2 Jan 2013 – Ashley started P1 this year at CHIJ (Kellock), a school that isn’t too far away from our house although not nearly as convenient to go compared to Chinese Kindergarten. She wasn’t scared at all on starting her first day of school thanks to all those years of pre-school and kindergarten. Here are some of the highlights of the day.
Our family has grown by 2! Today, we welcome the addition of Mocha and Ollie, our dear 4 month old silver tabby coloured Maine Coon and cream bi-coloured Ragdoll respectively. Though of different parents and breed, they were coincidentally born on the same date, i.e. 27 Jul 2012, and have since grown to become the best of friends. The girls simply adore them and we really look forward to them growing up together!
These boys are so close they not only play and eat together but sleep together in the same pattern too!
Speaking of growing up, Maine Coons and Ragdolls are really huge breeds and some can reportedly grow to over 10-15kg, the size of a medium dog. Gonna be fun if that happens!
18-20 Aug 2012 – Singapore is the last place I’d think of visiting for a vacation, especially since our family stays in Singapore. However, on wifey’s advice, I went along with her suggestion of a 3D2N stay at Sentosa thanks to a promotion that included buffet breakfast and dinner for S$1300. The idea seemed a little silly at first since in my mind there wasn’t anything worthwhile doing in Sentosa other than visiting Universal Studios.
Turns out I was wrong!
Firstly, the hotel we stayed at – Rasa Sentosa Resort – has a lot of things going for it.
1) The hotel restaurant, Silver Shell Cafe, has a really good seafood buffet dinner every Fri and Sat night. We piled on the crabs, crayfishes and prawns till we were so stuffed. There’s also free flow of ice cream, an assortment of cakes and a chocolate fountain to wrap off dinner.
2) There’s a 2-storey indoor tree house with a slide that goes into a pool of coloured balls which is great fun for the kids.
3) A big pool area for cooling off from the tropical sun and humidity.
4) Free and unlimited wireless.
5) A short walk away from the bus stop which has buses to other parts of the island.
6) Right next to Underwater World, where the fish spa is.
Other highlights of the trip
1) The Pythons
Every since my visit to Sentosa way back in 1996, these pythons outisde Underwater World have been an ever present sight. Ashley really liked touching the pythons although the same couldn’t be said for Alicia, who prefered to look on from a safe distance. Photos with the pythons cost $6 per person.
2) MegaZip Adventure Park
The main attraction here is undoubtedly the 450m free-fall zipline that takes one over the jungle canopy to Siloso Beach in under a minute. There’s also a 3 level ariel obstacle course called ClimbMax consisting of wobbly tightropes, bridges and cargo nets that definitely looks easier from the ground then when you’re on it. Ashley was the only one in the family who dared to try both the MegaZip and ClimbMax.
3) Fish Spa
There is a fish spa right next to Underwater World that offers 2 sizes of fishes – big and small (just can’t remember the exotic fish names!). Ashley loved the fish spa so much that we went there 3 days in a row. It’s hard to describe how being nibbled on by fish feels like, but many customers couldn’t take the intense feeling that they gave up after only a few seconds. After much laughter and loud squeals.
4) Skyline Luge
Riding the luge is like riding a go-kart, but one that utilizes gravity instead of fuel. The only complaint I have is that the 650m course was over too soon!
If you’re thinking of a short getaway without the hassle of a long plane or boat ride, Sentosa is definitely a viable choice now with the whole island transformed over the last few years with new and exciting attractions for the whole family!
It’s been 2 years since we last put up the Christmas tree (due to space constraints or overall laziness) but upon Ashley’s insistence, we put up a smaller version in the bedroom this year. The fun of digging through layers and layers of boxes in the storeroom aside, I must admit, having the tree up with sparkling lights and lined with presents underneath did spruce up the place considerably!
I had to attend a wedding dinner this year so didn’t get to join the family for the annual Christmas Eve dinner. Wifey was nice enough to bring back leftovers like lasagne and cheese cake though which I gobbled up for breakfast the next day. There’s no escaping those calories!
Christmas Day was spent attending church service in the morning followed by lunch at Marche at Somerset 313. Alicia got into a bit of a fight with another older boy at Marche over a toy at the play area and bonked him on the head with a woodern horse! So much for being nice and not naughty.
The highlight of the day was returning home to open presents! Here are some pictures before and after.
After coming down with tonsil infections 5 times this year, I finally bit the bullet and consulted an Ear Nose Throat (ENT) specialist to find out what was wrong with me. Five infections in a year is not normal and each incident was worse than the previous one in terms of duration, fever and pain. I had the feeling that antibiotics were becoming less and less effective too when the most recent infection was still not healed after 2 weeks. Thus, when surgery was proposed, I jumped on the thought of fixing the problem once and for all.
On Friday 17 Sep 2011, I had tonsillectomy done at Gleneagles and the operation was over in around an hour. I had a look at the Swedish meatball-sized tonsils that they removed afterwards and was really glad that they were out of my system. I then spent the next 2 nights in the hospital recuperating and enjoying the excellent hospital service. I’m really glad I chose Gleneagles to have my surgery done at as post-op care was excellent. The nurses there were very attentive and made sure that I was always as comfortable as possible. They were very swift in responding to requests like prompty stopping my Morphine drip after I started complaining of nausea the next morning and bringing me ice cream/milk/toast in the middle of the night. They also have free wi-fi, cable TV and daily newspapers so I was never bored. Wifey, Ashley and Alicia also visited me on Friday and Saturday to keep my spirits up.
Now on day 7 into my recovery, I’m glad to report that the pain isn’t as bad as I feared. My throat is still pretty swollen, making me sound odd when I talk, but at least the sharp pains are few and far between. I think the medication prescribed (antibiotics, Arcoxia and Panadol) really helped with that. I heard that the pain would get worse when the scabs start to fall off but we’ll see! I’ve also been drinking McD milkshakes and eating ice cream almost every day (can’t think of a better excuse to do so!) which is really soothing on the throat (but probably not so good for body fat). If all goes well, I should be a-ok in a few day’s time.
The only not-so-good news – the $7k+ hospital bill. Luckily, some of it is covered by company insurance and Medisave, but still… ouch!
28 – 29 Dec 2009 – I have many fond memories of Blenheim from our honeymoon back in 2003. Blenheim is situated in the Malborough region, a place famous for its many vineyards and wineries. Blenheim seems to have grown quite a bit since 2003 and is no longer the small town that we remembered. Unfortunately, our stay this time was pretty short so we didn’t have a chance to go on any wine tours. Not a big loss though; it took us almost 7 years to finish the two bottles of wine that we bought during out last trip so buying wine wasn’t very high on the agenda.
We arrived in Blenheim to really gorgeous golden evening light. Thanks to that, we made a snap decision to drive up to the hills to take some pictures for Project New Zealand. After consultation with the motel owner, we settled on Wither’s Hill Farm Park, a short 10-15 minute drive away from where we were staying. The hike up the hill was another thing however, and by the time we reached the middle, the sun had already started setting. Such a pity!
On the way down, Ashley tripped on some gravel and scraped her knee pretty badly. I’m not sure if it was the pain or the sight of blood but she ended up crying all the way back to the motel. Luckily the motel owner had some first aid supplies so we managed to clean the wound and get her knee bandaged. I remember teaching her how to play cards that night to distract her from the pain.
The next day, we had lunch at the Montana Winery, a place where we enjoyed a really nice lunch in 2003. Sadly, the menu had changed and the food wasn’t as nice as before. There must have been a management change during these few years!
View the full Blenheim photo album here.
27 – 28 Dec 2009 – Christchurch was hit by a devastating 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Sep 2010, almost a year after we visited and I remember opening the morning papers to see a picture of how the tower at Christchurch Cathedral had collapsed. It was a sad sight to see as the cathedral was one of the most beautiful structures we had visited during our time in New Zealand.
Ashley also had fond memories of spending time in the cathedral square playing on the bungee trampoline for two days in a row. I don’t know how she did it but she didn’t find being propelled 10-20m in the air scary at all!
Apart from just hanging around the square, we didn’t really do much else in Christchurch. I hope we didn’t miss much!
Link to the full album here.
26 Dec 2009 – Nothing much happened on Day 4 apart from our epic 8 hour drive from Queenstown to Christchuch. Along the way, we stopped at familiar places like Lake Tekapo for lunch and to relax a little.
Taking a short break along Lindis Pass as Ashley was feeling quesy and threw up outside the car right after stopping. She kept complaining that she was uncomfortable but did not know how to say that she was giddy.
How does it feel like driving for almost the whole day? All I can say is that I’m glad that my dad-in-law and I could take turns at the wheel or else it would have been very tiring!
The full Day 4 album here.
25 Dec 2009 – This being Christmas Day, a lot of shops and attractions were closed for the day. Not Puzzling World at Wanaka though, which was our destination. Wanaka is around a 1-2 hour’s drive from Queenstown along the scenic Crown Range Road.
Puzzling World is a great place for families to visit and you can easily spend half a day there just exploring attractions like the Great Maze and Tilted House. There are also optical illusions aplenty like the Ames Forced Perspective Room and Hall of Following Faces, the former displaying the same type of illusion used to make characters seem either taller or shorter in the Lord Of The Rings movies.
After we were done with Puzzling World, we drove around a bit to take some photos of Zhiyi for Project New Zealand (She had her makeup and hair done while the kids were having lunch). Here is one of my favourites taken among the tussock at Outlet Road.
Link to the full Day 3 album here.
24 Dec 2009 – After spending the night at Lake Tekapo, we drove down to the adventure capital of New Zealand – Queenstown – to spend 2 days there. But before leaving, we woke up early to take some pictures at Lake Tekapo. Dad-in-law was kind enough to act as my photography assistant by holding the reflector! As you can see from the photo below, the lake has a very unique turquoise blue colour.
Along the way, we stopped at a fruit farm/shop called the Jones Family Orchard near Cromwell. It’s a great place to pick up souvenirs (fruits, chocolates, nougats, etc) and try the natural ice cream. The blueberry ice cream we tried tasted so good and fresh!
The first time we visited Queenstown, I remember staying in a small cozy motel by the main road that looked a little like a tree house. This time round, we put up at the larger and more posh looking Autoline Motel. Right after checking-in, we made our way to the town centre and waterfront for an evening stroll. Needless to say, it being Christmas Eve, not many establishments were open though there were a lot of people strolling about to catch the nice evening sunset.
Link to the full Day 2 album here.