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Tag Archives: Singapore

Family Hikes in the Singapore Jungle

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.

Our hero, ready for some outdoor action

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.

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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Back to School (and the Art Science Museum)

School resumed in August 2020: Year 5! 

He loves to put on a grumpy face for the camera, eh?

Nyan takes the bus to school this year, as does Ellie, the younger girl who lives in our building. They always have a lot of goofy fun on the walk back to the apartment from the bus stop.

Yeah, they held hands briefly one day. When both sets of parents casually mentioned it… well, they both got embarrassed and stopped. Ah well. 

Also in August, we made a Sunday afternoon visit to the Art Science Museum to see the futuristic exhibit we’d been to before. It’s kinda a hodge-podge of visual exhibits, and kinda cool.

One bit has you coloring in a fish or a UFO or the like and inserting it into a computer; a few seconds later, your drawing is making its way across a big screen with everyone else’s. Kinda cool.

The highlight is the exhibit featuring tens of thousands of LED lights arranged in a sort of maze; they flash and change color and it’s all quite cool.

Bonus: we went to the beach one day. Because of the summertime prevailing winds and currents, in August the southern-facing beaches are just covered in flotsam, jetsam, and other garbage thrown overboard by ships (thanks) or washed away from coastal villages that have no waste management to speak of (thanks to you too). It’s nasty, but this day some volunteers were clearing the beach of the debris. Nyan saw and wanted to help! Quite proud of him. 

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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Celebrating Mommy’s Birthday in Style

There was no traveling for Mommy’s birthday in August, so we made do with what we could and booked a night at the Four Seasons hotel. Fancy! Even fancier when they upgraded us to a one-bedroom suite.

Pretty nice! Nyan did what he likes to do at hotels: eat fruit and proclaim he’s a Roman emperor.

The hotel had a small pool up on the roof. We swam, we lounged, we read.

And we just generally chillaxed in the hotel.

Daddy had mentioned Mommy’s birthday to the hotel, so they sent up a huge cart filled with a full tea set — sweets, fruit, drinks, and of course a birthday cake. Very nice!

On one ride down the hotel elevator, Mommy and Our Hero decided to have a quick dance party.

It was so much fun that when we were in another mirrored elevator at a nearby mall for dinner, they did it again!

And back at the hotel…again!

Pretty good dancers, we gotta say!

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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A Slow Return to Normalcy

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!

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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Lockdown: The Beach

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.

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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Lockdown!

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.

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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Back to the Singapore Airshow 2020

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.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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Monkeys on a Nature Hike

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! 

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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A Trip to the Science Center

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.

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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An Afternoon at Haw Par Villa 

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.

A bizarre but cool place! 

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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