River Safari

This was actually our second trip to the River Safari! El really wanted to go there, so after he earned the 50 stickers, I brought him there. Thanks to my corporate benefits, I managed to get free tickets to the place.

What I like about the River Safari is the animals are mainly in tanks and so it is sheltered most of the way. Unfortunately, as I read more and more about animals in captivity, I was thinking the tanks were pretty small.

There were a lot of gharials, various types of fish and snakes. The enclosures were named after the main rivers in the world.

indian gharial 3

indian gharial 2

Indian gharial 1

There were a couple of storks that were perched on tree trunks. It was quite strange to see huge birds on trees. They reminded me of Chinese gongfu moves.
lesser adjutant stork 1

lesser adjutant stork 2

lesser adjutant stork 3

Gharials, caimans, alligators and crocodiles are similar, but they have different jaw structures and length. This is an African dwarf crocodile.
african dwarf crocodile

It was hard getting a photo of the red panda.
red panda 1

El was more amused by the recorded sounds of the red panda.red panda 2

The first time when we went there, only Kai Kai was outside. Jia Jia was hidden from view. This time round, both pandas were out.

Kai Kai was busy eating, as usual. He is bolder, and does not mind the crowd.
kai kai 1

kai kai 2

kai kai info

Jia Jia is more shy, so she was walking around the place.
jia jia 1

Her bum was slightly dirty.
jia jia 2

Ok, make that very dirty.
jia jia 3

jia jia info

After watching the pandas, we went to the other side of the exhibits. There were many squirrel monkeys!

squirrel monkey 1

Soon, we reached the end of the exhibits. I bought panda toys, and some other toys for El.
panda toys

First Staycation In Years

My husband has a card membership for food and there is a complimentary hotel stay that is expiring. We booked a room at Orchard Hotel during the June school holidays. They wanted to upgrade us to a bigger room, but with two single beds. With 2 kids, we did not think it would make any difference.

The room was tiny, and there were workers at the windows doing some work. We drew the curtains. The first thing El and Gar did when we entered the room was to jump on the bed. Hotel beds tend to be bouncier. The doctor had told El not to jump on beds, because the dust from it might trigger breathlessness, but it only made me sneeze non-stop.

There was no free wi-fi, no free movies, and no DVD player. We should have brought a laptop along to screen videos to the children, because El demanded to watch Dinosaur Train, and we had to go back for the night. In any case, the room was too small for our family.

The bathtub looked old, and there was a spot that looked damage. Unsure of how to bathe the children there, I guess it cemented the thought of going back for the night.

We went out for tea, and settled at a nearby café. Gar refused to sit in the child’s seat, and the two were climbing up and down. Gar decided to take a plunge, and he dived head down into the table’s metal legs and base. I caught hold of his legs, but not before his head hit the metal parts and he had two big bruises. It has been nearly two weeks and the bruise is still there. He had another accident the next day when he dropped his iPad on his big toe, and it turned black.

Gar also bit himself in his lips in the process, which I had no idea until a big ulcer was discovered two days later, and the doctor said it was due to a traumatic experience.

We went to explore the hotel, but unfortunately, there was renovation work going on, so the swimming pool was not tranquil at all.
chess

There was a gigantic chess corner. Anyway, with two kids, we did not stay there too long. We don’t go swimming because the two children seem to be allergic to chlorine or something like that. I tried bringing Gar to the pool a week later, but he was howling all the time.

photo (9)

After that, we found the children’s corner, where it was just a padded room with very basic equipment for playing. El wanted to watch Ben 10 on Cartoon Network (which I did not want to subscribe to, but they end up watching DVDs and youtube videos instead) so we stayed there for a while.

photo (8)

In the evening, we went for buffet. This was the second buffet in days, because my husband wanted to use up the vouchers, but my diet plans flew out of the window. Not a foodie in the first place, so it was just normal in my opinion. There were Peranakan cuisine, seafood, Japanese food, and dessert.
I am a unicorn.

El suddenly wanted to go back, like what I had mentioned earlier, so we headed back, taking our luggage back with us. The next morning, we went back with Gar only. It was tough trying to get him to do his big business outside, and cleaning him up.

That was our first staycation as a family, and I seriously doubt how our overseas trips would fan out, if any. Kudos to many of my friends who seem to go for family trips very often and are able to cope.

Summer Reading

What exactly is summer reading? There is no summer in sunny Singapore, but we do have the June holidays, a month-long break from school. There is a book that I would like to read, such as John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars (I’ve just spotted that in my school library).

I have just finished reading David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell and Five Minds for the Future by Howard Gardner, not exactly the light-hearted reads we might do on a vacation.

David and Goliath’s story is well known. A small shepherd boy manages to overcome huge obstacles and kill a giant, or so we were told. Gladwell shows a different side to the tale, where the shepherd boy was not as weak as expected, and he had merely fought the race according to his own terms and not to the usual expectations.

Gladwell is a good storyteller. He brings in other examples, such as how dyslexia actually is a blessing in disguise. People with dyslexia actually overcome their disability by improving listening skills and other methods, and this helps them to become great entrepreneurs. Interestingly enough, my friend was fretting about signs that her young son might have dyslexia, and she said that her husband who has dyslexia is a businessman. There are many other stories in the book, which makes it hard to put down.

Five Minds for the Future by Howard Gardner is a more serious read. It has implications for education. The disciplined mind is important for thinking according to the various disciplines. We cannot use our own ways to approach a topic. Teachers need to teach their students how to think according to their subject.

The Synthesizing Mind is increasingly important in the new century, as we have many sources of information. We must be able to pull from all these sources to come up with something that makes sense to ourselves and others. Teachers need to be able to do that so that our students can learn.

The Creating Mind requires someone with enough discipline and synthesis, but not too much, in order to create something new. They must be willing to venture into the unknown. The other two are The Respectful Mind and The Ethical Mind.

My school had assigned book reviews to the students. Here is a list of what some of them have been reading.
1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
2. Inheritance by Christopher Paelini
3. The Master of the Game by Sidney Sheldon
4. Zoe Letting Go by Nora Price
5. The Doomsday Conspiracy by Sidney Sheldon
6. Percy Jackson and The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
7. Gone by Michael Grant
8. Praetorian by Simon Scarrow
9. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
10. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
11. Unforsaken Sophie Littlefield
12. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
13. Wolf Stone Curse by Justin Richards

What books have you read recently?

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