Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Let's go Dutch at Tulipmania 2014

(Daddy blogs)

Over the past week, the feeds on your Facebook, Instagram and other social media accounts must have been inundated with tons and tons of tulip photos. Which is hardly surprising, considering that the success of last year's Tulipmania was extremely well-received. 

So for this year, Tulipmania had returned to the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay... with more tulips on display than last year!


And judging from the crowd over last weekend, I think it is safe to say that Tulipmania is Gardens by the Bay's most popular flower display. Ever.


Billed as Asia's biggest tulip display and inspired by Madurodam - a miniature park and tourist attraction in the Netherlands - the centrepiece depicts Dutch canal scenes, houses and windmills set amidst spectacular blooms of tulips and hyacinths. Of course, the star of the display will be the 50,000 tulips bulbs of assorted varieties flown in from the Netherlands, in a myriad of colours including red, yellow, orange, purple and white.


Previously, only Ale and I had the chance to do some tulip-planting of our own... which obviously made the boys terribly envious. And with the wifey loving all things tulips (and Miffy), a trip down to the Flower Dome was always on the cards.


Suffice to say, everyone loved the colourful tulip display... so I shall just let my photos do the talking.


If you ask me, one can never get bored looking at these tulips. And here is a further piece of evidence that everyone - young and old - loves the tulip display: Tulipmania is by far the only flower display that both Ash and Ayd did not clamour to leave after a period of time.

During our previous visits to the other flower displays in the Flower Dome, the boys grew incredibly restless and bored after 15 minutes. This time around though, we hung around within the dome for more than an hour and they still didn't mutter a single complaint.


Thanks to all these pretty flowers blooming for you and me, I'm sure.


For Ale, she was looking forward to another kind of attraction.


Yes, Miffy it was. An Easter Egg Hunt with Miffy was held over last weekend because what better way to spend the Easter weekend than to hunt for some chocolate eggs hidden withing the Flower Dome... with the monkies' SengkangBabies buddies, no less!

Photo Credit: SemgkangBabies

Actually, I think the air-conditioned comfort also helped alleviate the fun too. Or at least it did for me.

Photo Credit: SemgkangBabies

It looked like everyone was utterly happy with their loot then.


And equally happy were these scores of people, who managed to snag a photo with the popular Miffy.


If you have missed the chance to say hello to Miffy, your FINAL chance to do so is THIS SATURDAY (26 April 2014). Miffy will be making her last appearance in Singapore in the Flower Dome at the following timings: 11am, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm.

And in celebration of all things Dutch, Gardens by the Bay will be organising Tulip Cheer where there will be lots of performances and activities that will showcase the Dutch culture, including savouring of  Dutch Gouda cheese! Here are a listing of activities to expect:

TULIP CHEER (26 and 27 April 2014)

Crank it up! 
Venue: Mediterranean Garden
Time: 10am - 6pm (First 20 minutes of each hour; break from 12pm - 1pm)
To complement the visual feast of the Tulip Field, treat your ears to a performance using a hand-held organ, for an aural bliss!

Say Cheese!
Venue: Entrance of Flower Dome
Time: 12pm - 6pm
Food is something that Singaporeans have a love affair with every day. So get set to taste some lip-smacking Dutch Gouda cheese and buy some home for the family to enjoy!

Game On!
Venue: The Canopy
Time: 10am - 6pm
Come watch demonstrations of the popular Dutch board game, Sjoelen.

The Therapeutic Gardens
Venue: The Canopy
Time: 10am - 6pm
An interactive art activity for all, come create your own artwork inspired by the Tulipmania floral display!


We will definitely be paying Tulipmania a final visit before it ends on 4 May!


Useful Details

Tulipmania
Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay
14 Apr - 4 May 2014
9am - 9pm
Admission charges apply. Click HERE for rates.
*Special Senior Citizens Discount for Tulipmaina: 50% discount off Senior Citizen Local Resident ticket to the Flower Dome only (UP. $8/Senior Citizen)

Visitors to the Flower Dome will receive a Miffy postcard as a souvenir. Collect yours as you enter the Flower Dome, while stocks last.

For more details, visit www.gardensbythebay.com.sg/en/the-gardens/whats-on/calendar-of-event/tulipmania-floral-display-details.html


Related Activities

Tulipmania Garden Trail
Learn more about the world of bulbs in this very special Garden Trail, Tulipmania, and stand a chance to walk away with a souvenir, while stocks last! This Garden Trail is part of the Tulipmania floral display. Trail map is free and available (while stocks last) with every conservatories ticket purchased.

KLM brings Miffy to Singapore Campaign
Want to win exclusive KLM Miffy merchandise and Tulipmania tickets? Keep your eyes peeled at KLM Singapore's Facebook page where you can answer questions about Miffy’s adventures in Singapore and stand to win fantastic prizes!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easy Typing with Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio for iPad Mini

Advertorial
(Daddy reviews)

Tablets seem to be the norm for most people nowadays and for many, typing using the on screen keyboards of tablets is a bit of a chore. More so if you are one of those people who utterly depend on your iPad... like me.

As most of you would already know, I am a Financial Planner by day and moonlight as a Daddy Blogger by night so whichever role I assume, the one thing I cannot do without is my iPad Mini. I need it for my work and in between meeting clients, I try to squeeze whatever time I have to complete my blog posts on my iPad. 

But the one thing that irks me is the typing using the on screen keyboards of my iPad. A few sentences I can live with, but when it comes to churning out a full-length blog post using my iPad... let's just say my fingers will be threatening to break up with me after I complete one post. So it was happiness when I found out about the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio for iPad Mini, which is essentially a 3-in-1 cover - a protective case, a stand and a KEYBOARD. Woot!

The first thing I noticed when I unboxed the cover was how light it was, considering that it housed a keyboard! At 285g, it adds very little noticeable weight to the iPad Mini. Dimensions for the Folio are 215mm x 149mm x 19.3mm if you must know.


Snapping on the iPad Mini to the Folio was a piece of cake. In fact, Ale could even do it. To remove it from the Folio, just a small amount of force pulls it back out. No trickery or hard clasps to undo. It really is that easy. When it comes to accessibility, the Ultrathin Keyboard Folio tops its class.


But the one thing that impressed me was even after adding the case and keyboard, the Folio did not add much to the thickness, which is fabulous since I carry my iPad Mini everywhere with me. And since portability matters a lot to me, it is a good thing too that the Folio covers both the back and the front of the iPad Mini to prevent any unwanted damage should the dreaded accidental slip occurs.

Oh, and I have to give a special mention to the material used for the Folio. The external layer is made from a durable, soft touch, water repellent material which makes it easier to grip - perfect for those tiny hands of Ale too!

Thanks to a clever magnetic clip, the Folio locks the iPad Mini securely in place. And when I say securely, I mean it. You can pick the case up by the iPad and shake it without it breaking loose. This means that my iPad is not going to flop around once I put it in place to type.


Once clicked into place, pairing of the iPad Mini with the Folio via Bluetooth is painless and unbelievably quick.


A small power button on the side of the case turns the keyboard on and off to save battery power when it is not being used. With an average use of two hours per day, the Folio can go for up to three months on a full charge, with recharging the keyboard using the included USB cable.


Of course, the most important aspect of the Folio has got to be its keyboard. Logitech has changed the design slightly over older models, to make the case smaller and sleeker I reckon. The tradeoff is that the Caps Lock and Tab keys are shared with the A and Q keys, something which took me a while to get used to.

I too loved the nice touch of the loop (Logitech label) to hold a stylus or pen.

I don't know about you, but I love keyboards that go 'click click click' instead of a dull 'thud thud thud' as I furiously go about my typing. With the Folio's keyboard, I could type as fast as I would on a laptop complete with the reassuring 'click' of real keys. Woot!



Plus, it features time-saving iOS shortcut keys combinations for cut and paste, searching, volume, and more. Even the boys could not resist in giving the Folio keyboard a try!


I - and the boys I must add - really like using this Keyboard Folio as its usage was functional and practical without adding bulk to the iPad Mini at the same time.

No doubt it protects my iPad really well, but the keyboard of the Folio definitely takes the cake for me. I have always been skeptical of iPad cases that come with keyboards, but the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio makes it so easy for me to type document after document, blog post after blog post on it.


In fact, even Ash and Ayd have requested to do their online homework using my iPad Mini and Folio!


At S$129, it is not exactly the cheapest cover around but if you are scouting for a keyboard for your iPad in addition to having a cover that offers good protection, then this Keyboard Folio from Logitech is definitely worth its price.

OR you can just win a cover from Logitech! 

I have ONE Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover (Aluminium cover with a Bluetooth keyboard, worth S$119) and ONE Ultrathin Protective Folio for iPad Mini (worth S$59) to give away.


Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad mini
Logitech Folio Protective Case for iPad mini

All you have to do is leave a comment in this blog post to say why you would like to win one of the two covers and I will pick the best two comments! Easy peasy!!!

Giveaway ends on 18 May 2014, 2359 hoursGood Luck!


The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio for iPad Mini is available in three colours: Carbon Black, Green Leash and Veil Grey and retailing at most Apple Premium Resellers, Challenger and other Logitech authorized resellers for S$129.00. The Ultrathin Keyboard Folio is available for iPad Air as well and comes in colours of Carbon Black, Midnight Blue and Mars Red Orange at S$139.

For more information on Logitech's range of Ultrathin Keyboard Folios and Covers, please visit http://www.logitech.com/en-sg/tablet-accessories?overview

Saturday, April 19, 2014

WIN a VIP Brunch Experience @ The Cornerstone with Power 98FM & 88.3Jia FM DJs!

Media Invite
(Daddy blogs)

If you are in the same age bracket as me and love a nostalgic Mandarin ballad or two, then chances are you would have tuned in to 88.3Jia FM at least once in your life. Or if you are like my wifey, tuning in to the station every single day while at work. Yes, she simply loves all the Mandarin songs that 88.3Jia FM plays... and even better, it plays English all-time favourite ballads from the 80's till now too! In fact, it is the only bilingual station in Singapore to do so and unsurprisingly, it has built a strong and loyal following after all these years.

So when 88.3Jia FM came calling with an exclusive invite for me to do brunch with their DJs at The Cornerstone restaurant at Bishan Park, to say the wifey was utterly envious was a severe understatement.


Actually, it was not just the DJs from 88.3Jia FM who were present at the brunch session. The DJs from its sister station, Power 98FM, were part of the fabulous host team too. Power 98FM should not be unfamiliar as it is an English cosmopolitan radio station that plays a wide range of music spanning from the 90’s favourites to today's hits. Targeting the fun-loving working adults, the station serves up a variety of everyday content - travel, food, movies, sports and more.

These 2 radio stations come under the umbrella of SAFRA Radio, a lifestyle radio network that seeks to provide a strong voice to promote bonding and cohesion for the nation's servicemen and their families. And here is an interesting fact that I found out during the course of my Sunday brunch - they are the only radio stations using WhatsApp as a communication channel with their listeners, hence facilitating more intimate and timely interactions and conversations!


Among the bloggers invited, I think I must have been the oldest there. The rest were mostly female lifestyle bloggers and waaay young. How many can you recognize in the photo below?


But that's not to say I didn't enjoy the brunch. For one, the food served up at The Cornerstone was tantalising and its dessert table spread was a hit with all the ladies. And most importantly, I had the opportunity to chat with with the very friendly SAFRA Radio DJs - Jamie Yeo, Sonja, Mister Young & Jacqui from Power98FM and Robin & Kai Ying, Lina & Jia Ming (who were in some cool biker outfits by the way) from Jia88.3 FM. 


They took turns to pop by the various tables in the restaurant and were just so warm and approachable. I shared with them what my blog was all about, and they in turn shared some very interesting anecdotes about their respective shows.

And here's a brief introduction to the respective DJs' shows:

 The Power Breakfast Show


Start each weekday with a healthy breakfast and a dose of current affairs and everything else thrown in with Sonja, Jason and Jamie on the Power Breakfast Show. Find out what's going viral on #Trending every Wednesday, reminiscence about the past on Throwback Thursdays and get some goodies for yourself on Freebie Fridays. Plus, daily segments like Mandarin for Dummies, Thought of the Devi and Heroes not Zeroes will keep you entertained and in-the-know as you start your day. Tune in to The Power Breakfast Show, Weekdays, 6am – 10am only on Power 98FM.

The Ex-Factor


The Ex-Factor is the first radio show of its kind in Singapore. Every dirty secret, bad habit, and button to push? They know it, and aren’t afraid to use it. You’ll get to hear Mister Young and Jacqui take it out on each other, in their own quirky way. They'll let you know things you maybe didn't know already in That's a Thing  & simplify your life with Life Hacks! Listen out for their spoof songs in #ExesSpoof plus, the adventures of Bee Geok & Geok Bee - they'll entertain you with the ups & downs of typical Singaporean couple in a relationship! Tune in to The Ex-Factor, weekdays 4pm – 8pm on Power 98FM.

大家早上好 / The Good Morning Show


新加坡唯一的双语早班节目《大家早上好》!每逢周日早上6到10点,恺缨 和ROBIN 将以轻松,活泼的主持形式和你分享时事/趣闻,开启你的每一天!周日: 6am-10am

吃喝玩乐 180 / Play 180


周一到周五,下午4点到晚上8点,丽娜&家铭主持以美食单元为主的《吃喝玩乐180 》,向你介绍美食好去处,让你下班不孤单!周日: 4pm-8pm

GIVEAWAY ALERT!

And if you are interested to meet them, here is your chance! One lucky reader will win the exact same experience that I had! That's right, you and a partner will receive a VIP brunch experience at The Cornerstone on 3 May 2014 (10am - 12.30pm). Not only will you be dining in a lush, green environment and savouring modern American cuisine, you get the once-in-a-lifetime chance to get up close and personal with the SAFRA Radio's DJs.

To further put things into perspective, this is exactly what you can win:

- A pair of VIP invites to Power 98 & 88.3Jia Brunch Party (Worth $60 per pax)
- A chance to get up close & personal with Celebrity DJs like Jamie Yeo & Robin Goh
- A goodie bag worth $100
- A chance to win attractive prizes up to $500!

Sounds good right? To score a chance at the giveaway, simply leave a comment in this blog post, or in its corresponding Facebook post HERE, saying which DJ from either Power98FM or 88.3Jia FM is your fave! Closing date is 22 April 2014 (Tues), 2359 hours.

In the meantime, besides the usual radio medium, you can tune in to Power 98FM and/or 88.3Jia FM via their mobile app or stream LIVE via the Power 98FM and 88.3Jia FM websites.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Singapore Beach Getaway: Lazarus & Seringat Islands

(Daddy suntans)

It was a wondrous sight. 

Surreal even, as all of us first set our eyes upon this.


You see, if someone had shown us the photo above 45 minutes before that and told us that this stretch of beach paradise can be found in Singapore, I would have laughed my head (and rear) off.

Well, it turns out that it is really in Singapore. Although technically, the beach is not on the main island but part of the Southern Islands.

Say hello to Lazarus Island, a little-known island tucked quietly between St John's and Kusu islands. Also known as Pulau Sakijang Pelepah, which means 'Island of One Barking Deer and Palms', there are no direct ferries to the island. But the good news is that it is linked to St. John’s Island by a paved bridge, so that was where we headed during one of the weekends.


The Southern Islands are managed by Sentosa Corporation, and they can only be reached via Singapore Island Cruise which is the one and only company in Singapore that provides daily ferry transport services to Kusu Island as well as St John’s Island.

Board the ferry from Marina South Pier, where you can purchase the tickets before departure. A two-way ticket costs $18 for adults and $12 for children aged between 1 and 12 years old. (The ferry schedule can be found at HERE.)

The journey from Marina South Pier to St John's island took about 30 minutes and once we set foot on the island, we were all ready to begin our little adventure!


But first, we were waylaid the history of St John's Island which fascinated the boys pretty much. The island has served as a quarantine station for infectious diseases such as cholera and leprosy in the late 19th century, as well as housing Prisoners of War (POWs) during the Japanese Occupation, with gruesome tales of a human chessboard where prisoners were used in place of chess pawns. It then became a penal settlement housing political prisoners and ring leaders of secret societies, before turning into a rehabilitation centre for many of the nation’s opium addicts. Definitely one chequered history for a small island.

Of course, there was still the small matter of another island to be conquered and the boys soon got Lazarus Island back in their minds. From St John’s Island’s jetty, we turned left to head towards Lazarus Island.


As you can probably see from the map above, access to Lazarus Island is via a paved bridge.

Paved Bridge in the distance
Lazarus Island on the opposite side
Along the way, there are signs indicating that Lazarus Island is currently under construction and that the public is discouraged from going onto the island.


Well, for sure we were not going to let a little sign deter us from stepping onto the island. LOL!


Even before reaching the beach, there was something completely different about the entire place. It could be due to the lack of buildings and vehicles that added a much needed tranquility to the surroundings, with the monkies pausing momentarily along the way to pick tiny casuarina fruits or poke at the leaves of the mimosa plant.


As we came to the end of the paved bridge, we caught sight of a stretch of beautiful rocky shore along Lazarus Island.


Amazing sight, no? We were rather awestruck by the turquoise waters, something that I have never imagined I would see in Singapore waters.

A stretch of beach (Beach 1 in the map above) then came into our view soon after we crossed the bridge. It is rather small, and not exactly the pristine white sand that I had envisioned it to be.


Ahh, but that was because the real gem lay further inwards. We continued on the pavement, and soon rows of palm trees greeted us.


We walked through that, and this was it.


An 800-metre stretch of beach paradise!


Yes, this natural sandy beach (Beach 2 in the map) is the most remarkable feature of Lazarus Island. Or I should say, it is the only feature of the island.


But no matter to the monkies, who were bent on testing out the waters the moment we laid down our bags.


If you are looking for crystal clear seawater to rival that of the Maldives or even Pulau Redang, then you can look away now. Granted that the water is not exactly what overseas beach resorts can offer but compared to the likes of East Coast Beach, Pasir Ris Beach or Sentosa Beaches, I have to say the seawater at Lazarus Island is as good as it gets.


Not that the monkies minded anyway, as the beach became their large playground for the next few hours.


Yes, for the next few hours.

I had originally thought that they would get bored with the beach after the 1-hour mark but guess how long we ended up staying on the beach? A good 2.5 hours!


And as you see from the photos, the beach was rather deserted. And this was on a Sunday. Except for a few private yachts and mainly foreign beach-goers, we practically had the entire beach to ourselves.


If you ask us, this beach is definitely attractive haven of peace. Besides being home to a beautiful sandy beache and inviting waters, Lazarus Island is a great spot for a laid-back escapade from the city hustle.



But hang on, we were not done with the island just yet.


A short walk further north will bring us to yet another island - Seringat Island. The southern end of this island merges with Lazarus Island and is mostly undeveloped. For now, that is. The island has been zoned for residential use under the Ministry of National Development's Land Use Plan so it may just be a matter of time before the rustic nature of the place is destroyed.


For now though, Seringat remains relatively isolated and tranquil... which made us plonk down our stuff and had an impromptu picnic right on the ground!


For a day's worth of off-the beaten-track kind of fun, Lazarus Island is truly one gem that offers a peaceful day getaway from the mainland. After all, how many such serene places can we still find in today's modern Singapore? The island boasts a pristine beach and scenic views, so I highly recommend a visit before the place loses itself to the effects of modernization.


Here are a few tips if you are planning a trip to Lazarus Island:

  • There are no shops on St John, Lazarus and Seringat Islands. So do stock up on food and water before you depart Marina South Pier, where there is a small eatery and shop.
  • Save for one pavilion, the beach at Lazarus island is not sheltered at all. So bring along plenty of sunblock and caps for a day out at the beach.
  • There are no toilet or shower facilities at the beach. The nearest toilet facility is housed in a building next to the private jetty on Lazarus Island, which is a 5-minute walk away. There are toilets on St John's Island though.
  • From the St John's Island jetty, it is approximately a 20-30 minute walk to the beach on Lazarus Island. So do buffer enough time when you are making your way back, or you might just miss your ferry!

Useful Information

How to get to Lazarus Island by Ferry 
Singapore Island Cruise operates ferries from Marina South Pier to St John's and Kusu islands. Visit www.islandcruise.com.sg/ferry-schedule.html for the detailed ferry schedule. Prices for a two way trip are fixed at $18 for adults and $12 for children aged 1 to 12 years old. No advanced or prior bookings needed.

The ferry will head to St John's island first before going to Kusu Island. Journey from Marina South Pier to St John's island takes 30 minutes and 15 minutes from St John's to Kusu.

Singapore Island Cruise 
#01-04 Marina South Pier
31 Marina Coastal Drive
Opening Hours: 8am - 4.45pm (Ticketing booth closes at 3pm daily)
Tel: 6534 9339

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