DBS Marina Regatta 2015 - Ignite the Bay!

[Media Invite]

Singapore's biggest water sports festival, the DBS Marina Regatta returns for its fourth consecutive year to Ignite the Bay! Held in conjunction with the 28th SEA Games, this year's DBS Marina Regatta takes place over three weekends, from 30th May to 14 June.  Set against the iconic skyline of Marina Bay, witness top dragon boating and sailing teams battle it out to be the country's and the region's best.

View from the Viewing Gallery

Apart from exhilarating sporting action in the water, be sure to check out the exciting activities - these include cosplay, cheerleading, dance competitions, extreme sports, a dedicated kids zone, a fantastic food village, stand-up paddling, stand-up yoga, cycling by the bay and more!

Bouncy Castle to keep the little ones occupied

Rock Climbing for the adventure ones.  Enjoy the view up there!

Flying Fox for the fearless!

Getting ready!

So thrilled!  So exciting!

Yay! And landed safely!

Cycling by the Bay! Join them on 6 & 7 June!

For the first time, free urban farming workshops will be held for those interested in learning how to farm sustainably in their homes and in the final weekend, the Promontory will be transformed into Singapore's first urban beach with pop-up cafés!

Checking out the booth on gardening!

Vintage Comics Accessories

Here are some of the event highlights:

Extreme sports arena
Come take a walk on the wild side with us at the extreme sports arena! Activities such as flying fox, freefall jumps and rock climbing will be available to the public.

Kids zone
This year’s DBS Marina Regatta has even more in store for kids! From activities such as Laser Tag to a bouncy castle, there’s something for everyone. Other highlights include arcade games, Xbox Kinect, an F1 car simulator, face painting, balloon sculpting, art & craft, a giant Jenga station, and gladiator jousting.

DBS Food village by Savour
An array of regional dishes and delicacies will tantalise taste buds as we bring in culinary favourites from across the region. Chefs featured include Chef Emmanuel Stroobant, co-owner of Brussel Sprouts, and Chef David Ang of Bistro 1855 who has prepared meals for international celebrities such as Catherine Zeta Jones, Michael Douglas and Roman Abramovich.

Urban farming workshops
Free Urban Farming Workshops will be held for those interested in learning how to farm sustainably in their homes and office spaces. From the basics of organic growing to cultivating natural healing remedies, these workshops conducted by social enterprises Edible Garden City and ComCrop cover a wide variety of content that will be extremely useful to every urbanite.

Paddle for good
Event-goers are challenged to form teams with and paddle alongside persons with disabilities (PwDs), such as the members from the Deaf Dragons team. “Paddle for Good” simulates a dragon boat race, but on land with the use of indoor ergometer machines instead of boats. For every 1 kilometre paddled, DBS will donate SGD 100 to organisations that are committed to creating and running sports activities for PwDs.

DBS Art Park
The DBS Art Park will showcase eight up and coming artists from NOISE who will be expressing their creativity through visual arts on four giant art cubes. AsNo Doink, two time Singapore Graffiti champion, will lead another group of four artists, under Skratch Army, on the development of the fifth cube. As part of DBS’ partnership with the National Gallery Singapore, there will also be a Living Art segment at the DBS Marina Regatta. Living Art is a re-enactment of a selected painting that will be on display at the National Gallery Singapore. At the Regatta, actors will bring to life renowned artist Liu Kang’s painting “Life by the River”.

3 explosive weekends, 1 iconic venue
Igniting possibilities, sparking joy
Singapore's biggest water sports festival
Experience joy by the bay
Happening at Marina Bay
6, 7, 13 & 14 June
Free Admission

The DBS Marina Regatta

Dinosaurize Me! A Science Expedition at Plaza Singapura

[Media Invite]

For the first time in Singapore, the spectacular fossil replica of one of the largest beasts ever walk on the planet is now on displayed in the heart of the city - Plaza Singapura.

From now till 14 June 2015, families with kids can simply head down to Plaza Singapura to meet and discover the colossal, life-sized Argentinosaurus  exhibit, which measures approximately 37-metre long and 7.3-metre (nearly three storeys) tall.  It current holds the record for being the heaviest land animal ever, and the longest.  It is a herbivore that aptly lived in Argentina.

This is one of the many highlights at Dinosaurize Me!, a joint event by Plaza Singapura and the Science Centre Singapore, especially organised for the June holidays. As part of the “Science in the Mall” programme, Dinosaurize Me! aims to stimulate and nurture passion for scientific inquiry in both parents and their kids, encouraging them to explore
the lost world of prehistoric animals.  These are some activities you can expect:

Science Show (basing on Evolutionary Theory)
Dinosaur Fossils Crafting

Geological Timeline Activity (basing on Evolutionary Theory)
Digging The Fossils

So if your kids love Dinosaurs, bring them to Plaza Singapura for a ball of a time this June holiday!

Dinosaurize Me!
29 May to 14 June 2015
Plaza Singapura, Level 1 Main Atrium
11am to 8pm

And don't forget to participate in their social media promotion!

Sherlock Sam and the Fiendish Mastermind in Jurong

[Book Review]

School's Out!  Books Are In!

Hi there!  That is Watson, the robot that accompanies AJ to sleep every night.  Watson is Sherlock Sam’s robot, made by his awesome dad, in the Sherlock Sam series.  AJ loves this series right from the start of the first book 'Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong'. And this book got me hooked too.  I never knew so much about Katong though I grew up there.  It put me to shame when I knew that I am worse off than an 'Angmo' (Adan Jimenez, the author).  AJ got Watson (this one in the picture) during 1 of those meet-the-author sessions.  He answered a question correctly and that was his reward.

The first Sherlock Sam book started AJ's reading adventure in the series with Cher Lock, the main character of the book, as he became his faithful follower.  Every time a new book in this series is launched, this mommy here would have to steal, borrow or buy a copy for him to read.

Thanks to Epigram, the publisher of the Sherlock Sam series, I need not do any of these when it comes to this latest book.

The book arrived on a weekday morning and I conveniently placed it on the dining table.  When AJ came back from school and spotted it, he couldn’t resist the temptation to lay his hands on it and went straight into it without shower, without lunch.  I had to negotiate with him, allowing him to finish a chapter before he was willing to take his shower then lunch. As expected, he finished that book in one sitting and revisited it countless times.

I finally got a chance to read after my exam, and in one sitting as well.  Well, it is really hard to put down a book when you have riddles to solve, a robot to find and an engaging storyline. AJ was particularly thrilled to solve the last riddle because it involves elements in the periodic table, something which he, for some strange reason, has an affinity to.

All illustrations above were taken from the book and they were drawn by Andrew Tan (also known as drewscape)

In this book, Watson, Sherlock's robot, was kidnapped by one of his classmates.  Sherlock and his parents and friends went around Jurong, solving riddles, trying to locate and meet Sherlock's arch enemy to get back Watson.  Did they eventually find Watson? Or did Watson 'die'? Police Officials were involved in the investigation, which complicates the matter. How was the case solved? Read the book, you and your child(ren), to find out.

Sherlock Sam series is available in all major bookstores and Epigram's webstore.
Do also visit the links below on reviews on these 2 other books:

Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong

Sherlock Sam and the Vanished Robot in Penang

Explore New Horizons At The Revamped Omni-Theatre

[Media Invite]

The Science Centre Singapore (SCS) is one of our favourite educational places to visit.  Each time AJ and I go there, we must visit the Omni Theatre, we would catch an IMAX movie, otherwise our trip would seem incomplete. 

The Omni Theatre was closed on 17 April for a revamp. Now, the upgraded Omni Theatre will be opened to the public on 30 May 2015 (Sat) as a dual-technology edutainment destination, fitted with the world’s latest and brightest 8K digital fulldome system to complement the existing IMAX 70mm film projection system on Southeast Asia’s largest seamless dome screen.

During the preview on 25 May, we were given the opportunity to immerse in this digitally enhanced experience.  We transcended physical boundaries and got to travel virtually to remote locations on Earth and in space to learn more about astronomy, space science and exploration, all from the comfort of the newly upgraded seats at Omni Theatre.

"This immersive 8K experience, augmented by the real-time live astronomy presentations conducted by our team of science educators, will enable visitors to explore and learn about space like never before."
Mr. Clarence Sirisena, Deputy Chief Executive, Science Centre Singapore.

From 30 May, you will be able to enjoy a choice of digital fulldome movies and “Live” shows with topical, real-time presentations conducted by SCS science educators.  The “Live” shows are powered by the 8K digital fulldome system and Digistar 5 visualisation software with video playback and real-time computer graphics rendered accurately with high-resolution detail, along with real-time data from the likes of American Museum of Natural History and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

We viewed our Earth from the varsity of the universe.

As we drew ourselves further and further away, all we saw was the Milky Way

Back to the Moon for Good

We were given the opportunity to watch the digital fulldome movie “Back to the Moon for Good”, and “Live” shows “Cosmic Surfing” and “Exploring the planets”.   I have to say, the 8K digital fulldome experience was stupefying.  The 3D effect was so real (no 3D glasses required), when the screen rotated, I felt like it was my seat that was being shifted, and I felt as if I can jump into the space (no, I didn’t attempt).

Here's the offering from 30 May onwards:

"With the powerful 8K digital fulldome system installed at Science Centre Singapore, the audience can enjoy the latest and the best immersive dome cinema experience.  They can choose to embark on a real-time voyage into space, where the science educators have full control over what they want to show and where they want to bring the audience, and at the same time teach them about space science and exploration. There are also several digital movie productions that can further introduce the marvels of space and spur even greater interest in astronomy and beyond."
Scott Niskach, Director of International Sales, Evans and Sutherland Computer Corporation. 

The revamped Omni Theatre is truly one experience not to be missed. For show times and tickets, please visit http://www.omnitheatre.com.sg/

Participating in Sing50 for SG50

End last year, we heeded the call for the audition of 50 pianists to be part of the Sing50 Mega Concert organised by The Straits Times and The Business Times. The hunt was on for 1,000 choir singers, 100 rappers, and 50 pianists and 40 musicians to be part of the 120-strong Metropolitan Festival Orchestra. 

The little boy got selected for the live audition after we submitted the video in November last year.  So on 7th March this year, we went to Steinway studio for the live audition.  I like that the live audition was stringent.  Not only must each candidate have a minimum of ABRSM Grade 5, he/she must be able to play a classical music piece well, and there was also sight reading and each candidate had to play that piece on the spot.  The latter was a real test of ability.

By end March, we received news that AJ was selected, together with 49 other pianists. We later read that there were over 300 pianists who responded to this national search.  Indeed many people wanted to take part in this SG50 celebration!

We have not received any rehearsal schedule yet.  For all that we know, it will be pretty intensive in July and Aug.  It is good to know that many local artists like Stefanie Sun, JJ Lin, Tracy Huang, etc will also be participating in this mega concert (news here). 

The Sing50 mega concert did receive criticism though. Many local musicians, supporters and practitioners had voiced their unhappiness over the fund being used to buy 50 brand new Steinway-designed Lang Lang pianos, yet not paying the performers of the mega concert any sum. Although Steinway had explained that they will be selling these 50 pianos at cost price, it is still a hefty $1.3m. The 50 pianos will subsequently be given to 50 primary and secondary schools. It has been reported that 100 schools have applied for the pianos. But you see, unless it is a music school, most schools cannot afford to maintain a Steinway piano.

I can fully understand the frustrations of these music professionals and practitioners, then why did I still get AJ to participate in the audition? Please hear me out.

AJ is nowhere a professional pianist, he is a young amateur pianist.  How many of these amateur pianists have the opportunity to play in a concert, let alone a mega one? As a young amateur pianist, he needs to be exposed to wide range of music as well as opportunities to perform. So it just make sense that we should go for the audition. Getting paid to perform is the last thing in mind.

This year marks the remarkable SG50, a year we remember and celebrate 50 years of independence.  I am unlikely to see another 50 years of Singapore, so it is an important year to me. It is my nation. It should be important to our younger generation too! I want AJ to remember that the path to independence wasn't easy.  This year we watched quite a few documentary of the early days of Singapore, all with the intention to help him appreciate what Singapore has done for him. 

Should he give back then if there is an opportunity? Certainly yes.  Here is one way he can do.  He can participate in this concert, to make this Sing50 concert a memorable one, not only to him, but to the rest of the Singaporeans as well.  There is a time to reflect what the nation has done for us, there is a time to celebrate the joy of achievement.

So with these 2 reasons, I urged him to participate in this concert.  And I was glad that he was willing to though he has his piano exam in July and I was so happy that he was given the chance to, now that we know he has passed the live audition. 

Would you like to join in the celebration?
Please click here to get the tickets.

Before I end this post, I attached here a piece of contemporary music AJ has learnt by hearing.  It is a piece composed by my multi-talented ex-colleague, Chester Tan, who did not pen down the scores. The original piece is here. I love this piece very much so I asked AJ to listen to it a few times and play by ear. Please enjoy.

Here's the youtube link if you can't view on the blog.

MinCott Hotel (Kuala Lumpur)


We go to Kuala Lumpur (KL) twice or thrice a year to visit AJ’s paternal grandparents, however, AJ and I don’t stay there during our trips.  Usually we will stay with AJ’s grandauntie in Bangsar or we will find our own accommodation.

Just last year September, the hubs found a new budget hotel near his parents’ place and was excited to share with me, hoping that I don’t mind staying there. Frankly, I have my reservation when it comes to staying in a budget hotel.  We had a very bad experience staying in one budget hotel in KL Chinatown that was filled with bed bugs.  Our whole family got bitten all over bodies and I had to demand a change of room to their new wing in the wee hours.

However, he said this budget hotel is new, so everything should be alright. I didn’t know whether I got mesmerized by him or what, I actually agreed to his suggestion!

Hotel reception

And so last September we stayed in MinCott Hotel in Kuchai Exchange in a Superior room (the hubs stayed in his parents’ house at night).  It turned out to be a pleasant stay, so I didn’t mind staying there again.

I gave my feedback to Mincott Hotel with regards to my stay in September last year and they graciously extended their sponsorship to us in March this year in a Family room so that the hub could stay too.  That was very nice of them.

Lest you think whenever I go to KL I shop.  No, actually.  Going to KL is a time for me to have lots of me-time, a time when I do not have to do housework, cook or shuttle AJ here and there.  So a good hotel stay is very important to me.  While the boys were in my parents-in-law’s place, I enjoyed the time all by myself in the comfortable hotel room to read, blog, finish my assignments, nap, etc. I do shop (because the exchange rate is too irresistible) but more so to stock up things for the house and I usually only allocate one day for it.

Family Room has a Queen size bed and a Single bed

Mincott Hotel may be a budget hotel but it’s service isn’t sloppy. The staff are friendly and housekeeping is thorough. The room is simply furnished but with a contemporary look. Though the bathroom/toilet isn’t very spacious, there is no water leakage water and the water pressure has been excellent throughout the day. It has unlimited access of free WiFi and complimentary newspaper provided for 2 or more nights stay. If you drive, you will get complimentary parking. By the way, there is 24-hour security guard on duty everyday too.

Open wardrobe with mini bar and safe

Basic bathroom necessities are provided: shower gel, shampoo, hand soap and towels 

Clean toilet, no stain; no leak

It was a 5D/4N stay in KL last September and we had the chance to explore some eateries around Mincott Hotel.  As Mincott Hotel is nested in a newly sprouted business district, I noticed there were more eateries available this time in March as compared to last year September.  That’s a good news! It means there could be more eateries available the next trip we stay there!

As MinCott Hotel doesn't serve breakfast, here are some places around it where you can feast at:

(1)  Restoran Hafiz Corner (Within Kuchai Exchange)

This Indian Muslim restaurant is nearest to MinCott Hotel.  Many who stayed in MinCott went, apparently, as reviewed in Trip Advisor but we didn't try it.  I passed by a few times but I didn't find the food suitable for me.

(2) Niko Niko (Within Kuchai Exchange)

This Japanese cafe serves local food too, haha.  We visited once for breakfast and the food was good!  I certainly will visit it again should we stay in MinCott Hotel next time.

My awesome Teppanyaki-style breakfast from Niko Niko

(3) Jin Xuan Hong Kong Dim Sum (Out of Kuchai Exchange but in Kuchai Lama)

I spotted this when we were driving around Kuchai to hunt for eating places. This is along Jalan Kuchai Maju, pretty easy to locate. It is apparently a very reputable Dim Sum Restaurant. Please get ready to drool over the pictures below.  The Dim Sum was so good that we went there twice and sure be back for more!

Such irresistible price!!!

Chee Cheong Fun filled with very fresh prawns

Chicken Glutinous Rice.  The best that I have ever eaten! The little boy wanted it all by himself!

Char Siew Soh.  Ok, not the best of the lot.

Golden Custard Bun, yumz!

Prawn Dumpling with very fresh prawns!

Xiao Long Bao, oh so succulent!

Siew Mai

With comfortable room to stay at reasonable price, good food to accompany and a NSK hypermarket within 5 mins walk, there are sufficient reasons why I would make MinCott Hotel my choice stay the next time we visit my in-laws.