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 was 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.

Excuse Me…

Excuse me while I:

  • Take some time off social media
  • Spend more time focussing on the kids
  • Catch up on sleep
  • Catch up on reading
  • Work on getting together our holiday itinerary for next month’s holiday (luckily the 2 holidays after that don’t need any itinerary!) for a grand total of 14 family members. Wish me luck!!
  • Enjoy the rest of the year before my baby goes to primary school!

Review and Giveaway: Gymnademics

I have been meaning to do an update on Scout’s classes at Gymnademics but haven’t really had the time to do so recently. We’ve been attending the Pre-fellow sessions with them since last November, and I’ve really loved seeing how she has enjoyed the sessions and learnt so much from them. Even though I’m a third time mum, there is still much to learn!

Here’s a little summary of some of the activities each class consists of. I wish I had more pictures, but it’s so difficult to take any when your mini-me is stuck to your leg 95% of the time in class. In class she is super shy, but she does really enjoy it because she’s always so enthusiastic to go, and at home she is able to do the actions that she learnt in class.

I have to say, that the first few sessions were quite a work out for both of us! The class moves quite quickly, and the fast pace might make the class seem a little haphazard, but at this age their attention spans aren’t long either, and we slowly got used to it and the routine, and now we both enjoy the sessions.

I like the philosophy behind the classes – many of the physical activities are created or emphasized because specific movements are linked to different parts of the developing brain. For example, encouraging the child to climb to improve dexterity and cross-coordination (meaning each hand and leg is doing a different thing from each other); the trapeze and hanging from bars in general is good for expanding the lungs, as well as strengthening the shoulders and arms to aid in writing ability; practicing sitting on the floor and hugging the knees while rocking back and forth is good for strengthening stomach muscles which in turn aid in strength for writing (side note: writing is a so important and complex that there are so many muscles linked to it!); etc.

In the class they also use many very catchy songs, which Scout and I have grown to love, and so have the boys! One of my favourite discoveries has been the songs that they use for the mathematics section, and Mittens has probably benefitted the most, memorizing some of the songs or learning some new calculation tricks (e.g. to add 5 and 9, think 5 + 10 then minus 1 = 14). During the maths segment they also use the opportunity to flash some number dots. I’m not a fan of flashcards or number dots, and I’m skeptical of the theory behind number dots that children have an innate ability to figure out the number of dots just by looking at them, but I don’t mind my kids being exposed to them.

Having said that though, I used to be a lot more adverse to flashcards than I am now, because at Gymnademics they don’t flash them at lightning super human speed, so in a sense, it’s kind of having a large book that is just cut out into flash cards? Also, it’s good to have toddlers see the words as they hear them, to create more print awareness. Scout, also from the influence of her brothers, has been very interested in learning the alphabet, but I think the Gymnademics flash cards also help.

I am no expert, and prior to Gymnademics my only (flash cards- based) experience was at Happy Train, where they do flash the cards pretty fast. Apart from the speedy flash cards, I quite liked the programme there – they have plenty of memory, motor skills and other activities, but the sessions run in three languages, English, Japanese and Chinese (so each week is a different language), and it is very seat-work based, which is difficult for many children, especially boys! Every lesson was a task for me to get Abacus to stay in his seat! And when it came to the Japanese language class, well I liked it because I took basic Japanese so it was a nice revision for me, but try getting a restless tot to sit still in a class, in a foreign language…..I feel a tired from just thinking about those days!! So I’m really happy that Gymnademics have a more holistic approach, where there is really seldom a dull moment.

I also like that some of the teachers are very observant and would suggest specific activities for your child each week, for example, practicing jumping, or hand movements and actions, etc. They are very knowledgeable and are genuinely happy to see the children progressing in the classes as time goes by. They are also very open to suggestions and feedback, and after I noticed that we were reading some nomenclature cards from right to left, I suggested that they would want to consider changing it from left to right, because that’s the way we read, and it’s a good skill to reinforce because not all people do this well, and some adults even require a ruler to read effectively – just something I learnt from Thinkersbox!

After each class, sometimes at the end of the week, they will email a “Parent Child Bonding Package”. It includes home-based activities, the flashcards used during the session, and even the Chinese nomenclature of the key words although they aren’t mentioned in the class. I think that the materials are even good for older kids, and I try to show them to all the kids. Heck, I think even I learn something new every week!

I would also like you to know, that after a trial with Gymnademics that I paid for myself, I was the one who approached them to see if they would be interested to collaborate on something for the blog. Although they did sponsor some classes for me, I am paying for the majority of the classes myself.

If I had to recommend only ONE class for toddlers, this would be it. It’s a good all rounder with exposure to literacy, numeracy, music, and of course, lots of physical activity.

 

Giveaway!

Gymnademics are sponsoring THREE free trial classes worth $58 to my lovely readers, so if you are keen to win yourself a trial class, please do enter the rafflecopter here! The contest will run until 28 September 2014! Good luck!!

 

 

Giveaway: Vaby subscription box

Vaby

The August Vaby box

Look what arrived in the mail! It’s the new Vaby concept box, something I wrote about previously here.

vabyAs a subscription-based concept, you will receive samples from various vendors each month, in one neat little package. The items in it depends on the ages of your children that you’ve input in your profile when you sign up as a member.

vabyFor the month of August, the Vaby box that I was sent included the following items:

  • Korean Adhesive Labra (worth $49.00) – wow! It is not free size, and they checked with us before sending it over, so it’s definitely something I can use.
  • Zoo bib (worth $4.90)
  • Lavender fields concentrated Laundry Poweder by Idocare sample
  • Nurtureme Organic Food sample
  • Portable Pencil Mini Fan (so handy in our weather!)
  • Kids Party Entertainment Voucher
  • The Playhouse Unlimited Play Voucher (the kids are so gonna love this!)

Read more about the Vaby box in my previous post here! You can subscribe to purchasing the box at $18.90 a month.

vaby

The July Vaby box

GIVEAWAY!
I have five Vaby boxes to give away, just enter using this super-easy Rafflecopter here.

Contest runs until 17 September 2014! Good luck!!

 

 

A visitor’s guide to the Pinnacle@Duxton skybridge (for kids)

pinnacle duxton skybridge HDB

View of the south and west.

Anyone still on a National Day high? Although we are such an urban jungle, I think one of the best ways to appreciate our city is to view it from high above. There are many places with breath-taking views that range from restaurants to bars to Super trees. This is just one of the many!

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pinnacle duxton HDB bukit pasoh

The new and the old.

Welcome to Singapore’s tallest government housing. You could call it council housing or public housing, but it has less of the negative connotations. Approximately 85% of Singapore’s population live in flats built by the Housing Development Board (HDB), and by and large these flats and its proximity are where all the amenities are. You can read more about public housing in Singapore here.

The Pinnacle@Duxton (names with @ really annoy me) is an iconic 50-storey estate featuring a sky garden on the 50th floor and a 800-metre jogging track on the 26th level. For a nominal fee of $5, anyone can visit the sky garden (sorry no access to the 26th for the general public), although it is free for residents and their visitors.

Here is a pictorial guide to the sky bridge, and I’ve highlighted several points you might like to know if you’re thinking of bringing your children on a little excursion.

The 50th storey

pinnacle duxton skybridge HDB

This shows the different views from the various blocks, starting from Block A on the left to Block G on the right of the image. Source.

pinnacle duxton skybridge HDB

View of the CBD

There are several areas of interest that the kids could play at too.

pinnacle duxton skybridge HDB

Hillock

pinnacle duxton skybridge HDB

Hillock

pinnacle duxton skybridge HDB

The Beach. The blue part is actually just a rubber surface.

pinnacle duxton skybridge HDB

Rocky. (I am not making these names up!)

pinnacle duxton skybridge HDB

Rocky is a great workout for me. It isn’t so easy to climb, so I spend more energy hoisting the kids up than they do climbing it.

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Fiesta.

pinnacle duxton skybridge HDB

Cottage.

Along the sky bridge there is only ONE section near Block C that is sheltered. This might be a problem if it rains, especially since you’re not allowed re-entry if you’ve paid for it. It is sometimes very windy, so you might want to bring along an extra shirt or sweater for the kids. Don’t forget to bring lots of water, although if you are thirsty there is a vending machine on the third floor of Block G, next to the RC room and facing the overhead bridge. There is also a larger vending machine (as well as an AXS machine) at the Community Centre.

Access to the Sky Bridge

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To activate your EZ Link card, you can do so at the first level of Block G, just behind the bus stop and 7-11.

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Use this machine to activate your card.

pinnacle duxton HDB skybridge

Now, if you’re thinking maybe you can just pay $5 for one person and slip the rest through, please take a look at this gantry. Kids (depending on how skinny they are) can probably enter with adults – for me with a baby in arms and a toddler in tow, it’s quite a squeeze.

Read more FAQs about accessing the skybridge here.

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Note the house rules. There are NO rubbish bins along the sky garden, only at the lift lobbies, so please take your trash along with you TYVM.

If you are bringing a pram, once you’re on the 50th floor, you can call the admins who will deactivate the locked gate for you to access, and repeat the process to exit. No bicycles or skate scooters are allowed either (boohoo!).

While it is usually pretty tranquil on most days, be warned that some times tourists and students do come by the bus load. And there is the occasional couple taking wedding photos. But there is usually plenty of space for all.

pinnacle duxton skybridge HDB RWS fireworks

Fireworks at RWS

On some nights, you will be able to catch a glimpse of the fireworks from Universal Studios. On special occasions such as National Day and New Years’ Eve where there will be fireworks at the Marina Bay area, you will be able to catch a glimpse of fireworks too, if you don’t mind the entire CBD blocking the view! On such days there are special restrictions for access to the bridge.

 

 Other areas

If you are able to access the 26th floor, there are several play areas which I actually think are more suitable for kids than on the 50th. Of course the view is not as spectacular, but the kids certainly don’t mind.

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The Spacenet. The slide looks very slippery but it’s the exact opposite. and is actually not much fun to slide down!

The slide

The slide

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The Meadow. Instead of the real slide at the playground, the kids love using these structures as slides.

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name of this place? These little colourful wiggles are hollow tubes to allow sound to travel through.

There are NO toilets anywhere in the estate, except on the third floor of Block F, facing the walkway to the Tanjong Pagar CC, and there are also toilets in the CC itself, and the food court at Block E (but they seemed to have closed so the toilet is not in use for now!).

There are also three (yes three!) playgrounds on the third floor of the estate, spanning from blocks C to E. The little ones would definitely like that! And if it still isn’t enough, the Duxton Plain Park is a stretch between the estate leading to Eu Tong Sen street.

 

Around the Area

If you’re looking for a bite after it before your trip, there is a small cafe Maple Cafe at the Tanjong Pagar CC which offers an ice cream buffet. Otherwise there are plenty of hipster joints in Everton Park, and even a traditional but organic soya bean place. Then there is the Bukit Pasoh area (for everything from Oso to Restaurant Andre to cafes like The Lokal), Keong Saik Road with boutique hotels, restaurants, famous zhi chars, and a traditional roasted meats and duck eatery. The Duxton area also boasts a wide variety of cafés, bakeries and restaurants, and even a wonderful little bookstore called Littered with Books who have a good collection of children’s books at very reasonable prices.

 

I hope you find this useful, do let me know if you have any questions ao that I can make the guide more comprehensive!

 

 

 

 

Thankful Tuesday: Having a village of support for a short break

Last week we escaped on a 3 day holiday without the kids. Although it was short, we enjoyed the freedom, the company of our friends and of course all the amazing food that Penang has to offer and unbelievable prices. We literally ate throughout the entire day, sampling as much as possible, shopping or taking breaks only so that we could start eating again!

We travelled with two other couples, and coincidentally (or is it a birds-of-a-feather kind of thing?) all of us have three kids each. So 6 of us on holiday meant that we had to make arrangements for, and rely on something like 15 adults to help mind the 9 children, aged 6 months to 11 years, while we were gone. As a rough guestimate, I think only about 4 of these adults actually help out daily or a few times a week – the others are occasional caregivers/entertainers that had to be roped in!

But lest you think we just scoot off and wash our hands of everything, it is no mean feat planning the logistics, and managing the various personalities and temperaments of all those involved, even when we’re away. And I’m NOT talking about the toddlers!

I know some parents who have never, or rarely travel without their kids, and with a larger brood it gets even more difficult to get away, but if like me you’re with them SO much during the day, it’s almost a necessity to have a chance to sleep uninterrupted, to have a breather, to just go to the next room without being yelled after for, etc. On an ordinary day, with one kid not yet in school and who probably naps less (or equivalent) to her 4.5YO brother, one who doesn’t nap, and and everything else inbetween, it just feels like it can get a little overbearing. Just by a tiny weeny bit.

The chance to travel and explore new places, do new things, to feel young and carefree again, to be able to enjoy the moments without having to be interrupted to feed, entertain or wipe someone’s bum, even if it’s for a short few days, is precious.

So we are of course extremely lucky and so grateful to have these 15 people whom we can count on to help make sure the monkeys don’t kill each other over the weekend. It’s also good that the kids know they can depend on someone else other than their parents, and for us it’s nice to have the opportunity to miss the little monkeys. After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and a break is good for both parents and children, no?

And while we might have returned to kids who have caught the flu, whose eyes have turned to squares from too much screen time, or kids who might need a little coaxing back to their routines, we are thankful for all the people who have stepped up to help out, even if it was a little stressful or caused them (and us too!!) a little emotional distress. But hopefully it was not have been too much emotional distress, and that when it comes to the next time round (oh I’m definitely looking forward to our next trip, whenever that might be!), they will hit by selective amnesia and be placated by the copious amount of goodies we brought back this trip :p