Tulipmania 2015 at Gardens by the Bay

Tulipmania is back and this time, visitors to the Flower Dome  at Gardens by the Bay will find themselves in the magical realm of their favourite fairy tales. Well-loved stories and familiar characters such as Rapunzel, Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood are nestled among over 40 varieties of breathtakingly beautiful tulips.

Tulipmania 2015

Tulipmania 2015

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!

Thumbelina waiting for her tulips to bloom

Thumbelina waiting for her tulips to bloom

Anya and Adam were terribly excited to see their beloved fairy tales come to life in the Flower Dome. They shouted to Rapunzel to turn her head so that they could look at her face, peeked at shy Little Mermaid hiding among the plants, and parked themselves outside Snow White’s house to wait for her and the Seven Dwarves to make an appearance.

the Ugly Duckling has become a beautiful swan

the Ugly Duckling has become a beautiful swan

Little Red Riding Hood heading into the woods

Little Red Riding Hood heading into the woods

Cinderella

Cinderella

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

The kids were crazy about the gingerbread house from the story of Hansel & Gretel so it’s a good thing they couldn’t get near enough to attempt licking the walls. I liked how the reindeer from Christmas Wonderful were repurposed and incorporated into the tableau for the Snow Queen. Most of all, I couldn’t get enough of the gorgeous tulips on display!

The Little Mermaid is rather shy

The Little Mermaid is rather shy

the Mill on the hill

the Mill on the hill

There are several exciting programmes ongoing during this period. On 25 and 26 April, fairy tale characters will be roaming the Flower Dome between 11am and 5.30pm. There will be dance performances at 1, 2 and 3pm and characters on stilts at 4 and 5pm.

From now until 26 April, stand a chance to win a pair of tickets to Europe on KLM by taking part in the Instagram contest. Snap a creative pose with your favourite fairytale character on display in the Flower Dome with a caption describing why you love Tulipmania. Upload the photo and creative caption and include the hashtags #GBWishATrip #GBTulipMania #KLM.

the cold never bothered the Snow Queen anyway

the cold never bothered the Snow Queen anyway

wonder what this looks like when it's blooming!

wonder what this ‘Singapore’ tulip looks like when it’s blooming!

yummy gingerbread house

yummy gingerbread house

pretending to be Hansel and Gretel

pretending to be Hansel and Gretel

Tulipmania is at Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay from 20 March to 10 May 2015. You can buy tickets online or at the Ticketing Hub at Gardens by the Bay. Local senior citizens enjoy 50% off admission tickets to the conservatories on weekdays. Don’t forget to check out the performances and activities lined up for Mother’s Day as well!

Fabulous Pie by Gareth Edwards & Guy Parker-Rees

Fabulous Pie

Fabulous Pie

We all love a good story about the little guys outwitting a much larger one and Fabulous Pie by Gareth Edwards & Guy Parker-Rees is a fine example of such a story. A very bad bear bakes a very big pie and he needs help to fill the pie.

The mouse, the squirrel, the badger, and the otter all rush to help fill the pie with berries and such, but the very bad bear has something a lot more devious up his (proverbial) sleeves: he wants to fill his pie with the little animals and turn it into a terrible pie!

who'll help to make the feeling for my fabulous pie?

who’ll help to make the feeling for my fabulous pie?

The animals refuse to go down without a fight! They push their little feet through the bottom of the pie crust and run for their lives. The bear, in his haste to eat the animals, gets his comeuppance and slips and falls into the river, and the gentle creatures have the last laugh.

as the waved goodbye to the very bad bear

as the waved goodbye to the very bad bear

The illustrations in the books are beautiful and make you feel like warm sunshine is shining through every page of the book. The animals look very expressive and the story simply comes to life. Anya particularly loves the picture of the animals with their little feet sticking out the bottom of the pie crust with their eyes peeping out at the top.

a very bad bear baked a very big pie

a very bad bear baked a very big pie

The rhythmic lines and repetition of key phrases that encourage children to chime in, the setting in the forest, and the basic plot of the small and weak getting the better of the big and scary, remind me of the very popular children’s story, The Gruffalo. If your kids enjoy that book, they will love this story too.

Fabulous Pie is a fun and heartwarming story about how good can triumph over bad and is available from Book Depository for S$11.94.

Disclaimer: We received the book from Book Depository for review purposes. This review contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. 

A Week of National Mourning

LKY Monday 23 March I woke up feeling tired and out of sorts because Adam had coughed the entire night and none of us slept well. I reached for my phone to tell the school that I was taking childcare leave that day, and after sending my message, I starting looking through my Facebook feed. Within seconds, I saw a post announcing Mr Lee’s passing and I quickly checked a few reliable sources to ensure that it wasn’t another one of those horrible hoaxes that had been circulating the week before.

I turned on the TV and waited for PM Lee to address the nation at 8am. He looked so tired and so sad. He struggled to hold back his emotions. My tears started to flow and this would happen many more times in the next few days. LKY By that afternoon, there were several special editions of newspapers featuring Mr Lee’s life. The copies sold out quickly. I tried to read as much as I could about this man. I knew, in theory, all that he had done for Singapore, but what moved me beyond words was the description of his love for his wife. LKY I went to Popular to find a book I could use to tell the kids about Lee Kuan Yew. When I told my friends about the book, they asked me to help them buy a copy for their kids as well. The book store hadn’t had time to react; the books about Lee Kuan Yew were still in the local interest section. By the next day, there would be a special section with his books and the books about him laid out prominently. LKY I wanted to read about Lee Kuan Yew on my Kindle as well and found this book by Tom Plate. It’s an interesting read and I learnt a lot more about the man, his methods, his beliefs, and how he is perceived by the West.

When Plate asked LKY to offer some self-criticism, Mr Lee referred him to Catherine Lim and her words here explain the extreme reactions that would be seen during the mourning period – ‘Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy will be so mixed that at one end of the spectrum of response, there will be pure adulation, and at the other, undisguised opprobrium and distaste. But whatever the controversies that surround him, everyone will agree that for a man of his stature and impact, neither the past nor the present holds an equal.’ LKY Tuesday 24 March Back at work the next day, I had a lump in my throat when the state and school flags were raised to the top and then released to the half-mast position. The mood in school was somber and almost all my colleagues were dressed in black or white. The students were encouraged to leave a tribute for Mr Lee and one drew a rather accurate portrait of him. LKY In the school library, there was a Lee Kuan Yew thematic display of books. On the electronic display screens around the school, there was a photograph montage of Mr Lee at school events. Sadly, I had not been in this school long enough to have had the chance to meet him at one of these events. LKY Wednesday 25 March A ceremonial gun carriage carrying Mr Lee’s casket made its way from Sri Temasek at the Istana (where the private family wake had been taking place) to the Parliament House. Before the casket left the Istana, a lone bagpiper played Auld Lang Syne and all around Singapore, tears flowed freely.

At 10am, a queue of people, some of whom had started queuing the night before, steadily made their way into Parliament House to pay their respects. Although the initial plan was for the public to pay their respects between 10am and 8pm, the overwhelming response meant that Parliament House would be open for 24 hours every day until the queue at the Padang closed at 8pm on Saturday, 28 March. LKY 18 community sites were set up around Singapore for members of the public to pay tribute to Mr Lee. We took the kids to the one in Clementi. By the time the casket left Parliament House for University Cultural Centre, more than 1.2 million people would have paid their respects to Mr Lee at Parliament House and the various tribute sites. LKY Thursday 26 March We attempted to pay our respects to Mr Lee at the Parliament House and started queuing at the Padang at about 6.30pm. There were so many people at the MRT station and all around the Padang. The queue moved slowly and steadily and volunteers provided us with drinks and snacks. LKY We were in the priority queue but there were lots of other people in the queue with us. It was stuffy and quite overwhelming so the kids played alongside the queue while I stayed in the queue to hold our place. LKY It got later and darker and the kids got more tired. They were entertaining themselves by running up and down and playing with other kids and with balloons that had been given out. The queue moved very slowly. LKY Eventually, we turned into the area that was the final stretch before the security checkpoints. The crowd spread out into a suffocating mass and we were fenced in by bushes on one side and railings on the other.

The queue barely moved in the time we were there so we decided to leave the queue. I didn’t feel comfortable being trapped in one small area with so many people. We called the hotline to share our experience and by the next morning, the queuing system had improved greatly. LKY Friday 27 March I took my students to the tribute site at Botanic Gardens and we paid our respects there. While this younger generation may not be able to fully comprehend all that Mr Lee Kuan Yew has done in his lifetime for Singapore, they were still eager to show their gratitude and appreciation. LKY At the Botanic Gardens tribute site, I finally managed to put my thoughts down on paper to thank Mr Lee Kuan Yew. I know this man was not perfect and some of his beliefs, methods and actions may not have been readily accepted by every one. But there is certainly no denying that we owe a lot to him and the team that he led. LKYFrom various updates on Facebook, I realised that the priority queue was greatly improved, so after I was done at Botanic Gardens, I rushed to a friend’s place to get Anya and we made our way to Padang to try again after our failed attempt the previous night.

The priority queue had been restructured so that there would not be too many people in one section at any time. We were immensely touched by the selflessness of the volunteers controlling the crowds and giving out drinks, fans, sweets and snacks under the blazing hot sun. LKY We reached the security checkpoints in about half an hour and then made our way slowly to Parliament House, paid our respects and were out in another half an hour. I updated my friends on the queue situation and they started making their way down as well.

You can glimpse Anya and (a very tearful) me in this video of Rani Singam and Jeremy Monteiro presenting a musical tribute of One People, One Nation, One Singapore inside the Parliament House. LKY Saturday 28 March I was on a department retreat on the southern islands and we saw the RSAF’s Black Knights rehearsing their Missing Man formation, where one aircraft will leave the four-aircraft flying formation as an aerial salute to honour Mr Lee Kuan Yew. LKY Sunday 29 March We gathered at my friend’s place because her flat overlooked Commonwealth Ave. As we made our way there, we saw so many waiting for him even though there were still 2 hours to go before his cortege would pass them. Our hearts ached as the heavy rain beat down relentlessly on those lining the roads below. LKY We watched as the cortege made its way from Parliament House to University Cultural Centre. The tears of the people lining the streets mingled with the rain. Soon, the cortege was at Queenstown, making its way towards Commonwealth Ave where we were. Those waiting along the streets closed their umbrellas and waved their Singapore flags with pride. We could hear the fervent chants of ‘Lee Kuan Yew!’ from the people before we could see the cortege. LKY And, just like that, we said our final farewell to Mr Lee. LKY 一路好走, Mr Lee. Thank you and goodbye, Sir.

雨下了走好路
这句话我记住
风再大吹不走祝福
雨过了就有路
像那年看日出
你牵着我穿过了雾
叫我看希望就在黑夜的尽处

Tale As Old As Time – Beauty and the Beast

I fell in love with the story of Beauty and the Beast back in 1991 when the Disney movie came out. I knew the lyrics to every song by heart and watched the movie over and over. So it was a dream come true to watch Beauty and the Beast come to life on stage in Singapore. To be honest, I was even more excited than Anya before the show!

Beauty and the Beast is the story of Belle, a beautiful young woman trapped in a provincial town who finds her escape in the books that she loves to read, and the Beast, a young prince trapped in a spell placed by an enchantress. Belle promises to stay with the Beast in his castle in exchange for her father’s freedom. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed to his former self.

Belle

With a dreamy, far-off look and her nose stuck in a book

The story is complicated by Gaston, the macho man who is all brawn and no brains. He is determined to marry Belle, even if it means resorting to despicable means and emotional blackmail. The scene in the tavern where his admirers tell Gaston how much they adore him is one of my favourites because of the high energy level and the comic relief provided.

Gaston

No one’s slick as Gaston, no one’s quick as Gaston’s

It was wonderful to see how the enchanted humans in the Beast’s castle were thoroughly convincing as the household objects they were representing. As in the movie, Lumiere the candelabra stole the show with his sharp wit and flamboyance. Little Chip the teacup was utterly endearing even though we could see only his head for most of the show. Anya was entranced by ‘Be Our Guest’ and declared that her favourite characters in that song were the plates!

enchanted

I can’t wait to be human again

Be Our Guest!

Be Our Guest!

There was great chemistry between Belle and the Beast, from the initial tension between them to their budding romance, and you cannot help but root for them to fall in love and live happily ever after. I liked that the Beast was more petulant and gruff than the version in the movie because it accurately captures his frustration at being trapped in a hideous body and his awkwardness at not having interacted with another human being for such a long time.

rose

If he could learn to love another, and earn her love in return by the time the last petal fell…

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast

The entire cast of Beauty and the Beast is superb and completely deserving of the standing ovation they received at the end of the show. Belle’s voice is outstanding and amazing, and it is worth watching the show just to hear her sing. Beauty and the Beast is truly a must-watch for any age and is the best musical I have seen in years. Do not miss it!

TICKETING AND SHOW INFORMATION

SEASON: 21 Mar – 19 April 2015
PERFORMANCE TIMES: Tue – Fri 8pm; Sat 2pm & 8pm; Sun 1pm & 6pm
TICKET PRICE: From $65 (Excludes the booking fee of $3 per ticket)
THROUGH INTERNET: Marina Bay Sands Ticketing or SISTIC
BY PHONE: 6688 8826
IN PERSON AT: Marina Bay Sands Box Offices (Museum, Theatres, SkyPark, Retail Mall and Hotel Tower 1 Lobby)

Disclaimer: We received two complimentary tickets to watch this performance. All opinions are my own. All photos used are from Base Entertainment.

Celebrating Women with The Fullerton Heritage

International Women’s Day is on 8 March but we really should be showing our love, respect and appreciation for women all year round, not just for one day a year. The Fullerton Heritage is taking International Women’s Day one step further by extending the celebration to the entire month of March and partnering Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations to raise funds for causes related to women.

There is the Singapore Women Pioneers Heritage Tour taking place every weekend in March from 10.30am to 12pm. This inspiring walking tour around the civic and cultural district is centred around the theme of Singapore women pioneers. This walking tour is limited to 20 people and there are still tickets available for 22, 28 and 29 March. I’ll be going this Sunday with my aunt!

A custom-made limited edition Fullerton Wonderful Woman plush bear is retailing at $22 each at The Fullerton Shop. $10 from the sale of each bear will be donated to SCWO’s Service Fund. This contributes to the funding of Star Shelter – a temporary refuge for women and their children who are victims of family violence.

The Fullerton Heritage - Wonderful Woman Plush Bear (600x450)

Wonderful Woman bear

You can also indulge in the Purple Afternoon Tea specially created for the month of March in celebration of International Women’s Day. Priced at $43 per adult and $22 per child, it features delights like the mini lemon mini blueberry cheese cake, lavender financier, lavender flavoured macaroons, yuzu meringue tartlet, purple potato, ricotta cheese on semi-dried roll and tiger prawns with avruga caviar on sesame roll. $5 will go to SCWO Service Fund for each tea set sold.

Purple Afternoon Tea

Purple Afternoon Tea

Better yet, take advantage of the Women Day’s room package at $480 per room per night. Not only can you enjoy the Purple Afternoon Tea for 2 and a gourmet buffet breakfast for 2, you get a limited edition Fullerton Wonderful Woman Plush Bear as well. $20 will go to SCWO Service Fund for each room package booked.

The Fullerton Heritage is making the celebration of International Women’s Day a lot more meaningful by partnering SCWO to raise funds for causes related to women throughout the month of March. You have until the end of the month to be a part of this wonderful series of promotions and events!

Old Dragon Playground at Ang Mo Kio

When I was a kid, my paternal grandmother lived in Ang Mo Kio and we would visit her occasionally. From time to time, my cousins would take me down to the dragon playground nearby to play. And many years later, I’m playing at that same playground with my own kids.

This particular playground is at Blk 571 Ang Mo Kio Ave 3 and is about one or two bus stops away from Ang Mo Kio MRT Station. The sand has been replaced by the spongy flooring found in modern playgrounds and I actually prefer it because I always imagine cats using the playground as a giant litter box.

Our kids these days have such exciting playgrounds: wet and dry, indoor and outdoor, free and at a fee. I honestly thought they would be quite underwhelmed by the dragon playground and maybe just hang around for a bit to humour me and let me take photos. But Anya and Adam were ecstatic when they saw the dragon and they spent loads of time there chasing each other up and down the dragon’s back. I’m glad I could share this piece of my childhood with them and that they had so much fun there!

Dragon Playground

Dragon Playground

climbing up

climbing up

chasing each other

chasing each other

on the dragon's back

on the dragon’s back

up and down

up and down

pause

pause

peeking at mummy

peeking at mummy

dragon's head

dragon’s head

getting ready to slide down

getting ready to slide down

whee!

whee!

and back up again

and back up again

back for more

back for more

a final picture before calling it a day

a final picture before calling it a day

My other heritage playground posts are from 2011 and one of the playgrounds has since been demolished. Sad face. Read about the Toa Payoh dragon playground, the Dakota Crescent seal playground and the Clementi sparrow playground.

Imaginarium at SAM at 8Q

We always look forward to the annual contemporary arts exhibition for children at Singapore Art Museum and this year’s offering, Imaginarium: A Voyage of Big Ideas, will run until 19 July. We popped by on Saturday to check out the Children’s Craft Fair and decided to hang around to explore the exhibits.

Imaginarium: A Voyage of Big Ideas

Imaginarium: A Voyage of Big Ideas

SAM at 8Q

SAM at 8Q

swinging around

swinging around

First stop: We Built this Estate! by Chiang Yu Xiang. Squishy blocks shaped like Tetris pieces allow the kids to build whatever they want, and then run all over what they have built. This room is the most baby-friendly and Baby D had fun running around catching balloons and tearing velcro-ed motorists from the walls.

We Built this Estate!

We Built this Estate!

man down!

man down!

Don't worry, I'll help you!

Don’t worry, I’ll help you!

parking lot

parking lot

We took a long time to walk up the stairs to the next level because the kids were busy looking for their favourite doodle out of the impressive Imagin-a-doodle illustrations by the Band of Doodlers on the walls. Look for the Merlion!

impressive work by Band of Doodlers

impressive work by Band of Doodlers

choosing their favourite

choosing their favourite

folding origami and writing letters in the moonroom

folding origami and writing letters in the moonroom

For the crafty kids, the Let’s Make! Studio by Izziyana Suhaimi is a dream come true. Kids can make pom poms, weave yarn, or try some embroidery. Anya and Adam made some pom poms (with some help from the husband, of course) and have been carrying them around like little pets.

Let's Make! Studio

Let’s Make! Studio

pom poms

pom poms

instructions for weaving, embroidery and making pom poms

instructions for weaving, embroidery and making pom poms

Our favourite room is Greenroom II: Interstellar Overdrive by Vincent Twardzik Ching. Lights and sound are generated when you cycle so you get some exercise when admiring art. Not bad at all! They should totally have this system at the gym so you don’t get to watch TV or listen to music unless you work for it. I love that the bikes had baby seats so Adam and David could be part of the experience even though they are too small/ too short to reach the bike pedals.

where are we going?

where are we going?

Greenroom II: Interstellar Overdrive

Greenroom II: Interstellar Overdrive

words activated by Anya, circular lights by Adrian

words activated by Anya, circular lights by Adrian

Our last exhibit for the day was Dream House by Lee Jeeyoung. When the kids saw the sweet set-up, their faces lit up and they had a fun time hanging up sweets in the garden. It’s a good thing that they couldn’t actually eat the sweets.

Dream House

Dream House

picking up sweets

picking up sweets

hanging sweets on trees

hanging sweets on trees

To be honest, Kiko’s Secrets by Kumkum Fernando made me feel a bit uncomfortable with the UV light, the strange music, the psychedelic colours, the insects, the eggs made with tiny objects, etc. and there’s a notice outside that children below 1 year old should not enter. The kids thought it was a bit creepy but liked the bit where they got to fit plastic shapes into fish scales.

Kiko's Secrets

Kiko’s Secrets

looking through a kaleidoscope

looking through a kaleidoscope

eggs

eggs

insects

insects

filling in shapes

filling in shapes

You can buy a limited-edition Passport to the Moon! at the front desk and take selfies at The Original Selfie Machine in the lobby. Make sure the kids are tall enough or standing on the seat when you take your pictures. Check out the details about programmes, workshops and film screenings here.

SAM at 8Q
8 Queen St
Singapore 188535
6589 9580 / 6589 9564
enquiries@singaporeartmuseum.sg
Opening Hours: Mon – Sun: 10am to 7pm; Fri: 10am to 9pm

Admission:
Citizens/ PRs and children under 6 – Free
Foreigners: $10 for adults and $5 for students & senior citizens