Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Family Nature Walk at the Southern Ridges

I live only 15 minutes away from the Southern Ridges, which nicely connects Mount Faber ParkTelok Blangah Hill ParkHortParkKent Ridge Park and Labrador Nature Reserve (DIY guide provided by the National Parks here), and can't believe that I have not had the chance to visit until now!

After a nice breakfast at McDonald's in the morning, we started our walk at HortPark (where we also parked our car).

HortPark

The route was wheelchair/stroller friendly so we decided to bring along our double stroller (full review of our Baby Jogger City Select here) so that I didn't have to carry my baby. Unfortunately, that also meant that my girl would clamour to sit rather than walk as she felt that it was not fair that her brother got to ride the stroller and she didn't (-_-"). And since I didn't want to walk at a speed of 1cm per minute, I relented.

The sister offered to push as she wanted to train for a marathon that she would be running.

Alexandra Arch

From HortPark we followed the signboards to Alexandra Arch, a beautiful pedestrian overhead bridge at Alexandra Road. Alexandra Arch links us directly to the Forest Walk, which consisted of elevated walkways that allowed you to see the natural greenery from a higher viewing point.

Hubby decided to ride his kick scooter instead of walking but ended up walking most of the way because of the uphill slopes
There were some painting works being done to the walkway but thankfully our City Select could still pass through the tight space
You might feel scared if you're afraid of heights
(The hubby said my girl was afraid to walk on this the last time they were here with his friends)
Chilling out in the backseat
This way to Telok Blangah Hill Park and Mt Faber Park
See the painting in progress?
Mummy and me
Left: What not to do if you encounter monkeys (which thankfully we didn't);
Right: The uphill slopes all the way up the hill
The same place where mum and I stood but taken from the top view

We reached the top and took a short breather to rest before continuing onto the Hilltop Walk that runs through Telok Blangah Hill Park.

There's a road here so beware of passing traffic
(Our City Select has no problems on the road due to its tyre-like wheels)
Walking trail through the Telok Blangah Hill Park
It's uphill again!

At the end of the trail, we arrived at one end of the Henderson Waves. Standing at 36m above Henderson Road, it is the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore.

We made it!
(My girl was cranky because I forced her to walk and my boy was cranky because he was sleepy)
The bridge is so high up that you can't see the traffic below unless you look over the ledge
The distinct features of this overhead bridge is the curvy structure of "ribs" that form the waves as well as the unique boardwalk
Enjoying the view and cool breeze
(The bridge looks smaller at the bottom but is really pretty wide)
Cars on Henderson road looks so small from up here
Baby Boy is getting real good at taking selfies!
A large area for you to lean on and enjoy the view
Yay that was fun!
The other end of the Henderson Waves, which connects to Faber Walk

From Henderson Waves, we continued on to the Faber Walk to the top of Mt Faber.

Mt Faber Loop
Replica of the famous cables cars at Jewel Box

Along the way, we were greeted by beautiful views of the sea and cable cars.

Family photo at the Bird's Eye View from Mount Faber
(Set my Olympus OMD on a ledge and started the timer)
Tired but happy that we finally completed the walk!

We were going to continue down the Marang Trail to Harbourfront but we realised that the trail was not stroller-friendly. So instead of continuing to Harbourfront, we headed back to Jewel Box instead to board a cab back to HortPark to collect our car.

The kids were so exhausted, they were unusually well-behaved that day. Looks like we need to bring them out more =)

Sister and I are going to attempt walking the full trail from Marang Trail Entrance to Science Park Drive (map here) some time this year. It's only 5km so I'm sure it would be ok (as long as I don't bring the cranky kids -_-"). Looking forward! =)


Disclosure: A complimentary Baby Jogger City Select and additional seat were received from Baby Jogger and The Amazing Baby Company for the purposes of blog post feature. No monetary compensation was received; all opinions are my own.

Monday, September 29, 2014

An Afternoon of Massages and Facial

If you've been reading my blog, you'll know that I'm a big advocate of Self-Care. Even though I feel guilty, I will still continue my weekly pilates, and my monthly manicures and facials. If you don't take good care of yourself, how are you going to take care of your child?

Two weeks ago I was invited to try the massage and facial treatments offered by Passage New York, located at Shenton Way.

Passage New York
(Address: 133 Cecil Street, #01-01 Keck Seng Tower, Singapore 069535)
Main entrance
Photo credit: Passage New York
Retail space beside the reception area
(Body and retail therapy all at once)

My first impression of the place is one of grandeur. You will feel like you're royalty in this place =)

Photo credit: Passage New York

I was led to a consultation room where an experienced consultant spoke to me about my preferred massage strength and target facial problems that I would like to address. "Medium to strong," I replied, "and the usual signs of aging."

She noted all my responses down on a clip board and brought me to one of the massage rooms for my 90-minute full body scrub  and massage.

Photo credit: Passage New York

The scrub was amazing and I felt like a snake that has shed all its old skin. I could feel the softness of my skin after bathing in their shower cubicle located conveniently within the room (something that not every spa provides).

The masseuse continued with my full body massage, and I think I fell asleep a few times because I was so sleep deprived and the massage was so relaxing. This is why I asked for medium to strong strength (I know you think I'm crazy); I want to be awake to enjoy it! *laughs*

At the end of my massage, my body felt so relaxed that I almost couldn't walk to the next room for my 90-minute facial treatment.

As a facial-regular, I knew what my problem areas were even before the beautician mentioned them to me. It was still nice to be able to listen from someone else and experience something different.

I usually don't remember the details of my facials because I trust the beauticians to know what's best (and also because I fell asleep halfway.. sleep-deprived FTWM here!). I remembered though that she removed black heads (I have a lot so this is a must), applied ampoules and something that was moisturising for my oily-on-the-surface-dry-on-the-inside skin. She also applied something that really brightens up my skin such that it didn't look so dull and well, sleep-deprived! *laughs*

Enjoying a cup of sweet fruit tea before and after my treatments

If you've always wondered how I still have energy and look somewhat decent despite working full-time, blogging and waking up every 2 hours in the night to breastfeed, well, now you know. I consistently take time out for myself and consider it time and money well-spent =)

When's the last time you took time for yourself? What's your idea of self-care?


Disclosure: Complimentary massage and facial treatment were received from Passage New York for the purposes of this review. No monetary compensation was received; all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Daddy's Xing Mama Opens in Shanghai

Words cannot express how proud we are of the official opening of my dad's Singapore-themed restaurant in Shanghai, China. After working long and hard in China for the last 20 years, my dad has finally been able to fulfill his dream of being a business owner.

The poster says, "Xing Mama, a Singapore Style Restaurant"

Named 星妈妈 Xing Mama (also known as Simon Mama), the restaurant was inspired by the Singaporean dishes that my dad has grown up eating. In those days when my dad was growing up, most mothers stayed at home, looked after the kids and cooked for the family. All children love their mother's cooking, even if it wasn't restaurant quality, because it was made with love. Hence the name Xing Mama was partly inspired by my grandmother's cooking. To go one step further, daddy decided it was apt to bring Singapore to Shanghai (I think he really misses Singapore and would like to bring a little bit of home to a foreign land).

My dad, standing at the entrance of Xing Mama
The restaurant has a minature Merlion at the entrance so you won't miss it!
The dining area with waitresses donning the signature Singapore girl kebaya
(The Chinese words say, "Singapore Style Bak Kut Teh", the restaurant's signature dish)
Photos of Singapore landmarks on the wall

The signature dish is our beloved bak kut teh (pork rib soup), which is authentically Singaporean as the ingredients are sourced and exported to China directly from Singapore.

Example of the food they serve
(Bak kut teh is at the top left)

Many of the mainland Chinese have visited Singapore and love our food and culture. Hence, since its opening, Xing Mama has been bussling with people eager to rekindle their memory of or try out Singapore food.

Xing Mama was also recently featured on Shanghai TV. Here's the video:


We're so proud of daddy and what he has achieved by the grace of God. God has indeed blessed us above and beyond what we can ask or imagine.

Do visit Xing Mama if you can when you visit Shanghai! =)


星妈妈 Xing Mama is located at

2B13 世博源,浦东新区上南路,上海,中国
2B13 The Rivermall, Pudong, Shangan Road, Shanghai, China 200126

P.S: Photos in this post were provided by my daddy. I'll take my own photos when we visit in 2016 =)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Travel Tips 2: Nursing on the Travel

Four years ago I made the mistake of booking a trip with friends to Phuket just 1.5 months after I gave birth to my baby girl. I was already struggling with learning how to breastfeed, so having to store up milk for my baby for when I was away was really stressful!

It was through sheer determination and hard core pumping that I somehow managed to do it and since then, have not looked back. I have travelled to 6 countries without baby and 5 countries with baby (and counting) while I'm still breastfeeding.

Travelling while nursing is not impossible. It may be a little inconvenient but with practice and a lot of preparation, you can still travel the world like you always do. Being a nursing mum should not stop you from travelling just as travelling should not stop you from being a nursing mum! =)

My Top Tips for Nursing on the Travel

If you're NOT bringing baby along:

1) Email the Hotel

It used to be that every hotel room has a bar fridge that has a freezer compartment that allows you to freeze ice, however, I'm realising that nowadays that is no longer the case.

Bar fridge of our suite at Golden Sands Resort Penang;
The bar fridges in the hotels that we have stayed at this year all do not have freezer compartments.

Breast milk can only be kept for 2 days in a fridge unless you store it in a freezer so do remember to email the hotel that you'll be staying at to ask if the bar fridge has a freezer. If they don't, find out whether they are able to store your breast milk in the hotel's freezer. Golden Sands Resort in Penang provides breast milk storage service at the Front Desk while the room service staff of the hotel we stayed at in Hong Kong came to collect my breast milk every evening (I gave them a call everyday!) to store in their main freezer.

2) Stock Up Early

My store of milk literally takes up all the space in the freezer
Store your milk in transparent containers for easier storage in your fridge

You will need to store up your breastmilk for your baby when you travel and since most of us take a while to build up the stockpile, please start early (if you can).

I recommend pumping an additional 100-150ml of milk a day at least 4 weeks before you are due to travel. I made the mistake of not starting early enough and ended up frantically trying to store up milk for my baby boy just 15 days before our trip to Sydney. Although I was successful in storing the amount that he needed, it was really stressful! =S

If you don't have enough stored up, you may have to consider allowing your baby to drink formula temporarily.

3) Test Your Baby

It so happened that I went back to work a few weeks before our overseas trip and therefore found out that my baby refused to drink expressed breast milk that has been frozen for more than 1 month! (*gasp*) Imagine if I had just gone for my trip without testing if my baby is ok with drinking defrosted milk? =S

However, having said that, there were times that I went anyway and hoped for the best and you know what? My baby survived. So don't be overly anxious. Our babies are stronger than we give them credit =)

4) Bring Your Trusty Pump and Extra Batteries

My Avent Breast Pump

If you have an electrical breast pump like mine from Avent, you will have a battery operated compartment at the base for expressing when there are no electrical points such as on the bus, at McDonald's and even the aquarium (all of which I have done). Don't forget to bring along extra batteries because you don't want to be caught in a situation when you're expressing halfway and the pump runs out of power. Not a good situation to be in =S

5) Bring a Breast Milk Carrier Bag, Ice Packs and/or Ice Box

This is to ensure that your milk is stored at the right temperature while you're travelling.

Pigeon Breast Milk Carrier Bag
Wall of ice packs keep my milk chill for at least 6 hours

If you'll be transporting more than 7 days of milk like I did when we were in Sydney, an ice box may be better at keeping your milk frozen than cooler bags.

The ice box that we used to transport all my milk back home from Sydney

All of my milk arrived safely back in Singapore still nicely frozen after 12 hours =)

6) Check-in Your Luggage

Remember that your milk is liquid so there are regulations on how much of it that you are allowed to carry on board the plane. The custom officers in Sydney only allowed me to pass security check with my packets of breast milk when they saw that I had my girl with me; and even then, they didn't allow me to bring my ice-pack on the plane (I had to discard two of them).

Do double check with the airport staff at the check-in counters so that in the event that you're not able to bring your breast milk on the plane, you'll still be able to check them in.

7) Sterilize Pump Parts with Sterilizing Tablets in an Air-Tight Container

Place pump parts into a container full of water and add 1 sterilizing tablet (mine is from Pigeon) to sterilize the pump parts

A single sterilizing tablet dissolved into water can be used repeatedly within 24 hours so don't throw the water away!

Since the water can be reused and the pump parts have to be soaked in the water for at least 30 minutes, it's likely that you will continue with your itinerary while carrying a container full of water rather than sitting around and waiting. Hence, it's useful to buy an airtight container so as to ensure that the container does not leak.

Bought a more expensive airtight container for my pump parts instead of my leaky IKEA container

It was very inconvenient when my green IKEA container (seen in picture with Sterilizing Tablets above) leaked water all over my stuff in Hong Kong and Sydney! I truly regret not buying my air-tight container earlier.

~~~~~

If you are bringing your baby along, congrats, you'll only need to prepare 2 things (for nursing, you'll need a thousand other things for baby):

1) Nursing Clothes

Breastfeeding in the nursing room in Harrods, London

I buy mine from MaternaloveMothers en Vogue, Annee Matthews, and Dote.

You might wanna DIY your own nursing slip too but I prefer to buy nursing tops with umpire access. Too lazy to DIY.

2) Nursing Cover

With my nursing cover, I can breastfeed my baby anywhere!

Walking and nursing under a cover in Bangkok

With the help of a carrier, you can even walk and breastfeed at the same time (it's takes a lot of practice of course)!

If you require a little privacy, do check if there are nursing rooms in the country that you're visiting as not all countries have an abundance of nursing rooms. I've updated my nursing room page with those that I've come across during my travels for your reference.

If you're bringing baby but don't latch directly then add tips 4, 5 and 7 =P

And there you have it! Keep calm, travel and MILK ON people! =)


This post is part of my series on Travel Tips for the Wanderlust Parent.
Follow me as I share my tips for planning your next family vacation


Head on over to My Travel Page for a whole list of our travel itineraries!
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