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Archive for the ‘local excursions’ Category

The weather looked threatening, but thankfully it held up and we could enjoy a night at Fort Canning Park watching SRT’s Shakespeare in the Park – Merchant of Venice.  Armed with picnic chairs and unhealthy McDonald’s grub, we found ourselves a good spot and settled down to what could be our last date night before baby no.3 arrives.

I was immediately stuck by the very modern set, all silver and industrial.  It turned out to be very versatile.  With just a few additions of key props, the same set was able to transport the audience from the open Rialto, to the courtyard of Belmont, to Shylock’s office, to the court room, and even a bar.

This production put the Merchant of Venice in a modern context and sought to show that the themes of justice, class, power and love are still as relevant today as they were in the past.  And references to modern forms of social interaction such as messaging and the use of iPads to screen Portia’s potential suitors was met with audible appreciation from the audience.

Strutting about with their mobiles – Photo taken from the SRT Website

I thought that on the whole the production was of a high standard, with seamless transitions between scenes, and key roles helmed by experienced actors.  I was especially taken by Remesh Panicker’s portrayal of Shylock.  I thought he delivered a stellar performance, giving Shylock a very human and vulnerable feel.  I’ve always had a bias towards Shylock as I feel he’s been wronged and unfairly persecuted by everyone, his stubborn demands for a pound of flesh not withstanding, and I felt this Shylock fit in with my idea of how he should be.  I liked Panicker’s delivery of Shylock’s famous speech from Act 3, scene 1 – “If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”  Unlike many other presentations which usually over dramatise this portion, he delivered it almost matter-of-factly which, to me, emphasized all the more the words in the speech.

Remesh Panicker as Shylock – Photo taken from the SRT Website

There was one disappointing character though.  I felt that the supposedly comic role of Launcelout Gobbo (played by Sean Lai) fell flat.  He was neither funny nor amusing.  Sean’s diction was also a little hard to dicipher at times.  And the very random yells of “ang mo gui” at one point seemed out of place and downright strange (though this might be the fault of the script rather than the actor).

The most interesting thing for me was a new slant that I had never quite noticed in reading the play before.  In this production, Jessica (played by Krissy Jesudason) and Lorenzo’s (played by Johnson Chong) relationship seemed to be headed south, rather than being in the throes of love as I had remembered.  The comparison of their love to famous lovers in history was delivered in a sarcastic and tense manner, as if they were descending into an argument and spiraling out of love.  This was an interpretation I had never comtemplated before.  And the ending of the play further reinforced this view that Jessica almost regrets the actions she has taken as she has betrayed her father and is left with a man whom she is not completely happy with.  It was food for thought as Jon and I left the venue, and is something I’m still mulling over.

Gathering of friends in the courtyard of Belmont – Photo taken from SRT Website

Good acting, good sets, good music, good atmosphere.  You should definitely check out this run of Shakespeare in the park.  The show runs until 25 May, and tickets are available through SISTIC.

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Disclaimer: I was given tickets to review the show.  All opinions are my own.

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We were around the Bukit Batok area and since we had some time on our hands, and the weather was good, we decided on a whim to go to Xiao Guilin. Originally a granite quarry, it’s now a park and the quarry area has been flooded to become a lake.

It’s been eons since I went there.  The last time was when I was either in primary or secondary school when I went for a walk with my parents.

The place hasn’t changed much.  Still peaceful and tranquil, though much smaller than I remembered.  There was a couple taking cosplay pictures there, and I suppose it provided the Chinese wu xia (martial arts, swordsplay kinda thing) backdrop they were looking for.

Looking for fish

Looking for fish

Still looking for fish.  There were none by the way.

Still looking for fish. There were none by the way.

Taking a break on the rock

Taking a break on the rock

Lovely Xiao Guilin

Lovely Xiao Guilin

Good for a short walk and to enjoy the peaceful environment.  I loved the beautiful fields of lalangs growing along the hillsides by the path.  Lalang fields seem to be popping up everywhere these days.  Very pretty.

The boys pretended the lalangs were arrows and spears and attacked Jon.  After I pointed out that there was another weed that left it’s seed stuck on your clothes but was pokier than lalangs, Asher cheekily went to pick that and attacked Jon with it too.  Jon was later quite grouchy because the seeds were poking him through his t-shirt when he was driving, so I had to pluck them out one by one! :)

Field of white on the hillside

Field of white on the hillside

Lalangs glowing in the sunlight

Lalangs glowing in the sunlight

 

 

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Asher went for a sleepover with Aidan at my parent’s place again, so it was just me and Ellery who happily said we were going for a date, our second in two weeks.

By the time I dropped Asher off at my parent’s house after watching Rapunzel it was 4pm.  By then Ellery had fallen asleep in the car and I was quite sleepy too, so decided to drive home for a nap.  We ended up napping for a really really long time, and only woke up at 730pm!

Ellery was still keen on going out for a date.  Given the time of the night I could only think of two options – the Night Safari or the newly opened Westgate Wonderland.  Since I’ve heard such good things about the new playground at Westgate, and since there would be plenty of food options for dinner, I decided that would be our date night outing.

What a fun night!

We had dinner at Hot Tomato, a restaurant selling grills, seafood and pastas.  I still hadn’t had my red meat portion for the day so we chose from the steak selection, and Ellery decided on steak and prawns.  We was more than happy that it came with pasta too.  It was very cute to see Ellery eagerly awaiting his steak.  “Is the steak ready, Mummy?”, “Yay!  Our steak is here!”

Pretending to be a warthog while waiting

Pretending to be a warthog while waiting

Our steak and prawns

Our steak and prawns

The steak was decent, not too dry considering I asked for it to be well done.  The prawns were fresh and juicy, and the pasta was quite comforting.

We then headed to the playground, by which time it was already 9pm – bedtime.  Oh what the heck!

Ellery had such a good time.  He absolutely loved the playground inside the giant flowerpot, and kept going up and sliding down, climbing up, and sliding down again.  Over and over and over.  Actually, that’s what most of the kids were doing.  It was that fun.  I was especially proud of Ellery because he usually shows some hesitation about going into tunnel slides, and often avoids them altogether.  But here, perhaps because all the other kids were just jumping into it, he went down the double story spiral tunnel slide, no sweat!  I was so happy!  When he had first gone up there I literally prayed for him, that he’ll have the courage to go down.  So happy for answered prayer :)

There's a playground enclosed in there!

There’s a playground enclosed in there!

Wheeeeeeee

Wheeeeeeee

Clinging on like a koala

Clinging on like a koala

The treehouse looked like it would be a lot of fun for kids, but for parents who can’t really follow them up (like preggers me), it got a little worrisome after a while because once the kids climb beyond a certain point, you can’t see them at all!  So for a long while I had no idea where Ellery was.  I went around checking if there were other exits in case he had come down another way.  Thankfully there was only one way up and down from the treehouse, and two exits which came out at the same side.  Eventually it was time for the playground to close, so the kids were chased out of the playground, and that was when I finally saw Ellery emerge again.  He said he had gotten lost.

Treehouse playground

Treehouse playground

 

He then ran to the flowerpot for a couple more rounds of climbing and sliding before we left :)  By the time we got home it was 10.30pm!  What a treat!

We’ll definitely head back again with Asher and explore the waterplay area too.  Hopefully Asher will likewise be brave about the spiral tunnel slide!

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Brought the boys to catch the Dinosaurs Dawn to Extinction exhibition at the ArtScience Museum.

Dino welcome

Dino welcome

It was touted as tracing the development of dinosaurs from the pre-dinosaur age of the Precambrian period to when dinosaurs appeared in the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.  I was in particular looking forward to the Precambrian exhibit since none of the other dinosaur exhibitions we’ve been to covered this. Unfortunately, I found the coverage of the Precambrian period to be quite sparse.  There was one room dedicated to it with some exhibits and write-ups, but I guess I was disappointed because I expected a much more in-depth coverage of the period.

Moving from time period to time period, there was also just a short write-up about the changing times.  Mostly there were fossils and models on display, with some information about which dinosaurs or reptiles they were, the meaning of their names and their diet.

Greeted by a fierce Herrarasaurus

Greeted by a fierce Herrarasaurus

Tracing the timeline

Tracing the timeline

The interesting part, for me, was that many of the dinosaurs/reptiles on display were new to me and the kids.  We had not read or heard about many of them.  And the ones that we were familiar with were not usually shown at other exhibitions.  For example, we’ve never seen cynodonts or dicynodonts at other exhibitions.  My favourite was the Ischigualastia. I just thought it’s feet were so cute!  Yes, a bit of a strange word to use when it comes to fossils.  But it was rounded and looked padded.  Not the typical claws you’d expect from these creatures.  Of course once you complete it with teeth and flesh and skin it won’t be so cute anymore.

Cute feet right?

Cute feet right?

File:Ischigualastia skeleton.jpg

The whole Ischigualastia

Ellery’s favourite was the Saurosuchus, a type of reptile not a dinosaur.  It was huge!  And not a friendly looking fellow at all.

Saurosuchus eating some kids

Saurosuchus eating some kids

Asher liked the Sillosuchus because, in his words, “it’s skinny like me!”

Skinny Sillosuchus, and skinny Asher

Skinny Sillosuchus, and skinny Asher

And we got to see the Megalania too!  How exciting!  I didn’t expect to see it here because we had read about it when learning about prehistoric mammals (though this is a reptile, not a mammal.  It was one of the predators during that time).  This creature is from a much later period than the dinosaurs.

Megalania

Megalania

I liked that there were some real fossils interspersed among the replicas, and the boys would get excited and proclaim, “Mummy!  This is a real fossil!”  It was also nice that there were some stations where the kids could get some hands on fun too.

Lots of things to touch and feel

Lots of things to touch and feel

Trying to move like the dinosaurs

Trying to move like the dinosaurs

There was also an impressive display of what Liaoning, China, would have looked like in prehistoric times.  The boys had fun trying to spot the different creatures.

Transported to ancient Liaoning

Transported to ancient Liaoning

Psittacosaurus family by the pond

Psittacosaurus family by the pond

Confuciusornis (with the double tail) flying above

Confuciusornis (with the double tail) flying above

We ended up spending almost three hours at the exhibition, including 30 mins attending their paleontologist workshop where they explain what a paleontologist would do when digging up fossils.  They boys very much wanted to be picked as a volunteer, but unfortunately they weren’t chosen.  But at least the kids got to get up close to the demonstration materials after the workshop and look/touch some of the stuff.

Digging for fossils

Digging for fossils

Dinosaurs Dawn to Extinction runs until 27 Jul 2014, from 10am-7pm.  You can get your tickets from SISTIC and save $2, or buy directly at the ArtScience Museum counter.  There are dino shadow puppet shows daily from 10am-630pm, and a paleontologist workshop at 4pm.

Asher pretending to have the rounded head of the Koolasuchus Cleelandi

Asher pretending to have the rounded head of the Koolasuchus Cleelandi (the creature on the water behind him)

Attack!

Attack!

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My parents wanted to take the olders boys, Asher and Aidan, for a sleepover at their place.  Ellery was actually more than happy to not go.  He hasn’t had much one-on-one time with me, and I guess he was really looking forward to his ‘special day’, as we called it.

He got to decide where we went (zoo), what we did (see the polar bears, racoon dogs, warthogs, animal friends show, crocodile, splash safari, and ride on the carousel), and where were ate for dinner (KFC).

Riding on a manatee

Riding on a manatee

And was he mighty happy or what?

He’d say every now and again, “It’s just you and me, right Mummy?”

I think I need to bring him out alone again soon, before baby comes.

Happy as ever

Happy as ever

Anyway we saw some very interesting things at the zoo.  One of the raccoon dogs gave birth to a teeny tiny baby and we got to see the little baby clinging on to its mummy.  All the raccoon dogs had gathered around one of them, and were licking at something.  Then one of the children there yelled out, “There’s a baby!!”  We strained our eyes to catch a glimpse of it.  It was quite difficult when the raccoon dogs were crowding around, but when they left we saw it!  Not more than 2-3 inches long with black skin, the baby was so small and shivering from the cold.  What an absolute treat to have seen the baby!

The crocodile feeding was also quite interesting.  One of the little crocodiles was so greedy.  It grabbed hold of a huge piece of meat and then swam to a corner to protect it from the other little crocodiles.  It held the meat in the corner, out of reach of the others.  I thought it would eat it up, but it didn’t.  It was just hoarding!

Greedy little croc

Greedy little croc

Anyhoo, it was very cute to see Ellery tucking into a hamburger with gusto, holding it the proper way.  The day was peppered with “I love you, Mummy”, and the last thing he said that day was, “I’m sleepy”, and fell asleep on the car ride home.

Ah, my sweet boy :)

Nom nom nom

Nom nom nom

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We happened to be around the area so Jon suggested that we go look for one of the old school playgrounds in Toa Payoh.  We managed to find the one at Blk 28, Toa Payoh Lorong 6.  If I’m not wrong it’s the only remaining dragon playground with sand.  The rest have rubber mats installed instead.  There is some construction going on next to it and which blocks your way from the public carpark, but you can walk around the construction area quite easily via the makeshift pedestrian walkway.

It’s so different from playgrounds nowadays.  Simple yet fun, there’s just a charm about it.  But that could just be us since we know it’s old and can feel the sense of nostalgia since these playgrounds are from our time.  In any case, the kids had fun as it was their first time playing at this type of playground.

One of several dragon playgrounds

One of several dragon playgrounds

In the belly of the dragon

In the belly of the dragon

Having fun going up and down

Having fun going up and down

Ellery, the eye

Ellery, the eye

fff

My boys :)

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We had gone for the 2012 iLight festival held at Marina Bay, and I remember the kids had a great time interacting with some of the light exhibits.  So I was very keen to take them down for this year’s iLight festival.

I managed to coax my parents to come along, and we started by fueling up at Glutton’s Bay at Esplanade, ordering wayyy too much food but somehow managing to stuff it all in.  Whenever I’m there I can’t stop myself from ordering the hokkien mee and the or-luat (oyster omelette).  The hokkien mee is cooked with a punchy stock, giving the final product a wonderful flavour.  The or-luat also beautifully balances the chewy texture of the starch with the crispiness of the fried eggs, topping it off with fat, juicy oysters.  Yum!

After stuffing ourselves, we very much needed a good walk to work off our dinner.  And boy, did we have a good walk.

We started by checking out the performance by Tribal Tide at the Esplanade’s outdoor theatre.  They were performing as part of the Mosaic Music Festival.  We were drawn there by their irresistible beats, created using a variety of drums from Africa,  India, South America and other parts of the world.  It’s the kind of music that just makes you want to move.  I could have stayed there all night if I didn’t already have other plans to see the iLight exhibits.  Plus the kids were in need of some physical activity – they took to climbing all over Papa during the performance, and I was getting worried about his back :)

Tribal

Tribal Tide performing as part of the Mosaic Festival

(clockwise from left) Shooting Kung Kung the minute they saw him, climbing all over him, attempting to sit on the funny curved bench

(clockwise from left) Shooting Kung Kung the minute they saw him, climbing all over him, attempting to sit on the funny curved bench

We decided to walk across the Esplanade Bridge, past Fullerton to go see The Pool exhibit at the Promontory.  The idea was that from there we could walk the rest of way around the bay area and catch the rest of the exhibits without having to double back at any point.  That plan worked out well, though it took much longer than expected!  We took a grand total of 4 hours to complete the round!

We walked at a leisurely pace, stopping to see the various sights and exhibits, even catching the Marina Bay Sand’s laser light show at 8pm from the Fullerton side (which I think is nicer than watching it from the MBS side). Because there was always something new to see, plus the fairly breezy (though slightly hazy) weather, the time passed really quickly.  It was only during the last one hour that we started to feel our feet ache and checked the watch.  We were surprised to see that we had spent so much time there!  The boys really impressed me too.  Asher walked the entire way, while Ellery walked almost all of the way – I carried him for a few 5 minute stretches during the last 30min of our outing.

I thought this year’s line up of exhibits was more interesting as a whole than the one two years ago.  The kids, in particular, loved playing at The Pool.  It’s an exhibit made up of giant concentric circles created from interactive circular pads.  You can jump onto the various pads, and when you do the pad changes colour.  At different times the colour scheme of the pads would change.  For example, all pads start blue and change into rainbow colours when stepped on, or all pink changing to blue when stepped on.  It was pretty to see a path of coloured lights where people had stepped on.

The kids pretended they were Elsa from the cartoon Frozen.  They stomped on the pads and imagined ice forming under their feet :)  I could only coax them away from The Pool by telling them there were other exhibits ahead that we could pretend were made of ice.

At Floating Hearts, a wall of illuminated hearts that passers-by could switch on and off, the kids tried to turn off all the lights.  The iLight guide attempted to convince them that it was prettier with the lights on and proceeded to switch the hearts back on, but this only spurred all the children around to try and switch all the lights off even faster!  It was quite funny seeing half the exhibit darkened, and realising that the upper part was still illuminated only because the children were too short to reach the hearts above!

Ellery liked Joujou-ours, a bunch of teddy bear heads in different colours – and one looking like it had chicken pox.  He happily ran from one bear to another giving them a big hug.

The other exhibits the kids liked were The Wishing Tree, which they pretended was an ice tree (had to stop them from stomping on it!), Happy Croco, more because of the funny sign that said “Please do not enter or Croco will bite”, and Cloud where they could pull chains to turn on and off the lights.

At Flash, Ellery on his own decided he wanted to lie down and rest, and he chose to lie down in the exhibit much to the amusement of everyone around :)  He really looked so comfortable.

iLight Festival 2014 1   iLight Festival 2014 3 iLight Festival 2014 2

If there’s anything that could be improved, it would be signs pointing to where the nearest toilets are – important when you are with little kids.  The map they provide does not give that information too.  FYI, you can duck into the Fullerton Hotel, some portable toilets at the Promontory where Savour (the food festival) is being held, Marina Bay Link Mall (there’s a lift along the Promontory), and MBS.

Also, be prepared to pay through your nose for any drinks.  We brought some of our own, but along the 4 hour hike we drained all the bottles and needed refilling.

The iLight Festival is on everyday from 730-11pm until 30 March.  Check it out if you can!

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Anya celebrated her 5th birthday with a princess mini golf session at Lilliputt.  I was very happy to hear her party was being held there because I’ve been wanting to bring the boys there but we just never got around to going.

I had heard from Del how each hole was done up to show a place of interest in Singapore.  There was the zoo, the airport, the Botanic Gardens, a hawker centre, the port, among others.  The boys agreed that their favourite was definitely the military one where they had to putt the ball through a loop-the-loop, and through the barrel of the tank.

As there were quite a lot of children, they had to break up into groups.  The four Quah and Nair cousins automatically formed one group.  They huddled together very quickly, and Del and I commented on how the in-crowd, out-crowd thing starts quite early.  But it was nice that they had each other :)

The cousin group

The cousin group

The staff there made sure to brief the children properly, and told them the rules – if you take more than 8 strokes you are considered to not have passed that hole.  Well…I think the kids failed every single one of them, but who cares!  I stopped filling in the card after the first hole because there really was no point.  The kids had so much fun trying to get the golf balls through the various obstacles.  It was especially challenging for Ellery, and I had to guide him quite a bit.

At the end of the session, we still didn’t manage to try all the holes.  The boys want to go back again, so I guess we’ll have to make a trip there soon.  Definitely on my list of go-to places if the haze comes back.

Anya looked like she had a wonderful time, and she was a very good host to her guests too!  She made sure everyone had cake, and everyone lined up to get their goodie bags.  Princess manners indeed!

Colouring before the party started

Colouring before the party started

Briefing the kids before they ran off

Briefing the kids before they ran off

The military themed hole

The military themed hole

At the bird park

At the bird park

At Suntec City

At Suntec City

PSA

PSA

Pretty princess

Pretty princess

All the Wees!

All the Wees!

My best attempt at capturing a cousin photo

My best attempt at capturing a cousin photo

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Hot Day at the Zoo

We went for a little excursion to the zoo.   It was a really hot day, and I think the animals felt it too.  The otters were all dipping in the water.  For the first time I saw most of the flamingos sitting in the water, not standing on one leg.  And best of all, the white tigers went waddling through their pool!  We’ve never seen them any where else besides the top of the rocks.  What a treat :)

Cooling off in the water

Cooling off in the water

Handsome fellow

Handsome fellow

Me and the boys :)

Me and the boys :)

Strange boys pretending to be parrots

Strange boys pretending to be parrots

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Jane, her boys, and us headed to the new children’s garden at Gardens by the Bay for a play date.  We had heard about this place and wanted to see whether it was a fun place for the kids.  And it certainly was!

There are two main areas – the sand play area which features a playground and slides, and the water play area.

The playground was quite unlike any other I’ve seen.  It was embedded within a green space, making the playground seem like a hidden world in a forest.  The boys especially liked the jug-like rope parts of the playground, and spent quite a bit of time climbing in and out of them.  I appreciated very much that there were park rangers stationed at the elevated parts of the playground to ensure safety so that parents (like preggers me!) don’t have to scramble up with the kids.

The playground at the sandy area

The playground at the sandy area

Kaizer & Asher in the 'pitcher plants'

Kaizer & Asher in the ‘pitcher plants’

Inside the jug

Inside the jug

Sliding through the foliage

Sliding through the foliage

A big, open slide

A big, open slide

The tunnel slide

The tunnel slide

Spider web

Spider web

Pretending to be caught in the web

Pretending to be caught in the web

Initially the sandy playground-slide area would seem quite big because the slides are located away from the climbing area, but the kids quickly get the layout and if they are old enough it’s quite safe to let them loose to run around on their own.  The slides aren’t the super slick kind, so Asher felt brave enough to try them (he tends to get intimidated by the fast ones).  Kaizer and Titus were really gung-ho though!  They went to wet their bums at the water play area and before going down the slides so that they’d go much faster :)

The water play area featured some interesting spinning poles that I’ve not seen at any other water play area in Singapore.  Asher and I thought it was very fun, but Ellery found the spinning water intimidating and refused to go into the water area when all the fountains were spinning and spraying water everywhere.  He only relented when the poles became stationary again.  But as they started spinning at unpredictable times, he decided to just leave that area altogether and play at the tamer fish themed water play area for toddlers.

Spinning poles at the water play area

Spinning poles at the water play area

Happier here

Happier here

Avoiding the 'poison'

Avoiding the ‘poison’

Lit up at night

Lit up at night

The lot of us had dinner at the amphitheatre area which was shady and well-ventilated.  I had packed fried rice for the kids and specifically instructed the person taking my order to omit the eggs and prawns, but in the end there were still some eggs in it and poor Kaizer and Titus couldn’t eat the rice because they are allergic to eggs.  I felt really bad when Kaizer started itching.  It was a good reminder to myself to double remind and double check when making orders for kids with allergies, and it made me admire all parents like Jane for the trouble they have to go through at every meal to make sure the food is safe for their kids.

Dinner time

Dinner time

Anyway, the boys had fun together, and I was especially happy to see Asher running around with Kaizer because at the moment, Asher is the only boy in his class of 15!  He really needs some boy time.  Thank goodness he has Ellery on a day-to-day basis.

Anyhow, we are already planning to go back there again for another play date, maybe before baby no.3 comes!

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