The school year ended in mid-June, but Mommy and Daddy still had to work. Trying to work with Nyan around isn’t really all that conducive to actually, you know, getting anything done. So what to do? Send him to camp!
Nyan’s too young for any sort of overnight camp (if such a thing even exists in Singapore), but there are lots and lots and LOTS of day camps available, covering everything from language to sports to cooking to technology to flying airplanes (no, really. But only for older kids). So in between various travels, we signed Nyan up for a bunch of week-long all-day camps on topics including Mandarin, science, computer coding and math. The camps were a combination of fun and learning, which is perfect for our boy, who loves learning but is still a little boy who loves to have fun.
First up was a week of Mandarin at the mall down the road, to brush up on his Chinese. We think it was a success; he definitely had fun. Here’s Nyan and some of his camp-mates, burning off steam outside the learning center after a day of instruction.
To celebrate a job well done, on a couple days Daddy took Nyan to an indoor toy/play space in the same mall to play for a while. Nyan loved it.
Walking to the play place:
Playing with cars and trains:
Another day, we visited a trampoline-play place they had set up temporarily in the lobby of the mall. Nyan was joined by a couple of classmates.
Nyan was especially fond of his camp-mate Isabel, a girl a year younger, to the point where they insisted on a playdate the weekend after camp. Here they are, at camp and at play (including feeding Isabel’s baby sister):
He also spent time at a place called Camp Asia, which offered the rest of the courses.It was at a school campus a few miles from home, and each morning they sent a big bus to collect Nyan and dozens of other kids from around the neighborhood. Each afternoon, the same bus dropped them off.
His first week at Camp Asia was Science Camp. Jayden was in the same class, and the two young scientists learned about magnets, chemistry, astronomy and more. Here’s the activity book Nyan brought home after a day of learning about physics.
Finally: We were a little worried that he might not be that into Mandarin camp. That wasn’t the case, as you can see from all the fun he was having at the end of the day. But he was also in a very cheery mood on his way there, bright and early each morning. Check it:
One day in June, we got together with Kyle and his family for a fun-filled Sunday afternoon. We don’t see them often enough, but Nyan and Kyle always reconnect immediately and have a blast.
Here are the boys, goofing around.
We spent a little time at East Coast Park, catching bugs and listening to wild boars grunting in the jungle (heard them, didn’t see them). Kyle’s sister Kara is growing up nicely, and is developing a little bit of attitude, which she wasn’t afraid to show to Nyan!
The boys (and the girl) had a fun time playing various games and toys:
We ended the day with a very long, very energetic time in the pool. I think we were in the water for about two hours? Got home much later than planned, but it was well worth it.
After our visit to Hong Kong Disneyland, we popped over to Macau. The former colony of Portugal is now part of China, but has its own identity, including old colonial buildings and a growing number of super-mega-casinos. We figured we should check it out at least once, though we had pretty low expectations, to be honest.
But Macau surprised us very nicely! The casinos were as gaudy and overdone and gross as you’d expect, but the rest of the town was charming, the food was great, and it was just a very pleasant, if quick, trip. Let’s take a look.
To get there, we took a ferry from our hotel near Disneyland to downtown Hong Kong, then walked over to another ferry terminal and boarded a high-speed boat bound for Macau, about an hour away.
We had about 36 hours in Macau total, which we filled by walking around a lot and just playing tourist. Here we are in various poses and positions (click to enlarge):
As mentioned above, we liked Macau quite a bit, and much more than we expected. We didn’t take any pictures of the casino resorts, but we took quite a few elsewhere.
One of the most popular attractions is the old cathedral, which burned down a few centuries ago, somehow leaving just the facade standing. Well worth a visit. (It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, too.)
We also checked out an old church, which definitely had us feeling like we were in Europe.
Our hotel featured a very nice pool, which we didn’t use, and a kids’ playroom, which we did. We had trouble getting Nyan out of there, in fact. (There was also a big desk in the lobby that he had fun with.)
Macau has an excellent museum housed in an old fort, on a hilltop just above the cathedral. You can walk around the top of the fort and check out the views and the cannons, and you can walk around inside and gawk at the historical displays and play with a computer program that lets you design an old sailing ship for trade with the outside world (Macau was a big trading port back in the day). We did all of these things.
We also took a cable car up to the top of another hill.
Up there were more great views, hiking trails, and random pieces of exercise equipment, which we had to try out.
It was a whirlwind tour of Macau, but we left satisfied and wanting more, and we decided we would happily return to Macau for more exploration. Will we actually do so, given all the other places around Southeast Asia to visit? Hard to say. But if we do, we’ll be quite happy.
We celebrated the end of a successful school year with a family trip to Hong Kong and nearby Macau. We didn’t spend much time in Hong Kong proper this time around. Instead, we were at… Disneyland!
Here’s the intrepid traveler on his way out at Changi Airport in Singapore, the day after school let out for the summer.
We had a nice little hotel in Discovery Bay on Lantau Island, close to both the Hong Kong airport and Disneyland itself. Various views from the room:
Enough of all that… let’s go to Disneyland!
One of Nyan’s favorite bits of Disneyland was the Sword in the Stone, which we returned to several times during the day:
The Merry-Go-Round was pretty nice too. Here’s Nyan and Mommy getting ready
and off they go!
Another favorite: the Dumbo ride
Some photos from various rides:
Other big hits were Winnie the Pooh and It’s a Small World. We were frankly less than impressed with Hyperspace Mountain (too jarring) and the Iron Man 4D ride (for Daddy at least, it elicited more carsickness than excitement). Daddy went on another roller coaster on his own, and it was good:
Another big hit, also in the Wild West section, was this huge gold nugget:
Nyan being Nyan, there was plenty of goofing around.
It was a fun, sweaty, exhausting day. After dinner and an early bedtime, we were up the next day for a ferry ride to downtown Hong Kong.
We were there to catch a high-speed ferry over to Macau… more on that in our next post!
Mid-June saw the end not just of the school year, but of Nyan’s first primary school altogether, as it is being closed so the land can be redeveloped as public high school.
Before that, though, there were lots of activities, events and special days. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Each morning all year long, one of the children would ring the gong, alerting everyone that it’s time to head to the classroom. One day in June, it was Nyan’s turn!
Another day, Nyan’s class showed off their song-and-dance moves. That’s Nyan on the right, behind a very enthusiastic Nadia:
His class held an ‘art competition’ in which every kid was invited to turn in their best drawing or painting. Nyan took part; he didn’t win with his submission, “Robot Factory Train” — we never heard who did win — but the point, of course, was just showing off his chops.
One day was declared to be ‘express yourself day,’ when the kids could skip their uniform and wear whatever they wanted. Nyan’s outfit, which he picked out himself, wasn’t bad, we thought.
On the very last day, just before dismissal for the last time, they had a special flag-lowering ceremony.
That same day, Nyan’s class had a potluck lunch where everyone got to hang with their friends for the last time, at least the last time at Chatsworth East.
Finally, some pictures of our boy on the morning of the last day. So long, Chatsworth!
Just before the end of the school year, Nyan’s classmate Riley had a birthday, so one Sunday morning in June we headed up to the climbing-wall place where we happened to have been for Kyle’s birthday earlier in the year.