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Baby2 Hospital Bill 26 April, 2015

Posted by dear1dear2 in Baby, Dear1, Dollars & Cents.
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Dear2 and I are in the midst of spring cleaning our house. The purpose is to convert the current study room into a children’s bedroom, and thereby “chase” the children out of our master bedroom and “reclaim” the master bedroom for ourselves once again. Hehe…

In the process of spring cleaning, we came across old stacks of bill from TMC for both Baby1 and Baby2. It was then that I realized I had not documented Baby2’s hospital bill here. So here it is (following the same format).

Item description Baby1 (2010) Baby2 (2012)
Mummy hospital package $3175 (4 nights) $3115 (3 nights)
Companion package $240 (4 nights) $170 (3 nights)
Drugs, medicine, supplies, procedure, facilities $263.90 $931.92
FBI/SBI discount for 1 bedded -$100 -$100
GST for hospital $250.52 $288.18
Gynae fees $2461 $3424
Anesthetist fees $450 $600
FBI/SBI discount for professional fees -$100 -$100
Medisave deduction -$4400 -$5500
Cash payable (mummy) $2240.42 $2829.10
Baby package $388 $388
Drugs, medicine, supplies, facilities, etc $593.90 $976.35
FBI discount for hospital -$28.16 -$48.82
GST for hospital $66.77 $92.08
Baby doctor fees $406.40 $395.90
FBI discount for professional fees -$40.64 -$39.59
Medisave deduction -$1181.13 -$1350
Cash payable (baby) $205.14 $413.92
Total cash payable $2445.55 $3243

Some observations:

  1. The 3 nights package for Baby2 was just as expensive as the 4 nights package for Baby1.
  2. The hospital facilities, etc fees was much more expensive for Baby2. This could be because Baby2 was born in the wee hours of the morning while Baby1 was born in the middle afternoon.
  3. Our gynae is $1000 more expensive than before.
  4. Anesthetist fee also went up, but I can’t confirm if it is the same person.
  5. Baby package remained the same, but the facilities, etc fees were up just as with mummy’s cost.
  6. Baby doctor is slightly cheaper. The 2 baby doctors were different and I guess Baby2’s doctor was slightly less experienced.
  7. Despite medisave deduction was increased by $1100, we ended up payable roughly $800 more in cash.

What a big difference! And this was without factoring in ante-natal costs (which was increased as well). There were of course other savings, such as the many baby equipment that we could reuse and therefore did not need to buy.

At the end of the day, nothing is more important than a healthy baby and a healthy family. :)

-Dear1

Glad to be Home 28 March, 2015

Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear2, Slice of Life, Travel & Discovery.
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Dear1, Dear2, Baby1 and Baby2 are back from a 11 day Fly-Cruise holiday to Shanghai.  The 8-day cruise departing from Singapore brought us to Vietnam (Vung Tau), Hong Kong, Xiamen, and finally arrived at Shanghai where we stayed for a further 3 days before flying back to Singapore.  Though another eye-opening trip for us (especially for the kids, we tell them “When we travel, we learn things that cannot be taught in schools.”), boy, was I glad to be home when we came back.  Home to Singapore, our home.

Vung Tau was a very quiet town on a weekday.  We went to the Ho May Theme Park.  Though big and with lots of interesting sights, animals and rides, it was way too dusty for my liking.  And the attendants, oh the attendants.  There’s one attendant at every ride, but they’re sooooo glued to their handphones to notice any patrons.  And when we finally managed to catch their attention, the attitude was just nonchalant.  And the shops, oh the shops.  Very big and spacious with lots of items on the shelves.  But customers?  Hardly any.  And if you think being the only customer in an empty shop will excite the sales attendants ($$$!!!), you’ll be surprised that none even batted an eyelid.  Seems to me that people here are merely passing time all day long….

Hong Kong was as usual, busy and bustling.  A little too cold for my liking, and way too crowded for our comfort.  Not surprisingly, traffic was congested on an off-peak morning.  We reserved a table at the One-Michelin star restaurant Lei Garden, and as expected, had to enjoy the dim sum with the clock ticking down to the time given to us to clear the table.

At Xiamen, we decided to take a ferry from the same Cruise Terminal to this little island, Gulangyu.  But the queues to purchase the tickets were horribly full of people!  What’s with Gulangyu or this Cruise Terminal, that’s way too many people!  (Now I finally understood what it means to be 1 billion…)  At Gulangyu, we concluded that it’s another Sentosa.  Full of tourists, tourists who were just walking up and down and up and down the beaches’ shorelines.  Baby1 and I had our first China-toilet experience here, and it was definitely unforgettable.  I had expected dirty toilets, but the very first one that we picked greeted us with a big explosive mass of extremely smelly poo, unflushed.  I never want to mention this horrible experience to anyone again, and I hope Baby1’s memories of China is not marred by this frightful sight and smell.

In Shanghai, I was constantly on my toes.  There’s so many people, adults actually (we didn’t see many kids throughout here), and people are cutting queues at most queues.  I was fearful for the safety of my kids.  On the roads (or even pavements), pedestrians liked to stand any where, and there were constantly many sounds of horns.  But no one even cared about the horns!  For food, we tried a variety of the local meat paus and dumplings, and by the second day, I was very suspicious of these relatively cheap, strongly flavoured meats (think, human meat char siew pau…).

On the flight back, I read from the Straits Times that it was Crimea’s 1 year anniversary joining Russia and separation from Ukraine.  The photo shows a child holding the country’s flag.  To think that in this time and world, there are still people fighting for better living.  And look at our neighbouring countries, haiz…..

I am so glad to be home, home to this clean, fresh air, stable, nice weather, safe, mostly civilised and educated people country.  Though it’s back to the routine, but, ah, I am really glad to be back.

– Dear2

2015 New Year Resolutions 8 February, 2015

Posted by dear1dear2 in Baby, Dear2, Dollars & Cents, Food & Beverages, For Him For Her, Learning Training, Slice of Life, Sports & Health, Travel & Discovery.
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We had a bad end/ rough start to 2014/ 2015, so only managed to review and plan out our 2015 new year resolutions recently.  Who cares, there’s still 11 more months in 2015.

As usual, we reviewed our 2014 resolutions first, before coming out new ones.  Though Dear1 and Dear2 did occasionally bring out the 2014 resolutions to remind ourselves, we failed quite miserably in meeting them at the end of the year.  Nonetheless, they did serve as good reminders for us throughout the year.  :)

As of any NYR, the 2015 new year resolutions should be SMART.  Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and with a Time.  Here goes:

For Dear2:

– Beauty (take good care of oneself first before you are able to take care of your loved ones): Do daily skin moisturizing and monthly face masks + exfoliation

– Waist: Attain 28″ by year end

– Exercise: Do daily planks (minimum 2x 1min)

– Self Improvement: Try cooking new dish every month

– Cook: Master (盆菜 or other dish) for next CNY by next CNY

– Speak slowly, Listen carefully, Smile more

– Post: Write at least 1 post per month

– Drive: Do 1 morning routine by end of year

For Dear1:

– Weight: Reach 68kg by year end

– Exercise: Do daily planks (minimum 2x 1.5min)

– Self Improvement: Learn 2 programming languages (Python and Julia)

– Temper: Be more tolerant with Baby1 and Baby2

– Post: Write at least 1 post per month

For us:

– Family Activities: Out-of-house/ malls activities once a month

– Couple Activities: Just for Dear1 and Dear2 activity/ new experiences bi-monthly or join 1 (dance) class

– Hugs & Kiss: Hug and kiss Dear1, Dear2, Baby1 and Baby2 everyday

– Travel: 1 long and 1 short trip for this year

– Finance: Save more money in this year

– House: Continue to view house

– Friends and Relatives: Have quarterly gatherings with friends/ relatives

– Nutrition: Eat at least 1 fruit every week

– Family Events: Participate in 1 (cycling) event

– Couple Time: Have just Dear1 and Dear2 time every week

A lot of times, when one reviews the new year resolutions at the end of the year, one will be dismayed that the goals might has changed course along the way.  Time does not stand still, and things are constantly evolving.  So take heart if the circumstances do not go as you’ve wished, for these new year resolutions still serve as a reminder to what your goals were one year back.

Happy New Year!

– Dear2

PS: Last year, we had a couple of monthly goals, but 1 year 12 times was quite hard to achieve given our busy schedules.  So we changed some of these to lower frequency.  Nonetheless, these still require conscious tracking, hence we decided to draw up a list and have them displayed on the kitchen fridge!  :)

100% Authentic 6 January, 2015

Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear2, Slice of Life.
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Dear2 recently came across this battle between Xiaxue and Gushcloud, and suddenly realised that I have been so living behind times!  People are getting famous and earning bucks out of writing blogs, but why has our this blog been so quiet!?!?

Gosh, there are soooooo many newfound ‘celebrities’ now, no bother that you don’t see these celebrities on TV or movies or radios or ads (hmm actually some of them do get to become some form of celebrity afterwards, not only the exposure (read, exposed), but the endorsement money too $$$).  Nowadays, you don’t need to join the Star Search or Project Superstar or Miss Singapore to become known, you just need to write enough juicy blogs and post enough juicer photos and voila, this has become a form of means to stardom too.

But then again, the private lives of these celebrities become part of the excitement too.  Or if you have a super duper cute baby, he unknowingly becomes the attention of xx numbers of fans worldwide, unknowingly.  I wonder what will his thoughts be when one day, he realised what his mum has been doing to his private life all his life, posting every little bit of his growing years to everyone except himself.  The New Trumen Show??

Anyway, as you can tell, Dear1 Dear2 are very primitive/conservative in this aspect.  So we have no endorsement or sponsorship, so you know that we are all natural.  No Gushcloud or Nuffnang, so if we say, yes we like a product or no please steer clear of this, this really comes from us, and us truly.

Truly.

– Dear2

Baby1 and Baby2 Birthdays Height 15 December, 2014

Posted by dear1dear2 in Baby, Dear2.
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We have a column of wall in our house where we indicate the kids’ height on their birthdays.  This wall is probably the only wall in the house where we allow any writings on  :p

Dear1 and I started to mark out Baby1’s height when she was 1 year old.  We made her stand against the wall (when the kids were 1 yo, it was harder to make them stand straight, or stand flat against the wall; we even had to support them a bit back then).

When Baby1 was 2 years old, same thing, on her birthday, stand against the same wall, and mark out her height using a pencil.  And we did the same for on all the birthdays for both kids.

During Baby2’s recent 2 years old birthday, we forgot about it, and I only remembered about 1 week later.  Opps!! So I made a slight adjustment in marking out her height.

So here goes, the kids’s heights so far on their birthdays:

Baby1

Newborn – 48 cm

1 yo – 73 cm

2 yo – 86 cm

3 yo – 95 cm

4 yo – 103 cm

Baby2

Newborn – 47 cm

1 yo – 74 cm

2 yo – 87 cm

People always say Baby1 is tall for her age; it seems that Baby2 might be taller than Jie Jie, who knows?

– Dear2

Jurong GRC Night Cycling 2014 30 November, 2014

Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear1, Sports & Health.
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Dear2 and I have talked about night cycling since our university days. Night cycling was the in-thing back then and many university clubs would organise them. Somehow, we just hadn’t participated in any together.

I, however, had participated in one with another friend. It was a fun night cycling and visiting the various famous supper spots around Singapore. I very much wanted to share this experience with Dear2.

When we first saw the banner for Jurong GRC Night Cycling last year, we were tempted to join. But due to the fact that Baby2 was still young and we were uncomfortable with leaving her with the grandparents overnight just yet, so we gave it a miss.

This year, however, Baby2 is old enough and easier for the grandparents to take care of overnight. So we decided to sign up for this year’s night cycling, to fulfill this unrealized ‘date’ of ours.

Come actual day last weekend, we packed Baby1 and Baby2’s sleepover bags and brought them over to my parents’ place. It was the first time that both of them were having a sleepover at my parents’ place together. They each carried their own newly bought purple backpacks and were eager for their sleepover.

After dropping them off, Dear2 and I set off to Jurong Green CC to commence our first ever night cycling date. We were early and quickly registered and chose our helmets and bikes. We also bought some juice from 7-11 and 3 breads from Baker Talent as our supper.

Some time between deciding to participate in this year’s event and the actual signing up, I realized that this night cycling event was not going to be a foodie event. Sobz. I was so looking forward to suppering with Dear2 at all the famous supper spots. Anyway, we still decided to go ahead despite it not being a foodie event.

The event itself was not very well organised despite the fact that it was not the first time it was held. From the onset, during the splitting of cyclists into groups, our bib numbers were left out, leaving a large group of us with no group.

Next, there wasn’t a proper briefing of our route. It was only minutes before setting off that we knew there was to be 3 stops – West Coast Park, MBS, and National Stadium. Or not. More on that later.

The first 30 mins were punctuated by lots of stops for the group to catch up and to cross the roads safely. Apparently, one of the objective of the event was to inculcate good cycling habits. However, with the safety police from Cisco helping to stop the traffic for us to cross even when the traffic lights were red, I don’t see how we were shown good cycling habits.

At our first stop, we ate the first of our bread and took a breather. So far so good. Pace was a bit slow, in fact I didn’t even sweat up till that point. There was free bottled water being distributed.

The next leg was slightly faster. However, the group leader stopped frequently at traffic lights for everyone to catch up. We rode through the CBD and ended up at the Marina Barrage for our second stop. I couldn’t agree with this stop very much. It was too much out of the way. We spent time and effort to cycle to the barrage only to cycle out again.

Anyway, we ate our bread and drank our juice. Yum.

We stopped too long at this stop and I could feel my body cooling down by the time we were setting off again. At the beginning of our third leg, I was nearly falling asleep. However, the third leg was where things went haywire.

The group leader went way too fast without waiting such that a large gap was created. At one point, the leading pack turned right and disappeared from sight. Dear2 and I was with the chasing pack and we didn’t know at which junction to turn. One of the other event leaders took leadership of the chasing pack and… led us the wrong way! It took great efforts and a big detour to bring us back to the main pack.

From there, the group leader did not learn his lesson and continued with his fast pace, spreading the group too thin once again. Dear2 and I decided to move the the front of the pack to avoid being left behind again.

The group was so thin that the Cisco police couldn’t cover safety for everyone and so they covered only for the leading pack. At some points, Dear2 and I were no longer able to enjoy the the privilege of occupying the entire left lane as a large group of cyclists but have to cycle as lone cyclists which we thought was dangerous for such a large event.

Curiously, we cycled through National Stadium without stop. We had caught up with some of the groups before us and we continued to press forward in fear of getting left behind again. We had lost sight of our leader. We were just following the trail of brightly neon yellow coloured event t-shirts along the way.

We hit Fort Road and turned into East Coast Park. We continued cycling and suddenly we were at the end point. We asked around and found out that they had decided to skip the third stop at the National Stadium because the pace was too slow and the return bus was arriving soon. Talk about poor time management.

We rested, and we ate our last bread. Yum yum.

We stumbled around for a while and found the place to return the gears. After more stumblings, we found the goodie bag collection van and also the lucky draw box. After the lucky draw, which we weren’t lucky, we boarded the first bus back to Jurong Green CC.

For $20, we got an event T, rental of gears, return bus ride, 2 Sunshine buns, 2 cqns of 100Plus, and some cereal bars. I guess it was quite a good deal.

We cycled from roughly 11pm to 4.30am and covered about 42km from Jurong to East Coast Park. Good effort! It was definitely the furthest that Dear2 and I had cycled together ever.

Will we do it again? Maybe. I thought that the pacing was erratic. At the beginning, it was so slow that I didn’t even sweat. Then, it was too fast to take in the scenery towards the end. Communication was poor as we didn’t know what was happening and what to expect most of the time. However, it was decently fun for us and it was good value.

Dear2 and I would probably like to join another night cycling event again in the future. But we will likely be more selective about the route and the nature of the event. I’m hoping for a foodie one. :P

-Dear1

Kidzania Malaysia 19 October, 2014

Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear2, Travel & Discovery, Vroom Vroom.
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Our second road trip in one month, to Kidzania KL!

Over the Hari Raya Haji long weekend, we headed on a road trip to KL. Got stuck on the Second Link for 1.5 hours (as expected, though the stuck could have reduced if we had reached the Tuas Customs before 8am as planned; what to do, it’s the long weekend, and Woodlands Customs recently imposed a toll…). Once cleared the customs, we got stuck in slow traffic twice (can you believe this!?) on the North-South Highway.

Stopped over at Machap for some lunch, and continued the drive to our KL apartment. It was 4.30pm by the time we reached the apartment, and because we didn’t check out the KLCC Aquarium’s opening hours before we came, we ended up just doing some groceries shopping (mainly for drinking water) at Ampang Mall and went back to the apartment to admire the KL view.

The great view from our apartment at Damai Vista

The great view from our apartment at Damai Vista

Next morning, following our Australia experience, we woke up at 6am, fed the kids milk, and rushed everybody out of the house. It was already 7.30am when we left the house though the plan was to finish breakfast and start on the drive to Kidzania by 8am. I had read a blog on Kidzania earlier, and the review was to reach earlier to buy the tickets and do the check in before the doors open at 10am.

Without GPS or any data plan, we tried to find the way using printed maps and instructions. We could have reached Kidzania at Petaling Jaya without a hitch, but we took an exit too early and veered off the path. Paid for a taxi to lead the way, and we were finally there.

Hmm… At 9.30am, the queue for online booking was pretty long, but for the regular walk-in queue, there was only 2 families in front of us. Quickly got in line, and saw the notice that says “counter open at 9.30am”. Hmm…. At 9.45am, we finally bought the tickets, put on the wristbands, and proceeded upstairs. As we were one of the first few families, the Check In process was fairly a breeze too.

The check in counter at Kidzania just before opening hours

The check in counter at Kidzania just before opening hours

First stop: Fire Station. It was said that this is one of the most popular station, so in order to minimize waiting time, this has be the first station to go to. The Fire Station is undoubtedly fun! The kids donned on their firefighter uniform and hat (Baby1 maintained a straight face throughout, and I think she was trying very hard not to let the hat drop!), and boarded the fire engine which went one round the premise to put out a fire at a burning Hotel. Cool!

The fire engine driving through the streets of Kidzania City

The fire engine driving through the streets of Kidzania City

For public holidays, the opening hours are 10am to 3pm (first session) and 4pm to 9pm (afternoon session). For normal days, you get to play for 7 hours. So since we have to leave at 3pm, no time can be wasted here! Baby1 tried 13 other professions, including Cashier, Petrol Kiosk Attendent, Sushi Chef, Marybrown Attendant, Nurse, Vitagen Maker, Medic, Photographer, Optician, Painter and Policewoman. For the 3 food related industries, you get to bring back the food that you prepared too. The sushi, sandwich and burger became Baby1’s lunch for the day! And there was a bottle of Vitagen each for the kids, supposedly to be the one which they made earlier, haha!

Putting our fire at the hotel

Putting our fire at the hotel

As we did not buy a ticket for Baby2 (we under-declared her age and reported her as under 2yo though she just passed her 2 yo birthday a few days earlier), so she did not get to participate in any activities, poor Baby2. But even if she had a wristband, I doubt that she can participate much as most of the Level 1 stations have requirements of minimum 4 yo. There were a couple of rooms on Level 2 for babies to play, I mean really play with toys, so not so much of role-playing. Nevertheless, we managed to sneak in Baby2 to be role-play as a Patient when Baby1 was the Medic.

A sample of the activities available at one of the activity stations

A sample of the activities available at one of the activity stations

There were a couple other stations which we didn’t get to do. We saw the Flight Simulator on Level 2 too late – there was a long queue for this. And the vitamin research looks fun too, but it was already nearing closing and that was already the last session for the day.

At 3pm, everything closed, so we went to redeem the Kidzos (monies) earned. We were handed a 50 Kidzo cheque when we first arrived, and at the end of the day, we were up to 90 Kidzo. Baby1 had a busy day doing so many professions and earning so much money, haha! We went to the Department Store but were told that most of the merchandise were more expensive (more than 100 Kidzos). There were cheaper stuff down at the Shopping Alley. We paid for a 70 Kidzos body tattoo for Baby1 which we requested the kind attendent to apply it for her on the spot.

We took 40min to reach Kidzania, and 20min to return to our apartment. Sure enough, both kids were KOed on the drive back, but totally rejected sleep when we reached the apartment. We headed for a swim in the pool before quickly heading back again as Baby2’s lips were turning purple from the cold. Brr…

Next morning, no rush, so we woke up at 7am, packed up everything, returned to the same place at Imbi for breakfast (KL roads are really very complicated, and since we do not want to risk getting lost again, familarity is best), and headed for the drive home. There were many rest stops along the road, but we stopped at Pagoh, another of the bigger stop for lunch, petrol, and some authentic otah to bring home. Dear1 and I had a Magnum each too – it cost only 4 Ringgit each!!

Reached Jurong at 3pm. As expected (heng ah), this timing was good so as to avoid all the returners who will come back in the later part of the day.

It was a really short holiday, but totally fun! As we stayed in the grandparents’ apartment for the trip, so accommodation cost was zero. No airfare, so only have to pay the petrol and toll which cost not more than 100 Ringgit. Food in Malaysia is cheaper too. The chicken rice we had in Pagoh cost only 4 Ringgit, and total Kidzania entrance fees for 4 adults 2 kids was only 255 Ringgit (about SGD100). A very value-for-money trip!

Will we return to Kidzania again? Yes, hmm, but maybe no. Kidzania is coming to Singapore (Sentosa) in June 2015, but I can’t imagine what kind of professions will be exibited. SIA Stewardess? Tiger Beer Manufactor? (ermm, maybe not). RWS Casino Operator? (ermm, surely not!) Seriously, in Singapore’s context, we have more white collar professions. Do you think Kidzania will be fun if there’s only Office Workers kind of professions? And also, it’s the staff that brings out the atmosphere. Even though adults are totally not allowed into the room when the activity is conducted, you can tell that the Staff are all putting their hearts into the interaction that they have with the kids. Kudos to them, when you have to role-play the same activity over and over and over again.

Hmm, but maybe we can consider Kidzania at other locations. We read afterwards that the Kidzos banked in can be used at your next visit. No wonder we saw many children queuing at the CIMB Bank at closing time.

Will we return to Malaysia again? Yes, road trip to Malaysia is fun! The drive to KL is probably too long (350km away!), but Malacca (halfway there) or even Desaru seems manageable!

– Dear2

Western Australia Road Trip Sep 2014 14 October, 2014

Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear2, Travel & Discovery, Vroom Vroom.
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Our very first real road trip ever~

Day 1

Took the 7.45am SQ flight from Singapore to Perth. No more overnight flights, thank you. While ascending, Baby2 had her milk, and Baby1 had some Ricola Pearls. As expected, Baby1 was kept entertained throughout the flight watching cartoons. Baby2 unexpectedly fell asleep halfway through (good for us), and we had about 2 hours of quiet and peace before reaching Perth.

Once landed, we quickly hailed a cab to the campervan rental office. Waited for quite a while as the staff forgot about our orders! We rented a 6 berth campervan because Dear1’s parents were along for the trip.  Once the campervan was retrieved, we raced down to nearby Belmont Forum to get lunch/dinner. :( Alas, by 4.30pm, all the shops were closing, and there wasn’t much edible food left. We had Japanese take aways. Mad rush to get a SIM card (to call the campervan park to confirm our late check in), get groceries and water, and dinner. We couldn’t get any SIM card. It was kinda a bad start to our holiday.

Dear1 started driving at 80km/h. But as the night and roads got darker, we were literally toring through the night at 100km/h. Finally after 2.5hrs of drive, we reach Koombana Bay Discovery Holiday Park. Luckily the Park left the keys in the “Late Check In” safe for us as agreed in our email. We drove to the designated lot with our ensuite toilet. Being our first night, in a windy rainy night, where the surroundings seemed void of anybody else, we quickly showered. Brr, the night was cold!

Our KEA KQ Series 6 Berth Campervan at our ensuite site at Koombana Bay Discovery Holiday Park

Our KEA KQ Series 6 Berth Campervan at our ensuite site at Koombana Bay Discovery Holiday Park

Throughout the night, our campervan kept swaying in the wind. Even after we turned off the lights for the night, I was really worried that our campervan might be blown away by the wind. Sleep was bad, being awaken constantly by the passing beating rain.

Day 2

Good to see some daylight. We drove to nearby The Happy Wife and had a sumptous breakfast. Nice! Did the Check In and Check Out, and off we drove over to next-door Dolphin Discovery Centre. The narration by the retired uncle was informative and interesting. If you leave the tank open, the octopus will just climb out. Can you believe that!? Dear1 was quite disappointed that we can’t waddle in to the sea to see dolphins. With that kind of cold and drizzle, we are better off staying in the warm indoors.

Great breakfast at The Happy Wife

Great breakfast at The Happy Wife

Interesting octopus feeding session at Dolphin Discovery Centre

Interesting octopus feeding session at Dolphin Discovery Centre

Some quick grocery shopping at a nearby supermarket before setting off again.

Busselton Jetty is the next stop. What strong winds! At the counter, we were told that the Train and Observatory was closed due to bad weather. Baby1 was very disappointed; she was so looking forward to take the train to the jetty. I was equally disappointed after realising that the Observatory that Dear1 mentioned was actually underwater. No wonder I don’t see any lighthouse. :p We bought a stamp and sent a postcard from the Interpretive Centre.

Busselton Jetty Underwater Observatory closed due to poor visibility

Busselton Jetty Underwater Observatory closed due to poor visibility

Lunch was at nearby Old Post Office Tea Rooms. It was a simple cafe, but the sandwiches were pretty not bad. After lunch, all of us headed back to the car first while Dear1 went to the washroom. And it started to rain again. Dear1 braved the rain back but got all soaked. The passing shower stopped completely barely 5 mins later. “Passing Showers” totally took on a new meaning for us…

Following the GPS, we headed on the route to the Margaret River Dairy Company. And we past by the sign that says Margaret River Dairy Company, though we were still a distance away from the exact location according to the GPS. Alas, the GPS was off!. Made a U-turn (not easy when our campervan is so huge, on a single lane dual carriage road). At the so-called facory, we didn’t see any machinery, though we had a sumptuous sampling of the various cheeses there. Bought a large tub of yogurt (since we can’t appreciate cheese!)

Next stop: Margaret River Chocolate Factory. We reached at 4.30pm, half an hour ahead of its closing time. But the main doors was already locked! We were literally locked out though happy satisfied shoppers were continually streaming out with their bags and bags of shopping. Angry!!

Headed off to Morris Anytime for our dinner. As a family friendly restuarant, they provided coloring paper and pencils for the kids to doodle while waiting for the food. But at AUD 38 for a main course, we thought that the serving was very un-Australian – smallish….

Baby1's drawing while we had dinner at Morris Anytime

Baby1’s drawing while we had dinner at Morris Anytime

After dinner and it was check in at Sunflowers Animal Farm. Finally located the owner in the dark farm house, and finally looking forward to a proper shelter over our heads and some warm steady water for bath. But as soon as we unloaded our luggage and got the fire place burning (yes, real fire place, need to start your own fire, and load with real fire wood), there was a power outrage! It was pitch darkness and the only light source was the dancing fire lights. Luckily the power came back on about an hour later, but we were mindful that power might go off anytime soon so didn’t quite want to risk taking a shower…

First time using a real fireplace at Sunflowers Animal Farm

First time using a real fireplace at Sunflowers Animal Farm

Day 3

Next morning, the weather seemed very fine. Still a bit chilly, but at least it wasn’t wet like the past 2 days. And indeed we were lucky to have good weather this morning. Toured the farm, had 2 bucketfuls of animal feed where we went around feeding all the farm animals. The kids had a chance to pick up little chicks with their hands, and ride a pony too.

The view right outside our doorstep at Sunflowers Animal Farm

The view right outside our doorstep at Sunflowers Animal Farm

After check out, we drove back to the Margaret River Chocolate Factory (this time with a vengeance) and sampled and bought chocolates. Lunch was at Cullen Wines, one of the many wineries in Margaret River. Again, it’s location was not accurately marked by the GPS, and we were really relieved to finally reach here for our sumptuous lunch. We also bought a bottle of wine to enjoy for the rest of our trip.

Chocolate tasting at Margaret River Chocolate Factory

Chocolate tasting at Margaret River Chocolate Factory

Our campervan at Cullen Wines

Our campervan at Cullen Wines

On our way to our next destination, we stopped at Augusta to stock up on groceries.

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse was next. As Baby2 was not allowed to go up the lighthouse, we got the grandparents to go up while we stayed on the ground with the paid audio tour. As usual, the kids had fun playing with the radios (which were meant as audio guides). Dear1 and I didn’t get to hear much of the audio from the radio, so the only explanations were what we could read from the numbered signs. Still an interesting experience for us both.

Walking up to Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

Walking up to Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

As the wind was still cold, we headed back to the campervan while waiting for the grandparents. An opportune time to bring out the road trip presents – a Lego car and an Lego campervan, one each for the girls. Papa was more excited in assembling and ‘helped’ Baby2 complete the campervan toy. So much for being her present. :p

Taking the Caves Road, we reached Hamelin Holiday Park before night fall. No dinner tonight as when we reached Karridale Tavern, they were not serving dinner that night! Luckily we had instant noodles with us so dinner was a simple meal of instant noodles with sausages, cooked at the outdoor kitchen.

Maggie Mee dinner at Hamelin Holiday Park

Maggie Mee dinner at Hamelin Holiday Park

Day 4

We were supposed to empty the toilet waste every other day, but as there wasn’t much waste on our first 2 days, we decided to only empty it today. Alas, we were told that we needed to go to a Shire in order to dispose ‘chemical waste’. Oh dear, means that we need to make another trip somewhere. Emptied the ‘gray Water’ (water from washing) nonetheless, and we set off to Lake Cave.

Morning walk at Hamelin Bay

Morning walk at Hamelin Bay

Again, the GPS was not accurate and we had to locate the entrance of the Caves based on road signs. Once reached, the counter chap confidently told us that Baby2 has no problem going down to the cave, unlike the Lighthouse which we presume had difficult-to-climb steps. Nervous and full of anticipation, we descended into the cave, stopping now and then when it was time to listen to the Guide. There was a long flight of steps down, and I had to grip Baby1’s hand real tight. Dear1 carried Baby2 all the way down, and had to stoop and bend over a narrow and low part. “No problem into the cave, just that you’ll gain a lot of muscles!” we thought afterwards.

View from inside Lake Cave

View from inside Lake Cave

Next, we went to Bootleg Brewery for lunch. Ordered this tray of 8 beers. A very interesting mix – first time trying coffee-flavoured beer. All the main course were very generous and yummy too. It’s the first time since arriving in Australia that we got a sense of the “Australian size” meal. Bought a bottle of beer to enjoy later too. After lunch, we sat by the lake enjoying the warm sunshine and view, and even watched a group play giant sized Jenga.

People playing Giant Jenga (right in the middle of the picture) at Bootleg Brewery

People playing Giant Jenga (right in the middle of the picture) at Bootleg Brewery

After the sumptuous lunch, we proceeded to Simmo’s Ice Creamery which was a short drive away. The ice cream scope was generous too. The adults ate ice cream while the kids played at the play ground.

By the time we reached Harvey, we were still feeling very full. Decided to order take aways from Trattoria Briscola (Italian restaurant) to bring to the Harvey Hills Farm Chalet to eat. The portion was generous too, but I was still too full to appreciate it. The fruit wine that we bought from Cullen Wines was surprisingly nice, which we drank out of wine glasses provided in our farm house.

Enjoy our wine at Harvey Hills Farm Chalet

Enjoy our wine at Harvey Hills Farm Chalet

In between transporting our barang barangs from the campervan to the house, Dear1 and I took the chance to admire the stars. The farm was really in the middle of no lights, so the sky view was really excellent.

Day 5

Woke up to a refreshing farm atmosphere. In the brightening morning light, the scenery was even more charming. Lush green pastures and clear open skies, in a cool light breeze. So fresh!

That's our chalet in the middle of the picture

That’s our chalet in the middle of the picture

View from our balcony at Harvey Hills Farm Chalet

View from our balcony at Harvey Hills Farm Chalet

Today, the farm activities were entirely different from those in the first farm. The children got to hold a rabbit each in their lap, we went around scattering the feed to the chickens, fed the ducks out of our palms and had sheep nibble carrots out from our fingers. So very up close!

After check out, we went to Harvey Fresh. Wow, so many orange trees! Orange trees are not very tall in actual fact! And seeing so many brightly oranges on trees lifted our mood even more. We bought a packet of orange juice from the store and it was so orangey and nice too. Thumbs up!

First time at an orange orchard at Harvey Fresh

First time at an orange orchard at Harvey Fresh

Before returning to the rental office to return the campervan, we had to empty the waste first. Along the way, we stopped by a Shire. Apparently you need to do it at a sullage point. Oh my. Finally found the place with directions from the lady at the Shire. It is basically just a hole in the ground, like the one where we emptied the black water. As socially responsible people, as with the Australian culture, we finally emptied the waste. Phew.

After we returned the campervan and got our 8-seater car from another car rental company, we proceeded to Cottesloe. We had to go to the office to retrieve the keys first. The staff there were very nice, and the lady assigned to show us on how to open up the sofa bed kindly agreed to lead the way and show us the sofa bed after we told them that we had to go off for a dinner appointment soon.

Our KIA Grand Carnival

Our KIA Grand Carnival

Our bedroom at our Cottesloe Beach Apartment

Our bedroom at our Cottesloe Beach Apartment

Day 6

After a good night’s sleep and a nice warm bath (the apartment bathroom came with a warmer, and there were sufficient blankets for all of us, geez), we set off on foot for breakfast. But after walking for 15 min, the shops were still not in sight, though we clearly past by some resturants on our drive up from the office to our apartment yesterday. We decided to head back and finish up the remaining rations of bread, baked beans and noodles.

Today is Fremantle day, and we drove to Woolstore Shopping Centre to park the car first, after hearing that car park charges are pretty expensive here in Perth city. The parking coupon is only available for max 4 hours, so means that we’ll need to come back to top up the ticket later. Hmm…

Did some shopping at the Fremantle Market and proceeded for our Fish and Chips lunch. A friend had recommended Sweet Lips but we couldn’t find it (by this time, we were already very tired taking turns to carry Baby2, so didn’t want to explore further), so we headed to the popular Cicerellos. Ordered 2 fish and Chips, and a seafood platter. The fish and chips was considered okay for that price, but it’s not a taste that I’ll want to come back again. Also, Cicerellos as well as Fremantle, is the first place in Australia where I felt was very touristy – there was really a lot a lot of tourists everywhere!

Colours colours at Fremantle Market

Colours colours at Fremantle Market

Fish and Chips at the famous Cicerellos

Fish and Chips at the famous Cicerellos

Went to the Shipwreck Museum, found a cafe where we had drinks while Baby1 had her afternoon nap (finally).  It was supposed to be a relaxing day today, but the children’s naps completely drained my energy, so much so that we bought Chinese take aways for dinner (again!?).  We went back to the apartment, exhausted.

Baby1 enjoyed herself very much at the Shipwreck Museum

Baby1 enjoyed herself very much at the Shipwreck Museum

Enjoying the evening from our balcony at Cottesloe Beach Apartment

Enjoying the evening from our balcony at Cottesloe Beach Apartment

Day 7

Another good night of sleep. This morning, we were determined to locate a proper breakfast place. There was brochures in the folder that Cottesloe Beach Apartments provided, and we went along with Bluewaters.

After the yummy breakfast, we went to Caversham Wildlife Park. Dear1 had borrowed a GPS from his friend, and we had a bit of getting used to before we are familiar with this GPS (the one in the campervan was provided by Kea and had to be returned with the campervan; that device was more user friendly compared to this one). As Dear1’s friend had bought this about 6 years back, the Wildlife Park was not marked in this GPS. We can only key in the coordinates and try to locate its entrance using the road signs. At one point in time, we almost lost the way, but luckily we did not retreat. The wildlife Park is so fun! Baby1 held a real snake over her arms, we stroked some iguana and had a picture taken with a wombat. Also, Baby1 got into the kangaroos’ enclosure and went up close, and we all touched and had many photos taken with koalas up very close. Never before have we had such up close interactions with so many animals all in the same zoo.

Up close with sleeping Koalas at Caversham Wildlife Park

Up close with sleeping Koalas at Caversham Wildlife Park

After trying to appreciate art in Western Australia Art Gallery, we went over to Murray Street Mall to people-watch. A busy shopping street, but as it’s quite hard to lug 2 toddlers for any shopping, we felt that it would be more fruitful to proceed to King’s Park for some quiet time. Alas, the Stickybeaks Cafe where we wanted to have our dinner closes at 4.30pm (we reached at 4pm), and that totally spoiled our dinner plan. With only a ground sheet and a drink, we had a little “picnic”. In actual fact, the kids spent all the time playing at the playground. The camera battery had to go flat at this time, and we forgot to pack spares in our day bag! No chance to take pictures of the brilliant sunset which we saw the previous day along the coastline where we stayed.

Since tonight’s dinner plan was thrown off, we found a restuarant, Barchetta, along Cottesloe facing the ocean on our way back to catch the sunset. The daylight got dimmer as we ate our dinner. Halfway through the food, we saw the sun disappear under the horizon. Wonder if Baby1 will remember this? (14 Oct 2014: Dear1 asked, Baby1 remembers.)

Day 8

Finally it’s time to go home. Packed up everything, put the keys to the apartment under the mat, and went back to Bluewaters for breakfast again. As we were early, we decided to do some last minute shopping at Belmont Forum which is near to the Airport. Alas, the shops only open at 11am!

Back at Bluewaters Cottesloe for a second time, their Crab and Chilli Scrambled Eggs is exquisite

Back at Bluewaters Cottesloe for a second time, their Crab and Chilli Scrambled Eggs is exquisite

Finally bought the nogurts (as requested by a relative) from the Airport, and it was home sweet home to Singapore.

Once out of Changi Airport, we smelled haze. Did we escaped any haze??  It turned out that the haze in Singapore had worsen that very day! Urgh!

– Dear2

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