Sunday, April 16, 2017

[SG] Guided Walk: What's in my mangrove? @ Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

15 April 2017

It has been some time since we go for nature walks. Hence, for year 2017, we are committed to bring the family back to the nature and learn more about biodiversity once again. Yesterday, we joined the free guided walk by NParks - What's in my mangrove? There are many free activities organised by NParks and you can check them out and sign up for the various events at the following link - https://www.nparks.gov.sg/activities


Outdoor shot at one of the Dragonfly Pod overlooking the wetland reserve.  

Our guide for the day is Mr Yap - a volunteer guide with NParks. We started our walk with an introductory tour at Mangrove Gallery at Kranji Way Entrance @ Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.


This section is part of the new extension of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve since 2014. Visitors can take on three new nature trails namely, Forest Trail, Mid-Canopy Walk and Coastal Trail.


Mr Yap shared many information about mangroves and the importance of its existence in the ecosystem. Mangroves can absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide that help to control greenhouse gases. Mangrove trees filter out harmful pollutants in the water and improve water quality and nothing in the mangrove forest is wasted as the parts of the mangrove trees are food for creatures.

Currently, the main mangrove sites in Singaproe includes Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Admiralty Park, Chek Jawa, Pulau Semakau, Pasir Ris Park and Berlayer Creek near Labrador Nature Reserve.


Learn more about mangroves through the exhibits at the gallery

Identify the various types of mudskippers and observe how the roots of mangrove trees differ from the other trees.  


Upon exiting the gallery, you will find gigantic sculptures of Mudskippers. Moving further ahead is the Little Heron Deck for birds observation and a lookout point over the sea. 

We took on the Coastal Trail and Mr Yap introduces us to the various plants that are commonly found in Singapore. One of which is the Elephant Ear Plant with leaves that are big and wide like the elephant's ear.


We spotted another interesting plant and our guide shares that its fruits are used to make Po Chai Pills commonly used in TCM to treat indigestion and stomach discomfort.

Apart from floral plants, keep a look out for dragonflies, spiders and crabs! We spotted many big spiders within the wetland reserve and I could only go so 'near' to take a close shot of the 8-legged creature. Thankfully, I brought along Canon G9X camera to spare me the ordeal and managed to get a pretty clear shot.


This is indeed a spider lair as we spotted 6 - 8 big spiders at one spot!

It is pretty dim in the mangrove and not easy to spot crabs but we managed to find a couple. 

Moving out to the coastal boardwalk is a welcoming view of the Kranji waterfront overlooking Johor Bahru (Danga Bay) at the opposite end. 


The tide is fairly low and we spotted shore birds along the way.

A clear view of the roots of the mangrove trees. 


After the guided walk, we continued exploring the wetland reserve by taking on the Mid-canopy walk through an elevated, 120m-long boardwalk. Visitors will be immersed in the understory of a secondary forest and if you are lucky, you can spot birds and insects that reside in the mid-canopy region and forest floor.


Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve resides on the northwestern end of Singapore and it is the first ASEAN Heritage Park in Singapore and one of the two first Nature Reserves to be gazetted. We will be back again to explore the other zones @ Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.


Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Visitor Centre: 
60 Kranji Way, #01-00, Singapore 739453

Wetland Centre:
301 Neo Tiew Crescent, Singapore 718925

Opening Hours: 7am to 7pm daily
Park Size: 202 hectares


Photographs taken by Canon G9X

Sunday, April 2, 2017

[JB] Honey Toast @ Chapter 1 (Mount Austin)

We like to travel in to Johor Bahru to makan. Interestingly, we also started cafe hopping since then. Last December, Hubby and I chanced upon Chapter 1 and was introduced to their signature Honey Toast


The delicious combo of fruits, ice-cream and toast is awesome! Once you slice the toast, there are 6 smaller toasts within and the outer crust and inner crust have a different taste. Its a great dessert to share among a few friends. 




We are glad that we brought the children to try out the Honey Toast as I just learnt that Chapter 1 has closed for business since end February 2017 from their Facebook page! Its a shame as we were planning to go back again to try out their other desserts. Time to look out for other great eats on our next trip.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Review: IQ-EQ Programme @ People Impact Singapore

[Review]

Apart from attending tuition classes for academic improvements, our girl has not participate in other enrichment programs that focuses on both cognitive and socio-emotional skills. Hence, when we were invited by People Impact for Gladys to attend a trial lesson, we readily took it on with lots of anticipation.

People Impact provides intelligence training to children and has since developed 5 different certified programs tailored for children from 0-18 in Asia. Its program focuses on enhancing soft skills and their IQ-EQ programme is conducted through a series of fun and interesting learning activities.

IQ 
~ creativity, logic, linguistics, memory skills

EQ
~ leadershop, time mangement and coping skills

AQ
~ develop strong critical thinking and reasoning powers to face the daily challenges and how to complete tasks productively. People who can think out of the box with multiple solutions will be a strong asset in future. 

The children were led into a room with a trainer. I can sense Gladys feeling a little awkward and anxious, partly being the oldest child in class and sitting in a room of unfamiliar faces. Nevertheless, she joined in as the trainer introduces everyone in class, which helps to settle her down a little.

There are 3 activities for the children to complete and it was written on the whiteboard. Prior to every activity, the trainer gave them an introduction, followed by instructions and the children will be in their groups to discuss, brain storm and let their creativity juices flow as they attempt to complete their task.



Activity 1 - Inventors  

The first activity challengers our little inventors to think out of the box. Each group were given 3 picture cards and they are tasked to create an invention base on the functionality of all the 3 items in the pictures.

This is probably the hardest task for Gladys as her group mate and her were totally clueless, not able to draw out their invention. Time is tickling and being bounded by the physical form of the items, Gladys appears stuck and needed help from the trainer.


After much guidance and directions, the duo pair managed to draw something on the paper.

Each group will then present their inventions in class which helps to build their confidence to stand in front of class to share their ideas. 


Activity 2 - Catapult Challenge  

Fun begins as the little inventors which are split into 2 groups, now have to build their own catapult with the materials provided. The trainer showed them a sample of his creation and the rule is not to copy his idea. Once the time is up, both groups will bring out their best catapult and compete which catapult launches the furthest.


Everyone puts their ideas together and built their own catapult. 

The competition begins as the children showcase their best catapult. It was fun to see how their creation works in action. Some were really creative but did not launch very well. Other catapults may look simple but it launches very far. In this activity, children uses applied creativity, where creativity is use for a purpose. By now, Gladys feels more at ease in class as they had lots of laughter seeing the catapults launching.


Activity 3 - Stack it Together  

This is a group play which emphasis on teamwork. Everyone is given different coloured cups and papers, and standing at different parts of the mat. The objective is to stack the cups and papers according to the picture shown at each corner of the play mat.


Everyone has a chance to roll the dice and then decide to use the moves for himself or to give it to another friend to move and complete the stacking task. It is interesting to see how some may appear confuse while some may be more domineering and directive. At the end of the stipulated time, the children managed to complete as least half of the stack. Through play, the children cooperative and learn about working as a team to get their objective done. Helping each other when someone feels lost, not knowing where to move.


What's interesting that differentiate People Impact from other enrichment centre is the trainer will conduct a debrief session with the parents only after the lesson ended. He explained what the children did in class and what they learn. Parents are also invited to do the same activities that their children had participated in earlier to give them a better understanding and maybe reapply the learning back home. Trainers also spend time talking to parents individually to discuss how their child is getting on.

Gladys only attended one lesson and the trainer was able to note down some pointers for me which was observed during class. I applaud for the efforts and observation done and Gladys and myself have learnt something new. The lessons conducted at People Impact are fun and engaging where children learn at ease through activities and play.

SPECIAL DISCOUNT

If you would like your child to try out People Impact's IQ-EQ programme, we have a special discount for our readers. Simply quote 'BPDGTravels' and enjoy ONLY $20 for 2 FULL LESSONS.

*Special Discount is only valid for West Coast Plaza branch outlet
*Special Discount is valid till 26 June 2017.
*Special Discount NOT valid for existing parents/members.

People Impact Singapore (West Coast Plaza)
Address: 154 West Coast Road #01-74 West Coast Plaza Singapore 127371
Telephone: +65 6635 8573

Visit People Impact Singapore for more information.


People Impact Singapore
Branches: Upper Thomson Road / Marine Parade Central / City Square Mall / Tampines Central / West Coast Plaza / Eastpoint
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PeopleImpactSingapore/

Disclosure: All comments and opinions are personal and no monetary compensation was received. We attended 1 trial lesson to experience the IQ-EQ programme at People Impact Singapore (West Coast Plaza Branch)

Monday, March 20, 2017

Blossom Bliss @ Gardens by the Bay

We were a little late in catching the Sakura flowers at the Flower Dome. Still, it is better late than missing the beautiful blossom at the Gardens!


This is one of my favourite floral event as I always wanted to get up close to the Sakura flowers. Our kids are also a big fan of Japan and its culture (though we have yet to visit the country). Compared to the previous year, I really enjoyed this year's display as there are more trees spread out around the conservatory. We were also very lucky to catch the Sakura flowers in full bloom!


Singapore is experiencing hot weather spells again and we love spending the afternoons in the cold conservatory admiring the flowers. 



Some of the cherry blossom that is easier to spot. :)

Prunus Kikushidare - large, light pink flowers that resemble Chrysanthemums, hence "Kiku" in its name which means Chrysanthemums in Japanese. 

Prunus Yedoensis - Most Japanese consider double flowered sakura rather gaudy, and instead prefer the simplicity of single flowers. The Yoshino Cherry, classic white flowers that have five petals is prized and admired for its delicate simple form. 

Prunus Autumnalis - also known as Higan Cherry. Produces delicate clusters of white to pale pink flowers. This species is unique in flowering sporadically during the autumn as well as profusely in the spring.


"The term "flowering cherries" refers to seven Prunus species and their cultivars. According to the Flower Association of Japan, there are over 300 species, varieties and hybrids of Sakura. They come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, and most exude a fragrance of crushed almonds."



 

"Most cherry tree varieties bloom in spring, and last only for about 1 to 2 weeks. Changes in weather can affect both the time of flowering and the length of blooming season. Generally, the milder the climate, the earlier the blossoms open, while strong wind and rain can cause the petals to shed sooner."

I had so much fun taking photos of the cherry blossom trees this year as they are in full bloom! The gorgeous hue of white and pink against the Japanese-inspired landscape makes it perfect for photo opportunity!



Despite the huge crowd, we managed to take snap shots with the sakura. 



Its a rare opportunity to admire these cherry blossoms in tropical Singapore. Do catch them before Blossom Bliss ends this Friday - 24 March 2017.

Blossom Bliss
Date: 3 March 2016 - 24 March 2017
Time: 9am - 9pm 
Location: Flower Dome 
*Admission charge to convservatories applies

Sunday, March 5, 2017

[SG] Exploring Singapore @ Singapore Botanic Gardens

It has been ages since we last went out for a family walk together, particularly even more challenging with the recent unpredictable weather condition. Thankfully, we were blessed with a sunny morning and decided to leave our car at home and take the public transport instead.

Hopping on the North East Line (MRT), we had breakfast at Tekka Market (Little India). Earlier this year, National Heritage Board has launched a new heritage trail in Little India because of its vibrant history. We will probably be back again to check it out on another day.

Entrance to Singapore Botanic Garden (Bukit Timah Gate)

With the launch of Downtown Line (MRT), Singapore Botanic Gardens has become more accessible. It has been a few years since our last visit and its great to be back here with the children, now older. Entering the gardens from the Bukit Timah Gate, we began our walking trail. At times, the children prefer to jog while hubby and I took on our own pace.


Hubby and I strolling on the path while the kids ran straight ahead.

Fallen leaves (leaf litter) are very important as they help to improve plant growth. Do you know that leaf litter carries a large amount of beneficial microorganisms that aids in the decomposition of organic matter. They also help to keep the plant roots moist during a hot day!


Look up! Spotted bird nest on the tree top! There are little birds within but we only catch a glimpse of their beaks.

There are many lovely sculptures within Singapore Botanic Gardens but we only spotted one. 
Posing with Frederick Chopin at Heliconia Walk (near the Symphony Lake)

Walking on the green lawn towards Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage


We stopped by the lake and bought some fish feed ($1 per capsule) for the children to feed the terrapins and catfishes. Thankfully, even though Denver & Gladys are getting older, they still enjoy feeding the fishes.

Sensing food in the waters, the fishes wasted no time swimming towards their meal.

A monitor lizard spotted taking its morning walk too!

Whats up on the tree? Is it a bird?

Our girl gave a loud shriek as she spotted a huge spider spinning web on the tree. :) Can you see it?

One of my favourite spot for photography - The Bandstand. Though there are not more music performances, it is still one of the well-known features of the Gardens. 

Bonsai Garden

Sundial Garden

Even though we have been to Singapore Botanic Gardens a couple of times, we did not explore walking to the Tanglin Gate before. Hence, I fell in love with the garden swings when I spotted them surrounded by the Frangipani trees. For a moment, I thought I wasn't in Singapore! This is a perfect spot to swing on a breezy evening.


Picture perfect spot too!

There are many heritage trees within the gardens and the Tembusu Tree is one of the main highlight. The Tembusu is an evergreen tree and is depicted at the back of the Singapore $5 note. Easily recognised by its signature lower branch, its wood is durable and hardy.

Fences has been installed around this iconic Tembusu tree which has been reported to be more than 150 years old as visitors have been perching on its horizontal branch, climbing on the tree and trampling on the roots which impeded root growth. Though we can no longer get close to its trunk, we can still admire it from afar.


Exiting from Tanglin Gate

We took a leisure stroll and it took us 1.5 hour to walk from Bukit Timah Gate to Tanglin Gate. There are still many areas that we did not cover, and hopefully we can check them out on our next visit.

Singapore Botanic Gardens
Address: 1 Cluny Road Singapore 259569

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