Rock Climbing at Railay Krabi

We went rock climbing in Krabi during the June holidays. From Krabi International Airport, it was a smooth 45-minute drive to Ao Nang. From there, we took a longtail boat to Railay, a climbing paradise with hundreds of different routes catering to beginners as well as experts.

The majestic limestone cliffs form part of the world’s largest coral reef, stretching from China to Papua New Guinea, offering spectacular views for climbers. My kids enjoy rock climbing and were excited to try the real thing.

Railay

At Ao Nang, we picked The L hotel mainly because of its location. It sits in the middle of Ao Nang Beach Road with the boats anchored directly across the road. There are shops and dining options flanking it, and this stretch is livelier than Nopparat Thara Beach.

The L Hotel

We bought tickets from the booth at the beach front, which cost 100THB (approx S$4) per person. Buy your return tickets from here even if you are staying at Railay for a few days otherwise, you’ll have to haggle with the unlicensed operators when you depart.

It was low tide and the boats were unable to come close to shore so we had to wade out. We should have donned our swimwear underneath our clothes. The water level was around our waist when a wave washed up, adding to our adventure!

Not so sure if I wanna climb..

It was a picturesque 15-minute ride from Ao Nang to Railay as we soaked in the sights of the massive limestone cliffs. Railay is only accessible by boat due to the cliffs which surround it, and there are no cars on this isolated peninsular.

We stayed at the Sand Sea Resort, and as our boatman alighted us at Railay Beach West, the resort was right in front of us. Perfect.

Longtail boat

Checking in at reception, we were dismayed at the poor attitude of the service staff. Instead of the typical warm greetings you would expect from the Thais, they were curt and unfriendly. Perhaps Railay is getting a little too touristy.

Our rock climbing session was booked online with Krabi Rock Climbing school, and in the email, I requested to be picked up at our resort. Our instructor was punctual and it was a 5-minute stroll through the sleepy “Walking Street” to his shop for the kids to be geared up.

Walking Street

I didn’t expect Kate to climb as the minimum age stated in their website was 5 years old and she’s only 4, but seeing her older siblings don their harnesses, she stood in line. We were amused that they did have tiny shoes small enough to fit her as she’s rather petite.

Everyone was handed a bottle of mineral water and off we went. Don’t forget the insect repellent and sunscreen!

Krabi Rock Climbing

It was another 10-minute walk as we were led through the middle of Railay to get to Railay Beach East. Being the start of the monsoon season, there were fewer than 20 climbers there. We were fortunate that the weather held out for us despite thunderstorm forecasts and we could enjoy Railay without peak season crowds.

He briefed the kids and #1 went first. They said that the difference between this and the artificial walls back home was that these walls were much rougher on the hands.

Our instructor gave the kids clear instructions when they were unsure which foothold to reach for next. Each route took about 10-20 minutes and he kept shouting encouraging words to motivate them to reach the top, and the girls managed to complete their climbs.

I’m glad they persevered and pushed past their limits to reach the rings where he anchored the ropes. It’s a great sport to build grit and resilience.

Posing for a pic

They took turns, resting between climbs, and progressed to the more challenging routes. The kids were exhausted but really enjoyed it. Faces flushed, beaming with a sense of achievement.

We had purchased the half day climb, which was from 2-6 pm. The morning climb starts at 9 am, which was too early for the teens. The good thing about the afternoon climb was that the sun was starting to wane and it wasn’t too hot. It costs about S$45 per person for the 4-hour climb.

Descending carefully

The kids had no problems with the descend as they knew how to use their legs to kick off the wall, but we did see a lady who did not do it the right way and she swung around and her body hit the wall. It is best for kids to get some experience with the artificial walls before coming here.

Railay East is not a proper beach and you can’t swim nor play sand. We spotted longtail boats alighting and departing from this side as well, and unlike the West, there is a stone path which leads out to the boats, keeping you dry.

There are pros and cons of staying at either side of Railay. Railay West is nearer to the rock climbing walls, and you won’t get wet when alighting from the boats, but you would have to trek across to the other side to hang out at the beach. For us, the accessibility to the beach was the main reason we decided to stay at Railay West.

Railay Beach East

Kate was content watching her siblings ascend and descend, but when it came to her turn and she was hooked onto the rope, she suddenly burst out crying. I asked if she wanted to climb just a little bit and she wailed, “Noooo!” We all laughed and her maiden climb ended even before it began.

I came prepared with a picnic mat, snacks and drinks which came in really handy as the kids started to get hungry after all that climbing and I didn’t want to leave them and walk to the convenience store to look for food.

The ground is uneven and the stones are very rough so you have to be careful especially with younger kids. Kate made up her own game of stepping up and down the strange looking rocks.

I brought a spade and she whiled away the hours digging around the hard sand. I was also equipped with wet wipes, extra water to wash their hands, a towel, ponchos, sunblock and mosquito repellent. It drizzled for about 10 minutes but stopped as quickly as it started.

#5 is not as adventurous as the girls but he did try his best and enjoyed the experience too. He was more curious about the limestone cliffs and just had to climb into the little ‘hole’ to check it out. Many of the routes are shaded by the other cliffs and it was a rather comfortable climb.

We returned the gear and headed back to the beach. The younger ones played in the sand while the teens had fun bopping with the waves.


I had a wonderful time doing nothing and simply enjoying the laid back paradise. Glad we came during the low season as the beach was not crowded.

The sunset was spectacular and it was surreal how the beach goers sat in silence experiencing this simple marvel together. Everyone stopped what they were doing and watched the sky dance in a myriad of colours for a good half hour.
Stunning sunset
The rest of our time at Railay was spent frolicking on the beach, building sandcastles and enjoying the gentle waves.
Railay Beach West
With so many kids in tow, I did not venture down Walking Street for local food. We had all our meals at the beachfront for convenience. There was a wide variety on the menus, from local to Western to pizza and pasta but the prices were typical hotel prices.
Railay Bay Resort and Spa
The kids are keen to return to try the different climbing routes and we’ll set aside time to explore the interesting limestone caves on kayaks or stand up paddles.
Little Kate
Maybe the next time I come back to Railay, I’ll be brave enough to try rock climbing. Till then! xx


Related post: Why I took 6 kids on holiday by myself
Another paradise: Maldives – A most memorable vacation

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

Why I took 6 kids on holiday by myself

I did something I’ve never done before. I took the 6 kids rock climbing in Krabi without the hubs.

Even friends who knew that I used to take the 5 little kids out everywhere by myself, to places like East Coast beach and Sentosa said, “Sounds crazy. Good luck, and tell us how it went!”

I was on a mission. It was going to be a family OBS. Kids these days take things for granted and don’t appreciate how good they have it.

We cushion our kids too much and then wonder why they have an entitled mentality. On family trips, they are constantly asking, “Daddy, can you turn on your hotspot?” After which they would busy themselves snapping Snapchat or Instagram pictures.

Railay Bay

It was easy choosing the destination. Every school holiday, I take them rock climbing and they have been to all, including Yishun SAFRA, with the tallest wall in Singapore. Since they managed to make it to the top, the next step was to let them experience the real thing. And the best place to go? Railay, Krabi – where climbing enthusiasts from around the world flock to scale the magnificent limestone cliffs.

With that decided, the fun began!

25m wall in Yishun SAFRA

I had another purpose for this trip. #1 was talking about going traveling with friends in her gap year. It’s time she picked up life skills and I’d rather she made mistakes under my watchful eye.

I took our adventure one notch up by handing over the reigns to the teens.

The first thing I tasked them with was to Plan and Budget. Usually, the hubs will be in charge; booking the hotels, arranging for a rental car, checking out restaurant reviews while I’ll be googling suitable activities.

This time, I gave them a budget for the entire trip and they were free to choose the accommodation and plan the itinerary. #3’s reaction was “Wow! We get to plan everything? Oh great. Dad can’t make us go to Chinatown while on holiday.”

They spent days searching the internet for the best hotels which still kept under budget. They read reviews on everything before booking, including finding a reputable rock climbing school.

We had plenty of dinner discussions to consider details such as location, where the airport was in relation to the beach/town, how to get around, how long it would take to travel from one place to another, and they realised how much goes into planning a trip.

Unforeseen circumstance. Everything was booked, packed and we were ready to go. The night before, #1 came home from a hockey game and said, “Er Mum, I busted my ankle at hockey. I think it’s swollen. But don’t worry, I can probably still go rock climbing.”

With 6 kids, I was prepared for the probability of something popping up and took the news in my stride. I looked at her ankle and asked if she wanted to stay home. She assured me that it wasn’t too bad and she was fine to go ahead. I advised her to minimise putting weight on that foot and alleviate it when possible. The younger siblings assisted her and helped with luggage.

Briefing. At the airport, I gathered them and did a briefing before we left. I stressed that safety was paramount, and they had to stick together at all times. I assigned them in pairs, and they were accountable for one another at all times. The last thing the hubs said to me when he dropped us at the airport was Make sure no one gets lost ok!

I also told them to be careful with what they ate and drank, especially roadside food, salads and exposed drinks with ice. I gave the 2 older ones the added responsibility of holding on to a small portion of the cash and to be mindful of our daily expenditure and they took their role seriously.

Low tide

The first hurdle came when we had to take the longtail boat from Ao Nang beach over to Railay. We bought our tickets from the booth and the lady pointed to the boats. As we made our way across the sand, we stopped in our tracks as it dawned upon us that the boat wasn’t able to come near enough to shore.

We had to wade out. With our luggage! In shoes and dry clothes!

Longtail boat

We stood there for a few seconds and finally one spoke the obvious. “We need to take our shoes off.” The boatman carried #5 while I carried Kate. When a big wave washed up, the water reached our waist!


It was a lovely 15-minute journey, with the magnificent limestone cliffs in full view. Kate was the only one apprehensive about the whole wading-out-to-sea episode and probably wondering what else was in store!

Sand Sea Resort

We stayed at Sand Sea Resort and ordinarily, they would have made comments about how run down the rooms and bathrooms were, but because they had a say in choosing it, there were no complaints. Anyhow, we spent most of the time out of the rooms, either by the beach or in the swimming pool.

Being the start of the monsoon season, the tourist numbers were low and Railay Beach was nice and not too crowded. However, the weather forecast for that week was scattered thunderstorms. I prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain or our trip would be dampened.

It rained hard through the night and while we were tucked safely indoors having our meals. Remarkably, every time we were done and wanted to step out, the rain stopped.

Headed for the cliffs

On the day of our rock climbing session, the weather was beautiful. No rain and not too hot. Our guide met us at our hotel and took us to gear up before walking to the climbing site. It was a good 15-minute walk and we took turns calling out, “C’mon Kate. Walk faster!”


Finally, we reached the climbing site, and seeing all the tattooed, muscled men and the high cliffs, their jaws dropped. And here I was, with 6 kids, and a picnic mat 😉
Limestone cliff

Amazing experience. The friendly instructor started them off on the beginner route and the older girls progressed to the challenging ones. They really enjoyed the climbing experience and with the encouragement of the instructor, pushed themselves to reach the top. Way to go, girls! I was also proud of #5, who tried his very best.

Kate? She went along with the rest, but when she was buckled to the rope and we lifted her up, she burst into tears! I asked if she wanted to try just a little bit and she wailed, “Noooo!” We all laughed, and her first climbing experience in Railay ended as quickly as it began. Maybe next time, Kate 🙂

After the 4-hour climb, we relaxed by the beach and watched the spectacular sunset before dinner.

Railay Beach
With daddy not around on this trip, #5 took over his role. He carried Kate around the swimming pool and when she was tired he offered to carry her. I was heartened to see them take responsibility for themselves, their belongings and look out for one another.

The older girls were really good and took care of Kate and #5 while I had a nice hair wash and massage on the last day. They really bonded over this trip, working everything out themselves.

They were careful in ensuring we had enough cash to last us until the end of the trip and started noticing how much everything cost. They even learned to bargain!

Kate had no choice but to be independent. Not only did she pack her own luggage, but she had to lug it around too. It was pretty comical how when an item in a store caught someone’s eye, the whole line had to halt and everyone waited till that person was done before moving off (more often than not, it was #1).
Big bro
On our last night, we bought takeaway from MacDonald’s back to the resort as I didn’t want to travel out again for dinner. We had a leisurely time dipping in the pool while #2  set about re-heating the food and setting the table.

After dinner, we showered, packed, and prepared for an early pickup. But guess what?

Our adventure took another turn. At 11 pm, I heard someone throwing up. I rushed to the bathroom. #2 was hit by food poisoning!

We had eaten and drank the same food. Fear gripped me. It would be catastrophic if all 7 of us fell sick!

Who was going to carry the younger ones and it would be horrible having to catch a plane with everyone wanting to throw up or needing the toilet urgently.
I prayed so hard.

Thank goodness no one else fell sick. Of course, I couldn’t sleep a wink as #2 came out to throw up every few hours. I had to monitor her condition and remind her to take sips of water. Poor girl. Yet, in her sickness, I saw her strength.

Weak from throwing up and not having any sleep, she still insisted on carrying her own backpack so as not to burden us. She said, “It’s ok Mum, it is not heavy.” I insisted and it was heavy.

Home sweet home. When we stepped foot in Changi airport, one of them blurted out, “It’s soo good to be home!”

I told #5 not to carry Kate but he said, “I can, Mum. I can.” Well, at least it was a nice change from constantly bickering with her.
she ain’t heavy
Yes, it took more effort guiding the kids to plan the trip instead of doing it myself. Yes, I had to be vigilant every step of the way, ensuring the safety of all 6 of them. Yes, I was exhausted by the end of the trip.

But it was well worth it.

We broke a glass in the hotel room, misplaced one room key and lost a charger, but I dare say the kids passed my little ‘challenge’ with flying colours and gained so much from this experience.

Mission accomplished 😉

Related post:
Rock Climbing at Railay, Krabi – Read this post for details if you are planning to go rock climbing.

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

The Residence Maldives. A most memorable vacation

I have returned from paradise.

A place so spectacular in every way.

Crystal clear waters stretching as far as the eye can see.

A place of silence and tranquility to rest our weary souls and escape from the rushed reality of our lives.

Little queen Kate

Time stood still as we lazed around and soaked in the beauty of our surroundings.

We stayed at The Residence, a luxury resort on Falhumaafushi, a pristine island in the Gaafu Alifu Atoll. It is one of the largest atolls in the world.

Collecting shells

To get to this exclusive resort in the middle of nowhere, it was a four and a half hour flight to Male followed by a 45-minute domestic flight to Kooddoo airport.

We were pleasantly received at the airport by a resort staff who led us to a lounge for lunch while they handled the flight check-in. Good thing they had wifi and a shower room for Kate to freshen up and the 2 hours went by quickly enough.

Maldivian airlines

After a short stop over, we disembarked and hopped into a mini bus to get to the nearby jetty. Luckily Kate found it rather amusing to go from big plane to small plane to bus and then boat.

We were served a refreshing bottle of chilled watermelon juice on the speedboat, which signalled the start of their charming service.

10-minute boat ride

Finally, after an 8-hour journey, we stepped into the lobby of our resort and this magnificent view greeted us.

We were warmly welcomed by the staff and informed that we had a personal butler to see to all our needs.

A butler? Wow. We could surely get used to that.

The Residence Maldives

A buggy was waiting to take us to our 1-Bedroom Deluxe pool villa. We had the corner villa, with sunset view.

Can’t wait to see the room

We entered the living area, and walked right out the glass doors to see this breathtaking sight.


Just look at this panoramic view.

Simply jaw-dropping.

I could sit here all day.

To read, to dream, to ponder, to just take in life.

It was at once staggering, yet humbling.
Private pool villa

Being in the middle of the Indian Ocean is an experience that cannot be described.


It is relaxing yet stirring.

I could dream up endless possibilities, yet be drawn inwards to reflect.
Our large bathroom

During the hot part of the afternoons, we opened the bathroom sliding doors and enjoyed soaking in a warm bubble bath listening to the sound of the lapping waves.

Spectacular view

Kate and her daddy spent a lot of time in the infinity pool, while I sat on the deck to read, think and relax.


Our stretch of villas was the best place to snorkel. We climbed down into the clear blue water and right below us the water was teeming with marine life.

I felt like a child once again, spotting different fishes darting in front of me.

A blue fish! Green! Bright colourful ones! Tiny ones, big ones, snake-looking ones.

A small shark! My favourite was a smart-looking school of black fishes with a white strip between their body and tail which looked like they were wearing tuxedoes!
Going snorkelling

The hubs didn’t snorkel for long as he had to hang on to Kate and she was a little fearful of being in the huge ocean.

When I had enough of fish spotting, I flipped over on my back and floated around with my life jacket, gently being rocked by the waves.

That was such a surreal experience, being a small speck in the vast ocean.

You have no cares in the world, everything just fades away.

Chilling by the beach bar

We had most of our lunches at the beach bar, and became familiar with the staff.

One afternoon, we came out late and Kate asked for the same seafood pasta we had the day before. However it was past the lunch hour and they were serving tapas.

Kate looked crestfallen and the lovely lady called the kitchen to ask if they could prepare it for her. Of course, they obliged. Nothing seemed to be too much to ask at this resort.

Birthday greetings

When we returned to our room, 2 staff were just leaving and they wished me happy birthday.

Just as we were wondering how they knew it was my birthday, we saw this decoration laid out on our bed with fresh flowers!

It is the little details and the staff going the extra mile that our stay was made so memorable.

Later on, our butler came over to gift us with a bottle of chilled wine.

Sunset BBQ

In the evening, we went back to the beach bar and happened to chat with the lovely wait staff again, and lamented that we had wanted to try the BBQ seafood dinner but was informed that it was full when I tried to make a booking that morning.

She made a call and they set out an extra table for us. After our dinner, they came over with a birthday cake. Don’t ask me why I was surprised.

Fresh air

2 bicycles were parked outside every villa and it was a nice change to cycle around instead of hopping into our cars.

Beachfront breakfast
Wish I could have breakfast with this view every morning.

The buffet breakfast spread was very good and made all the more enjoyable by the impeccable service.

We were the first to arrive every morning at 7am as we were still on Singapore time, which was already 10am.

The ever attentive wait staff even helped Kate to cut up her food and brought her a magna doodle magnetic board to keep her entertained after she finished her meal.
Family baking session

They have a simple Kids’ Club, where Kate did some art and craft. As this resort does not receive many children, their activities were organised on an ad hoc basis.


One of the days, there were about 10 kids around, and a cookie making session was arranged in their industrial kitchen.

We all had a blast, and an 11-month old baby got into the fray and made imprints on the dough with her cute little feet!

It seems like the happiness of the guests are priority and anything is possible.

We explored the island on bicycle and took lots of pictures. I think Kate had enough of posing for her daddy.

We also took Kate out for her first kayaking experience, as guests are given complimentary usage for an hour.

Bonding time

The both of them spent long hours in the main resort pool playing, having snacks and watching the sun go down.

Sunset yoga

While they had their daddy-daughter bonding time, I escaped for yoga class.


It was the best yoga class I have ever had in my life. The spa is situated at the other end of the resort and the water was calm and quiet.

As we did our back bends and turned directions with the various poses, we were treated to the full grandeur of the setting sun.

I have never enjoyed watching a setting sun as much as this. While we faced one direction, you can see the muted hues of the beautiful sky.

As you turn to the other direction, the mesmerising reds and oranges awaits you. And with every pose, the colour changes as the sun retreated slowly.

I felt so calm yet so alive.
Maldives
When we arrived, this was the expression on our faces.
Sad to leave this paradise

And when it was time to depart, this was how we were feeling.

One day.

I’ll be back.

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

Glamping in Bintan @ The Canopi

We went glamping (glamorous camping) at this newly opened resort in Bintan and the kids loved the place so much that they are already asking to go back.


It felt like we were entering a make-believe land, a Smurf village of sorts.

The wow factor is definitely there, and everything looks picture-perfect.

However, operationally, they do not seem ready although they have been running for 9 months.

Here are some tips so that you go prepared and will be able to make the most of your holiday.

Glamping – glamorous camping

From Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, it took us an hour to reach Bintan. Guests of The Canopi are ushered through the express lane and it was a short 5 minute ride to our resort.


Once we alighted from the shuttle bus and stepped into the lobby, this magnificent view awaited us.

“This is the largest swimming pool I have ever seen!” exclaimed #5.
The Lagoon

The lagoon stretched as far as the kids could see.


Right in the middle is the wake boarding section, which is run by a Singaporean.

The rest of the water and land activities are situated at the far end of the lagoon.
Little smurfette
We got the keys to our room and the kids couldn’t wait to dump their stuff before heading out to do the activities.

They oohed and aahed about everything and loved the safari themed rooms. All in high spirits as though they had stepped into magical land.

Tip: There are no phones in the rooms, so you either have to walk to the lobby reception for any requests, or you can WhatsApp the number that is given when you checked-in.

Also do note that there is no mini bar, thus no fridge to chill anything you might need to chill.

#5 called it his fort

Some examples of our requests, to manage your expectations:

Bedroom slippers, please. Sorry, we don’t provide.
Hand towels? Sorry, ran out.
A glass of beer? Sorry, machine broken.

The tent floor is really rough so pack bedroom slippers along if necessary. Or perhaps that’s what the cute little ‘well’ outside each tent is for!

To wash everyone’s feet AND slippers so you can wear them inside the tent. Ok, maybe it’s just me who has sensitive feet, but it felt like I was walking on woven rope.

The kids quickly changed into their swim gear and headed towards the water sports centre. After realising that they had to walk one big round, they decided to swim across instead.


Thank goodness I brought Kate’s pram along, because she could not swim across and it was taking her a long time to walk such a long distance.
$9 per  hour

There are a lot of activities for the kids. They started with the Water Sports Park which has giant trampolines, slides and obstacles.

Kate did not join them but was content to play with her pool toys.

The kids enjoyed the water park so much that they went again the next day. If the kids are young, they need to be accompanied by an adult.

Bumper boat – 15 min

They also had lots of fun in this Motorised Bumper Boat, with water guns to spray one another. It can go quite fast, and #5 loved spinning it around like those dizzy tea cups at theme parks!

Kayaking

Both single and double kayaks are available and it was rather idyllic kayaking around the lagoon.

The Land Sports Centre is situated right behind the water sports and it is open to public as well. As we were there over the weekend, it was very crowded with locals, especially on Sunday.

The kids were disappointed that they did not manage to do any of the land activities.

The electric scooters were all rented out, and we were told that the ATV bike adventure only commenced at 3pm. When we went over at 3pm, they told us that it was over-subscribed.

Wake-boarding

This is a nice place to learn wake-boarding and the kids were able to stand on the first few tries. #1 even managed to turn successfully!

There were several groups awaiting their turn and as most people paid for the 1 hour session, and with 2 cable lines, it was quite a wait.

If we ever do return, it will definitely be on a weekday.

Chilling

The resort has 1 giant float, which was anchored right in front of our tent.


The younger kids woke up at 7am and after breakfast, they relaxed here while waiting for the older girls to get ready to start the other activities together.
Getting around

After a few times of walking round and round under the scorching sun to get to the activities, we decided to call for a buggy.


There is Wifi throughout the resort and you can WhatsApp the reception for a buggy but they have only 2 or 3 serving all the guests so you might have to wait.

Tip: Don’t forget to bring hats, sunscreen and goggles as there isn’t any gift/merchandise shop.
One and only restaurant

The biggest bugbear is the lack of food options at the resort, and the fact that it is not cheap.

There is only one restaurant to serve the entire resort. No beach front cafes, no bars, no convenience stores.

There is a little kiosk right at the far end of the lagoon (at the land sports centre) selling a small assortment of drinks and ice cream.

Breakfast: The buffet breakfast was included in our stay, but the spread was very basic. It also took a long time for them to replenish the food when the crowds came in.

Lunch: We ate here again to save time, but the standard was generally below average. The only items which were slightly better were the pizzas, spaghetti bolognese and mee/nasi goreng. Rather expensive at $20 each for a simple lunch with drinks.

Dinner: We decided to venture out to one of the several kelongs around the resort. It was quite an experience for the kids, to take a powerboat out to the kelong, however the food was average. We ordered the set menu, which came up to $20 per person.

Dinner at Kelong
If you have ample time, getting out of the resort for good nasi padang or Thai food would be a much better option.

Tip: Pack along biscuits, snacks and mineral water. Or why not go all out and bring tinned food, cup noodles and portable stoves and have a picnic under the stars! I’m sure the kids would love the novelty of that.
Right in front of our door step

Choice of tents:

We booked the Lagoon View tents, which was great because of the convenience. The kids found it simply amazing to open their front door and almost literally step out into the water.

I loved the convenience as the kids could easily nip back in to use the toilets and I could still be in the room with Kate while she napped, while keeping an eye on the older kids.

However, it was really noisy with the music blasting the whole time, and if you have little children who are easily awoken, a better option would be the Safari tents at the back which are away from the lagoon.

If you are going with several families, it would be nice to book the Safari tents as they are clustered around a central pavilion and the kids can play together in a safe space while the adults sit around and chill, or prepare a BYO alfresco dinner under the stars.

We found the Jacuzzi tents a tad strange, as people were soaking in these little jacuzzis at their doorway in full view of everyone walking past to get to their Safari tents.

I was woken up in the middle of the night and sat outside my tent for awhile.

The utter silence, and fairy lights twinkling over the vast lagoon made the place feel rather mystical. Just an hour’s ferry ride away from home yet it felt like we were in a distant land.
Bintan Resort Ferries

The ferry ride turned out better than the kids expected as there was a deli (hotdogs, muffins, chips, cup noodles) and Madagascar 2 was being screened, so the hour passed quickly enough.

Fun times

All in all, it was a perfect holiday for us (the kids got over their disappointment with the land activities pretty quickly) as our friends who were there a day earlier pre-empted us and we were prepared.

I’m sure the kids would hold fond memories of this spectacular resort for a long time to come.

The Canopi

Treasure Bay Bintan
Lagoi
Bintan Island
Indonesia
www.adventureglamping.com

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

Our September holidays 2015

The one-week holiday has turned out way more eventful than I had planned. Sometimes just going with the flow is best!

We used to go up to KL very frequently when the kids were younger, as they enjoyed the Berjaya Times Square theme park immensely.


As they entered their teens, they were not so keen on that nor Sunway Lagoon anymore, so we started venturing abroad.


Now that the ringgit is at an all-time low, there is no better time to drive up to eat, play and visit grandpa.

With relatives in KL

We discovered a new super cool facility and the 6 kids spent the whole afternoon having fun climbing, sliding, swinging and jumping with their cousins. District 21 is located at IOI City Mall, about 30 minutes drive away from the city. Will follow up with a review of the place shortly!

After dinner, the hub’s cousin took us to Kuala Selangor to the Firefly Park. We sat in little sampans in the still of night, while being paddled down the river.


The fireflies looked like tiny blinking lights in the trees! What a sight. I joked to the kids that we should uproot one whole tree home and it would feel like Christmas all year round.

En route to Singapore, we stopped over at Malacca for a night. We strolled along the river and had a nice slow day doing well, nothing much, really.

Enthralled by feathered friends

We drove about 20 minutes out of town to visit the Submarine Museum. It was surreal to imagine what it must be like to be in this monster of a machine, several decades ago, submerged in the deep, blue sea.

Being claustrophobic, I remarked that I can’t imagine what it must be like to live in such a narrow, confined space.

As for #4, she couldn’t quite believe how it cost us just 30cents each to visit a tourist attraction, and kept on repeating, “30 cents! Can you believe it? Just 30 cents for that?” Yeah, my kids are strange like that.

Submarine Museum – Melaka

In the evening, it got slightly hazy and the hubs decided we would stay indoors and have dinner at the Italian restaurant in our hotel.

Italian? While in Malacca??

If not for the haze and the fact that I was tired from taking care of Kate the past few days, I would have insisted we go out for some good local food.

I was pleasantly surprised that the bread came out warm, and soft in the middle. It was also a nice change from the coffeeshop meals we’ve been having, and I didn’t have to get up repeatedly to fetch extra bowls for Kate and #5, nor re-clean the tables myself. Ah, the night started to look real fine.

Olio Italian – Ramada Plaza Hotel

The seared tuna appetiser was good, and the kids lapped up the carbonara.The meal came up to less than S$15 per person, with appetisers, pizzas, pastas and dessert. Add to that the warm ambience, attentive service, and live band which started at 8.30pm (perfect to entertain Kate while we relaxed and enjoyed our dessert) it was a wonderful last dinner in Malaysia. How ironic huh.

DIY craft
When we got back, the girls were content to stay at home and relax, doing simple crafts to decorate their rooms and making healthy smoothies (their new craze).

And little Kate? I was too busy to entertain her so she occupied herself by getting in everyone’s way.

What I love about school holidays is that there is no rush and no agenda. The kids take charge of most meals, and the kitchen is always a hive of activity.

This is the way we roll the dough…
Kate wanted in on anything remotely exciting. At that moment, the fun thing going on was meddling with the pizza dough after it had risen.
“Eh, why jie jie’s pizza base so nice?”

She was hard at work kneading and rolling, but was puzzled as to why her dough didn’t look anything like #2’s.

She resorted to coaxing her dough.

And almost gave it a good spanking.

“You do what I say, dough. FLATTEN OUT!”


In the end, her sisters made her a nice little pizza heart to cheer her up.

Homemade pizza for lunch!

As the 1 week holiday was nearing it’s end, I decided to take the 2 younger ones out to let off some steam. I’ve been meaning to check out this new place Kaboodle Kids over at East Coast Park (Big Splash).


They had a good time, and it was a nice change from the usual indoor playgrounds.

#5 was busy building his fort, while Kate was content climbing up and down the random structures, and socialising with the other young kids. #5 turned his fort into a ball slide and got the balls to drop right into the basket. Score! I could see he was pleased as punch.
Kaboodle Kids at East Coast Park

It’s back to school for the last term of 2015. Gosh, already?!

Here’s wishing all school-going kids a fruitful term and all the best to those preparing for major exams.

Happy Term 4, kids!

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

Fun on the Run travel bag

Do your kids complain of having nothing to do during long car rides? Or are you looking for an alternative to handling them an iPad to keep them quiet? We were sponsored this very handy ‘Fun on the Run’ bag which works as a portable table cum organiser for use in the car. It easily clips on to the neck of the head rest of the front seat. Normally, my kids would be chatting, singing or quarrelling in the car, but it was funny how even the older kids clamoured to sit in the hot seat. Hmmm maybe I need to get 6 of these.

For older kids
The straps are adjustable so it should fit all cars. It can be used with booster seats as well. For car seats, as the child would be seated at a higher level, instead of strapping it around the neck of the headrest, you can just hang it around the headrest.

For babies

Besides being great for kids to do their activities on during car rides, it is also handy for school-going kids to do their homework while waiting to pick up other siblings. It is also helpful for mums with babies to prepare their formula or have baby’s toys organised all within easy reach.

Useful for mums too

I love how it zips up nicely into a slim shoulder bag. It can be purchased online on Qoo10 by searching Ministry of Tots. For further enquiries, do email them at ministryoftots@gmail.com.

Easy to carry around

Sane tip: Recently there was an article in the papers saying that more drivers are being caught not strapping their kids in properly, and the most common reason being that the kids are reluctant to sit in the car seat. This would be useful to entice the kids to sit in their car seats.

This would also be perfect for our road trips to Malaysia to keep Kate occupied. Usually I would prepare a bag of toys for her and they end up rolling all around the car and we have to keep picking them up.

Save tip: From now till the end of January 2015, it is going at a promotional price of $23 (U.P. $25). Shipping fee $4.50.


Here’s the good news. To kick off the new year, I am pleased to announce that I have 5 sets to give away to my dear readers!

All you have to do is:

Details:

  • 5 winners will be chosen at random
  • Open to Singapore residents only
  • Ends 20 January 2015
  • Winners will be announced on Mummy Wee’s Facebook page on 22 January 2015
  • Winners will be contacted by Ministry of Tots for delivery

Disclaimer: The giveaway and product review have been sponsored by Ministry of Tots. All opinions are my own.

Melbourne – a family-friendly city we love

Melbourne is one of the most family-friendly cities in the world, with lots to see and do. Here are 6 fun activities to take the kids to and you can easily find them all over Melbourne. We stayed in the Mornington Peninsular area as that was the only place where we managed to find accommodation for 30 people under one roof, and it turned out to be a really lovely part of Melbourne to explore.

1. Visit a Farm or Wildlife sanctuary

The first thing that came to mind for the kids was to get up close and personal with kangaroos and koalas. We went to Moonlit Sanctuary which was just a short drive from our rented house. They have kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, emus, tasmanian devils and many more Australian animals. They even conduct evening tours, which has to be booked in advance.
Feeding wallabies

Moonlit Sanctuary

Admission fees:
Child (4-15 years): $9
Adult: $18
Under 4: Free
Family: (2A 2C): $48

Operating Hours:
Daily 10am – 5pm (except Christmas Day)

Address:
550 Tyabb-Tooradin Road
Pearcedale, Victoria 3912, Australia

www. moonlit-sanctuary.com

“Who, me?”

2) Outdoor family fun

The Enchanted Maze Garden is a huge gardens filled with lots to do. The kids came here mainly for the tube slides which is suitable for both children and adults. Kids under 5 have to sit with an adult, and there is a maximum weight of about 100kg. I normally wait at the sidelines and watch while the hubs accompany them, but the kids kept telling me “Mum, it’s not scary at all, not even for you” that I dared to give it a go. Yup, they were right, and it was pretty fun doing it together with them. Only thing is it might be quite hot during summer to drag the tube up the slope. We had a brilliant time as we went during the beautiful spring weather.

You can easily spend half a day here as there are indoor and outdoor mazes and other simple game-like structures dotted around the park. There is also tree-surfing, which is like our forest adventure, where you are harnessed and navigate an obstacle course high up around the trees. They have fixed timings for tree-surfing, and it’s better to book in advance. There is a cafe on the grounds, right at the entrance. Everyone has to pay to enter the grounds, even if you just sit at the cafe.

Kate zooming down with her daddy

The Enchanted Maze Garden

Admission fees:
Adult: $29
Child (3-17) $19

Operating Hours:
Most parts of the park: 10am – 6pm
Some slightly earlier or later. Full details of operating hours, click here.

Address:
55 Purves Road
Arthurs Seat

www.enchantedmaze.com.au

Maze hedges

3) Horse riding

Initially, we wanted to ride all the way to the beach, however that would have taken us 2 hours so we settled for the trail ride which lasted for an hour. This is also suitable for the entire family. After we came back to Singapore, #3 told me she has changed her mind. She doesn’t want a dog anymore. She wants a horse. And she’s going to name her Caramel. I’m sure I will hear no end to this.

Younger ones on the smaller horses (background)

Gunnamatta Trail rides

We went for the Trumans Bush Ride (50 – 55 mins)
Suitable for beginners (min 6 years old)
$70 adult / $60 child

Operating Hours:
About 9.30am – 4pm
Advance booking necessary
(They require a booking deposit via credit card)

Address:
Corner of Truemans road and Sandy road, Fingal, Vic 3939

4) Go Karting

You might think Go-karting = speeding. However, it is up to you to control the speed, and even our aunt who is in her 60s tried it. Both the men and the kids enjoyed themselves so much that they went back again the next day!

We went to Le Mans Go Karts which happened to be the newest and largest go karting track in Victoria. As we had a big group, the adults did a 30 lap race. The kids were broken up into ages, with the teenagers doing a 30 minute race while the little ones did just 10 minutes. There are ample sofas and chairs indoors for those not joining in to wait and they sell light snacks and drinks.

#5 thoroughly enjoying himself

Le Mans Go Karts

Rates:
10 min $23 (8 – 15 years) $32 (16 – adult)
20 min $42 (8 – 15 years) $57 (16 – adult)
30 min $57 (8 – 15 years) $75 (16 – adult)

Operating Hours
Sunday – Thursday 10am-11pm
Friday & Saturday 10am-11.30pm

Address:
11-55 Waterview Close
Dandenong South VIC 3175
www.lemansgokarts.com.au
7 year old niece did the small track (background)

5) Bush walking

When we told the kids we were going to Point Nepean National Park for a walk, they looked incredulous. Walk? While on holiday? Weren’t we running short on time with plenty more to do? In the end, they enjoyed the walk. Lots of little animals and birds to spot, ending at the beach for a nice family photo, and the cool weather contributed greatly to their enjoyment of the walk.

Point Nepean
6) Free playgrounds

We chanced upon this marvellous Rye community playground right by the beach. It looks like a dream playground and it was indeed conceptualised by the kids themselves, funds were raised by the community and the entire playground was built in 5 days by 700 skilled volunteers.

Where: Rye foreshore, Point Nepean Road, Rye.
Playground by the beach

Not forgetting the food.


When in Melbourne, we always make a stop in Chinatown for yum cha. The hubs used to frequent Sharksfin Inn when he lived here ages ago, so it was a must-visit for him. The selection is wider and they still serve them pushed out on trolleys. My all-time favourite yum cha item is this deep fried meat dumpling with a chewy crust, and these are the best I have found so far!
Another must-eat for us in Melbourne is the Vietnamese pho and we stopped by Springdale for it. Quick, fuss-free and satisfying meal, especially lovely eaten on a cold evening.
We thoroughly enjoyed our vacation with the extended family and I’m sure we will be back again someday! #3 is already making plans for her future – she wants to set up a cafe in the countryside with horses grazing nearby.

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

Thankful for… my husband’s extended family

In this day and age, families are spending less time together and people are getting more isolated. However, on the hub’s side of the family, they still have a strong sense of kampung spirit. The hub’s cousin was getting married and the clan flew over to Melbourne in full force to celebrate the occasion with them. All 30 of us stayed together under one roof for a couple of days and the kids had a great time playing together. Being a Hainanese family, there was never ending cooking and eating. Most of the cooking were done by the men, and they all had their speciality which they proudly whipped up. Even after a huge dinner, at like 10pm, we started smelling the aroma of curry and we asked incredulously, “Supper? We are stuffed!” And uncle answered, “Lamb curry, for breakfast”.

There were only 3 bathrooms for everyone and we had to take turns. Some had to sleep in what we termed the “workers dorm” which was an outdoor shed converted into sleeping quarters. Yet there were hardly any complains and we had a whole load of fun and laughs.

I myself come from a huge family on my dad’s side, with almost 100 extended family members. Sadly, most of us only meet during Chinese New Year and we don’t even remember the names of the new additions (with 6 kids, no one remembers my kids’ names!) For their generation, even though they are cousins, they seem more like strangers. Maybe I should suggest to my cousins that we should organise a simple family trip too, although I can imagine the logistics!

Mornington Peninsular National Park

It is heartening to be part of a family that is so close knit. It turned out to be a very enjoyable family vacation spanning 3 generations of kin which I’m sure everyone will remember for a long time to come.


Thankful Tuesdays:

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has” – Epictetus


Thankful… for the hub’s cooking
Thankful… for #5’s cooking and caring of Kate
Thankful… for #3 in so many ways
Thankful… for sister-in-law #1

Thankful… for our helper
Thankful… for my family
Thankful… for the beauty of nature
Thankful… for my mum-in-law
Thankful… for my father-in-law
Thankful… for all who helped create this blog
Thankful… for #4’s resilience and forgiveness
Thankful… for blogging perks

Linking up with:

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