Tag Archives: Singapore

Terracotta Warriors @ Asian Civilisations Museum

My kids and I were able to see the Terracotta Warriors exhibit at the Asian Civilisations Museum a few days before it left Singapore.

This was the first time the exhibit was presented in Southeast Asia.

Here are photos of some of these well-detailed and well-preserved terracotta figures that were buried near the tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi, the First Emperor of China.

At the entrance to the exhibit, there was a beautiful installation called Life After Death by Singaporean artist Justin Lee.

It was a fairly small (manageable in 2 hours) exhibit.  A good see if you’re at least 8 years old and are interested in Chinese history and/or ancient Chinese sculpture/art.  It was a shame though that there was a school field trip when we came, so it was too crowded for us.

A nice bonus for the kids was the free trivia “worksheet” that they filled in just by going to 6 stamping stations scattered around the exhibit and having your sheet of bookmarks embossed with different images related to the exhibit 🙂  I think that was the part my kids enjoyed most.

There was also a cool free interactive Terracotta Warriors exhibit iPhone app that you can download right there in the museum (using wireless@SG).  Unfortunately for people like me who don’t have the latest iPhone models, the app only works for iPhone 3GS or newer.  So we didn’t get to see the dancing terracotta warriors 🙁


Forest Adventure @ Bedok Reservoir Park

Two weeks ago, my family, friends and I had a blast doing the tree top courses at Forest Adventure in Bedok Reservoir Park.

For my 6-year-old son, it was his first time doing the kids course. My earlier fears were allayed as he enjoyed taking on the course obstacles, even the trapeze walk and the zip line, without flinching or fidgeting. Of course, doing it with a few friends made it more fun 🙂 Good thing we were able to bring someone along to take his photos, since my husband, daughter and I were doing the adult course at the same time.

For my 11-year-old daughter, my husband and I, it was our first time doing the adult course. My daughter was excited to finally be able to move up after having done the kids course at least twice before. It wasn’t as easy as we initially thought it would be. All those rope ladders to climb and the pulleys and carabiners to keep putting on and taking off throughout the course made my right shoulder and upper arms quite sore the next day. As a group of 3 adults and 4 juniors (children below 18 years old), we had to move slow and steady, always making sure the juniors followed safety procedures.

Some tips before you go on the Forest Adventure adult course:
1. Be well hydrated. It can take 2-2.5 hours to finish, maybe a bit longer if you have several kids in your group. You can’t bring a water bottle with you during the course. If you have a companion who’s not doing the course, ask him to stay nearby with your water (and camera too, if you like).
2. Bring rain gear, just in case. We’ve been caught in the pouring rain once while at Forest Adventure, and it’s a 10-minute walk without cover (except for tree shade) to the nearest car park, road or bus stop. (Forest Adventure will give you a voucher if you can’t finish the course due to rain.)
3. Be ready to get sweaty and sandy. At the end of the zip lines (4 in total for adult course), you land on sand pits. The longer and higher the zip lines, the harder you will land. Also, it gets harder to control your landing. Even if I was trying to maneuver to land on my feet, I would end up crashing on my bum.
4. Although the minimum height requirement for the adults course is 1.4m, some of us who were just a bit taller than 1.4m found it difficult at some points to reach the ropes to attach our pulleys or carabiners. It would be better if you had someone at least 1.6m tall with you on the adult course to help you.
5. Bring your own food/snacks. No cafes, restaurants or kopitiam nearby. Just a vending machine with drinks and some tidbits.

Rhythms and Big Band @ Mosaic Music Festival 2011 Opening Night

On March 5, my family and I joined the parent-and-child rhythm play workshop at the Esplanade by Singaporean percussionist Riduan Zalani.  Along with about 15 other parent-child pairs, we learned some basic beats to play on a cajon.  I enjoyed the workshop, more than my kids did, unfortunately.  (Perhaps my almost-6-year-old son was too young to play that big cajon and my 11-year-old daughter wasn’t really into percussion instruments.)  So when Riduan told us that he was going to do a free performance for the opening night of the Mosaic Music Festival 2011, my husband and I decided to see him again.

Last night (March 11),  at the opening night of the Mosaic Music Festival 2011 at the Esplanade, we first went to see Riduan Zalani and Ramu Thiruyanam at the concourse.  Their blend of music was unique, almost experimental.  Aside from playing on their instruments, they also did some improv rhythms using just their voices and their bodies. Quite cool.

Afterwards, we went to the outdoor theatre to see the Singaporean orchestra named Summertimes Big Band (I’m a fan of big band music).  With the evening backdrop of Marina Bay Sands and the Singapore skyline, listening to big band music outdoors was BIG FUN!  I especially enjoyed their performances of I’ve Got You Under My Skin and It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing (with vocalist Kelvin Kong), Big Spender and Lady is a Tramp (with vocalist Annie Wilson), and My Favorite Things.  The humorous rapport between conductor Dale Cheong and vocalist Kelvin Kong just added more fun to their already fun-filled and fabulous big band music.  I’m already looking forward to seeing Summertimes Big Band again in the future.

Even though we only went to see 2 free performances, opening night of the festival seemed very promising.  There were many people in the Esplanade last night, no doubt enjoying the free and paid performances.  Here’s to more good fun and great music at the Mosaic Music Festival 2011, March 11-20 at the Esplanade.

Kampong Lorong Buangkok: Old Singapore Life

Just a few days ago, my kids and I visited Kampong Lorong Buangkok, the last kampong in Singapore.  “Kampong (or kampung)” is the Malay word for village.  (And “Lorong” means lane.)  As part of learning about Singapore folk tales, we wanted to get a glimpse of where and how Singaporeans used to live before the advent of the now-ubiquitous HDB estates.

View of Kampong Buangkok from Yio Chu Kang Rd

Thanks to directions given in blog posts at onelesscar.wordpress.com and i.blog@vic.sg, we easily found our way to Lorong Buangkok. From the Shell petrol station along Yio Chu Kang Road (opposite St. Vincent de Paul Church), we took the stairs down to Gerald Drive.

The first things we saw were construction materials and trucks.  My first thought, “Oh no!  They’ve already demolished the kampong! We’re too late!”  Not wanting to go home ’empty-handed,’ we walked down to Lorong Buangkok, hoping to see what may be left of the kampong.  Along Lorong Buangkok, we saw a few small wooden houses, one big wooden house on stilts (with airconditioning), a small road side shrine, a big banyan tree and a vacant lot piled with broken appliances and other junk.  We were disappointed, thinking that was it.

Sign to Kampong Lorong Buangkok

Thankfully, we saw a hand-painted directional sign that pointed us to the narrow, non-asphalted road into the actual kampong.  As we walked in, it was as if we were transported to Singapore past (or to a small town in rural Philippines):  old wooden houses built close to each other, weathered couches and tables in the yards, colorful flowers growing wild along the winding road, above-ground power lines, aerial TV antennas, and dogs lazing on the road.

It was midday when we visited, and the kampong was very quiet, almost deserted.  We didn’t know how to react to or interact with the residents if we saw any, since it felt like we were making a tourist attraction of their homes.  I didn’t take many pictures, and I put my camera away every time I saw someone.  We came across a middle-aged woman sitting outside her front porch.  She looked our way, and I smiled at her.  She smiled back.  Ah, just as I imagine how kampong life should be.

Attack of the Swordfish, Drum Circle and Other Fun Stuff @ HeritageFest Singapore

The kids and I had a great time at the finale of this year’s Heritage Fest celebrations. We first went to the Singapore Art Museum for the Festival Finale’s Children’s Programs.

Drum Circle by One HeartBeat

From 2-3pm, the kids and I happily joined about 20-30 other kids and adults at the drum circle participation performance conducted by One HeartBeat Percussion Band.  Anyone could grab a seat in the circle, pick an instrument and start playing along to the beat.  My kids each picked a djembe while I was playing a shaker.  Mr Syed Ibrahim made it fun by making us play alternately by “sections,” e.g. kids only, adults only, boys only, girls only, etc.  He even invited some other performers who were part of the Heritage Fest Festival program to join the drum circle.  Some Bhangra performers, stilt walkers and drummers joined in the music.

Attack of the Swordfish by Act3 Theatrics

From 3:30-4pm, we had some good laughs while watching ACT 3 Theatrics‘ performance of the tale of Attack of the Swordfish.  We’ve been reading the story as part of our unit study on Singapore folk tales, and it was so much fun to see it as a funny and colorful stage performance.  The younger members of the audience, my 5-year-old son included, had so much fun interacting with the actors – warning the sleeping soldiers of the coming swordfishes, moving away while the swordfishes weaved in and out of the audience.  The “king” even consulted the audience about what he should do with his people’s swordfish problem and many of the kids eagerly voiced out their suggestions – “Kill the swordfish!” “Stop the fishermen!”  “Use banana leaves!”

Playing games with festival volunteers

After the drama performance and drum circle at the Singapore Art Museum, we walked over to the SMU campus green to see the food and arts and crafts booths.  We were met with some teenage festival volunteers who wanted to play some games with the kids.  They gave us balloons and played hopscotch and pick up sticks with the kids.  My son enjoyed playing games with them so much that he kept asking to go back and play with his new friends 🙂

While my son was in his 3rd round of pick up sticks, the caricature booth by Cartoon.sg caught my daughter’s eye.  She said she wanted her caricature done.  I figured that my son might complain later on if he didn’t have one, so, for $10 per person, they had their caricatures done in black and white.  The kids were having a bit of a hard time just sitting still for about 5-10 minutes while the cartoon artist was doing his job.  In the end, my daughter was happy with her portrait.  My son seemed curious and amused when he first saw his portrait, but soon after forgot about it and just wanted to play more games with the teenage volunteers roaming around the festival. Oh well.

Our caricature & artist from Cartoon.sg

It was soon time to go home.  We spent 4 hours at the Heritage Fest Finale.  There were a lot of things to do, see, hear, eat and enjoy.  Time well spent.  Lots of fun learning.  Looking forward to Heritage Fest Singapore 2011!

playing djembe

Playing djembe too

Bhangra performers

Stilt walkers

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Indian Dances, Dikir Barat and Tabla Performances @ Heritage Fest SG

This year’s Heritage Fest Singapore has started (11-22 Aug).  Since we’re doing a unit on Singapore tales, I brought my kids yesterday to the exhibit entitled Tales From Our Shores @ The Centrepoint.

I thought we would spend maybe 30 minutes reading the panel displays at the exhibit about the Singapore folk tales featured in the new book Attack of the Swordfish and Other Singapore Tales, then catch one or two of the 9 performances slated yesterday.  Instead, we ended up staying for more than 2 hours enjoying several musical performances – the kinds we’ve never seen before.

South Indian Wedding Celebration Dance

The first performance, a South Indian wedding celebration dance, was a pleasant surprise and an eye opener for me.  What I only knew of Indian dances were glimpses of Bollywood dances from movies, and I didn’t really understand or appreciate them.  While watching this group of young Indian men and women dancing with such emotion, such movements and so much joy, I couldn’t help but enjoy myself.  Even though I couldn’t understand the lyrics of the music, I saw the story in their faces and in their movements. Watching this South Indian wedding dance felt like being part of a celebration.

Bhangra dance

Another performance that convinced me that Indian dances are better seen and appreciated live was the Bhangra dance. This very lively folk dance from Punjab was performed by 5 young men in colorful costumes.  They looked like they were having so much fun, and they connected with the audience quite well.  They also did a Bhangra stunt dance, where one of the dancers would carry one man on this shoulders and another would hang around his waist – and the three of them would spin!  Amazing!

Dikir Barat

The Dikir Barat performance, a Malay art form of calling and response singing, was also a lot of fun to watch (albeit a bit loud for my son’s ears since we were seated in front).  I could see how the men were enjoying their performance, singing and dancing while seated on stage.  Their smiles were contagious. (This reminded me a bit of the Kecak Dance of Bali, but this was more lighthearted.)

Maniam’s tabla playing was the last but definitely not the least of the performances we saw that day.  I love the sounds of percussion instruments, and how Maniam made such upbeat music with the tabla had me (and most of the audience) bobbing my head up and down in sheer delight.  He was playing the tabla with so much passion and grace and  his music was so much fun.

Maniam, the tabla player

I’m glad my kids and I went to the Heritage Fest exhibit @ The Centrepoint. I hope that, aside from discovering beautiful new art forms from other cultures, my kids saw that what makes a performance such a delight for its audiences is the joy that the performers have.  When a dancer, a singer or a musician is having fun on stage, the audience has fun too.  Isn’t that what performing is all about?

Paper Crafts for Chinese New Year (Book Review)

Mommy’s (leasj) Rating: Fun 🙂 🙂 🙂 Smart 💡 💡 💡

Kylie’s (kyliesj) Rating: Fun 🙂 🙂 🙂 Smart 💡 💡 💡

Paper Crafts for Chinese New Year by Randel McGee is a fun, easy-to-follow paper crafts book. A short, informative write-up about the history, symbolism and traditions of Chinese New Year opens this child-friendly Chinese New Year read.

There were 8 colorful projects to choose from. My son and I made the Dancing Dragon Puppet. I enjoyed cutting the patterns and gluing the parts together; my son loved painting the dragon head and tail a bright red. My daughter made the Chinese Lantern, drawing her own style of flowers, and the painted her own version of the Chinese Symbols Banners. Projects were fairly simple, taking just an afternoon to finish.

Available at Cheng San Community Library, Singapore.

Chinese New Year 2010 performances @ Chinatown, Singapore

Free Performances for 2010

Watch the lion dances and acrobatics in Chinatown
during the 3 weeks leading to Chinese New Year.

// What:
Free Stage Performances (lion dances, acrobatics)

Where: Kreta Ayer Square, Chinatown Singapore

Evenings of 23 Jan 2010 – 13 Feb 2010

Chinatown Street Light Up: 23 Jan 2010 – 7 March 2010
Chinatown Night Market: 23 Jan 2010 – 13 Feb 2010

Explore! Ancient Egypt kids workshop @ National Museum of SG

WHAT: Children’s workshop, part of Quest for Immortality: The World of Ancient Egypt exhibit

WHEN:  Jan-Mar 2010 (dates below)

WHERE:  National Museum of Singapore, The Lab level 3

WHO:  Kids 7-9, 10-12 years old

For 7-9 years old
27 Feb (Sat) 2010, 10.00-11.30am

17 Mar (Wed) or 19 Mar (Fri) 2010, 10.00-11.30am

$25@, exclusive of sistic booking fee

For 10-12 years old
30 Jan (Sat) 2010,  1.30-3.30pm

27 Feb (Sat) 2010, 1.30-3.30pm

17 Mar (Wed) or 19 Mar (Fri) 2010, 2.30-4.30pm

$30@, exclusive of sistic booking fee