Finding pleasure in the world’s largest stack of thorns

31 07 2012

Living in Singapore, the opportunity to indulge in a session of durian gluttony does present itself every now and again, including one that recently came along. This latest session wasn’t however one that would count as a typical session, but one that did involve what was touted as the world’s largest stack of durians that was dubbed a ‘Durian Extravaganza’. The extravaganza was held at the Hard Rock Hotel’s Coliseum at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) last Friday evening and involved some 3,000 kilogrammes of the thorny fruit – the creamy yellow pulp covered seeds of which brings delight to many in South-East Asia, so much so that the fruit is worshiped as the ‘King of All Fruits’.

The Durian Extravaganza at the Coliseum, Hard Rock Hotel Singapore, saw the world’s largest stack of durians with some 3,000 kg of the thorny fruit being stacked up for a feast that attracted some 1,200 guests.

A closer look at the stack.

The Coliseum was transformed into a setting designed to take one back to the good old kampong days with dried leaves covering the floor and guests sitting on wooden stools set among thatched roofs – reminiscent perhaps of how many would have enjoyed the fruit in days gone by, days when perhaps due to the short season and relatively small supply, indulging on the fruit was always seen as a huge treat. These days, supply does seem a lot more abundant – with many plantations across the Causeway improving on their yields. The increased supply however hasn’t seen the Singaporean love affair with the fruit diminish in any way with the event at the Coliseum proving it with some 1,200 guests – many members of RWS Invites – a membership programme with RWS, going through the 3 tonnes of fruit over two sittings which took place over a four-hour period.

An old world in a new – the Durian Extravaganza took place in a setting design to bring back the good old kampong days …

Some 1200 Guests devoured 3000 kg of durians over a four-hour period.

While the focus of many of the guest were on the durians of which more than six varieties were on offer including the local favourite Mao Shan Wang, there was more than just durians with local seasonal fruits including duku langsat, longans, rambutans and the ‘Queen of All Fruits’ – the mangosteen to complement the durians at the sessions which no doubt left everyone, including some brave non-locals, with not only a full belly, but with a huge statisfied smile (if there was one) on their faces. More information on the Durian Extravaganza as well as some of the varieties of durian on offer can be found at the RWScoop website.

A Mao Shan Wang durian …

A D24.

Besides durians there were other seasonal local fruits on offer such as the Mangosteen – the ‘Queen of All Fruits’, rambutans, longans and jackfruit.

A very brave non-local having a go at the fruit – which must be said is an acquired taste.

The Ultimate Battle has begun …

4 12 2011

Recruits are now being sought for a battle for the Universe which arrived at the shores of Singapore on 2 December 2011. The battle is one that pits the forces of good against that of evil, and what is at stake is a Universe that is ruled not by humans, but by humanoid robots that are able to transform into machines such as vehicles – a virtual one that many of us have had an introduction to as an a member of the audience in 3D on a cinema screen. We now have the opportunity not just to be armchair observers of that battle, but to actually get right into the thick of the action as the latest human recruits of NEST riding on EVAC, an AUTOBOT recruit who makes his debut as a character as it joins in on his first battle to help protect the ALLSPARK shard from the evil DECEPTICONS – on TRANSFORMERS The Ride which had its World Premiere at Universal Studios Singapore® on Friday.

The ride is located within Sci-Fi City, one of seven zones of Universal Studios Singapore.

TRANSFORMERS The Ride: The Ultimate 3D Battle opens at Universal Studios Singapore, Resorts World Sentosa (image courtesy of Universal Studios Singapore).

TRANSFORMERS The Ride was launched at a Grand Opening party at Universal Studios Singapore on 2 Dec 2011.

The highly anticipated ride was powered up at a Grand Opening party, by TRANSFORMERS director and executive producer Michael Bay, who made a grand entrance on stage in a 2010 edition of the Chevrolet Camaro, with the ALLSPARK shard. Bay also served as what is Asia’s most technologically advanced motion thrill ride’s creative consultant. On stage with Bay, were Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, Chairman of the Genting Group and Resorts World Sentosa (RWS); Mr Tom Williams, Chairman and CEO of Universal Parks and Resorts, Mr Tan Hee Teck, CEO RWS; and Facebook fan contest winner Mr Malcom Chen.

The 2010 Chevrolet Camaro making its entrance.

Michael Bay making a grand entrance in a 2010 edition of the Chevrolet Camaro (image courtesy of Universal Studios Singapore).

Mr Michael Bay being introduced on stage as Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay and Mr Tom Williams looks on.

The ALLSPARK shard was inserted by Mr Michael Bay to power up the ride.

All guests to the party had an opportunity to experience the Ultimate 3D Battle, something that must be the ultimate experience for any fan of the TRANSFORMERS or for that matter anyone else seeking to have a four-minute adrenaline rush on the back of EVAC, a Stealth Transport Bot, who we are told is as agile and fast as they come. Going through the ride’s entrance, Guests are led through a Pre-show area resembling a NEST facility where the anticipation builds where Guest are introduced to the world of the AUTOBOTS and prepared for the ride with paraphernalia as well as instructions for the ride, including an ALLSPARK shard containment chamber, before arriving at the waiting area to board EVAC.

All guests to the party were able to have an experience on the Ultimate 3D Battle.

Guest are taken through a Pre-show area to the ride.

ALLSPARK containment in the Pre-show area.

TV monitors providing instructions to guest in the Pre-show area.

Battle glasses (3D glasses) for the Battle.

The waiting area before boarding EVAC.

TRANSFORMERS The Ride - EVAC ready to roll (image courtesy of Universal Studios Singapore).

On board EVAC, Guests are seated in three rows of four seats and secured in with a lap bar (personal belongings may be placed on the floor or in a net placed in front of the seated Guest). It is once EVAC is launched where the fun starts (of course!) as Guests are immersed in a fast pace, heart-pumping battle between the AUTOBOTS and DECEPTICONS – some which are seen spring right into your face (fans will be thrilled to come face-to-face with BUMBLEBEE and OPTIMUS PRIME), as EVAC accelerates, decelerates and reverses through subway tunnels, over roof-tops, across city streets, in between skyscrapers (even falling in between them) and even crashing into buildings which feels so real! Spectacular 3D effects that make the ride a truly awesome experience and a must-go. Chiefly responsible for these visual effects is Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) a division of Lucasfilm Ltd, which had digital artists working simultaneously out of their offices in California and Singapore. The project was also one that was worked on simultaneously with the most recent feature film TRANSFORMERS: Dark of the Moon which was the 4th highest grossing global movie of all time. For me – it was certainly an amazing experience and one that I would certainly want to have many more experiences on – and if I may borrow from a phrase from a famous hero of many battles past, I came out of Sentosa and I shall return – just for what must certainly be the Ultimate 3D Battle!


TRANSFORMERS The Ride - OPTIMUS PRIME battles MEGATRON (image courtesy of Universal Studios Singapore).

Bumblebee guards the entrance to the ride.

EVAC who makes his debut as a character on the ride.


TRANSFORMERS The Ride is located within Sci-Fi City – one of the seven zones of Universal Studios Singapore. The attraction is enhanced both by a TRANSFORMERS retail store, the TRANSFORMERS Supply Vault, and a new food/beverage venue, the Starbot Café. In addition, theme park guests will be welcomed to TRANSFORMERS The Ride by a walking OPTIMUS PRIME character who measures a whopping 2.9 metres in height, a 2.3 metre tall walking BUMBLEBEE character, providing great photo opportunities for the family.

A special 3D2N Ultimate Fun package for TRANSFORMERS The Ride has been rolled out through the Resorts World Sentosa website and authorised travel agents, which includes complimentary TRANSFORMERS The Ride souvenirs.

Guests planning to visit Universal Studios Singapore and take part in the ultimate 3D battle at TRANSFORMERS The Ride this holiday season are encouraged to make prior reservations as quickly as possible through the Resorts World Sentosa website at

TRANSFORMERS and its logo and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro and are used with permission. © 2011 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved. © 2011 DreamWorks L.L.C. and Paramount Pictures Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Universal Studios Singapore® & © Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.

The ride of my life on Battlestar Galactica

25 02 2011

I embarked on the ride of my life on Monday. It took place on an island that I had associated more with slow moving vehicles from the first experiences that I had on it. Of course these days, the island is a very different place from the one which for a time, I would visit on Wednesday afternoons, arriving by ferry from Jardine Steps before making my way on foot to what was the canoeing lagoon at the far end of the island. The island now hosts one of the two integrated resorts in Singapore, the Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) and has Singapore’s new Wonderland (Wonderland was the amusement park to be at when I was growing up in the 1970s), Universal Studios Singapore in which I managed to get an invite to for a preview of the relaunch of the world’s tallest dueling roller coasters, Battlestar Galactica. Having long outgrown my adrenaline craving days during which I even paid a visit to South East Asia’s first looping roller coaster at Siam Park in the outskirts of Bangkok, I would have normally hesitated if I was offered a ride on a roller coaster that takes you some 14 storeys up in the air and gives you a sense of a near miss with another at speeds of up to 90 km/h, but when the opportunity arose, I somehow grabbed at it.

A test run before the preview.

So with a bunch of fellow blog kakis, I found myself staring up at the 14 storey high mess of steel, pretty imposing from the bottom looking up and I started to have second thoughts about it …after all, I’ve had my share of thrills and spills in my youth and maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all. Somehow though, I got caught up with the excitement that was buzzing around me and I somehow lost that initial apprehension that I had and having left all my loose items behind (including my glasses – my glasses flew off during my first ever upside down roller coaster experience at Siam Park!), I soon found myself walking along with the group up to the first ride, on the Human Coaster, one that was supposedly the less intense of the two – one without any inversions. I had perhaps thought to myself that that wasn’t going to be too bad … after all, it was only going to last for a mere 90 seconds … Seated and locked into a centre seat (phew!) next to the barefoot prominent blogger Dawn Yang, it wasn’t long before we were blasted (the coaster unlike most sets off at high speed) up the rails and after that initial sense of trepidation, I actually found myself enjoying the rush of adrenaline that I got … there were moments when we were literally off our seats, held only by the restraints … and before we knew it … it was over in a flash!

The 14 storey high mess of steel that greeted us.

That did not deter me ....

Posing for the customary photograph before the ride.

On the Human Coaster - looks like most were enjoying it.

Stepping off and in spite of my legs being a little wobbly, I found myself actually wanting more. That certainly had to be the Cylon Coaster! The Cylon, we were informed would offer us the experience of several inversions: a zero-G roll, a cobra roll, vertical loop, cockscrews and as when we were on the Human Coaster, the Cylon wasn’t running, we would be experiencing one of the features of the rides, a near collision which is said to be mere inches apart. Seated in the Cylon, one is suspended under the rails – and also features a deep pit filled with mist which provides a sensation of a near miss with the ground. It did sound a little scary, but after that first experience, I was actually looking forward to it!

Riders on the Cylon are suspended below the rails.

The ride on the Cylon I must say was the ride of my life! I wasn’t at all disappointed – as we were twisted, inverted and thrown along the 975 metre track … an experience that I guess only can be described by the word “Awesome”! Maybe I was too caught up with being whisked around but the near miss sensation seemed more exciting than scary … and at the end of it as the coaster ground to a halt, the 90 seconds seemed a little too short …. and it an experience that I will certainly look forward to reliving on my next visit to Universal Studios Singapore.

One of the twists on the Cylon ...

The coasters appear to cross paths along the 975m track, giving the sensation of a near collision.

We survived!

Blogger Walter Lim speaking about his experience.

Dawn Yang was all smiles (and she wanted seconds)!

Riders on the Cylon ...