Thursday, October 30, 2014

Australia 2014: Perth - Caversham Wildlife Park

Up Close and Personal

One of the great things about staying at Keller's is that it is located only a stone's throw from Caversham Wildlife Park, one of the must-see attractions in Perth if you have kids (it's also a wonderful place to go if you have no children)!

The park's website tells the story of how it was started:
David & Pat own and operate Caversham Wildlife Park with their son David & daughter Debbie.
When they purchased the park in 1987, the park housed a small collection of animals and birds on a modest 5 acre (2ha) property. A few years later, the park doubled in size, when the family purchased the adjoining property and the collection started to boom. In May 2003, the family designed and built a new park in Whiteman Park, once again, more than doubling in size.

CWP features about 200 species, and more than 2000 head of animals, birds and reptiles. This impressive collection makes CWP the largest privately owned collection of native wildlife in Western Australia. The park is the premiere development of its kind in Western Australia, attracting visitors from all over the world.
CWP pride themselves on their unique interactive experiences with Australia’s most interesting animals, without being commercialised!! CWP is a world-class attraction whilst maintaining the laid-back Aussie touch!
Visitors receive personalized service by wildlife professionals who are dedicated to exceptional service, ensuring their visitors receive the best opportunities for animal interaction, information and photographs.

While the entrance fees may not be cheap, we felt it's really worth the visit.
One of the key features of the park is that it allows visitors to get up close and
personal with the many animals there.
Our 2yo was clearly fascinated by the rabbits and chickens. 
4yo Z tries to feed the chickens. 
Not sure why our little one got the attention of all the lambs...
Daddy couldn't resist petting the miniature horse, which reminded him of his horseriding days in America.
Come here, little lamb... 
E butts in again... 
The park has a wonderful interactive "show" allowing visitors to touch
the native Australian animals in a healthy manner. Hello Mr Possum!
Not many people can say they have touched a snake. Contrary to
Daddy's expectations, the reptile felt smooth and not leathery nor slimy! 
And how can we resist a "Kodak moment" with the park's star wombat?
The kids loved the furry koalas. E even wanted to carry one; he refused to understand why such a
small creature could be so heavy!
Little E couldn't get enough of the lovely koalas.
And this grand marsupial was clearly at home with his eucalyptus plant! 
The "farm show" where audiences are treated to aspects of farm life like
sheep herding and sheering.
What's with the wool? Audiences get to examine different types of wool samples.
Our boys loved the space to run and climb and simply be themselves!
Little E happy to "show off" after his climb.
What made the day for our boys were the kangaroos. Here they are lying at rest.

The boys were thrilled to feed these lovely animals. Little Z already says he likes them more than elephants!
While one brother was content to feed the kangaroos, the other one wanted a little more fun; and he went around the park
chasing kangaroos! We do have a rather strange 2yo son!
"Come here, Kangaroo," said little Z in his sweet little voice. And so they came!
We had such a lovely time at Caversham that we really wished we could go back again. Most zoos create a barrier between animal and human on the basis that one might endanger the life or livelihood of the other. This was something that didn't really exist in Caversham. The close proximity really helps children to better understand animals and interact with them in a healthy manner; while at the same time educating children about the importance of caring for animals and and what to do when you interact with them. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

KL Getaway: Just the 2 of Us!

Since our marriage 6 3/4 years ago, we have made it a point to go away on our wedding anniversary. With our children it got harder, especially in the early years, and especially for me, the mother. I remember bawling my eyes out in our Batam resort when our oldest was still about half a year old, accusing my husband of forcing me to leave our baby behind! 

But fast forward a couple of years, and with two active boys underfoot, I have really started to anticipate and appreciate these precious times away. Our anniversary also falls in December, making it a good time for us to take stock of how our marriage and family are doing, recalibrating and setting a focus for the year ahead.

So it was a special treat when we got to go on a last-minute getaway to Malaysia's capital city Kuala Lumper, without the kids. We had a one night stay at a Copthorne group hotel to redeem, with Mark's American Express Kris Flyer miles card.
Enjoying a substantial ramen meal at Marutama Ramen in Fahrenheit 88, Bukit Bintang. The free flow side of crispy garlic chips is a real treat. Fond memories here - this was where our older son slurped his first bowl of ramen noodles, 3 years ago!
We decided to give ourselves two nights away, as staying one night would be tiring with a 4-6 hour coach journey back and forth from Singapore. What happiness when we found a SGD36/ night hotel, U Pac Hotel, which was ranked #25 out of 272 hotels in KL, for the first night! Fantastic service at the reception, clean and cosy rooms. A simple but nourishing breakfast spread is provided, which is amazing for the price. The best part - the dim sum place directly behind the hotel! We both decided that meal alone was worth the 6-hour coach ride that day.
Mark's contented grin says it all. You can't find this quality of dim sum in Singapore, or at least that's what we think.  Delicate flavours and textures, each juicy bite was unique!
A close-up view of our feast on a rainy evening in Pudu, KL
With our minds (and stomachs) still focused on food, we checked out of U Pac Hotel early, hoping to cover some of the food places featured in Lonely Planet. Jalan Alor was one of those we hoped to visit. According to the Malaysian tourism website,

Located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Jalan Alor is one of Malaysia's most popular food haunts. Relatively quiet during the day, the street is transformed into a bustling outdoor food court when the sun goes down. Hawkers fire up their woks as hungry customers start piling in, sitting on makeshift tables and chairs lined by the roadside.
The streets are interestingly chaotic in KL. We love how every meal we had at a street stall was a scene of a drama unfolding - cars parked every which way, drivers arguing, people dashing out from their cars to get some packed food.
The stark contrasts between the old and new are perfectly felt at Jalan Alor. We love how KL has allowed the olden day atmosphere of some neighbourhoods to remain, despite the sprouting high rise buildings all around.
Lonely Planet had recommended the 'drunken' chicken noodles at Jalan Alor, with the stock made from rice wine. I don't know why I didn't catch the cue from the word 'drunken', but those noodles were potent! Even Mark, who usually holds his alcohol well, said they were strong. 
Pre-Chicken Noodle 'Drunkenness'
The noodles were steeped in extremely strong rice wine. A few slurps was enough to make me dizzy! It was an aromatic stock and the fried eggs complement the chicken pieces. This dish is probably best shared among a few people. The stall sold other kinds of noodles, which also seemed to be popular.
The rest of the day was spent shopping around the Bukit Bintang area and catching a late night movie for only RM20 for 2 tickets, which is about SGD4 per ticket. We enjoyed a substantial ramen dinner at Marutama Ramen at Fahrenheit 88 before retiring to our extremely comfortable room at the Grand Millennium, KL. 
Our luxurious accommodation at the Grand Millennium KL
The next morning (and our last), we embarked on a purposeful search for the Jalan Imbi Market. It is featured in Hungrygowhere Malaysia, as well as in many food blogs, as a food paradise. Some of the must-eat items are the chee cheong fun, crispy popiah, and egg tarts. We were really looking forward to a hearty breakfast, but somehow could not find the place after walking around for 30 minutes! 

We stumbled upon this place instead which seemed to be popular, based on the many newspaper articles featured outside. Turns out that Pau Kee is cited in Hungrygowhere as having the best Ipoh Hor Fun in KL! The noodles were indeed of a very fine texture and seemed to melt in the mouth. The wanton noodles were served with prawns. We were still a little sore about not finding the Jalan Imbi Market, but concluded that we would just have to come back again to KL for another trip.
We stumbled upon this gem, toted as the best Ipoh hor fun in KL.
A simple and nourishing breakfast
We spent the last few hours before our coach journey doing some last minute shopping at Pavilion, just opposite our hotel. Glad for the rest and the time away, and looking forward to our next getaway without the kids in December! 

A final snack before our coach ride - Snowflake Taiwanese dessert. All ingredients are freshly prepared. The taro pieces were chewy and not too sweet. Delicious!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Try and Score! A Review of RugBees Sports Programme for Kids

"RugBees is Asia's dedicated rugby play programme tailored for children from walking ages to 5 years old [and] adopts a 'Play & Learn' ethos, where children are taught key motor skills geared towards rugby principles such as catching, kicking, balance, co-ordination, team work and most importantly fun." 

- RugBees Singapore website

When we first heard of RugBees' interesting class philosophy, we got very excited! With two active boys who love to play ball, we thought that the class might be a wonderful opportunity for our sons to practice some important key motor skills, while at the same time learn how to listen to instructions in a guided fashion. So it was with a mixture of anticipation and excitement that 4-year-old Z and 2-year-old E went for their first-ever rugby class (an interesting development given that Sue and I have absolutely no inclination for sports whatsoever)!
Z and E getting ready with their rugby balls.
From the onset, the two coaches Nikki and Hani led the class in a friendly yet firm manner. We were apprehensive whether our sons would take well to the instructions, given their "independent" personalities. But our fears proved to be completely unfounded as both boys responded very well to the class, and the 10 students were led through a series of activities which involved running, hopping, and various rugby scoring techniques such as tries and touchdowns.
Coach Nikki teaching her students to run along a path of coloured markers while doing a "touchdown" at each instance.
Little E going for the "touchdown".
Students are also taught to sink the ball beyond the line and attempt a "try", subsequently lying on the
ball with their tummies.
Z enthusiastically practicing a "try".
The coaches were very concerned about their charges' wellbeing, stopping for water breaks in-between every activity and constantly guiding children who appeared to be distracted; while at the same time providing encouragement to those who were too tired or who just needed some space. Given that the class catered to children from a mix age range of 2-4 years, time was also given when kids refused to listen to instructions or when they threw a tantrum. 
Children getting ready to "feed the monster", an interactive game incorporating skills such as
running and aiming the ball.
The competitive element was cultivated as girls were pitted against boys to see who would come up tops.
All exhausted after the 45-minute session.
Perhaps the moment all were waiting for - a time to enjoy the special raisin snacks in reward for a game well played!
A photo moment with Coach Nikki

In all I believe the boys had a great time while at the same time learning key lifeskills that will help them to develop in a more holistic manner. 

Perhaps the clearest indicator of how much they enjoyed themselves was in a little activity that the boys engaged in almost a week after the class - little E took one of the cushions in our living room and placed it in the centre of the room, lying on it with his tummy. Older brother Z followed suit, placing his cushion on E, before jumping on the cushion and his brother.

Boys will be boys...

Note: This is a review arranged between RugBees Singapore and Parenting on Purpose. Z and E attended a complimentary lesson for the purpose of writing this review. All opinions expressed here are our own.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Australia 2014: Perth - King's Park

The House that Daniel Built

We spent most of our Sunday enjoying our lovely farm and also getting a few essential items at a nearby mall. It was then time to head over to my good friend Daniel's home, where he and his family hosted us for a lovely teatime meal.
We were surprised to see a brilliant rainbow as we were enjoying tea. Always a reminder of God's love for us!
The Lims of Singapore and the Lims of Perth. We were very impressed by this playhouse that Daniel built from scratch!

 A Time to Remember

It was dusk by the time we arrived at King's Park, one of the largest inner city parks in the world. describes the following highlights regarding the park:

Kings Park's stunning location overlooks the city and the silken blue waters of the Swan River. From high above, you can see the brilliantly coloured sails of boats on the river, the twinkling lights of the city, the distant Perth Hills and the endless blue skies for which Perth is so renowned.
The total area of the park is 400.6 hectares and features both cultivated gardens and untamed bushland. You can picnic on grassy lawns, take a jog through the bushland or attend one of the summer outdoor concerts under the stars. Children are also catered for with a number of excellent playgrounds suitable for children of all ages.

Park Highlights

  • ADMIRE the panoramic views of treetops, the city skyline and the Swan River.
  • LEARN about the diversity of WA's flora
  • DISCOVER our rich history along the Lotterywest Federation Walkway.
  • SEE the mighty boab tree, a 750 year old specimen from the Kimberley region of WA.
  • CHILDREN will love the many play areas around the park.
  • VISIT the Rio Tinto Naturescape - a place for children to connect with the environment
  • ENJOY the range of summer events and festivities
  • ENJOY a Free Guided Walk with the Kings Park Guides
  • ENJOY the flora and fauna including wildflowers and over 70 bird species
  • INDULGE in a spot of retail therapy at the Aspects of Kings Park gallery shop
  • CLIMB all 101 steps of the spiraling DNA Tower for spectacular views
At dusk the park is transformed into a magical wonderland of lights and shadows... Simply atmospheric...
The "eternal fire" to remember those who died in the Great War.
Remembering World War One.
These palm trees almost seem like soldiers guarding the solemnity of the memorial area.

Our little boy in a world of his own.

The park seemed to have a regal feel to it...
Perth nightscape. Simply glorious.
Watching the world go by.
We were in awe at the vastness of the place. Was a wonderful time of reflection for all of us.
A window in time.
One of our most ethereal moments - enjoying a starlit sky in all its splendour.
Silent night. Peaceful night. All was calm; all was bright - as we busked in the splendour of the starlight.  We will always remember our magical experience there - Daddy, Mummy and our two little boys.