The Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum

In my bid to spend more time in nature and to slow down our hurried lives, I took Kate to the Turtle museum. Not only has she never seen giant turtles, she has also never stepped foot in the Chinese Garden. Perfect outing for a Friday afternoon!

I expected the place to be fairly quiet, but was still surprised that there was only 1 other family there, and they were tourists. Must be because the place is so ulu (secluded), and I guess turtles doesn’t seem exciting to kids (nor parents) these days. It is called a museum, but is more like a garden.

They have a really impressive collection of rare species from around the world, but all that was lost on Kate. She just wanted to see them and feed them.

Free to roam turtles

We purchased our tickets along with a bunch of long beans ($2) and entered the garden. As Kate approached the pond, the turtles seemed to know she was bearing food and started climbing out of the pond towards her. Seeing an army of turtles advancing, she ran away terrified!

Relating the story to the older kids at dinner, they were amused, “What kid is afraid of turtles? Kate, as-slow-as-a-turtle, you know?”

Hungry turtles

We moved away to the tortoises kept in the enclosures and she felt much safer. She fed them by dangling the beans and dropping them when they opened their mouths.

First time feeding tortoises

There are many different species of turtles housed in the tanks, and several strange looking ones like this pig-nosed turtle that I pointed out, but she was hardly interested in the amazing facts I was reading out to her.

Pig nosed turtle

She much preferred the open garden, and went back to look for the bigger turtles and tortoises. I encouraged her to go nearer, but she kept a good distance, thinking they might crawl to her very quickly like the small ones in the pond.

I demonstrated how to stick the long beans out, and we watched the turtle chomp on it.

Kate tried to be brave, and edged closer and closer, but chickened out and threw the beans from a safe distance before backing off. I was amused watching her doing that repeatedly.

“Here, for you!”

It was rather hot at 4pm, but Kate thought we were on an adventure and gayly explored the place. She found a (really) little cave and called out to me excitedly to come explore with her. City kids.

She asked to buy another round of beans and spent the rest of the time simply watching the turtles, as they climbed on top of one another to get to the food.

We spent more than an hour there and I’m happy that she is still at the stage where it does not take much to keep her entertained. I’m sure the older kids would have walked one round, fed 1 or 2 turtles, and ask to leave after 10 minutes complaining that it is “too boring”.

Live Turtle Museum
In fact, Kate loved the experience so much that we went back to feed her “turtle friends” 2 more times!
Getting braver..
She managed to face her fears, and hung on to the beans instead of dropping them quickly. On our third visit, I was surprised when she wanted to challenge herself and finally dared to touch the ambling tortoise.

She was exclaiming jubilently, “I touched the shell! I touched the shell!”
and braver!

We bought a cold ribena from the auntie manning the entrance (she sells drinks and ice-cream) and sat here enjoying the silence and serenity.

Just what my soul needed, to wind down from a hectic week.

Great spot for ‘me time’
The Chinese Garden is now top on my list of favourite outdoor spaces to unwind with the kids. They even have lovely picnic spots!
Garden picnic

The Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum is located within the Chinese Garden, near the entrace. Just walk up this slope and it’s housed in the pavillion in the background.

MacRitchie Nature Trail

These days, the weather is so hot that although we want the kids to spend more time in nature, they would rather be in air-conditioned environments.

We have found the perfect place to go, where the trail is easy and very much shaded. We were there at 10.30 am and it was nice and cool.

Happily hopping along

Soon after we walked in, we came to a fork and decided not to take the TreeTop walk as there wasn’t enough time. This path is wonderful for children, with the marvels of nature waiting to be discovered by the young minds.


“Looks pretty amazing.”

The hubs spotted an intricate spider web and was pointing it out to the kids. It did look very much like a trampoline!


“Gor gor will protect you”

We came across this gigantic fallen tree and were awed by it. The hubs thought it would make a fantastic photo, but #5 was afraid it was going to topple and he didn’t quite dare to go on it until he saw that Kate was fine.


Daddy’s girl

The pathway is flat and easy even for the kids and erm, me. We had a leisurely stroll and they kept stopping to pick things up to study closely.

MacRitchie Nature Reserve

We spotted some monkeys and Kate wanted to feed them leaves. We told her the monkeys could get very fierce and we had better not go too near. She kept insisting that they were hungry and didn’t want to leave. #5 managed to convince her that if she threw the leaves with all her might, the monkeys would be able to get it.

She was way tired after almost an hour of walking and daddy had to piggy-back her out.

It was a surprisingly lovely place to spend a morning. We will be back the next time with the older kids when we have more time to explore the Treetop Walk, and perhaps try kayaking at the reservoir during the school holidays.

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

SANDBANK @ Parkland Green ECP

We are back at Parkland Green, the new family-friendly arena at East Coast park. I can tell this is going to be one of our favourite haunts. This time, we were invited by SANDBANK for a review of their second outlet with a twist. Their caption reads: EAT. DRINK. PLUNGE. And that’s just what the kids did.
Sandbank at ECP
We told them they could swim in the pool after finishing their meal. That would no doubt get the kids to eat up quickly. One of the kids said, “But we can’t swim after eating.” Well technically, there’s not much real ‘swimming’ to be done as the kid’s pool is not very big. More for the kids to play around in.

Their menu is very comprehensive, with Bar Bites, Appetisers, Soups, Sandwiches & Pies, Pizzas, Pastas, Mains, Sides and even Dishes for Sharing. They also have a wide array of alcoholic beverages.

A typical favourite of my kids’ is pizza and the Meat Lovers pizza didn’t disappoint. It had chucks of stewed beef, bacon, mushroom, and topped with mozzarella cheese.
Meat Lovers $24

#5 automatically went for the fish & chips, and you have a choice of having it charcoal grilled or traditional beer battered. I was busy settling Kate in and didn’t get a chance to try a bite before the whole thing was gone in a jiffy! I asked him if it was nice and he said “Very yummy”.

Fish & Chips $23

Another staple dish when we eat out with the kids is truffle fries and we all agreed that this was one of the best we have ever tried. Two thumbs up!

One of their signature dishes is Beer Infused Roasted Whole Chicken so we had to give it a try. The whole chicken sat on a beer can in the oven in the open kitchen and the kids were tickled at the sight. Served with mixed mesclun salad. This is enough for 3-4 people to share if you are ordering other dishes.

Roasted Beer Chicken $32

If you have a picky child who can’t find anything to eat, which is rather unlikely given their wide variety of offerings, he can design his own pizza. Choice of cheese (blue, feta, gruyere, mozzarella, etc), choice of topping (parma ham / pulled pork / grilled chicken etc), and choice of sauce (tomato / teriyaki / Pesto / even samba sauce!) Our kids designed their own pizza not because there was nothing else to eat but because it was fun! 

Design your own pizza $21

After they were done with their meal, they happily jumped into the pool and had a great time splashing about and playing with their pool toys and a little ball.

Kate having a swell time

And the adults? We had a good time chilling and chatting, with full view of the sea. Doesn’t get much better than this in Singapore.

Lime Margarita $16

After swimming, they were hungry again. We ordered the Fungi Pasta which I didn’t manage to grab a photo of because it was gone in an instant! The kids said it was very yummy. Don’t know if it was because they were hungry after playing in the pool but they polished everything up. Hmm, I should have asked if SANDBANK wanted more partners. What a winning concept. Eat, swim, dry off and repeat. We can easily spend the whole day here with a bunch of friends. There is also a plunge pool adjoining the kids’ pool, but that is for aged 14 and above.

Eating again
If your kids are planning to swim, it would be good to ask for a table near the kid’s pool so that you can keep an eye on them. Do remind them to be careful as the floor could get slippery with many kids swimming and inadvertently splashing water everywhere.

Sane tip: There are toilets and showers located right next to Sandbank.

Save tip: 10% off main courses until 31 December 2014.

SANDBANK
920 East Coast Parkway
#01-28 Parkland Green
Singapore 449875
Tel: 62477988

Disclaimer: We were invited by Sandbank to do a review. All opinions are my own.

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Parkland Green at East Coast Park

We were invited to the launch of the brand new family-friendly spot in East Coast Park known as Parkland Green. National Parks’ latest efforts to rejuvenate the green spaces in our City in a Garden has certainly hit the mark with families. It comprises of 8 dining establishments, 2 sports shops and a laser tag arena. A large open lawn between the sea and the restaurants allow for outdoor activities like kite-flying, ball games and picnics to be enjoyed. Here is a run-down of some of the dining and retail shops we visited.

1. Atmosphere Bistro

We started off our food trail at Atmosphere Bistro, a seaside dining concept catering to families in the day and transforming into a sports bar at night. For the month of December, they offer Kids Pizza making workshops every Tuesday from 5.30pm to 7pm. Tel: 64409705

BBQ Pork Ribs, Mini Burgers, Flaming Pizza

The kids were served Iced Chocolate and were amused by the very cute latte art.

3D latte art

Their chocolate lava cake was very yummy, and the kids attacked it with relish, not knowing we were in for a whole afternoon of other delectable delights.

2. SandBank

Next on our trail was SandBank, and beat this, they have a children’s pool and a 15m plunge pool with jacuzzi on their premise! What a fabulous idea. The adults can enjoy a leisurely time eating while the kids play contentedly in the pool. We will definitely be back to check out the pool once it is ready. For the rest of the school holidays, they are offering 10% off main courses (valid till 31 Dec 2014). Tel: 62477988
Charcoal grilled cola marinated chicken wings

3. Patro’s Sports Bar & Restaurant

We moved along to Patro’s Sports Bar & Restaurant, which serves Mexican & North Indian cuisine. I found the standard of the food to be really good, but was a little doubtful that my kids would like it. Turns out they said it was delicious! From now until 21 December 2014, kids enjoy one-for-one main course from the kids’ menu.

Chicken Fajitas

4. Bakery Bar ST. MARC

I was quite stuffed by now, but there were still a few more stops to go. Next up was Bakery & Bar St. Marc, and here at their Parkland Green outlet, they serve All-day dining with Japanese fusion cuisine. The kids managed to run around between the stops and had space in their tummies to chomp down these chocolate croissants. I tried a bite, and must say that they do taste quite good! I will be back next time for a proper tea and have a whole Chococro to myself.

Chococro

The lovely wait staff came around with plates of their signature Spaghetti Carbonara, but we had to pass on it. I saw some of the other kids clean up their plate, so it must have been good. Currently, they are having discounts on any 2 waffle cone desserts on weekdays from 11am to 5pm, valid till 29 December 2014. (Closed on Mondays. Tel: 63421786)

I can just imagine this place on the weekends, with kids happily playing in the open green fields while the parents relax at the cafes with good food and drinks. My idea of a perfect day. Now I wish I lived back in the East.

Little Fuji
5. Pick me up Cafe

Next, we were ushered to Pick me up Cafe, an artisan cafe offering healthy home-made yogurt gelato and an all-day breakfast menu. We were served their signature Smoked Salmon on Miso Waffles and The Manuka Waffles (Chef Waffles).
So many flavours to choose from
#1 is into healthy eating and loved their cold pressed juices which they squeeze on the spot. There is a cosy little corner at the entrance for the little ones to hang out at. Tel: 63481909
Pick me up Cafe

6. Starbucks

This needs no introduction, and was a favourite with the older kids. I tried to keep my children away from caffeine for as long as I could but once they entered the P6/Sec1 age, the ‘cool’ thing to drink seems to be Starbucks coffee. Naturally they were delighted when the friendly staff came out with trays of drinks.

Toffee Nut Latte, Christmas Tree Danish

They have both indoor and outdoor seating, and I would say this is their best outlet to chill at, being right by the seaside.

7. Killiney Kopitiam / Cheers

Last on our food trail was Killiney Kopitiam, which boasts an interesting concept. This is the first time Cheers is collaborating with Killiney Kopitiam to offer affordable food coupled with a convenience store to serve their customers better. Expect to find the usual popular local dishes here such as Mee Siam, Laksa, Mee Rebus and Curry Chicken. The cafe opens until 10pm, while Cheers is open 24 hours on weekends. From now till 1 Jan 2015, they are offering discounts on their toast sets.
Killiney Kopitiam and Cheers

And finally, we were done with the food stops and moved on to what the kids had been waiting for.

8. Tag Team

This is Singapore’s largest indoor laser tag arena, and the first and only multi-arena and multi-weapon laser tag facility. Just the thing to help us digest all that food.

I normally don’t join them in such physical activities (yes, yes, I have to stop being lazy) but it looked pretty harmless and 1 arena lasts for 15 minutes. That, I can manage. We broke up into 2 teams (I joined the other team as they were short of 1 player) and my kids had a field day shooting the mummies down. Yup, our team lost. Well, the 3 year old gave up her gun halfway as it was too heavy for her, and the 2 other mummies with toddlers in tow were no match for my very energetic kids swarming around us. Ok, I’m starting to sound like a spoilsport.

It was surprisingly good fun and I was tired after the short 15 minutes of running around in wedges (Btw, they are not particular about footwear. You can even go barefoot if you wish). The kids went on to the next arena (which was air-conditioned) while I waited outside. Kids from as young as 4 are allowed to play, but they would have to be motivated enough to carry the slightly heavy gun for 15 minutes. If your kid can carry a thick dictionary and run around the house, I’m sure he’ll do fine. All my kids enjoyed themselves thoroughly, even the older girls. For the month of December, they are offering family packages with a discount on 5 ‘mission’ tickets.

To avoid disappointment in case they are closed for private events, do call them beforehand. Tel: 63482696

Practising his aim

9. Hvper Sport

This huge sports shop specialises in skating products, and they carry a wide array of scooters, skateboards and inline skates. They also have lots of beach toys, and other sporting accessories. With our $50 voucher, #3 got a good quality water bottle, a hammock and a ball for Kate. 

Hvper Sport
10. Pro Cycle

They stock a mind-boggling array of bicycles, balance bikes, scooters and safety gear, for children and adults. They carry the local brand Valo with bikes starting from $115, as well as the French brand Cronus with bikes starting from $185. What sets them apart is that they encourage their customers to try out their products before buying. All the bloggers’ kids were happily riding round and round their shop!

They also provide bicycle repair services (even for bikes not bought from them) and they have an outdoor bicycle tyre pumping facility which is available 24/7. For the month of December, they are offering 20% off all bicycles storewide. I spotted this really cool looking pink bicycle going at $105. Pretty reasonable considering the bicycles we bought from the HDB shops cost us about $90 each. Would have bought this if Kate was older!
Pro Cycle

To be honest, the last time we went to East Coast Park for a day out with the kids was probably 4 or 5 years ago. I don’t like crowds and prefer to take them cycling at less populated parks. With the new Parkland Green amenities facing the sea and the great food options, we will definitely be back very soon!

Parkland Green
920 East Coast Parkway
Singapore 449875


Disclaimer: We were sponsored this Food and Fun trail by NParks and the participating establishments. All opinions are my own.

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Labrador Park: I love it!

We’ve been doing this parenting thing for so long that it’s getting tiring to plan activities and take them out. I guess there’s a reason kids grow up and need less physical parental input. But with 6, it doesn’t seem to end! The hubs has long copped out and most times it’s just me taking them for the outdoor stuff while he joins us for meals.

I know we have to at least put a bit of physical activity back into our lives, especially now that we have Kate. I’ve been bugging him about it so off we went to Labrador Park. It’s situated near the PSA building where Alexandra Road meets Tanjong Pagar road and Pasir Panjang road.

Wish we were on that boat

I’m not particularly fond of taking them to either West Coast or East Coast Park because of the crowds. This place is perfect. Scenic views, not too crowded even on weekends, and besides, where else would you get to ogle at handsome boats while cycling?

Perfect to watch the sun set

We rode all the way to Keppel Marina and ended up at this place which is a perfect picnic spot. Next time we can perhaps pack a sandwich and a drink each in a backpack and have a simple picnic. The kids would be more than happy to kick a ball around.

Of course she’s smiling… she’s not the one doing the cycling


The next time, we can check out the war relics and secret tunnels.

Directions:

Labrador Villa Road, off Pasir Panjang road

MRT: Labrador Park station

West Coast Park

With the older kids, we used to frequent West Coast Park a lot. There’s so much to do there and they could easily play for hours. There are a lot of play structures to keep the little ones occupied and there’s sand everywhere so we’ll bring our sand toys along. They would also bring their bicycles, roller blades or skate scooters. Once, we tried to fly a kite as there is a huge field with lots of people flying beautiful kites. However, we failed. Don’t ask me why. It wasn’t that there was no wind, because other kites were flying gaily high in the sky. When I mentioned it to a friend, he tried to explain to me how you have to gauge the direction of the wind and go along with it (or was it against it) so that the wind will gradually push the kite from below. And you have to tug at it in a certain way so that it will climb higher and higher. Gosh. Sounds so complicated. Oh well. That was probably our first and last time flying a kite.

Pirate ship

I was surprised to see that it was not as crowded as before. Later I realised why. The main climbing play structure with the high slides was closed for renovation. So although the older kids were disappointed, I much preferred it!

“I think you better stop, uncle”

There’s still enough to keep the younger ones happy for a good few hours. This ‘crazy’ bus was very popular with the kids as it is attached to some springs below. This dad was really involved, and he kept acceding to his boys request to shake the bus. And shake he did! Kate stood there for a long time, spell-bound, as the kids on the bus were being shaken vigorously and were squealing in delight.

Made a new friend

The older girls had to coordinate to get Kate across the net safely. She is indeed fortunate to have siblings who dote on her.

Requires good balancing skills

They were having so much fun that I decided to try hanging too. Could only manage a couple of seconds. Ahem… better get started on that exercise program I’ve been meaning to for years.

3 little monkeys swinging in the park

As usual, Kate wants in on everything.

One little monkey…

Sane tip: In my opinion, the best time for the little ones to go is now. Once the main play structure is ready, be prepared for a throng of older children. We love to pack food along and have a nice relaxing picnic. There’s a MacDonald’s on the premise as well. We’ll going to try camping here the next school holidays!

Save tip: It’s free!
~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~