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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
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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 ….
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… 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.

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

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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
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The gorgeous view from the stadium
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Admiring the lights as we take a stroll after dinner

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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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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.

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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

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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:

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