During Singapore’s coronavirus lockdown in April and May, we could leave the house for “exercise in the neighborhood.” Lucky us: our neighborhood includes the seashore and a beach, so we made the most of it.
The beach was mostly empty, some of the time:
But we weren’t the only one with this bright idea. Plenty of other kids were there, including sometimes a schoolmate or two. We tried to keep the kids distanced, but kids will be kids.
We went to the beach several times a week — get some fresh air, tire Nyan out a bit. Sadly, the beach was getting too crowded, so after only about two weeks, we showed up one day to find this horror:
The park’s walking paths stayed open so we could still go for walks, but the sand area and in fact all the grassy parts of the park were sealed off and closed. And lockdown got a little bit worse.
In early April, what everyone had feared would happen, happened: the coronavirus started getting out of hand in Singapore, so the government put everyone on a sort of soft lockdown. They didn’t call it a lockdown, and we weren’t exactly restricted to our homes. But everyone was to work or learn from home, and leave home pretty much only to buy food or to exercise in their immediate neighborhood. No socializing, no movies, no bars, no school, no offices. Just… lockdown. (Or, to use the term employed by the local government: Circuit Breaker, or CB – i.e., breaking the circuit of the virus going from person to person.)
Not gonna lie: it wasn’t easy at first, as everyone around the world can relate to! Eventually we found somewhat of a rhythm. But for two long months, we didn’t do a whole lot! Let’s take a look at what litle we did manage to do in that time.
Nyan read! A lot. As always.
Nyan also started reading Game of Thrones on Daddy’s kindle. We indulged him, briefly, just to hear him read. But we didn’t let that continue. The boy is still just a little young for that one…
There was plenty of time to play with toys too.
Screen time too: zoom calls with friends, watching youtube, even a little online chess. We tried to keep the screen time to a minimum.
We also got in the habit of watching a movie most evenings. Not every evening, but several times a week. We watched all of the cartoon series Avatar: the Last Airbender, and most of the Studio Ghibli films.
And yeah, we slept a lot. And Daddy took a lot of pictures of Nyan sleeping. Because there wasn’t much else to do!
In upcoming posts we’ll look at a few other things we did, like going to the park and getting exercise. Stay tuned.
The Singapore Airshow is held every two years. It’s mostly a way for airline manufacturers and (especially) defense contractors to get together and sell their stuff to companies and governments across Asia. But they also open it up to the public who can come tour some planes, see fighter jets doing acrobatic things, and the like. We went in 2016 and again in 2018 (see here). So of course we were gonna go in 2020.
Or would we? The coronavirus was spreading ahead of the show’s February date, and restrictions were being put in place. There was even talk about canceling the show, but they ended up going ahead but with fewer tickets sold to ensure smaller crowds. We debated whether it was safe to go but correctly decided it would be. So Daddy and Nyan headed there one Saturday afternoon.
It was fun! It definitely wasn’t as big as in past years — several airplane exhibitors pulled out — but we still had a good time.
The Chinese Air Force was on hand, showing off their skills and their fancy planes.
The US military was also there, of course — two superpowers fighting for military and commercial control of Southeast Asia! Or something like that. Here are some of the planes on display — most years this tarmac is packed with aircraft and heaving with people. This year, not so much.
So, a subdued airshow. But still a good time. We’ll surely be back in 2022.
Off in Western Singapore is a fairly tall hill (by Singapore standards at least) that’s covered in jungle and criss-crossed with some steep, though well-paved, trails. It’s the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, and it’s a popular place for people to go hiking on the weekend. So one hot Saturday afternoon in February 2020, that’s exactly what we did.
It happens to be very close to where BFF Jayden lives, so Jayden and little brother Jonnie came with. And those three boys weren’t the only monkeys on the trail!
It was a good long hike, steep in parts (as mentioned) and very sweaty.
But it was a very nice stroll through the jungle.
Finally we reached the top and celebrated by climbing atop the ceremonial boulder.
Bonus behind-the-scenes material: Nyan and Jayden walking to the subway station on our way to the park:
And dancing as they waited for the subway:
Special bonus: just outside the park was a small cafe. We didn’t go in, but Nyan the sloth-lover absolutely had to get a picture taken with the sign.
An afternoon of sloths and monkeys. Nothing wrong with that!
One lazy Saturday February afternoon, Daddy and Nyan decided to visit the Singapore Science Center. It’s a kid-friendly place filled wit exhibits, hands-on activities, demonstrations and interactive displays about all kinds of science. We’d been once before, soon after we moved to Singapore, and were less than impressed, but it turns out Nyan may have simply been too young, as he had an absolute blast this time around.
The mirrored optical illusions and psychedelic video displays were cool:
Nyan was impressed by the bust of famed cosmonaut Yuri Gargarin (first human to travel into outer space, as Nyan has known for years!).
The hall-of-mirrors maze was a lot of fun, even if it did take us a while to find our way out!
Nyan loved to stomp on the digital floor fish:
And there was an escape room of sorts, except you were inside a crippled spacecraft and had to solve logic puzzles to fix the engine, get the oxygen flowing again, etc. Fun!
But the best part of the trip, in Nyan’s mind at least, was this. Sorry, but what 8 year old can resist a visit to the … Cheeky Fart Chamber??
Well, it was educational and it was science, and Nyan loved it. What can you do.
Out in the western part of Singapore is a place called Haw Par Villa. They call it a theme park but it’s more like… a bunch of bizarre statues. Here’s what Wikipedia says about it:
“The park contains over 1,000 statues and 150 giant dioramas depicting scenes from Chinese mythology, folklore, legends, history, and illustrations of various aspects of Confucianism.”
It was built by a couple of Burmese businessmen who had made a fortune by developing Tiger Balm, and who wanted to do something with their fortune in their adopted home of Singapore. Since Mommy and Phwa Phwa are of course Burmese — and Nyan is half Burmese — it seemed a great place for a visit. So with a few other local Burmese women, off they went one Sunday afternoon.
There were plenty of group photos:
But mostly it was Nyan running around, being wowed by the exhibits, and being goofy with some of them.
There was also a sort of wrestling ring, which Nyan put to good use.
Changi Jewel — the fairly new and very fancy shopping mall attached to the airport, and the place with the gigantic indoor waterfall — wasn’t open the last time Phwa Phwa had visited us, so one evening during her visit in January we headed there for a walk around.
We came across a kiddie barbershop there, and since Nyan needed a trim, we got him one.
And we posed for a bunch of family pics. Nyan of course had to mug for the camera.
Phwa Phwa — Nyan’s grandma — came to visit in late December, and on New Year’s Day, we headed off on a jungle hike. It was a very civilized hike: we followed a carefully maintained metal boardwalk high up into the canopy and through the jungle, ending up at a place called Henderson Waves Bridge, this fancy pedestrian bridge that spans a canyon in the jungle below.
A few pics from the walk:
At one point there was a little paved area with these fun exercise machines. We had to imbibe, of course.
Here we are taking various family photos at the Henderson Waves Bridge.
We close with a few scenic shots from various points along the way.
Sometimes the best evenings are the ones you don’t quite expect. That was a lesson our boy learned one late November evening.
To set the scene: he had been very much looking forward to a return visit to Monster Jam — the monster truck exhibition we had attended a couple years ago. (See our coverage of it here.) There was plenty of marketing, including giant print ads at bus stops, for the show, which was set for early December, a week or so from this particular evening.
So this one weekday evening in November, we decided on a quick visit to the beach for some digging in the sand at dusk. Always a fun time:
After dinner at a waterfront restaurant, we took a stroll home. Our route happened to take us by the Roxy Square hotel, a popular and good-sized mid-priced hotel in our neighborhood. And lo and behold, what was parked outside the hotel to drum up interest in Monster Jam?
Nyan’s favorite Monster Jam truck — Megalodon!
He was over the moon. It was a dream come true — the answer to his prayers, he said later (he clarified that, were he the praying type, this is exactly what he would have prayed for).
Okay, this wasn’t that big a deal in the grand scheme of things, but it made our boy very happy. What’s not to lover about that?
Stay tuned for more about Monster Jam itself in an upcoming post…
August brought Mommy’s birthday, which we celebrated by staying a couple nights at a hotel on nearby Sentosa island. It was quite a treat to be able to feel like we got away from it all, and to only need a 20-minute taxi ride to get there!
The hotel was the Sofitel Sentosa, and it was lovely.
We spent a lot of time in the swimming pool, which included a peacock or two.
The hotel was a short stroll away from the beach, so we hung out there too.
It also had a little pool full of those little fish that eat the skin off your feet and legs. It was a lot of fun!
But the most basic goal of the little staycation was to celebrate Mommy, make sure she got to relax, and for everyone to enjoy some good family time. Mission accomplished!