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Friday, July 25, 2014

Cavalia is Coming to Singapore!

Media Invite

The first time I heard about Cavalia and its premise, it got me all intrigued. 

Created by Normand Latourelle, one of the co-founders of famed Cirque du Soleil, Cavalia is an innovative multi-media and multi-disciplinary theatrical production that boldly explores the boundaries of equestrian arts and acrobatic feats.

Photo courtesy of BASE Entertainment

But the most astonishing part of the show? It is a lavish production involving 50 magnificent real horses and featuring 43 riders, aerialists, acrobats, dancers and musicians from all over the world - all coming together to present a fantastic demonstration of horsemanship that transports the audience into virtual atmospheres.

Photo courtesy of BASE Entertainment

Indeed, Cavalia is truly a show like no other. And it is coming to Singapore!

Given the magnitude of the show, its performing arena needs to be constructed from scratch out in the open as none the theatres here has the capacity to accommodate such a huge cast. And the search for the perfect spot ended at an empty plot of land beside Marina Bay Sands.


To witness the largest touring Bit Top tent in the world being erected on Bayfront Avenue was an experience in itself. With fairytale spires towering 10-storey high, Cavalia’s White Theatre Tent spans more than 2,440-square-metres and accommodates a colossal 50-metre-wide stage.


The media was given a first-hand look at the interior of the Big Top tent and it was huge! We were told that the gigantic stage area provides horses room to gallop at full speed, allowing them the freedom to express themselves in all their grace, strength and beauty.


Over the coming weeks, the 80-strong crew will begin putting together the different components inside the Tent and will build a true theater, where 2,500 tons of sand and earth will be used to create the stage!


Frankly, I can't wait. Count the wifey and monkies in too... more so after they caught a glimpse of what to expect from this teaser clip:



Amazing stuff, no? And yes, the stage will be flooded with water at some point too!

Photo courtesy of BASE Entertainment

Cavalia opens on 12 August 2014, so do stay tuned for more updates... especially when the horses touch down in Singapore!


Useful Information

Cavalia: A Magical Encounter Between Man and Horse
Venue: Under the White Theatre Tent, at Bayfront Avenue beside Marina Bay Sands
Dates: 12 Aug - 14 Sep 2014
Times: Tue - Fri: 7.30pm | Sat: 2pm & 7.30pm | Sun: 12pm & 5.30pm
*No performances on 13,19 and 26 August 2014
Duration: 2.5 hours (including 20 minutes intermission)
Tickets: $58, $88, $98, $148, $188, $208, $248 & $288 (excluding booking fees)
*To buy tickets, visit www.sistic.com.sg/events/cavalia0914
Discounts: 
- 10% discount for MasterCard Cardholders [Valid from 1 Jul 2014 till 31 Jul 2014] 
Applicable for Cat 5 - 9 only and for Tue - Thu & Sun Matinee only
- S$141 (Cat 5), S$111 (Cat 6), S$73.50 (Cat 7) for Family Pack - Buy 3 Get 1 Free! 
[Valid from 4 Jul 2014 till 31 Jul 2014]  Applicable for Cat 5 - 7 only and for Tue - Thu & Sun Matinee only
Website: www.cavalia.sg

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

ASUS ZenFone 5: A value-for-money smartphone packed with goodness

Advertorial

I have to admit, one of the perks of being a blogger is getting nifty gadgets to review. But what's even better is when that gadget turns out to be something that I genuinely end up liking. Case in point? The newly launched Asus ZenFone 5.


At first glance, the Asus ZenFone 5 comes packed with plenty of juice: It has a sleek, minimalist design, array of features and perhaps most importantly, its budget price tag makes it an extremely attractive choice.

For S$219 - you can purchase it directly online from ASUS newly-minted ASUS ONLINE STORE - you get a 5-inch HD IPS display with scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass, quad-band 3G and 2G, expandable memory up to 64GB (8GB onboard) and a 8MP camera on the back.


The great thing about the ZenFone 5 is that it supports dual SIM cards, which makes it really handy for people who have 2 mobile lines. Or should you want to keep your personal roaming line and a local data line for Net surfing while on holiday, the Zenfone 5 will appeal.


As a smartphone, it feels neatly-built, with its back cover sitting flush with the rest of the body. Personally, I felt extremely comfortable holding it in my palm, thanks to its curved edges. The little brushed aluminium trim at the bottom of the phone adds some flair to the phone, keeping it in line with the Zen-series design DNA.


The phone also features ASUS' all-new, exclusive mobile user interface, the ASUS ZenUI which is a huge departure from the previous versions. The new interface is touted to have more than 200 enhancements over the stock Android operating system. The new theme follows a flat look for all the icons and I love it. The redesigned icons and the change of fonts have contributed to a much more enjoyable experience.

Of note is the inclusion of two features called What’s Next and Do It Later.

What’s Next manages one's daily schedules, consolidating information such as appointments, reminders and weather updates into one single app.


So instead of having to view information from different apps (like calendar, reminders, weather apps), What's Next automatically pulls all these information and displays them on the lock screen, home screen and in the notification drawer. This definitely made it extremely convenient for me to see what is going on at a glance.


The intelligent thing about What's Next is that it is also able to remind me when I have a missed call and unread emails or text messages. There was one time when I was going to be late for an appointment, and the app actually prompted me to send out a text or give a call to the other party to let them know I will be late!

The other feature about What's Next that I found to be really useful is the countdown timer placed beside the next event on the lock screen. This may be minor, but it provided a handy way for me to keep track of my next appointment.


The other inclusion of the new interface, Do It Later, functions as one's personal secretary. It helps to keep track of important tasks when you are busy to attend to them at a particular moment.


Besides creating a To-Do list, the Do It Later app allows one to defer tasks to later time and date. For example, you may choose to reply to an SMS that was sent to you earlier in the day by selecting the 'Reply Later' option when reading the SMS. This will add the task into the Do It Later app, where you can click the 'Reply Now' button for a quick reply. The app works for missed calls and for articles or websites you want to read at a later time too.


As can be seen above, the tasks or reminders are listed as cards in the Do It Later app, which I can easily swipe away once I am done with them. An absolute gem of an app, if you ask me.

And in this day of social media, what would a smartphone be without a competent camera? Featuring an 8-megapixel camera, the ZenFone 5 boasts ASUS' PixelMaster Camera technology which combines hardware, software and optical design to deliver superior quality images in most scenarios.

For outdoor shooting with good lighting, the camera fared reasonably well and yielded me impressively-detailed shots.


Indoors-wise, finer details were also properly captured in the photo below.


But the most fun aspect of ASUS PixelMaster has got to the whole slew of features in the Camera app. Or at least that was what enticed the monkies most.


Notable ones include a depth-of-field effect, panorama, tilt shift, and HDR.

 Tilt Shift Mode
The Depth of Field Mode allows one to capture photos with sharp, isolated subjects set against a blurred background. Two images will be captured after the shutter button is pressed, and this is the result. Not too shabby.

Depth of Field Mode

And for selfie addicts, great news - you can use the the rear camera on the ZenFone5to snap a selfie in the Selfie Mode. All you have to do is indicate the number of people in the photo (up to 5) and once the camera has automatically detect the selected number of people are in the frame, it will begin a series of beeps before taking three photos. Yes, three because having the option to select the best shot is a must.


For me though, the best aspect of the camera has go to be its Low Light Mode. And it is extremely impressive! The mode allows one to to take pictures in really dim conditions, without the need of a flashlight.

As a comparison, I used the Samsung Galaxy S4 to snap a photo of Ash's LEGO Mixel in a dimly lit room. And this was what I saw... or could not see.


For the ASUS ZenFone 5, I enabled the Low Light Mode and this was what I got.


I am utterly bowled over! The photo, while grainy, was way much clearer and brighter than the previous photo. Here's a video of its Low Light Mode in action, just to prove that everything is as good as I have made it out to be.



The monkies though, were fixated on another mode - the GIF Mode. This allows them to capture simultaneous shots (up to 30 at one go) and the camera will automatically stitch them together... often to hilarious effect.


Overall, the ASUS ZenFone 5 offers great value for its price. If I did not know of its price beforehand, it would have been fairly easy to convince me that the phone would sell for twice its asking price, or more. The ZenFone 5 impressed me with its hardware and software. Battery life was decent too, with it able to last a day of average usage which included surfing, messaging, and using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Simply put, if you are on a budget and especially need dual-sim functionality (and do not mind having a camera with awesome features!), the ASUS ZenFone 5 is definitely worth a look. 

Want to know more, get filled in on more of the ZenFone 5's features and details HERE! Or get yours hassle-free from ASUS' ONLINE STORE, with FREE shipping!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Going Nutty over Nutella

Sponsored Post

Creamy chocolate and hazelnuts form one irresistible combination, even more so when they come harmoniously blended together to form Nutella! Just ask Ale.


If Ayd is the biggest Milo fan on this planet, then Ale must be the most fanatical supporter of all things Nutella, a hazelnut spread with that unique and delicious chocolaty taste.


Truth be told, the wifey and I too love to indulge in our Nutella so I guess that was how Ale got started on her Nutella addiction from a very young age!


The unique taste of Nutella can be attritbuted to the combination of roasted hazelnuts, skim milk and a hint of cocoa. In addition, not only does Nutella contain no artificial colors or preservatives, it naturally has vitamins and is high in fibre and protein - thanks to its nutty Hazelnuts.


I will be the first to admit it - Nutella absolutely tastes like heaven straight out of the jar. But while it tastes good on its own, did you know it is the perfect (and sensible) thing for breakfast when paired with bread?


After all, breakfast IS the most important meal of the day. But it isn't always a breeze when it comes to getting the monkies finish their breakfast... more so for the boys who have to get up really early for school and the last thing on their minds is to put their jaws to work.

With Nutella on bread, it is a different story though.


The thing is when used in moderation with complementary foods, Nutella can form a part of a balanced meal for breakfast. It is a quick and easy way to encourage the monkies to eat whole grains, such as whole wheat bread and even, wholemeal crackers.


The monkies may think they are getting a treat for breakfast with Nutella on bread while I am actually helping nourish them with whole grains. Fuss-free? Yup. Win-win situation? Double confirm.


And though we may know about the great taste of Nutella, there are some things you may not know about this super addictive spread:

1. Nutella is actually sweet nut
An Italian bakery owner called Pietro Ferrero created the spread in the 1940s. Originally called Pasta gianduja, it was renamed Nutella in 1964, as a result of combining the English word ‘nut’ and the Latin suffix for sweet  - ‘ella’.

2. Nutella was sold in loaves orignally
Initially, it came in the form of a solid block, just so that people could cut a perfect slice to fit on a piece of bread.

3. There is a World Nutella Day
In 2007, two Italian bloggers took their love of Nutella to the next level and created a worldwide day of celebration dedicated to Nutella. Every year, 5th February is a day for dedicated for all things Nutella.

4. There is a right way to store Nutella
Contrary to belief, storing Nutella in the fridge will make spreading it extremely tedious. Store Nutella at a room temperature to experience at its best creamy consistency.

5. Nutella sells like hotcakes
One jar of Nutella is sold every 2.5 seconds worldwide. Definitely at a faster rate than a baby is born in Singapore. 'Nuff said.


GIVEAWAY!

Want to enjoy the great creamy taste of Nutella? We have two bottles of hazelnut and cocoa goodness (200g) to give away to THREE of our readers!


All you have to do is to answer the following question: 

"Name 2 ingredients found in Nutella."

Leave your comment either in this blog post, or in the corresponding Facebook post HERE.

Giveaway ends on 27 July 2014, 2359 hours and is open to residents in Singapore only.

Good Luck!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Crowne Plaza Changi Airport: Of Planes and Pools

Media Invite

If there is one transit hotel that I have ever come across that does not even remotely look like one, the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport must be it. Forget the 'transit hotel' tag even though it is just conveniently plonked beside Changi Airport Terminal 3, because a tropical paradise resort is more apt!


Or at least that was what I thought I first stepped into the hotel... and our room.


First thing that came to my mind? It is HUGE! And the first thing that the monkies uttered? "Can we not check out from this hotel... like ever????"


For once, I tended to agree with them. The soothing earth-tone colours within the room was nicely paired with the spaciousness that the room offered. Erm, and the ample hide-and-seek places that Ale wasted no time in exploring too!


The room came with a deep soaking tub, well-positioned behind a glass wall so that one can see right through into the room - and more importantly, the TV. Nothing like soaking in a hot tub while enjoying the TV, no?


For the boys though, there was something more enticing.


No, not vegetating in bed. But this.


Where else in Singapore can you get yourself checked into a hotel and have an awesome view of planes taking off, landing and taxiing along the runway?


Oh, and the gorgeous sunset backdrop too.


If you have a child who is crazy over planes in an over-the-top way, and are also looking to whisk the family away for a short staycation, there is no better place than Crowne Plaza Changi Airport. But be sure to request for a room that faces the runway though!

And don't worry about the excessive loud noises when the planes land or take off... we hardly heard a whimper when we were in the room, so I guess the hotel must have sound-proofed the rooms really well. Either that, I must have turned deaf from all the ruckus (and fun) that the monkies were conjuring up in the room.


Of course, what's a staycation without dipping into the hotel pool?


Beautifully landscaped, the swimming pool felt like the centerpiece of Crowne Plaze Changi Airport. We spied rooms that open out directly to the pool too so if you are not a fan of planes, you know what to request for! As for the monkies, they were only too eager for my photo-taking to come to an end.


Just so that they could do this.


You can't probably tell from our expressions, but the water is really cold. Like really really really cold. But as what my monkies will tell you - it is still awesome!


As gorgeous as the pool was, it was not as child-friendly as some of the other hotel pools that we have come across. There was a tiny shallow area for younger children but for the rest of the pool, parents will have to be in the pool themselves to supervise adequately.


While pools matter a great deal to the monkies during a staycation, breakfast buffets are the stuff that staycations are made of for the wifey.


And luckily for her, Azur at Crowne Plaza Hotel Changi Airport serves up a delectable spread of local fare and international dishes when it came to filling our tummies first thing in the morning.


You do not have to be a hotel guest to tuck in at Azur. The restaurant offers brunch buffets on weeekends, and it also runs promotions from time to time. So to be in the know, be sure to like Crowne Plaza Changi Airport's Facebook page!


Another great thing about staying at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport is there are tons of kids-friendly activities right at its doorstep! From indoor playgrounds and tall slides, to Skytrains - there are plenty of free activities to keep the whole family busy and happy. Just check out my previous post on Why Changi Airport is More Fun for Kids than Shopping Malls for the complete guide to all the free activities for kids at Changi Airport! And not forgetting that a lot of the food outlets at Changi Airport are open for 24 hours too. Yummy, our tummies exclaimed.


Definitely more than a transit hotel, our staycation at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport more than surpassed our expectations. In fact, none of us wanted to leave the rooms when our 2-night bliss came to an end... well, unless it was for boarding a plane for a getaway.


Useful Information

Crowne Plaza Changi Airport 
75 Airport Boulevard
Singapore 819664
Tel: +65 6823 5300
Website: www.ihg.com/crowneplaza/hotels/us/en/singapore/sincp/hoteldetail
Facebook: www.facebook.com/cpchangi

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