Friday, December 28, 2007

Another Trip to Sentosa

We are not going anywhere for holiday during this school holiday season, since we already went back to Jakarta during Hari Raya festival last October. Therefore, last Saturday (23 December 2007), I took Inka and Irza to Sentosa for a short half-day sightseeing.

We reached Sentosa at around noon, and after parking our car at the Beach carpark, we took the yellow line bus straight to Dolphin Lagoon.

There was a promotion for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents only, the combined Dolphin Lagoon and Underwater World admission fee is only around $13 for adult and $8 for child (compared to the usual $19 for adult and $12 for child). Inka and Irza also attended the "meet and greet" session with the dolphin after the show, where they had the chance to touch the dolphin.

After the show, we took the red line bus to Imbiah Lookout for lunch. The red line bus we took is an open top-deck bus similar to the Hippo bus, so Inka and Irza were having the great time enjoying the view from the top deck of the bus.

We had our lunch at Sarpino's Pizzeria, located in Imbiah Lookout. After lunch, we took the blue line bus to Siloso beach bus stop. Our first stop is Fort Siloso. We took the Fort Siloso tram from the tram stop near Underwater World to the entrance of the fort complex at Fort Siloso Square. Inka and Irza were having a great time playing at the playground and explore the tunnels there.

Our next stop after Fort Siloso is Underwater World. The entrance fee has been paid together with the entrance to Dolphin Lagoon, so it's a waste if we skipped it. There's an interactive pool where we can have a close encounter and touch stingrays. Inka and Irza were also having a great time in the acrylic tunnel inside the giant aquarium.

From Underwater World, we took a leisure stroll along Siloso beach, before going back to the Beach carpark using the beach tram. Unfortunately, the tickets for the Songs of the Sea shows has been sold out for the day, so we had to skip it. Will schedule to watch the performance another time later. :)

More pictures can be found here.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Inka's 8th Birthday

Inka was having her 8th birthday on 11 December 2007, and we celebrated her birthday by inviting some of our Indonesian friends over for BBQ gathering at our apartment's BBQ pit and club house, on Sunday evening, 16 December 2007.

My wife ordered the birthday cake from her friend Syanti, and the theme of the cake is dinosaurs, Inka's favourite creatures. More pictures of the birthday cake before delivered to us can be found here.

Similar to Irza's BBQ birthday party last August, we ordered the bulgogi chicken satay and black pepper beef satay from Seoul Garden. For this event, my wife also ordered the famous Braddell satay from Hany, which is a hit for the kids. My wife also made her special home-made macaroni schotel.

Some of the kids also had the chance to swim at the swimming pool, which is located just next to the BBQ pit. Unfortunately, it was raining near dusk, and we had to move the party to the club house, which is located behind the BBQ pit. The kids were also having fun playing piñata.

Some of Inka and Irza's friends who came include Aidan, Hanan and Haifa, Marsya, Fazil, Naira and Fauzan, Annisa and Nadia, Nadira and Adam, Titis, Zahira, Ivan and Rayna.

More pictures can be found here.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Last Two Friday Nights

Fireworks Display at VivoCity

On Friday night last week (30 November 2007), we went to VivoCity to watch the fireworks display at the Sky Park, located at the rooftop of the huge shopping mall. I watched the fireworks display with Irza, while my wife accompanied Inka to have dinner at Banquet on the basement floor. I specifically brought my tripod for this purpose.

Some of you asked what were the schedules of the fireworks display. Unfortunately, it seems that the fireworks display was only held on that very one night, to celebrate VivoCity's one year anniversary. And to answer Mei Che's question, I knew about the event from an advertisement on the Straits Times newspaper of the day. So, my advice is to lookout for those advertisements on the newspaper, you might find an idea on where to bring the kids for the weekend. :)

More pictures can be found here.

Dinner at MacKenzie Rex Restaurant

After my experience with MacKenzie Rex restaurant during Indo-Sing mailing list moderators' dinner event last October, I went there again and took my family there for a dinner last night (Friday, 7 December 2007). This halal restaurant is located at Prinsep Street, off Selegie Road, around Bencoolen area of Singapore, not far from Dhoby Ghaut MRT station.

Both Inka and Irza are already fans of shark fin soup since our dinner at Mak's Place last month, so they were very delighted when they found out that it's also part of the menu that night. They really like it very much. Some of the other dishes we ordered include chicken with dried chilli, hotplate beancurd and baby squid.

More pictures can be found here.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Boat Quay

Last Saturday, 17 November 2007, on a pleasant afternoon, while waiting for my wife to shop at her favourite beads shop along Carpenter Street, I took Inka and Irza for a short walk around Boat Quay. The weather was very pleasant that afternoon, it was cloudy but not raining, so the weather was not very hot as what it usually is.

From the junction of South Bridge Road and Carpenter Street, we walked towards the Singapore river and crossed the Elgin bridge. We then walked through the promenade along Singapore River towards Raffles Landing Site, located on the other side of the river from Boat Quay and the CBD, just beside the Asian Civilisation Museum. Turned out to be that this place was the starting point of the Amazing Race Asia 2.

Inka and Irza were having a great time walking along the promenade, watching the bumboats passing by and also taking pictures in front of the Raffles statue there.

More pictures can be found here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Irza's Graduation and Concert Day

Last Sunday (18 November 2007), we attended the PPIS Kindergarten's Year End Graduation Ceremony and Concert 2007, at the auditorium of Spring Singapore building, Bukit Merah Central. PPIS Kindergarten is a kindergarten where Irza is enrolled in the past couple of years, and it's managed by the Young Women Muslim Association. One of its centres is located in Bukit Batok, only 5 minutes drive away from our current residence.

Abhy, the son of Iko and Hera, one of our neighbours, is also enrolled on the same school. This year is their last year in the school, since starting next year, both of them will start studying in a primary school, which is also near our residence, Bukit Timah Primary School (BTPS). BTPS is also the school where Inka is studying at the moment.

Irza and Abhy were being dropped off at their school at 8am in the morning, since they were taking the school bus from their school to the venue in Bukit Merah Central. We (myself, my wife and Inka) went together with Iko, Hera and Kanaya, and we reached Bukit Merah Central at around 9:20am, 10 minutes ahead of the schedule. This is for us to get the best seats, especially for me and Iko to put our tripods for our cameras. :)

After attending the event, we went to Far East Plaza on Scotts Road, near Orchard, to have lunch together with Iko, Hera, Abhy and Kanaya. We intended to have lunch at KFC there, but the place is full since it was during busy lunch time, so we instead went to Long John Silver's and had our lunch there instead.

More pictures during the event can be found here, while the pictures at Long John Silver's can be found here. Some other pictures can also be found here, thanks to Tante Hera. Her article with regards to the same event can also be found here (in Bahasa Indonesia).

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Mak's Place Hawkerant

Last Sunday night (4 November 2007), I and the whole family went to Tanjong Katong Complex in Geylang, not far from Paya Lebar MRT station, to buy Inka's traditional Malay dress (baju kurung) for her school's event. After which, we went to Mak's Place Hawkerant for dinner. Thanks to Teh Ellen for guiding us to go there over the phone. The "hawkerant" (restaurant with hawker's cheaper price, as they claimed) is located along Changi Road, not far from Kembangan MRT station.

If you drive along Changi Road from east (Bedok) towards west (Geylang), the restaurant is located on the right side of the road, just after you see Kassim mosque and Hotel 81 (Changi) on your left. You can park along Changi Road or in several carparks nearby, although sometimes it's a bit difficult to find a carpark lot during evening peak time.

Inka specially ordered sliced fish porridge while Irza ordered shark fin soup for appetizers. We ordered fried butter squid, hotplate spicy chicken and mixed vegetables (chap chay) for the main dishes, ice milo, ice barley and ice green tea for the drinks, and some ice creams for the kids' desserts.

The service is quite efficient, served by mostly Indian servants, similar to Al-Ameen or Al-Azhar. However, it took quite long for us to wait for the food to be served after ordering, perhaps around 20-30 minutes? Luckily there's a stray cat there which amuse the kids and they kept on following the cat wherever it goes... :)

More pictures can be found here.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

Yesterday, on a nice Saturday morning (3 November 2007), I took Inka and Irza to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve to find a place to play badminton. The nature reserve is located very close to our home, only around 5 minutes drive. The entrance to the nature reserve is on Hindhede Drive, which is located just opposite the Courts store along Upper Bukit Timah Road.

This is not the first time we visited the nature reserve, and myself, Inka and Irza had climbed the hill to the top before, which is reputedly the highest point in Singapore at 164 metres above sea level. However, even though the journey to the top was quite exciting since we needed to pass a shady rainforest, but the view from the top of the hill was disappointing.

So, this time round, we decided not to climb the hill again, and instead we went to the Hindhede Nature Park near the entrance to the nature reserve. The nature park is a hit for Inka and Irza since there's a playground with swings, slides and suspension bridges near the Waringin Hut. The slides are unique since they are both long slides going down to a valley. Inka and Irza are also having a great time with the slinger at the picnic area. We also played badminton at an open space near the picnic area.

We also went to the Lookout Point, which is overlooking the Hindhede Quarry, a massive wall of limestones near a pond. Inka and Irza actually also wanted to go up the hill again but the sun was already going up quite high at that time, so I'll guess we'll have to come back again later...

We used to see quite a lot of monkeys even at the base of the hill near the carpark, but yesterday we didn't see any. I'm not too sure what scares off the monkeys but I saw quite a lot of new house and apartment constructions near the base of the hill and that might contribute to the lesser number of monkeys around the area. Pretty sad...

More pictures can be found here.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Mid-Autumn Festival by the River

Last Saturday (15/9), after breaking our fast for the day, we went to the Central, a new shopping mall which is located just above the Clarke Quay MRT station. Our destination was the Mid-Autumn Festival by the River, which is located behind the shopping mall, along the bank of Singapore river opposite the G-Max reverse bungee site. There are many lantern showcases being displayed along the riverbank, spanning from behind the Central shopping mall until the Read Bridge. There are also some other lantern showcases at Hong Lim Park, which is diagonally opposite the Central on the other side of the shopping mall, but we didn't visit the area.

The lantern displays will be there until 30 September 2007. It opens from 5pm to 11pm on weekdays, and from 3pm to 11pm on weekends, although it's actually best to enjoy the displays after the sun goes down. The best part, it's free :) so it's quite well worth visiting this event, especially comparing to and considering the $12 (for adult) and $8 (for child) entrance fees you need to fork out to visit the Lantern Festival 2007 at Chinese Garden. Of course, the displays here are not as big and comprehensive as the one in Chinese Garden, but since it's free, what can you expect? :)

More pictures can be found on my wife's Multiply site here.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

NDP Preview 2007 at Marina Bay

On Saturday, 28 July 2007, after attending the BTPS Fun Day and Open House in the morning, the whole family went to Marina Bay in the late afternoon to evening, to attend Singapore's National Day Parade (NDP) Preview.

From Millenia Walk, we walked towards Marina Square. Just outside the Marina Square, we needed to queue for security checks, before we proceed to the makeshift stadium located opposite Marina Square and next to the Esplanade, facing the floating stage on the sea. We collected our goodie bags before proceeding to the staircase and went up to find seats.

There are many types of show being staged, not only on the floating platform but also around the bay area, such as dragonboat race, paratroopers jumping from helicopters and landing on the stage, fighter planes flying above, defense display show and, last but not least, the fireworks display.

More pictures can be found here.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

BTPS Fun Day and Open House 2007

Last Saturday (28/7) morning, I took the kids to Bukit Timah Primary School (BTPS), which is Inka's school and Irza's future school as well, since we have also registered Irza onto the same school as well, during the phase 1 of the registration exercise.

We went there to attend school's Fun Day and Open House 2007. There are lots of activities which the kids can participate in, including many types of games (provided by the students for the students).

To play the games, we would need to use coupons which were being sold for 20 cents per coupon. Some games only require one coupon, some others require two or three coupons. Best of all, there are prizes given to the kids depends on the result of the games being played.

More pictures can be found here.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

DHL Balloon

Last Sunday (8 July 2007) evening, after dropping my wife at Orchard, I took Inka and Irza to Bugis Junction. Our destination was the DHL Balloon, which is within walking distance from Bugis Junction and Bugis MRT station.

The ticket price is S$23 for adult and S$13 for children. Quite expensive for a short 10-minute ride, but it's quite worth for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Inka and Irza previously was a bit afraid when they saw the balloon went up quite high, but I managed to persuade them to try and board the balloon.

It's quite high, indeed, and not recommended for those who are afraid of heights. The view from the balloon on its peak at 150 meters above ground is quite amazing.

More pictures can be found here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

New Playground at IMM Building

IMM Building shopping mall, which is located at Jurong East, not far from the MRT station, is our most frequently visited shopping mall. It has everything under one roof, including Giant Hypermarket where we usually buy our groceries. Recently, the shopping mall is undergoing major renovations, which are being done in batches. The building's management, CapitaLand, really have spent a lot of efforts to make the shopping mall even more attractive to visitors.

One of the results of the renovation works is the opening of the new rooftop garden, located on the 3rd floor, which is equipped with a new play area. The new play area consist of the usual "dry" playground, which equipments were previously located indoor on the 2nd floor, plus a new "wet" water play area.

The kids were having fun on both the dry and wet playgrounds. There's also a change area for the kids to take shower and change. The most important thing, it's free. :) The only downside is that it's outdoor, which means it can be very hot during the day. It's recommended to bring your kids there in the morning or evening. Don't forget to bring swim-gears for the kids.

More pictures can be found here.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Jakarta Trip: BSD City

Inka, Irza and the whole family went back to Jakarta between 31 May and 12 June 2007 for a short holiday, making use of the kids' June school holiday. We left Singapore for Jakarta on Thursday, 31 May 2007. That day was a public holiday, Vesak Day, in Singapore. We took Lufthansa flight from Singapore to Jakarta, taking off from Changi airport at around 5:05pm, only 10 minutes behind schedule. We landed at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta (Cengkareng) airport at around 5:40pm local time. Some pictures at Changi airport and during the flight can be found here.

Sadly, it was *NOT* a public holiday in Jakarta. For some reason, Indonesians celebrated Vesak Day on Friday, 1 June 2007 instead. Don't know what caused this difference. I thought that day was also a public holiday in Jakarta, but it was not. Can you guess how did that matter to us?

Yes, you guessed it right. On a weekday, during evening's rush hour time, Jakarta's traffic is a nightmare. It took us a solid 2.5 hours to reach my parent's house in Cinere, south Jakarta, from the airport in west Jakarta. Traffic jam at the inner-ring-road expressway has started from Jelambar, all the way to Grogol, Tomang until we exit the expressway at Slipi. Luckily, the traffic jam on the subsequent route we took to Cinere (Slipi --> Pejompongan --> Pondok Indah --> Lebak Bulus --> Cinere) was not too bad, despite the underpass construction at Kebayoran Lama.

First Trip to BSD City

On our third day in Jakarta, we went to Ocean Park, the new water theme park located at BSD City, Serpong, Tangerang. This is the first time we visited BSD City. The water park is quite big, and the facilities and attractions are comparable to Singapore's Wild Wild Wet or Malacca's A'Famosa Water World, although it's still smaller than Kuala Lumpur's Sunway Lagoon. There are the lazy river circling around the area, wave pool, many types of slides and water-based children playgrounds.

The location is quite convenient, only around 30-40 minutes from my parents' home in Cinere, thanks to the Serpong Expressway which is now directly connected to the Outer Ring Road Expressway at Lebak Bulus. Similar to Wild Wild Wet in Singapore, Ocean Park BSD uses a smart card for visitors to make payments for the tickets as well as all the facilities inside the theme park, such as lockers and tubes rental.

The entrance tickets are 50,000 Indonesian rupiahs per person for both adults and children, with additional charges apply for locker and tube rentals. The kids were really having fun. Unfortunately, not many photos we took there since all of us were swimming so we needed to put all our belongings, including the camera, inside the lockers. Some of the photos can be found here.

After swimming, we went to BSD Plaza to have dinner at a nice seafood restaurant near the carpark. The food were great, and the price is surprisingly cheap. There were total 13 people of us, 8 adults and 5 children (including one baby) and the whole seafood meal only costs us around 400,000 Indonesian rupiahs, or around S$68.

Apologise, we didn't manage to take pictures of the grilled fish, fried fish, squid, crab and other dishes, since we were very hungry after swimming. My wife only managed to take the picture of the otak-otak. More pictures at the restaurant can be found here.

More reports from our "mudik" trip to Jakarta will follow. :)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pasar Malam and Fun Fair at Woodlands

On Sunday (20/5) evening, the whole family went to Causeway Point, the biggest shopping mall around the north of Singapore, at Woodlands. Our destination is the pasar malam and fun fair, which is located at the open field opposite Causeway Point, near the Woodlands MRT station.

The fun fair itself is a makeshift theme park operated by Uncle Ringo, the leading amusement park operator in Singapore. However, even though it's only a makeshift theme park, you can find quite a lot of big and thrilling rides, similar to those found on permanent theme parks like Genting or Dunia Fantasy. There's even a very big (or giant?) ferris wheel called Euro Wheel, although of course you cannot compare it with Dunia Fantasy's Bianglala or the new upcoming Singapore Flyer. :)

The only downside is the ticket price, which is quite high. They sell it on a per-token basis (the token is actually a ticket) at S$2.50 per token, and most of the rides will require 2 tokens (or 2 tickets) per person, including children. Some more thrilling rides even require 3 or 4 tokens per head. Meaning, each ride will set you back from $5 to $10, per person. Very expensive.

Inka and Irza tried the (a bit slow) roller coaster and the pirate ship. Inka also tried the Sky Rider, which is similar to the Spinner ride in Genting, which is her favourite. However, this Sky Rider ride is spinning much faster than Genting's Spinner! No wonder why the minimum height limit for this ride was 125cm, which Inka was just reaching. For your information, the minimum height to ride the Spinner at Genting is only 107cm. I had to calm my wife who was very shocked to see that Inka was whirled that fast. :) Luckily, she was OK.

There's also the bumper cars! Definitely Inka and Irza's favourite. To ride these bumper cars, we had to buy separate tokens at $5 per car (not per person), and each car can take 2 persons. I rode the bumper car with Inka, while my wife shared the car with Irza. We really had fun! :) There are also some various games stalls where you can try your luck to win the prizes.

Just opposite the fun fair, nearer to the Causeway Point shopping mall and the Woodlands MRT station, there's a very big pasar malam where you can buy lots of stuff at cheap prices. Those include VCDs/DVDs, accessories, and of course, food and drinks, including the famous Ramly Burger. :)

More pictures can be found here.