Thursday, November 01, 2012

Kicking the last chicks out of the nest

Just three more hours and the Class of 2012 will be out of my hair, preferably for good. Their good too, not necessarily mine. This post-prelim exam period has been one of the most strenuous I've ever had with my consultation slots booked nearly solid over the last couple of weeks. Only a couple of cancellations, but empty slots get quickly filled up with other takers on the unofficial waiting list. I don't remember ever being this popular with my previous batches.

The actual paper is due this coming Monday, but I'm drawing the consults to a close here and now. Their success is heavily dependent on their independence so they have a few remaining days to prep themselves. The hard part for me, of course, is letting them go trusting that I've tutored them enough -- which is something I can never reassure myself of. But at this late stage of the game, it'll have to do.

I end with three kids I haven't seen at all through this period. Must remind myself that because they've left it so late, I must reinforce, not contradict; assure, not freak them out. Whatever they have to offer today will have to be enough for Monday.

Monday, October 29, 2012

USS Halloween Horror Nights 2

A little better strategy is in order if we want to enjoy this event at USS more next year.

Time: 2000-0100 hrs is too short to do everything, so despite the temptation to ride the coasters we have to be more focused on the specially themed attractions, even if it means forgoing our favourite rides.

Crowd: the place is swarming with merry-makers who create great atmosphere for the event, but also unfortunately make the lines for the rides and everything else very long. We waited about an hour to get on the Battlestar Galactica (Cylon) and another on The Mummy Returns. And that was all the time we had as upon exit from the Egyptian Necropolis, it was nearly 0000 hrs already.

Lockers: in crowded situations like this one, the time spent waiting and riding will invariably exceed the lockers' grace period and you have to pay the machine in order to get your stuff out of it. It gets difficult when all your belongings including wallet containing cash, NETS and credit card are locked in the locker as you are not permitted to ride with loose items in your pockets. For cash transactions, exact amount only, no change is given -- we found out a bit too late. For both rides, we ended up spending $18 on the lockers alone. Grr.

Food: we purchased the theme dinner at KT's Bar and Grill (on of the restaurants in USS). It was a three-course meal including a choice of baby pork ribs (above) and duck (below). The ribs were succulent and tender, likewise the duck. The theme decorations turned out cuter than the picture in the menu promised, but it was good eating anyway. There seemed to be a bit of a kerfuffle over the question of whether we had purchased the meal vouchers online, but it was only because online orders apparently received a complementary fruit punch, a nice surprise for us...

like so.

But back to strategy: the food was fabulous and reasonably priced ($28+++ per pax) but to start serving at 2000 hrs... well, the one hour we enjoyed eating was also one hour's headstart on the rides for everyone else who had nommed earlier elsewhere.

Parking: the one thing that worked for us was a last minute decision. Because parking was so limited at Vivocity, we detoured to park at the Beach car park on Sentosa. $3 entrance + $2 parking = $5 total. Even though the monorail ended service at midnight, it was a short and pleasant stroll back to the beach from USS to get M2 back.

Conclusion: to really enjoy ourselves, spend more money. Buy a day pass to ride coasters all day long, upgrade to stay for the night's activities and fork out for a universal express pass for faster (than normal) access to the attractions. Carry only a credit card and your smartphone (useful as a camera and for contacting separated party members) in a secured pocket, leave all other miscellaneous barang-barang in the car.

P.S.: To infer that we didn't enjoy the experience is not accurate. The creepy music and sound effects relentlessly permeating the entire theme park added atmosphere to the main street that was divided into sections by theme. From the House of Dolls at the entrance, to the post-apocalyptic urban cityscape, to the Mummy-cursed streets of ancient Egypt populated with ghouls and zombies popping up to scare random passers-by, USS really did take a lot of trouble to get the environment perfect for Halloween. All I'm saying is, next year, we go with a better plan to maximize the time allotted.

USS has dedicated staff. This forlorn ghoul guards the door of the closed gift shop. No one gets in regardless of how badly they want to buy a souvenir.