Disney & SMRT Collaboration

Love Star Wars, The Avengers & Frozen? Then you’re in for a treat! SMRT and Disney have an 18-month collaboration and you will be able to get up close and personal with their most iconic characters. Disney’s franchises and brands will be brought closer to over 2 million passengers and hundreds of thousands more shoppers in SMRT’s transport and retail networks daily.

We attended the official launch on 12 November and the kids were delighted to be greeted by Stormtroopers when the train doors opened. Of course, they were there just for the launch but it was still pretty cool.

just another day on the train

just another day on the train

harassing the Stormtrooper

harassing the Stormtrooper

check out this carriage!

check out this carriage!

the Force is strong in this train

the Force is strong in this train

Ms Dawn Low of SMRT and Mr Rob Gilby of Disney

Ms Dawn Low of SMRT and Mr Rob Gilby of Disney

The entire train is Instagram-worthy and I can imagine fans of Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar and Disney having a blast taking photos of themselves in their favourite themed carriage. The kids at the launch all zoomed to the back of the train where characters from Frozen were prominently displayed on the windows.

I love all things Disney and I think this is such a great collaboration that will make our train rides more interesting. Really looking forward to riding the train with different Disney characters at the different lines and stations!

superheroes galore!

superheroes galore!

our favourite

our favourite

the kids are loving it!

the kids are loving it!

Our 9th Wedding Anniversary

We were in Nepal last week and celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary there. It was a VERY memorable anniversary and not entirely in a good way. We had a nice dinner at Moondance in Pokhara the night before and even joked that it could count as our anniversary dinner since we might be very tired after getting back to Kathmandu the next day.

dinner at Moondance

dinner at Moondance

So on the day of our 9th wedding anniversary, we woke up at 4.30am and a cab took us to Sarangkot to view the sun rising over Annapurna. There was a free viewing area but some enterprising locals were offering an elevated view with seats and free hot tea for just 100 rupees so we opted for that instead.

It was very cold and somewhat cloudy but still an awesome experience. The locals told us that we were lucky because it had been even cloudier the days prior to that. We had quite a good view of the sunrise but the clouds moved in very quickly after that.

lots of people gathered to watch

lots of people gathered to watch

a magnificent sight

a magnificent sight

didn't manage to get a good shot with the mountains

didn’t really get a good shot with the mountains

warming up with some tea

warming up with some tea

silly jump shot just because

silly jump shot just because

After getting back to the Lakeside area of Pokhara, we had breakfast and spent some time packing before heading out to explore the area on bikes. We cycled to the dam and the waterfront, stopping whenever we felt like it and randomly eating and buying things.

I had been wanting to try the fried snacks I see everywhere but Adrian was a bit paranoid about the hygiene level. He has not gotten over the fact that I suffered bad food poisoning during our honeymoon in Bali. We passed a stall that looked quite decent so we had some anyway!

cycling in Pokhara

cycling in Pokhara

the dam

the dam

by Phewa Tal lake

by Phewa Tal lake

random fried snacks

random fried snacks

After checking out of our rooms, we grabbed lunch at Black & White Cafe where I had the most amazingly delicious vegetarian Dal Bhat set ever! It was so good! We love Dal Bhat so much that we had it four days in a row while we were there and for me, that one was the best.

Dal Bhat

Dal Bhat (the curry on the left belonged to Adrian’s meal)

Sadly though, things went downhill after that wondrous hot meal. We got to the airport and were told we could not check in for our 2.15pm flight because there were four flights before ours that were delayed due to bad weather. Our options were to cancel our flight and get a refund or wait until 4pm for an update on the situation. The plane had to leave Kathmandu by 4pm so that we can get out of Pokhara by 4.30pm. They don’t fly once it’s dark.

After waiting 3 hours, we were told that the plane was boarding people at Kathmandu so we could check in our luggage and get our boarding passes. But just 5 minutes later, we were informed that our flight (and all the other flights after that) was canceled due to air traffic! We asked our hotel to arrange a car and driver for us and we were driven to Kathmandu. It took us 6 hours, in the dark, and on crappy roads.

sad

sad

at the petrol station before our 6-hour drive

at the petrol station before our 6-hour drive

So it was a really memorable anniversary for us and although those 6 hours on the road were terrible, we had each other and I’m thankful for our driver who drove very cautiously and for the man at our hotel who cooked two bowls of hot noodles for us when we arrived cold and hungry.

Here’s hoping our 10th wedding anniversary will be unforgettable for good reasons!

Music Crash Course at The Eighth Note

The husband bought me a little ukulele early this year because one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to learn an instrument. It was sitting around collecting dust for a really long time until I started a music crash course at The Eighth Note.

The music crash course is held over 4 weeks x 1 hour and you can choose from ukulele, guitar, pop keyboard and drums. I have absolutely no music background whatsoever and wasn’t expecting to learn all that much after four lessons but I was surprised!

In the short one hour of my first lesson, I learnt about the anatomy of a ukulele, how to read a chord diagram, and a few basic chords. By the end of that lesson, I could play 2 songs. Really a great sense of satisfaction! It helps that my teacher Neil is very patient but also strict enough to ensure I’m not slacking off. He took the time to find out the kind of songs I like so that I could learn them and to correct my mistakes.

After completing four weeks of lessons, I’m able to play many of my favourite songs on the ukulele and I also learnt different ways of strumming to fit different types of songs. For example, I can now play I’m Yours by Jason Mraz, Count on Me by Bruno Mars, a whole bunch of National Day songs including my all-time favourite Home, and at least 3 of Adele’s songs. And that’s just to name a few!

with my ukulele teacher, Neil

with my ukulele teacher, Neil

playing some simple songs

playing some simple songs

Anya has been taking the same ukulele crash course but she’s doing 8 weeks x 30 minutes since kids tend to have a shorter attention span. She’s about halfway though and can play a few chords and songs. I think she’s enjoying herself because she keeps wanting to borrow my ukulele to practise.

Anya and her teacher

Anya and her teacher

The music crash course is just $40 an hour and I think it’s utterly worth it. It’s great for complete beginners like me or if you want to try a new instrument before deciding to pursue it more seriously. I’m definitely impressed with my experience at The Eighth Note and will turn to them to fulfill any future New Year’s Resolutions!

The Eighth Note (Main Branch)
19 Lorong Kilat #01-04
Singapore 598120
Tel: 64651418
Email: hi@theeighthnote.com.sg

The Eighth Note (Parkway Centre)
Parkway Centre #02-02
Singapore 449408
Tel: 63480628
Email: jac@theeighthnote.com.sg

GIVEAWAY

I have a 4 weeks x 1 hour music crash course (or 8 weeks x 30 minutes for a child) to be won by one lucky reader! The winner can choose from ukulele, guitar, pop keyboard and drums.

To qualify, simply do the following by Saturday, 29 November 2014, 2359H (Singapore time):
1. Like the ‘In the Wee HoursFacebook page.
2. Like the ‘The Eighth Note‘ Facebook page.
3. Like, share and comment on this Facebook post telling me (a) which instrument you want to learn and (b) at which branch of The Eighth Note!

Terms & Conditions: This giveaway is open to Singapore residents only. Winners will be contacted through Facebook message and will have 24 hours to respond, failing which a new winner will be drawn. All incomplete entries will be disqualified. All entries will be verified before the winners are announced. To be fair to our sponsors, please note that all fake Facebook accounts (e.g. accounts set up purely to take part in contests with no or very few real friends) will also be ineligible to win.

The Rock School: The Rock Challenge & Carnival 2014

Anya really enjoys rock-climbing and we have tried a few places but our favourite is The Rock School! We were there in July this year and again very recently and both times, we were immensely impressed by the patience, dedication and skill of the instructors.

Their 2-hour Fun Climb programme for kids is perfect as an introduction to climbing for the little ones. The kids warm up with some games inside a room and learn basic climbing techniques. Under the instructors’ guidance and assuring hands, they become familiar with the climbing holds and gain confidence before attempting the wall outside.

getting to know the kids

getting to know the kids

warming up with some games

warming up with some games

a briefing before climbing

a briefing before climbing

guiding the littlest one

guiding the littlest one

put your foot here

put your foot here

steady there

steady there

an assuring hand

an assuring hand

At the rock wall, the instructors put on the harness for the kids and brief them on safety and demonstrate how to climb the walls before allowing the kids to try it for themselves. To motivate them, the kids are given stickers for each section they manage to climb.

Unlike other climbing schools where kids are left to fumble around and find their own way up the wall, the instructors are completely focused on each child they are belaying at that moment and providing guidance and encouragement each step of the way.

time for the actual rock wall

time for the actual rock wall

starting at the simple one

starting at the simple one

all the way up

all the way up

gave the red wall a go as well

gave the red wall a go as well

After the climb, the kids are presented with their card with the stickers they have managed to attained. Adam was too young to climb on the rock wall outside but they did not forget him and gave him a card as well and he was so pleased.

The kids had so much fun at their Fun Climb session and it really is the perfect introduction to rock-climbing for first-timers.

his efforts get acknowledged

his efforts get acknowledged

look how happy she is

look how happy she is

so much fun!

so much fun!

An exciting upcoming event organised by The Rock School is The Rock Challenge and The Rock Carnival. Click here for instructions on how to register!

Date: 22 & 23 November 2014 (Sat & Sun)
Timing: 10am – 4pm
About: The Carnival is a 2-day event (purchase a 1-day pass) with climbing as the highlight and side events like face painting, balloon sculpting, flea market and more. On top of a specially constructed bouldering wall with routes of varying difficulties, the highwall will be open for parent-child climbs. Climbers may stay and play for as long as they like, even throughout the whole 6 hours from 10am-4pm!

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare’s Globe

A Midsummer's Night Dream

A Midsummer’s Night Dream was my O-Level text so I know it pretty well and it’s a dream come true to watch it performed by Shakespeare’s Globe. I’d watched a few other productions of the play and had been somewhat underwhelmed each time, but I thoroughly enjoyed the performance by Shakespeare’s Globe and highly recommend it.

Titania and Bottom

Titania and Bottom

A Midsummer’s Night Dream is a comedy of errors reminding us that ‘the course of true love never did run smooth’. Hermia and Lysander love each other but she is expected to marry Demetrius. Helena is madly in love with Demetrius but spurned by him. Oberon and Titania, the king and queen of the fairies, are in the midst of a dispute but he still has the time to meddle in the affairs of the mortals and to play a trick on Titania. Comic relief is provided by a group of rustics preparing to perform a play within the play. Of course, everything is resolved and (almost) every one is happy by the end of the play.

Titania

Titania

I love the costumes worn by the fairy people. There are no pastel colours, glitter, or organza anywhere and instead there is a lot of leather and fur (and mud!) and everything looks very organic, earthy and raw. What also stood out for me was the physicality of the actors and that is used to great effect in the scenes where the young lovers are under Oberon’s spell and when the rustics perform their play during the Duke’s wedding. It was also interesting to see the young lovers losing bits of their clothing and becoming more exposed (both their bodies and their nature) in the forest. The play within the play performed by the mechanicals was so funny and it had the audience rolling in the aisles.

Helena and Lysander

Helena and Lysander

There are a few things that could have been better. For example, they attempted to inject a bit of local flavour by namedropping a Singaporean production (Forbidden City) but that was such a long time ago that it didn’t have any impact on the audience and completely went over our heads. I think they would have been better off referring to Dim Sum Dollies or something. Later, they had some of the characters speak a few lines of Mandarin and it came off as a bit pointless and there’s a significant number of people in the audience who do not understand Mandarin.

Demetrius and Helena

Demetrius and Helena

Overall, I loved the simplicity of the set, the music accompaniment, the energy, the comic timing, the pacing and the strong acting by most of the actors. If you are into Shakespeare, you should definitely catch A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare’s Globe. This is as close as you will get to how Shakespeare is supposed to be done without actually making a trip down to London!

A Midsummer's Night Dream

A Midsummer’s Night Dream

SEASON DETAILS
Venue: Esplanade Theatre
Season: Thu 13 Nov to Sun 16 Nov; Thu, Fri, Sun: 8 pm; Sat: 3 & 8 pm
Duration: 2 hours and 45 minutes (with a 15-minute intermission)
Tickets: from $54
Bookings: Tickets available through SISTIC. (Internet:www.sistic.com.sg; Hotline: 6348 5555; All SISTIC authorized agents island-wide)

Anya’s Concert

A few weeks ago, we watched Anya’s kindergarten concert at the University Cultural Centre (UCC). It was all a bit surreal because we used to have so many performances at UCC when we were still in NUS more than 10 years ago and now I’m watching my kid perform on stage!

Anya was really excited about the performance and had been singing the songs in the car and practising the dance moves at home for the longest time. She was also very pleased with her costume and kept telling us how nice it was.

Anya was very particular about her make-up, emphasising that she was supposed to have silver eyeshadow, pink blusher and red lipstick. I’m very clueless about make-up since I hardly wear any but Aunty Debs came to the rescue and gave us tons of make-up for Anya’s performance.

doing her make-up before the show

doing her make-up before the show

Adam wondering what the fuss is all about

Adam wondering what the fuss is all about

all ready to perform

all ready to perform

being matchy-matchy in my Lark & Peony cheongsam

being matchy-matchy in my Lark & Peony cheongsam

a quick family photo (without the baby)

a quick family photo (without the baby)

the kids being herded backstage

the kids being herded backstage

We were seated pretty far back because the better seats were reserved for the families of the K2 graduating children so I’m very thankful that David of Life’s Tiny Miracles (who was seated much further in front with his very good camera and superb photography skills) took some beautiful close-up shots of Anya’s performance for me!

Anya’s dance was one of the first items and it was clear to to see that the kids and the teachers had put in so much effort into the dance. The same goes for every other item that followed. It takes a lot of dedication to put together a performance involving so many different groups of young children!

The Power of One

The Power of One

Anya in action

Anya in action (photo credit: David)

so happy to be performing

so happy to be performing (photo credit: David)

Lasso the Moon

Lasso the Moon

the finale

the finale

It wasn’t even her graduation and I was already bursting with pride and close to tears! I think I’m going to be a slobbering mess when I see her in her little graduation gown. How did my baby grow into a little lady so quickly??

with the baby after the performance

with the baby after the performance

well done, Anya!

well done, Anya!

Big Hero 6

Big Hero 6

Big Hero 6

with Baymax

with Baymax

We caught Big Hero 6 on Saturday and absolutely loved it. Even before the movie was over, I wanted to watch it again! The kids enjoyed the show too and they simply adore the cuddly and squishy Baymax.

Set in San Fransokyo (a mash-up of Tokyo and San Francisoco), Big Hero 6 is an action packed comedy-adventure about robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada, who learns to harness his genius—thanks to his brilliant brother Tadashi and their like-minded friends: adrenaline junkie Go Go Tomago, neatnik Wasabi, chemistry whiz Honey Lemon and fanboy Fred. When a devastating turn of events catapults them into the midst of a dangerous plot unfolding in the streets of San Fransokyo, Hiro turns to his closest companion—a robot named Baymax—and transforms the group into a band of high-tech heroes determined to solve the mystery.

San Fransokyo is a perfect setting for Big Hero 6: fast paced and energetic with traditional elements to show that there is still some heart in the midst of technology. I love how there’s so much humour in the movie but many touching moments as well where I had to wipe away a tear or two. The main character, Hiro Hamada, is imperfect and hence very human and easy to relate to. I was also heartened by the fact that the female characters are smart and independent women who fight alongside the men! Big Hero 6 brings the action while focusing on family, friendship and teamwork without being trite.

Official Trailer: http://bit.ly/1rzaIrz
Official release date: 13 November 2014
For more information, head to the official Walt Disney Studios SG Facebook page & Youtube page.

Grab your friends, give them a big Baymax hug, and catch Big Hero 6 today!