to the other end of it (well it felt that far!) Up 3568 winding escalators (well, maybe 5!), past a massive food court that we decide is really just a holding bay for another 200 restaurants and to the sky train ticket machine
  • Buy tickets - plenty of change to now do so, catch one child that has wandered into the restaurants in search of free food, extricate the other from asking a man why he is so fat and why his nose is on a funny angle
    Sentosa Sky Train
  • Tell the children that if they watch the countdown on the train sign it may magically explode when it gets to zero - feel a little ashamed at lying and yet strangely proud of getting them in one place to stand still and quietly watch a board for the next 55 seconds
  • Shrug at the children when it doesn't explode and board the sky train
  • Ah, we're in the zone - everyone accounted for, Singapore public transport conquered, on our way to universal studios, they kids are excited at seeing the ground well below them, the exciting scenes of roller coasters are above us and the streets way below - we're pro's at this now!
  • Discovered the late sky trains from Sentosa are free, perfect, left via this and then................ took a taxi back to the hotel (it was cheaper than 4 MRT tickets!!!!!)