Category Archives: singapore

To Market, To Market … at Pek Kio

“A bridge to the past, which reminds us what was here, what our previous generations did here, what our parents built here and what we have inherited and want to make here.” – PM Lee Hsien Loong, re-opening of the Pek Kio Community Centre, 28 July 2013

Pek Kio is bordered by Balestier Road, Kampong Java Road, Moulmein Road, and Serangoon Road.  It’s named after a “white bridge” (in Hokkien) that once spanned Kampong Java Canal. When Singapore’s bridges were first built, they were named after the colonial authorities – and promptly nicknamed by the locals who couldn’t quite pronounce ang-mo names! So the areas around the bridges were named after their colours, such as O-Kio (Black Bridge) = Balestier, Pek Kio (White Bridge) = Moulmein and Ang Kio (Red Bridge) = Ang Mo Kio. Pek Kio was also known as Little England, as many roads are named after English places, such as Cambridge, Hampshire and Oxford.Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 10.47.38 pmThe (redesigned) Pek Kio Market and Food Centre was completed in 1984. Although not as large or popular as the nearby Tekka or Whampoa Markets, it’s a place we visit almost every Saturday morning as it has something for everyone: Eat, shop, play and exercise!

IMG_0146
First: “Train” at the IPPT track opposite the center
IMG_3947
Next: Eat breakfast, alternating between peanut pancakes, chwee kueh, carrot cake, porridge, prawn mee, wanton mee…
After breakfast, check out old school treats like butter cigarette sticks, egg pandan, gem and ABC biscuits

Then, hop by the wet market to re-stock on local goods and browse fresh supplies while the kiddo heads off to the (many) playgrounds nearby with dad. We don’t do our entire week’s shopping here – as there are 6 of us at home and we’ve got rather varied diets!  IMHO, the selection isn’t that fantastic here, but it’s a good place to pick up something you’ve missed (or couldn’t find) – and it’s definitely cleaner and less crowded than many other wet markets.
IMG_3933 IMG_3931

Fresh, tasty fish balls!

Support local fruit farms

How to get here:
Bus 131 – bus stop B50081 right in front of the center
Farrer Park MRT – 8 mins walk from Exit D
Ample parking around Cambridge, Dorset and Owen HDB sites

Want to know more about Pek Kio’s history?  Check out:
http://www.ghettosingapore.com/key-historic-events-in-pek-kio/
http://www.nea.gov.sg/public-health/hawker-centres/the-story-of-hawker-centres-upgrading-programme-(hup)/did-you-know-/pek-kio-market-food-centre
http://remembersingapore.org/2011/04/04/old-names-of-places/

Follow our “To Market, To Market” Blog Train as we visit a different market each day with a different parent blogger!
LifesTinyMiracles

Next up is Meiling, a mom blogger who blogs at Universal Scribbles about her parenting adventures with her two children and her personal growth as a mom, wife and business woman in sunny Singapore. While she has fond memories of her weekly trips to the Tiong Bahru and Chinatown wet markets with her mother, she has no such luck with her children who much prefers the appeal of newer marketplace. Check out her post next and see where she takes her kids to market to market…

11894701_10153633235789427_110557788_o

For more updates and reviews, follow Finally Mama on Facebook and Instagram.  

There’s no place like home

Last weekend, hubby and I went to Maldives with little B to celebrate our tenth anniversary.  It was a magical time where we unplugged, soaked in nature – sun, sand and water, ate fresh organic food, and rode bicycles, boats and buggies as our only mode of transportation from sunrise to sunset.

Magical MaldivesLast week’s trip did wonders for my soul, but this recent long weekend back in Singapore warmed the heart.  The SG50 celebration meant a lot to us in big (national) and small (personal) ways, and it was this extended time – with family and friends, locals and expats – who all call Singapore home, that made it so special for us.

IMG_4695Like many, we had a wet start to the celebrations and tried to visit a few SG50 public events (e.g. Marina Bay Sands, Botanic Gardens). In the end, the highlights were the parties we hosted at home – an evening NDP 2015 viewing party with good friends, and a brunch playdate for B’s friends the next day.  There was more fun and laughter, food and drinks, adults, kids and babies, and TV watching (i.e. live streaming via AirPlay) in our house than we’ve had in a long while!  We spontaneously broke out into ooohs and aaahs when the jets flew past and the fireworks came on, sang along to HOME when Kit Chan took the stage, stood up to sing Majulah Singapura and recite the national pledge. Hubby and I also had a sense of nostalgia as this might be the last time we could view all of this – from a distance at our balcony as we will be moving next year.

IMG_4679
CG Connect Viewing Party, August 9, 2015
FullSizeRender 3
SG50 Playdate, August 10, 2015

The kids got on famously (thank God!) and devised their own impromptu games and craft (who said creativity is dead in our age of technology?)  We even made our version of old school pick-up sticks with some paint and extra wooden chopsticks 🙂

IMG_4722

B and I had some 1-to-1 learning moments together too, thanks to the Sparkanauts National Day parent bonding package:

My heart is full as this long weekend draws to an end.  Happy 50th Birthday, Singapore!  I’m grateful and proud to call you my country, my home.

IMG_4669
SG50 Carnival at Botanic Gardens

For more updates, reviews and giveaways, follow Finally Mama on Facebook and Instagram.  If you too call Singapore your home, come join us at this month’s blog train on “What Singapore Means To Me.” 

What Singapore means to me

Hope everyone is having a great, not too wet, start to our Golden Jubilee celebrations! I’ve been looking forward to the long NDP weekend all week. We caught a fleeting glimpse of the RSAF Black Knights before the aerial show ended early, lunched at MBS and snacked at the nearby home cooked food fair (tip: don’t bother). We’d also planned to visit the Art Science Museum but the queues were just too long. Still, that and the rain didn’t dampen on our spirits as we found other ways to celebrate while being thoroughly drenched!

I’m also excited to kick off a blog train on “What Singapore Means To Me” with my thoughts as a naturalised Singapore citizen. Links to all contributions will be updated below – do join us this month and/or simply enjoy browsing through the posts about Singapore 🙂

Home and a bright future. We relocated here 8 years ago from the US, and friends and family from all over the world would often visit or transfer in and out due to work. One day, I realised that hubby and I had stopped thinking about Singapore as a place to “transit” but one that we truly wanted to raise our family in, stake our careers on, and play our small part in nation building too. So I took up Singapore citizenship 2.5 years ago – and look forward to what lies ahead.

IMG_4649

Little Green Dot.  Growing up in Malaysia, Singapore was always perceived as the “atas” neighbour that was so lucky to have many parks and tree-lined roads. Today, from its freshly minted UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Singapore Botanic Gardens, to the ubiquitous sky-rise gardenspark connectors, nature reserves and neighbourhood parks, Singapore’s delightful and thoughtful approach to urban development has benefited residents and visitors alike, and inspired fans worldwide. What’s more, these are all FREE public spaces despite the immense effort in creating and maintaining them.  So thank you, NParks, the late Lee Kuan Yew and our leaders for setting Singapore on a transformational path that started from the 1960s to become a Garden City and now, “City In A Garden.” What a living example of 前人种树, 後人乘凉 (“one generation plants the trees, the later generations enjoy the shade”).

IMG_4647

Haven for multiple generations. Since making Singapore our home, we’ve also encouraged my overseas parents and siblings to not just visit, but consider staying on as longer term residents.  Many cities don’t fully support the needs of a multi-generational family, with its complex mix of jobs, education, healthcare, transportation, security, social, emotional and physical needs. IMHO, Singapore meets and balances those demands better than many other countries. While not perfect, the government also constantly monitors changes and tries to make improvements on the quality and cost of living, childcare, eldercare, the school system and public transit, and has also acknowledged the role grandparents play in the decision to have (one or) more babies 🙂 Our lives have been so much richer and busier, with three generations in our family to care for each other and make memories together.

IMG_1049

So, whether you’re Singapore born, a naturalised citizen, a permanent resident or just a visitor in “transit”, if you call Singapore home, this “What Singapore Means To Me” blog train has a stop for you. Hop on the MRT by adding your links below and include the blog button (copy the code) in your post.  Majulah Singapura!

Finally Mama

Next on the train is Jenn, who blogs at mylilbookworm. This is where she documents her thoughts on educational, parental, health and investment topics. Check out her blog post on what Singapore means to her and how she spent her National Day long weekend!
Jenn

Contributions on “What Singapore Means To Me”:
Aug 9: Mei at Finally Mama
Aug 10: Jenn at My Lilbookworm
Aug 11: Cynthia at B.C.D.E. That’s Us
Aug 12: Waiwai at PeiPei.HaoHao
Aug 13: Qian Wen at Raising Our Successful Children
Aug 14: Edlyn at MummyEd
Aug 15: Natasha at So Natty
Aug 16: Jennifer at Dino Family
Aug 17: Lin Ying at Bumble Bee Mum
Aug 18: Danessa at Prayerfull Mum
Aug 19: Rachael at MalMal Our Inspiration
Aug 20: Yanxiang at The Littlest And Us Makes Three
Aug 21: Meiling at Universal Scribbles
and more here!

For more updates, reviews and giveaways, follow Finally Mama on Facebook and Instagram.

Singapore’s new Sports Hub

We stopped by Kallang this weekend and checked out the brand new sports hub which opened in June.  The hub includes the national stadium, library, recreation room, museum, water playground and retail mall.  This July, there are quite a few free or special events as many stores and features are not yet open. We used to visit the indoor stadium and waterfront for weekend brunches and family evenings, but hadn’t returned since the rebuilding works began ~2+ years ago. Last time we were there, B was a wee 3 month old baby!  This time, he was an active and chatty 31 month old tot 🙂

At the viewing terrace
The stadium’s retractable seating makes it the only one in the world able to host diverse sports events, concerts, family entertainment shows, national and community events.
The stadium’s retractable roof
The retractable roof and localised comfort cooling technology keeps things COOL
Layout of the 55,000 capacity National Stadium
Layout of the 55,000 capacity National Stadium
Lots of open spaces to run, scoot and bike. There's also a kid's waterpark (not yet completed)
Lots of open spaces to run, scoot and bike. There’s also a kid’s waterpark (not yet completed)
There's even a running track (with toy cars and kid-sized shopping carts) inside the Fairprice Xtra
There’s a running track (with toy cars and kid-sized shopping carts) inside the Fairprice Xtra
Large chess set and Wii games in the library/rec room
Large chess set and Wii games in the library/rec room
WP_20140713_02320140713203830
The gorgeous view from the stadium
WP_20140713_045
Admiring the lights as we take a stroll after dinner

Linking up with:

new button

Sentosa staycation and toddler activities

A few weeks back, we redeemed a complimentary 2 night stay at the W Sentosa to coincide with our 9th wedding anniversary. This was B’s first staycation and he still asks to “go to Sentosa” and even “stay at the W again!”  Don’t worry B, we will return soon but maybe not  at the W though the hotel food, pools, design and decor were amazing. IMO, there wasn’t anything special for children (even though B was fine without at his age) and it’s located a bit far out if you don’t have a car – see the latest Sentosa island map here.

LOVE at the W
LOVE at the W

Here’s some ideas on what to do with young kids under 3 years at Sentosa based on what we did then (and previously):

Skyline Luge Sentosa: Newly revamped in early May, with a few more exciting rides planned, this is a must-do for families. Get there by 10a to avoid the lines and heat.  Various fares are available depending on how many people, the number and type of rides. Kids need to be at least 80cm to be accompanied on the skylift and ride tandem for luge.  To go solo, kids need to be over 110cm on the luge, or at least 135 cm on the skylift.  BTW, head over to Gingerbreadmum’s family pass giveaway (4 sets of 1 skyride and 1 luge tickets). Good luck and good riding! 

Getting ready to board the skylift together
Top of the skylift at the Imbiah lookout
Sentosa Luge & Skyride
Wheee! Going down the luge

Port of Lost Wonder: Entrance fee cost S$15 per child, and free for all accompanying adults (!). Each admitted child gets a Port Pass and 100 curios (5 curios cost S$1). We went around collecting stamps (exchange 5 for a prize), redeeming curios (e.g. Wonder Craft workshops), ate at the Port Belly cafe, and then got stuck at the Pirate Ship water playground because B refused to leave! There’s so many other activities we didn’t get to and will definitely return. Note: Coming (back) soon is the BBQ under the Stars, now on the first Saturday of each month.

Pirate Ship ahoy!
Pirate Ship ahoy!
Watch out!
Watch out!

Beaches galore: We were at Coastes and Siloso Beach a while back for an Easter playdate, so we checked out Tanjong Beach and Palawan Beach this time. I found Siloso more suited for nightlife, older kids and adults, Palawan toddler and family friendly, and Tanjong the most peaceful and quiet (read=romantic)

Sand play
Sand play with friends

S.E.A Aquarium: Worth going if you haven’t been, good 1.5 to 2 hour visit that’s very doable with tots (or babies in strollers). B’s been there 3 times already! At our next visit however, we may just do a Resorts World Sentosa hotel staycation on a non-holiday season or weekday, and spend time at the newer attractions at the Marine Life Park, Trick Eye Museum and Universal Studios.

B first visited the SEA aquarium in Aug 2013
B’s first visit to the SEA aquarium (back in Aug 2013)

Dine as, when and how you like: Sure, we had our share of kids meals and bites-on-the-go. But we also took time to just chillax at the W and have relaxed meals out. We strolled along the luxury Quayside enclave, a lovely marina with al-fresco eateries and tot-friendly play areas. We splurged on a RWS celebrity chef dinner (It’s our anniversary after all!) although we’ve also eaten many times at the Malaysian Food Street too 🙂 We made a quasi-healthy pitstop at Jamie’s Italian for lunch before heading home.

A family that eats together stay together
A family that eats together stay together

Linking up with:

new button

 

Boys like to cook too!

We went down to the National Museum in the opening week of the annual Children’s Season. There were many toddler-friendly play areas and activities – all free – for this year’s exhibit on Masak Masak: My Childhood. If you are planning a visit, note that the outdoor lawn dragon and watermelon bouncy castles and some workshops are ONLY on weekends. A bit odd as school holidays are starting and families would rather come on weekdays to avoid the crowds.

Anyways, in line with the theme, B enjoyed masak masak the most. Who said pretend cooking was only for girls?  Watch chef B  whip up his specialty dish of fish and prawns with veggies, even adding sauce and tasting it before serving!

Here’s other sections we enjoyed:

Favourite childhood games like Pick-up Sticks and Five Stones are brought larger than life by SOTA students. This one - Marbles - was a big hit with kids of all ages.
Favourite childhood games like Pick-up Sticks and Five Stones are brought larger than life by SOTA students. This one – Marbles – was a big hit with kids of all ages.
Rouleaux depicts scenes inspired by daily lives and culture, made out of reused toilet rolls and intricate cut-outs. There’s a craft corner  nearby where you can make your own DIY version
Sculpture Scribble recreates works by famous Dadist artists  using old and scrap materials to creatively demonstrate the laws of physics
Sculpture Scribble recreates works by famous Dadist artists using old and scrap materials to creatively demonstrate the laws of physics
Play: Activity stations built around a “home” – kitchen, living, TV and bedroom, garden. B loved the kitchen area with its pretend play, picture and word matching, and local food embossing
Explore: At the top floor, try your hand at chalk drawing at the sundeck, or try audio and light drawing in the studio nearby

At a time when Singaporeans are questioning if they are cultural orphans, it’s good that museums are stepping up to showcase our rich Southeast Asian heritage, and (re)imagine it in a creative, sustainable and relevant way for the next generation.

Linking up with:
new button

Traipsing around Tiong Bahru

May hasn’t been a merry month so far 😦 Once again, the flu bug hit and everyone got sick – at least once. As B and I are still recovering, I decided some fresh air and a little exploring would do us good. So we headed to Tiong Bahru: B liked the tilting train though the slides and flying foxes were challenging for a 2.5 year old – thankfully it was cloudy, the park looks like it could get real hot! Later on, we strolled through the neighbourhood, stopping by Wu Hu Aquarium (oddly, B wanted to eat fish after this!), Woods in the Books and Tiong Bahru Bakery. Will be back next time to visit Ah Chiang’s Porridge, Loo’s Hainanese Curry Rice, Flock or PoTeaTo (with or without B, haha)

Tiong Bahru Park Adventure Playground
Tiong Bahru Park Adventure Playground
Looking down at the mini maze and old school merry-go-round
Looking down at the mini maze and old school merry-go-round
Happy (but now skinny) boy

Linking up with:
new button

What’s playing at Watten

Watten Estate lies between home and B’s school, so we’ve driven past countless times but hadn’t explored till recently. If you venture beyond Bougainvillea Park which is a tad overgrown, the larger shady Watten Estate Park (off Hillcrest Road, near Greenwood Avenue) is lovely BUT there’s no washroom for the wee ones 😦
A mom friend also told me about Shelford Road Playground, a hidden gem nearby (junction of Shelford and Watten State Road) that’s perfect for tots:

 

Linking up with:

new button

Wordless Wednesday: If you take away the walls

One thing I love about Singapore is the abundance of greenery amidst its modern, urban cityscape. Here are some more parks near us that we just discovered:
 
Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West: Right opposite the AMK public library, it boasts a large sand playground, 120-step staircase to a viewing plaza, landscaped pond, jogging track and footpaths through the nearby forest.  We usually scoot around Bishan-AMK park but this was less crowded and more convenient if you’re planning a library, shopping and meal outing
 
 
One-North Park: Hilly, breezy with a touch of playful “science” due to its proximity to Biopolis. Beware the red ants though!
 

 Linking up with:

new button