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Bookmark Monday: All about Singapore

I had wanted to allocate one Bookmark Monday segment for covering Singapore history and its road to independence. However there aren’t any books (I haven’t found them and I’ve asked the librarians but if you know of any, please drop me a note!) for young readers, and the most elementary that I have found is in the Primary Four level Social Studies syllabus. But that’s for another post…

For this week’s post, as an alternative to the printed page, I thought I would list a couple of events that have been organised in celebration of Singapore’s 47th National Day, that we ourselves are thinking of checking out.

  • TimeOut has published a short article listing four activities for kids in Singapore this month. Click on this link to find out more. Among the listed activities, is free entry to the Istana on 5 August, art and craft activities at the Arts and Heritage Village and complimentary entry into the Istana Building (otherwise priced at $2) if your child participates in the On-the-Spot Art competition.
  • The National Museum of Singapore, in a collaboration with the National Archives of Singapore is displaying an exhibition titled 45-65: Liberation, Unrest…a New Nation at its Stamford Gallery on Level 1.  This is a free admission exhibition running till 18 November.  It’s free, it runs for some time, I don’t have to be asked twice. 🙂
  • And for the entire month of August 2012, the National Heritage Board is offering free entry for Singaporean citizens and permanent residents to the permanent galleries of the following museums – Asian Civilisations Museum, Memories at Old Ford Factory, National Museum of Singapore, Peranakan Museum, Reflections at Bukit Chandu, Singapore Art Museum and Singapore Philatelic Museum.

To all our Singaporean readers, Happy 47th National Day!

In my world: Pat it and prick it


Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, dig some sand

Build me a castle as fast as you can

Pat it and prick it and mark it with leaves

Pull out the camera and save it for me.

On whim we took a walk…

On whim we took a walk, our family of four

To find some fascinating treasures on our nature explore

   we collect blooms fallen by the pathway, enough for a bouquet!

Cool sand bids us, come, leave the scorching pavement, explore, enjoy and play…

An hour of fun for four, and home we go with fond memories of the day.

A Trip to Maritime Experiential Museum & Aquarium

We visited the Maritime Experiential Museum & Aquarium (MEMA) at Resorts World Sentosa a couple of weeks back.

Technically, the Aquarium part isn’t ready yet till 2012, so there’s only the museum, but at admission of $5 for adults and $2 for children 4 and above, one doesn’t have too much to complain about. Even if you add in Sentosa island admission cost), it still beats the more expensive admission price of the Art and Science Museum at Marina Bay Sands.

MEMA’s focus is on the history of ancient maritime trade, and the current exhibition is on the journey of Admiral Zheng He and life and trade on the Maritime Silk Route.

Before going in to the Souk Gallery, at the entrance, you can catch a preview video introducing Admiral Zheng He and his epic voyage from China to the western oceans on a life-size replica of the bow of his ship, Bao Chuan (treasure ship).

It’s a little overwhelming at first for the little ones (a moving, roaring lion head with eyes that flash bright red), but I kinda like the effects. DD liked it enough to want to go back and catch a second viewing.

Behind the scenes, literally (!) is a cross-section display of the goods that Zheng He carried and brought back to display to the Chinese emperor – he actually could fit giraffes and rhinos in his ship. (Those poor animals, I wonder how they ever survived the journey).

Children can collect a little booklet passport with pages to collect stamps for each port of call on the Maritime Silk Route – Quanzhou, China; Qui Nhon, Vietnam; Palembang, Indonesia; Malacca, Malaysia; Galle, Sri Lanka; Calicut, India; Muscat, Oman and Malindi, Kenya.

There are also full-colour activity sheets printed on sturdy cardstock that your child can fill out details in as they hunt down the answers around the exhibits.

Don’t forget to stop by the activity stations and make your own paper model of a Chinese junk and wayang kulit puppet to bring home.

Interactive exhibits also encourage one to stop and learn about Chinese ship building technology and math principles, explore traditional Indonesian dancing and get a picture of yourself in traditional gear, and role play the life and challenges of a port trader. According to the game’s scoring, I’m only an average trader…so sigh, I gotta keep my day job. 😉

What I appreciate about MEMA is the natural daylight. You know how museums are always kind of dark and enclosed, with focused spotlights on the exhibits in recessed spaces? This one is all glass and steel structure, and the natural daylight pours in through the ceiling and clear walls, making it feel very bright and airy.

MEMA also has a typhoon theatre. It’s a 150-seat 360-degree multimedia theatre, where you board a sailing ship and follow the story of a father and son who set sail to carry a gift from the Chinese Emperor to Arabian royalty. The ill-fated ship meets a treacherous end in a vicious typhoon. Sad story.  😦

The theatre basically simulates what a typhoon might feel like through movements of the platform, changes in the room temperature, water sprays and scene changes. It’s an interesting experience albeit a tad frightening for our youngest one who clung to me tighter than a baby koala throughout the whole experience. The admission for this is a separate cost of $6 per adult and $4 per child aged 4 and above.

I wonder if they will increase prices after the Aquarium is open. I hope not.
And if they will change their exhibit from time to time. Although that may not happen anytime soon.

Resorts World Sentosa, 8 Sentosa Gateway Sentosa Island Singapore 098269

Museum 10am – 9pm daily, Typhoon Theatre 10am – 8pm daily

In my world: Assorted nature finds

It’s been raining and storming so much in the past weeks that the occasional balmy evenings have been a welcome opportunity to leave the house and get some exercise! I’m just sitting here watching over the kids’ finds on our walk around the neighbourhood…while they’re off climbing and running at the playground.

Dinosaurs Live!

Last Wednesday we decided to check out the Dinosaurs Live exhibition at the Annexe of the Singapore Science Centre.

The exhibition runs from 21 October to 26 February 2012. In line with the theme, the Omnimax theatre is showing Flying Monsters, a study of prehistoric pterosaurs and their evolution, narrated by David Attenborough.

How do you tell a styracosaurus from a triceratops from a protoceratops?

I got them mixed up but DS was totally in his element, as he called out the names of the dinosaurs from afar even before we got to the exhibit itself.  He was so pleased with himself when we confirmed with the signages that he was absolutely right! Totally precious.

What’s a dinosaurs exhibition without the all familiar, typical tyrannosaurus rex skeleton? 😉

Be forewarned though, the admission charges are on the pricey side.  Especially if you’re questioning the accuracy of the representations…I mean, after all, which one of us could really say for sure that that was truly the colour of an ankylosaurus, or how the parasaurolophus really sounded like?  Ha.  But if you take it with a pinch of salt, the sandpit, colouring station, clay dino-fossil craft table and dino rides are pretty fun to the young, wide-eyed and un-jaded amongst us. 🙂

DD and DS brought home their own clay triceratops and stegosaurus respectively, coloured up some funky velociraptor pictures, and spent a considerable time just digging and raking sand.  Which gave DH and I the opportunity to check out the explanatory notes at the exhibits, and also catch up with some church friends we met who’d brought their grandchildren to the exhibition.


A tip from DH: Go to the website link above and download the 3D app if you have an iPhone. You’ll get some really cool interactive images. 😀  ** REALLY. COOL! **

And just one more additional little tip for parents: Stay far, FAR away from the “dino store”, a.k.a. souvenir store.

For one, it’s a gaping toy retail trap.

For another, it stocks the “exclusively designed exhibition trail booklet” priced at $3, but the booklet is not comprehensive enough on its own so you’d feel obliged to complete the pack by purchasing the accompanying stickers, by which time, you would have paid a princely sum of $8 in total for each trail booklet pack.

The booklet is meant to be filled up as you stop at each of the dino-kiosks  in the exhibition to collect picture stamps of various species of dinosaurs. Which is a useful resource, except…

A cleverer zero cost option? Pick up a couple of A4 sized plain sheets of paper from the colouring station, fold them into a mini-book and let the kids stamp those. Kickstart your memory into gear, remember what each of your stamps represent and go home and look up the internet or encyclopedias together as a family for information on the dinosaur species in question.  Save the $8 to buy three packs of chicken rice for lunch…or two McDonald’s value meals with a $1 top up. 😀


(Post update: We’ve just discovered, after downloading the app, that the sticker pack also has the capability to display in 3D with the iPhone app.  So buy the stickers if you would like to have the full 3D collection.  But only if you have an iPhone, otherwise they would just be expensive regular two-dimensional stickers.)

Singapore Firefighting

Last Saturday, we visited the Central Fire Station on Hill Street, with a group of friends from church.  And learnt some interesting facts about the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).

SCDF is an agency under the purview of the Ministry of Home Affairs, in charge of the provision of fire fighting, rescue and emergency ambulance services, mitigation of hazardous materials incidents as well as the formulation and enforcement of fire safety and civil defence shelter regulations in Singapore.

Did you know…

What we generically call fire engine in layman terms, is referred to as PL in the SCDF fleet, which stands for Pumper Ladder. The pumper ladder is one of the vehicles most often deployed in a fire. It carries a wide range of equipment ranging from hoses, breathing apparatus and rescue equipment.

Photo credit: RT

Ambulances are the most widely deployed vehicle of SCDF. Each ambulance has a three digit number, identifying its geographical division, fire station number and ambulance number.  So for example, the ambulance in the picture below is Ambulance number 2, from Division 1, Fire Station 1 (that’s the Central Fire Station).

Private ambulances have a PA prefix in front of their three digit identification number.

Photo credit: RT

The personnel conducting the tour (unfortunately we didn’t get his name) is a volunteer Public Education Officer. He certainly took his responsibility very seriously, and provided our group a very informative and comprehensive walkthrough.

The Red Rhino, or also known as Light Fire Attack Vehicle (LFAV), is a uniquely Singaporean fire-fighting appliance. It is an all-terrain vehicle with a seating capacity of 4-5 firefighters, designed to traverse off roads to provide firefighting aid in densely built up areas which can’t be reached by the Pump Ladder.

It carries pretty much the same firefighting equipment as a PL, and has pumps as well, and a water tank capacity of 50 litres.  Additional water requirements are drawn off the fire hydrant network.

We called this the cherry picker. but its official name is Combined Platform-Ladder (CPL), which is essentially a Pumper Ladder with a hydraulic ladder platform which can be raised up to approximately 30 metres high for height rescue and high-rise building firefighting.

The personnel operating the CPL told us that they used to have an Aerial Ladder which could be raised up to 60 metres in height.  But it is no longer in use as it was only a structure with rescue cage with no pump.

Photo credit: HL

Check out the view from the top!  For the weekend open days to members of the public, they don’t extend the platform to its full height but just bring it up to about four stories high.  Shame…I mean, just imagine, how cool would it be to be up in the air 30 metres above the ground?! 😉

Photo credit: HL

The Central Fire Station is about a hundred years old and is the oldest existing fire station in Singapore. Back in the days when there were no mobile phones, the fire station was the tallest building in the area.

This watch tower served as a lookout, where an assigned personnel would keep watch and alert the firefighting team if he saw signs of a fire in the area.  Today, taller modern buildings dominate the skyline but this grand dame of red and white brick overshadows them all in her majestic architecture and rich history.

Photo credit: RT

Evening finds

When evening comes
We wheel our trikes
Out to the grass and on to gravel
There’s much to find
Eyes sharp and bright
We set our feet with all our might to pedal

Copyright –

Kids Say: Hand a map to the kids…

…and be prepared to be directed all over the place!

We took advantage of the Singapore National Day holiday to visit the zoo. Except recently, in a effort to encourage DD to read, we handed her the map and asked her to direct the family’s route around the zoo.  Between her and her brother, that sure led to some comical outcomes.


“Hey kids, look at the orang utan!  He’s going to climb up the vine.”

“But I want to see the snakes.”

“How about we go see the snakes after this?”

“Hmm…oops, well, maybe snakes after the zebras and giraffes.  Um, and lions.”

“Do you want to compare the jaguar and leopard?”

“No, I don’t want jaguar. I just want to see the snakes.”

“Do we have enough time to make it to the elephants show?”

“Fifteen minutes?  Grab lunch first?”

*after Elephants of Asia* 

“Mommy, I want to go to the carousel?”

“Um, carousel is kinda far away….”

“Mommy, can we go to the black monkey?” 

“But I want to go to the carousel.”

“That would mean going past elephants…for the third time…”

“How about the lemurs? Can we go and see the lemurs?”

“I’m so tired, let me just sit down here for awhile.  Pygmy hippos…look, kids, aren’t they cute?”

“That’s not a hippo…”


I think you catch my drift… (click here to view the roundabout figure eight route we took).