Let’s take a look at some of those smaller moments of the month of April 2018.
Nyan decided one evening to make a book about space rockets.
Some random photos:
One Sunday afternoon we went to an event at the Singapore Cricket Club. It was an adults-oriented event, but Nyan was very well behaved. He kept busy by trying chocolate-covered strawberries for the first time, and by then getting a sugar rush that had him running all over the place.
More randoms, including a birthday card he drew for Valentina:
Finally, just a couple of family portraits — family selfies, really. Felfies?
A few weeks back, Jayden’s parents organized a little get-together for a handful of kids at a nearby indoor wall-climbing place. Daddy had been climbing once before and loved it; Nyan hadn’t been but said he was willing to give it a go. So off we went!
The afternoon started with everyone getting fitted for their harnesses and going through a safety and how-to briefing. Nyan, of course, had to put on his most miserable face for the camera.
We did some climbing on the walls, but it wasn’t long before Nyan and Jayden decided they’d rather spend some time in the little area that simulates, I guess, cave climbing — with more of a slope to the wall, and not as high.
It was fun, but it wasn’t long before one of the staffers came over to tell us that while kids aren’t exactly banned from that part of the facility, they aren’t exactly encouraged to be there either. We took the hint and headed back to the climbing walls.
Here’s our boy bravely scaling the wall:
And here he is, live. Jayden too.
Okay, so Nyan isn’t yet the next [insert name of a famous rock climber here]. And maybe he never will be. But he gave it a go, and didn’t give up when the going got tough. Well done, Nyan!
Nyan’s a sociable little fella, and he seems to be pretty well-liked by most of his peers and classmates. Let’s take a look at some recent interactions.
His old friend and former classmate Valentina had a birthday party at her condo in April, so we got to catch up with her and with some other former classmates like Isla and Abi. There was swimming:
And cake and food:
And general play:
It rained pretty heavily for part of the party, which led Nyan to narrate some goofy weather reports. (We think that’s it — hard to hear for all the rain!)
The most fun, surely, came when the kids all discovered the condo’s handball court. Kids + handball court + balloons = mayhem!
Of course, no mention of Nyan’s friends is complete without plenty of mentions of Jayden, his classmate and friend from the other side of our condo complex.
Here are the lads running wild one morning after a sleepover:
Another friend is a girl Lara. She’s 10 or so, lives in the apartment just below us, and is often downstairs in the evenings, running around with the other kids. She’s quite nice and takes good care of the younger kids. One evening she gave Nyan a scooter ride.
Finally, one Friday morning in April, Nyan’s school hosted a family PE event, where the adults and the kids played various games like dodgeball and whatnot. Lots of kids, lots of activity, lots of sweating. Here’s Nyan, making silly faces as he sits with his classmates:
And various shots from before and after the events.
No actual video of the games, since Daddy was too busy running around and being chased by the kids!
He’s off to a new school next year and surely will make even more friends and pals there.
Daddy loves to scuba dive. Nyan is too young to dive — you have to be at least 10 years old — and in fact has yet to even snorkel (though we plan to change that this summer!). Still, he was pretty excited to accompany Daddy to a scuba diving exhibition at our local convention center.
The place was chock full of stalls selling all kinds of dive equipment, booths staffed by various dive resorts or destinations, and environmental groups touting the need to, say, reduce the use of plastic and to stop ordering shark fin soup — all good and valid concerns. There were also attractions specially set up for the kiddos.
Like one where the kids are strapped into a harness, lifted up by a sort of crane, and then lowered down into a faux water tank, where the kid — still suspended — does things like clean up ocean trash or count the number of fish. Here’s our boy getting strapped in:
He looks a little dubious. But once he got going… well, let’s roll tape:
Yeah, he loved it. Loved it so much, in fact, that he went back a second time.
There was also a tank of mermaids.
Probably Nyan’s favorite activity was the faux fishing boat. It was set up by a company called Dynaglass, which makes fiberglass stuff — like boat hulls. Nyan was able to climb onto a modest-sized boat, grab a fishing rod baited with a magnet, and catch a paper ‘fish.’
Here’s the fisherman in action:
As with the fake diving, he enjoyed the fake fishing so much that we returned a bit later for another round.
He not only got some fake fish; he also got some sweet Dynaglass branded products, including a nice thermos that he now uses as his daily water bottle, and a Dynaglass baseball cap that he’ll often wear to school.
Here are a few random shots from the show — including one of that hat.
Nyan says he wants to go diving with Daddy someday. Til he can do that, we’ll just have to come back to this dive show each year!
Check out this two-minute video from a recent scrimmage at our boy’s Saturday afternoon soccer club.
Okay, clearly, he is still not the most aggressive or talented soccer player. But he has fun, he’s getting exercise, he’s not bad on defense, and we do think he’s showing improvement in his overall skills! And check out near the end how he got pushed to the ground. Our boy just popped right back up, no whining or fussing or retaliation, and got back into the action. That’s our boy!
Bonus video: a little blurry and a little shaky. Just Nyan running around the field.
Second in a series documenting our family vacation to Gunung Mulu National Park, deep in the rainforest of Malaysian Borneo.
Deer Cave and the Bats
The park is perhaps best known for Deer Cave and Lang Cave. To get to these two caves, which are very close to each other, you take a pleasant hour-long hike through the jungle. It’s well worth it, as they are remarkable. They were formed over thousands (millions?) of years by rivers and streams coursing through the limestone landscape. As such, the caves tend to be long (hundreds of kilometers in some cases) and really, really tall inside.
Here are some shots from inside (and just outside of) the caves.
And here are our heroes, inside the caves, just outside the caves, and on the hike to the caves.
The real draw of these particular caves happens at dusk each evening. The caves are home to millions — literally millions — of bats. At sunset each night, they emerge from the caves to go hunting for their dinners for the night. They come out in batches by the thousands, soaring in swirling, fractal-looking formations as they try to avoid any pattern that could make it easy for the hawks and other birds that are waiting outside the cave, hoping to catch their own dinner.
There’s a nice clearing just outside of Deer Cave where the park has set up benches for people to sit and watch. The bats emerge anytime between 4pm and 6pm, so there’s a fair bit of waiting, but it’s fine as it’s beautiful and bucolic — feels like something out of Jurassic Park.
Here’s Nyan waiting, along with some pictures of the scenery.
Finally, after an hour or more of waiting, the bats started to come out. We managed to grab a bit of video, though it’s hard to really capture the experience:
Pretty cool, eh?
The Night Walk
Also cool was the night-time stroll we took through the jungle, with a guide who pointed out all the wildlife we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. There was a Huntsman spider the size of your fist. Lots of stick bugs. Lots of birds sleeping (they sleep at the very end of very thin branches. That way, if a snake tries to slither out to catch it napping, the branch will wobble and the bird will wake up and fly off to safety). Oh yes, a few snakes, including a big one (maybe five feet long) coiling its way around a tree trunk. Lots of frogs too. Not a lot of photos, because nighttime, but here are a few.
Speaking of snakes, our guide found a baby snake — blondehead was the species, I think — and offered it to Nyan to touch. And touch it he did, the brave little guy.
Here are some frogs – a couple on the back of a leaf, and one that our guide picked up and held for a minute. The frog was none too happy about that.
Here’s that spider I mentioned:
And the stick bug. Yes, it’s a bug that… looks like a stick.
Our intrepid night walker, decked out in his night-vision goggles.
Finally, the same intrepid night walker on the ride back to the resort, looking happily exhausted.
Deep in the Malaysian Rainforest
As mentioned, we took a *lot* of photographs on this trip. We hate to have them go to waste, so let’s take a look at some of them.
Random shots from the jungle:
Random shots of Nyan and his peeps:
The Marriott Mulu Resort
Our days (and some evenings) on this trip were spent getting dirty and sweaty. Our evenings were spent at the very nice Marriott resort just outside the national park. No roughing it here!
There was a nice pool at the resort, where we spent some time in between jungle hikes. That’s Nyan with his new friend Freya (sister to Noah, whom you will see later on) in the pool.
There was also lots of reading going on, even while walking:
Some shots from around the resort, including Nyan inspecting giant jungle leaves, Nyan playing around on the gym’s treadmill, and Noah joining us for lunch one day, and helping us realize what it’d be like if Nyan had a younger brother.
Our room had a very comfy bed, which Nyan appreciated.
Finally, nothing much going on in this video, visually. But we took this video early one morning from our balcony, to capture the sounds as the jungle awakens.
Nice and peaceful in its way.
Goofy people Being Goofy
Let’s close out our chronicle of our trip to Mulu with a bit of silliness. Remember those silly pictures from the Miri airport? Here are some more from Mulu.
As part of our spring break travels, we dove deep into the Borneo rainforest and came face to face with cave fish, snakes, trees that rival California’s redwoods in height, fist-sized spiders, and millions and millions of bats. It was spectacular.
Our destination was Malaysia’s Gunung Mulu National Park, a.k.a. Mulu Caves. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site: hiking trails and campsites around some of the deepest caves in the world. Just what the doctor ordered for a nice break from city life.
And what a break it was. Here’s a detailed look, in no particular order, at just some of what we got up to. There was a lot — so much, in fact, that we’ll break this into two blog posts.
Clearwater and Wind Caves
The park was extremely well-managed, and offered numerous guided tours to various caves and other natural wonders. (In fact, you have to take a guided tour at the park — the better to control visitors and their impact on the rainforest.) One of our favorites was a trip up a jungle river to a pair of caves, Clearwater Cave and Wind Cave. We boarded a narrow wooden boat for the ride upstream.
We took lots of pictures on the boat ride.
To get to the caves themselves, we had to hike along some trails and walkways that had been carved into the limestone cliffs. Wind Cave was long and narrow but had plenty of larger chambers, complete with countless stalactites, stalagmites and other cave accoutrement. Clearwater Cave was huge, with the main chamber probably a couple hundred feet tall. There was a river running through it, with fish, and a few places where the ceiling had opened up, allowing light in and creating a great place for moss and other plants to grow.
Here are some pictures of the interiors. Hard to get really good shots, unfortunately, since it’s a cave and, by definition, rather dark:
And the three of us in the caves and on the trails. The little boy in a few of the pictures is Noah; more on him later.
As awesome as the caves were, probably our favorite bit was the refreshing dip in the jungle stream we got to take afterwards. The water was cold — this little swimming hole was fed by the same river we’d seen inside the cave — which was just what we needed after the long, sweaty hikes.
Here are some more pictures from the boat ride:
Lest we forget, the tour included a stop at a local riverside village, where the locals set up tables to sell weavings, wood carvings and the like. It was a pretty low-pressure place, unlike some other local shopping stops we’ve been taken to in other locales, and we ended up with some beadwork lizards for Nyan. But his favorite part of the stop — in fact his favorite part of the entire day, he told us later, better than the caves, the swimming, the boat — was this:
Yes, there were a few chickens wandering around the village, and Nyan spent most of his time watching them. Hey, whatever makes him happy.
The Canopy Walk
Another highlight of the national park (well, it was basically one highlight after another, to be honest) was the Canopy Walk. This is an attraction where you climb some stairs up into the rainforest canopy, about 100 feet above the ground — then you walk from tree to tree, down narrow wooden planks lined by wire mesh netting. It’s not for the faint of heart, I suppose, although it appeared to be very well maintained and safe, and we didn’t feel any sense of danger. Even Nyan was completely fine with it.
And why not? It’s a remarkable way to see the jungle from a whole new perspective, up near the top of the trees. From up there you can see some sky and nearby mountains, as well as the jungle streams and trails far below. The birds and bugs make a non-stop noise, and Daddy even glimpsed a flying squirrel or maybe a flying lizard (yes, they exist) soaring from one tree to another.
Here’s Mommy on the canopy walk:
Some shots of Nyan:
And more photos, including Mommy and Nyan at ground level, just before ascending.
The Jungle and the Airport
We took a ton of photos on this trip. We’ve tried to edit them down, but there are still a lot to share. Here’s a selection of random scenery pictures from the jungle and nearby landscape:
And here, some random pictures of Nyan and his folks in the jungle. Plus Freya and Noah — who were also visiting Mulu with their parents, on a three week trip from England. Lovely parents and lovely kids, and Nyan became fast friends with them. (Freya is 7 and Noah is 4.)
To get into the national park itself, you have to cross over the river from the parking area/drop-off point. The bridge is a springy wood-and-metal suspension bridge that has a hell of a bounce to it, as you can see here. Nyan took to calling it the bouncy-wouncy bridge. (It’s actually much bouncier in real life than it appears on the video…)
And finally, just for fun, the Mulu airport — the only way to get in and out of the national park area, other than a two-day boat ride, since there are no roads connected to the outside world. The airport is not exactly a bustling place – it gets maybe two flights a day on its busiest days. (Plus a couple shots of the view on approach to the airport)
More on this epic trip to Mulu in our next post. Stay tuned…
Nyan had a couple weeks off from school, so in early April we headed over to Malaysian Borneo for some R&R. Our ultimate goal was a national park deep in the jungle — more on that soon — but we started with a couple days in the coastal town of Miri.
That’s the Miri waterfront. Before we got there, though, here we are, leaving Singapore’s Changi Airport on our way out:
Miri itself is pleasant enough, although there’s not much exciting going on there — some okay diving off shore, which Daddy took advantage of, plus some shopping malls and pedestrian-unfriendly streets, and that’s about it — but we found a decent hotel to stay at. It had a nice infinity pool on the seventh floor, so we spent a lot of time there. Nyan enjoyed showing off his jumping skills.
One evening, while Mommy was getting a massage in the hotel spa, Daddy and Nyan went for a stroll and ended up having dinner under the streetlights at a dusty, random roadside place. We had steamed fish, and it was very, very good.
Oh yeah, we also found a giant plant on the same walk.
We had a propeller plane flight out to our next destination, and our ride to the airport ended up being a pickup truck. This pleased Nyan very much.
Here’s our plane, and a fun sign at the Miri Airport.
Finally, this is how we kill time at an airport. Daddy got a new phone shortly before this trip, and while waiting for our flight, he realized that his camera has all sorts of silly and dumb cartoon effects. So of course he took a bunch of pictures with those silly and dumb cartoon effects. Enjoy!