7 To-Do’s on a Singapore Weekend Trip

Plan a productive weekend when in Singapore while taking note that it has similar hot weather like in the Philippines (it was also bipolar during our stay as it was so sunny in the morning then a strong rain in the afternoon) but the place is completely clean and the highway traffic is way too bearable even during a Friday night rush hour. Special thanks to my Father-In-Law who treated our entire stay as his birthday gift to my Son! Where to go? Here are some of the places you may consider while on a 3-night vacation with a kid onboard.

  • Sentosa – an island resort off Singapore’s southern coast, connected to the city by road, cable car, pedestrian boardwalk, and monorail. Depends on how many attractions you wish to explore but you can spend a day here to just simply roam around (ride cable car and tour the Sentosa Island via Bus) or visit S.E.A Aquarium (large aquarium featuring 800 species of marine life in a variety of habitats; one-day ticket at SG$34 for adults and SG$24 for kids) and Universal Studios (one-day ticket at SG$76 for adults and SG$56 for kids), among many other activities that you can pick.

  • Gardens by the Bay – nature park spanning 101 hectares of reclaimed land in central Singapore, adjacent to the Marina Reservoir. In the afternoon, you can take a look at the Flower Dome, Cloud Forest, and Heritage Gardens. Comes night, stand in awe of the amazing SuperTree Grove uniquely designed vertical gardens of 25 to 50-metres tall with a light display (7.45pm and 8.45pm daily). Bring a thin blanket or a long shawl to spread on the floor so you can lie down and watch the effects for free.
Gardens by the Bay Light Show

SuperTree Grove Feels like in Avatar World

  • Marina Bay Sands – walk at the huge and intricately-designed mall;  enjoy your coffee at the DC Comics Super Heroes Cafe. Well, nothing really spectacular about their latte but a Superman-designed mug and a cookie shape Batman is fun to try. The kids would surely fancy DC-character ice cream stick! Then go up to the paid viewing deck of the boat-shaped top floor soaring 57 level; observation deck entrance fee is SG$23 for adults and SG$17 for children.
DC Comics Super Heroes Cafe

Superman Latte and Batman Americano, please!

 

What’s on the high boat?

From Marina Bay, you can just walk to the ferris wheel and stroll at the Merlion Park.

  • Singapore Flyer – the Flyer has an overall height of 541 feet and takes about 30 minutes cycle. (Only second to the highest ferris wheel in the world, first being High Roller at Las Vegas at 550 feet.) The ride offers a nice 360 panoramic view of Singapore. The ticket is priced at SG$33 for adults and SG$21 for children.

Singapore Flyer from the Marina Bay POV

  • Merlion Park – you’ve probably seen images of Singapore’s national icon, the mythical Merlion with the head of a lion and the body of a fish. She is the Mama Merlion and the body symbolizes Singapore’s humble beginnings as a fishing village when it was called Temasek, meaning ‘sea town’ in Old Javanese. Her head represents Singapore’s original name, Singapura, or ‘lion city’ in Malay.
Mama Merlion

Side view of Mama Merlion (The Daddy is on Sentosa Island)

  • Orchard Road – a 2.2 kilometer-long boulevard and Singapore’s retail heart with discount outlets, department stores, and upscale boutiques, alongside luxury hotels. Duration here is based on your shopping appetite, you can spend a whole day at Orchard to (window) shop and eat. As for us, we eyed on the eating part and found a really good ramen place at OrchardGateway! if you are Japanese noodle lover, have a slurp of shoyu or the black garlic at Kanshokuramen.
Ramen!

Ramen!

 

Starwars at Orchard

Starwars Product Launch at Orchard

  • Clark Quay – historical riverside quay (a structure built parallel to the bank of a waterway for use as a landing place) in Singapore, located within the Singapore River Planning Area. Drop by late afternoon or evening then jump to a dinner treat as there are a lot of mouth-licious food spots! If you are a seafood lover, get a reservation at Jumbo along the RiverWalk and make sure to order their crabs and shrimps! Or if you like cook-your-own steak done on a small-square stone grill, check Hot Stones. The extreme-adrenaline seekers might want to try  G-Max Reverse Bungy (I did NOT even think of riding it)!

The walk at Clark Quay

 

WriteNowNa in Singapore

Ready to crack the crabs!

These are just some of what you can do in SG and are guaranteed to leave memories! Have an amazing trip!

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When is the So-Called “Ghost Month”?

Many freelancers and enterprise owners take extra precautions on their decision-making and spending during the so-called “ghost month”. Some would say that the entire August (even calling it “Aughost”) is actually a dangerous month so expect people with strong superstitions to avoid work transactions and to not initiate new business ventures.

Have you experienced a drop of income? Or a slow turn-around of your finances? Or you just feel so unlucky? I have not gone into that “Aughost” scenario but met many people who lay low and undergo a downtime. Thankful that work comes normal and at times better compare to other months but I respect those who believe otherwise.

An ABS-CBN news article says that “This year, ghost month starts on August 22 and ends on September 19, 2017. According to Chinese legend, ghost month is when evil spirits are unleashed from hell and roam the earth, bringing bad luck wherever they go. This is why superstitious businessmen, and there are surprisingly many, lie low during this time.”

Dates vary annually according to the Chinese calendar (a lunisolar calendar), the Ghost Festival is on the 15th night of the seventh month (14th in southern China). In Chinese culture, the fifteenth day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar is called Ghost Day (For this year, it is set on September 5) and the seventh month in general is regarded as the Ghost Month (鬼月), in which ghosts and spirits, including those of the deceased ancestors, come out from the lower realm. (Source: Wikipedia)

Coming from the traditional Buddhist and Taoist origin, note that the date does not cover all of August (10 days) and includes more days in September (19 days) so the timeline assumed by many as “ghost” is not when it should be.

Waiting for the Ghost Month?

Are you going to wait and restructure your activities?

Will the so-called ghost month alter your work schedule? Should you procrastinate an endeavor? Should you be more careful and not take risks? Should you suspend the planned expansion? Or just live normal with a focused and optimistic mindset driven to try over and win non-stop regardless of what month it is?

Image courtesy of saphatthachat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

10 Honest Tips When Going To Parts of Europe

Our trip to Europe last summer is totally memorable; the sights are breathtaking and the experience is surreal. With the aim not to stress the vacation that much and avoid following a day-to-day loaded schedule, we planned our own itinerary (traveled without a guide or group) with our kid as the top-of-mind concern. We arrived in Austria (Vienna, Hallstatt, Salzburg) then Czech (Prague), Switzerland (Zurich), to Germany (Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt). Pan your eyes from left to right and the view is a guaranteed beauty.

View from the Castle

#AustriasInAustria

But getting too engrossed with what we are seeing might not be ideal as we still have to be on guard. Excited with your European tour? Here are a few reminders before you fly.

1. Get ready to walk for kilometers. Forget the fancy shoes and just pack your most comfortable pair. Appreciating the place is way better on foot and get up close with the intricate details of the surroundings. If you are visiting on a summer (end of May to August), do not wear flats with a thin sole. Remember, you will walk on cobble stones/brick floors and you will feel the roughness of their pathways if your feet are not properly equipped.

#PraguingLakadSaPrague

2. Water bottles are so expensive (depends on where you buy but ranges from Php100 to Php250 per 500ml) so make sure you pick the right one—purchase the “no gas”water; they are mostly selling “with gas” (imagine flavored water and sparkling).

3. There are pickpockets so stay alert. We’ve met a few tourists who lost their wallet or an item, especially in Prague. Avoid leaving pieces of stuff unattended, put your money/passports closest to you and your credit/debit cards secure with RFID blocking wallet.

4. Bring usable, foldable tote bag as they don’t give paper or plastic on to-go purchases (even at grocery stores).

5. There are taxi cabs and Uber rides but trains and buses are good to explore.

Train ride at Marienplatz Station, Munich, Germany

6. If you get a chance, drive at Autobahn and enjoy the speed. You will not need to apply for a driver’s permit if you have a valid Philippine license. More treat for car fans as there are the Mercedez-Benz, Porsche, and BMW Museums to linger on.

Hubby enjoying his 220 drive at Autobahn

7. They speak English but not all are very fluent so be patient when you converse. A lot are really nice (especially warm with kids) but there are rude people too so keep the calmness and don’t let these few ruin the trip.

8. Most hotels do not include a pair of toothbrush and toothpaste to their personal hygiene compliments pack so make sure to bring your own.

9. Try their local food and don’t be intimidated by goulash and schnitzel. Spoiler alert: they are our Pinoy versions of kaldereta and breaded porkchop/chicken.

10. It is okay to get lost. You will surely find spectacular and wonderful corners along the way.

Happy 2017!

Here comes the new year and most of us are feasting with food, fireworks, and fascinating resolutions. What do you aim to achieve this 2017? What do you wish to change or improve? How are you going to make it work? How will it be tagged at the end of another year, success or failure?

So many things we wanted to do yet so many uncertainties too. The first day of New Year seems to invite that moment of contemplation about life. That “what to do next” thought balloon as I stared the view of BGC from our 18th-floor hotel room (staying here so my son can avoid inhaling the smog of the evening’s traditional firecrackers’ funfair around the Metro).

New Year Contemplation while at Ascot BGC

Have I done the right thing or should it be another way? If the latter, then what’s the other way? To pursue what has been started and just enhance the process or completely begin anew? How do I see my life to happen? I really don’t know exactly but one thing I really hope to push is to maintain such optimism despite the looming negativity around. I aspire to learn more and be inspired by good people. If I am on the right track may perhaps be an eternal question but maybe that exactly makes life interesting…

2016 was not a year-round perfection but it was full of blessings that our family is always thankful about. Battles and challenges are surely part of the route and so are triumphs and wins with many in-between mundane days. We can always try to add spark even in our simplest way than troll nonsense negativity. Find our path while living the moment of the new year. Let’s make it the best!

May we all have a happy and productive 2017!

Dining at Katsuya, Hollywood

Our family was able to relive the blog about seven tips for parents traveling with younger kids as we visited the US about a month ago. It was a spectacular time for us. A lot of theme park adventures (Legoland, Disney Land, Universal Studios) and long drive escapades (from Orange County to Laughlin to Grand Canyon reaching Las Vegas back to Los Angeles) but the highlight of every stopover is food!

Serving size there is so overwhelmingly huge drooling on Popeye’s fried chicken, Panda Express’ lemon chicken, Shake Shack’s hamburger, Joe Shack’s crabs, Ihops’ pancakes, Kona’s grilled steak and a lot more I can only fancy now.

On top of all the meals we’ve had, one completely stood out. If you are a Japanese cuisine lover and is going to the United States anytime soon, you must include Katsuya by Starck on your itinerary.

Katsuya Hollywood

Katsuya Hollywood

They have many branches around the City (Hollywood ▪ Brentwood ▪ Glendale ▪ L.A. Live ▪ Las Vegas ▪ South Beach) plus Middle East (Kuwait and Dubai). And perhaps we’ve been into the hottest spot, Hollywood!

Sushi Tray at Katsuya Hollywood

Devouring the sushi (at once! So good that we failed to capture in photo the beautiful whole, untouch shot!)

Our tray of sushi was masterfully crafted by the only lady Sushi Chef at the Resto, KitKat Austria. I so love watching her prepare in precise rhythm and with so much passion.

Sushi Chef Kitktat Austria of Katsuya Hollywood

Sushi Chef KitKat Austria in Action!

Everything is outstandingly delicious but my #1 pick is the Baked Crab Hand Rolls! Imagine a baked snow crab lightly kissed with Chef’s signature sauce, wrapped with rice in soy paper. I can eat it all day and crave for more. As part of your starters, don’t forget to add the Crispy Brussels Sprouts with balsamic soy and toasted almonds!

Katsuya Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

Katsuya’s Japanese kanji symbol “Katsu” means “victory” or “to win” and it’s fitting considering the loyal following of Hollywood A-listers and Zagat critics the restaurant has won over with its inventive combination of Japanese and Californian cuisine. Exuberant servers welcome you “irashaimase” as you walk in and bid you “arigato gozaimas” as you leave and in between, original creations like the Crispy Rice, Spicy Tuna, Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeño, Miso-Marinated Black Cod and award-winning cocktails like the Burning Mandarin delight your palate.

Featuring the dynamic pairing of Master Sushi Chef Katsuya Uechi and design impresario Philippe Starck, Katsuya by Starck is truly a feast for the senses. With superb talent and exacting precision, it is truly changing the face of Japanese cuisine.

Bandwagon of Reasons

I was about to draft an article about Southie café stores but could not finish it up as I would prefer. There are other ideas on my mind and I have been contemplating about this for a while.

Bandwagon of Reasons - WriteNowNa

Not that I am going to be preachy but I’m sure you’ll agree that this is what’s usually happening now, there are specific practices that we have to cut somehow. (Auliq Ice has an interesting profile as a Writer, Singer, Songwriter, Arranger, Author, Internet Entrepreneur and Investor.)

Simply put, perhaps consider this: let’s try not to join the recurring bandwagon of reasons?

  • When there is no time to keep in touch with friends or we simply don’t want to be in touch with anyone, “I am busy”.
  • When a deadline is not met or a promised agreement is not done, “I overlooked from the pile of messages”.
  • When coming to a meeting becomes a perpetual tardiness, “trap in a heavy traffic”.
  • When discord arises, emotions can’t be controlled, and extreme foul words get in the way, “…but the highest person in position can defy decent language, why can’t I?”.
  • When we have a problem with someone, instead of talking to them directly, we rant on our Facebook post with the thought balloon, “hope he reads this *#$&#*$@!”.

What’s trending or what appears to be the most accepted social behavior nowadays may not reflect our own values—it may affirm or sway our beliefs depending on how strong we hold it. Are we going to just simply follow because it is done by most people? Or has it become the most convenient reason that is automatically accepted without a blink, so use it? Maybe we can try to say no and get the habit of not using unnecessary excuses at all. Get real and take a tight grip of that goodness in us.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Is it a Good Read?

(There is no spoiler here)

Harry Potter novel series reminds me of younger years—closing the door, secluding myself for a day, diving into the story while completely detached to everything and enchanted on my own corner. I had never been deeply engaged with other books since the end of Deathly Hallows which was released back in 2007.

My fascination continues, even introducing the wizarding world to my son.

harry-potter-writenowna4

The public distribution of the Cursed Child last July 31, 2016 seems to bring back the excitement a bit. “A bit” only because I have already put an end to the Harry Potter adventure along Book 7. Hearing that there would be a stage play of Harry Potter 19 years later of his life did not make me frantic. At first, it was announced that there would be no printed version but apparently, they have it now.

harry-potter-cursed-child-writenowna

Hubby understanding my Potter passion surprised me with a copy simultaneous to the international selling.

It is in a script format so JK Rowling’s detailed description of what’s really going on is not happening here. Important to note also that she has not entirely written the story as she worked in collaboration with other playwright Jack Thorne.

Finishing the script would only require a couple of hours of devoted reading; the flow is still intriguing but not as compelling as the original novels nailed it. So, lessen the expectations.

The plot lacks the depth, the twist is utterly forced to occur, and the ending has none of that lingering effect we got used to. There are still bits of exciting and interesting portions though (as strong friendship of unlikely characters tends to bloom).

Is it worth the read? Yes. It won’t hurt to know what happened to Harry Potter and his gang whether we agree with it or not as Potterheads surely have their own conclusions post-Voldemort. And who knows, the West End stage might reach the Philippines? Then that would have been another experience worth anticipating for a fan of many years.

7 Tips for Parents Traveling with Younger Kids

Hubby and I personally find it gratifying to travel with our son; we always make sure to bring him on our trips. Traveling opens his mind to various cultures and enhances how he deals with different kinds of people. While it is totally fulfilling to see the world with our children, there are also a lot of challenges too. We have listed some ideas that you can consider on your next trip to lessen the drawbacks.

1.Always bring a medicine kit – Aside from his daily vitamins, try to bring a small bottle of Paracetamol or Ibuprofen,  bring anti-histamine in case of an allergy attack, and even small undissolved antibiotics for that “just in case” scenario. Yes, you would be able to find a similar medicine in other countries but when a fever strikes, it is definitely handy to have it available ASAP without stressing out where to find a pharmacy.

Last week we were fortunate to get a free trip to Taiwan together with relatives, thanks to my Father-in-Law! But my son caught a fever on the eve of the departure due to tonsillitis. He was quarantined at the arrival and we were told to go the hospital in Taipei to get a certificate that his fever is not because of dengue or other easy to spread ailment. We immediately went to the Emergency Room, got the certification, and were given tons of medicines. We have consulted our Pedia via Viber and she refused to use most of the prescriptions. She told us to stick with what she is giving him. Good thing we have brought the “usual” drug as he became fever-free over night.

2. Expect detours – Sure we have already scheduled spending a whole day in Hong Kong’s Lantau Island but then there was a heavy downpour and a 3-hour queuing line to get our turn at the cable car. So, No. What’s next? Make sure to orchestrate an advance plan B. (To my delight, we just decided to explore the nearby Citygate Outlets).

3. Charge his gadgets – Ipad had served as well especially while waiting at the airport and on the plane during his early trips. Now, we are starting put a distance with his use of gadgets as we introduce him to read books or appreciate the idea of simply observing around.

4. You cannot really shop your heart out UNLESS you take turns – One to stay with the kid at the hotel room or nearby play area while the other sneak for a quick shopping.

5. Bring his favorite snacks – My son loves the fried chicken of McDonald’s and got sad when he learned that there was no McDo Fried Chicken in the US. So while we were convincing him that Popeye’s Chicken is a good alternative, we let him munch his local snacks and slowly encourage him to try a new brand.

6. Let go of your whims – While at Osaka, we had sudden plan to go to Nagoya because Hubby wanted to visit the Toyota Museum. We haven’t been there and not familiar with the place so we hoped to rely on impulse—it would have been a real adventure if it just me and him but we got a kid now; doing research is important to make sure we won’t tire our son with long walks or unfed tummy for hours.

7. Again, conduct a research – It does not need to be an intensive study but just get acquainted with where you are going. Take a glimpse of what the weather will be like, the best way to commute with kids, identify kid-friendly landmarks, and be familiar with nearby places around the hotel.

We are continuously learning and exploring! Every travel leads to gaining knowledge and creating beautiful memories as a family! Where are you going next?

writenowna-blog-tips-traveling-with-kids

Moving from Small to Big School (Preschool to Grade 1)

Last week, I was invited by the school of my son to talk in front of the new set of parents on how to ease the transition from small to big school. Not that our family has mastered it but moving to grade one is a milestone and should be made memorable for our kids. Here are six quick tips:

  • Help him prepare emotionally.

Weeks before the start of class, enthusiastically talk to your child about his big new school.  Excite him about the fun of having long walks at the corridor, chances of meeting new people, seeing a huge field every day, and learning with a lot of other kids (from 12 to about 40 students per classroom)!

  • Listen more.

Expect to hear new characters and events from his stories—nice (and naughty) classmates, reason of unfinished snacks, race mates from the classroom to the drop-off gate. His tone of narration would signal if he is coping well or not; do not resist to keep in touch with the adviser if there are persistent stressful signs.

  • Initiate his independence.

Most small schools would allow parents to be inside the classroom and would let them take a peek of their child while studying even if this means weeks or months of “guarding and staring” at the doorstep. Well, this is a huge no-no in the big school; we can’t even drop by to check if our child is okay during recess! Believe that he can do it with the support of his teachers.

“Hard to let go” – Picture was taken back in 2013 during the first day of pre-school

  • Learn to trust.

Give him the assurance that his teachers are going to be like his Daddy and Mama while in school. But really, the most terrifying part comes from the fact that we will leave our child from people we don’t know (yet) and they will be in charge of our kids daily! Try to soothe your worries and have a peace of mind that our children would be in caring hands.

  • Enjoy the process.

There will be days that it feels like a roller coaster ride—from resisting to follow his new routine to giving brilliant reasons not to study. But just keep it going and have fun at the moment; he won’t be grade one forever.

  • Know that he can.

Because you made him ready for this. There are a lot of options to do home school or perhaps continue with his small school curriculum but here you are, taking the step and preparing for that special day.

  • And last, don’t forget to take his picture on the first day of school!
Ready?

Ready?

Get a Closer Look of Taal with the Bonbon Festival

Summer is nearly ending! How is it going? I’ve been tied with work the past weeks and we have not really been into  #SummerAdventure2016 (the hashtag I’ve been frequently seeing on my social feed).  So if you are planning to explore a getaway somewhere in the South, check out BonBon Festival.

BonBon-Festival-WriteNowNa-blog1Now on its second year, Bonbon Festival is back to celebrate Arts, Environment, and Community in a one of a kind one-day event which will be participated by young professionals, students, different artists in Batangas Province and invited guests from other places.

Bonbon Festival is the first eco-green festival in the province which aims to support and sustain the environment by using arts and culture as one of the tools for preservation and development.

Where is the Festival?

Sitio Tagbakin, Brgy. Halang Lipa City, Batangas

When?

May 21, 2016 (Sunday) from 6 am onwards

What to expect?

  • Gala at Pasyal sa Lawa/ Knowledge Tour

Know the story of the lake region and eruption history of Taal Volcano via boat ride from Sitio Tagbakin, Lipa City to San Nicolas to Volcano Island and back. Enjoy the horse ride and trek with local tour guide and the rest of the team.

  • Mananghalian/Lunch

Savor a sumptuous lunch of Batangas fusion cuisine and local refreshments.

  • Huntahan sa Lawa/ Talkback

Join a series of meaningful talkback and discussions about Art and Environment with interactive community workshops that culminate the afternoon activities.

  • Hapunan/Dinner by the Lake, Art Installations and Performance Art

Experience Batangas Art and Culture through performances. Listen to the old time Kundiman music plus musical performances dedicated to Taal led by independent Batangueno musicians including LAC Music Department. Cocktails are available with a party capping the night with all-out-fun and dancing.

There are two available packages to consider.

BonBon-Festival-PackageA-WriteNowNa-blog

BonBon-Festival-Package-WriteNowNa-blog

Feel like joining now? This is a productive activity and it’s not too late to have our own version of that hot #Summer Adventure2016!

For inquiries and ticket purchase you may contact:

Mr. Carlo Aguila at 043-740-7112 or 09178779144