I wanted to live in Singapore’s Changi Airport for 24 hours. I know that sounds weird, but it is the number one airport in the world. The airport has four terminals and the Jewel. This article is part two of my guide to Singapore’s airport. Part one covers the terminals, while part two covers the Jewel.
Honestly, skip the jewel and spend the 24 hours exploring the airport terminals unless you have extra time. There is even a secret way to see the world’s tallest indoor waterfall without leaving the terminals.
What is the Jewel at Singapore’s Changi Airport?
The Jewel is a mall that is open to the public. The centerpiece is the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.
What is the layout of the Jewel?
L4/L5 of the Jewel appeared to be kid-oriented. L3 had the majority of sit-down restaurants. L1-L3 was dedicated to shopping. Let me rephrase: high-end shopping. B2 had a food court and a grocery store.
Where to Stay?
We spent one night at the YotelAir, which was outside security. We landed late at night, and staying at the YotelAir was the easiest. They have free coffee in the morning and a sitting area overlooking the mall with internet. It is a great place to get work done.
What about luggage?
Please store your luggage if you are visiting the Jewel for the day. We spent too much time dodging people’s large bags. The baggage storage in the Jewel is located on Level 1 (near the Early Check-In Lounge). Due to the long walk, I recommend picking up your luggage before heading to the terminals. There are places to store your luggage in the terminals themselves. Baggage storage is available 24 hours a day. See prices here.
Get a Free Singapore Sling
Get a free Singapore Sling at the Tapas Bar if flying on Singapore Airlines. Simply present boarding pass and spend SGD 30. The Tapas bar is located on Level 3.
What unique attractions are in the Jewel?
Motorized “Children” Animal Ride
Outside the Yotel were motorized animals that you (children) could ride a part of the mall. These are for children, and the first person I asked said I was not allowed to ride them, but I asked another woman who begrudgingly agreed. It costs SGD 12 for five rides. Cliff ended up with the slowest animal and was getting lapped but all the children.
We found a foosball table, and we had to play a round. I lost.
Shiseido Forest Valley’s West Trail
The best way to experience the waterfall from inside the Jewel is the Shiseido Forest Trail. This walkway is accessible from each level and winds down the side of the wall surrounding the waterfall. Best Part: It’s Free
What attractions should be avoided in the Jewel?
DO NOT DO! This includes the Hedge Maze, Mirror Maze, Walking Net and Bouncing Net! It was SGD 54 for an adult. Each attraction is a small walkthrough with nothing more interesting than the jewel itself.
DO NOT DO! The CanopyBridge is a 100 feet long glass-bottom walkway with the same view as the free walkway 10 ft away.
Avoid the Elevators
The elevators take forever and are full of people and luggage. Take the Shiseido Forest Valley’s west trail for a quicker trip and a better view.
You can not visit Singapore’s Changi Airport without seeing the infamous waterfall, but that doesn’t mean you must visit the Jewel. There is a way to see the waterfall without even leaving security, and in my opinion, the view is more impressive. Take the train between terminals 2 and 3. It passes through the Jewel next to the waterfall. You can take the train both landslide and airside.
Ever since Disney announced the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, there have been questions regarding exactly what it is and if it is worth the crazy price tag. I recently went on the Galactic Starcruiser known as the Halycon and want to answer the most common questions.
What is the Galactic Starcruiser?
Well… It is not a hotel. The Galactic Starcruiser opened in Walt Disney World last year. It is described as a “Star Wars-themed 2-night live-action/role-playing choose your own adventure experience aboard a simulated cruise in outer space within the Star Wars galaxy.”
Imagine yourself inside your favorite Star Wars movie. You have been working hard on your home planet of Tatooine and need a vacation. You book a cruise through the outer rim on the Halcyon cruiseliner. Aboard the cruise, you meet travelers from all over the galaxy—a Twi’lek from Ryloth, a smuggler from Tatooine, and a Togruta working on his music career. You are playing Sabacc when the first order walks in and arrests a man suspected of being for the resistance. Your cruise ship docks at Batuu, where you spend the day exploring the markets of the Black Spire Output and seeing the infamous Millenium Falcon that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs. Then you return to Halcyon to help Chewbacca hide from Kylo Ren.
Seriously, that all happened to me. You spend two days in this fantasy world, never leaving the bubble. Along the way, you can help the first order, join the resistance, or go on a mission that has you enter a secret room on the ship.
How much is the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser?
This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Your cruise to outer space includes parking, a one-day park ticket, food, a two-night stay aboard the Halcyon, meeting all your favorite Star Wars characters, dinner shows, and the chance to play your childhood fantasy. Alcohol, except for one drink in Batuu, is not included.
Is there a way to make the Starcruiser more affordable?
Go with friends.
It is a lot of money for one family to spend on a two-day trip, but I split the cost with four friends. The rooms are small, but we easily fit the four of us. There was a pulldown bed, bunk beds, and a queen bed.
With four friends, I only paid $1,772. Yes. You can pick your jaw off the floor again. Consider that a Disney World vacation at another deluxe resort can cost even more.
Tip: Book during the week when prices are lower.
I love Disney and Star Wars but want to avoid being stuck in space with screaming children for two days.
I agree. Most of the children on the Star Cruiser were past the crying, nap-needing phase.
Disney recommends that children be old enough to use a cell phone since all the missions, cruise activities, and private transmissions are on your data pad (aka your phone).
Several events, such as lightsaber training, are only available to guests seven or over.
Tip: They will provide phones if your children do not have their own, but they only have a limited number, so call ahead.
How immersive is this Star Wars experience?
100%. You are on a cruise in the outer rim and will meet people from all over the galaxy. The windows in your room look out into space. Everyone from your waiter to your room attendant is a part of the experience and will never break character. Our waiter told us about his wife and kids on his home planet and how he ended up working on the Halcyon.
What about your visit to Disney’s Galaxy’s Edge? Will it break the illusion?
On the day of your “excursion,” you will board a transport vehicle and get transported down to the planet of Battu. When they open the door of the transport vehicle, you are already within the walls of Galaxy’s Edge. There is a separate entrance where you never see the outside world.
Yes, there are tourists in Battu, but they were visiting just like us. We had pins that told cast members we were part of the Halcyon, so they played along.
Do I need to be a Star Wars fan?
There is nothing throughout the experience that you need to know about the Star Wars Franchise. Anyone can cruise through outer space and participate in missions.
I was never a Star Wars geek, but I love movies that intertwine, like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I loved the idea of being inside the Star Wars Universe, and I love dressing up in costumes.
That being said, there is something about meeting Chewbacca, traveling on the ship where Han and Leya had their honeymoon, and talking to a Twi’lek about growing up on Ryloth that only a Star Wars fan can appreciate.
Let’s face it. Our international summer plans are over. But with the US opening up, we will be able to (responsibly) explore the US and Route 66 during the pandemic. Route 66 has been on my bucket list since I saw the original Disney-Pixar movie, “Cars.” My boyfriend and I had the chance to take Route 66 from Chicago to New Mexico, and we wanted to share our favorite attractions.
Route 66 During the Pandemic
By no means is this list an all-inclusive guide to Route 66. Many attractions and restaurants are closed. And each state has different guidelines regarding COVID. All of the recommended attractions in this article are promoting social distancing. Many are outside and those inside are at low capacity. Please call before visiting these attractions as regulations are changing daily.
Route 66 and the towns along it died with the building of a faster and more convenient route. Many of these towns are still there hanging on by a thread. Downtowns are almost empty. Hotels and gas stations closed and falling apart.
To get the true story of Route 66, don’t take any shortcuts. Drive through town, visit that one restaurant left and talk to the locals about the past.
Route 66: Illinois
(Due to Illionois state regulations, a majority of attractions were closed.)
Original Route 66 Brick Road
After Springfield, there is a 1.40-mile long brick section of the original Route 66. Not very long but a great piece of history. Directions: Between the towns of Chatham and Auburn on Snell and Curran Road.
Although the businesses and attractions in this small town were closed, it was worth a stop. There are several giants including, The Nuyan Giant and The Giant Hotdog. Murals and historical markers cover the town. There were several Route 66 antique and collectible shops that looked interesting. The COVID shut down regulations really put a new perspective on “window shopping.” I will go back someday when the world returns to normal.
The Chain of Rocks Bridge was part of Route 66 from 1936 to 1968. It was built with a 22-degree bend to appease boat traffic. As the cars grew in size, the curve became a point of congestion and travel delays. A new bridge was built, and the Chain of Rocks Bridge was decommissioned. Today, it is a hiking and biking trail. It is a convenient point to stop and stretch the legs. We had a snack and enjoyed a glass of wine we had packed (passengers only).
If you want to follow the original Route 66, this is the guide. Written by a Route 66 historian, it contains turn-by-turn directions along the oldest sections of Route 66. It looks complicated at first, so I suggest you familiarize your self with it before taking it on the road.
The author gives his personal recommendations for the trip, including places not to go, unlike the Lonely Traveler or other big name travel guide who tend to recommend places based on hearsay instead of personal experience.
I am obsessed with Disney. I first got the idea to travel Route 66 after watching “Cars.” Please watch it before you start on your journey. Although “Cars” is based on a fictional town, Radiator Springs, many of the characters and locations are based on the real Route 66. Do you remember the Wheel Well Inn that Sally and Lightning McQueen re-open at the end of the movie? It was based on the Wagon Wheel Motel.
The rooms are small and basic but affordable and clean. Check out Missouri Hick BBQplace (located next door) for dinner and the Cuba Bakery and Delidowntown for breakfast. The donuts are amazing.
The Ozark’s through Missouri
I hope you plan to stick to the original Route 66 from Chicago to LA. But if you don’t (Shame on you), I highly recommend at least driving the section through the Ozark’s in Missouri. Beautiful green rolling hills away from I-40. A real sense of what Route 66 was about in its heyday.
If you are still not convinced to take the original Route 66 route, remember the road less traveled allows for social distancing. The goal is to navigate Route 66 during this pandemic safely.
Who doesn’t want to say they had fudge in Uranus? Uranus is a great place to stretch your legs and get a little laugh. See the world’s biggest belt buckle. Visit the strange museum or shop in the general store. There is even an escape room (closed due to pandemic). As they say, “Everything you need is in Uranus.”
Pack lunch and drinks. There were a lot of excellent places to pull over and eat. It saved money and our stomachs. Greasy roadside food is excellent but can get old. Remember, you need to sit in a car for hours with your road partner. Maybe frank and beans are not the best option.
We happen upon this stop by accident, but I highly recommend it—a 1930 Route 66 gas station recreation with restored cars, signs, and other memorabilia. Although Gary died in 2015, his son in law took over, and he was excited to answer any questions we had about Route 66. The attraction is free, but there is a small gift shop if you feel like contributing to the future of the Sinclair Station.
On the right when you enter the town, there is a great place to pull over and eat lunch that is decorated based on the movie “Cars.” Drive further into town and look out for “Tow Tater,” the inspiration for ‘Mater.
Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas are well marked with Historic Route 66 signs. Oklahoma and Texas only had sporadic signage and did not always follow the original route, so be sure to have your guide book handy.
Awesome hotel downtown. It had a rooftop bar that overlooked Tulsa. The hotel was in a great area if you are looking for nightlife. It was surrounded by bars and restaurants. The staff was friendly. The hotel was clean. The food was excellent. Due to COVID, the included breakfast was delivered to our room. Free breakfast in bed. Yes, Please.
Original Route 66 Concrete Road
Even though Route 66 follows the interstate for a large portion of the drive, don’t cheat and take the I-40. A large section of Route 66 in Oklahoma is on the original concrete. The light yellow roads with tiny curbs give a sense of original Route 66. It is slowly being replaced with asphalt, so drive it while you can.
I met Sally from Disney-Pixar, “Cars!” If you saw the movie, you will understand my excitement. The character of Sally is based on Dawn Welch, owner of Rock Cafe. I recommend stopping for lunch. Get the bread pudding.
The Blue Whale is one of the first pictures that pop up when you google Route 66 attractions. It was built as a play area for the creator’s grandchildren and is an excellent spot for a photo and a picnic lunch. It was recently sold to the town and is being renovated (at time of writing). I spoke to the son of the original owner. We both hope the town keeps the original charm. Note: You can not swim in the pond.
You can’t drive by this restored art deco gas station without feeling like you have seen it before. If you have watched Disney-Pixar “Cars,” you have. Seriously, someone did stop because they recognized the building, but they couldn’t figure out where they had seen it. I am glad I was there to educate them. The U-Drop Inn was the inspiration behind Ramone’s House of Body Art. It is now a tourism office. Stop by for a photo and while in Shamrock, kiss a piece of the Blarney Stone.
First, stop and visit Crocodile Lile. His studio, Lile Art Gallery, is on 6th street. The day before, while driving, I was calling places on the route to see what was open. I called a number in the guide book, and I met Croc. I was just calling to see if his studio would be open the next day. After confirming it was, I went to hang up. Croc stopped me, “Wait, not so fast. Who are you? Where are you from? Where are you headed?” He said to call him if we had any questions about places to go or stay. He was serious. I felt like we were old friends by the time I made it to his gallery. After you visit him, have some lunch or a drink at one of the bars on 6th street. Also, check out the Bug Farm, which is a bunch of VW Bugs buried halfway in the ground. Less busy than the famous Cadillac Ranch.
NOTE: We planned to stay at The Big Texan Motel, a famous route 66 attractions. Croc told us that they, among other things, did not financially support Route 66. We decided to stay elsewhere. Please do your own research.
Congrats, you made it halfway on your Route 66 journey. Stop and take a photo at the official sign. Then visit the Midpoint Cafe for the coconut pie. The original owner of the MidPoint Cafe, Fran, was the inspiration for the “Cars” character, Flo. Look for a red truck covered in autographs. I didn’t find out about the truck until after my visit.
On the way out of town from Santa Rosa, on the right side, was a small brewery. Cliff spotted it, and the door was open. Screeching breaks. U-Turn. The brewery wasn’t open for dine-in, but they were selling growlers of their lager. Check it out and support local breweries.
If it weren’t for Croc’s recommendation, we would have driven right by this travel plaza. From the outside, it looks like your typical highway plaza with a gas station and convenience store. In the back corner of the store is a doorway that leads to a classic car and memorabilia museum. Free and worth a visit. Although, I was upset to learn that floppy disk’s, flip phones, and handheld TVs are now considered “classic.” The Travel Center also has a Route 66 Diner and a Chapel.
The Ghost Town of Cuervo, NM
We were following the original dirt Route 66 through New Mexico when we stumbled upon this Ghost Town. Many of the buildings, including a church and schoolhouse, are still intact and look like people just left a few months ago. Cuervo is one of the “newer” ghost towns on the route. It was an incorporated town until 2011 when the post office shut down and still has 58 residents.
Six miles east of Route 66 near Romerioville, NM is the town of Las Vegas. There are no casinos or flashy lights. But they do have a Moth Infestation. (Yes, moths) Despite the moths, I recommend staying at The Castaneda hotel. Originally built in 1898, it was recently restored and is beautiful. You feel like you are transported back in time. They also do tours if you don’t have time to stay the night.
REVENGE OF THE MOTHS
Now about the moths. Imagine. I am in a creepy old hotel. Due to COVID, we were one of the only guests. I am going to take a shower. Everything is pretty standard at this point. Until I turn on the water, and I see two moths flying around. I kill them. Then I turn around, and I see three more. As I try to kill them, two more appear and then two more. I don’t know where they are coming from. Clif hears the commotion and knocks on the door. He opens it to find me standing in the middle of the bathroom, crying and swatting moths. Long story short, I made him stand in the bathroom while I showered and then held my pee for the rest of the night.
Sadly, we ended our trip in Las Vegas, NM, and headed up towards Colorado but do plan to finish the route this summer. Please comment if you have any suggestions for the rest of the journey. I hope this article motivated you to explore Route 66 during the pandemic.