Jurong Bird Park

We just went to Jurong Bird Park on 1 December and my boys enjoyed themselves! There was light rain in the morning, but when we reached there, the weather had cleared mostly. There was slight drizzle for a short while, but soon ended. It was really cooling there.

This is part of the 10 free activities to do in Singapore I wish to do with my children during this December holidays. We had free corporate passes. It is free for children below 3. If you are going there on your own, as part of the SG50 celebrations, you get an annual pass for the price of 1-day ticket. Very worth it!

This place is pretty small, but there are enough birds to see. We did not stay for any feeding shows or bird shows.

Photos galore! Taken with Canon 60d.

bird park entrance 3
bird park entrance 2
bird park entrance

We saw some penguins.
african penguins
African Penguins
penguin entrance

king penguin 1

penguins 2
King Penguins – Some were standing still throughout the whole time we were there. Some were swimming.

air walking
At the pelican place

australian pelican
Australian Pelican

great white pelican 2

Great white pelican
Great White Pelicans – Check out their beaks.

by the waterfall

waterfall 2

waterfall 3

waterfall

At one of the highest manmade waterfalls.

carribean flamingo
Carribean Flamingo

yeah el and gar

el and gar reading brochure

Reading the map!

el close up

el

enjoying the ride
My husband was in charge of pulling the wagon. Really tough when we went uphill.

exploring the place

mynah
A random mynah

green cheeked conure

sun conure birds

jewels

sun conure

hello world

Sun Conure and maybe green cheeked conure

grey bird

saddle billed stork
Saddle billed stork

scarlet ibis
Scarlet Ibis

scarlet macaw
Scarlet Macaw

snowy owl
Snowy Owl – It’s a hoot!

tiger tram
Would taking the tram be a better idea?

white bird

IMG_9548 Saw an iguana when we left the place. Check out its claws.

10 Free Activities To Do In The Holidays

This is the holiday season and it is time for gifts, or is it? My children get plenty of gifts round the year from us and grandparents, so there is no real reason to get them more presents. What they really need from me is time. The gift of time is something that a busy working parent like me would really want to give them. They grow up too quickly!

Throughout the year, I am busy with work. As a teacher, I start work by 7 plus in the morning, and I typically leave the school 11 hours later. By the time I reach home, I have only two hours left with my children. I spend it on dinner, and I do not get to interact with them much as I am usually too tired.

During weekends, the situation is only marginally better. I spend my time taking them to enrichment lessons and visiting grandparents, and that is about it. Going to musicals, zoo, parks and playgrounds do not happen as much as I would like. Whenever my children ask me to do certain activities with them, I keep giving them excuses why I could not carry them out. I feel like a rotten part time mother.

The good news is, the school holidays are finally here. My goal is to make every day of December count.

Here are ten free activities I will take my children to do during this holiday season.

1. My five-year-old, El, likes to bake. Unfortunately I had only done that once with him on New Year’s Day. I will bake at least once with him this holiday.
el baking cake

2. El has an encyclopaedic knowledge of animals, so he wants to go to the zoo and the bird park. I have booked free corporate passes to the Jurong bird park, so we will be going as a family. We have also booked free zoo tickets, so we are going to the zoo too!
singapore zoo

3. We plan to catch free performances of cartoon characters at shopping malls. He asked to watch Dora the explorer, and we had just caught it a few days ago. There are other characters, such as Fireman Sam, which we will be watching.
dora the explorer

4. He wants to build sand castles, so we will go to the beach. East Coast Park is a place that many families like to go to. A few other parks with sand pits and playgrounds would be good too.
playground

5. It is free for children to take public transport, but I do need to sign up for their free passes. Gar loves spotting trains and buses. I think it is time to go on rides.

6. El had been asking to go overseas, but my husband is overwhelmed by that idea. One way is to go to the parks in the north where we can see Malaysia. There are playgrounds there where they could play, and Sembawang Park is full of historical significance. A naval base was built there by the British to protect Singapore, but it was not very effective during WWII.
beaulieu house

sembawang park

7. Some museums are also free for locals. The National History Museum is undergoing renovations for some of the exhibits, so I think I will take them to the Singapore Art Museum instead. El loves to draw, so it would be a good opportunity to see works by local and other Asian artists.

8. Living in the concrete jungle can make one stressed. There are a few farms in Kranji and I think Bollywood Veggies is free for children. El prides himself as a nature explorer, so it would be a good chance for him to see plants.

9. There are free music performances at the Esplanade. It would be good to expose the children to music.

10. Christmas is a time where the shopping malls decorate the buildings with special lighting. Orchard Road will be a great place to drive through.
Christmas lighting

With many free activities lined up, I hope to enjoy the holidays with my children without all the buy-buy-buy! It is really a nightmare buying Christmas presents for any parties we might be invited to!

This post is part of a blog hop from Hoagies’ Gifted.
holiday gifts

Moonlight Parties

Mid-Autumn, or Zhongqiu is round the corner. I have attended two such parties while the moon is still a crescent. It sorts of defeats the purpose of ‘shang yue’, or admiring the full moon on the fifteenth day of the lunar eighth month, but it is coinciding with Teachers’ Day celebration and school holidays this year, so many have brought forward the event. It sure beats one moonlight party I had attended that was held during the seventh month.

My workplace organised a Mid-Autumn Party and I brought my two children along. They had gone there last year, so El knew what to expect.

He started painting a white lantern. There was too much water, so the water colour was pretty diluted. Despite nearly a year of art lessons, he is still not colouring well. Oh well, he said that he did not do much painting in school and in art classes.
moonlight party painting1

There had been riddles for the past few years, so he was looking forward to solving them this year. However, they had changed the format, by not hanging the riddles on the lanterns, but by hiding them in various places. He was disappointed, so I had to go and search for clues. Finally I spotted a piece of paper stuck under a ledge.

The riddle goes something like this. It has a head, a body and can travel. However, it is not human.

Immediately, he said ‘MRT train’, which probably came from me pointing out the trains constantly to Gar as we were driving. That answer was not correct, and we could not think of others. Finally, my colleague gave other clues. He finally guessed it was ‘car’. I guess his first answer was not wrong, since the answer basically is looking for a mode of transportation.

We had food, and El liked some Roti Jala, which was a kind of flour based food with egg and salt. You put the mixture into a perforated cup, and then pour it over a hot plate. It looks like a net, and then you fold it.

He tried some mooncake too, but could not finish it. I thought it was slightly dry. There were other agar agar mooncakes, which was slightly hard, but I ate a few up.
moonlight party 2014 gar

There was nothing much for Gar to do though. He was extremely sticky to me and wanted me to carry him most of the time. However, he managed to high five a few people. He lost his temper briefly and hit my colleague.
gar and me

During the Lantern Walk, we went around the premise, holding lanterns. There are paper lanterns with LED lights now, but many still used the traditional lanterns with candles to get that warm glow. My children carried an Angry Bird lantern and a Batman lantern. I had another yellow lantern but could not find it.

moonlight party gar lantern2

The highlight was the sky lantern. The first one was set off in the canteen as it was drizzling, but they decided to set the other two in the courtyard. Lest you think there were safety and environmental issues, the sky lanterns were set up like kites, so they did not fly away. The white paper seemed to be fire retardant, so it did not catch fire.

sky lantern

There was a brief scare that one could fall onto a shelter, but they managed to manoeuvre that away. The smoke was black. My student who was taking a video at the bottom felt the heat and was pretty worried.

After that, El became very sleepy and we had to go off.

The next night, my alma mater had its own Moonlight Party. My classmates had met earlier for a high tea. My husband could not get back to me early enough whether his parents could accompany him and the children for their enrichment classes, so I had to forgo that. I parked at the back gate and did not have to walk that far. El wanted to come along. I had decided to leave Gar at home.

L had left already, so El and I were on our own.
ilovesn

We took some pictures by the red bridge.
red bridge

el and me

I bumped into A and so we decided to walk around. I wanted to buy an Old Girls’ tee shirt, and was cajoled into thinking I was really skinny and bought the XS version. Hello? I had overrated myself. I should have gotten the S. Anyway, I love the sizing.

recycled lanterns

We went on a lantern walk, and we were reminiscing about the baby crocodiles we had in the school. El was pretty curious. The baby crocodiles were in the enclosure at the front side gate, and the moment they grew bigger, they would be transferred back to the crocodile farm, or so I think.

After that, we went to the canteen. We wanted to get some drinks, but were told to get a coupon. A told me it was Diana Ser managing the booth. I went back to take a look, and she was petite. Still looks pretty good.

The chicken wings were supposed to be legendary, but I could not really remember the food. There were a lot of stalls on both sides. The noodle stall had run out of food. A went to ask and the remaining bowl was supposed to be the uncle’s dinner. We bought some chicken wings instead.

chicken wing and noodles

After that, we bumped into J who brought her two children along with her husband, and also her sister and friend. Then Q arrived with her three children, and her sister and daughter.

Q went on and on about how tall El was, and then suddenly asked, “Where’s your elder one?” Oops, that little tiny boy is my elder one.

After some time, we decided to go back. When I asked El about his thoughts about the school, whether it was nicer than my workplace, he said he did not like my alma mater, because the food was yucky. I had only asked him whether he wanted fries.

Yucky? He was pretty loud, and I hope nobody else would get offended. Anyway, I told him this school was for girls only.

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