Tuesday, 26 June 2018

My Kind of Bangkok Holiday Sans Kids. What's Yours?

Since I am on the topic of travelling to Bangkok, aka BKK, let's continue...

Bangkok is approximately 2 hours 30 minutes away from Singapore by plane.  Which makes it a relatively convenient city to visit, especially for Mummies out there because we can make it a short 2D1N, 3D2N, or however long we want.  I know how some Mums cringe at leaving their tots at home, without them, or are afraid to venture for a holiday for themselves only.  But hey, BKK is not a far place to consider.  Just "run away from home" for 2 days and tell yourself it's possible.

There are many airlines that fly from Singapore to Bangkok.  From full fledge airlines to budget ones, from 7am flights in the morning to 7pm flights at night, there is bound to be one that suits your needs and fulfil your wanderlust.  I know of people who do same-day trips to BKK, taking the first flight out (to BKK) and last flight back.  I have never done that - the shortest for me was a 3D2N trip that span less than 48 hours though.

Something old, something new.  You never fail to amaze me every trip.
I am not going to give you an itinerary because most of the times I am there, I will wake up and then decide where to go.  Most of the times.  Oh yes, apart from the cooking lesson I wrote about here that requires pre-booking.

But!  I will tell you where I go or what I eat.  :)

First, let's talk about markets.  From one of the 10 world's fresh market ranked by CNN to night markets (BKK has plenty of them!), one can walk non-stop.  That's the reason why a foot massage every night is a must for me.

Or Tor Kor Market

Take the MRT subway to Kamphaeng Phet station, exit number three and you will find yourself at the market that is ranked one of the 10 world's fresh market by CNN.

This is not the kind of wet markets we have back home.  In fact, the place is clean and pretty well-ventilated.  I love coming here on the last 2 days of my trip because of the fresh produce (read: fruits and garlic) I can buy home.

Garlic, garlic and more garlic!  These are very nice in Bak Kut Teh.

If you come during the mango season, you can buy some mangoes home.  The sellers will help you choose and mark the mangoes based on when the mangoes will ripe so that you can estimate when you can eat them (for e.g. 3 markings mean the mangoes will ripe in say 3-4 days).  How nice, right?

Need a mortar and pestle?  The supposedly good ones.  But, bargain!!!

Chatuchak Weekend Market 

This weekend market needs no introduction.  If I am there on a weekend, I may visit.  However, I cannot stand the heat.  Hot and humid, the coconut ice-cream is always a good treat.  Remember to bring a big bag to contain your purchases - you do not want to walk around carrying many small plastic bags.

Rot Fai Market Ratchada

The nearest MRT to this night market that opens from Thursday to Sunday is National Cultural Centre.  Though most websites indicate that it opens from 6pm, most of the stores start to operate from 7pm.  With open air pubs and loud music blasting, it is indeed a happening place to be in.  There are stuff to buy and food to eat.  Street food or hot piping seafood, there is no lack of things to see and eat.  

Sotong eggs anyone?

Will you eat this?  Or will you allow your kids to eat this?  Looks so cute but the amount of food colouring makes me feel very uncomfortable.

I shop a lot in Platinum Mall and Pratunam Market for both work and casual clothes.  Shorts and dresses, pants and tops.  Compared to Singapore, the prices are still pretty decent.  From 200Baht (~S$8.50) to 400Baht (~S$17.00), I can get a work dress that can easily last me 2 years or so.  Demi shorts last even longer!  Knowing that there are hundreds of stores in both places, I will definitely patronise those that I've bought clothes from.  If you are keen to know where I get my clothes, ask me and I will gladly share.  And something that not many know, Platinum Mall's toilets have fitting rooms that are clean.  You can try your newly bought clothes there and if need be, you can change sizes if they do not fit.  But always ask about exchanging for sizes first before purchasing.  Some sellers are fine while some aren't.

Another place that I will go is Chinatown.  Bangkok's Chinatown, otherwise known as Yaowarat, is home to Bangkok's Chinese community.  My friends love there at night due to the endless food options but I prefer there during the day.  Usually starting my day early there, I scour the alleys for wholesale buys.  Be prepared for the notorious BKK jam when travelling there during peak hours though.

This tickles me lots.  In the last trip with Serene and Jenn, Serene actually took this photo and posted on her Instagram stories.  When I travel without the kids, I often bring the measuring tape with me as it is a easier way to obtain measurements as compared to bringing their clothes along.

Non-authentic kids masks and toys.  At wholesale prices.

Party supplies, goodie bag items anyone?
Serene introduced this to us on our last trip to BKK.  Nai Ek Roll Noodles has a Distinction in the Michelin Guide 2018.  The peppery broth warms the tummy and I get my pig's blood cravings satisfied.  The crackling roast pork belly is to die for too!  Be prepared to queue during peak hours.  We were there on a Sunday morning at about 8am and were spared the wait.

Bangkok is home to many cafes these days.  Many are Instagram worthy places.  One such place is Karmakamet Secret World.  Within walking distance from BTS Phrom Phong, one seem to be cut-off from the hustle and bustle of city life once in there.  

It's the experience that counts and truly, it is.  I did not have any main courses there and so cannot comment on the quality of the food.  The desserts I had were very pretty though.  Totally a IG-worthy place.  Price wise - it is considered expensive in BKK standards.  If you have the time and would like to try something different, experience something different, I believe it is not hard to fall in love with this place.

I told you that I am in BKK mostly for eating.  And eat, did I.  Almost every other day is a trip to After You Dessert Cafe.  This is the few desserts that I love.  Absolutely delicious with different varieties, this Mango Glutinous Rice Kakigori is my favourite.  Forget about any diet, I'll work doubly hard with my exercises when I am home.  :D

When the queue starts even before they are open at 9am, this Sabx2 Soi 19 Wanton Mee is well, worth it only when you happen to be there.  Right in Pratunam Market, the place is always crowded with tourists.  Sharing tables are a norm but we realise that the noodles are inconsistent.  We ate there twice in the span of 5 days and on the second visit, there wasn't lard in the noodles and it just did not taste as nice as our first visit.

I love eating with more than 1 pax.  Because I get to order more food and we could share.  Either for a meal during lunch or tea-break "snackings" after all the shopping.  The oyster omelette at the Platinum Food Court never fails to disappoint.  Tell me how to lose weight when I am in BKK.  I guess the only consolation is that I walk a lot too.

This very popular salt crusted fish can be found at almost any "Zhi Char" store in BKK.  From the high end Thai restaurants to the street side seafood stores.  When fresh, it is good.  Order a Tom Yum Goong and mango salad, you can leave BKK with a happy tummy.

And so, very random, very vague.  But Bangkok is a city where one will not really go hungry unless one is not a fan of Thai cuisine.  But even then, there is always Mcdonalds!  The only question is, how big is my tummy space and how far can my legs walk.

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Monday, 25 June 2018

What Else to Do in BKK - Apart from Eating and Shopping and oh Massage!

2018 - how fast you have come; and how fast half a year has gone by.

It has been a challenging half year, with 2 kids now in primary school, new activities and more work. Sometimes, the only thing I want to do after work and dinner is hide at a corner and play Pokemon Go or Candy Crush.  Tell me - you feel me.  :)

Despite the hectic schedule (bluff who?!  You ask.), I manage to squeeze some time to travel.  Bangkok has always been a yearly go-to country before I had kids.  Now that the children are older, I seem to be getting back there yearly.  Well, at least for 2017 and 2018.  I probably have not blogged about such trips because, it's just eat, shop, eat, shop.  Oh, and foot massage every night.  At S$8 for an hour, where to find?!

We did nothing of those touristy stuff, nothing about the Floating Market or Grand Palace because i've been there when i was much younger.  In the trip last year with my mum and sis, we did something different.  We went for a cooking lesson.  Of course, to learn Thai cuisine!

We pre-booked our classes and chose the dishes that we were interested in.  On the day itself, turn up at the meeting point and the people from Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy will be there to bring you for a market tour before the cooking class starts.

Colours of the market
The ingredients for the choice of your dishes are prepared and one has to cut and chop his / her own ingredients.  We had fun using a big mortar and pestle and I always hear from the older generation that there is really a difference using that to grind ingredients into a fine paste as compared to using a blender or food processor.  What do you think?

Got to cook my own food too!  The good thing is not having to wash the pots and pans.  :)  

And ta-dah!  My lunch!  We did the morning session and thus, this was our lunch after all the cooking.  If you cannot finish all the food (which is actually a lot for a person), you can packet them back too.  We didn't though because we were off to other places.  

There were about 12 pax in the class but each had their own set of ingredients and cooking station.  After the session, recipes were given out too.  And so, off we went to the supermarket to buy some of those Thai ingredients.  Haha!  How aunty we are, right?

It was an interesting experience.  And a way to understand more of the ingredients that go into the Thai food I always love.  I saw couples in the class too, so it may be a good activity for couples.  :)

Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links, which are at no additional cost to you.  I will receive a commission if you click the link and purchase something.  :)

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Saturday, 16 December 2017

Of Myopia and Spectacles

Do I have perfect eyesight?  No, I do not.  I started wearing spectacles at a ripe young age of 10.  Being myopic at 10 during my time was considered early.  Wearing spectacles at 10 years old for my boys' generation is almost a norm.

A first world problem, I call it.  Because of the increased exposure to electronic devices, it is pretty inevitable.  Spending lesser time outdoors (regardless of how much we try to, there is only so much we can do due to the fact that they go to school, we go to work) does not help.  Having myopic parents contribute to that fact too - myopia is genetic.

So what can we do?!  Control the progression of myopia, of course!  As much as we can. 

I mean, apart from having good reading habits such as not lying down to read and not reading in the dark, having a good pair of spectacles is important.

Do you think this is the right way to read?  Of course not!

A pair of eyeglass frame and lenses is not just to help with the vision, it is something that is to be worn for long hours.  So comfort and long hours wearability should be taken into concern.

Now, D is a primary school boy.  One who runs and plays with classmates, one who is probably not  as gentle with his spectacles as any adult.  A pair of eyeglass frame has to be durable!  At least something that will not break before his next eye checkup.

This pair of eyeglass frame from Nanyang Optical fits my bill!  Being slightly "flexible" means that I do not need to deal with breakages that occur so often.  How many times have we heard of people complaining that the hinges or side arm coming apart?

Anyway, a visit to Nanyang Optical always start with an eye assessment.  Something that is common at every optical shop to ascertain the degree of myopia, what surprises me was the colour vision test.  That is something not every shop does and I think it is a good move.

Nanyang Optical inhouse brand "Eyelet" is what D is wearing now.  He says it is comfortable and what you should also know about is the lenses that they recommend.

Like I mentioned earlier, a pair of spectacles should be one that it is not only of comfortable eyeglass frame.  The lenses should be good too.  How do we ascertain what is good then?  To me, it should be able to help with the slowing down of myopia progression.  And that is what MyoVision by Zeiss is all about.

We have all heard about Zeiss.  A renowned manufacturer of optical systems, MyoVision addresses myopia progression.  This comparison below may be able to help you understand it better but for me, what I now know is that, D has refrained from glancing through the sides of the lens because the MyoVision lenses "forced" him to look at things through the centre of the lenses.  I remember how he used to glance sideways to look at things. But he is not able to do so now because of how MyoVision lenses are designed - there is a lower focusing degree towards its peripherals.  As such, D has no choice but to turn his head and look straight at wherever and whatever he wants to see.  With that, I am hoping his myopia will be somehow controlled and progresses slower.

And ohhhh, Nanyang Optical not only sells optical products.  They educate the young ones on myopia prevention tips.  Love it because sometimes no matter how we parents nag, the effects are not as great compared to what these professionals say.

Myopia is irreversible.  All I hope for is not going to the optician regularly because of the increase in myopia.  Thus, I believe a good pair of eyeglass frame and lenses for children is indeed required.

Disclosure: We were sponsored a pair of Eyelet spectacles for the purpose of this review.  All photos and opinions are true to my own unless otherwise stated.

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Friday, 29 September 2017

Introduction to POSB Smart Buddy Programme - Should You Fear It?

In this day and age, technology is something we have to embrace.  Trying to work against it might bring fears and resistance.  But if I were to work around it, look at it positively, life will be much better right?

Frankly speaking, I went to the introduction of the POSB Smart Buddy Programme with a hint of skepticism.  When I first heard of this programme, my initial fears were about the inability to learn counting money due to the lack of contact with it, understanding the concepts of paying and getting back the change.  And of course, the touch and feel of real money and what it meant.

As the world's first in-school savings and payments wearable programme for primary school kids, it is essentially a watch with features.  For the child to pay his food at the school canteen or bookshop, track his steps and in-school location.  Now, this is only available at selected schools who have embarked on the journey.  

Hearing from other parents whose children are using this in their primary schools, it was not that all negative.  To me, the features such as tracking a child's steps, knowing his location is a yes for me.

A chargeable by USB wearable, this watch is easy to set up.  Simply download the app from the different smartphones' app store, activate the payment chip that goes into the watch and viola, the rest is a breeze.

We were unable to test the payment out in the school as D's school is not in the programme but I understand that parents set a daily allowance and when the child uses it at the school canteen, the amount used will be automatically deducted.  Parents can track what the child spends on and what he / she bought.  This definitely eliminates the "trust" issue because it's all known.  

If I am the parent on this programme, I will tell the child to just let me know what he wants to buy.  I mean, we all grow up and went through this phrase whereby we secretly bought that country eraser or pretty clip and hide it from our parents. However, there is no need to with this as we will all be able to know what is bought.  From there, we can explain to the child on how he should be spending his allowance and hopefully, he understands the logic of saving. 

Now, this feature is what D exclaims is the coolest.  The steps tracker.  I have never tracked his steps and am amazed that each day, he takes about 6000 steps,  From this number, I can actually tell a few things - whether he was active in school or was unwell and not moving much.  Not that it is real-time but I guess, it gives that little insight of what he does in school, apart from just him saying, "I went to the field to play! or "I was not feeling very well so I sat at the canteen during recess time.".

I wish that the watch is introduced on a larger scale basis.  I would like to see how it can include the locator feature island-wide - not to the extent of the exact position real-time, but at least for primary school children, the ability to track when they reach and exit school, board and alight the public transport and from there, we will be able to know how long it takes to reach home or if they are home.

Beyond the fears of children not being able to count money, we should look at the prospects of this watch, and I think, "when you can't fight them, why not join them?" (in terms of technology) and make it a better wearable for the better of our children.

Disclosure: We were given a POSB Smart Buddy for the purpose of this review.  All photos and opinions are true to my own unless otherwise stated.

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Wednesday, 27 September 2017

My Little Climbing Room - A Place to Climb All You Want

A new indoor playground just sprouted in the North East of Singapore!

With colourful walls, it was a pleasant sight.  Initially, my first thoughts was the small area.  However, it was enough to keep the children occupied.  Space is never an issue to children indeed!

My Little Climbing Room is a perfect place to expend those energy of the little ones.  Catered to children from 0 to 12 years old, I thought it was perfect for ages 5-7.  The older ones may be able to complete everything in a very short while and that is why, there are challenges for them.

Looking at these walls, it is really not easy.  But with encouragement from the parents, it is not impossible to ring the bell for the 5/6 years old.  Because E managed to do it.

Some parents may think that the instructors should be assisting with the rock climbing but in fact, the folks at My Climbing Room encourage parents to be part of the fun as the children definitely will feel safe with us and it is also a good opportunity to bond with the kids.

I really like these slightly shorter walls as it was through these that E found the confidence to attempt the taller ones.  We were all initially very enthusiastic to try the tall 4-meter walls but halfway up, boys felt initimidated, and felt they could not do it.  After rounds of 'games' at the number wall, interactive wall and obstacle wall, they felt braver.

Limited to only 15 children and 15 adults per 90-minute session, one probably think that there are not enough walls or things to do.  Don't worry as there are other 'ground' toys at their Wheelie Zone, where children learn balance and coordination while playing.

During the 90-minute session, the first 30 minutes will be free play.  The next 30 will be group games (read:parents rest) and the last 30 minutes will be another round of free play.

A total of 1 hour to complete this challenge card to redeem a mystery gift!  Don't all kids love a challenge? 

More details as follows:

- Weekday sessions are unlimited play time.  Woohoo!  Group games will be conducted every 2 hours.
- Each admission pass admits one child and one adult.  Additional adult is at $5 each.
- Multi passes are available and are transferrable.  So if your children loves climbing or moves non-stop, good deal!
- Parties can be hosted there so check it out with the staff at My Little Climbing Room.

My Little Climbing Room is having their Grand Opening on 30 September 2017!  This for that weekend (30 Sep and 1 Oct), admission passes are discounted!  At just $15 each (usual: $22), there will be free popcorn, candy floss and special prizes for the children speed competitions.

Book online now here and online booking is highly recommended due to the limited capacity.  You would want a fuss-free play time right?

Do not forget grip socks!!!

Disclosure: We were invited by My Little Climbing Room for the purpose of this review.  No monetary compensation was received.  All photos and opinions are true to my own unless otherwise stated.

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