One steamy Sunday morning, Nyan and Daddy set off on a jungle hike to a place called the MacRitchie Reservoir. It’s a series of trails along the shores of a man-made lake. It was hardly roughing it: the place is a 20-minute taxi ride away, all the trails are wide, well-maintained boardwalks, and the place was mostly heaving with other people having the same idea. Still, it was a nice escape.
This being the Singapore jungle, yes there were monkeys.
And plenty of turtles in the near-shore areas.
Pretty great scenery and a good little break, complete with fresh air and (modest) exercise.
Nyan had some time off from school around Easter, and with the Covid pandemic starting to subside for the moment, we were able to send him to an activity camp. We chose “Multi-Activity” which included, well, multiple activities!
There was tent pitching:
And cooking over an outdoor stove:
There were also games like four square, and activities like orienteering, first aid… frankly it reminded us of what Daddy learned to do in Boy Scouts!
Lots of kids, and it was a great time by all accounts.
As you’ve seen, we like to stroll down to the coast (about a 10 or 15 minute walk) and play in the sand and just soak in the fresh sea air. Here’s one of our visits from February 2021.
We did some sand drawing. Daddy helped – he’s not quite the artist that Nyan is. Oh well.
We like to connect with nature even at home. Our balcony is filled with plants, one of which is pineapple plant we grew from a fruit we bought at the grocery store. Every once in a while it bears fruit!
Also, remember last year when some birds build a nest outside Nyan’s bedroom window and a baby bird hatched? (Read about it here) Those birds still visit our balcony (and in fact built a fresh nest this spring). One day in February, one of the bird visitors looked an awful lot like the little fella who hatched. Can’t say for sure but we choose to believe it was our little guy, back to say hello!
One weekend in November, Mommy signed up herself and Nyan for an urban gardening workshop, to get back in touch with their green thumbs.
They learned about different types of plants, planting techniques, and more. And it was hands-on! Lots of digging and planting — with several planters full of plants that came home and are now happily growing on our sunny balcony.
The instructors were friendly.
It wasn’t just inside though — there were lessons outside too. And chickens!
(Okay, yes, we know, technically that’s a rooster.)
Regardless, it was a fun and worthwhile way to spend an afternoon!
Singapore is a pretty urbanized, built-out, concrete jungle, but there are a few places where the natural, leafy jungle still rules. The local government has done a good job of protecting these places and putting in well-maintained trails for residents to get back to nature. On two Sundays in October, that’s exactly what we did.
First up was a family outing to a place called Dairy Farm Nature Park. It was, in fact, the site of a dairy farm at one point; the first in the tropics, I’m told. Now it’s hilly paved trails leading to an old quarry. It’s quite popular; too much so, I would argue, but that’s life on a densely populated island during a pandemic when no one can fly away!
We digress. Check out these pics from the hike. There were monkeys:
And there was that quarry:
And some family pics and family selfies:
It was a short walk, and very crowded, but still nice.
The following weekend, Nyan and Daddy set off for a more private hike, this time at a place called Thomson Nature Park. They carved it out of the jungle just a couple years ago, and it’s obviously not too popular yet. That was fine by us! We had the hills and trails mostly to ourselves.
The jungle here was thick:
Some of the leaves grew quite large. Yes, that’s actually a Nyan-sized leaf; it’s not a trick of perspective.
A lovely little stream:
Both hikes were, of course, hot and sweaty, but well worth it. Always nice to get out into wild nature.
We got Nyan a bike with training wheels several years ago, and a while back we took off those training wheels and Daddy tried to teach him to ride down in the basement parking garage. It was not a success. Many months later Daddy thought he’d buy Nyan a real bike and take him to a park where he could ride on the grass — soft in case he crashed. But then the coronavirus came and… yeah. Didn’t happen.
Once Singapore came out of lockdown in June, bike lessons were a top priority for us. But we got smart: we outsourced! Found a local company that does lessons, booked a lesson (actually two lessons, a Saturday morning and a Sunday morning) and off we went.
It was a complete and total success.
First step was learning to balance. Piece of cake.
And then… he was riding. Pretty much just like that – within half an hour of the lesson starting. Impressive! We took a lot of video; here are just a few.
By the way, the lesson was held under a freeway bridge going over the bay. Made for nice views!
We went back for the second day of lessons. Not really necessary, but it made him get even better.
Then it was time to buy his own bike! We stopped by the local sporting goods store where he showed off his chops by riding through the store. (It’s fine; they encourage it.)
In the end, we ordered a bike online as an early birthday present. They delivered it one Sunday evening.
We took it out for a spin around the pool right away:
And many times over the following days and weeks.
It wasn’t long before it became a weekend routine for Daddy and Nyan to take long, leisurely bike rides along the waterfront. Very proud of our boy!
We started to slowly come out of coronavirus lockdown in June 2020, but in a very restrained way.
Nyan started to go back to school, in proper protective garb:
But it wasn’t full-time in-class learning. Here he is in mid-June, excitedly playing some sort of on-line quiz in Mandarin class from home:
Toward the end of the month we were allowed to socially mix again, so we quickly put together a sleepover with Jayden. The boys had a blast of course, playing and watching a movie and reading.
We also took a quick trip one Saturday afternoon to Gardens by the Bay. All the indoor gardens were closed, but we could walk around the jungle-park areas outside. Had it almost entirely to ourselves, and it was a great little trip to get some fresh air and exercise.
How empty was it? This is the passageway from the subway to the park. Usually heaving with people.
To be honest, Nyan wasn’t especially thrilled to be there, as you can maybe see from his body language in these pictures. Oh well. It was a good thing to do.
Maybe best of all: our swimming pool reopened in June! We celebrated with a slow-motion jump:
Swimming lessons resumed soon thereafter, as did his usual goofing around with Pang, his instructor.
Nyan also showed off his somersault moves, after some prodding from Daddy:
Yes, it was good to be back. Things started to really ramp up in July. More on that in upcoming posts!