Monday, March 20, 2017

Diecast Corner - Back To The Future DeLorean

The BTTF trilogy catches the interest of diecast collectors around the world due to amazing design of the time machine.

Though the BTTF time machine is literally a DeLorean car, it is called as “Mr. Fusion” in the movies; actually Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor is the name of the power source of the said time machine which uses garbage as fuel. It was only in the end of the film that “Mr. Fusion” was shown to the viewers when “Doc” drove into “Marty’s” driveway with the DeLorean but with an added protruding canister at the back on top of the engine labelled “Mr. Fusion.”

Ghostbusters and BTTF are some of the media franchises that capitalize on modified real cars to enhance the over-all impact to the viewers due to fantastic modifications and intricate designs. In doing so, the BTTF DeLoreans became must-have for serious diecast collectors regardless of scale.

Don’t expect that since the trilogy revolves with the same characters and story line the cars would remain the same. Well, actually it is the same DeLorean model but with individual design and modification. Hence, we have three different DeLoreans for BTTF trilogy.

Welly's BTTF scale 1/24

It is the annual convention of time travellers, lol.

gull-wing doors

There are several manufacturers of diecast DeLorean cars and the most sought brand for 1/24 scale is Welly probably because you can avail the three DeLoreans in one packaging and aside from that many collectors consider them as better replica of the three DeLoreans. Sunstar focuses at 1/43 and 1/18 scales. While Hot Wheels produces them in smaller 1/64 scale. A massive 1/6 and 1/8 scales also exist with superb details and functioning lights but prepare to shell out a small fortune if you’re lucky enough to find them.





Aside from the wheels, the three DeLoreans have different rear engines as you can see in the pictures while some models have railroad track at the base; if you have watched the movies then you’ll know why.

It cannot be denied that BTTF DeLoreans has added colour to the diecast collection world. Hence, if you intend to join the fray better start looking for these cars and once you get hold of them don’t be surprise if they’ll be the first to be noticed among your collections.


To view my collection you may check my IG account: welson _ pinoydiecast



Saturday, March 18, 2017

New Cape Inn, Singapore

Undeniably, Singapore is one of the most expensive cities to visit. However, it doesn’t mean that mainstream tourists like us wouldn’t be able to enjoy the place. Having visited Singapore several times, once with family, we planned ahead our stay by scanning Agoda searching for affordable hotels with good reviews. We zeroed on New Cape Inn due to its price, above average reviews and proximity to MRT stations; we booked two rooms. One double occupancy for 100 SGD and paid extra for additional mattress for the second room to accommodate our 3 kids. New Cape Inn is not offering breakfast to its guests by the way.

The hotel is located between East West Line MRT stations EW16 (Outram Park) and EW17 (Tiong Bahru). From the airport we travelled by train and opted to disembark at EW17 station to avoid the highways from EW16 to our hotel. From here we trekked to the hotel with our luggage. The distance is bearable if you have sturdy legs otherwise take public bus from EW17 bus stop and get off at the next station. The ladies grumbly hiked the entire distance while the boys were enjoying the sceneries; any visitors would always admire the cleanliness of Singapore.

We arrived at lunch time in the hotel but since it was Sunday check-in time was 3 pm. We overlooked this matter expecting we’d get our room at 2 pm.

Famished, we left our luggage at the lobby and searched for Hawkers within the area. The wife knew that a public market was nearby; she did her assignment well. A couple of blocks away is Tiong Bahru Market and on the second floor, thankfully, are the Hawkers. We all enjoyed authentic Singaporean noodles and Hainanese chicken. 7-eleven and several cafes dotted the place as well.



Upon check-in we were given RFID card for each room. Aside for room access you can use this card to operate the two elevators. Be aware though that your card will only allow you access to lobby area and your room floor; the wife and I got a 3rd floor room while our kids were in 5th floor. We learned this when my wife tried to visit our kids; both elevators didn’t respond when she pressed 5. Eventually she called one of our kids using our room phone to meet her in lobby area.

The small lobby can barely accommodate a dozen of visitor but you can lounge at the bar/restaurant beside the lobby.



The room is big enough for two guests. Interestingly, the spacious toilet and bathroom wall is made of clear glass. No worries since you can always drop down the blinds inside the bathroom for some privacy. Amenities are standard while towels and beddings are in good condition. A small electronic vault is provided but we found it locked and left it like that until we checked out. Housekeeping is done usually late in the afternoon.

Wi-Fi was good in our room but it was a hit and miss in our kids’ room at the 5th floor so they stayed in our room daily until bed time.

If you plan to use the bus in going to and fro Tiong Bahru station then thoroughly check the bus schedule and route at the bus stop and ensure that the bus LED display is flashing Tiong Bahru. Some buses that pass at New Cape Inn bus stop are not stopping at Tiong Bahru station and vice versa. We took the wrong bus a couple of times and ended up hailing a taxi or taking another bus in opposite direction just to go back to Tiong Bahru station. At any rate, getting lost makes our travel experience memorable since the ladies are always ready to go beast mode, lol.

Albeit the elevator misses and intermittent Wi-Fi in our kids’ room, our experience is generally enjoyable especially during our side trip to Kuala Lumpur for 2D/1N. We left most of our luggage at the hotel and came back finding our room properly arranged and nothing amiss.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Revisiting Mount Faber

Searching for one of five official Merlions led me to Mount Faber peak several years back. I trekked from the base up to the peak following the main road and returned back using the short cut or mountain trails. Trust me, it was an arduous task.

Read my first adventure at: Mount Faber

This time, with the family in tow, I need to be creative so we could visit Mount Faber peak without any hassle. I booked online a round-trip cable car through Klook Travel.

Read my review: Klook Travel

Taking MRT travelled to HarbourFront Tower 2. From here we rode a cable car going to the peak of Mount Faber; the staff stamped our hand and signed on tickets perhaps to prevent any guests from having multiple rides. The family was immensely elated to see the forested view on our way to the peak; Mount Faber is like an oasis in the middle of concrete jungle.



We reached the peak at past 9AM. The restaurant was already open but no patrons yet so we had the whole place for us. The family enjoyed the picturesque views of Singapore especially the Sentosa Island area.




I had some great shot last time as well but I don’t remember seeing those tiny bells hanging around. Soon afterwards, I realized that the guests can now buy those pair of bells from the souvenir shop and tie them at any place they want. The idea was simply brilliant; it was like the Paris “love-locks.” For us, we tied one of the bells and brought the other one back to our home. Seeing this bell would remind the family that its pair is securely tied somewhere on top of Mount Faber. It was pretty nostalgic, isn’t it? By the way, there is a real bell in the area. They call it “Bell of Happiness;” you’re allowed to bang the bell at your own risk. I did it and it took several seconds before the ringing inside my ear disappeared.

We spent almost an hour here before we decide that it was time to visit Sentosa Island; so we headed back to the cable car station. We were stopped due to missing tickets. I lost our tickets and we couldn’t board the cable car even if we have stamp on our hand. The whole family was anxious; I could feel a powerful storm was brewing from the horizon, lol. Later on and thankfully, the staff informed us that 5 tickets were found by another guest and surrendered to them. Those were our tickets!

Finally, we were on our way to Sentosa Island. It was great to be able to visit Mount Faber but to enjoy its mesmerizing views of Singapore for the second time especially by cable car was simply indescribable.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Singapore’s Pokémon Café

While in Singapore, aside from Universal Studios, which place do you think your techie kids would want to visit?

In our case, our three kids were unanimous in choosing Pokemon Café during our Singapore trip last December. It is at Everything With Fries (EWF) on the 4th floor of Bugis Junction which is easily accessible through MRT. The place is quite small and can barely accommodate thirty diners at the same time. Thus, it is normal to have long queue during meal hours.

EWF

We arrived at around 9:00AM and noticed a lady with her 2 toddlers already in queue and slumped on the floor; the place would open at 10AM by the way. Since it was weekday, there were less people inside the mall so we opted to stroll around the area and returned back at 10AM. Queue was starting to build up after we were given a table.

kids' cold drinks

Pikachu meets Porschy

My carded Porschy

Since we weren’t hungry yet we decided to have cupcakes and drinks; I ordered hot coffee. The kids were more excited at photo-ops than devouring their foods. I joined the frenzy and started taking photo of my diecast car along with Pokemon props.

Albeit the high price, there is nothing magical on the foods and drinks though Pokemon fans will surely adore the fancy food preparation imitating different Pokemon characters. And I believe this is the main reason while my kids were hell-bent in coming to this place. Those characters are worth an album on their FB and IG accounts.

Menu 1

Menu 2

Pokemon Counter

Beside the café is a small Pokemon shop where you can buy original action figures and other Pokemon knick-knacks. My 2 boys were elated to find their favorite characters. They're cheaper according to them; I nodded.

We left the café after finishing our snack. Obviously the family was in bliss after the visit at the only Pokemon Café in South East Asia. Because of that, I took the opportunity to search for diecast toy cars in the area; nobody raised a howl. As a breadwinner I shouldn’t be denied of my enjoyment as well, lol

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Going to Kuala Lumpur from Singapore by bus? Try "The One Travel & Tour"

A couple of years back, I travelled alone to Kuala Lumpur from Singapore several times. I tried overnight train ride twice, one was “seater class” and the other was “sleeper class.” One time, with my colleague, we did a round-trip bus ride from Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur and used Singapore’s city bus in going to Larkin Bus Station, JB.

Currently, train trip from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur is not as convenient like before. You have to transfer twice before reaching KL. Hence, while in Singapore, the family and I opted to travel by bus on our side trip to Kuala Lumpur.

I booked 5 tickets online at “The One Travel & Tour” for an overnight bus trip from Singapore to KL. Yes, direct trip, no need to transfer at Larkin Bus Station though you have to undergo the usual immigration process at both borders. It means disembarking and embarking at the same bus twice. After booking, I received through email a reservation sheet with an instruction to present that sheet at least 30 minutes before the trip to the bus office at Golden Mile Complex.


To save travel time, we booked SVIP class bus for an 11PM trip costing 36.5 SGD per passenger. The pickup point is Golden Mile Complex and drop off point is Berjaya Time Square in Kuala Lumpur.

We arrived at The One Travel office at Golden Mile Complex at around 10:15PM and showed my booking to their staff. I was told to return at 10:30PM to collect my ticket. Returned back 15 minutes later, the staff simply wrote on our booking sheet our seat numbers and the bus plate number. From time to time, my son would check those buses arriving in front of Golden Mile. At exactly 11PM, I returned back to the bus office and inquired why our bus hasn’t arrived yet. There was a delay according to the staff.

We left Golden Mile at almost 12 midnight. Due to few passengers, I assumed that the bus company decided to combine both 11 PM and 12AM trips since instead of having a single drop off point some passengers stayed in the bus after we disembarked at Berjaya Times Square. No worries about the delay anyway since the whole trip would take 5 hours; the one hour delay would adjust our arrival from 4AM to 5AM which was preferable.

Fortunately our assigned seats were in the upper level of the double decker bus. You can bring your small luggage with you to your seat while the bigger ones should be stored inside the baggage compartment. There are two drivers as well. The one who drove from KL to SG would be relieved by the other driver on their way back to KL. So an overnight bus travel between these two places is quite safe, if I may say so.

At Singapore border, you have to disembark for immigration procedure; no need to bring all your luggage. At the Malaysian border, we followed the same procedure though we brought all our luggage and bags expecting that they would be subject for inspection and x-ray. However, probably due to less passengers, neither manual inspection nor x-ray was conducted to our bags.

After passing both immigration it was a flawless trip to Kuala Lumpur. We reached Berjaya Times Square at around 5AM. The driver shouted something in their local language obviously to inform us that we have reached our destination. To sum it all, aside from the delay, our experience with The One Travel & Tour bus company was fairly good and convenient.

In case you want to save time, transport and hotel fares during your trip to Kuala Lumpur, I suggest that you take an overnight bus trip. Though you’ll lose a few hours of sleep it will be compensated by fast immigration procedure at both sides. Moreover, there’ll be less traffic along the way. Finally, before choosing the bus company, try to read their reviews on the net. We almost book our tickets with a bus company with countless complain and bad feedback.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Dads' Review - Klook Travel

On our recent trip to Singapore and Malaysia, the wife informed me that we can book our Gardens by the Bay entrance tickets for “Cloud Forest” and “Flower Dome” from Klook Travel.

Interestingly, we learned that it was cheaper to book some of Singapore’s theme parks’ entrance ticket from Klook rather than purchase it from the gate. Unfamiliar with Klook Travel, I asked the wife to search for any reviews about it on the net.

Due to plenty of good reviews, we decided to book our tickets for “Cloud Forest” and “Flower Dome.” Upon completion of payment online by credit card, I received official receipt and e-vouchers for five of us through email.

sample e-voucher

On our first day in Singapore which was also Christmas Day, there were long queues at both ticket counters and entrances of “Cloud Forest” and “Flower Dome.” As instructed by Klook, we queued directly at the entrance and showed our e-vouchers saved in my smart phone. The staff simply scanned our e-vouchers before allowing us to enter. Aside from discounted tickets (except Legoand Malaysia) we were able to skip the long queue at the ticket counters.

Long story short, upon returning to our hotel on that day, we started booking other theme parks tickets from Klook Travel. The procedures were the same, we simply showed our e-vouchers saved in smart phone to the staff manning the entrance. It was pretty convenient not only because we never had to fall in line at any ticket counters but we were able to save our cash too; money exchange counters in Singapore and Malaysia were hard to find unlike in Bangkok.

Here are the breakdown of our Klook bookings against standard rate. Rate is per (adult) person.

Universal Studios Singapore:           42.96 USD (Standard Rate is 52 USD)

Gardens by the Bay’s CF and FD:   15.5 USD (Standard Rate is 28 USD)

Singapore Cable Car Skypass:         15.52 USD (Standard Rate is 23.15 USD)

Legoland Malaysia:                          35.04 USD (Standard Rate is 35.04 USD)


In addition, whenever you review about the place you have visited through Klook Travel you’re also accumulating points or credits which can be converted into cash. In our case, we were able to redeem Klook Credits worth 128.2 PHP on our last booking.

I highly recommend Klook to all Dads out there if they are planning to visit Asian countries. I am sure the family would appreciate the convenient in accessing the different theme parks and attractions. 



Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post but merely an actual experience of a Dad.


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Diecast Corner - My Lykan from Furious 7

For those who have watched Furious 7, I am sure you'd understand me if I tell you that I held my breath during one of the film's highlights. It was when Dom and Brian retrieved the "God's Eye" inside a Lykan. This is the red car that they hijacked and made it jump from one skyscraper to another; the Lykan eventually fell to its destruction.

Because of that, when a promodiser of SM North Toy Kingdom showed me a 1:18 scale of Lykan he immediately got my full attention especially when I noticed it has the same color with Lykan of Furious 7; I was browsing at that time for a new Hot Wheels release. He cautiously demonstrated the opening of its hood and doors using their display model. The details were accurate thus no sales talk needed; I asked for a new stock and proceeded to cashier.

Why Lykan? 

Lykan is the first Arab built hyper sport car and according to "Wiki," it's also the third most expensive vehicle built to date, it costs a staggering US$3.4 million. More so, the company plans to build only seven Lykans which make this car matches the title Furious 7.






Some of my FnF diecast cars
Hence, I can say that in years to come, the usual collectible car brands and models like Lamborghini and Ferrari will be released continuously in the market unlike the Lykan. A good example was the recent Unioil and Petron Lamborghini promo. They flooded the Philippines diecast collectors' world with different models and colors of Lamborghini, not to mention the Ferrari collection released earlier by Shell.

It is therefore pretty easy to find mainstream diecast collectors that can show their famous car brands collection in different scales and colors but only a handful owned a 1:18 Lykan. Because of this, I am proud of having a Lykan as the center of my FnF collection but it doesn't mean that the other FnF cars have less appeal to me. On the contrary, I have to admit that I love all the featured muscle cars of Fast and Furious. I am super excited to see the new cars in the coming FnF 8.


Update as of 19 Dec 2016


My kids' haul this weekend during Toycon at Megamall. Lucky to have a family who supports my hobby.


To view my collection may check my IG account: welson _ pinoydiecast