Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Top five favourite Singapore holiday highlights

I’ve been wading through hundreds of photos from our recent family holiday in Singapore and Bali. It was difficult choosing which photos to share, there were just too many fantastic moments. But like life, holidays can never be one hundred per cent high moments from beginning to end. There were highs, lows and also a few ho-hum days.

After several cuts, I finally managed to pick my top five favourite highlights from our holiday in Singapore, which I think best sum up our holiday story, including all those precious in-between moments that tie everything together.

#5. Flying from Perth to Singapore on Singapore Airlines
We’ve been flying with AirAsia on most of our trips (they dominate so many routes in the region nowadays) I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like flying on a airline from the golden era of air travel. The food, the entertainment, the service. I kind of regret I didn’t treat myself to a few adult drinks on the flight… but then again it was probably wiser to stay alert on my toes with two kids in tow.

Grace got her own seat too as the flight was not very packed. The kids even received special kiddie-sized headsets. And they absolutely loved the goodie packs filled with colouring pads and crayons. Nathan still treasures the reusable drawing board that came with the pack——it was a lifesaver throughout the holiday to keep him busy at restaurants and long dinners with friends and family members.

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#4. Indulging in local hawker fare for breakfast every day
Almost every morning, we headed out to the hawker food hall near my brother’s apartment for breakfast. It was such a nice break away from our usual toast and cereal breakfast routine at home. Rice, noodles, steamed buns, traditional cakes and kueh… life almost doesn’t get any better than this.

And Nathan ventured using chopsticks for the first time with great success. I have to admit that the food was often not the healthiest choice of breakfast, but we were on holiday after all… worry about the consequences later.

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#Getting mesmerised by the sea creatures in the Singapore S.E.A. Aquarium
We went into tourist mode since it was the kids first visit to Singapore. So we checked out the usual touristy spots like the Singapore S.E.A Aquarium. The whole visit there was a big highlight itself for me.

I think I could have spent the whole day wandering around all day being mesmerised by all the sea creatures. Though it was a somewhat different kind of magical time with the kids, with every minute interjected by a “Look at this mummy!”, “What’s that mummy?”, “Why mummy, why?”.

The shark tank was pretty awesome for me…

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The kids were more interested in looking for Nemo and Dory in the smaller fish tanks…

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Nathan thought the giant spider crabs were amazing…

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But if I had to pick my favourite, it would be this massive and super friendly goliath grouper. I always thought fish were kind of brainless, stupid creatures. They don’t care a red cent who the person feeding them is. To me, all they care about is food and not getting caught. But this particular fish really seemed to engage you as you looked at him, he followed you around as you moved, and he had ancient eyes that stared right into your soul. I had a moment when I thought, if I happened to have a spare wish to use (from like a hundred), I’d really like to know what this big guy was thinking.

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#2. Riding on the Skyline Luge at Sentosa
If I had to recommend a top pick of family friendly rides in Sentosa, this would be mine. Of course I haven’t tried them all, but based on my experience with this one, I would not hesitate vouching for it.

The ride consists of two components, a lightly adrenalin pumping Luge ride heading downhill, followed by a slow relaxing skyride back up the hill. So we strapped on our helmets and jumped onto a couple of Luge ‘boards’ which were not unlike go-karts. Hubby took Grace, while I had Nathan and we raced downhill together. So much fun! I got a bit of my adrenaline hit there. Then we hopped onto a chairlift and sat back to enjoy a slow and scenic ride back up to the starting point.

If we went back to Singapore again, I wouldn’t mind doing this ride again with the kids.

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#1. Hearing my little brother say the words ‘I do’ to his wife
This is probably the first wedding I’ve attended that has meant the most to me apart from my own wedding. In that one busy and hectic day, there were so many special moments all wrapped up in it.

The wedding itself was just beautiful and so much fun. My brother and my sister in law put such a lot of thought into all the little details to make it a memorable day for everyone. When the official photos are out I’ll share some of those lovely details here because I’m a sucker for beautiful weddings.

But if I had to pick an ahah moment for me on that day, it would be that one moment as I was sitting there watching my brother recite his vows; And I got that strange feeling when I look at a person I’ve known almost my entire life, as my mind tries to reconcile all the hundreds of images I have of that person--from his three-year old gappy smile and bowl-head haircut; the horrified look on his face that time when we watched a bird we tried to rescue get torn to pieces by our dog; his terribly cheeky grin when I caught him reading my diary… all those images struggling to reconcile into the single image of the man I saw standing up there. I don’t think my mind ever fully reconciled all those images… it just added another dimension to this person I shall have to include in all my future mental image reconciliations of him for always.

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Those are the big moments that stand out for me in my memory of our time in Singapore. But there are also so many special little moments in between that I remember. Many of them were too fleeting to even capture on camera. But I would say all those moments were about the people we loved. Family. Friends. Smiles. Laughter. Hugs. Cuddles. And simply just being together.

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Looking through all our photos, I realised we are quite terrible at taking pictures together. Not that we look terrible in them. It’s just that we were constantly forgetting to snap pictures of ourselves during those special iconic moments. But I think that’s how it is. When you’re in the moment, it’s best just to be in the moment and not worry about pictures and posing. But here are a few that we managed to snap together as a family…

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(At Universal Studios Singapore, Trick Eye Museum at Sentosa and The Gardens By The Bay)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

My two little show stealers

No, I’m not done yet.

I’m still sorting through our holiday photos.

In the meantime, I came across these three gems. My two little show stealers who stole the spotlight at my brother’s wedding march-in while we were in Singapore. We snapped these photos when we were hanging around before the wedding, while these two superstars were waiting for their big show to start.

I just love the progression of expressions in each photo. The second photo is just too precious for words. By the third photo, you can guess that they were getting into their weird and funny faces mode.

Look at these snapshots and I dare you to tell me that it did not make you smile.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Grieving over a (designer) bag

Phew!

So we just got back from our two week holiday in Singapore for my brother’s wedding and an indulgent trip in Bali. Nathan and Grace played very important roles as the ring bearer and flower girl at my brother’s wedding in Singapore.

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So much to share with you guys. I have hundreds of photos to sort through and will post some highlights up once I’m settled in and back into my usual routine.

But first, I have a very sad but important story to share.

You see, our recent holiday ended with a bittersweet tone.

We flew home on Sunday the 10th of May. Mother’s Day. We didn’t plan anything extraordinary for the occasion as the entire holiday had been exciting enough as it is. We just wanted a chilled out, drama-free journey home.

After checking in our luggage, we wandered around the terminal in the duty-free shopping area.

And then, something caught my eye.

That navy-blue Longchamp bag.

Just yesterday I had seen a fake version of it at one of the markets in Bali. It was a pretty good copy too. I was quite eager to buy it then. But hubby wasn’t prepared to fork out any money for it at that time. So we left it at that.

But now here I was, standing before the real thing. The effect of the designer bags on display, surrounded by elegant lighting and shiny cabinets was an entirely different universe from the cheap copies at the markets.

I strolled casually into the Longchamp store and glanced quickly at the price tag on the bag. It was a tad more than I was prepared to pay for a basic bag. So I smiled and thanked the shop assistants and strolled casually out.

Hubby watched me walking back towards him.

How much is it?” he asked.

Oh, never mind. Don’t worry about it”, I said nonchalantly.

I asked you how much is it?” he pressed.

I whispered the figure quietly to him, wincing slightly as I said it.

No problem”, he said without missing a beat.

I stared at him incredulously.

No, I don’t need a new bag”, I protested.

Haiya, it’s okay. Anyway, it’s Mother’s Day”, he insisted.

We headed back to the store. The shop assistants carefully wrapped up the pristine new bag as if it were made of glass and handed it to me.

I was so delighted, I felt like skipping all the way to the plane.

Once we were boarded on the plane, I stowed the bag carefully underneath the seat in front of me. I would not be parted from it even to the overhead storage compartment.

The flight home was not a comfortable one. Grace was feeling very tired and restless and only wanted to stick to me. Upon our arrival, right on cue, she did a big poo. It was one of those awful-smelling, super messy ones. We couldn’t wait to get off the plane to get her cleaned up, changed and go home.

Somewhere in the flurry of activity, the tragedy struck. But I did not realise it until several hours later after we were home, unpacked and got the kids tucked into bed.

I had just settled onto the couch for a breather when it hit me.

Oh no! I left my new bag on the plane!

I could feel the panic rising in my chest.

Phone calls to the airport and airline ensued. Tracking down the right person at the lost and found office was really tricky business.

Two days later after multiple follow up phone calls. No news.

My last conversation was with a very condescending woman who basically told me that there was no hope. If it hadn’t been handed it by now, it probably never will be. But they will keep the report open for now just in case.

I couldn’t help crying.

I told hubby I was so, so sorry for losing the bag.

I cried some more in the shower later that evening.

It might seem silly to grieve over a bag.

A designer bag.

But still a bag.

Through my tears, I discerned that I grieved not for the loss of the bag itself. But what it represented.

It was the fact that the bag itself was a gift. It was treasuring the moment when hubby waved off my protests over the price tag insisted on buying it for me anyway. I would have carried the bag proudly not because of the brand name on the bag, but I would take every opportunity to tell everyone who noticed it that it was a gift from my loving husband.

As it is, this story (and photo below) is the only thing I have left to preserve of the designer Longchamp bag I owned for six hours (but never used), which my dear hubby bought for me.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

The best podcast series

One of my favourite things about planning a holiday, is thinking about the little things to bring along to fill in any waiting times or gaps between activities… like a good book or magazine, a solid music playlist, colouring sheets for the kids, maybe even a small knitting or crochet project.

For ages I had bookmarked this top recommended podcast called: Serial – an investigative journalistic series hosted by Sarah Koenig.

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I decided that this trip would be the perfect time to listen to this greatly talked about series. So I added it to the podcast playlist on my phone so it would all ready to go once we set off. I thought I should give it a quick test just to make sure it worked. So I hit the play button for the first episode in the series, The Alibi, to listen in for the first few minutes… and I WAS HOOKED. It is so good I tell you. The story just gripped me and wouldn’t let go.

Here is the background on the story behind this series:

On January 13, 1999, a girl named Hae Min Lee, a senior at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County, Maryland, disappeared. A month later, her body turned up in a city park. She'd been strangled. Her 17-year-old ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was arrested for the crime, and within a year, he was convicted and sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. The case against him was largely based on the story of one witness, Adnan’s friend Jay, who testified that he helped Adnan bury Hae's body. But Adnan has always maintained he had nothing to do with Hae’s death. Some people believe he’s telling the truth. Many others don’t.

The entire investigation revolves around a real murder case. Adnan Sayed was convicted of first degree murder and is now spending a life sentence in prison. However Sarah Koenig (the host of this series) has doubts about his guilt. So she decides to undertake her own quest for the truth.

I was so hooked that I ended up listening to all 12 episodes in the series before the trip. Sigh. So there goes my holiday podcast playlist plan.

If you haven’t listened to this series before, I highly recommend it.

Have a beautiful week!