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.  

Advertisements

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.

Keeping cool when it’s hot

This June, we’ve had recurring mid-day thunderstorms, warm nights, and above average temperatures of 34 degrees Celcius. What to do on hotter summer days?  Get wet, of course!

In the past, we’d frequent the Children’s Garden (Gardens By The Bay), Jacob Ballas (Botanic Gardens) and Port of Lost Wonder (Sentosa). This month, we wanted to check out Splash N Surf (Sports Hub) which wasn’t complete when the new stadium launched last year, but when we were there for the recent SEA Games, it was just too crowded 😦

We did however visit two new water play areas in LEGOLAND Malaysia and Bishan Park:

1) LEGOLAND Water Park: What a difference a year makes. Last time we went there, the experience was exhausting and hot as 2+ year old B was overstimulated. This time around, both LEGOLAND and B have matured. Notably, there’s improved logistics and ventilation, with more accessible rides and activities for B who’s over 100cm tall (we got in though he’s not yet 4 🙂 Best of all, we had a splashing time at the new world’s largest LEGOLAND Water Park.  Seeing B’s wet, tired and happy face was worth it. We’ll be back!
IMG_2863

Tips:
The combo park ticket is the best deal: Buy online if you can. For toddlers (under 3 years), entry to all LEGOLAND Theme Parks are free but you’ll need to pay RM10 for the Water Park for admission and two swim diapers. For the price of chicken rice? Go for it.
– Time it right: Come when it opens at 10a, stay till lunch (or keep returning throughout the day!).  Avoid the 1-3p peak time as it’s too crowded then and the ground gets uncomfortably hot.  Go see an indoor movie or take an indoor rollercoaster ride instead then. Park at LEGOLAND Hotel if you can as it’s right next to the Theme Parks and Water Park entrance. Else, there’s outdoor parking (with no shade at all) with a 15 min covered pathway to both parks

IMG_2865

– Height restrictions apply: Kids under 6, supervised by an adult (or  >12 years), can enjoy the LEGO Wave Pool (fun!), Build-a-Raft River and DUPLO Splash Safari. For Joker Soaker (similar to Port of Lost Wonder), Twin Chaser, Red Rush and Splash Out, riders must be at least 1.02m. Riders must be at least 1.07m to ride Slide Racer, Wave Rider, Tidal Tube, Brick Blaster and Splash N Swirl.

IMG_2856

– Don’t worry about your stuff: There are conveniently priced all-day lockers (half and full size) right past the entrance to the Water Park. Strollers can be kept on top of the lockers. Shoes can be easily slipped on, off, safely stored at every ride point, although most prefer to just walk around barefoot.  Larger cabanas by the Wave Pool and Beach Grill are also available for rent but IMO, unnecessary if you’ll be moving around from place to place.

2) Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park Water Playground:  Funnily enough, we frequent Bishan Park often but never tried the Water Playground (when it actually had water running). So on one of my childcare leave days, I arranged to visit the park early morning with some friends. Overall, it was a chill time with opportunities for kids of all ages to stay active, get wet and learn about nature and science.  Our kids ranged from 10 months to 10 years, and there was something for everyone there.

IMG_3480

Tips:
– When and how to get there: Water turns on between 8-11a and 4-8p daily, except for Monday-Wednesday when it’s closed. There’s a well maintained changing and restroom nearby. The carpark (off Ang Mo Kio Ave 6) is right next to the park or you can take bus services (50,53, 55,58) from Ang Mo Kio Bus Interchange or Bishan MRT Station. The Water Playground is situated within the larger Pond Gardens. While the kids gravitated to the central water source structure in the beginning, they eventually dispersed as they began to explore.  The bubbles, balls, buckets, squirt toys we brought along became a great way for the kids to share and make friends too.

IMG_3489

– Understated, simple yet smart design: I did miss the fountains and modern jet sprays as the initial water flow and level were quite low since the park had just opened. Once enough water accumulated though, the kids started to play and experiment with water as they got each other wet. The young kids mainly splashed and poured on multiple surfaces, while the older kids manipulated the sluice gates separating the canals that led to the main drain. (I think) The ropes lying around were there to change the direction of water, which would be a nice yet subtle touch.

IMG_3485  IMG_3488

The AMK-Bishan Park Water Playground is as different from LEGOLAND Water Park as it gets!  For me, I found it a great place to unwind in a beautiful environment that has surprising ways for kids to discover and learn about science and nature, while cooling down on a hot day.

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

Weekend mornings at Pek Kio

While participating in a survey/article on “hubbies who travel and how moms cope,” I realised how precious (in both the good and rare sense!) family and couple time has been for us.  This weekend routine helps ensure that we don’t become strangers in our own home: We typically end the work week with a Friday church couples and kids fellowship, reserve Saturday for core family time, and aim for Sunday evening dates while the kid is off with the grandparents and hubby is still around in Singapore.

One of our weekend morning activities is to catch early breakfast in the neighbourhood hawker centers and then “tour” the surrounding playgrounds and exercise corners before it gets too hot and crowded.

Here’s what we found at Pek Kio:

WP_20140928_029 pek kio
Must try: Peanut pancake, chee cheong fun, prawn noodles, Juz Bread bakery next to the center, and free parking on Sunday 🙂
WP_20140928_012 owen playground
Main playground next to the Pek Kio market with a single octave musical keyboard – that was mostly in tune – below the slides. Eat while they play, in many ways!

WP_20140928_015 piano close up

WP_20140928_032 ippt training facility
Burn some calories walking/jogging/scooting around this training facility directly across the road
WP_20140928_035 running track
If you’re not into going around the track, there’s some exercise equipment nearby too
WP_20140928_025 Moulmein community garden
Just around the corner along Owen Road, there’s a little Community Garden project…
WP_20140928_027 51 owen
… which is beside another playground with lots of interesting climbing options
Tired of playgrounds, try pull ups instead
Tired of playgrounds?  Try pull ups instead!
WP_20140928_020 bird cages
Catch your breath while spotting the bird cages – “On every tree there sits a bird, singing a song of love… Hi-li Hi-lili Hi-lo!”
WP_20140928_021 49 dorset
Have very young kids?  Visit this small playground at 49 Dorset
WP_20140928_024 48 dorset
Wrap up at the 48 Dorset Road playground, with its specially designed equipment. It’s close enough to the carpark so you can dash back to get any food or market items to take home

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

For updates, reviews and more, like me at Finally Mama on Facebook.

Linking up with Gingerbreadmum’s Fun For Free Fridays

Fun For Free SG: Gardens By The Bay Children’s Garden

Singapore is blessed with many clean and safe public parks, and we usually frequent the green connectors linking the exercise and playground areas near school and home.  When we heard about the latest and largest children’s garden in Singapore, we couldn’t wait to go although it’s a little far out from where we live.  We liked it so much, we actually made it back THREE times this month (ok, one of those was for the Singapore Garden Festival). Here’s our experience for our next Fun For Free SG contribution.

WP_20140822_030The Far East Organization Children’s Garden offers a delightful blend of obstacle trails, water and sand playgrounds, all integrated with nature, and designed to be interactive for kids from 1 to 12 years old (and the young-at-heart adults).  Staff and signboards are placed strategically to ensure both safe and fun play.  For parents of very young kids, you’ll appreciate the efforts made to separate the rowdy youngsters from the rowdy toddlers 🙂

Toddler zone
For under 5 year olds, there’s the Toddler Play Zone with a mini obstacle course
WP_20140822_014
The Toddler Fish Fountain features warmer water and tamer play with gentle interactive jets
altArBnvpl7ApLvITy7OYNSayf1kmDQUh0hX2keJJZIt3gx
B having a good splash together with a friend while mama lounges by the (covered) deck chairs
WP_20140822_017
The main Water Play area is linked to a multitude of movement sensors which are incredibly fun and wet! The view is pretty cool too
WP_20140822_024
Although more suited for older kids as the many moving sprinklers can thoroughly drench you, B plopped down to enjoy himself after we walked/ran around the main water area together
Sandpit
Head over to the Adventure Zone for sand play and obstacle courses before getting wet again
Treehouse
The 7.5 metre-tall tree house is designed for 6 year olds and up. Younger kids can still climb with some assistance and supervision but may have a tough time coming down! Thankfully there are alternate routes via bridges and wooden stairs
WP_20140716_041 bridge
Wibble, wobble on the linked suspension rope bridges
Obstacles
The Adventure Trail overlooking the water play areas consists of 14 different obstacles, mainly on sand (with gentle slopes and dips) such as balance beams, bars, rock climbing, roped tunnels and suspension bridges
WP_20140716_031 tunnel
If you can’t go over it, go under it!
WP_20140716_027 slides
Slide these broad covered water tunnels for the fastest (and wettest) way to go back down

Important Info:

How to get there: See detailed directions here.

Closest carpark is at Satay By the Bay (open air) or Main Visitors.  Conversely, if you take public transport, there is a free shuttle bus on weekdays that stops over at the Marina Bay, Downtown and Raffles Place MRTs.

Closed on Mondays for maintenance (same day as Jacob Ballas)
Tuesdays* to Fridays: 10 AM – 7 PM. Last admission at 6:30 PM. *Closed on Tuesday if a public holiday falls on the preceding Monday.
Weekends & Public Holidays 9 AM – 9 PM. Last admission at 8:30 PM

Low energy?  Dying of thirst? Cranky kid?  No fear. These are near:
1) Large covered amphitheatre overlooking both water play areas where you can bring your own food and drinks
2) Children’s Garden Cafe which has alfresco seating by the Toddler Play Zone (playground and water), open at the same hours as the park, serves drinks, snacks or a light meal (Asian and Western)
3) Satay By The Bay, a short scoot or walk away.  Also, the place to park your car if driving.  Stalls are  open from 8a – 11p

This is part of a blog train on Singapore’s Fun For Free places dedicated to anyone who’s ever needed to think about “where to bring the kids today?” Next up is Elizabeth, a mother to three rambunctious kids. She wifes, moms and writes at motherkao.com. Her family of five can be found at Terminal 3 almost every weekend because apart from not needing to have to queue for long to get dinner there, her kids get to do fun things for free while she indulges in GST-free shopping.

Liz

Visit all 31 Fun for Free train stops here:
1 Aug: Tiong Bahru Park by Gingerbreadmum
2 Aug: Queenstown Heritage Trail by Princess Dana Diaries
3 Aug: Jurong Regional Library by Finally Mama
4 Aug: Singapore Maritime Gallery by Peipei Haohao
5 Aug: Singapore Philatelic Museum by Kids R Simple
6 Aug: Sculptures of Singapore by Gingerbreadmum
7 Aug: Fire Station by The Js Arena
8 Aug: Esplanade + Merlion by Prayerfull Mum
9 Aug: Bukit Batok Nature Park by Meeningfully
10 Aug: Lower Pierce Reservoir Park by The Kam Family
11 Aug: I12 Katong – water playground by Universal Scribbles
12 Aug: IMM by Mad Psych Mum
13 Aug: Tampines 1 Water Playground by Amazingly Still
14 Aug: Sengkang Riverside Park by Itchy Finger Snap
15 Aug: East Coast Park by Toddly Mummy
16 Aug: Sembawang Shopping Centre Playground by Joey Craftworkz
17 Aug: Animal resort by Raising Faith
18 Aug: Botanic Gardens by Mum’s The Word
19 Aug: Police Heritage Centre by Mummy Ed
20 Aug: Venus Loop, MacRitchie by Scrap Mum Loft
21 Aug: Road Safety Park by Miracule
22 Aug: Marina Barrage by J Babies
23 Aug: Gardens By The Bay, Children’s Garden by Finally Mama
24 Aug: Changi Airport T3 by Mother Kao
25 Aug: Pockets of Nature by Mum in the Making
26 Aug: Changi Airport T1 by Growing with the Tans
27 Aug: Pasir Ris Park by Ingspirations
28 Aug: Gardens by the Bay Supertree Grove by My Lil Bookworm
29 Aug: Vivocity Play Area by Amazingly Still
30 Aug: Punggol Promenade by Chubby Anecdotes
31 Aug: Westgate Wonderland by Xavvylicious

For updates, reviews and more, like me at Finally Mama on Facebook.

Immersing in some Malay culture this Hari Raya

One thing I cherish growing up in Malaysia is how we embraced and celebrated being in a multi-racial community. Every major festival, we’d go from house to house, visiting friends and their families, sharing our culture … and of course, food! Now that we live in Singapore, B doesn’t quite have this same childhood – even if we do know others from different races and religions here. (Sadly, this pride in one nation, many races is also diminishing in Malaysia).

With Hari Raya (Eid) almost upon us, I wanted to give B a taste of the Malay culture, an important part of our Southeast Asia heritage.  Besides volunteering to help with his school’s Hari Raya celebration, I also took some time out to bring him to the Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar after school today.  Thankfully the skies were cloudy, and after browsing around, we had a chance to share a table and “break fast” with a friendly Malay couple at the Geylang Food Court. If you and your kids are curious, do go! Note that the Bazaar is only open till Sunday and should get quite crowded over the final weekend.

Come join me!
Geylang, si paku Geylang
Inside the bazaar, it can get quite stuffy despite the handful of ceiling fans
Inside the bazaar, it can get quite stuffy despite the handful of ceiling fans. Dress light, drink lots and step out to breathe often 🙂
B devoured the crispy apam balik (pancakes). I was also thrilled to find sweet corn filling (my childhood fave!) which many Chinese stalls don't sell
B devoured the crispy apom balik (pancakes). I was also thrilled to find sweet corn filling (my childhood fave!) which many Chinese stalls don’t sell
WP_20140723_013
Best vadai in town?
Keropok and kerepek
Keropok and kerepek
Deep fried heaven!
The most common stalls sold deep fried food, ice cream, briyani and kebabs
Assorted kuih muih
Assorted kuih muih – B was fascinated by the pink lapis and the NUTELLA cake
Strolling through the lanes (on this side they sold the usual merchandise: clothes, shoes, toys, accessories, and ....)
Strolling through the merchandise lanes with the usual suspects: carpets, clothes, shoes, toys, accessories, and ….
WP_20140723_020
… sheep balloons on wheels! (I guess representing the “sacrifice” for the other major Eid celebration later this year, Hari Raya Haji?)

Oh, final tips if you’re keen to go:  Visit around 5p before the crowds.  If you drive and are lucky, park at the main Geylang Serai carpark (off Sims Ave and Geylang Road). Else, there’s more lots along Haig and Joo Chiat Roads. There’s also a nice big kids’ playground at the Haig HDB estate. If you’re eating there, find a cool place to sit and order BEFORE sunset.

WP_20140723_024
Take a leisurely, breezy stroll along the bridge to enjoy the lights while the feast is in full swing between 7-8p 🙂
WP_20140723_028
Selamat Hari Raya! Eid Mubarak!

For updates, reviews and more, like me at Finally Mama on Facebook.

Linking up with:

new button