Monday, 16 July 2018

Ba Na Hills, Danang (Vietnam)

We did a 7D6N Vietnam - Danang and Hoi An with our friends, Angs, during the June holiday.

We spent 2 nights in Danang, at Bana Hills Mountain resort. It is located in the Truong Seon Mountains west of the city Da Nang, in central Vietnam. The place was founded by the french colonists in 1919. Home to French, the resort was a recreational place for French visitors who would come to enjoy the villas, clubs, bungalows and restaurants. The place was unfortunately ruined after the World War II. 

It was restored and remodeled by investors in 2007. A popular local and foreign attraction in Vietnam today. Thanks to its altitude, about 1500 metres above sea level, we got to enjoy cool and fresh air throughout our stay. Day time was quite alright for us, but night was cold. About 15 to 20 degrees Celsius in the night.  

We booked our hotel stay with Mecure. The only hotel as of 2018. Our hotel booking did not come with cable car ride, it needs to be purchased separately at the foot of the hill. Another way up would be by car. Enjoy the cable car ride, it is the longest and highest non-stop cable car in the World!


Hotel Room

There are many activities you can do within your stay:

1. FRENCH VILLAGE
It is the 'town' you are welcomed daily the moment you step out of your hotel. A place built to the romantic and elegant taste of a unique and ancient french architecture. It is unbelievably beautiful and assuredly a great place for photography. It was however, much crowded on the days we visited. We did it over the weekend. It may be better during weekdays. Most local tourists do their one day getaways over the weekend here. We know crowd aren't great for photography.

A better time for photos would be the evening, when most crowd make their way down hill. When most shops and restaurants close at 5pm. With a handful opened for those still lurking around.


View from hotel

Awesome architecture

Front of Cathedral

Unique architecture

Great view

Lovely walk


2. FUNICULAR
This railway train brings us from Ba Na station to Le Jardin d'Amour Garden. A fun and simple ride to get the kids a little thrilled. 

Funicular

Service hour: 8am to 6.30pm (Till 5pm in low-peak season) 

3. LE JARDIN D'AMOUR GARDEN
There are 9 gardens in this mega garden. Each garden is themed to different feelings of love and classical art. It is less crowded with ample space for the kids to roam and expel some energy. The kids loved playing in the garden maze.

Le Jardin D'Amour Garden

'Cable car ride'

Play with me?
Awesome Hand statue

4. FANTASY PARK
The largest indoor entertainment park in Vietnam. Within it consists of games, shows, kiddy rides, theme park rides, not exactly equivalent, but mostly. There were bumper cars, arcade games, playground for toddlers and mostly satisfying for any child. 

Everything is free to play in here, subject to minimum height for some rides. No additional charges unless otherwise stated. Which explains why cable car ride fees are rather exuberant for the locals who are making their way up. 

Pros and cons. You can play till the cows go home! But free play can also mean a long wait for your turn at popular arcade games. After watching a boy 'game over-ed' and 'played again' four times, I decided to ask if my son could play. Trust me, you may have to do this at the park.


Fantasy Park

5. WAX MUSEUM
We skipped this. Doubt it was any exciting. After all, we have a wax museum in Sentosa. 

6. ALPINE COASTER
Alpine coaster is outdoor, not within Fantasy park. Jazz had really want to do this thrilling ride, but the queue was snaking long! Considering that the ride takes only 1 or 2 riders per play, it moved steadily slow. We knew we were not game to queue. Moreover, the younger boys weren't able to ride. It opens from 8am to 5pm. We tried checking it out at 8.15am, it was just as long as any other timing of the day. Oh well, it is said to be the top favourite of all visitors.


Alpine Coaster


7. CARNIVAL SHOW
From parade to street entertainment, performers are frequently seen hanging around French Village.

Carnival Parade

8. HOTEL'S RECREATION
The hotel's facilities are sprawled all across French Village. While French Village is also open to non hotel guests, access to use the swimming, kids and sports room are strictly for hotel guests only. You will require your hotel's access key to enter.

There are pools for adults to swim and toddlers to wade. To swim in the night (pool closes at 10pm I think), you will need to brave the cold to walk back to your hotel. Not too far of a distance though. The robe in the hotel room was good for that brisk walk. Good thing, water in the pool is heated. Our little swimmers feedback that there was some funny smell in the pool. I didn't verify that though.

There was also nightly movie screening by the pool. Just a projector and screen, not some high resolution images though.

The kids' playroom room are more for toddlers to really young kids. We didn't stay long, it wasn't well ventilated, and there was a stench of stale air lingering.


Kids' playroom

Kids' playroom

Heated pool

Slide fun

9. RESTAURANTS
Breakfast was included with the booking of the hotel. We needed to settle lunch and dinner out of the hotel. We did Vietnamese lunch at French Village, not sure what its name was, but pho was really good! And probably the best tasting one we had throughout our stay in Vietnam. We also tried the dinner buffet in the hotel and another Japanese buffet out of the hotel, which we belatedly realised they weren't good at hosting buffet. There was variety, but not satisfying in quality.

Vietnamese food may be the best bet in there.




10. STREET SNACKS
Surprisingly, street snacks were yummy! We tried their sweet potato ball, custard puff and mango smoothie. All good!


Street Food

These pretty much summed up on what you can do in Ba Na Hills. Spending 2 nights at the hotel was just nice for us, but I am sure 1 night or even a day trip may be good too. A tad disappointed that the family bunks room we booked were unavailable upon check in. We were given 2 connecting rooms instead.

The place was really beautiful and made even more enjoyable with its cool weather. However, I find most facilities and attractions, even our hotel rooms looked like they were due for a major clean up or renovation. Even though the place was built in 2007, it did not look well maintained. Expect too, a difference in culture. I was watching the parade gleefully before a lady gave my shoulder a sudden strong tug just to make way for her view. I was literally shocked! I looked at her and went speechless. It looked like a norm to her. Shoving and pushing seemed almost ordinary in there. So yeap, that was my experience.

After Ba Na Hills, we booked a taxi at the hotel's reception before heading down hill. It was a 45 minutes ride to Hoi An. 

Coming up on next post!


Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Tales of Grimmsneyland by ANDSOFORTH

Brought to you by ANDSOFORTH, Tales of Grimmsneyland is the first multi-dimensional immersive and interactive theatre experience catered to young audiences in Singapore. Discover the magical world of fairy-tales with your very own Fairy guide who will lead the way through Grimmsneyland.


With Fairy godmother in training as guide, you explore the wonders of this strange land and its inhabitants.

Travel through 5 different rooms in groups and play the role of village families in these familiar and often-told stories. Interact and play, be a part of the story alongside with the characters from the fairytales - the tinniest Mermaid, Mirror Mirror (First name Mirror, last name Mirror), Napping beauty, The Fabulous Fairy Godmother and Snow White.


Join them as they flip the fins off little Mermaid, pick the lentils out of cinders with the Fairy godmother, awkwardly awake Sleeping Beauty and dance with Snow White in the forest. An amazing fairy tale adventure your child will never forget! 

The show is an excellent and interactive way to introduce children to various aspects of  performance arts and to the power of imagination and creative drive through the stories of the brothers Grimm, in a more modern context and twist on the classic tales. 




Filled with games, dance, fun and fanciful characters, this show is sure to enchant and delight all little children with valuable lessons on self esteem and respect of others.

Suitable for age 4 and above and for both boys and girls!

Read here on our previous experience with 'Wonderland', another sold out show by ANDSOFORTH. 


Get your tickets here!

Dates: 28, 29 Jul, 04, 05, 09 and 10 Aug
Time Slots: 10.30am, 11am, 11.30am, 2pm, 2.30pm, 3pm
Price: $35 per person
(Intimate group of 30 per time slot)
Duration: 1h 30 mins
Venue: 16D Lorong Ampas, GS Building S328778


*Children younger than 7 years old will require parent accompaniment

Monday, 2 July 2018

10 lessons from The Lion King Musical

It was Jazz's and my second date with The Lion King Musical last Friday. This time we had Jare along. The musical is as good as I remembered it to be in 2011, when it first roared into the Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands. Though Jazz totally don't recall watching it at 2.5 years old.




More than 90 million people around the world have experienced the phenomenon of Disney’s THE LION KING, and now the world’s best-loved musical returns to the Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands from now till 23 September 2018. Extended for one final time from 23 August.

You have to believe when they say it is World's number one Musical! 


I was most glad to have caught it with the kids, where from it, floated much thoughts and emotions as it played along. It was really musically moving! I got reminded and encouraged about parenting and life.

Here are 10 lessons I learnt and taught my kids from this Musical:

1. Humility. Mufasa conveys to Simba the importance of humility. Lions are predators of antelope, but some day when lions die, they become the grass and get eaten by the antelope eventually. That is the connection in the great circle of life, where all creatures are connected in a way or another.

2. There is curiosity and recklessness disobedience in every child. Even if it means deep danger ahead. We do need to use empathy and firmness when it comes to reprimanding with love. Mufasa chose no anger, but expressed that he was disappointed when Simba went to play in the forbidden, elephant graveyard. He explained exactly what was wrong in a way that Simba could understand. When it comes to family, forgiveness and love will always be present even when we make mistakes.



3. There will be consequences for any defied order, sometimes dire or even irreversible. We do need to think of our actions carefully and how it affects the people around us. Simba not only endangered himself, but his best friend, Nala too. 

4. What is worse than a scheming plot by your family? Scar plotted to eliminate his brother and nephew, to covet the throne. Guard our heart and never allow jealously to consume us.

5. Fleeing is not a solution for guilt and fear. Simba chose to flea when he was convinced by guilt and fear. Scar ruled the kingdom, and Pride Land became drought and famine stricken. Fleeing does not make a problem any better.

6. Childhood friends are great keepers. They offer valuable perspectives. Nala persuaded Simba to return home, to take on his rightful throne.


7. Try new things! When Simba became goods friends with Timon (meerkat) and Pumbaa (warthhog), he led their carefree lifestyle and ate their kind of diet. Friends are not segregated by differences, status or boundary. 

8. Success gained through the wicked plan brings emptiness and loneliness. Scar may have became the King, but he was empty and lonely within. He felt no love.

9. The truth will always prevail, it is just a matter of time. Scar had plotted for Simba to take on the blame and guilt of causing his Father's life. The truth came to light when Scar was forced to confess the truth.

10. The past can hurt. You can either run from it or learn from it. That was Rafiki's (the baboon) wise knowledge to Simba. It hurts to mess up, but we can't run away forever, so confront it and move on!



So Yes, watching this musical from a parent's perspective has closely re-connected me to the story in a different way. It was also visibly clear that a parent's influence lasts forever, even after we're gone. What we teach and impart live in our children.

The Lion King Musical is one that our ears and eyes feasted on. It is visually astounding! It is one spectacular performance with great music, extensive props, exquisite costumes, impressive makeup and talented actors. These actors played the challenging roles of animals in the wild, which were very well portrayed.

This edition playing in Singapore is also tweaked to include some local taste of humour. Upon its already hilarious script. It is a great treat for anyone of all ages, and definitely worth the bucks and time. Get your tickets soon because we do not know if it will make a return into our jungle again. And if you are getting the tickets, book your seats along the aisles as the 'animals' make their entrances through the audience aisles.  

Js and myself are very much blessed by the musical. We enjoyed every second of the 2.5 hours. It was a standing ovation the night we went!




 Be convinced! 


Event Date
Wed, 27 Jun - Sun, 23 August  23 Sep 2018
Tue - Fri: 7.30pm
Sat: 2pm and 7.30pm
Sun: 1pm and 6pm

Venue
Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands

Ticket Pricing
(Excludes Booking Fee)
VIP Reserve : S$230
A Reserve : S$195
B Reserve : S$165
C Reserve : S$135
D Reserve : S$105
E Reserve : S$85
F Reserve : S$65
VIP Box (For 4 seats): S$920
C Reserve Box (For 4 seats): S$540
D Reserve Box (For 4 seats): S$420

Ticketing link: sistic

Disclaimer: Tickets were given for the purpose of this sharing. All opinions are solely ours. 
 

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Kellogg's Family Day Out at Zoo

We were invited by Kellogg's for a Family Day out to the Zoo, where we had an international buffet breakfast at the Ah Meng's restaurant with the Orangutans. Not just one, but a family of orangutans! Which I've to say, it's easier to get kids look into the camera than the Orangutans. It was a fulfilling experience, not just for our tummies, but for getting up close with the Orangutans and a tame python. Orangutans in Malay means man of the forest.

Before entering the Zoo, we met Kellogg's mascots at the entrance for some photo moments. After which, we proceeded into the zoo for the hearty breakfast.
 

Kellogg's Mascot

Our cereal choice!

Savouring his fruit loops

Photo opportunity with the orangutans

The python and the brave man

And yes! Kellogg's range of cereal is now part of the breakfast buffet. Cereal partnered with milk make a breakfast spread complete.

The breakfast buffet spread at Ah Meng's restaurant has a good mix of Western and Asian delicacies. The Orangutans weren't there throughout our meal and not the near proximity we expected. Depends where you are seated perhaps. They were only out for a 30 minutes meet and greet session before returning to their trees. You will have to plan your eating pace accordingly. Don't get into the queue when it's too long or when it's ending.

 
Cereal complements the breakfast spread

Among the four popular choices of cereal over breakfast - cornflakes, fruit loops, coco pops and crunchy oats, fruit loops is the popular choice among kids! It was the fastest running cereal that morning at the restaurant. But if you were to ask the Mama, unsweetened cornflakes will always be my choice for them. Where each cornflakes piece is pressed from one corn grain. Sharing an easy cornflakes recipe towards the end of this post.

After breakfast was games and more cereals! We played spot the differences, which was really challenging to find 5 within a minute. We didn't succeed, but we had fun doing it together. And then we stacked cups, competing with the game master. Which he probably stacked slower just so the kids were happy to win. Heh!

 
Challenged to spot the difference

Many cereal choices!

More fruit loops!

Kellogg's has also sponsored the Primate Kingdom, and naming one of the Capuchin as Coco after its Coco mascot for Coco pops. We visited the Brown Capuchin, and did attempt to call out for "Coco." 

No respond of course.

Adopted!

Could be Coco the Capuchin

And we are primates too! That's what Scientists claim. All primates have a large brain compared to their body size. They are good climbers with strong arms and legs, and long grasping fingers and toes. The eyes of primates face forward to help them judge distance accurately. Excellent vision they have.

Physical and behaviour traits tie us to primates. How exactly are we alike? I only understand when I look at my kids.

Primates?!
Humans are primates too!

And if we do the zoo, we would always try not to miss feeding the giraffes and rhinoceros! Elephants too, if you are able to score a space in the line. Feed at $5 per platter.

Feeding times
Rhinoceros: 1.15pm
Giraffes: 10.45am, 1.50pm and 3.45pm
Elephants: 9.15am, 1.30pm and 1.40pm
You do need to try score seats in the center of the elephant show area if your would like to feed elephants. That's where the feeding queue begins.

Feeding rhinoceros

Feeding giraffes

We had an enjoyable time in the Zoo. Always!
And here's an easy recipe treat made with Kellogg's cornflakes for you to try. This treat and recipw was gifted to us as part of our goodie bag. Simply gather the following ingredients:
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 50g honey
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1/4 salt
  • 100g kellogg's cornflakes
  • 50g almond flakes (optional)

Directions:
1. Light crush cornflakes
2. Melt butter, add in honey, salt and sugar till combined.
3. Pour mixture over cornflakes, add in almond flakes. Stir to combine.
4. Spoon mixture into small baking cups and bake at 155 degree for 15 minutes.
Leave to cool.

Gathered ingredients

Ready for eat!

Easy recipe right? Have fun with cereal! 


Disclaimer: Kellogg's Family Day Out at the zoo is made possible with Kellogg's invite. All photos and opinions are solely ours.


Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Little Artists Art Studio - Cartoon Illustration Fun

The June holiday swooped over too fast! We were glad to have a fun filling one. 

I took this holiday opportunity to sign the kids up for art classes. I knew they had like to do art and this will definitely win their heart. It did! See how 'art' is spelt in 'heart'? It works something special in everyone!




The kids did 3 lessons of cartoon illustration fun with Little Artists Art Studio. There were just too many holiday art programmes to choose from, but I knew cartoon drawing would delight them much. Jazz chose to draw princess Jasmine and Bambi, while Jare wanted anything Star Wars. Kylo-ren and BB8 were his choices.

Before the start of the actual class, their desired character samples were already drawn and prepared for the kids' reference. I indicated their interest while booking the dates. 

Each lesson was 2 hours. Their first lesson was drawing their characters onto art papers. They drew twice, toggling between a practice sheet and the final. They did it stroke by stroke with their assigned teacher, Sharmaine who was really awesome and patient in guiding them. Not only does she praise the kids liberally, she encourages them to keep trying.



It goes with 1 lesson on drawing and the next on painting. So that will be a complete artwork with every 2 lessons. And of course if the drawing is one that is fast and simple, painting may be done within the same lesson. Very much dependent on each child's pace.








It was some impressive achievements for the kids! They were really happy and proud of their works.

Drawing takes much of an observation skill as well as loads of patience. They need to follow the strokes closely and it takes time to complete a piece. Js were in a class with other children who were all drawing and working on different art projects. Which means every child may draw their desired character without having to follow others. After all, every child has love for different cartoon characters.

And on their third lesson, they were taught body shapes drawing to achieve Bambi and BB8. I have not even the opportunity to learn body shapes drawing in my childhood years.

Js only exposure to art were classes at Community Centres, where everyone had to be drawing the same piece among other 20 children. It felt much personalised for them here in Little Artists. They run a low ratio of 1:4 for children between 2.5 years to 8.5 years old. And 1:6 ratio for children between 8.5 to 17 years old.




Little Artists Art Studio was founded by Shalini Kapoor in 1997. This is her 20th year directing the studio! Shalini is a professional educator with passion in both art and teaching. She coordinates all the programs and trains her staff in the studio. Her studio began with a mere class of 5 students to a bountiful achievement of countless attending artists today. Her studios sprawl across 2 places in the east, both at Siglap though - Mandarin Gardens and Siglap Centre. Js did their classes at Mandarin Gardens, which is partitioned into 5 different classrooms.

I had a peek into the various artworks in the different classes. 



They run art programmes for children 2.5 years onward to adults! Art fun is surely not age limiting. Cartoon illustration fun is part of their holiday palette which runs from May to 5th Aug 2018. There is a wide range of art classes to select, from canvas drawing, working with mediums and to even fashion designing. It is tough to not find something a child enjoys in here. They even run portfolio preparation programme for aspiring students who are keen in joining arts school. The best part was them having a flexible schedule to the classes. You may select the dates as per your programme choice between Monday to Thursday. Saturday and Sunday are subject to availability. 

Js really enjoyed their drawing time with Little Artists. A great place with a dedicated teacher made their drawing journey really enjoyable. Most importantly, at the end of each lesson, what you see from your child's work is as original as it can be. Teacher's intervention is very minimal or maybe even zero. At the end of the programme, the kids were also awarded a certificate. It sure encouraged them to keep drawing!

I believe art is therapeutic to anyone's soul. A good breather from the busy days of work.  


Trial Classes
Trial classes run between $30 to $45, depending on the chosen programme. This fee will be waived for all readers of Mum's calling. All you had need to do is to call Little Artists Studio and simply quote 'Mum's calling' when arranging a trial class.


Terms and conditions
  • Trial classes are strictly by appointment.
  • Trial classes are applicable to only new students of Little Artists.  
  • First 10 trial students will get a Little Artists sketchbook OR a tshirt (subject to availability).
  • Trial classes are applicable at both venues.
  • Trial classes are only applicable to one participant per visit.
  • All art supplies and materials are included for trial classes. 
Have Fun with Art!


Little Artists Art Studio Pte Ltd
Contact: 6449 0339 (Admissions & Trial Enquiries)
Contact: 6449 0960 (General Enquiries)
Contact: 64444952 (General Enquiries (Siglap Centre))
(Please call between Studio Open Hours: 11:00am-7:00pm  Monday-Thursday, and Saturday & Sunday 9:30am – 5:00pm)
Email : shalini@little-artists.com
Website: www.little-artists.com


The Mandarin Gardens (Main Studio)
15 Siglap Road (Shophouses)
#01-07 (Little Artists Art Studio)
Singapore 448912

Siglap Centre 
55 Siglap Road
#02-18 (Little Artists Art Studio)
Singapore 455871

Disclaimer: We were sponsored 3 art lessons per child. No monetary compensation involved. All opinions and photos are solely our own.