Friday, December 7, 2018

Korea 2018 | Back from Our Winter Holiday in Seoul! ❄️

We are back from our mummy-daughter trip to Seoul, Korea!!! Our first entire overseas trip alone with just us two... and I'm sure more to come!

I expected it to be below 10°C and we could feel the cold as soon as we touched down! 

Thankfully, I had some outer wear with me in my haversack {brought my big Adidas "issey miyake" backpack} and there was a direct airport shuttle coach from Incheon Airport to our hotel in Dongdaemun

Which is good because the boy wasn't around to help with the luggages, and I only had my little darling with me to help with our 2 big luggages, 2 haversacks, 1 cabin trolley bag and another bag of our bulky jackets on the way home hehe. 

No... try as I might, I'm not really a light packer hahaha (*οΎ‰∀`*)

We were really blessed to see the first snow for the year in Seoul {Korea??} 2 days after we arrived on Saturday, 24 November!!

I woke up to excited messages from friends telling me that it was snowing.. and was super stoked to catch it falling as it stopped snowing about 1 hour later. By the time we left the hotel later that morning, most of the snow on the city streets had melted or was cleared away by the efficient Koreans.

Lil Pumpkin was thrilled too, of course!! It has been a very long time since she played with snow!!

I planned for us to just take things easy and have a nice relaxing mother-daughter trip together.

So we ambled along to various places, and I even had time to spend 4+ hours at Lotte Mart, Seoul Station!! (*-∀-)γ‚ž Thank you Lil Pumpkin for being such a sweet darling waiting for Mummy!!! hehe...

No no, she wasn't sulking or bored in a little corner. Lil Pumpkin shopped around too. For those unaware, Lotte Mart at Seoul station is humongous!! I dare say even bigger than Big C at Bangkok, which I love too by the way! It doesn't just stock food and groceries, but it also has a mini food court, and sells cosmetics, household items, toys, electronics, pet stuff etc.

It is one of my must-visit places when I'm in Seoul and I definitely will have a blog post up on it, so come back and check!!

The cold winter weather + festive decorations everywhere, especially at the Lotte World and Everland  {will write on this too!} theme parks we went to, certainly put us all in a good holiday mood and made us so so excited for Christmas!

Really wish the boy was there with us... he would have loved the atmosphere too!

I remembered loving Korean food more during our previous trips, but maybe it's because my diet has changed.. I find that I didn't enjoy the food as much as before.

Too much carbs, and not enough protein haha. I couldnt even order more meat side dishes as most of the restaurants I went with Lil Pumpkin didn't have just extra meat.

Was really happy that my friend, Jaye, brought us to eat yakiniku at Myeongdong. Goodness, that black Jeju pork is amazing!!! (*⌒▽⌒*)ΞΈ~♪ It was lovely catching up with him and Yoojin too. The last time we met in 2012/ 2013 they were still dating... but now, they have 2 super adorable and cheeky boys!!!

Shopping in Korea is pretty good as they have really cute and quirky stuff that isn't too expensive. Lil Pumpkin bought mainly stationery, key chains and hair accessories...

While I had my share of snacks, socks and hoodies o(^▽^)o



Visited Everland theme park for the first time this trip! πŸ’– We’ve been to Seoul 3x prior when @lovelilpumpkin was younger but always gave Everland a miss, even though it’s supposedly more fun & bigger than Lotte World, as I always thought it’s too far and too much of a hassle to go... πŸ™Š — — However, this time since @lovelilpumpkin is older {ie easier to travel alone with} and I wanted to bring her to new places, I searched and found a shuttle coach tt went directly to Everland w/ a pick-up & return point near our hotel. So convenient!! πŸ‘πŸ» Took us arnd 1hr to reach there, and 40mins to get back since traffic was good!! Really happy that we went as the Xmas decor were amazing & we had tons of fun there! Even though it was much colder than Seoul city, and the entire theme park is outdoors, it was such a treat to go on so many exhilarating rides with relatively short queues {ave 10-20mins}, except for the famous T-Express roller coaster ride, which had 90mins waiting time!! 🎒🎠🎑 — — @lovelilpumpkin is now over 140cm so could sit pretty much all the rides!! She loved the Double Rock Spin {went 4x - twice on her own coz it gave me a headache!}, Bumper Cars, Rolling-X Train {went twice on her own too!} etc. She basically liked Everland more compared to Lotte World coz it has more thrilling rides haha.. 😘😘😘 — — Posted more highlights from our mummy-daughter trip to the Land of Kimchi on my IG Highlights Reel {Korea #1 & #2 folders} and some tips/ recommendations on places to visit in Seoul here: http://www.sakuraharuka.com/2018/11/bub-me-mummy-daughter-holiday-to-seoul.html {link in bio} πŸ‘©πŸ»πŸ’–πŸ‘§πŸ»πŸ’•πŸ‡°πŸ‡·πŸŒΈ #sakuraharuka #ASHxKorea #travelwithkids #motherhood #seoul #korea #winterholiday #everland #witheverland #themepark #thrillseeker #sgkids #sgfamily #christmas #winterishere
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As always, it is pretty hard getting back into the groove of things after a long break, but I will try to update and blog more about the things that we did for the 1.5 weeks trip. Meanwhile, you can pop by {and follow hehe!} my Instagram and FB page for more of our trip updates and pictures. 

Documented it on-the-go on my IG Story Highlights - look for Korea #1 and Korea #2 folders.    

If you've anything to ask about the trip, feel free to leave me a comment too! 

Other posts on Korea:

More posts on our Korean travels here.

P.S. Check out the rest of our Bub & Me activities or list of kid-friendly places in Singapore too. If you haven't yet, and are staying in Singapore for the hols, you really should go see The Great Moscow Circus before it closes this Sunday {9 Dec 2018}!



Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Bub & Me: Mummy-Daughter Holiday to Seoul, Korea

Lil Pumpkin & I are flying off to Seoul, Korea for a little mummy-daughter holiday!!! Our first time spending an entire overseas trip alone with just us two!



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I didn't blog about this but during the June holidays, Lil Pumpkin went for a trip with just her daddy to Taipei, Taiwan.

It was an impromptu kinda thing but I thought it was a brilliant idea for the boy to bring her traveling on his own. He has always been talking about it and this year, he finally made it happen.

I was a bit apprehensive at first, as Lil Pumpkin has never been overseas without me before, but anyone who knows us knows that the boy has always been a hands-on dad and is far capable of taking care of Lil Pumpkin by himself so my concerns were needless, of course. 

The boy haven't been to Taiwan in decades and this was Lil Pumpkin's first trip there. During their short 3N4D trip, they went gallivanting around Taipei visiting the famous sites, eating all the delicious market food, and yes, even shopping! Very relaxed, and even though it was waaaaaay too hot, they both enjoyed their time spent together tremendously.



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In fact, Lil Pumpkin loved it so much that when she returned, she proclaimed that she wanted to go on a trip with just me and only me too!! Secretly really happy to know that she still enjoys my company because it's a fact that she prefers to be with her daddy since he is more fun and usually gives in to her whims, unlike her mummy who tends to be fiercer and more of a "kill-joy"...

Anyway, since the boy can't get away from work these few months too... off we go tonight on our little adventure for just the two of us!! The last time we were truly alone was during the March hols, but we stayed in Singapore then...

It's more exciting and enjoyable to travel around with her now because Lil Pumpkin is at the age whereby she can help with all the luggage, she doesn't need her naps as much, she doesn't need to be pushed around in a stroller, she is more independent but will still happily follow us around without grumbling or insisting to go anywhere, eats pretty much anything and also likes shopping hehe.



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The last time we were in Korea was in 2012-2013, which is 5-6 years ago!! Goodness, I'm sure Lil Pumpkin doesn't remember much of her trips there, and although I recall parts of what we did and where we went, I'm pretty sure Seoul has changed quite a bit in the past 5 years.

It was nice refreshing my memory through my old posts and I'm thrilled to visit some of those places again.

If you're going to Seoul, Korea or planning a trip there in the future, have a look to see what we did in the past. I'll probably be posting some updates on Instagram and Facebook for the boy and my family, so follow us along on our first mother-daughter holiday to spend winter in Kimchi-land!!!

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Somerset Palace Seoul {Jongno} - Serviced Apartment Hotel
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More posts on our Korean travels here

P.S. Check out the rest of our Bub & Me activities or list of kid-friendly places in Singapore too. If you haven't yet, and are staying in Singapore for the hols, you really should go see The Great Moscow Circus before it ends its run in early Dec!



Thursday, November 15, 2018

Letter to my girl #22: The End of Primary 3


Dear Lil Pumpkin,

School officially ended for you last Friday, 9 November 2018.

That morning, Mummy and Daddy made special effort to get you to school early so that we could take your photos in front of school. It was your last day as a Primary 3 student, your last day as a LOWER Primary school kid.

Next year, you are going to be in Primary 4... officially one of the UPPER Primary school students and of the "jie jies" in school. Oh my!!

I can still kind of remember my transition from P3 to P4, and how funny it was that I'd never have a birthday with single digits anymore.

It was very exciting, yet scary at the same time, because it seemed like there were more responsibilities as I got older, PSLE was just a few years away, and soon enough, I would be leaving my beloved Primary school behind.

Does it seem that way to you too??

I know I often marvel to myself how much you have grown but seeing how your chubby little baby face slowly fading away, and a young, precocious little lady slowly blossoming in front of my eyes... really makes me breathless at times and fervently wishing that I could make time stand still so that my baby girl won't grow up so fast.

You really are growing up so, so fast.

This year, I've had more opportunities to see how you interact with your friends and teachers in school, and I'm so glad that even after 3 years, you still love school so much that you don't even want to miss it for a day if you could help it.

Like that last day, Mummy and Daddy thought that we could start the holidays early and have you skip school to spend more time with us since we were both off work, but you still insisted on going!!

It is very comforting to know as well that your friends and teachers in school love, treasure and take care of you too.

Even though you may not be the top in your class, that doesn't matter to us. Most important thing is that you are positive in your learning attitude, and you are not afraid to work hard to improve.

Yes, you may need some extra reminders now and then, but you never put up a fuss when it's time to study, and are responsible/independent enough to complete the tasks you're given, even if no one is minding you 24/7.

It shows in your results when you put in the hard work, and Mummy is happy that you managed to show improvement, especially in your Science, this semester.

Let's continue to strive to do our best together for the rest of your schooling years. We will always be here to support and teach you to the best of our abilities, or at least find other people who can help hahaha...


Mummy and Daddy love you so much, my dear.

Now let's enjoy this 1.5 months of year-end break and festivities, before another grueling year of school starts!!!

Love you always,
Mummy


Saturday, October 27, 2018

Great Moscow Circus 2018 @ Marina Bay, Singapore

The Great Moscow Circus is back in Singapore!! *throws confetti*

For the first time in over 10 years, The Great Moscow Circus returns to Singapore with over 45 Russian & international performers renowned world-wide for their theatrical flair and breath-taking talents. Acrobats, clowns, jugglers, daredevils... all the amazing circus stars you expect at a world-class circus are here!!

We've been to the circus a few times, but the last time we did was in 2015 for Cirque du Soleil's TOTEM.

Oh my! That was 3 years ago, so I definitely didn't want to miss the circus this time round when they came back to town.

I figured it would be a special treat for our little P3 girl who is in the midst of her end-of-year exams too. Yeah, she has 3 more papers coming up on Monday and Tuesday, but she has been working hard and really deserves this little break.

Perhaps she might even be inspired by what she experiences at the captivating circus that's a thrill for the mind, eyes and ears to do even better in her coming papers!! After all, not every lesson is learnt in the classroom or read from books..

The Great Moscow Circus takes place in a specially set up red and white Big Top Tent beside Marina Bay Sands. 

Our show started at 7.30pm but we reached the area around 7pm to find parking, grab some snacks {popcorn, candy floss etc.}, go to the restrooms, look at the merchandise and just settle in leisurely.

There were many souvenirs sold like T-shirts, headbands, fans etc. The lighted wands were a hit with the kids.

The drinks and snacks were slightly pricey, as you would expect at a performance like this. Bottled water cost S$3, juice is S$4, soft drinks is S$5 while a small container of mixed nuts is $6, popcorn and candy floss cost S$8 each.

There are no finger food like hot dogs, nachos or chips available so do have a full meal before going to The Great Moscow Circus.

We were seated in Section D, row J. It's about 4 rows from the last row.

I've been to enough performances to remember to get a booster seat for Lil Pumpkin so asked the friendly ushers to get her one. She came back with this cushion haha...

Not much of a "booster" but at least it makes the hard plastic seat much more comfortable. For really small kids, you might want to get two.

This is the seating plan inside the Big Top tent. Most of the acts faced our side, Section D, even though the performers move around. This would be considered the "front". However, most of the audience participation/ games e.g. giant rubber ball tossing, took place in Sections F, E, B and C.

Ringside is obviously right next to all the action, but those seats aren't tiered.. just 3 rows one after another, and you'd have to lift you head up to catch a lot of the acts so might not be that comfy.

It's quite a cozy one-ring circus tent, so I reckon that almost all the seats will have a good view, even in the last row, as the seats are tiered. Unless you bought a restricted view seat, of course.

Acoustics is at a comfortable level too - we could hear everything and it's not jarring on the ears, even for the last act involving motorcycles.

This is the view from our seats.

Quite a good angle and had a relaxing eye level to see all the acts. I liked that we didn't have to strain the neck too much to catch the performances that took place at greater heights.

The Great Moscow Circus blends traditional and new circus acts for an exhilarating 2.5hrs show.

Mixing clowns and acrobatic artists with daredevil motorcyclists, death-defying aerial stunts and illusion, the high-octane show is guaranteed to keep every family member on the edge of their seats.

The show, which contains no animal acts, features 16 heart-pounding acts which capture all the thrills and fun of the circus of yesteryear with all the skills of today’s circus heroes.

We expected to see every possible circus favourite including the funniest clowns, the most daring acrobats, breathtaking daredevils, aerial artists, balancers, jugglers and more – all supported by a live circus band... and yes, they delivered.

There certainly was something for everyone, from young to old! (*^▽^*)

Personally, I don't like clowns much. Maybe thanks to horror shows like 'It' or 'Clownhouse', they seem rather creepy or too weird for my taste.

Even if they fail to freak me out, their jokes usually fall flat on me #oops I don't laugh easily at clown jokes and it's a wonder if you don't find me cringing, but The Great Moscow Circus clowns, Shindrov and Vas, are certainly hilarious! Throughout the night, Shindrov & Vas popped into the ring every now and then to get a couple chuckles out of the crowd in between acts.

Even the ringmaster, Stav, was such a hoot!

By the end of the show my jaws were aching hehehe... The children, especially Lil Pumpkin, really loved The Great Moscow Circus clowns. She laughed and laughed so much!! It certainly was a joy seeing her have so much fun!

The clowns' costumes weren't over-the-top silly {you know, the big-shoes-white-painted-face-big-hair kind}, and their great interaction with the audience definitely made them more endearing to the crowd. If you're thinking of going with your kids, the clowns would definitely appeal to them. 

Acrobatic performances are my favourite at the circus ヽ( ★Ο‰★)γƒŽ

Highlights at The Great Moscow Circus include a Russian aerialist duo who spin and twist gracefully in the air without any safety net or wires as back-up, energetic "jesters" who tumbled and leaped across the ring unceasingly, and The Rubber Man contortionist who makes you wonder if there are any bones in his body...???

Hands-down, the acrobatic act involving 2 double wheels suspended in the air while 4 acrobats performed fearless acts all over them, sometimes even blindfolded {!!}, were our family favourite!

The boy said that his hands were literally sweating for them hahaha (/^▽^)/

The Globe of Death is the climactic end event where 4 motorcyclists speed around inside a giant steel ball. It is loud, fast, and reminded me of the first time I saw live motorcycle stunts at Monster Jam last year.

All of us felt such an adrenaline rush watching them and I was on the edge of my seats the whole time!

Also, I was very impressed that one of the motorcyclists was a girl!! I mean, yeah girls can do anything, but nonetheless, I really admired her courage and skills in performing so well in this traditionally male-dominated sport, especially when it's so much, much more dangerous than usual.

*SPOILER ALERT* This was the only act that I took a video of as I wanted to try and be fully present, and enjoy the whole experience with my family without holding on to a camera trying to get that perfect shot or watching it through a small screen.

If you're not able to view the video, please watch The Globe of Death motorcycle act on my Youtube channel. Don't watch it if you plan to go down and want to be thrilled by it for the very first time!

Overall, The Great Moscow Circus was programmed seamlessly. The show moved swiftly, never dull, and there certainly were many "wow! how did they do that??" moments.

The performers were amazing, but credit must really be given to the backstage crew too for diligently setting up and dismantling all the performance props like clockwork before and after each act. Because of them, the starting {7.45pm}, interval {9pm} and end time {10.30pm} were all precise.

If you've been to any Cirque Du Soleil performances or other "modern" circus performances, you might compare and think that The Great Moscow Circus is nowhere as sophisticated, artistic or technologically enhanced, but I reckon that's the beauty of it.

We like the wholesomeness of The Great Moscow Circus. We like the emphasis on the human element. We like how each performer shined through their own talents in each act. We like how they might fail some of the tricks, but they still smiled and made sure that the show went on.

This video is a sneak peek of the actual Great Moscow Circus performance. If you are captivated after watching it, imagine how it was for us seeing the show live! Οƒ(≧Ξ΅≦o)

If we could see the world through the eyes of a child, we would probably see more magic in everything but unfortunately nowadays, in our age of advancement and high technology, it takes a lot for us to be overwhelmed with amazement.

Going to The Great Moscow Circus may just make you believe in magic again as for those few hours, you're brought into a place where reality is suspended and you're witnessing extraordinary displays of the human body pushed to exhilarating limits.

So if you yearn to have a truly magical, fascinating time, make sure you don't miss this opportunity to see The Great Moscow Circus while it's here! Who know if it will take another 10 years before it returns??

Even better if you bring the kids along as they are such to make the experience even more memorable! It certainly made my heart sing with joy when I heard Lil Pumpkin's numerous fits of uninhibited laughter last night.


Tips:

  • The Big Top tent opens 1 hour before show time. Arrive at least 30 minutes before to buy snacks and find your seats. 
  • Comfortable padded kids booster cushions are available. Ask to borrow from your usher early. 
  • Bags are checked at the main entrance. 
  • The tent is air-conditioned {but seats are pretty tight} so wear comfortable, smart casual clothing.
  • Not recommended to wear heels as you'll have to walk on wooden planks. 
  • Do not bother to bring strollers/ prams inside as there's no place to store.
  • Smoking is not permitted inside the tent.
  • Photography {no flash}, video recording and audio recording is allowed.
  • Use the restrooms at MBS to avoid the crowd. Port-o-lets {handicapped persons' cubicles available} are at sides of the tent but queues can be long!
  • Light snacks and beverages are available for purchase on the outside of both sides of the tent. Eat full meals before watching. 
  • The Great Moscow Circus merchandise sold on site. Look out for the gift counters in the drinks/food containers. 
  • Try to avoid side seats as the performance is mostly designed for center audience {even though the stage is round} and you may miss parts of the performance.


The Great Moscow Circus Singapore 2018
The Mighty Big Top at Bayfront Avenue, next to Marina Bay Sands.
Event period: 25 Oct 18 - 23 Nov 18
Ticket Price {excl. booking fee}:  S$65 - S$155 {adults}, S$55 - S$135 {child}, S$55 - S$135
Time: 7.30pm {Tue - Fri}, 12pm, 4pm, 7.30pm {Sat} 11am, 3pm, 6.30pm {Sun} 12pm, 4pm {PH}
Duration: 2.5 hrs {incl. 20 minutes interval}
Website: http://www.great-moscow-circus.com/
*Kids under 3 years old may be admitted free of charge & must be seated on the lap of a parent or guardian. Kids aged 3 years and above require a ticket for admission. Wheelchair section available in the front row.

Check out the rest of our Bub & Me activities or list of kid-friendly places in Singapore too. More The Great Moscow Circus pics and vids on my Instagram Stories Highlight Reel - look for MoscowCircus SG folder.

* Disclosure: Unless otherwise stated, images belong to The Great Moscow Circus. All opinions are my own.