Wednesday, 30 March 2016

My Mandai (Part 2): To the River Safari in a Volvo XC90

We were invited to test drive the brand new Volvo XC90 over a weekend and the hubby was so excited! (Cars are his thing. I'm usually less excited unless it has to do with a MINI =P).

We had an opportunity to test drive the older version of the Volvo XC90 1.5 years ago and it left quite the impression on the hubby and I. We couldn't wait to try out the new XC90, which has been crowned the best 7-seater SUV of the year (comes with a hefty price tag though, it costs the same as a 3-room flat! *sad*).

The awesome children's corner at the Volvo Showroom
The brand new Volvo XC90 in Bursting Blue
(like its predecessor, it's a 7-seater luxury SUV)
As usual, my favourite part of the car is its spacious boot.

Volvo has completely upsized its XC90 by including a lot of automatic features that are not present in the old XC90. A wiggle of your foot underneath the car boot and the boot door opens automatically. Great for when you're carrying a baby or a bunch of groceries and don't have an extra pair of hands to open the door.

The Daddy learning the features of the car while the Boy and Mummy enjoyed the sunroof from the back of the car

The new car is so smart that it can be controlled from an iPad-like tablet on the dashboard, complete with its own sensors and navigation system.

Left: Easy buttons you can press to allow you to temporarily brake whenever the car stops (such as at the traffic lights) so that you don't have to step on the brake or pull your hand brake;
Right: The in-built interactive system which allows you to control the entertainment, aircon, navigation system and almost everything else from a touch/swipe of your finger! Nifty!
Clockwise from left: The aircon for the second row can be controlled by tapping the touch pad with your finger! Very cool!;
The CLEARZONE feature of the aircon ensures that the air is purified before releasing it into the car;
The left buttons on the steering wheel allows you to choose the cruise control options (which are a lot!)
The front display is completely digital and even shows you a map should you need it for navigation! Super useful!
The speedometer also automatically shows you the speed limit of the road that you're on and also warns you whenever you're above the speed limit (which means if you listen to it, you'll never get a speed ticket ever again!)

Following their core values of Quality, Safety and Environmental Preservation, Volvo's amazing Vision 2020 is that "No one is killed or injured in a Volvo in the year 2020".

And they plan to achieve this by making their cars so smart that it can even detect another car in front of it and will automatically brake if it's too close so that you will not crash into it. We personally experienced the warning system (red lights on the dashboard that flashed really brightly!) when the hubby tried to overtake a slow moving car and was head on for a few seconds with the opposite car. Really amazing!

The kids enjoying the sunroof while we tried to squeeze the whole family into the car
(Not difficult seeing as the car was more than spacious enough)
Side by Side comparison of my MINIbee (MINI Cooper) and the Volvo XC90

We decided to drive the Volvo XC90 to the River Safari as we can comfortably fit the bro-in-law, sister-in-law and two strollers in it. We were all really excited as none of us had ever visited the River Safari before.

River Safari Singapore
The river is calling!
Peeking through the bamboo fence

Our first stop was the Mississippi River that runs through ten states in the USA.

Fish at the Mississippi River
The Alligator Snapping Turtle

Next was the World's Deepest River, the Congo River.

The most interesting fish in the Congo River is the Tiger Fish, which has been called the Piranhas of Africa. Not surprisingly when you look at those amazing teeth! Scary!

After that, we passed the Indian Gharial, a scary looking crocodile who dwells in the Northern part of the Indian Subcontinent.

All you see are the eyes above as the water hides the ferocious teeth underneath!
Not to worry though, this crocodile only eats fish!
She's smiling but inside she's really freaked out by this crocodile creeping up from behind her!
You can't really blame her!

We reached the Mary River next, where we got to touch the starfish and horseshoe crab at their touch pool.

"Swimming" in the Mary River
Touch pool
It's not the girl's first time touching a starfish but she was just as excited anyway!
She didn't really dare to touch the horseshoe crab until the kind staff aided her in doing so.

We rounded a bend and arrived at the Mekong River, which is so long that it flows through six countries: China, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia!

The Mekong River exhibit. Of course the most famous is the Mekong Giant Catfish!
Lovely underwater view of the fish
The Mekong Giant Catfish in the tank was not the largest but it was still big enough to impress us with its size!

The YangTze River of China, aka Chang Jiang, is the longest river in Asia and the third longest in the world (after the Nile and the Amazon River).

YangTze River
This way to the Giant Panda Forest
(Keep quiet and no flash photography please!)
The beautiful Red Panda was actively running about

And then it was the highlight of our trip, the Giant Pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia! This was not the first time the girl and I have seen a Giant Panda (we saw a couple at Ocean Park Hong Kong) but it was a first for the hubby and brother-in-law (the sister-in-law is from Sichuan, the home of the Giant Pandas, so obviously it was not a first for her!).

Meeting Kai Kai, who was lazing around and enjoying himself munching on some leaves.

"Pandas damn good life, enjoy nice weather, laze around and look cute can already," remarked the Hubby. Indeed.

A nice shot with Kai Kai

We also met Kai Kai's mate Jia Jia, who was lazing in the enclosure next to his. Around this time last year, the pair mated for the first time (obviously not successfully) so hopefully this year will be the year when Singapore can have our own panda baby! *cross fingers*

Jia Jia lounging in her tree 

We almost didn't want to leave the cold Giant Panda exhibit for the sunny weather outside. But it was getting late and we still wanted to finish seeing the rest of the River Safari.

A bridge over the Seletar Reservoir to the other side of the River Safari

After you have crossed the reservoir, you will arrive at the Amazon River. You can ride the Amazon River Quest boat ride at $5 per adult and $3 per child to see the animals of the Amazon River. We decided to pass on it since there wasn't any animal in the boat ride that we wanted to see in particular (and besides, my boy didn't like boat rides).

Instead, we went to see the Squirrel Monkeys. They were so small that if you blink, you just might miss them!

Squirrel Monkey Forest Walk-Through Encounter

Finally, we arrived at an aquarium where the otters lived.

Instead of the usual fish, we got to see otters! They're so cute and playful!

The Manatee aquarium was next door and as you know, they belong to the same species of animals that were nicknamed the "mermaids of the sea" (yes, the dugongs are one of them).

Meet the pretty mermaidsmanatees!
If you don't look at the heads, they really do look like mermaids!

At one point a female manatee swam up near us and on hindsight, I realised that she was probably calling to me to rescue her from the advances of the male manatees (who had attackedsurrounded her again and again in their attempt to mate with her). Poor girl was so tired of their advances that she just gave in at one point and I think we unknowingly saw some mating action going on! OMY!

Clockwise from left: Upclose and personal with a really cute female's manatee;
From far it looks innocent but if you look carefully, there's some hanky panky going on!;
A staff feeding the manatees from the surface of the tank.
Another tank next to the Manatee Aqurium which houses stingrays. The bottom is transparent so you can look up from below and look down from above!

At the top deck of the Aquarium, we caught a glimpse of the family of otters hanging out in the sun.

Otters relaxing after a nice swim

In all honesty, the River Safari was far better than I had expected! The family and I had an awesome time! =)

The route was sheltered all the way so you will be protected from the elements (unlike at the zoo). Definitely a good place to bring your kids!

We decided to make a short stop to see the Zoo's new baby giraffe Jubilee since we were next door and had some time.

We passed by the rhinoceros, zebra, warthog (my girl said, "hey look that's Pumba!) and a handsome cheetah on the way
There's Jubilee! He's only slightly taller than his human zookeepers! My favourite animal =)

Unfortunately, it started to rain so we ran like crazy to the Polar Bear exhibit to escape the rain.

In a fake igloo

The rain didn't really stop so we thought it was time for us to leave (anyway, we've been to the Singapore Zoo numerous times before).

Back to our Volvo and away we go!

We had an awesome afternoon though! There's always so much to look forward to in Mandai! =)

<< Back to My Mandai (Part 1): Night at the Night Safari


This post is part of my MadPsychMum Fun in Singapore Guide to all things exciting for kids! 
Check out other fun playgrounds and attractions in Singapore! =)

You can also follow us on Instagram or join us by using our hashtag #mpmfuninsg


Disclosure: Media passes to the River Safari and Singapore Zoological Gardens were received from Wildlife Reserves Singapore while a 3-day loan of the new Volvo XC90 (inclusive of fuel and parking) was received from Volvo Cars Singapore for the purposes of this review. No monetary compensation was received; all opinions and text are my own.
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