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 ~  

Dream Cruises – Media Invite

I attended the launch of Genting Dream, Dream Cruises’ inaugural cruise ship, which is amongst the largest and most spacious cruise ships in Asia. Having not sailed on a cruise ship in more than 15 years, I was unsure just how spectacular a family cruise holiday could be.

Needless to say, I stepped off the luxurious 18-deck ship a convert.

Genting Dream

With 6 kids spanning the ages of 4 to 18, I was on the look-out for activities to suit my toddler and my teens. I was delighted to discover that they were not short on entertainment for kids.


A big hit will be the waterslide park. They have a total of 6 slides, ranging from gravity-defying ones for adults and older teens, to gentler ones for the younger kids.
Waterslide park

I’m sure my teenagers would love spending hours careening through the wild slides. A waterpark on a ship! How cool is that?

Main Pool Deck

For the daredevils, there is a 35m zip line situated 18 decks above the sea, over the side of the ship. Definitely not for the faint hearted! I was surprised to hear my 18-year old say, “Mummy, can we go?!”

Not forgetting the younger kids, this is probably the most scenic ‘walk the plank’ I have come across. Perfect for photos!

In addition, they have a plethora of family-friendly activities such as a rock climbing wall, mini-golf, rope course, basketball court and 3D cinema screening the latest blockbusters.

Mini Golf

Of course, there is a kids’ club where the staff are all certified child care professionals. The Little Pandas Club offers activities such as arts & craft, themed costumes, movies, toys, and the venue is also available for rent for birthday parties (minimal charges apply).

Kids’ Club

As guests cruise the sea, they will be entertained and enthralled by “China’s Got Talent” in a 999 seat state-of-the-art live performance venue. A transcendental dreamy production Voyage of a Lover’s Dream, conceived by pop-artist Jacky Tsai will be also be screened (no charge, but pre-booking required).

Voyage of a Lover’s Dream

I thought I heard wrong when they mentioned they have Zouk on board. Jiak Kim Street’s Zouk has also been imported?! With the Zouk concept, besides an indoor dance club, LIVE guest artistes and DJ performances, they also have DJ open deck workshops, an outdoor day and night party deck, movie nights under the stars, a glow in the dark bowling alley and fireworks on the last day!

They also have two state-of-the-art submersibles, where guests can explore spectacular sights and encounter a dazzling array of fish and sea creatures deep under the ocean.

I’m impressed.

Media Interview hosted by Diana Ser

The rooms are a pretty decent size, and with a private balcony, you don’t feel claustrophobic. More than 70% of staterooms feature private balconies and there are 100 staterooms with connecting rooms to cater to bigger families (perfect for us!). I was looking at the pictures of the Garden Penthouse and Palace Suites and those look exceptional.

Balcony Deluxe Stateroom

With more than 35 restaurants and bar concepts, guests can indulge in the very best of Chinese regional, Asian and international cuisine. From healthy eating to fine dining, both adults and kids will be spoilt for choice. If the standard of our lunch on board was anything to go buy, I can say meal times would be highly enjoyable for the entire family.

Quality & authentic cuisine
Umi Uma Sushi Bar
Genting Dining room

Wine connoisseurs on board Genting Dream can indulge in an array of rare Australian wines and fine vintages from one of the world’s leading wineries at the Penfolds Wine Vault as special wine tasting events form part of the ship’s overall experience. Ah, perfect for the hubs.

To round off this exceptional voyage, a visit to the Crystal Life Asian Spa must be in order. Being the largest Asian Spa at sea spanning over 1,000 sq.m, this relaxation hub features more than 70 treatment thrones. I’m sure I will step out feeling like a queen!

Sun deck

Truly, a spectacular cruise ship suitable for the entire family. I know where I will be spending most of my time, while the kids are happily occupied somewhere around this massive ship.

For now, the vessel will depart from Hong Kong or Guangzhou and make stops in Danang and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam. A second ship is expected to be ready in November next year, and Singapore is under consideration as a port of call in the company’s new itineraries.

Currently, they have FlyCruise promotions to Hong Kong or Guangzhou, which can be found on their website.

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

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 ~