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You know you’ve brainwashed your 17 month old daughter to be a Star Wars fan when she sees this book and says, “Ewok!”

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I confess I was a blur Mummy, and didn’t realise that Asher had no school on Thursday until a day before when I heard it from other Mummies! So I felt a bit guilty, but then I was so happy too because we’d have a day to spend together! I decided to let Ellery skip school the next day and that we’d head to the new Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.

I’ve been looking forward to it’s opening since it was first mentioned in the news a few years back. And when the announcement came that it was opened to the public, I was a bit wistful that the earliest we could go was in June. Asher’s in the afternoon session, so there really isn’t any opportunity to go on weekdays, and weekends are out cos the hubby isn’t so interested to venture there. So I was so happy and the boys were very excited about being able to head there to see the dinosaur fossils. My mum decided to tag along too since she had not been there either.

The place isn’t very big, but there are so many interesting exhibits to see. They estimate that it would take 1.5hrs to go through the museum. For kids, double that. We easily spent 3 hours there, and even then there were parts that we didn’t look at in such great detail. There are too many interesting things to elaborate upon here, it’s best you go see for yourself!

There’s no denying that the fossils were majestic, but I felt that they looked a little bit cramped in that space. However, knowing the background to the building and the museum, it’s amazing that we even have them in Singapore at all!

The museum is so much more than just the fossils though. The plants, the insects, the mammals, the reptiles…wow! So many specimens! I remember seeing some of the specimens in the old Raffles Museum of Biodiversity, and though it was small it already so interesting. What more this place where more of the collection can be unveiled. And I love looking at the names of the different creatures because sometimes they have such funny names, like the Old Woman Octopus!

We would have stayed longer if our bellies didn’t demand that we left. We had come in the morning at 1030, and our stomachs were calling out for food. I’m sure we’ll come back again.

Welcomed by a kaleidoscope of specimens

Welcomed by a kaleidoscope of specimens

Mmmmuuaaak. We love you dino!

Mmmmuuaaak. I love you dino!

UUUUMMMMM! I'm a T-Rex and I WANT TO EAT YOU!!!

UUUUMMMMM! I’m a T-Rex and I WANT TO EAT YOU!!!

The fossils of the three sauropods

The fossils of the three sauropods. There’s a light display every 30 mins.

Nice views of the fossils from the second floor

Nice views of the fossils from the second floor

The real fossil of the head still buried in the rock. The scientists were afraid that excavating it could compromise the specimen. So the ones on display are casts of the real thing.

The real fossil of the head still buried in the rock. The scientists were afraid that excavating it could compromise the specimen. So the ones on display are casts of the real thing.

Pretending to be the bittern

Pretending to be the Bittern

I never realised how big frigate birds were!

I never realised how big frigate birds were!

This is the most hilarious mating display ever. He puffs up into a flat plate!

This is the most hilarious mating display ever. He puffs up into a flat plate!

Croc looking scary...

Croc looking scary…

...Until you look at this eyes and he seems a bit goofy :)

…Until you look at this eyes and he seems a bit goofy :) “duh…”

Amazed how the size of the triceretops' leg.

Amazed how the size of the triceretops’ leg

 The Japanese Spider Crab has the largest leg span of any arthopod, and can reach 3.8m end to end! 

The Japanese Spider Crab has the largest leg span of any arthopod, and can reach 3.8m end to end!

Compare it with the Coral Spider Crab which is one of the smallest crabs in the world. They seldom exceed 2mm in length!

Compare it with the Coral Spider Crab which is one of the smallest crabs in the world. They seldom exceed 2mm in length!

The most boring specimen in the museum. The Boring Giant Clam.

The most boring specimen in the museum.
The Boring Giant Clam.

Old Woman Octopus

The wrinkly Old Woman Octopus. 

Beautiful colours on the nymph!

Beautiful colours on the nymph!

Pterosaurs!

Pterosaurs! Ellery was sooo excited to see them!

Funny flattened specimens. Probably because people wanted to find an easy way to transport them.

Funny flattened specimens. Probably because people wanted to find an easy way to transport them in the past.

Most of the bird specimens were preserved with their legs and wings tucked in, and it seemed quite normal. But I couldn't help laughing when I saw this Barred Eagle-Owl. The expression on his face made me think of a superhero diving to save some innocent people from baddies! "I'm coming!"

Most of the bird specimens were preserved with their legs and wings tucked in, and it seemed quite normal. But I couldn’t help laughing when I saw this Barred Eagle-Owl. The expression on his face made me think of a superhero diving to save some innocent people from baddies! “Here I come to save the day!”

Do take note that you need to purchase tickets from SISTIC before you go down to the museum. They do not sell tickets at the museum itself. This is done to ensure that the museum doesn’t get over-crowded. There are 6 visitor sessions each day that you can choose from when purchasing your tickets, and entry is strictly by session timings only.

Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Faculty of Science
National University of Singapore
2 Conservatory Drive
Singapore 117377

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So I think I’ve completed my transition to the East. I bought a bike! Cycling is so common here. Much more common than it was at our old place. So many people cycle, and it’s probably because of the flat terrain here. There are all kinds of bikes. Cool, new technology bikes, old uncle bikes, ladies bikes, road bikes, etc.

I got such an orbit (Singlish for gaudy or not very nice looking) bike, but it is growing on me.

I decided I needed a bicycle because I can’t keep up with the boys on foot. They end up having to wait for me, and we can’t go very far in the limited time we have for outings to East Coast park from our home.

I didn’t spend very much time researching bikes or anything like that. I just wanted something that would work. A basket, a baby seat, a back rack, gears, and a low slung front (the ‘ladies’ bike). I went to all of 2 shops before making my purchase. The first visit was before I decided what my criteria was, the second was after. I went to Chin Hong Cycle Co. and basically purchased the only ladies bike they had that had adjustable gears (most don’t have it). It was white with purple accents (including bursts of petals…), and as I cycled off in the bright noon sun I discovered the cables were sparkly! You wouldn’t be wrong to say my bike looks very girlie. Very uncharacteristically girlie for me, I think. But like I said, it’s growing on me.

Bought my bike from this shop at Joo Chiat

Bought my bike from this old school shop at Joo Chiat. The people there are so friendly and helpful! That’s my bike in the middle.

I think I’m going to name it Rarity. Because it looks like Rarity! Who is Rarity? This is Rarity!

Hahahahahaha.

Yes, even I cannot believe I’m doing this.

But really, it’s white, with purple, and has sparkly things…And I kinda like the My Little Pony Series. The boys suggested names like Icicle (too pokey), Snow (too soft), Glacier (too cold). I was at first thinking hard about spray painting over the petals or the words, but I think I’m starting to embrace my bike for who it is. Rarity the pony is concerned about beauty, is particular about not getting dirty, is quite ditsy. Quite unlike me I think, but I think we’ll get along fine.

I’ve taken Alyssa for a spin in the bike and she loves it! And Asher likes that we can now go much further for our outings to East Coast park before school.

I can probably go explore more bits of the area that are less car friendly too.

Now that I have a bike again I realise how much I have missed cycling. Growing up I had a mountain bike that I loved to bits and used very often. I had forgotten just how fun it is to ride. That feeling of freedom. Just coasting along. I love it!

Am itching to ride now…

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Carnivore

What is scarier, more fearsome, more ferocious than the giant T-Rex?

An Alyssa!!!

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She goes, “Rarr!” Then eats him.

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It was Ellery’s turn to go out without Asher, although in his case Alyssa still came along. So it was not quite a one-on-one date.

When I told Ellery about Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo and read the synopsis to him, he was very excited and imagined that he’d see many different types of dinosaurs, afterall the description said we could expect to see an “amazing array of creatures”. He was talking about the show from lunch time, and was bouncing around excitedly before the show.

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It started out promisingly enough with some prehistoric vegetation decorating the stage and the sounds of the forest bringing you into the dinosaur world. The show was delivered in the format of a documentary, with the presenter telling the audience about the different types of dinosaurs that came on stage. They started with a pair of baby Muttaburrasaurus, the dinosaur that at home we joke is the “murtabak-saurus” (murtabak is a type of Indian-Muslim minced meat pancake found in Singapore). I thought it was good how the host gave facts about the dinosaur and invited children up to pat the dinosaurs.

Baby dinosaur (Photo taken from the Dinosaur Zoo Live gallery)

 

I liked seeing the giant dragonfly, Meganeura, because we had read about it in one of the dinosaur stories at home. Ellery was really happy he saw the Meganeura and said he’d tell Asher all about it when he got home. They had several Meganeura flying all about the theatre, and the giant dragonflies landed on the children’s hands and heads, much to everyone’s delight.

Meganeura (Photo taken from the Dinosaur Zoo Live gallery)

 

Next came some Leaellynasaura, which the host consistently mispronounced as “lee-AN-na-saw-ra”. I noted this because when learning about dinosaurs I was particularly fascinated by this species. I thought I might have got the pronunciation wrong but went home to check, and actually even the KidsFest Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo factsheet says it’s “lee-EL-in-a-saw-rah”. It’s a small thing, but if the show aims to give children facts about dinosaurs, I thought the host should have gotten the name right.

A pair of Leaellynasaura (Photo taken from the Dinosaur Zoo Live gallery)

 

From here the show started to get less interesting for me, and from Ellery’s expression, for him too. A fearsome looking dinosaur puppet appeared, and while it looked impressive and served well to add excitement to the show in terms of a scary monster on stage, I felt that the show relied too much on this. The dinosaur, which the host called a T-Rex (more on this later), spent quite a bit of time scaring the audience. Rather than tell the audience interesting facts about the T-Rex, a lot of time was also spent getting children to feed and pat the T-Rex, with lots of false starts and sudden moves to scare the volunteers along the way. Humourous and entertaining, but not very scientific nor educational as the show touted itself to be (“…connecting young audiences to the real science of palaeontology”).

Hugging a 'T-Rex' (Photo courtesy of ABA Productions)

Hugging a ‘T-Rex’ (Photo courtesy of ABA Productions)

A kid did get ‘eaten’ during the show! (Photo taken from the Dinosaur Zoo Live gallery)

 

In fact, that wasn’t a T-Rex at all. The skull structure of the dinosaur was wrong (T-Rex’s heads are much more massive compared to the body), and if you see the photos from the show, the puppet has three claws. Any bona fide dinosaur fan will tell you T-Rexs have only two claws.

Let’s count the claws now, 1, 2, 3… (Photo taken from Dinosaur Zoo Live gallery)

 

The show was supposed to focus on dinosaurs found in Australia, but I guess they were trying to appeal to everyone’s familiarity with the T-Rex. I think it would have been better to stick to Australian dinosaurs so that the show is focused and the audience can learn something new about the less familiar Australian dinosaurs. I suspect that actually the puppet was meant to represent the Australian carnivore, the Australovenator, as this was listed on the KidsFest Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo factsheet. The Australovenator is a medium-sized allosaur, so the puppet would have been more appropriate.

When show ended with the head and neck of the Titanosaur, Ellery was surprised and asked me where the other dinosaurs were. He then said he wished there were more dinosaurs in the show.

Me too.

Indeed, while the show was funny and entertaining, it was not what I had expected based on the show synopsis. Charming, but ultimately disappointing.

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We were given complimentary tickets for the show. All opinions are my own.

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As the boys are still into military things I signed them up for the Children’s Season activity at the Army Museum – Cadets, Fall In!

Overall, it was quiet a let down. Even though the organisers included all the activities that were mentioned in the advertisement, they did the bare minimum.

BMT Training – check. The children were guided through 2 of many obstacles (more on this later).

Simulated live firing – check. Each kid was given one chance to fire the guns at the simulated firing range.

Grenande throwing – check. Each kid was given one throw of the grenade. This is apparently true in the army as well.  Each person only gets one throw, so ok.

Experience “hair-cutting” like a recruit – ok this is debatable. They would say, “check”. I would say, “meh”. They basically left a photo cut-out board showing the bald head of a recruit. Children were invited to have their pictures taken with it. Alright…

Botak (bald) Ellery

Botak (bald) Ellery

Botak Asher

Botak (bald) Asher

While the kids enjoyed each individual activity, all the in between bits were not that engaging. For starters, the whole session began with a powerpoint presentation! Each activity was also preceeded by a briefing where the kids had to listen to instructions on how the activity was supposed to be run. It’s good and well to follow instructions, but in a big group like this? Surely there can be a more interesting way. Plus, it’s a little bit anti-climatic because for each activity, only a limited number of children can do it at a time (sometimes one at a time), so the activity becomes less exciting than expected because of all the waiting around (for their turn, then for the others to finish).

Briefing on how to fire the gun

Briefing on how to fire the gun

Briefing on how to throw a grenade

Briefing on how to throw a grenade

Briefing on how to go over the wall (??!?)

Briefing on how to go over the wall (??!?)

At the obstacle course area, although the organiser wanted to keep the kids only at the two (least interesting) of obstacles, the kids (being kids) just ran all around. And most of the parents, happy to see their kids enjoying themselves freely, didn’t bother keeping them in line. In fact most of us were more than happy to help our kids do the rest of the obstacles. I think the organisers were definitely too conservative on this one.

The passing out parade – check. But kids were broken into 2 groups with one group getting to wear the uniform, and another only getting the hats. So one side looked more ready for the parade than the other, and none were fully dressed up in the uniform.

I think it could have been better done by making the activities more engaging. At least, keep in mind that you are dealing with children when planning the activities.  I thought last year’s activities, which were more free-for-all in nature, were more enjoyable. Perhaps having the activities in the form of station games, rather than having the whole group walk around together, would be a better option.

After the session was officially concluded, we brought the boys back out to the obstacle course area to have a good run around, and to go take a look at the military vehicles on display. That, they really enjoyed :)

Jon helping Ellery with the gun

Jon helping Ellery with the gun

Ducking after throwing the grenande (this was Ellery's favourite activity)

Ducking after throwing the grenande (this was Ellery’s favourite activity)

In the 'hat' group

In the ‘hat’ group

ORD liao!

ORD liao!

Happy to climb on the vehicles on display outside

Happy to climb on the vehicles on display outside

Sweaty but happy

Sweaty but happy

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We wanna go on holiday but Alyssa doesn’t have a passport yet.  So we’ll make the best of it and holiday on Sentosa :)

Since the boys keep playing ‘war’, we thought we’d go check out Fort Siloso on Sentosa.  The last time I went there was when I was in secondary school, and I remember being a bit freaked out by the wax sculptures because prior to going for that excursion I had watched the horror flick Wax Museum with my family. Not a good idea. I was so sure some of the figures could move. Very creepy.

Anyway, the information was all a bit too much for the kids and went over their head, but we adults had a good time reading about the interesting exhibits.  It would have been nicer if there were more interactive elements rather than just information boards, but I guess this place is geared to adults. That said, I do think the whole Fort Siloso could do with some sprucing up and revamping. It’s also a pity that one of the tunnels has been converted to a lazer tag place because the only way to explore it is to go play lazer tag.

Oh the irony...

Oh the irony…

In the tunnel

In the tunnel

Despite being a little bored by the exhibits, the boys liked seeing the big canons on Fort Siloso.  That was what they remembered most about the trip.

Funnily enough, when I got home and looked at the pictures I had taken, I noticed that this picture of Ellery and Asher on the blue canon looked a little bit like an illusion.  It looks a little like Ellery is enormous and Asher is tiny.  Had I realised when I took the picture, I would have aligned their feet to make it look more convincing.  I was wondering how that happened, then I realised the barrel of the canon actually widens as it reaches the body of the canon, but from where I stood it looked the same width.  Funny!

Giant Ellery, Tiny Asher

Giant Ellery, Tiny Asher

The barrel is not the same width throughout!

The barrel is not the same width throughout!

Thank goodness for my new baby carrier.  It made it so easy to move around with Alyssa and the boys.  More on that next time!

Our first family of 5 photo!

Our first family of 5 photo!

On the bus leaving the Fort

On the bus leaving the Fort

More about our holidaying on Sentosa in the next post!

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