Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Our Tour of the Singapore Yakult Factory

During Teacher's Day a few weeks back, we joined other Singapore Mom Bloggers for a tour of the Yakult Factory located at Senoko Avenue. I decided to bring both kids with me (and give mum-in-law a break) since we'll be travelling via MINIbee.

Both the girl and I were the most excited since we both drink Yakult almost everyday. I for one have been a Yakult fan for as long as I can remember, to the point that my username for a period of time used to be LBCulturedMilk! True story.

So you can imagine our delight to find that there was no lack of Yakult at the Yakult Factory! =)

Girl was grinning from ear to ear because she not only drank the complimentary Yakult bottle in front of her (we each got one), she also drank those behind her because no one was sitting there (-_-)

Our tour started with an introduction of our digestive system, pitched at the level of kindergarten kids so that the kids will understand.

There are other slides but it so happened I took the slide of the different kinds of shit hahaha (I swear it was unintentional!)

I learnt a lot from the presentation. For instance, did you know that Singapore is the only country that sells other flavours other than original? Singapore is also one of three countries with the largest Yakult bottles in the world and yet it's still considered small next to certain other famous brand (*cough* V....... *cough*. It's obvious where my loyalty lies hehe).

We also got to look under a microscope and see the billions of live Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota wriggling around as well as taste the sugarless Yakult (super sour!) which you can only try in the Yakult Factory. We also watched a video, which finally captured the attention of my hyperactive boy who wanted to explore the place on his own and destroy everything in sight (-_-). I liked how interactive the presentation was. Definitely suitable for 4 years old and above.

We got to explore the factory next, which did not allow photography so I only have one photo (I took it before I was told it was not allowed).

Observing the tanks that are used to make the Yakult

It was fun to learn that everything, except for the bacteria itself (that is made in Japan), is made in the factory. The bottles are melted and molded into the iconic shape before the words are printed directly on the bottle. Then the bottles are filled with Yakult and sealed. The whole process is really fast and efficient.

At the end of the tour, we got to purchase Yakult and Yakult Ace at a discounted rate of $2.70 and $3.50 respectively. As you know, unlike other brands (*cough*), Yakult is hardly ever on discount! Of course we bought as many as we can keep in our fridge! *laughs*

Selfie with the Giant Yakult bottle!
Group photo with the rest of the Singapore Mom Bloggers and their families

Yakult is going to terminate their Factory Tour (more details on the Yakult Factory Tour here) from January 2016 onwards due to factory renovations so if you would like to go, better DO IT NOW!

If either you or your kids are Yakult fans, I strongly recommend this tour! We had a blast =)

Monday, 21 September 2015

Of House-Moving, Renting & My MINIbee

I have been really quiet on the blog (for the first time in many years if I might add) because my family has been going through a transition these two months.

For one, we sold the house in Tiong Bahru and moved to another neighbourhood further up in the West to be nearer to the hubby and brother-in-law's workplaces as well as a potential primary school for my girl. That meant spending almost every weekend packing up all of our stuff into boxes for moving, which is no mean feat considering we were four adults and two kids!

As usual, the OCD in me ensured that there was a system to all the packing!

To ensure that moving day was as hassle-free as possible, we hired professional movers to do the job. Sure, it is more expensive but they got the job done in just four hours! Definitely well worth the money in my opinion.

Our new place is a rented condominium unit, which was the same rental price as a 4-room HDB flat in the same area, but with facilities and without the conservative and parking fees (can you say free parking for two cars?! *grin*). We are going to rent while looking for our permanent house in the same neighbourhood.

Many people have asked us the same question so I thought I would provide our rationale here:

Why did we choose to rent for a year instead of buying a new house straight away?
  1. We are very picky, with a long list of requirements for our new house. Such a perfect house at a reasonable cost would require some time to find (good luck to our property agent! *laughs*)
  2. Rushing through house-hunting, renovations and moving (because you have to vacate your house in 3 months) while taking care of two kids and holding a full-time job is probably not a good idea. I've already got waay too much on my plate! I don't need that kind of stress :S
  3. Renting lets us have an idea of how it feels like to live in our prospective neighbourhood without actually committing to it. If we don't like it, we can still move back to Tiong Bahru or some other neighbourhood.
  4. We wanted to have more disposable income to travel and buy whatever we want so we decided to buy a HDB flat instead of the more expensive condominium for our first house. However, we still wanted our kids to enjoy condo facilities and renting provides us with this option, even if for only a year. Our condo has almost everything: gym, swimming pool, tennis courts, BBQ pits, mini mart and even a child care centre! My kids are having a blast every week! =)
As you can see, renting makes sense for our family! =)

My very ecstatic kids in the pool!

Since we no longer live in the heart of town (*sob*), the hubby also got me an 8-year-old car so that it is more convenient for me to send my girl to school and go to work.

I have always loved the MINI Cooper so although the hubby was very reluctant (because it is so small, only has 3 doors and cost more than most Japanese cars), he eventually relented when he saw how much I swooned whenever I saw a MINI. By God's grace, we found a really nice yellow one in excellent condition selling for a good price. The car was so well-kept and had so low mileage that it was equivalent to a 5-6 year old car. We didn't even have to look any further. It was like God led us to the car and a few hours later, it was mine! =)

Everyone meet MINIbee, my first car and my dream car! *grin*

The day that we met and bought my MINIbee =)
The iconic circular design of the MINI that we all know and love
(the speedometer in the middle is no longer in production!)

"When I get my own car, I will buy a miniature one exactly like it to put on the dashboard. Wouldn't that be cool?" I used to say to myself whenever I browsed the collection of die cast cars in the kids section. So after searching everywhere for a yellow, die cast MINI Cooper that looked as much like MINIbee as possible, I finally found one in Batam for only S$10!

It looks exactly like how I envisioned it! =)
Other than not having white side mirrors and two white stripes on the front bonnet, mini MINIbee looks exactly like, well, MINIbee!

As MINIbee is not very big, I decided to get a preloved carseat that was suitable for both my girl and my boy. That way, either one of them can travel in it if I ferried only one of them because I think it is safer for my girl to travel in a full car seat. However, as I can't possibly fit two full size car seats in my MINIbee, my girl will have to sit in a booster seat whenever I have to drive both (works out ok for us so far).

I managed to find a really good one that coincidentally came with a Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) System (read more about the LATCH system here) that matched perfectly with MINIbee. In essence, the LATCH System was created to overcome the problem of people wrongly installing car seats using the car's seat belt. I found the LATCH system better and easier to install the car seat than the regular car seat belt; I strongly encourage you to get a car seat with the LATCH system if your car is compatible.

After a good wash, our preloved carseat was good as new and fits nicely in my back seat

Initially no one wanted to sit in my car because it's so small and I needed to get my driving groove back on after not driving for almost four years. At least, no one except for my girl! Gotta love her. Now I know who really has my back! *laughs*

I was quite apprehensive of driving on Singapore roads, knowing how aggressive drivers in Singapore can be. My fears were unfounded though as MINIbee is such a breeze to maneuver (some experts have even likened its steering to that of a gokart) that I had no problems changing lanes or parking. I suspect that the small and cute exterior also helped to influence other drivers to give way to me on the road (because everyone feels instinctively protective of cute little things, don't they? *laughs*). So far so good by the grace of God =)

First time parallel parking outside of my Pilates Studio
(it has been so much more convenient to get to places now that I have a car)

I realised that driving can be enjoyable, if you get a car that really fits you. And MINIbee really fits me =)

Of course, now that I drive to work everyday instead of taking the bus, I have less time to blog (and you know I blog a lot on the bus) which explains also why this blog has been silent for a while. Well, I may not be able to blog as often as I used to but I sure as hell won't stop blogging or sharing my thoughts in some way because that's just the way I am =)

Looking forward to more Adventures with MINIbee!

Friday, 4 September 2015

Cleaner, Cooler Air with Dyson Pure Cool

We have always wanted to get a Dyson fan and in this haze season, their 2-in-1 fan plus purifier is a godsend!

Instead of buying two separate equipments, one for cooling and one for purifing, the Dyson Pure Cool does both! This space-saving feature is especially important in a space-limited country like Singapore.

Side by side comparison with the fan my baby boy was using before the Dyson Pure Cool. The latter definitely looks more classy, doesn't it?

If you're wondering where the purifier is, well it's cleverly hidden in the base of the Dyson Pure Cool where the motor is.


Motor (top view)
Left: Motor (front view);
Right: This pretty blue thing is actually the filter. You need to remove the whole thing and replace approximately once a year (plus minus depending on how often you use it). That's not very often.
Close up of the filter
(you can see it's made up of high quality material that traps minute particles in the air)

It's really easy to set up too. All you need to do is to stack the filter over the motor, align the top circle frame and click it in place.

Left: Fixing up the Dyson Pure Cool;
Right: Button to press to remove the circle frame
Close up of the base and exterior of the filter
(looks really chic!)

The filter can remove 99.95% of harmful particles in the air and this can include bacteria, airborne pollutants and even odours. This ensures that the air in my room is always fresh and clean =)

Oh and that is not even the best part. This really cool remote control can be attached to the top of the circular frame via magnetisation! No need to worry that you can't find your remote! =)

Sleek remote control to go with the Dyson Pure Cool

We use it everyday now because it is extremely safe for kids; no need to worry that their fingers will get caught in the regular fan blades (I've personally have had my finger caught on the fan blade before and let's just say that it wasn't a pleasant experience!).

Kids playing a fool with the new "electrical on the block"

The Dyson Pure Cool, like all other Dyson cooling units, is also very light; it can be moved easily to any location you like, unlike regular full length fans that can sometimes break your back trying to move them.

Girl demonstrating that even kids can carry it
(which can also be a bad thing cos that means you have to make sure that they don't play with it!)

Many people are concerned about the wind strength and admittedly, it is probably not as strong as those mega huge fans. But compared to a standard fan like the little pink one that we had, it's quite comparable. The Dyson Pure Cool also has 10 levels of wind speed and we only used maybe level 7 or 8. Hubby, who is super scared of being hot, loves to dominate it and I have had to "snatch" it back many times for my boy! *laughs*

The Dyson Pure Cool is meant for my baby!

The Dyson Pure Cool is perfect for full time working mums too because it can be cleaned in just 2 minutes! No more cleaning the fan blade by blade! *grin*

Of course, the downside of this fan is that it can only blow left right and not up down. And it is very expensive (retails for about S$999)! But it's a 2-in-1 and you do get what you pay for so if you can afford it, I would say go for it!

In this season of the haze, I'm just glad to have this fan for my my whole family! =)

Disclosure: A complimentary Dyson Pure Cool was received from Dyson Singapore for the purposes of this review. No monetary compensation was received; all opinions are my own.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

6 Things I will Miss About Tiong Bahru

I thought I would have time to finish this post before I moved but it turns out I didn't have any time at all (it was quite naive of me actually to think that I would have time to blog when I have to pack for so many people and TWO kids)!

After going at full speed ahead with packing and working at the same time, my body finally decided enough was enough so here I am at home resting and catching up with my blogging.

It's timely too, as I can literally feel the impact of not living in Tiong Bahru. I miss my Tiong Bahru so much *sob*

6 Things I Miss about Tiong Bahru

1) The Food, the Food, the Food!

My favourite bowl of fish soup noodles

There's no lack of funky cafes and value-for-money hawker food in Tiong Bahru.

2) Old School Feel

Strolling in the neighbourhood
(left is my girl and right is my boy, in the same tricycle!)

Can never get the same feeling of nostalgia anywhere else.

3) CNY Atmosphere

View of the action from our house
Lion dance stunt (left) and a photo with one of the "lions" (right)

Although it was super noisy, it was still exciting to be able to watch the lion and dragon dance from my room window every year without fail. The kids love it! They can sit and watch for hours! It has become our family's annual tradition of sorts.

As Chinatown is also within walking distance, we would sometimes walk over to catch the fireworks and fire crackers!

"So noisy mummy!"

It can be very dusty, noisy and scary for kids though! My girl had fun.

We always complain that it is noisy but you really can't help but feel a sense of sadness now that we won't be able to be in the heat of the action anymore.

4) Our Family's General Physician

Our family clinic 

It is probably not possible for us to travel all the way to Tiong Bahru just to see our family doctor (Dr Ranjan), especially not when we are already not feeling well. Sadly, for convenience, we would have to find another good doctor in our new neighbourhood. Makes me sad every time I think about it =(

5) No Need to Pay ERP

Because Tiong Bahru is right in the heart of town (yet not within the CBD zone), we hardly ever need to pay ERP to get anywhere (unless we are going into the CBD area, which unfortunately is difficult to avoid). Nowadays I pay ERP every morning to get to work (thankfully it's only $2). Luckily I don't have to pay for carpark at our current residence so it's not so bad. Ah well. I guess ERP is part and parcel of being a Singaporean and owning a car =(

And finally, the thing that I miss the most...

6) Tiong Bahru is Only 5 Minutes to Orchard!

I have 4 buses to Orchard Road from Tiong Bahru! And each bus journey only takes me 15 minutes! If we drive, it's only 5 minutes!

Nowadays we need to take at 20 minutes by car to Orchard Road. I know, I know, it's still not that far but in comparison to Tiong Bahru, it's like Journey from the West, literally =(


This post is part of I Love My Tiong Bahru series, which is my way of bidding farewell to my favourite neighbourhood that I had called my home for the last 14 years. As I move to another neighbourhood, join me in celebrating Tiong Bahru! =)

Monday, 10 August 2015

Celebrating SG50 in Batam

Yes I know, we spent our nation's Jubilee birthday overseas like a lot of other travel-loving Singaporeans. But that doesn't mean I'm not patriotic. See this pretty girl and that cute boy that I pushed out of my youknowwhere? I'm nation-building right here! *laughs*

Anyway, we know better than to tackle the mammoth that is the causeway so we chose to head to Batam rather than Malacca. I feel for those of you who got stuck at the causeway for 8 hours (though I can't say that I'm surprised). Let's just say I was happy to have found a comfortable seat on the ferry.


At the Singapore Cruise Centre waiting to board our Batam Fast ferry
Baby Boy just woke up from his nap so he was in a hyper mood. Not good when he is confined in a small space -_-
Watching the world go by..

After a comfortable ferry ride, we arrive at Harbor Bay Terminal (different from our usual terminal at Batam Centre). We took a cab (cost us 50,000 rupiah) to Novotel Hotel, our accommodation for the trip.

Novotel Hotel Batam
We were in our usual matchy matchy wear! :)

As it was still early and we can't check-in yet, we had lunch at the hotel's restaurant, The Square.

Clockwise from left: Girl enjoying her food and colouring;
The Square placemat;
Four different kinds of chili!
Clockwise from left: Rice with eggs and chicken;
Lasagna with cheese;
Cordon bleu with fries

The food wasn't too bad, there were some hits but also a few misses. Overall, it was satisfactory.

Our rooms were ready by the time we were done with lunch.

Clockwise from left: Standard size bathtub in the toilet;
King size bed! More than enough space for all three of us if Baby Boy doesn't want to sleep in the cot;
Nice size room with balcony for star gazing.
We requested for a cot for Baby Boy. It was pretty low, which is probably not advisable if you're bringing an infant with you. I can imagine breaking my back if I were to put a 5 month old baby in and out of this thing!

We headed off to the nearest mall, Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall, by cab. We didn't like it when we visited previously but it was the nearest mall to the hotel. It didn't turn out as bad as I had expected (maybe I have low expectations! *laughs*).

Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall

We decided to let the kids play in a very old school arcade that still used tokens like the good ole days! Each token only cost 1000 rupiah (about S$0.10) and most rides cost only 2 to 4 tokens. Cheap and good =)

Dunia Fantasi Arcade
Variety of different rides
Choo choo! This ride only costs S$0.30! Very cheap!

The only problem is, the arcade allowed people to smoke inside so the air was smoky. My eyes were watering and I almost can't breathe after being inside for just 15 minutes. We had to get out of there after a while because the air was so bad =(

But my girl had a blast (my boy not so much; maybe he was just as affected by the air) so we continued to play on. Never thought I'd see the day where I'll be excited to find out that our tokens ran out!

We did some grocery shopping at the supermarket and discovered that they had a lot of shopping carts with cars on them! Girl had a lot of fun riding in one!

Pushing a kid-friendly push cart

We also bought a lot of die cast cars that not only have doors that can open, they have engine sounds and lights! I even found one that looked just like my MINIbee (my yellow MINI Cooper)! Baby Boy loves playing with them =)

My die cast cars

We ended a long day with dinner at a Chinese restaurant at the top floor (can't remember the name).

Clockwise from left: Chilli crab sauce and buns;
Delicious bamboo clams;
Fried noodles.

The food is not bad, cheap and good! Only problem is the staff can't really speak much English so be patient with them and speak slower. By the time we got back to our hotel, we were all fast asleep in our beds cos we were so tired!


It was raining when we woke up this morning so we had to go shopping at BCS Mall instead of our original plan of sea sports, in hopes that the rain would stop eventually. To get to the various places that we wanted to visit, we booked a private 7-seater car for S$90.

We visited BCS Mall previously and liked it because of the relatively cheaper prices as compared to Batam Megamall. Mum-in-law loved the supermarket! She said in Chinese, "I can't remember the last time I bought so many things for less than S$1 each!" Super! =)

We found a nice Indonesian restaurant (located next to Timezone) selling very authentic Indonesian food. Cheap and good.

Clockwise from top left: The dining area;
Pandan leaf chicken;
Delicious fried eggs;
Can't remember what this is called but it wasn't too bad.

We left the mall at 2pm, delighted to find that the rain has stopped! It was time for sea sports! =)

Monkey Beach Hut Sea Sport Centre

We decided to get the Jetski-Banana-boat-Parasailing package at about S$62 per person. It wasn't our first time on the banana boat or jetski (my first time was when we visited Batam in 2011) but it was a first experience for my mum-in-law. She gamely took on the challenge, though she did get freaked out by the fast speed of the jetski!

Mum-in-law on the jetski
The only activity that my girl could take part in = banana boat
(this time, they brought the boat all the way out to sea, which scared my girl a bit!)

As the hubby and I didn't get to do parasailing when we were in Batam last year due to the rain, we were praying so hard that we could do it this time! Thankfully, we were not disappointed!

All excited to go parasailing!

We decided that the hubby would go first, followed by me and then the brother-in-law.

Hubby's turn
My turn! Weeee!

We were quite scared at first because the parachute went really high! Turns out it wasn't scary at all. It was amazing actually! Felt like we were flying!! =)

After an amazing time at sea, we were famished and couldn't wait to get to Kelong Restaurant Citra Utama for our dinner. We loved the food here so much previously that we wanted to introduce it to my mum- and brother-in-law.

Going up and down a very steep road
Kelong Restoran Citra Utama
Watching the sunset from the kelong
Watch your babies. Baby Boy saw the wood and thought it would be fun to climb it (-_-")
Clockwise from top left: mixed vegetables;
My favourite fresh steamed fish;
Tasty crayfish cooked with salted egg;
Fried scallops with garlic.

Ahh, what a great way to end another day at Batam =)


The next day, we headed to Batam Megamall for final shopping, eating and massages! Massages are seriously good for the soul!

Black Pepper crab at D'Costi. Very nice =)

We found the shopping too expensive as compared to BCS Mall and Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall though. Everything was at least 1/4 more expensive. Even Timezone increased its prices, with rides that used to cost 2500 rupiah previously now cost 4500 rupiah (almost double)! Although the rides are still considered cheap as compared to Singapore, we finished using the credits a lot faster than the last time we were here!

Carousel ride with Baby Boy at Timezone

We caught the last ferry back to Singapore, just in time to wish Singapore, "Happy Birthday!" before the clock struck 12. Although it was a trip of ups and downs, overall we still enjoyed ourselves.

Looking forward to more trips to come! Happy SG50 to all my fellow Singaporeans! =)

P.S: Visit MADPSYCHMUM TRAVELS for the rest of my posts on Batam, Indonesia and other travel itineraries! =)
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