Poolzies – cute pool shoes for toddlers!

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Ever found yourself at the poolside saying, I mean shouting to the kids “Walk! Don’t run!!”. We all know it’s dangerous to run by the pool because it’s slippery everywhere, and often the tiles in and around the pool are so sharp! (Why is that so, anyway? So un-user-friendly!)

I was pleasantly surprised to discover Poolzies which are water shoes for babies. As divers (although actually I’ve hung up my fins), we’re so used to the idea of booties (no, not those that newborn babies wear!). But water shoes for kids are a lot less common.

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Now Scout has loved the water since she was born. She used to enjoy her baths as a newborn, and at a little past 2 years, is progressing quite well in her swimming lessons, holding her breath under water effortlessly. The only problem with this confidence, is that I have to be extra vigilant with her, and she is always trying to squirm away to swim on her own play around the shallow pools or pool steps.

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So when I was sent a pair of Poolzies I quickly tried it on her. She liked them, although sometimes she will want to wear them and sometimes not. And sometimes she will just want to wear them in the house. Kids, eh? They are a lovely lycra material, which have UPF50+ protection. The soles are made from material known as Toughtek USA which I think is soft enough so that it’s easy for kids to wear and grow into. It’s not the hard type of material that most booties are made out of. They are also very light, so they won’t hinder the child’s movements when they swim.

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I think they would also be great if you want a little protection while playing by the beach. From our experience at beach holidays, kids don’t seem to be as bothered by bits of coral and all on the sand, even when we adults found it impossible to walk along the beach without feeling too pricked. Perhaps because kids are lighter in weight and thus exert less force on the soles of their feet? Anyhow, a pair of Poolzies would be good for that too, and for hot surfaces around a beach resort or pool.

Check out Poolzies here!

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Disclaimer: We were sent a pair of Poolzies for review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Hong Kong Disneyland – October 2014

3 tips for Surviving Disneyland

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As part of our Hong Kong trip, we decided to visit and stay at Hong Kong Disneyland. My last Disneyland trip was maybe 10 years ago, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But like the rest of our Hong Kong trip, we had a fabulous time! Although hubby is not sure if he will want to return, I would definitely go again. Heck, I’d leave now if I could! Maybe I’ve had more of a Disney childhood than he has?

I really loved how there were so many rides for toddlers. Scout went on the Mystic Point ride (I did cover her eyes at some parts like the Medusa), Mickey’s PhilharMagic a 3D movie which she watched mostly without the glasses but loved it, The Golden Mickeys, The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh (loved this!), It’s a Small World (who could miss this?), Autopia (yawn), Buzz Lightyear Astro Busters – she had so much fun shooting although some parts were a little scary for her, and the Jungle River Cruise which was a little scary too because the animals look so real! And of course she enjoyed the Festival of the Lion King so much she asked for “More, more!” After it ended! And there are still a number of rides that she has yet to go on so there is plenty for the kids.

Lots has been written Disneyland, so I shan’t go into the details of each and every ride. But here are my three top tips if you’re planning a trip to Disneyland soon.

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Where to rest those weary bodies.

For this trip we stayed at Disneyland Hotel. I have heard so much about how wonderful the hotel is, and it is extremely convenient to be located so near the Disneyland Park. We stayed here for 2 nights and took a 2-day Park pass. Actually we took the Play, Dine & Stay Package which included the park pass. Don’t forget to check out their promotions and offers, they often have coupons which you can download for discounts for dining. Also I hear if you buy an annual pass you get discounts on rooms and F&B and retail, which might also be worth it.

Can you spot me?? Probably not :D

Can you spot me?? Probably not :D

I loved the TWO king size beds (and they also provided us with a cot), the rooms are very comfortable, and we enjoyed staying there. There is plenty to explore – the jetty, the pool, the maze, and apparently you can even walk over to the Park. I was a little worried that we’d have to wait ages for the hotel shuttle during peak periods (after fireworks, etc.), but there were always so many buses, I doubt we waited more than 5 minutes each time for a shuttle.

Someone's excited about breakfast.

Someone’s excited about breakfast.

We didn’t do the character dining because my kids are always afraid of the mascots – I’ve heard it is quite a highlight, and I imagine that for those who like that (I think I would have!!) it would probably take the stay at Disneyland Hotel up a few notches. The breakfast was pretty decent, and as we had a late start, we filled up at brunch time, proceeded to the park, and then just had a snack in the afternoon before dinner that day.

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For future trips we might consider staying at Novotel Citygate (for much less) and commuting over to the Disneyland Park via the apparently pretty awesome Disney train (which we did not get to take this time!)

 

Loving the parades.

Loving the parades.

Keeping safe amidst the crowds.

I’m sure we’ve all heard the kidnapping stories, and all of us are pretty weary about that. We went on a Golden Week weekend, but I think the crowds were still pretty manageable. The queues for the rides though, were something else altogether but my second tip will help with that!

The only time I felt a little panicky was at night, after the night parade and fireworks session. When the crowd is dispersing, and it’s dark, and crowded, and a little chaotic, it’s hard to spot anyone. I had to be extra vigilant to keep all eyes and ears out for the kids. If I had to do it again, I’d make sure the kids had some markers on them – I’m thinking glow sticks (maybe all of the same colour, or colour combination) would probably be the best to make them stand out in the crowd!

We also dress our kids (and husband) in the same gear so that they’re easy to spot; you can easily do the same with colours. It might sound cheesy but it helps reinforce that we are a group. I haven’t succumbed to the family uniform though. Yet.

 

Beating the queues.

Hong Kong Disneyland is not a large park (I’d estimate it’s about the same size as Universal Studios Singapore?), and most people take a 2-day park pass. You could potentially cut the visit down to only 1 day, although with young kids I don’t like rushing. We spent 2 days there, perhaps about 6-9 hours each day, and i still felt that was not long enough!

I am more adverse to queuing when it is with young kids, and during our stay it was pretty warm as well, which made it even more trying. One of our friends recommended the Disneyland Tour Services, which became the highlight of the trip for us. We spent our first day familarising ourselves with the park, and scheduled our 3-hour Tour for 3pm on Day 2.

How the Tour works is that there will be a guide to bring you around the park and you can enjoy the rides without queueing. Yes, you will even get priority over the Fast Pass holders! You can’t help but feel like celebrities, being escorted around and cutting queues. You can go on any ride as many times as you want, so you could potentially spend 3 hours riding on Space Mountain a zillion times, but I would suggest you use the service for the attractions that have a long waiting time. The ones with shorter waiting times you can always do on your own! The guides can even suggest which seats on each ride are the best, and make sure you get those particular seats that you want.

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Before we set off with the guides, they will ask which rides you are interested to go on and plan a route out for you accordingly. They also suggested we start off with the Golden Mickeys show, but going for any show while on the tour isn’t a good strategy because you’re paying for their time and the privileges. So I suggested we go on all the rides and end off at the 6pm Lion King performance, and we were able to go on rides up until 5 minutes before the show and didn’t have to queue to get in. It was fantastic ending the tour with front row seats at the Lion King, and having the performers come around to give us high-fives during the performance. Several times! If we had chosen to have gone to the Golden Mickeys we wouldn’t have had such an experience.

Since the Disneyland Hotel was a little disappointing for us, I’d rather save on the accommodation and splurge on the Tour Services. p.s. Although it is called a tour, there is no buggy service and you still have to walk the park :D

Another way you could beat the queues would be to watch all the parades on the first day, and then on the second day while the parades were ongoing go on the rides or vice versa so that the queues would be much shorter. Many of the rides are also much less crowded in the late afternoons and evenings.

So young, and already bearing the weight of the world!

So young, and already bearing the weight of the world!

 

I think I need to plan a trip to a Disneyland again soon :)

Travelling in a pack – Hong Kong October 2014

hong kong victoria harbour

Guess where?

We have just come back from a short trip to Hong Kong where we travelled in a family group of 14 in total, ages ranging from 2 to 69. After we had confirmed the trip, we realised that it was going to be China’s Golden Week, the week where the entire China and 1 billion of the world’s population is on holiday. Then there was Occupy Central. If ever there was a holiday that seemed doomed, this might have been it.

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Now that she’s past two years old, I am finally free of an appendage on the plane. Kind of.

Thankfully, it was enjoyable for all young and old. Although we didn’t get to squeeze in many sights, it was much less stressful that I worried it might be. This trip made me think a lot about why we travel with kids. Most times it’s not about checking sights off a list. I’m not bothered about making sure I go to all the must-see places. It’s more about being immersed in a culture, doing things that are different, and spending quality time together.

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Happiness is an egg tart

For this trip, I wanted them to experience things that are quintessentially Hong Kong – things like taking the Star Ferry (check), the trams (sadly, didn’t do it), walking along the crowded, dirty streets (check, unavoidable!), and touching base with their Cantonese roots (them, not me).

We also have a few friends who live there, but I told them honestly that I didn’t think it would be possible to meet up with them and lug all 13 other family members along! So I’m bummed there are a few things that we didn’t get to do – but I’m also glad that we were safe and sound amidst a mild political crisis.

 

How did we do it?

Here are some tips that might be helpful to you in the event you might feel the urge to attempt the seemingly impossible.

Eating.

I love how this girl can barely see over the table but is happy to sit and eat on her own without assistance or without a high chair.

I love how this girl can barely see over the table but is happy to sit and eat on her own without assistance or without a high chair.

Because we had a large group, we made several meal reservations beforehand. Expecting tables in a popular restaurant would otherwise be fooldhardy. Eating in a 茶餐厅 meant that we’d have to split up, but that wasn’t a problem since you wouldn’t be spending 2-3 hours in a 茶餐厅 anyway. I also did a lot of research on Open Rice, plotted the various restaurants and eateries on Google maps, and read up on some reviews on places to go. I didn’t want to go to a food paradise like Hong Kong and end up eating McDonald’s. In fact, I stretched the truth and told the kids that there wasn’t any McD’s in Hong Kong :D

Food wise, I was pleasantly surprised that the kids loved everything. But then I guess who doesn’t love MSG-laden food, eh? Haha. Actually we did find the food salty, but it didn’t have the usual MSG aftermath symptoms. So it was ok.

Seeing.

We also researched as much as possible, from places to go, how to get there and opening hours. We over-planned, so that we would be able to decide on the spontaneously as and when what to do. One afternoon we thought we might take the peak tram up to The Peak, but after seeing the queue for the tram, and you know how kids LOVE queues, we just skipped and hopped across to the Hong Kong Park, where we spent some time at the playground, went to the aviary, and would have also stopped for afternoon tea at the Tea Museum had it not been close to dinner time. We didn’t discover those places by accident – having read about it helped not having to walk around aimlessly. Maybe it takes the fun out of discovering things while travelling, but when you have to move in a large group, including small kids, being prepared is not such a bad thing.

Perhaps it would have been better if we had planned the entire trip hour by hour, but I know with kids, especially my kids, you need to go with the flow. And of course with so many other people travelling together, it would have been hard to make the decision for everyone. Also we went knowing that there were some uncertainties we might need to deal with – particularly, Golden Week ; and Occupy Central. Had Occupy Central escalated beyond control, Plan B was to move the entire troop to the Novotel Citigate and explore Lantau Island, away from the maddening crowds; Plan C would be to stay in the hotel mostly – I’m sure the kids would have been happy just to do that, especially with cousins in tow!

We only had 2 days on Hong Kong island, and with the uncertainty of the protests, we spent almost one full day at Ocean Park. Ocean Park is fun for the kids, but I would honestly only recommend it if you have nothing else to do, or if you have more time than the 2 days that we did. It’s like a mini River Safari, with rides and carnival games (which we enjoyed playing while waiting for some others to go on a ride), and you can get much closer to the penguins at the penguin enclosure and at Tuxedo restaurant than at the Jurong Bird Park. The cable cars are supposed to be very scenic (sadly it was far too crowded for us to be bothered to queue!), but overall….not a must do on my list, especially if you’re pressed for time.

A big highlight of our trip was Hong Kong Disneyland, but I’ll save that for another post.

 

Staying.

There are some hotels in HK with family rooms. We chose to stay at The Mercer in Sheung Wan, in a one-bedroom “apartment”, which is a comfortable room size by HK standards. We had a roll away bed AND a cot, so it was comfortable for my family of 5.

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Photo source: Mercer, because by the time we got to our room I was too tired to take any photos and anyway it was in a mess after all of 10 seconds.

 

I still have many items on To-do in HK list to check off, but I’m sure we’ll be back soon. It was especially nostalgic for me because we spent a few years living there when I was young, so I’m excited to bring the kids back again (and for longer than just 2 days….).

In a nutshell, over-plan but go with the flow. We really enjoyed ourselves so much that we were already throwing ideas in the air for the next trip even before we flew home! Watch this space for more adventures :)

 

 

Agape Babies online store review (and discount code!)

I am so thankful that these days you can really buy anything online. And I’ve become such a huge online shopper because of the convenience. As a mother, having time to leisurely browse through anything in a physical store is a very rare luxury. So much so that sometimes when I do have a little pocket of time, I’m either rushing from place to place, or have absolutely no idea what to do with my time!

Recently Agape Babies approached me to ask if I would review their store. I first started buying from Agape Babies from the Singapore Motherhood forums years ago, and when I visited the site again recently, I was struck by how much has changed since then. It is now a beautifully designed site with such an extensive product range it took me hours to decide what I wanted to get!

agapebabiesApart from the extensive product range, and ongoing promotions and discounts, I have to say I really like the navigation. You can add items to your cart quickly without getting forced to go to the cart page, or other annoying things. Most of the time if I see something I like, I just like to add ‘em all to the cart and take my time to pick and choose later, so I hate it when I have to go to the cart and get asked if I want to checkout now NOW or NOW. Annoying right??

They also sell some products in bundles so you can save even more money. Hurray!

So out of the 2000 over products that they carry, here are some examples of the range of products I bought.

Orajel

Orajel toothpaste

Chinese Learning Cards

Chinese Learning Cards

California Baby Sunscreen

California Baby Sunscreen

California Baby Shampoo & Body Wash

California Baby Shampoo & Body Wash

 

Now here comes the pleasant surprise. I put in my order at 11pm one night after the kids had gone to sleep, and by 6pm the next day, the products were delivered. They aim to deliver by courier within 3 working days, so I was quite shocked and was when the courier guy arrived, I was trying to recall what I had bought! Actually that happens to me often because as I mentioned, I buy a lot of stuff online. In fact, because some items takes a few days and others weeks, often a courier will call to ask if anyone will be home to receive a package and I will still have no clue what is being delivered :D

Agape Babies offers a huge range of products, with over 100 brands and 2000 products in store. There are diapers, milk formula, California Baby products, baby food, toys, books, strollers, lunch boxes, baby carriers, and even baby bedding. Trust me, you will be spoilt for choice!

Find the Agape Babies site here, sign up for their newsletter for updates on promotions, or find them on FB and Instagram as @agapebabies

And for my dear readers, use the code “mummyed” to be entitled  to a 5% discount! The code is valid for a month – from 21Oct-18 Nov and excludes breast pumps, diapers, milk and sale category items. GO FORTH AND SHOP!! And let me know if you liked it as much as I did :)

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Disclaimer: I received store credits from Agape Babies for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

Halloween and other make believe for kids

This month we’ve been to three theme parks – Universal Studios Singapore, Ocean Park Hong Kong, and Disneyland Hong Kong. I hadn’t realised how big of a deal halloween is these days, and anyone in the hospitality line who can, is going all out to squeeze the event of what it’s worth (much like Valentine’s, Christmas, etc), starting from late September.

While USS and Disney saved most of their theatrics for the weekend evenings, Ocean Park had actors out entertaining visitors, posing for photos and often sneaking up on people to give them a little fright, or having a group of zombies in a mass dance. It was all in good fun of course, but with young kids, and impressionable minds, and not wanting to give them any nightmares, I steered them away as much as possible.

So it was also timely that just recently we saw an episode of SuperWhy on The Ghost Who Was Afraid of Halloween, in which Little Ghost is scared of everything he sees. He then learns the Super Story Answer is “make believe”, and realises that everything is not real.

Going to the Lights, Camera, Action! feature at USS (for my first time ever!) was also a good chance for me to try and explain to Mittens how movies are made, and although being in the midst of the storm was scary for them and felt so real, it was all calculated and executed so precisely. He later sat on The Revenge of the Mummy ride (he might have now surpassed me in the number of rides I’ve been on!) and understandably found it scary, but it helped to apply what he learnt in the SuperWhy episode that it’s all make believe.

 

If your child has similar fears, I hope this episode of SuperWhy will help him too. Enjoy!!

 

Shanghai 2014: Things to do in Shanghai with kids

We came back from Shanghai in the middle of July this year, and yes, it’s taken my THIS long to get a post together on our trip!

On our previous trip last year, we didn’t really go to any children-specific place. This time I did a little more research, but because we had the luxury of two weeks (exactly 15 days, any longer would have required a visa for every one of us, which would’ve been more trouble!), we took it very easy. I’ve tried to arrange the places we visited by area, although in reality it was sometimes a little haphazard!

The husband wasn’t always with us, so many of these places I did with the kids and my MIL and some with my mother too (she joined us later). It also helped that we had a driver who seemed to be in the know about everything, which made it much much easier navigating a foreign city with public transport with 2-3 kids in tow. I still think that there is more that we could have done and still more to see, but my kids are simple kids who don’t mind staying at home to play, and I’ve learnt to balance sight-seeing and letting them have their own free time. We didn’t do any watertowns this time round, because the thought of three young kids being cooped up in a car for 1-2 hours was just not my idea of FUN.

 

Xintiandi 新天地 and surrounding area

We arrive on the first day in the late afternoon to the Ascott Huai Hai Road Shanghai. We have dinner at South Beauty in the building next to the hotel. We had the ala carte buffet which is RMB199 per person. One staff told us kids are half price but turns out they were FOC. South Beauty is actually known for its Sichuan food but we opted mostly for non-spicy ones for the kids. We discovered that turbot 多宝鱼 doesn’t cost an arm and a leg like it does here in Singapore. We also liked a crispy chicken dish (although it seems kinda Cantonese style if you ask me!).

Most days, especially when the hubby and our friends are not around, I prefer to have dinner in the vicinity of the apartment so that I won’t have to deal with cranky kids who don’t want to be strapped in, or napping when they shouldn’t be! Luckily around the Ascott Huai Hai are plenty of options. The room service was pretty decent, and thankfully so, because my kids are always well and happy to stay at home instead of getting lugged all over town.

We a;sp tried a Hong Kong 茶餐厅 called 新旺, which has many outlets all over the place. It’s oily and salty, but what else do you expect right? 😁 We also ta-bao chin chow desserts from a Taiwanese dessert place just a short stroll from the apartment. There are also plenty of restaurants in the K11 Art Mall (which is a really lovely mall – so different! Bring the kids to the walkway in the basement leading towards the Watson’s) and Xintiandi 新天地 just a longer stroll away.

K11 Shanghai, pigs

Yes these are piglets, who were at an exhibition kind of thing at K11.

One evening we walked to Xintiandi 新天地 to eat at Din Tai Fung 鼎泰丰, which is like an institution there, even though it’s Taiwanese. Actually where in the world is it not an institution? What I loved was they provided little balls of dough for the kids to play with so they had something to do while waiting for the 小笼包 we ordered. So clever, and the kids played with it for one or two more days more before I had to throw it out.

Din tai fung, xing tian di, shanghai

One little ball of dough, so much fun!

The apartment is also a short walk to the Neon 霓虹 shopping area which is just across the road from our apartment. I didn’t’t really find much here because it’s either locally made toys (read: cheap and will break in 5 minutes), imported toys or imported clothes from Korea, which aren’t any cheaper, and I’m really not into fakes or factory run-offs because for the price the vendors try to sell you the goods, you can get reduced items from Gap and Old Navy! (Which I did!) There is a small chargeable play area inside the shopping area (look for the directional signage on the floor), and it looks like the same equipment they have at SingKids.

One morning we head to YuYuan Garden to have lunch at 南翔馒头店. Although it’s very touristy, the place still has its charm, and we head up to the highest floor to savour some 小龙包 and those soup buns that you need a straw to drink. Our favourite 小龙包 here is the one with the crab roe. The ground floor is for takeaways, but head up to the highest floor to see which has the shortest queues. Each section is divided by minimum spend.

Along the outside of YuYuan is a little tea place we stumbled on on our last trip, called 壶中方圆. My SIL has asked for tea from the same place, so I managed to find the store again and after buying lots of souvenir tea (like the type that “flowers” when you put it in water), the owner invites us for a bit of tea tasting. I would have loved to have spent some quiet time in a tea house, but we didn’t have much time and I don’t know how child friendly they would be.

One another day, the MIL and kids and I go to 田子坊 Tianzifang along 泰康路 Taikanglu to walk around while the hubby goes to pick up Mittens. It is rather warm and the kids and I enjoy a little yoghurt place the most. I’m not really interested in shopping, especially not when I have small kids in tow.

In this area there is also a little gem of a hairy crab restaurant 新光酒家. It reminds me of the eateries in Hong Kong. They have set meals and they serve hairy crab in all their dishes all year round. Don’t ask me how they do it, but we like it because everything is peeled for you, and the kids take to it quite well. There’s also crab fried rice, and most kids like fried rice.

hairy crab, shanghai

I’m having a craving for this dinner right now!!

The Bund

On the first day of school, we drop Mittens off in school and attend an orientation for parents. We’re supposed to squeeze in a massage but we end up at a supermarket buying some pasta and pasta sauce, which is comfort food for the kids and the 2 times I cook it even though it is quite plain, they love it. We head to the Bund to have lunch at Japanese restaurant Sun with Aqua, which has a large tank with a reef shark at its reception and just behind that is a little terrace perfect for overlooking the Bund and snapping some shots of the famous Bund skyline. The set lunches are pretty good too, and most kids I know love Japanese food.

Bund, shanghai

The view of the Bund.

One morning I took everyone to the South Bund Soft Spinning Market aka the South Bund Fabric Market to make shirts for the husband. I felt so lost there, but thank goodness I was able to google the Friendship store who did a pretty decent job of making the work shirts at RMB130 each. The ladies can speak a little bit if English and have many Caucasian customers. It might have been more expensive than other shops, but I’d pay a little more for good service and not having to haggle. The kids didn’t enjoy themselves here much. I bought a few scarves and 2 kids ties, which I probably also paid too much for, but they’re cute and still cheap anyway.

The Friendship Store, on the first level.

The Friendship Store, on the first level.

You can also have qipao cheongsam made here, but my mother and I had them made from a quaint little shop in Changlelu. Along that row are qipaos that go for as little ase RMB125 to RMB5,000 (or more?), but in the end we buy one for RMB1,500. It’s not cheap, but the tailoring sure is a lot better than the cheap ones.

On one of our mornings, we went to the Shanghai Natural Wild Insect Museum (you mean wild can be unnatural one meh?). They have quite a large collection of animals and insects here, from snakes to beetles and other bugs, to a range of turtles, geckos and other lizards, and even a petting zoo area complete with goats. There is also a small pond where you can fish for fish. It is as, if not more dated than the Butterfly and Insect Kingdom that we have in Sentosa, and although there are a lot of things to see here, I find some of the enclosures here a little questionable (like that petting “zoo” at Far Mart in Lim Chu Kang!), and one of the turtle tanks was breeding a lot of mosquitoes. The entrance is so non-descript and had the stench of a toilet. Or perhaps the doing of some diaperless babies. Go only if you’re bored and don’t want to queue for the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium next door. Or the Oriental Pearl Tower there too.

After that we took a walk along the Bund, and then headed to The Westin Bund Center Shanghai for some dim sum lunch. The dim sum is passable, but it’s a nice setting, and just adjacent to the Crystal Garden restaurant is the Executive Club Lounge which has a tank full of jellyfish at the entrance. Of course the kids loved that, and walking down 3 flights of glass stairs.

It would have been perfect to follow lunch with a trip to the Shanghai Natural History Museum, which is literally just round the corner from the Westin, but it is apparently closed (I think it’s because they are scheduled to move to a new building this year), so we head back to the apartment for a nap before it’s time to pick Mittens from school. During the time inbetween, our driver heads to the airport to pick up the hubby to surprise us! Funny how everything worked out, I’m not sure what the driver might have told us had the Natural History Museum been open?? It was a pleasant surprise though :)

 

One day, we visited the Oriental Pearl Tower in the morning, where we spend almost 1.5 hours in total just queuing to go up AND down. The view IS nice, but there are also many other viewpoints which don’t require so much time queuing. Or shoving. But if you would still like to go because it’s an icon of Shanghai, I would suggest going to the 259metre observatory level and spending your time there. The space capsule at 351metres is small and interesting but not spectacular, so I think overall this level is not worth the queue, especially with young kids in tow. As Shanghai is also very smoggy, the view higher up has lower visibility, so it was less impressive here than it was at 259metres. Thank goodness also that I brought my Young Living Thieves roll-on, and used it while jammed packed in the queues, to prevent catching any nasty bugs. There is also a Shanghai History Museum located in this building, and a restaurant which has virtually no queue.

When we’re finally free from the Oriental Pearl Tower we head to Table No.1 by Jason Atherton at the very quirky Waterhouse Hotel, which is so calm and a respite from the morning’s activities. They have only one baby chair and we are the only people to have kids here. They didn’t provide colouring sheets or were super friendly, but I wasn’t expecting that either, and the kids did enjoy eating from our portions. This place was recommended by a friend who thought that it would be casual enough for kids (it was). I’m disappointed I didn’t have enough time to try his other establishments in Shanghai!

On our last day in Shanghai, I spend the morning packing and then we had lunch at Kathleen’s No.5, located on the top floor (out of like 5 floors) of the vacated Shanghai Art Museum. I had no clue it was vacated (ok I could have done a little more research, but life is not the same without Google), and I find it a bit eerie because it’s an old heritage building, but thankfully it’s broad daylight! It gets busy during lunch but they are quite accommodating to my 2 younger noisy kids, who enjoy the lamb and pasta courses. I also thought I might be able to go to the Shanghai Museum which is just next door to the building, but my driver was smart to politely suggest we drive past to see the queue, and so I decided that wouldn’t be a good idea at ALL. Apparently you have to go early in the morning, and entrance is free, but they limit (or so I’m told?) the number of people who can enter at any one time. Darn.

Pudong

After realising I wouldn’t be able to get into the Shanghai Museum, our driver suggests another museum, and actually I have no clue what he’s on about. My Chinese-only speaking MIL usually translates their China-Chinese into Singapore-Chinese for me to input into my English brain, so I think a LOT of info gets lost along the way. But it sounds like a good idea and is right next to the 变脸 dinner performance we booked at Rivermall (props to the driver for thinking of that AND making us the booking!). The River Mall 世博源 – no, not the one in Sengkang, is apparently what used to be the Shanghai Expo and is now a massive mall. They have free evening light shows, but on the 2 occasions we’re there there are no shows – we couldn’t figure out if it was a technical issue or if they has something else on. On one Saturday we were there all the restaurants were full, so you’ve been warned! They do have a nice salt water aquarium with lots of baby rays, near one end of the mall near the 巴国布衣 restaurant.

So we arrive at the China Art Museum Shanghai 中华艺术宫, and I finally realise that THIS is the place (sidenote: The old Shanghai Art Museum moved here and was rebranded in 2012). We are completely bowled over by the architecture and massiveness and ingenuity of it. The building and the museum’s logo, are actually embodiments of the word 华. have no idea what we’re going to see inside, but it’s free, and we have time to kill anyway. We are there rather late, around 4pm, so there isn’t a queue (not sure about other times?), and the younger ones get really restless looking at the Classical Chinese paintings, although Mittens is getting a little into it.

Then my MIL mentions or shows me a photo of 清明上河图 Along the River During Qing Ming, and I drag everyone along (I think its RMB20 extra per adult, the rest of the museum is free). It was so worth it because it is a multimedia version so you can see people walking along, horses trotting, people having meals, and it even progresses between night and day. There are also short animations below the “painting” that illustrate e.g. how in the olden days they used ships for discovery and trade. Everyone was fascinated, and it really made a classical painting come alive. By this time it was close to dinner time, and it surprises me how long it takes us a while to walk to the exit. The place is ginormous, and even has its own library, art shop, food outlet, and a Starbucks. You could easily spend a whole day here. Pram-friendly.

We skip and hop (not really, we drove) over to 巴国布衣, and we’ve made the reservation 2 days in advanced so we get a good table near the stage. They have one 变脸 performance (I think it was at 630pm?), and it was all of like 6 minutes long, but I thought it would be interesting for the kids and the mothers. The performer even did a little walk around the room and did a change right in front of my MIL! Don’t ask me about the food because again I had to order mostly non-spicy stuff. There was a nice porridge dish which is grainy like our teochew porridge and has vegetables, which the kids liked. After the early performance, we’re almost done with dinner so we can get the kids into bed early (yay!). On our previous trip to Shanghai years ago, we did go to a huge double-storey restaurant with a full-on performance, but I wasn’t able to find it this time round with my limited Google. Wait, Google doesn’t even work in China! That’s probably the problem.

Oh and if you’re feeling homesick and want a little taste of home, do check out the eatery in Rivermall by MadPsychMum’s dad! Details here.

Also in Pudong is the Century Park 世纪公园. It’s a lovely park just next to the Shanghai Science & Technology Museum, which I reviewed previously, so the two could be combined, perhaps filling up an entire day because there is really quite a lot to see at the Museum (and for those who prefer shopping, there is a large shopping area just on the premises of the Museum). We walk around Century Park and end up going on some rides at an 80′s Shanghai version of Uncle Ringo. Pissed off that someone cut into my queue while I’m trying to buy ride tickets, the next woman who tried to do the same thing gets a telling off from me, who is a little shocked like she never thought of queuing in the first place. Ha! Apparently they (don’t ask me who?) are trying to encourage people to practice queues.

 

Other areas

We go to Eday Town 星期8小镇 . It’s the Kidzania and Bboss of Shanghai, and Abacus enjoys it tremendously even though he hardly speaks Chinese. He is usually quite reluctant to try new things, and I am really so proud of him trying out the various stations by himself! I think he would have enjoyed it more if the medium was English, but at the same time I think it was a wonderful immersion experience for him that it wasn’t.

 

We spent one rainy morning at Aqua 21 – the aquarium in Chenyang Park. Entrance is RMB160 per adult, and unless you are bored out of your wits, or even then, for that price you are probably better off spending it elsewhere. It is not bad as aquariums go, but the price is really exorbitant. You can go to the SEA Aquarium at RWS for that price! And that would be a zillion times better! I don’t have any decent photos because I either had my hands full with an umbrella, or a baby. Or both.

aqua 21, shanghai

Here are the kids at the aquarium looking at..something.

The only good thing about Chenyang Park is that it’s located right across a large mall, which has a Tesco, H&M and even an interesting outdoor play area (which was closed when we were there). We stopped here for lunch, and I used the 大众点评 app to find a lunch spot. Today it was 家有好面. The food is not bad, and quite fast. Lucky we were there just before the lunch crowd.

Looks like a permanent play area at the mall which would have been tons of fun!

Looks like a permanent play area at the mall which would have been tons of fun!

Many malls such as the 环球港 mall have permanent forest adventure-like obstacle courses The boys loved it! Although I was a little disturbed by an incident of a child peeing right onto the centre of the play area. 😱 I was really proud of Abacus completing several rounds of the course because when he was younger and Mittens would do the Forest Adventure in the malls he would always be too scared.

Other honourable mentions:

One afternoon we had lunch at Deli & Leisure – we were at the branch in Pudong, and apparently right on the Bund so you can eat and walk or vice versa, but it’s raining so much the day we’re there. They have decent set lunches from as little as RMB68, and everything from pasta to Asian dishes. Great for kids!

On our last day in Shanghai, before we left for Hangzhou, we had lunch at Element Fresh, which we liked. They have many kids options too.

 

And that (finally) completes our trip to Shanghai. You might also like to read the links on Shanghai with kids that I highlighted earlier in the year.

Next I have to work on doing a post on our trip to Hangzhou. I’ve been so efficient with my posts you might need to check back in December for that :p

 

Children’s Day – Octoburst 2014

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If you don’t already have travel plans for the Children’s Day weekend (I do, fortunately or unfortunately!), there is usually so much to do you’d probably need a whole month to do it all! This year the weekend also coincides with an additional public holiday on Monday for Hari Raya too. If you’re looking for things to do, check out The Esplanade’s Octoburst programme. As well as many many more programmes throughout the island.