Saturday, December 29, 2018

Travelogue: Koh Phi Phi

Some years ago, I brought Dumpling to Krabi for a surprise trip. Then she was still in K2 and I wanted to bring her away to do something different before formal school starts. We both have fond memories of the trip with us spending time in the pool, doing island hopping and snorkelling in the open sea, walks on the beach etc.

It has always been my wish to try and bring her to Krabi and Koh Phi Phi again. Interestingly, that’s rarely a choice destination amongst my friends with children. In fact, many ask why that choice and what do we and can do there. 

With that, I thought to share a bit on what we did in Koh Phi Phi as my first ever vacation post (I usually am very lazy to take notes and photos conscientiously when on vacay!)

:: Getting to Koh Phi Phi
If you have not been there before, here’s some background on PP. Koh Phi Phi is a standalone island where you will need to take a ferry to get there. If you are travelling out of SG, I guess the easiest way is to either take a flight to Phuket and then change to a ferry or to head to Krabi then change to a ferry.

I have always preferred Krabi to Phuket as it is less crowded and I prefer the small streets at Ao Nang.

Here’s a ferry schedule from Krabi:



:: Getting to hotel

You can either arrange for a hotel transfer via your hotel in Krabi or you can do it online. Here’s a link to where I got my hotel transfer from (about 150THB cheaper than the hotel quote). I have stayed in Krabi Ao Nang thrice – Golden Beach Resort (this is located like at a corner, on one end of the shopping area), La Playa (not entirely new but not as old as Golden Beach but the breakfast selection was good) as well as GLOW, our latest choice there (great if you have young children as there’s a children’s room and a lap pool and the hotel is really nice and rooms are nicely decked out).



:: Koh Phi Phi
Koh Phi Phi is somewhat a tad like Sentosa where it is standalone but with many stalls and shops, which reminds me of the pasar malam (night markets) here in Singapore. During my recent visit, there’s even a McDonald’s now but sorry, no Starbucks yet. :p

There are many choices for hotels and resorts, and the only advice that I can give is to choose one which is nearest to the places you wish to visit, for e.g. the diving centre.


 :: Activities
Once you are in Koh Phi Phi, I guess many would think of snorkelling and island hopping. But if your child is minimally 10 YO, here’s 2 recommendations which you can consider.

Not many know but Koh Phi Phi boasts of a cooking school where you can learn how to cook some of your favourite Thai dishes. For that morning, Dumpling chose 3 dishes and I chose another 3 (be prepared to spend 3 hours there including the eating time!) 


If your child has never done cooking before and you are worried about things such as an open flame, fret not as Pum Cooking School uses induction stoves. 


Upon entering, R2 who is a chef there, conducted the class in English for us. A simple note book plus condiments tray, etc., were all prepared in advance. 


To be honest, I expected R2 to delve right into the cooking class but what was interesting was that he took the time to explain to us and got us to sample the various condiments and sauces used commonly in Thai cooking. 

Did you know that the fish sauce used in their cooking is made from sardines, which is different from Chinese fish sauce and even those used in Vietnamese cuisine? We also learnt about the types of chili used and when to use them in the various Thai dishes. 


 After getting "suited" up, we are good to go!


If you are worried about the cleanliness / hygiene level, you can rest assured that Pum Cooking School runs like a well-oiled engine where the ingredients are also prepared in individual portions, placed neatly on plates at your designated cooking stations.

One of Dumpling's dishes was Phad Thai. You can tell how passionate R2 is in sharing and imparting his knowledge. He was also very encouraging towards Dumpling. Before we started cooking, R2 shared that he really likes it when young children show an interest in cooking and also told me to try and be "hands-off" so that she can attempt it on her own.



Tada! 

Dumpling also chose to cook Gluay Buat Chee (bananas in coconut milk) for her dessert. Though she was unwell on that day and as the cooking class progressed, her energy level plummeted, she still wanted to try her hand to learn to make this dish. 


And in case you are wondering if it is all child labour, here's 2 of mine ~ Thai Beef Salad and Sweet & Sour Chicken.  

  
  • Sea sport! 
Choices are a plenty when it comes to sea sports / activities. Besides island hopping, you can also consider snorkelling. Many dive centres run these eco snorkelling tours; we originally signed up for one but we cancelled it as there was a sudden surge of jelly fish that few evenings. 

If your child is 10 and above, you can also consider "Discover SCUBA". Dumpling completed only half of the course (with Blue View Divers ~ this was the same place that I went to when I got my open water licence years back!)  as unfortunately she was sick so we will need to return back in a few months time.

Here's sharing some photos!


Caroline, one of the owners of Blue View Divers, with Dumpling at a pool session right outside the centre. Pool session with a gorgeous view! 



The pool session goes through basic drills (clearing of mask, retrieval of your regulator, etc), hand signs and safety checks etc., before going into the open sea for the actual dives.

Dumpling was a real trooper as she told us to go ahead with our own dives while she waited for us at the dive centre. Here's some photos of the various fish we spotted:

Moray Eel


African Clowns (feisty these ones are!)




Koh Phi Phi being a standalone island has its own convenience stores and pharmacies peppered throughout it. As Dumpling started having fever shortly after, we were quite relieved that we were able to get paracaetamol, electrolyte sachets (she threw up) and lozenges (ya, she had the full works) etc., all on the island, though they were easily selling for twice the amount as compared to main land Krabi itself. There is also a medic centre if you need to see a doctor (so guys, please purchase your travel insurance!) 


Importantly, while their tap water is ok for general brushing and washing up, they are not suitable for drinking hence your resort / hotel will typically provide you with a regular sized bottle for each person staying there, which is hardly enough. So you will need to purchase them from the mini marts / convenience stalls. 

Food wise, choices are aplenty. From pizzas to thai food to seafood places which overlook the beaches (great for evening sunsets!) 


to simple food stands selling pancakes and sandwiches / burgers 


The pricing is pretty affordable. Most of these restaurants also offer free WiFi too! We will be back at Koh Phi Phi in a few months time and will update our travelogue! 

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Our Ortho-K journey: prologue

As a family, we have been quite careful with Dumpling’s vision by reminding her to take vision breaks. Sadly though, she was diagnosed with myopia this year. I’ve heard friends sharing that once diagnosed, their “degree” goes up quite quickly and so, I’ve been really paranoid about her vision. I’ve heard of Ortho-K and have been reading up on this as a few of Dumpling’s friends are also on it.
Having gone through LASIK years ago, I’d say that’s one of the best decisions I made. With children however, they are of course too young for such an invasive method. Hence the next best possible option is to look at myopia control.
As I am writing this post, we are in the midst of waiting for Dumpling’s lenses collection after her initial eye examination. While waiting, I got Jason, Consulting Optometrist of The Eye Initiative to answer some questions and debunk some myths.


:: What exactly is Ortho-K? How does it work?
Jason: Ortho-K is a process where we prescribe kids with specially designed hard rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses that temporarily reshape the shape of the cornea to reduce myopia. This is a great technique to control myopia as it make use of the peripheral defocus (which is to bring the light rays in front of the retina) which is a proven method to ensure the increment of myopia stops/reduces. Apart from that, the advantage for Ortho-K is that it also allows the end-user the freedom of not using spectacles or contact lens in the day time.

:: Is Ortho-K safe, after all my child will be wearing it to sleep?

Jason: All contact lenses have a risk of infection, usually due to the negligence of hygiene. As long as the hygiene regimen of the individual is upheld there should not be any risk of infection. The use of Ortho-K to sleep is very safe, mainly because it is a hard lens so it:

- reduces the chances of hypoxia (lack of oxygen) and
- the chances of infection as hard lenses are not hydrophilic ( water-loving) as compared to soft contact lenses. This means that there are lesser chances of microbes sticking on the lenses.



(Jason explaining to Dumpling how Ortho-K works and showing her how the lenses look like)

:: How often and long does my child need to wear it for?

Jason: For best results, we encourage the child to wear them every day as this will ensure that the effect of myopia control is optimal. We also recommend to wear it till 16 years old as it is the 'plastic period' of the kids eyes (the period where the prescription changes significantly.) 

:: Ok, I am keen but what is the “running cost” and how often do I need to replace the lenses?

Jason: The “running” cost would be saline solution which is quite minimal. Lenses wise, they should be replaced every 2-3 years because of wear and tear.

:: As this is a long-term partnership, what should I look for in an optometrist for my child?

Jason: The optometrist must be well versed in his contact lenses knowledge and more than that, should be practising ortho-k for at least a year. Additionally, the setting of the optical shop must have a few compulsory equipment: the topographer, slit lamp and auto-refractometer as these are essential equipment for us to design the lenses.


:: What should the Ortho-K package consist of?

Jason: The cost of ortho k for eyesight.sg starts from $1,800 and it consists:
  • Eye examinations (prior and after wearing to track progress)
  • Unlimited consultations
  • A pair of standby glasses
  • One set of solution for the kids to start learning about the hygiene of Ortho-K and last but not least
  • The contact lenses

:: The decision

As with my usual parenting style, Dumpling and I would discuss all matters regarding her welfare and interests - from enrichment classes to holidays to camps, so Ortho-K was no different. My viewpoint is simple: the kid must want it and be responsible for it. After all, it is her life and she has to learn to be accountable for her decision.

Thankfully, this seems to be the same approach for Eyesight.sg because at the end of the explanation, Jason turned to Dumpling and asked her for her thoughts and if she would be able to be responsible to take care of the hygiene and be responsible for the cleansing of her lenses, etc.



Dumpling doing her eye examination

And I am really glad to share that in the end, Dumpling decided that she will proceed with the journey!

Update: we've collected our lenses 2 evenings back and Dumpling has just started her journey so next up, we will be sharing her experience + some tips I learn along the way. 


About Eyesight.sg

At Eyesight.sg, previously known as The Eye Care Initiative, we offer a comprehensive eye check as we believe that regular eye examination is the key to improving the quality of one’s life as it helps prevent damage to vision brought about by diabetes and other sight-threatening eye diseases.

Eyesight.sg’s slogan is 'improving life with primary eye care' and we achieve this by having a more health-based approach in our eye examinations as we believe that we are here to add value to every customer by assisting them to know more and care more about their eye health.

Apart from that, we are a team of optometrist that is passionate in paediatric optometric practice and that is the reason why we strive and take pride in using Ortho-K to help every child in their journey of myopia control and enjoying a better quality of life.

Disclaimer: this is a series of collaboration as invited by Eyesight.sg so that Dumpling and I can share our reviews and experience on this new Ortho-K journey.

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 

Friday, November 30, 2018

Parenting with Love: Values


With the recent MOE announcement on schools having fewer exams and assessments, there’s an attempt to have a shift in focus on academic results. The rigour in our system has been an ongoing discussion for a while, with an MP raising if PSLE should be abolished during Parliament earlier this year.

The academic pressure has also been much discussed within my own circle of friends. However, something that I feel we need to look into is values. A friend of mine recently posted up on her FB about witnessing a child jumping queue and the parent condoning it. More than that, apparently when my friend spoke up, the parent got nasty.

Dumpling as some of you would know, participates in Netball as a CCA. On most days, her position is that of a midfielder. One thing I’ve often advised her is to just take on and try various positions, even when it is not one that is familiar to her. There was an occasion this year where she was tasked to stand in as a shooter, a position she is unfamiliar with. Needless to say, Dumpling did not score any goals. After the session, one player (let’s call her T) called Dumpling a loser. Dumpling (good on her I must say!) told that girl off. What was disturbing was that Dumpling shared with me the girl’s mum heard their squabble and confronted Dumpling, asking her “what is wrong with T calling you a loser?” Thankfully Dumpling stood her ground.

As Dumpling is in the so called "top class" in her school, I often "marvel" (can you detect the sarcasm here?) at some of the parents' teachings and reactions, and wonder if all they are concerned about are grades. On a recent occasion, Dumpling was placed in a project group where each of the team mate has a part to research and write on and the slides were to be collated at the end of the project timeline. Dumpling was “chasing up” with one particular team-mate who was unresponsive and refused to email / save her part in the thumb drive. Towards the end, that team member shared that her slides were ready, but her mum refused to let her email / save it lest the team “tries to copy them”. So apparently, team work and, respect and collaboration are not ranked high on her list here. 

A few months back, Dumpling was also hit on the arm by a classmate with a pencil case. This same classmate also threatened to step onto Dumpling’s violin not once but twice. I had to raise this to the form teacher as the incidents seem to be ongoing (these were not the only few incidents but the more “recent” ones). The girls were purposely separated to reduce chances of interaction. Some days later, Dumpling told me that the girl told the teacher her mom has also told her to stay away from Dumpling lest she (the girl) gets blamed by Dumpling again. So clearly, hitting and threatening someone is not something which the parent thinks is wrong. 

In the past, if my parents were to get a call from the school, my mom would hit the roof and start questioning and punishing us first. I recall my younger days where my mum would cane my brother and I so badly that my classmates would point and stare at the marks over the next few days when we attended school.



In this day and age, it seems that the tables have turned. I am not sure if the pursuit of academic excellence causes a downplay on values; after all, our society is meritocratic. It is almost like these children can do no wrong and I can almost hear parents rebutting with a “well, Thomas came in tops for his recent Maths exams”; that good grades are all that matter.

Dumpling has on some occasions told me that I am the worst mum ever and she hates me. Yup, in those words, especially when I come down hard on her for failing to complete her stuff or not taking responsibility for her choices and actions. My reply was (and I still stand by this) that I am first and foremost, her mother, a parent. If we end up being great friends along the way, that’s a bonus. But my main duty in life is to ensure that she grows up being a “good” person – one that is kind, responsible, has compassion and understands the value of good old hard work; one that is willing to speak up for what is right and understands the value of respect and collaboration. So if that makes me a bad parent because I am anal about some stuff, then so be it as I am trying to raise a child with good values, not someone with just great grades. 

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 

Friday, September 28, 2018

Sports do not build character; they reveal it ~ John Wooden

About 3 years ago just around this time, Dumpling started her little journey playing Netball. She returned home from school one day to tell me that she played Netball during a PAL lesson and promptly asked us to enrol her for training outside. As she was only in Primary 1 then, I recall that I was amused by her sharing and even asked if she was sure or was it that they played Captain’s Ball. To this day I still recall the indignant look on her face when she shared that it was indeed netball. Those lessons, started her love for that ball game and the fire has not been extinguished.


So, for the next 2+ years, she has been learning from and playing for 2 clubs outside. From simple ball drills to body conditioning work, she’s been at it almost every Saturday morning and would ask me for my thoughts and comments on her effort and games.

I personally know of many parents who delayed their girls’ CCA for as long as they could so that their daughters could attend other academic classes instead. I’ve also had mums who asked me why we stuck to it even as the school work gets more and more demanding each year.

So, why did I agree to let her do it then and why do I still support her after so long?

In case you were to misunderstand, let me add that my daughter is not in any school team nor are we remotely praying over / working towards using Netball as a DSA. I agreed to it initially because of 1 thing: collaboration.

As Dumpling is an “only”, I was worried that she would not know how to “work” with others, learn to share and even handle conflicts. Hence that was what got me nodding. Along the way, this pursuit of a sport, taught her many great things: grit, commitment (she sets alarm clock for her training), discipline and teamwork. She’s played through sickness (high fever which we later found out where we pulled her out to rest up), injuries (skinned knees, sore ribs) and also in the rain.

There’s been moments where she was at a plateau and she did not seem to improve or “get it” with her ball drills / game strategies and it would leave her (and frankly me) frustrated. But what I came to love about her is that she always bounces back. My favourite moments “sharing” this sport with her (I used to play this game too) is of us attending the annual Mission Cup games (or for this year, the Asian Games) together where we’d shout ourselves hoarse during the games supporting our team and then discuss the brilliant moves across the court.

Dumpling started walking at 10+ months old where she’d skipped the crawling stage entirely. It was almost like she was too impatient to wait and she went right on to the walking stage. I am not sure if it is because of that but she can be the most uncoordinated person at times. With this game, she had to learn how to work around things she is not naturally strong in and she’s had to endure the muscle fatigue and aches, sprained fingers, skinned knees, bruises and at one game at AIS, a really sore nose.


Photo with her fav players over a span of 3 years


Her school has recently started a series of really long training on every Saturday morning (between 4 – 5 hours and us having to reach school at the ungodly hour of 710am!) as they are now in the midst of selecting the school team for the next year. So, I have been getting tired over the long hours of training and the mad rush of sending her for her violin and catechism classes thereafter. I was sharing with a fellow mum that at times I am not sure why I am still sending Dumpling in for such long training especially when I know we have tons of homework to clear the following day.  

But I have an answer now. 

Recently Dumpling had a friendly match playing against one of the clubs that she was training with previously. She met an ex-teammate where coincidentally, they were direct opponents. After the game, Dumpling shared with me excitedly that her ex-teammate commented, somewhat in surprise, that Dumpling has improved a lot in speed, etc. Needless to say, Dumpling was really happy and encouraged. 

So, that's why we are still supporting her after so long: it is simply to honor her love for this sport. This strange, unwavering love of more than 3 years. Importantly, it is also to recognise that grit and commitment, and celebrate progress. 


Giving a Hi-5 to one of our national players who stands at a whopping 196cm!!!

Of course Dumpling still has many areas to work on but I am very sure that I've yet to meet many 9+YOs who's this committed to something. It is that love for the game that drives her "never-say-die" attitude, even when she faces opponents that are bigger and taller, and at times faster than her. And I, I am proud to be a mom of such a tenacious and determined child. 


If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Review: Cat in the Hat by SRT (戴高帽子的猫)


Dumpling has always looked forward to watching Chinese theatrical productions and was especially thrilled when we made plans to catch Cat in the Hat 戴高帽子的猫 by Singapore Repertory Theatre (especially right around our CA period! :p). 

Perhaps one of the world's most famous children’s authors, Dr. Seuss was certainly a well-liked character in our household when Dumpling was younger. His whimsical rhythmic stories provided us with such precious moments during our homeschooling years.



:: The story

“The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house all that cold, cold, wet day.”

The play was true to the story where the opening scene depicts the first page of the story with the 2 main characters staring out of their window on that cold, cold wet day. The props were also done up in the trademark Dr. Seuss's blue with the actors’ costumes riding on the "watercolour and ink illustration" style which is synonymous with the author.


When I first brought Dumpling and my niece to watch this play, I was worried that the play would be too simple for her since she is in Primary 4 after all. However, while the play is simple (where there’s far lesser lines than SRT’s other Chinese productions), it was, by no means, less enjoyable. What it “lacks” in dialogues, it makes up in physical comedy. 



The production was also able to draw on the children’s imagination with the simple stage sets, fuelled by the outrageous antics of the Cat in the Hat. Of course, no Cat in the Hat story will be complete without Thing 1 and Thing 2 ->; 小家伙


For parents who are looking for a gentle way to ease your children into Chinese exposure, this play is perfect for you. I heard young children laughing at the naughty antics Thing 1 and 2 did. 

Good phrases and vocabulary such as  急吼着,目瞪口呆,仔细看,垂头丧气 were used in the play too and of course, I did not waste the tiger mom learning moment to empahsize on those words to the kiddo. :p 

It was my niece’s (Primary 3) first foray into watching a Mandarin production and she really liked it. I heard her laughing out loud and saw her leaning forward, looking really engaged. At one point she also wondered out loud how Cat in the Hat could balance the gazillion things which he stacked.


With the September holidays just around the corner, this will be a great time to bring your children to sample this entertaining production! 

Here's more details:

Event Date
Thu, 9 Aug - Sat, 8 Sep 2018
Weekdays: 10am
Weekend & Public Holidays
Sat, 4 Aug and 11 Aug: 11am & 2pm

Venue

To book for your tickets, please click here.


Disclaimer: We were invited by Singapore Repertory Theatre to watch the play so that we can give our opinions about it. We are not compensated for the post. All opinions expressed are entirely ours. Images are courtesy of Singapore Repertory Theatre. 

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts (both on the kiddo and my furkid), food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), outdoor fun, useful reviews, early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 
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