Aug 10, 2022

Happy Birthday Ayd! (otherwise known as 'Another monkie turns 16 & I'm feeling emo)

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And there goes another one.


Another one who reached the 16-year-old milestone. Today.



Every year, I find myself asking the same question: How on earth did time pass so freaking fast??? Which is why I write a post every year on each of my kids' birthday because time is a funny and tricky thing.


Ayd turns 16 years old today. It has been such an amazing experience being his Dad these past 16 years and I want to let him know this:



---


Dear Ayd,


You are such a blessing to my life and I love watching you grow into the man you are becoming. 


I remember the day you were born. From the first time you were placed in my arms, you have been such an easy baby to look after. You ate, slept and even pooped with minimal fuss, and was always offering a smile for everyone, 


I remember your first day at pre-school. I bade you farewell at the door, and just waved goodbye, turned around and trooped into the classroom. I was hoping you would turn back but you simply went on with school life. No tears, no fights, no fuss yet again.



I remember your first day at primary school. Again, there was only excitement as you had been eagerly looking forward to finally joining your older brother in the same school. In fact, you were most excited about checking out the canteen food during recess time! 


I remember your first day at secondary school. You were a bundle of joy and anticipation as you got into the school of your choice. You knew you would love every single minute of seconday school life and you were right.


Today, you turn 16.



You are a kind-hearted young man who brings Mummy and me so much pride. I know your brother and sister could never have asked for a better brother than you. I know I sound like a broken record when I say it seems like yesterday I was holding you in my arms as a newborn but it really does feel time has just whizzed by. Now all grown up, at 16 years old, you are getting ready to go off in the world and start your own life.



And that lies my greatest lesson. Because through you (and your older brother), I am learning how to let go as I come to terms that you are now more independent than ever before.


I am learning how to accept that you are able to make decisions on your own now. I am learning that I am your guide and not your owner (even though I’d like to be many times 😅). I am learning to support you on the sidelines and cheer you on, even if that means having to see you fall and pick yourself up again on your own.



Ayd, you are a wonderful son, brother and grandson, with a heart bigger than most. You are a wonderful blessing to me, to your Mummy, and everyone else. Happy 16th birthday, son!


Love,

Papa



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Jul 1, 2022

Bukit Timah Railway Station Re-opens with Heritage Buildings, Gardens & a Vintage Cafe!

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The former Bukit Timah Railway Station at Rail Corridor has re-opened to the public!




Located around the midway point of the 24km-long Rail Corridor and well-loved for its idyllic natural setting and iconic railway heritage landmarks, the new 4.3-hectare node comprises two sensitively-restored conserved buildings - the Railway Station and Railway Staff Quarters.



In addition, the surrounding compound has been refreshed with new amenities, gardens and lawns... including a beautiful CAFE!


Here's what to expect from the NEW Bukit Timah Railway Station community node:


BUKIT TIMAH RAILWAY STATION


The only suburban station which still stands in Singapore today, Bukit Timah Railway Station was constructed in 1932 to serve as one of five railway stations along the Singapore-Kranji Railway, the first railway in Singapore. It also served as a freight interchange for the now defunct Jurong Line from 1966 to the early 1990s. The station ceased operations when KTM ended train services between Woodlands and Tanjong Pagar in 2011, and was gazetted as a conserved building in the same year.



Interestingly, the tation was constructed in the style of traditional small town railway stations found in the UK and is reminiscent of European country cottages.


The re-opened Bukit Timah Railway Station building retains its original features. The building, along with its key architectural and railway elements, has been carefully restored and repurposed as a heritage gallery for visitors to learn about its history and that of the Rail Corridor.



Visitors can view actual past maps that adorned the walls of the railway station, as well as get a glimpse of the former Ticketing Window.



In addition, visitors will see restored elements like track switching levers and a replica of a signals diagram in the Signal Room, which former Station Masters used to control rail traffic.



The Signal Room used to have 36 mechanical levers controlling different functions, differentiated by colour:

  • Black - Track switching
  • Blue - Locking of switching mechanism
  • Red - Semaphore arms to signal trains
  • Yellow - Distant signals to alert train drivers
  • White - Spare levers


Kids will love climbing onto the two service wagons, which are new addtions on the railway tracks.


The service wagons have been replicated to look just like old railway maintenance vehicles, are placed on the existing railway tracks as play features reminiscent of the former railway station.


There are also other nuggets of information that could be found aroud the railway station, like these token exchange pole.


What is this pole used for? Here's your answer. 😁


RAILWAY STAFF QUARTERS


Across the train tracks from the Railway Station building is the conserved Railway Staff Quarters, a former staff housing block which has been repurposed into a café with a rustic, relaxed ambience.


Like the Railway Station building, key architectural elements have been restored and ramps have also been added to make the buildings more accessible, as houses in the past were typically raised a foot above ground to prevent flooding during heavy rain.


Of course, the main draw at the Staff Quarters has got to be the 1932 Story cafe.


If you are visiting the Railway Station, I strongly recommend popping inside the cafe to take a look.


Because the interior is GORGEOUS!


The east unit ("Heritage wing") has been retained with all rooms intact, showcasing architectural features such as rounded plastered walls, heel stones, and Bakelite plastic switches.


I really love what the owner had done with the interior - it retains the vintage charm of the building without overdoing it.



My top pick - read: IG-worthy - for a coffee spot has got to be this.


The cafe is open from 9am to 9pm daily, and sells coffee, a variety of teas as well as gelato.


I was there on the first day of its opening so no food was being sold yet. But I understand that local faves like mee siam, etc will make their way to the menu soon.


While there, do pay a visit to the last room of the building, which is also part of the cafe and has a seating area.


But more than just offering seating space, the room is actually a railway-themed gallery and houses a collection of items that were from the period when Bukit Timah Railway Station was still in operation.



In case the cafe gets too crowded, there is outdoor seating as well.


HERB AND SPICE GARDEN


Situated behind the Railway Staff Quarters, the Herb and Spice Garden features commonly used edible plants used for cooking such as the Curry Leaf, Common Basil, Laksa Leaf, and Siamese Ginger.


And keep your eyes peeled for this information panel, which sheds light on how the old sewage treatment system worked for the Staff Quarters back then,


KAMPUNG GARDEN

Fronting the Railway Staff Quarters, the Kampung Garden features ornamental shrubs and flowers iconic to Singapore's 1960s landscape.


THE YARD

The Yard is a new, single-storey pavilion with a sheltered gathering space and public restrooms, featuring rustic, textured walls and a green roof which has creeping plants and solar panels for electricity generation.


The front section, where the sheltered gathering area is, holds a map of this community node and an educational panel on the railway story.


LOOKOUT RAMP AND SEATING TERRACE


The ramp and outdoor terrace allow visitors to rest, along with a view of the Railway Station building. Two tiers of outdoor seating are inlaid with actual railway track segments that serve as armrests.

A footpath brings visitors to an elevated lookout for a view of the surroundings.

THE ENTRANCE


When entering the community node from King Albert Park MRT station, there is a new paved path which direct visitors direct into the heart of the compound.


The paths' design mimics long-exposure photography of a passing train and its light trails, evoking the still motion of passing trains in the old days. 

Visitors will also be happy to know that there is new flight of steps constructed which allows them to ascend to the Truss Bridge without having to walk a further distance.


GETTING TO BUKIT TIMAH RAILWAY STATION


Bukit Timah Railway Station lies around at the half-way mark along the Rail Corridor.


If you are starting from Rail Mall or Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, head in the direction of Tanjong Pagar. If you are starting from Alexandra, Buona Vista or Holland area, head in the direction of Woodlands.



See the map below for directions:



If you are driving, the nearest carparks are at KAP Mall and Link@896. As for public transport, King Albert Park MRT station is located near the entry point of Bukit Timah Railway Station.


HAVE FUN! 




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Jun 7, 2022

Complete Missions to Unlock Perks in the My Little Pony Virtual Fun Race at Suntec City - it's FREE to Participate!

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 Advertorial


You know life is slowly but surely returning to normal in Singapore when cartoon characters start appearing in shopping malls - and just in time for the school holidays season too!


And there is no better place to keep the kids active AND have fun at the same time than being at Suntec City this June School Holiday... because they are hosting the first My Little Pony Virtual Fun Race in Singapore!



What sets this fun race apart from other races is that this is a 'race' that is held within a shopping mall - so there's no excuse to complain about the heat. 😂😂😂 But in all honesty, I was intrigued when I first learnt of the My Little Pony virtual fun race at Suntec City because of its many unique features:


FREE TO JOIN FOR EVERYONE


Yes, it is entirely FREE to sign up - no registration fees required. All you need to have is your mobile phone to sign up for an account on the 42Race mobile app. Once done, just head down to Suntec City to begin your virtual race!



COMPLETE THE RACE AT YOUR OWN PACE AND TIME


The beauty of the virtual race is you and the kids can complete the race at your own pace and time. There is no requirement to head down to Suntec City at a specific date and time. All you have to do is to complete it by 10 July 2022.



COMPLETE CHALLENGES TO EARN PERKS AND REWARDS



There are two challenges to complete for the My Little Pony fun virtual race - Mission Challenge and Steps Challenge. The Mission Challenge tasks you to clear all 10 checkpoints around Suntec City while the Steps Challenge tasks you to clock your steps to redeem perks and rewards.



UNLOCK MORE REWARDS BY SPENDING A MINIMUM OF $50 AT SUNTEC CITY


While the virtual race is open to everyone for free, you can redeem even more My Little Pony goodies with a minimum spending of $50 at Suntec City!


Simply spend a minimum of $50 at Suntec City (maximum of 3 combined same-day receipts) to redeem a My Little Pony race ticket from 3 June to 10 July 2022.



But my advice is to get that minimum spending done quick because that race ticket can also get you an exclusive My Little Pony goodie bag! Between 10 and 12 June 2022, present your My Little Pony race ticket at the redemption counter located at North Wing L1 (#01-457B, in front of House of Samsonite).



The exclusive My Little Pony goodie bag consists of a tote bag, pop-pins (set of 2), one My Little Pony mask, sticker sheet and a treasure hunt map set. Complete the treasure hunt map and you can redeem a surprise gift (while stocks last) too!



But that's not all - complete the Mission Challenge to receive a completion gift. This will be either - this one is my fave 😁 - a finisher medal (limited redemptions apply) or a certificate of completion!



Well, it turned out that Ale was eyeing on the finisher medal too when I showed it to her. So, a Dad's gotta do what a Dad's gotta do - we headed down to Suntec City to join the My Little Pony virtual fun race!


But first, since it's a race - albeit being held in a mall - we had to get ourselves suited up in the correct sports attire.



NIKE

West Wing, #01-375


I don't think Nike needs any introduction.


Famed for its wide range of sporting apparel and footwear, Nike is essentially a one-stop shop for all your sporting needs - whether you are an athlete or not, whether you are young or young-at-heart.


Here's an interesting fact about Nike: did you know that in Greek mythology, Nike is the Winged Goddess of Victory? The Nike logo is derived from goddess' wing, 'swoosh', which symbolises the sound of speed, movement, power and motivation.


The friendly staff at Nike helped Ale and I to pick out a set of attire each, which of course came with super comfy shoes... because we have a virtual race to complete, you know. 😁


Can I just say that the Nike store at Suntec City is HUGE??? If you are looking for anything sportswear-related, you can probably find it there. Much like the fleece top that Ale is wearing, and you can see how much she adores it later when she wore it almost throughout our fun race journey!


And with that, we were all ready to begin the fun race!


To get started, all we had to do was to open the 42Race App to access the Mission Challenge.


There are a total of 10 checkpoints to locate at Suntec City, with clues to the locations being offered within the Mission Challenge. 

And you know you got it right when you see a My Little Pony virtual fun race standee like this. 


Check the standee for the Checkpointt number and scan the respective QR code on the standee to log your progress!


To the next checkpoint we go!

BUT... all the clocking of steps made our tummies rumble, so we decided to make a pit stop for some snacks. 😁



 DON DON DONKI

West Wing, #02-379


Again, I don't think DON DON DONKI needs any introduction too. Even my 3-year-old nephew keeps singing that DON DON DONKI jingle non-stop. 😂



A massive hit with Singaporeans when it opened its first store here in 2017, DON DON DONKI is the go-to place for all of us whenever we want to eat and stock up on Japanese food, and get our hands on exclusive Japan-imported products.


Already, its store layout transports us to Japan if you ask me... which I think a lot of us are missing right now given that travelling to Japan is still rather restrictive.



We were on a mission to quell our rumbling tummies so naturally, Ale zoomed in on some rice crackers. Aji Salon Rice Crackers, to be exact.



These are cheese-topped rice crackers which comes in either green laver (a type of seaweed) or wasabi flavours. There is a special promotion ongoing now - $5.90 for 1 pack or $10.50 for 2 packs so you can mix and try out both flavours!



Younger kids will love the POKEMON CHILDREN'S DAY CHOCOLATE which is a chocolate snack that comes in the shape of 'Pikachu' from Pokemon. Ok, so this one also went into my shopping basket because of my nephew.


And while Ale was poring over the numerous colourful snacks, something else caught my eye.



Instant ramen from Marutai! Apparently, this is a must-try Japanese instant ramen. Each pack consists of 2 servings and is retailing $3.90 each (or $6.80 for 2 packs). And since it comes in 8 different flavours, I couldn't make up my mind and did the next best thing. 😆😆😆


With our tummies pacified, it was back to the fun race.



Here's a tip: some of the checkpoints are located OUTSIDE the mall! 😆


Oh, and there are a few quizzes to complete within the Mission Challenge too so make sure you pay attention when you are at some of the standees as they offer clues to the questions!



And while we were on our way to the next checkpoint, I was reminded of something when I passed by this store.



OGAWA 

East Wing, #02-703


No, not my aching neck. 😅


But it was a reminder that we need to take care and pamper our bodies from time to time too.


A leading brand in the arena of healthcare and wellness, OGAWA prides itself in creating revolutionary products to deliver the ultimate rejuvenating experience.



Like this Ogawa Cuddly Touch.



The Ogawa Cuddly Touch is the perfect companion for your tired shoulders and neck. Shaped and made to feel like a soft bolster, this massager features a vibrational feature with dual mode setting for an added therapeutic experience. Best of all, it's extremely portable and one can use it virtually anywhere, whether it is in home, office or even on the plane.


No wonder Ale fell in love with it. But I soon took possession of it, to go along with the Ogawa Mobile Shiatsu Lite.


The Ogawa Mobile Shiatsu Lite is a multipurpose back massage pillow designed to be lightweight, portable and features 4 massage rollers that kneads away tight muscles - shiatsu style.


Pure bliss for my lower back, I tell you.



OGAWA is currently running a promotion where you can redeem 1,000 Suntec+ Points (worth $1) in exchange for $10 off Mobile Shiatsu Lite! Find more details on the Suntec+ App.


With our necks and lower backs recharged, we continued with our fun race!



And it was definitely a FUN race because not only were we running about in Suntec City to locate the different checkpoints, the standees at various checkpoints had another QR code which we could use our phones' cameras to scan and unlock Instagram filters and games!



The IG filters were definitely cute!



While the IG games were pretty fun too! For some reason, Ale is waaay better at it than me. LOL.



Ok, so we had completed close to 75% of the fun race and by now, our tummies were protesting violently so we had to break for lunch.



Olivia & Co

North Wing, #01-481


You know, Olivia & Co is one of those restaurants that I often pass by when I am at Suntec City but never got the chance to try. But thanks to the fun race, Ale and I were looking to indulge in some comfort classics and Olivia & Co served that up in abundance.


Just ask Ale who had the Strawberry Milkshake. I kid you not when I say her eyes lit up the moment she took a sip of the milkshake.


One could taste real strawberries in the milkshake so definitely no artificial flavourings. In addition, you know how milkshakes have a bad reputation of being overly sweet and full of empty calories? This Strawberry Milkshake from Olivia & Co is nothing like that at all.

Which was why I also enjoyed my Nutella Milkshake.

But I had one small gripe. 


How come I can take such a nice photo of my daughter smiling away as she chomped on MY pocky stick but when I asked her to snap a photo of me, it turned out like this???


😂😂😂

In any case, luckily there was the Meat Platter to make everything awesome again.


One of Olivia & Co's speciality, the Meat Platter consists of a sumptuous selection of striploin, pork sausages, back bacon, cajun chicken, thick fries, homemade gravy. What a feast!


Nothing much to say about the Meat Platter except for this.


I guess it's a testament to what we thought of the food. 😊


With our energy refilled, it was time to find the remaining checkpoints. And I kid you not when I say we had already walked close to 7,000 steps by then! Not that I am complaining because remember I mentioned that there was also the Steps Challenge?



All I had to do was to clock my steps to redeem perks and rewards. There are various milestones to hit, with 10,000 steps as the pinnacle to hit. 

 

It's super easy to clock 10,000 steps simply because the steps can be clocked ANYWHERE! 

 

But, while clocking my steps, we were ambushed when Ale spotted this. 



ToTT

North Wing, #02-427


ToTT Store is a one-stop culinary haven for anyone who cooks, bakes or hosts, with exclusive cooking, baking & hosting-related merchandise. But for Ale, she was drawn to the cooking class that was in session.



ToTT conducts regular classes for not only adults, but kids too. For older kids aged 5 and above, ToTT has drop-off classes where parents will be able to drop their kids off at ToTT to attend cook and bake classes.

For younger kids, they also have parent-accompanied classes... which was what greeted us when we walked into the store.


The class in session was Junior Chef: Handmade Pasta & Molten Lava Cake, where parent-child pairs would be able to create 2 dishes in the 2-hour class: Handmade Pasta in Carbonara Sauce & Chocolate Molten Lava Cake.


During the time I was there, I observed that the chef gave ample opportunities to the kids to prepare the ingredients as well as operate the kitchen equipment. They certainly looked like they enjoyed themselves tremendously!

I was lucky enough to be there at the right moment, when the chef completed the Handmade Pasta in Carbonara Sauce dish!


I definitely have to keep ToTT's classes in mind the next time I run out of ideas during the school holidays!


After a slight detour, we were on track to complete our fun race!



AND WE DID IT! CHECKPOINT 10! 🎉🎉🎉

With the race done, we needed a change of clothes.



Recoil

North Wing, #02-464


Founded in 2006, Recoil is proudly Singaporean with a vision to produce fashionable, high-quality apparel at affordable prices.


With its distinctive graphic tees and youthful tailoring of tops and bottoms, no wonder Ale was quickly drawn to Recoil's fashion collection!


Check out the 2 pieces that she picked out on her own!


The Oversized Tees are not only fashionable but according to her, they are extremely comfortable as well. I learnt the tees are made with Odell cotton fabric, a high-grade environmentally friendly fabric that is made from recycled plants and white fibers, which is spun with cotton. 


Looks like I had to try on Recoil's apparel for myself then!


With the past 2+ years of working mostly from home, my formal wear comprising of long sleeve shirts and pants were left almost untouched so it was time for a new change of wardrobe!


How do I look? I love the fit of this 3/4-sleeved Burgundy Shirt as well as the black trousers. Top it off with a blazer and I think it's all good! 😆


Ale loved her outfit while I loved mine too - and the timing is perfect because there is a FLASH SALE happening currently: Purchase a $20 Recoil e-Voucher for only $8 via the Suntec+ App! That's a 60% discount, if you are thinking of doing the Math. 😁


And what about our Steps Challenge?




We absolutely slayed it.

And in return for our efforts, we were rewarded with these perks!


Not too bad at all! In fact, one of the rewards was 3,000 Suntec+ Points (worth $3) which can be used to offset parking!  😊




With the My Little Pony Fun Race now in full swing at Suntec City, there is no better place to bring the kids this June school holiday.


Not only can the kids be kept active by completing mission challenges and clocking steps, parents can score great deals too! Apart from the promotions I mentioned above, here are MORE promotions and highlights you can enjoy at Suntec City: 


Spend and Redeem Promotions


SHOPPING REWARDS

- Receive 3,000 Suntec+ Points with a min. spend of $50

- Receive a $5 Suntec City e-Voucher with a min. spend of $125


CITI CREDIT CARDMEMBER EXCLUSIVE [on top of above rewards]

- Receive a $5 Suntec City e-Voucher with a min. spend of $125

OR

- Receive a $20 Suntec City e-Voucher with a min. spend of $300


Suntec+ Member Perks


REWARDS CATALOGUE

From 22 - 30 Jun, use your Suntec+ Points to redeem special deals, featuring 1-for-1 deals, $1 deals, $10 deals and more! From as low as 100 Suntec+ Points only!


MEMBERS' DAY

On 22 Jun, receive 4X Suntec+ Points with a min. spend of $20! Additionally, receive 4,000 bonus Suntec+ Points with a min. $15 spend on Suntec+ Eats.  


Suntec+ Eats Highlights


JUNE HOLIDAYS TREATS

From 3 - 12 Jun, get $5 OFF with a min. spend of $20


FATHER'S DAY EXCLUSIVE

From 13 - 24 Jun, get 19% OFF with NO min. spend!


SUMMER DRINKS SPECIALS

From 27 Jun - 1 Jul, receive $2 OFF with a min. spend of $6 at participating stores only 

*Participating stores include: 108 Matcha Saro, BaWangChaJi, Coffeesmith, Krispy Kreme, Llao Llao, ParTea, Signature KOI, TP Tea, Yenly Yours Dessert  


JULY DELIGHTS

From 4 - 15 Jul, receive 4,000 Suntec+ Points with a min. spend of $20


*Click here for full terms and conditions.


For more information, visit HERE.



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