Jul 29, 2016

Top 8 Family-friendly Cycling Spots in Singapore

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By now, after reading my previous two posts (HERE and HERE) on the all-new 7-seater Mitsubishi Outlander 2.4L MIVEC, you will already know that I (and the monkies) love the car! In fact, I dread the day when I have to hand the keys back to Cycle and Carriage.


Because besides sporting a modern, sophisticated and sporty on-road presence, the Outlander is truly a Beast at heart with a new-look 18-inch alloy wheel design that completes the imposing exterior.


But above all, the Outlander is thoroughly suited for the family and perhaps the most definitive proof is its huge boot space.


With the third row of seats fully up, the boot space is already big enough to accommodate a folded stroller and a few shopping bags. Need extra space? Lay the third row of seats with a simple pull of a lever. More space, you say? The second row of seats can collapse too to form a large and level cargo area.


Evidently, the attraction of providing generous boot space in the Outlander comes in the flexibility of the seating arrangement, with both the second and third row of seats being able to fold flat. And as you can see, the second row is configured with a 60/40 split to effortlessly accommodate sports gear, bulkier prams, and luggage.

Space is definitely not an issue in the Outlander at all. The second row of seats is very comfortable and spacious and even for the third row seats, they do feel like proper chairs and not only for kids.


Oh, and did I mention that the car comes with a power tailgate too? Funnily, it is one of those things that you never thought you would ever need it but now that I have a taste of the convenience that it brings, I can never seem to live without it.


I have lost count of the number of times that I have my hands full with stuff but I could still raise or lower the tailgate with a single push of a button!

And speaking of pushing, the monkies have been pushing - or more like prodding - me to bring them on a cycling outing for the longest time. But I have been putting it off simply because my current car is not able to fit both the boys' bicycles.


Well, not with the Mitsubishi Outlander.


Thanks to its exceptional boot space, I was able to load up both of the boys' bicycles together with Ale's pedal-less bicycle into the car and off we went to Pasir Ris Park to burn some calories!


I love bringing the monkies to cycle at Pasir Ris Park for a couple of reasons. The most important one has got to be it is fairly less crowded compared to other parks. And by that, I mean there are lesser people who are either cycling, blading or scooting along the pathways... always welcome especially for kids who have just mastered the skill of cycling.

Also, the rental rates at the bicycle kiosk at the park are pretty affordable and if you go on weekday, you can rent a bicycle for 2 hours at the price of 1 hour. And that was just what the wifey and I did, as we accompanied the monkies on a cycling workout around the park.


Well, we did get ambushed by the playground structures along the way.


And if you are planning to bring your little ones for some cycling, blading or scooting fun, here are other places in Singapore that are perfect to do so:

East Coast Park

Let’s get wheeling! Almost the default cycling destination in Singapore, families can rent bicycles and skates at one of the many stops along East Coast Park. From East Coast Park, follow the cycle paths and cycle as far as Bedok Reservoir. You can even rent a bicycle at any of NParks’ pit stops found along the Eastern Coastal Loop (ECL) Park Connector Network and return it at another within each loop without the need to backtrack.


Changi Coastal Road

Most families head to East Coast Park for a day of cycling, blading or scooting but it can get really crowded on weekends. Head to the eastern end of the park, just past the National Sailing Centre and the crowds thin out. Wind through the wooded area and alongside a canal after the NSRCC Sea Sports Centre and emerge onto the Changi Coastal Road path – all on the safety of a Park Connector bike path. This section is wide and well-surfaced, and runs parallel to Changi Airport for an uninterrupted 6km, making it great for a good ride while indulging in some plane-spotting at the same time.

Punggol Waterway

If you want a ride with a gorgeous setting sun as a picturesque backdrop, then Punggol Waterway is the top pick for a leisurely ride. Its smooth, paved cycling tracks will get the kids peddling in no time. Designed with four themes to cater to everyone of all ages, Punggol Water Park has something in store for every visitor. Kids will especially clamour to stop at the Recreation Zone where they can go wild at the huge water play and sand play areas. If there is still energy to expend, head to the nearby 5km long waterfront Punggol Promenade where it links up to the Lorong Halus Wetland via a bridge – a former landfill transformed into a wetland spanning an area of 18 football fields.


Bedok Reservoir Park

For an easier and shorter but still enjoyable ride for the family, head to Bedok Reservoir. The track around the reservoir is straightforward, and consists a mix of pavement and pebbly path. One lap round the reservoir is a mere 4.3km, so it makes good for a leisurely ride, with its gorgeous sunset a bonus if you are there in the evenings. The beauty of the route is the kids are able to stop any time to play, kick a ball, fly a kite or just sit down for a picnic.

Green Corridor

Have older kids and planning to up the challenge? The Green Corridor is a unique stretch of greenery that runs through the whole island of Singapore along the north-south axis, from Woodlands in the north to Tanjong Pagar in the south. The railway tracks have since been removed and the public is currently able to access this green corridor through the city, where people can cycle or run through undisturbed natural greenery. One will hard-pressed to find a more pleasant countryside ride than the Green Corridor. With chirping birds amidst scrubby vegetation and partly shaded by trees, the great thing about the corridor is you can almost access it anywhere along Singapore’s north-south axis. Just plot your route along any part of the stretch using Google Maps.


Bukit Panjang Park Connector

Part of the Western Adventure Cycling Loop, this park connector’s abundant greenery and proximity to well-established parks encourage the presence of a diverse variety of wildlife. Cycle further up to reach Zhenghua Park, where a pleasant retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life awaits. The park’s rugged terrain is the perfect platform for cycling enthusiasts, trail runners and those wanting a good hike. Pockets of vegetation are deliberately left wild to add to the park’s rural charm. Level and smooth, the park connector is a popular cycling route.

Pulau Ubin

For the adventurous at heart who seek something more thrilling, Pulau Ubin is the place to go for a family cycling day trip. The Ketam trail is Singapore’s first purpose built mountain biking trail. From the jetty, ride for about 15 min westwards to reach the trail (follow the road signs). Or if you prefer a more leisurely ride and don’t fancy the extra hassle of taking a bunch of bikes onto the bumboats, you can rent a ride from the numerous outlets at Ubin Jetty. The island is well sign-posted and its network of trails and tracks offer options for beginner and advanced cyclists.


PHEW! With all calories burnt, I figure the next logical step in our adventures with the Mitsubishi Outlander is one that will encompass Singapore's favourite past time - FOOD! And that was precisely what we did. Stay tuned!


In the meantime, feel the power of the beast behind the wheels for yourself - Test drive the Mitsubishi Outlander at a Cycle and Carriage Showroom!

AND HERE'S AN EXCLUSIVE PROMOTION JUST FOR OUR READERS:
Receive $200 worth of service credits from Cycle & Carriage when you book a Mitsubishi and quote ‘Kelvin Outlander’. This promotion is ON TOP of all other prevailing promotions. Promotion ends 31st August 2016.


MITSUBISHI SHOWROOM
239 Alexandra Road
Singapore 159930
Tel: 6473 9722
Showroom Opening Hours: 
Monday to Saturday 8.30 am – 7.00 pm
Sunday & Public Holidays 10.00 am - 6.00 pm


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Jul 27, 2016

NDP 2016: Full of Surprises & Refreshing! + GIVEAWAY

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I do not envy the task facing the organising committee of this year's National Day Parade (NDP) one bit. Because after the wonderful - some might say the best NDP ever - SG50 show we had last year, how does one possibly outdo it in this SG51 NDP?


The short answer is, it does not.

Cleverly enough, it steers clear from the usual over-the-top and stretchy sing and dance numbers and most importantly, it does not retell the all-too-familiar stories of Sang Nila Utama or Sir Stamford Raffles that has been rehashed to death in previous NDP editions.


Instead, since this year's National Day marks a homecoming to the new National Stadium at the Sports Hub, the show makes full use of the Stadium’s high-domed roof through the suspension of giant props and integrating the use of lasers, light and sound.


And this was probably what appealed to the monkies - together with the SengkangBabies - and made them LOVE the show so much. After all, they are the future of Singapore, no?


Of course, the constraints of staging the NDP at the National Stadium meant that the usual crowd favourites of Red Lions, fighter jets zooming in the sky and the military mobile column were absent this time around. Even for the fly-past and finale fireworks, we could only catch a mere glimpse of them from inside the stadium.


Fortunately, this year's NDP had quite a few tricks and surprises up its sleeve... which wowed us by the time the show ended.


Just ask Ale, who was perhaps the most enthusiastic NDP audience member of the lot.


Or the crowd, who was all pumped up and did not want the Kallang Wave to stop even though the segment was done. I think the Kallang Wave went 5 or 6 times around the stadium for the record!


The first surprise of the night belonged to Badang and the Singapore Stone.

Badang who?


Instead of retelling the same old fishing-village story, Act 1 of the show is based on the legend surrounding the Singapore Stone. Legend has it Badang, a village fisherman, defeated a water ghost and gained super strength. He later became the sultan’s royal guard and lifted a giant boulder that sat on a hill for centuries. A fragment from it is now called the Singapore Stone.

And yes, that stone is REAL and is currently displayed in the National Museum. However, it is inscribed with words from an ancient language that nobody is able to decipher it up til today.


Another cool edition to this year's NDP is every spectator will be issued with an LED wristband that can be synchronised with the show,


Each wristband is wirelessly programmed to blink in tandem with the show’s lights and sounds, and capable of emitting lights of varying intensity in 16 colours and four modes.

And we had the first taste of the lights during Act 2, where 4 aerial performers dressed in 8m-long culturally inspired costumes performed next as a tribute to the Chinese, Malay, Indian and Western civilisations that were the forefathers of our nation.


But the true magical nature of the wristbands were fully felt in Act 3, where the blinking lights combined to form a sea of rainbow-coloured lights that accompanied a beautiful aerial and automated unicorn. Very mersmerizing... and one of Ale's fave segment!


In Act 4, we were taken on a trip to the future by dancers dressed in brightly-lit LED costumes. Putting together an energetic dance routine complemented by pulsating music and light displays, it came complete with ninebot machines and eight unmanned systems comprising drones tethered to unmanned ground vehicles!


But that was not the most amazing bit - having 20 performers executing front and back flips and dancing while being suspended 10 to 12m up in the air was.


Act 5 featured a breathtaking Sky City prop which is a massive display six storeys high and hoisted in the air. Using 3D projections, the display is made up of 15 iconic buildings. such as the Changi Airport, and the cloud forest and flower domes of the Gardens by the Bay.


Personally, I loved the final act best. Comprising of 420 performers from the Singapore Soka Association (SSA) wearing specially-designed skirts, they flipped their skirts to create mass displays of images.


These images are adapted from hand-painted artworks by the special needs community.


A nice touch to the show was the addition of a song signing segment - a first for NDP - which highlights the importance of an inclusive and caring nation.


Joined by over 150 special needs participants from seven Voluntary Welfare Organisations on stage, they will lead the audience in the segment to hand-sign popular NDP songs like Home and Count on Me, Singapore.


You can learn it too from the video below!


And of course, the finale is all about fireworks. This year's NDP is also the first to feature an indoor fireworks display!


Complete with lasers, flame projections and 3D projection mapping (the Sky City turned into a giant tree!), I am glad this year's NDP had not fallen back on past years' tried and tested formulas but instead, tried to break new ground.


The monkies thoroughly enjoyed it - I suspect it was the high energy and engaging performances.


I loved how past stories and technology were cleverly blended together to put together a refreshing show that holds plenty of first-time surprises. Tomorrow's definitely here today.


Happy 51st Brthday in advance, Singapore!


GIVEAWAY

We have decided to share our Funpacks with our readers!

This year's Funpack is made of translucent plastic for the first time, Waterproof and lightweight, the bag has multiple straps so it can be carried as both a sling bag and haversack. Funpack items include a luggage tag, a flip fan, stick-on tattoos, snacks, a Singapore scarf and a discount booklet.

And we have TWO to give away!


To get your name into the draw, all you have to do is to leave a comment either HERE IN THIS BLOG POST or IN THE CORRESPONDING FACEBOOK POST HERE.

That's all about it. Nothing too complicated.

The giveaway closes on 31 July 2016, 2359 hours.



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Jul 25, 2016

Highlights of Singapore Garden Festival 2016 - And Why Bayfront Plaza is a Must-Visit for Kids!

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If there is one thing you should know about Singapore Garden Festival (SGF) 2016, it's that it covers over a HUGE area. In fact, this year's sixth edition - it's held once every two years - will be the largest SGF ever!


Over nine days from from 23 to 31 July 2016, visitors will be able to enter a magical world of exciting garden designs and exquisite floral creations as SGF goes into full bloom at Gardens by the Bay. And as you can tell from the festival map below, I kid you not when I say be prepared to get those legs moving and do a fair amount of walking... because there are just so many things to see and do!

Click to enlarge
The previous 2014 edition saw SGF being held at The Meadow and Flower Dome areas but this year, the Festival has expanded beyond The Meadow and onto Bayfront Plaza, in addition to the Orchid Extravaganza at the Flower Dome.

If you are taking public transport, the most convenient way is to alight at Bayfront MRT where the entrance to SGF's Bayfront Plaza area is literally right at its doorstep. And if you are thinking of driving, the nearest parking lots will be the ones at Bayfront Plaza and The Meadow - although I will highly discourage driving there due to the high volume of traffic expected.

In my opinion, the attractions at Bayfront Plaza are more suited to kids compared to the ones at The Meadow. There are plenty of educational booths and displays for them to get them interested as well as plants for them to touch and smell... very very important for kids with itchy fingers (and noses)!


But more on that later, I promise as we first immersed ourselves in the visual fiesta of exquisite garden and floral displays at The Meadow.


Of particular interest to the kids will be the larger-than-life horticulture displays of cartoonish characters, including Benny's Sunflower Farm, Chairs of the Giants and Gary's Musical Flower Field. Plenty of photo opportunities here for sure!


Always and still a hit with the wifey, the Balcony Gardens are also on display here which may just inspire visitors to transform their home balcony into a soothing retreat.


The Meadow is also where the best of show designer gardens congregate and from previous editions, I have always been enthralled by the beauty and magic of the Landscape Gardens showcase.



And since gardens are always meant to be explored, most of the displays at the Landscape Gardens do allow visitors to enter for a more immersive experience. Something which delighted the monkies of course, especially at the Bamboo Maze display where they had fun running through the maze!


And if the heat gets too unbearable, then seek refuge in the air-conditioned tent where a different world of plant displays exist.


The Fantasy Gardens are just what the name implies - gardens that offer that whimsical feeling and fairytale-like atmosphere.



As with the Landscape Gardens, some of the Fantasy Gardens provided visitors the opportunity to step inside as well.


And so, we arrived at the area where we ended up spending most of out time at SGF - Bayfront Plaza. And to the wifey's surprise, the first stop there was World of Terrariums, an air-conditioned tent which houses some of the prettiest and ingenious terrarium designs that we have ever seen.


Stepping out of the tent, we came face to face with a wide array of fruits and vegetables at the 'Everyone Can Garden' and 'Espalier & Fruit Tree Garden' displays.


If you are looking for something intimate compared to large floral displays, head to the Floral Windows to the World showcase (also in an air-conditioned tent), where enchanting displays of beautiful flowers, creatively and delicately designed by celebrated local and international floral designers await.



Oh, be sure to check out the Celebrations! Floral Table Series too, and be mesmerised by the magical floral creations and learn how you can bring you table floral arrangements to life.


Frankly, there are just too many exhibits and displays that one can really view in one visit.


 I'm sure we have missed out on a few gems during our visit too but along the way, we managed to spot a few truly exceptional ones, like these 'sushi'.


No, they are not edible. Look closely and you will see that they are actually made from plants. Just like this bowl of 'udon'. Amazing!


As I have mentioned earlier, there were a few kid-friendly displays in the Bayfront Plaza area that stood out and these are the ones I strongly recommend all parents to make these compulsory stops if you are heading down to the Garden Festival with your kids.


The Learning Garden showcases plants that we have been using them for various food purposes. So everyday food like rojak, popiah, curry, ice cream and even noodles are featured in the Learning Garden, complete with a handy free worksheet that kids will be able to fill in as they go booth-hopping.


I loved the nice touch of placing the end products near to the actual plants, which allowed the monkies to make the connection.


Kids of today are more used to seeing food products in a supermarket so it is highly educational that they get the opportunity to see the exact plants that those products were derived from.


FOUR new gardens - Garden of SightGarden of SoundGarden of Touch and Garden of Smell - are added to SGF this year which I feel are an excellent touch.


Although to be honest, the Garden of Sight (above photo) consists nothing more than colourful flowers while the Garden of Sound has wind chimes attached to various portions of the plant displays. Nothing too interactive there for the kids.


So if you have limited time, I recommend heading straight to the Garden of Touch and Garden of Smell, both of which are located beside each other.


As their names imply, this is where kids can go all touchy-feely with their hands and sniff around to their noses' content!


There are PLENTY of leaves, ranging from smooth, rough, spiky to even furry, to keep the little hands busy. On top of that, they will be able to rub their tiny fingers on the leaves and then perform a smell test.


Well, there are the usual fragrant and minty-smelling leaves of course but for that added special experience, go hunt for this Fishwort plant.


Yes, the leaves are smelly alright... in fact, they smell like rotten fish! But smelly odour aside, they are effective in helping to strengthen the body’s immune system.

Okay, so rotten fish doesn't sound all that appetizing I know. But in case you are famished after all the walking, head to Dining in the Garden City located beside the Bayfront Plaza for some chow time!


Visitors will be able to enjoy favourite heritage dishes with a modern twist such as fried hokkien mee, popiah, fishball noodles and pork rib soup. Look out for special offerings too like Salted Egg Crispy Fish Skin and N2O Nitrogen D24 Durian ice cream. The stalls operate on a card basis so visitors will have to first purchase a stored value card from the main cashier - minimum value is $20 with subsequent top-ups starting from $2. Do note there are no refunds for unused value in the card.


And if you are there in the evenings, there are also FREE SGF Rocks! nightly performances at the Alfresco Stage in the Marketplace. Click here for the list of performances.


BUT wait, there's MORE! The Singapore Garden Festival ticket also allows complimentary entry to the Flower Dome where Orchid Extravaganza is also taking place.


Regarded as the world’s most diverse botanical family, orchids grow on almost every continent and vary widely in size and form. Orchid Extravaganza at the Flower Dome features over 100 orchid species and hybrids. From the intriguing monkey-like Dracula to the bright, flamboyant blooms of the Cattleya, there is an orchid for every taste.


Or maybe a durian for every taste?


The entire Flower Field has been transformed into a secret village where little elves reside in their cute homes made of fruits.



I think kids will have a good time trying to spot all of the elves 'hidden' in the Flower Field!



Be sure to step into the middle of the field too... into a secret garden of hanging orchids.


Do not forget to look up!


This year’s Festival promises to be more spectacular than ever before so whether you are a serious gardener, hobbyist or just looking for a wonderful day out with the family, there is something for everyone at the Singapore Garden Festival 2016. But hurry, the festival draws to a close this weekend on 31 July 2016!



Useful Information

Singapore Garden Festival 2016
23 - 31 July 2016; 10am to 10pm daily
Gardens by the Bay
Ticket Prices:
Local Residents: Weekday - Adult $12| Child (3-12) & Senior Citizens (>60) $6
Weekend - Adult $16 | Child (3-12) & Senior Citizens (>60) $9
Standard Rate: All Days - Adult & Senior Citizens (>60) $23 | Child (3-12) $16
*All tickets include complimentary entry to Flower Dome
**All Gardens by the Bay Conservatory tickets dated between 16-24 August will be allowed entry
Website: www.singaporegardenfestival.com

Orchid Extravaganza Floral Display
Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay
Dates: 22 July - 28 Aug 2016
Time: 9am - 10pm  (During Singapore Garden Festival from 23 to 31 July) | 9am - 9pm on other dates
*Admission charges to the Cooled Conservatories apply


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