Tag Archives: travel with kids

Christmas in Bali and advent-ures at home

This past advent celebration and annual family holiday was especially fun and meaningful.  B retains and expresses so much more now PLUS the grandparents joined us throughout, resulting in lots of inter-generational fun, bonding (and free babysitting!).

First, our trip to Bali, the land of a thousand temples and a million smiles.  Although I’m saddened by the recent Air Asia crash, I’m grateful that the weather was fine during our visit.  After playing tourist the first two days (Kintamani volcanoes, Ubud rice terraces, fruit and luwak coffee plantations, Kuta shopping, Nusa Dua beaches, Gianyar elephant rides and Uluwatu temples), we lazed around the hotel pool and waterfront for the next two days.  Speaking Bahasa helped us secure a good local driver at 75K Rph per day (vs the 100-120K tourist/hotel rate). I was also relieved that food was not an issue from the 3 year old boy to the 70 year old vegetarian grandma, and everyone indulged my quest for the best bebek in Bali – usually alfresco with paddy field views and no aircon (sorry, hubby)  We had some me-time and couple-time too, although B woke up super early due to the early sunrises in Bali, and rolled off his large day bed in the middle of the night (!) Here’s to the fond memories:

Next, a recap of our crafty advent-ures since this post at the start of December.  With a fair bit of localisation and improvisation, we managed to work through most of Truth In A Tinsel, establish our nightly devotion (which co-incidentally reinforced calendar, dates and months), and pulled off some easy yet oh-so-pretty art and craft too!  Details are posted on my Pinterest board and in real time on Instagram. Here were our favourites:

We painted and glued a mini Christmas tree that conveniently stored all our advent clues (from Truth In The Tinsel this year). Using double sided tape, B also added "baubles" as a finishing touch
We painted and glued toilet paper rolls to form a mini Christmas tree, which conveniently stored all our advent clues too (from Truth In The Tinsel this year). Using double sided tape, B also added “baubles” as a finishing touch
Tape a bunch of toilet paper rolls together, print out letters ands shapes. Paint, decorate and peg away!
Tape a bunch of toilet paper rolls together, print out letters ands shapes. Paint, decorate, tie a string and peg away!
A toilet paper roll classic, that recycles all that wrapping paper. Stuff the rolls with little gifts (and torn confetti), wrap, tape and tie the ends with pretty ribbons
A toilet paper roll classic, that recycles all that wrapping paper. Stuff the rolls with little gifts (and torn confetti), wrap, tape and tie the ends with pretty ribbons
Perfect for kid gift exchanges, select cutters, paint and stamp away
Perfect for kid gift exchanges, select cutters, paint and stamp as and where you like
B's in a painting, gluing and cutting phase, so that's what we did with the ornaments
B basically painted, glued and cut all his advent ornaments

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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

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Traveling with Tots: Puteri Harbour and LEGOLAND (part 2)

We went to Puteri Harbour and LEGOLAND over the weekend but had quite a different experience with each place. We found Puteri Harbour a nice getaway for families with toddlers but we probably won’t return to LEGOLAND until B is older, say kindergarten age and some issues mentioned below are fixed (or the trees grow!)

My review is split in two parts:
Part 1 is on the Puteri Harbour indoor parks: Hello Kitty Sanrio Town and the Little Big Club featuring Barney, Bob The Builder, Angelina Ballerina, Pingu, Thomas & Friends
Part 2 is about LEGOLAND for families with tots under 3 years

GO OR NO GO?
At the moment, there’s little shade from the elements (sun or rain) in all the main parks. In the few covered areas, there’s no proper ventilation (fans/AC) besides those in the restaurant, cafes and theatres. There’s also no shuttle bus, train or buggy system that enables you to hop on-and-off at the various parks within LEGOLAND, so quite a challenge for the very young (or very old). We visited because we were already going to Puteri Harbour the day before, and our friends with older kids wanted to check LEGOLAND out. Unfortunately for us, it was an extremely hot and humid day when we were there. My 2+ year old was wiped out despite a 2.5 hour nap after lunch, refused to go out again in the hot sun so we had a free and easy afternoon, before entering again later. Bottom line: When deciding, the weather and your tot’s the boss!
LEGOLAND Malaysia park map

If you don’t mind the heat and have LEGO fans in the family:
GO if your toddler is gung-ho and has older siblings. Spend at least 2 days so you’re in no hurry, and can enjoy the cooler evenings
WAIT until your preschooler is older.  Admission is free for kids under 3 but most rides have a strict height or age minimum
– Ticket combos are cheaper online so research and buy in advance

If you cannot tahan outdoors or crowds, DON’T GO!

HOW TO GET THERE?
– BUS: Book a return trip via coach bus (~SGD$20) or opt for the Causeway Link buses. More info here
– CAR: See step-by-step driving directions here

WHERE TO STAY?
As the Iskandar area is still under development, the nearest hotel options are LEGOLAND or Traders Hotel (Puteri Harbour). We stayed at LEGOLAND hotel for the unique experience with its distinct play areas and thematic rooms.  Basic rooms accommodate 2 adults + 3 kids with a king bed (master room), a bunk bed and trundle bed (attached suite).  The hotel is also right next to LEGOLAND and the Medini strip mall which has slightly better food. All hotel guests get free parking and early 930a entrance to LEGOLAND (vs 10a public admission). While overall family friendly, I felt a few things could be improved: Earlier than 4p check-in, later than 11a check-out, lower shower heads (or longer hose) as it was hard to clean shorter/young kids.

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Kingdom theme kids room = bunk bed + trundle

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LEGO play areas (top: park entrance, bottom: main entrance)

WHAT TO DO: 10 ideas for families with tots under 3 years

1) Eat a big breakfast. The hotel buffet is good and opens 7a-11a
2) Get in as soon as the door opens to avoid the queues!  Dress for the heat, bring a hat/umbrella and not just shades
3) Enjoy the LEGO CITY park to yourself. Ride on the express train, airport planes and boats. Compete in the Rescue Academy in your choice of fire engine or police car.  Catch a show at City Stage and let the tot freeplay at the Shipyard while you catch a break. The junior driving school is quite fun but minimum age is 3 years
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4) Proceed next to IMAGINATION, the park for toddlers and preschoolers. There’s a Musical Fountain at the entrance, and an Observation Tower which rotates around so you can view all of LEGOLAND without breaking a sweat. Tots will like the brief DUPLO Express train ride, delightful DUPLO Playground (which is also the only covered play area), and the LEGO 4D Studio which alternates shows every 45 minutes or so. There’s only one thing they can’t do here – the Power Tower (minimum age: 5 years or 100 cm)
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5) Exit to the Medini strip mall for lunch where the food is better (not fantastic) than in-park fare
6) Stroll through MINILAND to view the amazingly detailed LEGO models or take the LEGO CITY train till your kid dozes off
7) The hotel is the best place away from the heat and crowds to take a nap, so ask for late checkout if you need to.  Even the covered areas in the park and Medini mall are quite stuffy with lots of flies 😦
8) Catch indoor LEGO movies, meet-and-greets and live shows
9) Chill out at the hotel LEGO play areas and nearby LEGO shops
10) Visit some local eateries near LEGOLAND for dinner

Note: Majority of activities and rides at the Water Park, LEGO TECHNIC, KINGDOMS and LAND OF ADVENTURE parks are unfortunately not suitable for young kids below 3 years.  If the weather’s good and you have time, feel free to “window shop.”

We made it!
We made it, pheew!

 

Traveling with Tots: Puteri Harbour and LEGOLAND (part 1)

I recently took B to Puteri Harbour and LEGOLAND Malaysia for the weekend and had a WONDERFUL time! I drove us up, made arrangements to stay overnight and met some friends while there. When I told hubby about my plan (as he was overseas), his first thought was “Eh, sure safe or not?”  Other Singapore-based friends went “Puteri Harbour? What’s that?” and wanted to know more about it when we came back. So, I decided to write some tips for those planning to visit with preschool-aged kids 🙂

Firstly, where is Puteri Harbour and LEGOLAND?  They are both located within ~10 mins drive from each other in Nusajaya, the regional hub of the new Kota Iskandar in Malaysia.

Where is Puteri Harbour and LEGOLAND?
Puteri Harbour and LEGOLAND are nearer than you think

For convenience, I’ve split my review in two parts:
Part 1 is on the indoor parks at the Little Red Cube along the Puteri Harbour Waterfront Development: Hello Kitty Sanrio Town and the Little Big Club featuring Barney, Bob The Builder, Angelina Ballerina, Pingu, Thomas & Friends
Part 2 is about LEGOLAND for families with tots under 3 years

Specific Puteri Harbour FAQs for tots:

1) How to get there? Easy peasy!
– BUS: Book a return trip via coach bus (~SGD$20) or opt for the Causeway Link buses. More info here. You can easily visit Puteri Harbour in a day, leaving early morning, returning by late evening.
– CAR: Fastest way is via PIE/AYE to TUAS and the 2nd link bridge. It took us 1+ hours to drive there (Sat morning) and 45 mins to return (Sun evening), door to door from the central area. Remember to have at least 3/4 full fuel when you leave Singapore. Toll fees will come up to ~SGD$15 all-in, payment via NETS for Singapore and Touch’N’Go pass for Malaysia (this can be purchased on the leftmost car toll lanes after the Sultan Abu Bakar checkpoint). Once you clear the Malaysian toll booths, take Exit 312 to Nusajaya and follow the signs that say Puteri Harbour or have the park character pictures.  Look for the Little Red Cube building, park inside (for free), head up to the 1st floor. Have fun!
– You can find step-by-step driving directions here.  The roads are new, wide and traffic is relatively low as Iskandar is still under development. There will be construction all around you and some signs are not as clear as they should be, but you’ll figure it out

2) What can young kids do? Almost everything if you’re over 90cm. The staff seem more concerned about height than age. B’s not yet 2.5 years, but at 95 cm, he had no problems, even went solo for some rides
– Tots over 90 cm: Will need to be accompanied by you (mostly). They’ll miss out on a few big kid workshops, game stalls/stations, the Thomas bumper car rides and Hello Kitty Black Wonder maze.  No big loss as you can repeat the other rides as often as you like; and there are three different playgrounds – one on every floor. Watch that big Builder slide though, it’s FAST! B had quite a scare coming down
– Tots under 90 cm: They’ll enjoy the Thomas train and Hello Kitty teacup rides, Hello Kitty Friendship Land (soft ramps, ball pit like KidsAmaze) and the Bob The Builder playground (blocks, pretend play)

– Sing-A-Long and Meet-And-Greet sessions, timing varies by day

Entertainment schedule varies by day
Entertainment schedule varies by day

3) How much $$? Kids under 3 enter FREE. LEGOLAND ticket holders get 10% off (show your ticket or printout). Malaysians get a significant discount (show your MyKad IC)
– Single park entrance: RM 55 (MyKad) or RM 75. Recommend this if you only have boys and need to watch your wallet
– The 2-park pass: RM 85 (MyKad) or RM 110. Recommend for girls, and the full experience, e.g. get for one adult if you have a free admission kid
– You can buy tickets online but we found the indoor ticketing counters there quite efficient. We got ours on-site, first thing Saturday morning with no waiting time at all. Doors open 10a.

4) What to wear? Travel light so you can go where your tot goes
– Bring layers. The outside promenade is breezy but can be hot, while the Little Red Cube indoor parks are fully air-conditioned, and gets Singapore cinema-level cold.  B wore a jacket, long pants and long sleeved T-shirt. I unfortunately forgot to bring my cardigan – brrr!
– All playgrounds require shoes to be removed. Though not “required,” I’d also wear socks as it’s cold and more hygenic!

5) Toilets, nursing and changing rooms? CLEAN and spacious on every floor. There’s larger family restrooms. And every potty has an attached water/spray hose for you-know-what! B can be fussy about using public toilets but he had no issues doing his small and big biz there 😉

6) Strollers? Bring them. You’ll need it as you go up and down floors, in and out, and for the lil one to crash and nap. Stroller bays are clearly marked in visible spaces throughout so you can park and go as needed. To be safe, don’t leave anything valuable there. There are lifts and escalators on every floor, and everything is very stroller friendly

7) Food, drinks, time out? There are on-site cafes with ample seating on all levels, but you’re better off stepping out for some fresh air, more F&B variety and better prices either indoor or alfresco within the Little Red Cube and along the quiet and scenic Puteri Harbour promenade. The tickets allow multiple entries in a day, so no worries about leaving and re-entering.

Lunch at Lat's Place b/c mama wanted to relive her childhood :)
Lunch at Lat’s Place as mama wanted to relive her childhood

Verdict: Two thumbs up! Totally worth it. There’s nothing like that in Singapore, esp. at these prices. We’ll go again before B turns 3 by end of this year, haha.  See you there?

B rode this 3x! The solo ride in front in the tank engine made his day
B rode this 3x! The solo ride in front in the tank engine made his day

For info on these Puteri Harbour parks, visit http://www.playtime.com.my