Grit

I came across a video on “Grit” recently and was blown away by it!

Grit. What I know of grit is like dirt, sand. But Teacher-turned-Psychologist Dr Duckworth singled out the defining factor between successful children/ people and the others is, not IQ nor talent, but grit. Grit is motivation to achieve your long term goals, day in day out, not for weeks or months, but for years; to achieve the future that you want.

At the end of Term 2, I’d blogged that both Baby1 and Baby2 were highly praised by their teachers during their respective PTMs. Dear1 and I are not worried about both our little girls coping in schools, because both them enjoy learning and enjoy being one of the best students in their class. We are not sure if we have been doing some things right, or what right things; nevertheless, Dear1 and I are just chill parents when it comes to our kids’ learning.

Especially for Baby1 now that she’s in Primary One, she strives to get 100 marks for all her spellings, and she always try to get high marks for all her tests and assessments. In the academic scene, sometimes I do worry, what if she gets 100 marks in lower Primary, but grades drop when she goes to the higher levels? There has been so much press about the stress of our Singapore kids in this education system, so I want to constantly mantra myself “the joy of learning” and not kill it.

So for Baby1, she enjoys getting high marks – Good. She enjoys being the Monitress – Good. She’s looking to be a Little Prefect next year – Good. She had some difficulty in swimming lessons earlier, but now she’s looking forward apprehensively to every swimming lesson to learn new strokes – Good. She doesn’t like piano as it’s really getting more difficult now, but she got a Merit in her recent first piano exam, and she’s looking to get a Distinction next year – Good. She even calculated that she could get her Grade 8 by the time she’s in Secondary One – Good (LOL).

Grit. No matter how much a parent pushes or force her child to learn or do something, if the child does not want to do it, it is futile. The parent can force the child to write a whole page of Self-Reflections, but if the child does not feel remorse, he does not learn. The parent can force the child to write 100 times corrections, but if the child’s heart is not on learning the correct spelling, he still does not learn the spelling.

Self Motivation. The child needs to want to do it right, or get it right. The child needs to WANT IT.

So, how to make the child want it? In the video, Dr Duckworth says she’s unsure, but the idea of Growth mindset seems to work well. Essentially, it’s helping your child see that:

1) You need practice, and practice makes perfect (aka Perseverance and Effort)
2) You may need to overcome challenges/ failures (aka Resilience)

Let’s continue to nurture our children.

– Dear2

Holiday Inn @ Batam

Oh, what a 4D3N getaway to Batam for our June holidays!

Dear1 and I have never been to Batam before (can you believe it!?), plus we wanted a relaxing holiday for this June holidays (relaxing holiday means no trip planning, no exploration, just plain relax and do nothing), PLUS Batam was supposed to be our 10 year wedding anniversary getaway last year (but we decided that a 2D1N trip for just the two of us was too costly, hence we replaced it with a indulgent dinner at PS Cafe instead), so here we went!

Day -3:

  • Baby1 had her first piano exam.  It was soooo nerve-wrecking for her!

Day -1:

  • Baby1 had her piano recital.  We’ve planned the Batam trip to be right after her piano exam and recital, so that she can wind down after that, sounds like a good plan! :p

Day 1:

  • 1030: We left home and took 188R which expressed all the way to Harbourfront
  • 1110: Reached Harbourfront and we had Yakun for an early lunch.  Mothercare was having sale so Mummy had to buy some essentials, heehee!
  • 1310: Cleared the customs.  Wow, what a breeze, basically nothing to clear at all.
  • 1410: Finally the ferry departed and Baby1 and Baby2 KOed quite immediately.  We took Sindo which will stop at Sekupang first, then at Waterfront Terminal. The ferry was blasting aircon, and there wasn’t many passengers at all.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

View of Waterfront Ferry Terminal, it is that traditional looking building on the right.

  • 1535 SGT (= 1435 Batam time): Reached Holiday Inn @ Waterfront, which is really a 2 min drive from the terminal.  The hotel and rooms were clean and very spacious, albeit a bit old-fashioned in style.  To us, cleanliness is most important.
  • 1600: Brought the kids to Panda Kids Club to play in the spacious playroom while Dear1 and I figure out what’s for dinner.  We wanted to order delivery from Bella Italia, but we could not fulfill the minimum $100 for them to deliver over.  Went out to have a look at the row of shops beside the ferry terminal.  Delima, which was recommended on the Internet, looked too shabby.  Headed back to hotel’s Terrace Cafe.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our 2 bedroom suite at Holiday Inn Resort.

  • 1800: Kids dine free!  Each adult portion costed >$10, and the kids’ portion was very small.  But overall the food was nice in a quiet environment.
  • 1900: Karaoke! We booked the minimum 1 hour package, and got 1 more hour free for IHG members.  The entire system was in Korean, and Mandarin and English songs were sooooo limited.  Baby1 took some time to get used to singing; she was hogging the mic towards the end!  Baby2 warmed up to the mic immediately, but after that decided that she preferred to dance while Jie Jie and Mummy/Papa hogged the mics.  Papa managed to find the titles of a couple of the Frozen OSTs and we had lots of fun singing to these familiar songs!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We had a great time karaoke! We even managed to find some popular OST from Frozen, Despicable Me, Tangled, and Zootopia.

Day 2:

  • 0630: Rise and shine!  For the first time in all our holiday trips, we decided to include hotel breakfast for this trip, and luckily we did!  There’s nothing outside the hotel, the hotel’s breakfast buffet spread was sumptuous and decent, and we do not have to rush to go out early in the morning every day.  Thumbs up!
  • 0800: Pool opens from 8am till 9pm.  Hmm, but by 8am, the sun’s pretty hot, and why is the water slide still not open!?  Anyway, all four of us had fun playing with our water guns, sitting on the banana boat, and just splashing around in the pool. By 9.30, the sun’s pretty hot, so it’s back to room to shower.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Papa ordered a latte for breakfast and it was served with a fancy foam art. Nice!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Panda Kids Club was usually empty, which meant we had the place all to ourselves!

  • 1030: Went back to Panda Club to play.  Today, we saw more children, probably about 8 others (there was only 1 yesterday and she was heading home today).  There’s supposed to be face painting during this time on a Sunday, but the attendant did not appear at all.  The staff did appear yesterday, and only after we asked did she gave us the Panda Club Program Sheet.  And only after we asked again did she bring out the materials for the Activity which was Paper Weaving.
  • 1130: We cycled over to Dragon’s Inn for dim sum, which was supposed to be the best Cantonese Dim Sum in Batam.  Very decent dim sum and not salty at all.  Oh no, Baby2 struggled to keep her eyes open, means it’s time for her afternoon nap.
  • 1300: Mummy went off for a 1 hour Body Scrub at the Tea Tree Spa while Papa stayed in the room and watch while the kids napped.  Mummy came out sparkling smooth and soft, bling bling!
  • 1415: Now it’s Papa’s turn for a 1 hour relaxing Balinese/Javanese Massage.
  • 1700:  Rise and shine for all 4 of us (Mummy and Papa got sooo tired from the massages too!).  Went over to the Games Lounge where we played table soccer, chess, darts and pool (kids not allowed for the last 2).
  • 1800: It’s dinner at the Terrace Cafe again where Kids dine Free, heehee.
  • 1900: Back to room and watch tv, bath and prepare for the night.  Mummy and Papa took turns to nurse Baby2 who had developed a fever since this afternoon, oh no.

Day 3:

  • 0630: Wakey wake up!
  • 0700: Time for breakfast!  Baby2 enjoyed the soya milk while Baby1 munched on cornflakes.  What simple delicacies for them!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A view of the main pool that we played at every morning after breakfast, a relaxing holiday indeed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Papa and Baby2 chilling out at the pavilion, watching mummy and Baby1 playing on the banana boat.

  • 0830: Since Baby2 was running a temperature, she cannot go swimming today.  Mummy and Baby1 had one-to-one time splashing in the pool while Papa and Baby2 lounged around in the pavilion and at the poolside benches.  Just before we came out from the pool, we allowed Baby2 to join Jie Jie with the water guns cos she looked so left out.
  • 1000: Shower time again.
  • 1100: Took the hotel shuttle bus to Nagoya Hills shopping mall.  Normal guests will need to pay a fee, but we had it complimentary as Papa is an IHG member.  We had initially wanted to go yesterday, but the shuttle bus was already fully booked when we checked in on Day 1.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Baby1 and Baby2 gaming away at the arcade at Nagoya Hills.

  • 1130: Reached Nagoya Hills and had A&W curly fries and waffles with ice cream.  Yummy! After lunch, we walked around and found that Nagoya Hills really did seem quite boring.  Mummy bought some cheap pyjamas (SGD 4.80 each!) and dresses from this big clothing store Sunboss where shoppers buy clothes in baskets.
  • 1420: Time to force the kids to take their afternoon nap.  We wanted to go to Caffeine Cafe but couldn’t find it anywhere! (Turns out that it was along the shop-houses across the street!)  Decided to settle down in Bistro Godiva where there’s an aircon area and tried to coerce the kids to sleep on the cushy sofa.  Eventually we gave up.  Why don’t they sleep!?
  • 1520: Okay, let’s get moving then.  We decided not to enter the Hypermart as Security says we need to deposit our big diaper bag.  Went over to the Pharmacy next door and picked up 4 individual packs of Cool Patch (they don’t sell in bigger packs).  After that, we got SGD 5 worth of tokens and played many games in the Arcade.  We could have purchased $10 and get $5 bonus, but I don’t think we can play $15 in the rather small arcade.  Baby1 had lots of fun playing Air Hockey, Hammer Weasels, some punching fish game, Drums, Shoot Basketball, and even Car Racing, while Baby2 was contented with just riding on the elephant and the train. Mummy had fun with Drums too! For $5 in tokens, we even accumulated 88 points which we exchanged for a total of 4 pretty hair clips.  Not a bad deal after all!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We arrived for an early dinner at Wey Wey seafood so that we could return to our resort before dark.

  • 1700: After getting a box of some Batam Layer Cake (aka kueh lapis), we hailed a cab and set off for Harbour Bay which is just a 5 minutes drive away.  The cab driver agreed to wait for us and drive us back to Holiday Inn after dinner. There’s a whole row of seafood restaurants here, and we settled on Wey Wey.  The seafood here is really nice! By 6pm, many more diners had arrived to dine al-fresco beside the seas in the setting sun, how ambient!
  • 1820: Dinner done and we headed back to hotel so that the feverish Baby2 can have an early night.

Day 4:

  • 0730: We slept in a bit this morning and had a later breakfast, hoping to catch the water slide when it will finally start at 10am later.
  • 0900: Today, it’s Papa’s turn to go swimming with Baby1.  Baby2’s fever had finally subside overnight, but we didn’t want her to catch a cold. During breakfast, Papa chatted with the staff and found out that we could have asked the Pool Staff to turn on the waters at the slide.  ‘_”  So we did that, and Baby1 had lots of fun with Papa going down the gushing water slide while Mummy took the trishaw and peddled Baby2 around the hotel’s compound.  Afterwards, all 4 of us took turns on the trampoline beside the pool.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A last look from our room balcony of our relaxing getaway~

  • 1015: Shower time, and we even finished watching The Incredibles on Disney Channel while waiting for Check Out at 12noon.  Throughout these 4 days, the kids watched lots of Disney Channel whenever there’s free time in the room, something which we usually do not allow when we are at home.  :p
  • 1230: The hotel shuttled us to the ferry terminal where we sat there waiting for the ferry until 1.20pm. Once onboard the ferry, both kids KOed immediately again, heehee…
  • 1600 SGT: Reached Singapore and grabbed 5+1 Mr Bean pancakes before taking bus 188 home.  We just needed to reach home before 5pm to be in time for swimming class at 5.45pm.
  • 1715: Bus reached destination!
  • Total cost of getaway: $1217.40

It was a simple holiday this time.  Not much trip planning, no exploration, no trying to squeeze in too many things to do or too many places to visit; just relax and enjoy the simple things with Baby1 and Baby2.  We hope that their sights have widened yet a bit more, and their childhood fills with many more happy experiences with Mummy and Papa.

– Dear2

Our Girls~~

On the last day of Term 2, it seemed that all the parents are somewhere attending their children’s Parents-Teachers Meetings.  Dear1 and I attended Baby1 and Baby2’s PTMs too, and I can only say, both our girls are so good~~

Dear1 and I know that Baby1 and Baby2 are both good girls.  They listen to what we tell them, they obey our instructions, albeit frequently making our blood boil.  I sometimes have to remind myself and Dear1 that they are both still kids.  Just 7 years old and 5 years old, how did Dear1 and I behaved when we were that age!?  So when it comes to Parents-Teachers meetings, after the first meeting in their new childcare centre, Dear1 and I decided that it was okay to skip the subsequent ones, cos we know that Baby1 and Baby2 were doing very okay in school.

For Baby2’s Parent-Teacher meeting this year, both her Chinese and English teachers were full of praises for her.  Observant, serious in learning, nice handwriting, independent, quietly does her work, can do most of the work on her own.  She is surely the best student in her Kindergarten One class of 14 kids.  Dear1 and I came out of the room beaming as very proud parents.

For Baby1, on the last school day of Term 2, she:

  1.  was announced to be the Class Monitress
  2. topped the class with the highest score (again) in Term 2, and
  3. came home with a Report Book of all Grade 1s and As (except for PE, B) for her SA1

OMG.  This is the child who makes my blood boil at least 3 times a day (during breakfast, lunch and dinner for eating so slow!), and this is the child who I frequently scold for always being so playful and easily distracted.

On the last day of Term 2, we also counted the money that Baby1 has saved in this half year.  $40.10!  Considering that Baby1’s pocket money is $1.30 per recess, and she spends $1 on a meal, Baby1 has not been spending her money on any unnecessary things at all. Wow.

Actually, Baby1 is really a good girl too.  From the Parents-Teachers meeting, both her Form Teacher and Chinese Teacher were full of praises for her too.  She does her work independently and seriously, and she’s careful in her work.  Basically, both teachers have nothing much to worry about her.

Why do children always seem to behave so differently in school and at home!?  At home, I seem to be constantly nagging at her, “be quick”, “do your work seriously”, “keep the toys”, “why is this thing here?”, or at Baby2 “drink water”, “one quarter”.  I constantly feel like I am on REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT mode.  But in school, both Baby1 and Baby2 are such darlings!

Love Them. Understand Them.  Forgive Them.  Grow with Them.

After reading “Search Inside Yourself”, I have the above new mantra.

I do not want myself to be a kiasu parent, and I do not want myself to be a Tiger Mum.  We want Baby1 and Baby2 to grow up in a loving and happy family.  And we need to remind ourselves that both our girls are so lovely and lovable, so “Love them, understand them, forgive them, and grow with them.”

I love you, Baby1 and Baby2.

And I love you, Dear1.  Muck!

– Dear2

Water is Precious

I do not understand why Singaporeans do not have the concept that water is precious. I mean, why is it that we only start to appreciate this whenever there’s a price hike in water, or when Malaysia starts to threaten to cut off water supply to us, or when there’s a prolong dry spell here in Singapore like last year when even the flowers on the streets bloomed like never before?  Don’t people understand that inherently, WATER IS PRECIOUS!?

I think PUB or whatever agency in charge of public education on water conservation has been doing a very bad job. Just because we Singapore gets portable water everywhere and anywhere whenever we turn on our taps, that does not mean that water comes cheap.  Ok, perhaps, it is really so cheap that we don’t feel the pinch unless there’s an impending price hike.  And after the new rates kicks in, life is back to normal again  until the next price hike.

Where do you think our water comes from?  Where do you think all the water that we use massively everyday comes from?  You know that our catchment area becomes smaller and smaller as we build more and more buildings and roads.  You know that even though we are an island surrounded by seas but they say desalination is still so expensive.  You know that we are drinking our loo water as in NEWater, yet that is something we need to do because we just don’t have enough.  And of course you know that some day the pipe that connects Malaysia to Singapore will very soon be cut.

But why are we still not taking this seriously!?

I think we are all too comfortable.  We get portable water everywhere; we’ve never have to worry that the water from the taps is not clean; we’ve never seen yellow waters flowing out from our taps; we’ve never have to wash our laundry in rivers, or had an outbreak of some contagious water-borne diseases.  We don’t even have to ration our household water even when there’s prolong dry spells.  At most, you’ll see the shopping malls close their water play areas, or PUB telling you to water your plants in the evenings rather than during the hot afternoons.  (Btw, when’s the last time Singapore had to ration water?  In my 36 years, I can only recall one time when I was really very very little that there’s water rationing and we had to carry buckets of water from the water truck home for our bath).

Our leaders are very concerned, but what about the commoners?  True, I see some schools advocating Save Water Campaign and Water Rationing Exercises, but once the students are released home, how many of them actually get their families to rally together, and how many of them actually sees the importance that water is precious?

Come on Singapore, please don’t take water as granted.  We are blessed, but please let’s really work together to make every drop counts.

– Dear2

I want to be a Mummy when I grow up

“I want to be a Mummy when I grow up.”  This is Baby1 and Baby2’s recent ambition.  Don’t know if I should laugh or cry when I first heard this coming from their mouths!

My first impression when Baby1 first proclaimed that she “wants to be a mummy when she grows up” was, what????  Over these few years, she has alternated between wanting to be a chef (she loves to play cooking!) to a scientist (possibly under the influence of Papa whose job title is a Scientist) to an artist (somehow, she loves drawing too.  Dear1 and I are perplexed on where she got all the artistic genes from), so we know that having multiple changing ambitions is pretty much the norm for kids.  Recently, she added Mummy to her ambition too.  Don’t know if Baby2 was merely copy-cat Jie Jie, Baby2 also proclaimed that she “wants to be a mummy when she grows up” too.  -_-‘”

What do Baby1 and Baby2 mean by that?  I dare not ask.  To their simple-minded hearts, does being a Mummy equates a SAHM who looks after kids?  Is a money-generating FTWM not a Mummy?  I dare not ask, because if this is the answer, how sad will that be!

Last week during the kids’ evening swimming class and Dear1 got to come home early at 6pm because he’s on course, he commented that he’s glad that we have this arrangement.  And when Ah Gong Ah Ma popped by our house on a Tuesday 7.30pm while I was revising Spelling with Baby1, it suddenly dawned upon me that we will not be able to go for weekday swimming lessons nor have the energy or time to revise Spelling at 7.30pm if we are a dual-income family.   I can imagine Dear1 and I would probably be goofing down our dinner, 90% brain-dead at 7.30pm on a weekday.  Spellings and swimming will have to wait till the weekends.  And what about checking the daily homework? Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

I have a new-found admiration for FTWMs, especially those who are coping well with older children.  As Baby1 and Baby2 grow up day by day, I find that they need more intellectual, emotional, and of course technical interactions in their waking hours. I don’t think Student Cares or either side Gramps will be able to give as much as what I can provide.   I am very thankful to Dear1 for understanding and agreeing with me on this approach, and shouldering the task to be the income-generator while I care for our family. Of course in a job, I hope that Dear1 continues to find passion and fun in what he do.

As for being a Mummy, I want to think that Baby1 and Baby2 are acknowledging that their Mummy is awesome.

I:

  • Had been a well behaved, hardworking student in my schooling years
  • Enjoyed reading since Primary School
  • Am brave, yet not arrogant
  • Challenge my fears by bracing myself to face them
  • Can be trusted
  • Had good grades in school because I did my homework well
  • Am athletic
  • Always do things carefully
  • Have my limitations, but I try my best
  • (and I hope to be able to list many more qualities here!)

No Mummy is perfect, but we always want our kids to grow up well, because we made them, so we should love them and guide them to the best of our abilities.

– Dear2

New Year Resolutions 2017

OMG, we are almost done with Quarter 1 and I am still procrastinating on penning down the 2017 NYR.  Gotto resolve to resolve!

For the first 3 quarters of 2016, Dear1 and I did fairly okay.  We constantly remind ourselves of the goals that we’ve set out earlier in the year, and try to work towards them.  The monthly calendar that we stick on the fridge, where we write down the monthly outdoor activities, bi-monthly couple activities, and quarterly friends/ relatives gatherings work quite well (though we cheated a bit, LOL).  On months that we could not achieve the activity, we’ll try to make it up the next month.  I also made a photo-log of the new (successful) dishes that I’ve cooked in Facebook, which serves as useful reminders when I forget the ingredients used in a particular dish.  Dear1 did well in his self-improvement too; he’d learnt a couple other new languages, and seems to be having fun expanding his knowledge through reading everyday.

Towards the end of the year, I kind of lost steam and got depressed when Granny was diagnosed with Stage 4 Uterine Cancer. When family members are old and sick, you start to think about life a lot more, adding to the mental, emotional and physical stress.  I guess I’ll just have to do more to keep myself away from the depressing thoughts.

2017 is gonna be a year when I immerse myself as a SAHM.  And the mantra that I want to set for myself as a SAHM, is to be a loving wife to Dear1, and a loving mentor to Baby1 and Baby2.

Dear2 NYR:

  1. Talk unhurriedly and in proper English or Mandarin
  2. Write legibly (and no short forms)
  3. Moisturize daily (hand, neck)
  4. Cup of warm water every morning (for improving digestive system)
  5. Planks every morning (for trimming down that loose belly!)
  6. Facebook ONLY once a day
  7. Attend a course (maybe an evening class at the CC?)
  8. Attend CEPP (Community Emergency Preparedness Program)
  9. Master 1 CNY cookie
  10. At least 1 post monthly
  11. Give Dear1 a massage at least once a week

Dear1 NYR:

  1. Weight: Maintain weight at 66-68kg
  2. Exercise: Do daily planks (minimum 2 x 1.5min) on weekdays
  3. Exercise on weekends
  4. Diet: Less oil, salt and carbo
  5. Complete 1 skills future course + Data Science course
  6. At least 1 post bi-monthly
  7. Sleep by 10.15pm on week nights
  8. Apply scholarship

Family NYR:

  1. Monthly family activities (starting Apr, opps)
  2. Quarterly couple activities (starting Q2, huhuhu)
  3. Quarterly bring Ah Gong and Ah Ma out
  4. Host Friends at least once this year
  5. Hug and kiss Dear1, Dear2, Baby1 and Baby2 everyday + say love often
  6. Travel: 1 long (2 weeks) and 1 short (see, by now, we have already done the short trip with our 1D Desaru trip, >_<  )
  7. Re-initiate house viewing (with the intention to rent)
  8. At least 1 fruit weekly (gotto feed Dear1 since he really does not have any fondness for fruits)
  9. Give each other full attention for at least 5mins everyday
  10. No processed foods (mental note to self: that includes frozen nuggets, fishballs, crabsticks, or any frozen balls)
  11. Teach – Step by step; Educate – Make understand; Instruct – Understand and follow

Jiayou~

– Dear2

Desaru 1 Day Trip

It’s the school holidays!

Baby1 entered Primary One this year, so this year marks the first year when our family holidays have to be planned around the school holidays, groan…

2 weeks before the March school holidays, when we finally got Baby1’s ballet exam schedule, Dear1 and I started to brainstorm about a holiday trip.

Cruise – (Royal Caribbean) too expensive.  Plus school holidays are even more expensive.  Not to mention the (local) crowd.

Fly – Hmm, we can’t be flying every school holidays right!?  That’ll mean March, June, September PLUS December.  No budget lah.  Also, we stay in Bukit Batok, and Changi Airport is in the East.  Travelling across Singapore is not efficient leh.

Staycation – What about not going out of Singapore?  That’ll mean staycations in hotels or chalets.  But at minimum $200+ per night, just to go swimming and/or use the hotel/resort facilities which are usually not suitable for our young kids, it’s cheaper if we just go swimming at public swimming pools, or stay out late the whole day, and DRIVE home after that.  I’m sure the total cost is much much cheaper than $200.

Boat – What about to the nearby island resorts, Batam or Bintan?  But even though Indonesia, good and clean resorts are not any cheaper too, hmm….

Drive – That’ll mean to Malaysia.  But after our 2015 Cherating self drive trip, I have a phobia of self drive in Malaysia; tail-gating brings a different meaning to distance on the Malaysian’s so-called highways. What about going on a tour package then?  Baby1 and Baby2 are now 7yo and 4.5yo, so they should be better able tolerate long bus rides (I hope so)?  So Dear1 and I looked up some tour packages to nearby Malaysia and Desaru looks near yet fun enough.  But a 2D1N package including 1 night accommodation doesn’t come cheap, plus we’ll really be sleeping for the night, and bathing, so hotel facilities won’t really be used at all. What about a day trip then?  Looks reasonable, except that we will have to be at Chinatown for pickup at 6.30am, and will reach Chinatown again at 11pm. It’ll be a challenge to reach Chinatown by 6.30am, and it’ll be a bigger nightmare to reach Chinatown at 11pm and take another 45min to reach our Bukit Batok home and bath the super cranky, tired kids.  Hmm…

We happened to chance upon private hire cars, and that seemed like a brilliant arrangement, except that it’s more expensive than having 40 people on a coach.  We decided to ask the gramps along too, and Ah Gong proposed to engage a Malaysian local private car company at SGD 350 for a 8-seater car. Deal.

On the day of our 1 Day Desaru Trip:

8.20am – The car picked up Ah Gong and Ah Ma at their block, and by 8.35am, our family climbed in too.  It’s a comfortable 8-seater, and it’s a Chinese driver.

9.30am – Woohoo, we’ve cleared the Woodlands customs, kudos to Ah Gong’s time planning.  He’d arranged for this pick up timing so that the Singapore to Malaysia customs should be fairly smooth at this time.  But I suspect the driver probably had a long stuck when he entered Singapore earlier.  Since the time was early, Ah Gong decided to bring us to the Kota Tinggi Waterfalls.

Visiting Kota Tinggi Waterfalls requires a ticket

First time seeing a waterfall up close for Dear2, Baby1, and Baby2. We saw only 3 groups of people playing in the water there.

10.40am – Omg, it’s a pretty long drive here.  But the waterfall is amazing!  It’s the first time that myself and the kids come so close to a waterfall.  There’s a little fall and 2 taller ones.  We hiked up, listened to the water gushing down, and put our hands into the stream to feel the impact of the cold streaming water.  Sensational!

11.30am – Okay, gotto move out.  Ah Gong directed the driver to a famous Bak Kut Teh stall (强记肉骨茶), but alas it’s not opened!  Next option, some nice Chinese zichar restaurant, so we drove back to the town centre near the waterfall.  Alas, not opened too.  We decided to just eat the Ah Boy Bak Kut Teh beside.  But now, it’s already 12.30pm, and we had to wait for 3 tables to be served before us, groan…

Getting ready for the hourly fruit farm tour. There were only 2 families in our group. In fact, we saw the other family earlier at Kota Tinggi Waterfalls.

2.05pm – We reached the Desaru fruit farm where the kids had a short nap in the car en-route here.  We took the next tour bus which was at 2.30pm, and after a 2 min drive, the Guide brought us around the fruit farm and mini zoo where she walked and explained so quickly that most of us were just nodding and kept straining to see exactly where on the plant is she pointing to.  Nonetheless, we saw pineapples, long beans, banana, papaya and many more fruits and vegetables, smelt basil in our palms, and chewed some leaf which was actually sweet!  The kids had fun feeding the fish and goats too; RM 2 for a BIG packet of feed , you’ll not dare to go Farmart again for the SGD 5 small packet of feed.

We found out that there are round papayas, as well as long papayas.

3.45pm – Back into the shade, and we ate the fruit box which came included in the package.  Baby1 had such fun enjoying and trying the various fruits in the box – watermelon, banana, honeydew, jackfruit, jumbu, passionfruit, guava.  Great job Baby1!  We like it that you are brave and adventurous to try all the different (unknown) fruits.

4.50pm – We reached the Ostrich Farm after a 30 min drive here. Wow, an ostrich egg is really huge and heavy, and an ostrich is really taller than Papa!  The kids had fun taking turns standing on ostrich eggs, stroking the ostrich, and riding the world’s fastest bird.  We also listened to Mandarin ah gong explained the uses and potency of ostrich, though Baby1 and Baby2 probably catch no ball throughout his whole Mandarin presentation.  They had fun knocking ostrich eggs on their heads, and feeling the paper-thin ostrich eggs membrane though.

One day old ostrich at the entrance of the farm.

A friendly ostrich greeted us as we entered. There were a couple of free roaming ostriches around. Two followed Dear1 around when one of the farmers handed a bucket of corn to Dear1.

5.50pm – Opps, how time flies, and we hurriedly left the ostrich farm.  There was a mis-communication and Ah Gong brought us to a seafood restaurant.  But how on earth are we going to order, wait for the food to be cooked, eat, and travel to the resort’s firefly cruise in 1 hours’ time!?  We quickly grabbed some Malaysian biscuits and went in search of fireflies.

7.15pm – OMG, the driver is absolutely clueless about the location!  Throughout the whole day’s drive, we kinda realised that this driver is not at all familiar with JB.  He took us to a blocked road which he was supposed to have come here a few weeks back.  What the!?  He quickly made lengthy inquiries with other drivers who pointed us to another location.  Along the way, he even dared to suggest that we head back to Kota Tinggi firefly place.  Super OMG. Luckily Dear1 had GPS on and we tried to steer ourselves towards the river.

7.40pm – The end of the small dark road led us to a restaurant.  There’s 2 Singapore cars here, so we should probably be at the right place?  We hurried in.  Phew, this is indeed the correct place, and the first boat will leave at 8pm.

We quickly purchased our ticket at the restaurant counter and waited for our cruise.

This is a view of the cruise boat. The lights were switched off once we sailed so that we can see the fireflies. It was too dark to take pictures of the glittering fireflies along the river banks. The beautiful scene lives only in our memories.

8pm – Each of us got seated comfortably on the large cruise boat, and admired the tiny twinkling lights as the boat sailed silently along the river.  The boatmen occasionally splashed water at the trees to disturb the fireflies, and even caught 1 firefly for us.  Another one landed on Baby1’s hair and palm, geez!  Papa caught 1 too! It was an amazing 30 min experience.

9.50pm – We finished dinner at this restaurant.  No more driving in search with this driver.

10.45pm – Reached Woodlands customs via one of the newer highway.  Hmm, this highway is indeed faster.  We exited the Malaysian custom fairly quickly, but omg, there’s a long queue of Singapore cars on the causeway entering the Singapore customs.

11.15pm – Finally cleared the customs.

11.30pm – Bukit Batok sweet Bukit Batok.

It was a fun-filled one day trip, short of not eating nicer foods, the driver being super inexperienced, and the dirty toilets.

Happy holidays!

– Dear2