Another long weekend in Malaysia and so we took the opportunity to drive to Singapore and visit Universal Studios. I had a conference in Bintan the following week so was convenient for me to go onto Bintan (as it is only accessible by ferry from Singapore) while Kerrie and Emily drove back to Kuala Lumpur via the new American Style Outdoor Outlet Mall in Johor (they could truly enjoy the shopping without me).
We all had a good time at Universal Studios. We find that if we want to we can be a bit jaded by always comparing these type of attractions back to their USA parent. Nothing beats these experiences in the USA (especially Disney) as Americans really get into the fantasy and the scale is excessive. However the trick is not to compare and enjoy it for what it is – a small but well done theme park and experience.
We drove up Saturday morning. It was about a 4 1/2 hour drive but this included almost and hour through immigration as we went the central route via Woodlands. Kerrie went back via the coast route and that was easily an hour quicker.
At the boarder you buy a pass card for the toll ways which you have to top up at any 7-Eleven as it only comes with SG$4 on it. Don’t panic about topping it up as you can do it any time before you leave Singapore. Basically as you drive around the system detects the Malaysian car (via numberplate photo) and you only get charged SG$5 for the day. So as long as you net out before you leave you are OK.
Check-in was at the Hard Rock Hotel which is part of the Universal Resorts World complex on Santosa Island. Hotel was good, probably the best one to stay at in the complex but you would only stay there if you were doing Universal Studios and Santosa.
The Universal Resorts World complex is nothing special. It has a casino and typical restaurants but not much shopping – shopping is really via mono rail over to Vivo City Complex – the Republica Food Court in Vivo City is a must, we have done it a few times and visited it again on Sunday night for dinner. Lots of Hawker Style stalls to choose from. My favourite are the fried dumplings with chilli oil – you cannot miss them as they are one of the first stalls you come too in the centre round once you walk in.
We were surprise how un-American the Universal Resorts World complex was. We were expecting a lot of American food chains – such as Bubba Gump – but there was really just Hard Rock, Big Easy and Chillis.
Late Saturday afternoon we went and saw the Voyage de la Vie show. This show is an hour long and fantastic. It is Cirque du Soleil in style with lots of great sets and acrobatics – a must see stage show!!!