Petrosains KLCC Revisited

The last time N was here, we didn’t have enough time to visit Petrosains @ KLCC, but we finally managed to go on his most recent visit. My last visit was four years ago and I remember complaining that most of the exhibits were the same as they were since 1999. This time around they’ve updated / added some sections – so kudos to the management for keeping things fresh and relevant!

It was a public holiday and it took us more than an hour just to get inside. Once in there though N was like an excited kid, running to each exhibit and wanting to try them all out.

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The wind tunnel where you can experience wind speeds of up to 128kp/h

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Heat sensing thermo camera.

At 70,000 sq ft, the science center is pretty large so allocate at least two hours to explore everything.

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3D Hologram Projection of an astronaut, which looked as if the figure was floating in space.

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For an additional fee, visitors can go on this rotating contraption to experience G-Force. N bravely decided to try it – and was spun in all directions – right side up, upside down – for a good minute or two as I cheered from the sidelines ha

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The section dedicated to geology and how fossil fuels came to be features a life-sized T-Rex. It used to be able to sing.

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They added a hanging bridge which connects one end of the circular hallway to the other.

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PetroSains gets points for interactivity. Lots of science-related experiments and games to try your hand at!

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How to connect the tunnels and gears to get a ping pong ball to drop to the bottom.

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A liquid that reacts to force to form these odd crystal-like shapes.

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Another section made to look like an oil platform. You can even try wearing the safety suits that the oil rig staff have to wear for a picture.

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Attempting to align a pipe

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Petronas was a major sponsor in Formula 1 until it ended its run here in MY two years ago – so there is still a section in Petrosains dedicated to it, which includes virtual racing car games and a life-sized replica of a Formula 1 racing car.

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Another section which was new was done in a comics/art pop style, dedicated to educating youngsters about cyber bullying and the dangers of the Internet such as sexual predators – which I thought was extremely thoughtful and educational.

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Bought a squishy from the store which I promptly destroyed within a day because I was constantly squishing it in my hand lol.

Entry to Petrosains is RM18.50 for Malaysians and RM28 for non-Malaysians.

Opening hours: 930AM – 5PM (last entry 4PM – weekdays) and 930AM – 630PM (weekends). Closed Mondays except on public holidays.

Visiting Pusat Sains Negara – The National Science Center, Kuala Lumpur

When I say it has been ages since I last visited Pusat Sains Negara, aka the National Science Centre, I meant AGES. Like 20 years. So I think I can be forgiven for having very fuzzy memories of the place lol.

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Perched on top of a hill in Bukit Kiara, Kuala Lumpur, the National Science Centre opened its doors in 1996, covering two levels of exhibition space. The original building was completely green, but it underwent a year-long refurbishment to update its exhibits and emerged with a rainbow-coloured exterior lol.

Parking is limited on weekends, but you can park your car across the road and walk over via a connecting bridge.

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At the foot of the hill is a “Prehistoric Trail” featuring several dino statues. The kids (and some adults, lol) will probably love this!

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Before venturing into the centre, do detour to check out the garden, which features enclosures housing critters like frogs, salamanders and scorpions. There is also a small pond with beautiful tropical water lilies. Love the purple!

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Koi fish in hues of gold, white, red and black. The water ripple effect created a very picturesque shot even with my non-existent photo-taking skills lol

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If you like butterflies, there are lots of them fluttering within the garden!

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Entry to the center is RM6 for adults and RM3 for children. Unlike some tourist attractions that charge different rates for foreigners, the rates are the same here at PSN. Maybe it’s because most people visiting are locals anyway.

The entrance houses a tunnel aquarium with various fish, stingrays and other aquatic life.

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The first themed gallery, dubbed Wonderspark, is dedicated to natural phenomena related to water, light and wind. There are many interactive (albeit simple imo) exhibits that you can try your hand at, such as this panel that lights up according to touch, and a ‘vacuum’ circuit/maze where you insert ping pong balls and try to move the ball towards various exits.

PS: I would recommend visitors to come on a weekday. While our visit was not entirely unpleasant, it was filled with screaming, out-of-control children and weak-ass parents who didn’t know how to talk to them about lining up, or being gentle with the exhibits. 

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The central hall has a playground and benches for people to rest on. The skylight made everything look really yellow lol.

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Another gallery called Eureka, which was further split into several themed exhibitions such as Challenge Your Mind, Colour and Sound, Illusion and All About Numbers. We enjoyed doing the number puzzles, such as attempting (key word, attempting) to line up numbers 1-9 in a grid where everything totaled up to a certain number.

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The Kids Discovery Place is all about building the minds of children, with fun, interactive and hands-on exhibits – because kids learn best when they’re experiencing things! Here you will find a maze of mirrors, this complicated looking circuit which lets you launch balls and watch as they roll down to the bottom, musical instruments such as xylophones and drums, and mini cranes which kids can try to operate.

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There are more exhibits on the second level. Unfortunately I have no pictures of this section because I was too busy trying to reign in the Boy who decided to age 20 years backwards and run around like an excited child. The upstairs level was more of a mishmash of different disciplines, from chemistry to biology and physics.

For a mere RM6, I think the National Science Center is a great, educational place to take the kids. Granted, some of the exhibits may feel dated/worn out (even though they just reopened after their refurbishment) but I hope that they’ll continue to keep the place maintained well.

PUSAT SAINS NEGARA / NATIONAL SCIENCE CENTRE

Persiaran Bukit Kiara, Bukit Damansara, 50490 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Opening hours: (Tues – Sun) 9AM – 5PM, closed Mondays

Entrance fee: RM6 (adults), RM3 (children)

psn.gov.my

Getting There by Public Transport 

There is a feeder bus (T818) from the Pusat Bandar Damansara MRT station which stops at PSN.

BONUS 

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Since we were so close to Publika, drove there for ice cream at Inside Scoop. 😀

 

Travelogue Manila: Science And Discovery @ Mind Museum, Bonifacio Global City

Whenever I come to Manila, I make it a point to visit as many museums as possible. I like how much effort is put into maintaining the culture and heritage of the Filipino people, and how well preserved some of the artifacts are.

But while I’ve been to plenty of historical museums and art galleries on my past visits, I’ve never been to a science /discovery centre (besides Manila Ocean Park) – so the Boy and I bought tickets for the Mind Museum in Bonifacio Global City.

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It doesn’t look very large from the outside, but there are plenty of things to keep you occupied for hours. True to its science theme, the museum has a solar reflective exterior as well as natural wind ventilation and rainwater flow drainage.

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Spanning two floors with over 250 exhibits, the museum is divided into several sections, each with its own theme. We start off in the Universe Gallery. No points for guessing what this space is about lol.  Here, visitors will discover the story of the cosmos and how the universe came into being. I really liked the décor they’ve done with the place, especially the glittering tapestry of ‘stars’ on the ceiling.

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You can interact with some of the exhibits, like this one (which I actually forgot what it was supposed to demonstrate lol).

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The evolution of stars exhibit was my favourite because the pieces were so well made and colourful. Visitors press buttons to see how the star ‘evolved’, gradually expanding into a ‘red giant’ which is its dying form. Going out with a bang, amirite?

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We also caught a planetarium show, where you sit in a reclining chair while the projector plays on the dome-like screen above you – kind of like giant VR. The only other time I watched one was in LA, and I fell asleep (because I was fatigued after a 20-hour flight lol), so I was looking forward to this.

Sadly, the show didn’t live up to expectations – mostly because the projections were so dark and out of focus that I couldn’t really see what was going on.

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Moving on, we made our way to the Earth Gallery which houses exhibits on prehistoric life and geology.

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The star of the section was definitely the life-sized T-rex replica! PS: His name is Stan.

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The Life Gallery showcases the rich flora and fauna that once, and some that still, inhabit the Philippine archipelago, such as the beautiful whale shark (above) – commonly found off the waters of Cebu and parts of Luzon. There are also replicas of great apes, a life-sized giraffe and a huge figure of a brain.

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Colourful glass that you can switch the positions on to form different colour combis on the wall. Pretty cool!

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A ‘piano’ staircase that was really popular with the kids. There are motion sensors on the sides, so every time someone walked on the ‘key’, there would be sound.

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Neon rainbow tunnel.

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The second floor, which is much smaller than the first, has several arcade games like Guitar Hero that visitors can play for free, an X-ray machine that you can pass your bags through to see how it works, fun house mirrors and technological exhibits.

All in all it was a fun and educational experience at the Mind Museum! There are quite a number of interactive exhibits that will make it fun to visit with the kids, and it definitely beats walking through generic malls and enriching capitalist pockets for vanity and self gratification. At least here, you learn stuff.

Tickets can be purchased here. 

**There are all day passes and three-hour slots. I recommend getting the cheaper 3-hour slot because the museum isn’t that big and everything can be covered within that time limit. 

*imho the prices are pretty steep (adults – PHP625 for a three-hour ticket) but I guess that’s how they can maintain the place. 

Mind Museum
JY Campos Park 3rd Avenue
Bonifacio Global City
Taguig City, Philippines 1634

Business hours: 9AM – 6PM Tues-Suns, closed Mon

Playing God – Where do we Draw the Line?

SO I recently read in the news about this English couple who had their late pet boxer cloned for $100,000. The lab created two cloned puppies from the dog’s DNA successfully. Said couple is estatic and has been posting on social media on the whole experience. Ironically, they named it ‘Shadow’.

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Someone’s Boxer from Wikipedia.

I am not a religious person, but even I think that there is a natural order to things. Being raised a Buddhist, I was taught that there are four stages in life that all living things go through:

  • Life
  • Old Age
  • Sickness
  • Death

It doesn’t matter if you’re a prince or a pauper, if you’re human or an animal. This is the cycle of how things are.

An important point in the teachings of Buddha is the concept of ‘letting go’. The human psyche is such that we develop emotional bonds to people/things. Family. Friends. Pets. Material wealth, riches, etc. These are the things that bind us to earth and prevent us from reaching Nirvana (*not the band), where our force becomes one with the universe. The idea is that we shouldn’t become too attached, since we can’t take them to the grave anyway. That’s why people become monks/nuns and go meditate in the mountains lol. This point makes it one of the hardest religions/philosophies to follow, because normal human beings are sure to have attachments to things/people in life.

Cloning throws all of that out the window in a heartbeat. I mean, if we can just clone our pets – they’d be at our side forever, right? No more heartbreak, no more grieving. While we’re at it, why not clone our loved ones too?

But if we do that, are they still the same? Or are they… different? Where do we draw the line, from cloning pets to.. say, people? That’s some serious Pet Sematary sht.

I am currently halfway through reading Inferno by Dan Brown. So far into the book, there seems to be a religious fanatic antagonist, ready to unleash a biological weapon in the form of a plague to ‘control the human population’. His reasoning being that too many humans on the planet are the reason for all the problems we face – hunger, world poverty, lack of clean water, etc. Back in ancient times, populations were controlled by disasters or diseases, but thanks to advances in science and technology, a lot of people are living longer and children are less likely to die at a young age, especially in more developed countries. The antagonist in the book reasons that if this is not controlled, our resources will eventually deplete and mankind will turn on themselves to compete for limited food, water and other needs. It’s a scary thought.

Coming back to cloning. Death is the natural cycle of everything. When you have people playing God, putting a ‘stop’ to death, the balance of nature will be disrupted, and that can never be a good thing.

I’ll admit that the idea seems tempting. Of course I love my friends and family (and pets). Of course I don’t want them to die. But we will, and that’s just how it is. We learn to accept the deaths of our loved ones, remember them, and then move on. That’s life.

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I love Jepp to bits: he’s a special cat with a very unique personality, and I’ve come to regard him as one of the family – like a human being. But would I clone him? No. I’d grieve if he died. There’d never be another Jeppeh, even if I used the same DNA to create another kitten. In a way, it’d feel like an insult to his memory.O

While it is this couple’s decision to clone their boxer, I feel kinda sorry for them, that they can’t handle the death of their pet in a manner that everyone else does – grieve, move on, and maybe spend that $100,000 to found a charity for abandoned dogs that will actually make a difference. Not ill wishing, but… What’s to say will happen if one of their loved ones died? “Since I can clone my dog… why can’t I clone, say, my husband or my wife? I can’t handle them dying. I have money.”

I understand that grieving people don’t always make the best of decisions, but cloning just sounds too much like playing God.

Some people might argue that cloning does no harm, there’s a demand for it and it makes people happy. Well, so does drugs lol. Imagine growing up in a place where cloning is as normal as going to the pet store to pick up a puppy. Where children have pets that never die. They will never learn how to handle it when someone or something dear to them actually dies. Grieving is a learning process, and these kids will never experience that because they live in a world where Fluffy lives forever.

PS: It’s scary how a search for ‘cloning dog’ on the Internet reveals dozens of such services for a mere fee of 50,000$. Creating life for a price. Hmm.

What are your thoughts? Would you clone a deceased pet? Or a loved one? 

Stars and Space at the National Planetarium, KL

I was feeling random and restless over the weekend, so I thought of going out even though the haze was pretty bad. Initially, the plan was to head to the National Science Center in Bukit Kiara, but upon getting there the guard told me it was closed (!!) until 2016 -_-“. Well, that’s a bummer… there was no notice online since the website is ‘under maintenance’. Since I was already out, I didn’t want to go home so soon, so I drove another 15 minutes away to where the National Planetarium was.

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Located within the Lake Gardens, which is a large park with several tourist attractions, the National Planetarium sits on a hill and was opened in 1993, when Malaysia decided to jump onto the whole space exploration bandwagon. The building is inspired by Islamic architecture, so it has a large blue dome, a minaret-like observation tower and a grand-looking staircase leading up to the entrance.

Eager to escape the choking haze, I climbed up the steps and into the clean, air-conditioned comforts of the building.

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Thrifty travelers will be delighted to know that entrance to the Planetarium is free. The interior was dark with a high ceiling to simulate a spacey environment. There were information boards and exhibits which visitors can try their hand at.

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Each of these panels represented a planet, with an ‘experiment’ relating to that planet to try out. Jupiter’s panel, for example, had a wind machine to create a mini typhoon. 🙂

Since it was the weekend, there were many school pupils. I waited for the swarm to pass on to a different section before going through the exhibits… because you know how kids are. They can be so screamy.

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One of the coolest features in the main hall was this colourful periodic table of elements. Instead of a bland-boring-blah table, they made it into a display case, featuring items containing each element (Except the radioactive ones, of course)! There was shampoo for selenium, toothpaste for flourine, Mountain Dew for bromine, and loads more.

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My knowledge of chemistry has been completely returned to my high school teachers after graduating.

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There were more interesting exhibits at the Space Exploration Gallery, like this ball-like contraption used to test G-Force. The info boards also chronicled space exploration’s history, both local and abroad.

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Malaysia sent our first ‘astronaut’ (well, he was a commercial one but I guess that still counts), Mr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, into space in 2007. The gallery features some of the vacuum-packed food he brought with him on the Russian space mission, including cookies, dried fruits and -get this – chicken satay. We Malaysians love our food so much that we must have em, even millions of miles away from home! 🙂

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Space suits.

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One of the star attractions here is the Arianne IV space engine. It was one of the engines used to launch MEASAT 1, our first satellite into space. The exhaust is so large that a few people can crawl into it comfortably.

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Replica of a space cabin, with sleeping space (right), controls, a small hydrophonic mechanism to grow plants, and…

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A toilet.

I’ve always wondered how astronauts take a dump in space. Apparently the toilet has a strong vacuum mechanism to suck all the waste. Otherwise, it’s free floating poop and pee in the cabin O-O and we don’t want that.

Writing this has also raised a question.

How do female astronauts menstruate in space if there is no gravity ? *mindblown*

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The planetarium covers 11,000 sqm of space, so it’s not very big. There are also space shows throughout the day but since it was a paid show I gave it a skip.

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The small mezzanine floor overlooking the main gallery has a few other exhibits that talk about waves, with displays of radios, microwaves and other wave-tech items.

In a (rather hidden) corner, there was a lift leading up to the observatory.

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Similar to KL Tower’s observatory deck, the walls are all glass so you have a 360 degree view of the surroundings.

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The haze was really bad though…

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Almost every year, Indonesia’s rampant forest fires and unhealthy agricultural burning by forest clearing causes winds to blow the smog over to Malaysia and Singapore. This year was particularly terrible for some reason. The sun was clouded over for a full three weeks! It has only just gotten a teensy bit better, but the air quality is still unhealthy in many regions.

The Planetarium trip was a fun and educational one, suitable for both adults and kids. 🙂 I recommend visitors to drop by some time, since it’s also in the vicinity of many other attractions like the KL bird park, the beautiful Lake Gardens and the Islamic Arts Museum.

NATIONAL PLANETARIUM

Jalan Perdana, Tasik Perdana,
50480 Kuala Lumpur,
Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia
Opening hours: 
Daily 9am – 430pm (closed on Mondays)
Phone: 03-2273 4301

 

 

The Exploratorium, San Francisco

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WE’RE almost at the end of our San Francisco trip! One of our last stops in the city was the Exploratorium, a massive science and discovery centre located at Piers 15 and 17, Embacadero. A modern, blockish-looking building, the centre was first opened in the 1960s and was relocated to its new place in 2013.

We actually got here late and had to rush through a lot of the exhibits. I recommend spending half a day or more here because there are so many things to try and interact with. Great place for families, geeks, and those who like to experiment with stuff.

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The centre is divided into many sections, each dedicated to a certain science, such as Light and Sound, Human Behaviour, Living Systems and Tinkering (electricity and magnetism). Almost every exhibit can be interacted with, so it was a lot of fun!

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The inside is massive. Here we enter the Human Behaviour section. There were things like card games, experiments related to emotion and psychology, etc.

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E and I sat on opposite sides of a counter where you had to ‘match’ genders with specific keywords/items, such as ‘occupation’ and ‘roles’ which tend to be viewed as either masculine or feminine. For example, the word ‘family’ is often associated with females, and ‘career’ tends to be associated with males.

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Apparently watching yourself in the mirror crying will create feelings of sadness..

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Chairs of differing sizes

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I like how spacious the place is, despite housing thousands of exhibits. The ventilation is good and there’s lots of sunlight.

I couldn’t help but compare it with Malaysia’s old Petrosains… which has not seen an upgrade since 1999.

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The machinery section was closed off to the public, but we could view it from behind a barrier.

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The Exploratorium definitely needed more… exploring, but we ran out of time. Would like to come back for a proper walk through the next time I’m in SF. Great place for the kids and the curious. 🙂

EXPLORATORIUM

Pier 15, The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94111, United States

Open 10am – 5pm

Admission: 29$ (pricey, but I think its worth it provided u spend a longer time trying out all the experiments and stuff.)

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For dinner, all you can eat hotpot! Nothing better than that in cold weather.

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Left San Fran with a heavy heart. It was my second last day in America.

Time to pack for the long flight home. The US has been an amazing experience, and I can’t wait to go back and explore the rest of it’s 50 states.

California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco

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To start off the day, here’s a fluffy fat cat. 🙂 His name is Apu Jukkai. Look at that majestic white beard and white socks awww.

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So here we are again in San Francisco!

I was glad that we got to visit and take a complete picture of the Golden Gate Bridge the day before, because on our second day, most of the structure disappeared under a cloud of dense fog. It felt like entering Silent Hill as we drove into the city.

Golden Gate Park is located just next to the bridge.With beautiful, shady trees and flower gardens, this sprawling 1,000 acre park is also home to several attractions such as the California Academy of Sciences – our stop for the day.

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Dubbed the world’s ‘greenest museum’, the Platinum-certified building is one of the largest natural history museums in the world, with its own planetarium and aquarium.

I’d recommend spending at least half a day here, because there are lots of fun things to see and do, especially for families with kids. Educational and fun!

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As befitting of Californian museums, a dinosaur fossil replica greets visitors at the entrance.

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The first section of the museum is dedicated to the ecosystem, with realistic displays of animals such as zebras and apes. There is also a tank with live penguins.

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An open pool with stingrays and fish.

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Moss and other water plants thriving in clean, filtered water.

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Stuffed possum and babies.

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San Francisco sits on a fault line, and a major quake in 1906 killed over 3,000 people and destroyed 80% of the city. A section of the museum is dedicated to explaining the geology of San Francisco and info on earthquakes.

We got into an earthquake simulator where you stand in a room and it shakes. I wasn’t scared because I knew it was just a simulation, but it would have been terrifying in real life!

There were interactive quizzes to test visitor’s knowledge, such as what to do during an earthquake, etc. I learnt a lot. For example, water in a toiletbowl’s tank is safe for drinking in case of emergency and if you’re trapped in the house while waiting for rescue.

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We caught the Planetarium show, which took us through a show on the Bay Area’s biodiversity. It was my first time in a planetarium dome, and it was a great experience. You really feel like the images are popping out at you and the surround sound makes it more realistic. It’s like you’re flying through space and time.

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Downstairs is the aquarium section.

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Fish of all colours and shapes in the Philippine Coral Reef Tank. The Phils has one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, with many species of marine aquatic life in its waters.

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Glow in the dark polyps.

Museum staff are stationed all around the aquarium to help visitors with interesting and informational tidbits on the exhibits 🙂

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So pretty and colourful! 🙂

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These poisonous blowfishes were adorable.

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“Gimme a kiss there, handsome boy.”

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The Academy also boasts a gigantic, multi-tiered Rainforest ‘dome’, with real birds and butterflies flying around! The air was humid and warm on the inside, just like the tropical jungles of Malaysia.

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A mini ‘river/lake’ ecosystem.

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Glass cases with vividly coloured frogs. The bright colours tell predators that they are either poisonous or taste bad.

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A ‘Tomato’ frog. No points for guessing where it got that name.

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Birds flocking to a dish full of food. 🙂

I really enjoyed my visit to the museum because there are lots of things to see and do and I think kids (and adults!) can learn interesting things about our planet and ecosystem.

CALIFORNIA ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118, United States

Daily:  9:30 am – 5 pm
Sundays: 11 am – 5 pm

Ticket price: $34.95 (Adult) & $24.95 (child). 

If you’re travelling around SF for a couple of days and visiting various attractions, I recommend a GO San Francisco card. We booked that in Los Angeles and it helped us a lot in saving up on tickets.

 

The Space Shuttle: Endeavour @ California Science Center, LA

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Hello! Picking off where we left off after a fun-filled visit to the nearby LA County Museum of Natural History , we walked a short distance to a futuristic-looking building shaped like a bell curve – the California Science Centre. 

Located within the large grounds of LA’s Exposition Park, the science centre is directly opposite a stadium. There was an event going on there because we saw many high school kids in prom getup.

Anyway, we got a package tour – An IMAX 3D film and the Endeavour exhibit. The film that we watched was The Hubble: 3D, a documentary about space exploration. I was still so fatigued from my long flight from Malaysia, that I fell asleep 5mins into the film and spent the remaining hour sleeping, despite the surround sound and everything. You could imagine how tired I was!

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After the film (lol), we were ushered into the main building. Staff will guide visitors with the Endeavour ticket to the special exhibition hall.

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“I want these for my car..”

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Memorabilia from space explorers. It must have been a lonely journey, eating cold, canned food and with nothing to see outside but darkness for weeks on end. This also reminds me of Chris Hadfield’s version of Space Oddity, where he plays a guitar and sings in..well, space.

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Control center replica.

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The star of the exhibits – the Endeavour! It was humbling to gaze on this marvel of human technology that has been to the stars and back. It started its first journey in 1992, and had its last in 2011 before being ‘retired’ into a museum exhibit.It was named after a ship, the HMS Endeavour captained by James Cook in the 1700s. A fitting name.The old Endeavour explored uncharted waters, just as the modern Endeavour explored uncharted space.

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The cynical part of me said: “It’s ironic that mankind can fly into space yet can’t solve their shit on the planet. Like global poverty. Or lack of access to clean water. I mean, so what if you can reach the stars?”

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Training hatch.

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Massive, powerful engines.

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Allocate at least half a day for the place if you’re planning on a visit, coz it’s pretty big! Entrance to the regular exhibits are free, but if you want to look at the Shuttle and watch the film there are ticket charges.

CALIFORNIA SCIENCE CENTRE

700 Exposition Park Dr, Los Angeles,
CA 90037, United States
Open daily : 10am – 5pm