Au Revoir Paris!

Too soon, our holiday has come to an end! Bye London, Bayuex and Paris!

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Omaha Beach

We wanted to take a tour package to go around the D-Day landing sites. But as luck would have it, all packages had to be booked in advance since it was winter and we only had ONE sunny day out of our entire Bayeux trip to visit the beach. Because we had to go to the beaches there and then, we decided to be adventurous and just went exploring on our own (with GPS of course).

We took a local bus 20km out to the Overlord Museum, walked 4km to the Omaha Beach, walked some more along the beach, managed to find the American Cemetary 4km later, and managed to find the bus stop to get home.

The good thing about exploring on our own was that we could walk for as long as we wanted along the beach. It was so peaceful and surreal. There were a few people walking their dogs. The boys had time to pick shells and play with the fine sand. And because it was a leisurely walk, there was plenty of time to think about what happened so many summers ago. Surreal!

The bad thing about exploring on our own was the uncertainty about the local bus. I didn’t mind the walking at all, it was a good 8km workout, weather was a sunny 7 degrees and boys didn’t complain about being tired. But the local bus, that was stressful. According to the schedule (which is all in French of course), its runs 4 to 6 times a day. We missed the second last bus (or maybe that bus didn’t run that day) and were absolutely stressed waiting around for the last bus of the day. It would have been awful if we missed it, but phew… luckily we didn’t.

 

Battle of Normandy

Bayuex was the gateway for the Battle of Normandy in 1944. We visited the Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy today. This museum was different from other D-Day exhibits I’ve seen because it didn’t focus on D-Day but talked about everything else that happened from D-Day + 1, meaning 7 Jun till the end of summer 1944.

It was my first time thinking about the ‘others’ involved in the Battle – the engineers, journalists, psychologial warfare units, prisoners of war, etc.

Plenty of military vehicles, uniforms, artillery on display too. And so many wax soldier figures staring at me. It was slightly eerie to walk past some of them because the museum was so empty and cold today.

Tapestry and Art

Bayeux is home to the Bayeux Tapestry. In fact, this is the most famous thing about the town. I was initally skeptical about how special an embroidered piece of cloth could be, but after seeing it for myself today, I have to admit that it’s really impressive! It dates back to the 11th century, and it is is amazingly well preserved (given that cloth is challenging to conserve).

The cloth is 70m long. It depicts in a comic-strip style, the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England in 1066. We’ve been to the battle site at Hastings before, so it’s nice that we see the same story now from another vantage point.

We had audio guides to walk us through the 50+ scenes embroidered on the cloth. Gosh, it took us 20 minutes just to walk from one end to the other end because the cloth was choked with details!

After we were done with the tapestry, we popped by another museum to take a crash course on the history of art in Europe. Nothing was particularly famous at this museum, but the curatorship was excellent! Almost every room was a visual treat, so I enjoyed the visit v much! Boys were bored because there were no audio guides here or any children activities in English. They sprawled themselves on the sitting benches to wait for me and halfway through KL passed them a phone to play.

Bayeux

We’re back in France! It was a full day of train travel. We travelled from London to Paris, and Paris to Bayeux.

Bayeux is a small town in Northern France. KL likes small towns. Whenever he plans our trips in Europe, he’ll always try to make sure there’s a short stay in a small town.

When we got off the train just now, K asked if we’re stopping in the middle of nowhere, lol! And I counted that from the train station to our accommodation (750m), we saw a total of three people! Wiki says that Bayuex has a population of 16,000.

Snowy Sunday

Snow is fairly rare in London, so we were definitely not expecting to see any on this trip. But Storm Ana dropped a lot of snow in the UK this morning.

Lucky for us. Boys were thrilled to see snow falling in the morning. They had a lot of fun throwing ice balls at each other! And sticking their tongues out to taste the snowflakes as they fell. Yucks, totally not my cup of tea …

Regent’s Park

Plenty of sunshine in the weather forecast, so we planned a trip to the park. The sky was so blue and nice, doesn’t look like it’s 4 degrees from my photos.

We made a random stop at Wellcome Museum. I always pass by this Museum on the way to Regent’s Park but never thought to check it out. It’s actually quite cool now that we did. The ground floor was a graphic design + health exhibition. It was thought provoking. I enjoyed it v much.

Ciao Bella

Met friends at Ciao Bella for dinner. Food was yummy as always! The restaurant was so crowded that we only managed to get an outdoor table with a one day reservation.

T loves the spaghetti bolognese here. It’s the best in the world! And I love the generous seafood risotto!  Yumz!

Feels like home!

London sure feels like home! Coming in from Paris, London feels so familiar. The dreary weather, the bustle on the streets, the accent we hear everywhere, and even the smell of the sidewalks.

We are staying in the same neighbourhood as we used to. We shopped at the same supermarkets we always did. We visited the same restaurants we liked. And Goodenough College still looks the same as two years ago.

Nice!

 

Versailles

Versailles was the attraction we visited on our Paris leg. The castle was humongous, and so was the crowd. We were literally packed like sardines along the whole stretch of the state apartments, king and queens bedrooms. I hardly had a good view of any of the rooms. And we were all clamouring to get out because getting stuck within a crowd isn’t exactly the most pleasant thing I want to do on a holiday.

We cut short the palace visit and went for lunch. After that, we returned to the Gardens and explored it in foot – something that isn’t too popular with tourists. So the afternoon was so much more enjoyable.

And tourists do not walking on foot because the Garden is sprawling! We had to walk 2km just to get from the main palace to the Marie Antoinette estate, and then another 2km back. And finally 1km more to the train station. The boys were exhausted when we reached the station!

Louvre

The Louvre was fun! Once we arrived, we started jostling with the crowd to get to Mona Lisa. She was tiny and it almost felt like Asia with the number of black-haired people in the room trying to take a selfie with her. Mona Lisa was clustered together with the Wedding at Cana, Four Seasons, and Liberty Leading the People. So tourists who are pressed for time only needed to visit this part of the museum and they’ll have ticked most of their checklists. This was therefore the most crowded section of the museum.

After the jostling, we went for lunch at a mall right next to the Louvre. So convenient that the buildings were connected via underpass so we didn’t even have to wear our coats to get there.

After lunch it was to explore the galleries that were not as popular with tourists – the sculptures in the garden, the decorative arts gallery with all the paraphernalia that I like, and the Flemish gallery with so many Rembrandts.

Boys had their audio guides to amuse themselves. We tasked them to match the pieces of art with their audio guides. It was actually just an easy peasy task of keying in a matching digit to the guide to search for the particular piece, but the boys made it so complicated because they neede to find it game-style by zooming in and out, navigating the galleries, checking all the clickable things along the way. Oh well, they can do what makes them happy as long as we all enjoy the museum visit!

Eiffel Tower

It was freezing the day we visited the Eiffel Tower. Zero degrees in fact, and the Tower was closed in the morning because it was too icey. No choice, we walked around and returned in the afternoon to try our luck again. Although it was still freezing, at least we finally got to climb it!

We walked all 669 steps up! Boys were complaining about the cold, about the walk, about the climb … about everything in fact, because we refused to let them go back to the hotel. And T was also scared about falling off the structure. But the view was totally worth it once we got to the second floor! And we let them cheat by taking the lift down since it was already turning dark by the time we finished the climb up. Almost forgot how early it turns dark in winter.

In the end, the boys agreed that they enjoyed the day despite all their complaints about the cold, about the walk, about the climb. Grrrrrrr….

 

Army Museum

KL plans all our overseas trips and he loves learning about wars. So on our first day of sightseeing, he took us to the Army Museum in Paris (Musée de l’Armée).

Lots of weapons and lots of arms. The medieval section was interesting; I’ve never seen child-sized armour before. Other than that, the rest of the museum was so-so. There are only so many weapons and arms I can tolerate seeing in a day…

Bonjour Paris!

We’re in Paris for our year end holiday! Why Paris? Because I’ve never been to France before and I want to visit a friend in London this time round. So Paris will be super convenient for us to pop over to London via the Eurostar.

Boys had a swell time flying to Paris. We picked two day flights on Emirates (transited in Dubai) and they were chirpy throughout both flights. T didn’t puke. First time he’s responding well to his anti motion sickness pills. He really enjoyed his kid’s meals, really enjoyed watching movies and playing games non stop. Entertainment choices were so much better than SQ! Taking a nice plane ride is definitely like a good holiday in itself for the boys!

 

Bits and Pieces of October 2017

Oct17
Made sushi rice a few times this month with rice vinegar, salt, sugar. Sushi rice tastes good with either salmon or unagi (store bought of course)!

T has been working hard on his piano pieces recently. His new ambition is to be a famous piano player.

I cut my own hair last week! Only the bangs.

K has a new tuition Chinese tutor who uses games to teach the language. Don’t know how Chinese bingo is played, but it sure beats doing 习字!

 

Upper Pierce Reservoir

19Nov17a
My first time checking out Upper Pierce Reservoir! Gosh, there were so many monkeys there. I wouldn’t dare to jog there alone.

19Nov17b
Boys had a lot of fun at the reservoir. L was thrilled to race all of us (he won many times). K and T like playing with branches and they found many long ones to play with.

Wong Ah Chai

17Oct17爷爷 passed away on 17 October 2017 after a three year battle with colon cancer. He was surrounded by loved ones when he drew his last breath at home.

When the boys read back on this post, they ought to remember how happy 爷爷 was whenever he met us and ate with us on weekends. These smiley pictures were taken on 10 June 2017. It was the last time that he was fit enough to travel on his own to meet us outside for a meal. Fittingly, the meal was at Golden Mile. 爷爷 absolutely loved eating steamboat there.

爷爷 was a fiercely independent individual, and seeing him gradually lose the ability to cycle, walk, dress, and even feed himself in the last few months of his life was sad. Thankful that he doesn’t have to be in pain anymore and thankful for the memories he left in our lives …

 

Kidzania Singapore

Kidz1
We arrived bright and early at Kidzania Singapore at 10.15am! That was the day before T turned 8. The queue was so short because the early birds already made their way in at 10am sharp. Yeah, we took less than 5 minutes to check in!

Kidz2 (1)
Consistent with their character, K went to check his bank account ever so often. He also found delivering money so fun that he did it twice. And T picked many many many jobs from the food industry. So predictable!

Kidz3
This was the most boring station ever. The station is meant for really young kids (the cars crawl along like snails) but because T really wanted to drive, so they went to do so many things before actually driving – got their eyes checked, queued to get a license, queued to drive. So much time waiting around for the slow car ride to happen, yawnz.

Kidz4
Ooooo I loved this station! So many challenging obstacles to go through! And it’s designed in a way that the child can only go forward and up. No chance to chicken out. K was just rushing through the whole thing because he wanted to challenge himself. He was happy that he took 6 min to complete it. As for T, he was moving really cautiously by the time he got to the top tier, so I think all the tight rope walking must have been quite scary for him. He took 14 min plus to complete it.

Kidz5
Birthday boy’s favourite job of the day was to be a fire fighter! That was a popular job – there were always so many people queuing up at the fire station to get in throughout the day. And that was also T’s last job for the day before we said bye to Kidzania Singapore at 6pm!

Happy 8th Birthday!

24Sep17
T turned 8 today! For his birthday activity, he chose to go to Kidzania Singapore. That was mighty fun – he rated it 10 out of 10. Problem was that Kidzania was one day before his actual birthday, and the things he did on his actual birthday weren’t as terrific as he imagined. He bawled at bedtime when he realized that the day has come to an end, he didn’t do anything much, and he’ll have to wait for another year before the birthday comes around again.

It actually wasn’t that bad a birthday, but this boy had high expectations. He received many gifts in the morning from his family – vouchers, ang pow, magnets, pencil case, sparkles, paper toy, chocolates. He also got to choose where the whole family ate over the weekend (a lot of pasta of course). He didn’t want to do ANY work that required thinking so we allowed him to skip all of that over the weekend. He watched two movies and had some game time. But he disliked the first movie (cried after the movie). And he also disliked the fact that his brother kept disturbing him even though it was his special day. Anyway, these two things made him grouchy at bedtime … oh well, I can only say that some birthdays are better than others and its not possible to always have “the best birthday” every year.

Optical illusions

Science1
The Singapore Science Centre recently revamped it’s exhibits. It was so fun that we went TWICE in September. The second time was with cousins and they enjoyed the visit very much too. When you enter the Centre now, you will encounter many exhibits that try to trick your perception.

Science2
Quite near the entrance there’s also a really cool mirror maze that tricks you to go round and round in circles. And wires aren’t from the maze. They’re from an activity booth manned by really enthusiastic volunteers.

Science0
Highlight for the boys and their cousins was definitely trying out all the virtual reality rides. For some reason, everyone was not good at flying a plane. They did much better pretending to fly like a bird. And the younger boys enjoyed the roller coaster rides very much.

Holiday Art Camp

8Sep17
Boys attended a holiday art camp in September. It was organized by the CC downstairs. Although it was a really short camp (2 half days), they came back with lots of things – batik tees, lanterns, photo frames, fancy colour pencils etc. Both said the camp was fun!

Adventure Zone

Penang11Our second time staying at Golden Sands Resort in Batu Feringgi, and boys don’t remember their previous stay here. Then, they were too young to try the fast slides at Adventure Zone. Now that they’re so big, they had a really good time zooming down non stop! 15 minutes before they were at Adventure Zone, they caught American Ninja on TV and T was trying pretend he was a ninja going through all the obstacle courses at the indoor playground. His antics were hilarious! They had a good 2.5 hours workout at the Adventure Zone!

Penang12The rest of Golden Sands Resort was nice too, but now that the boys are older, they seem to be less interested in swimming. There was even once that KL went swimming himself without them!

 

Made in Penang

Penang7Made in Penang is a newish 3D interactive museum. Again it’s one of the many attractions in Penang that is styled as a musuem, but it’s really not quite.

Penang8Like Dark Mansion, there were plenty of good photo opportunities here. The place was cheerier and boys had more fun here than at Dark Mansion.

Penang9Tickets were bundled together with Dark Mansion, so it was a buy-1-get-1-free deal. Good, because this one was also quite low in its educational value. A pity, because there were so many visuals on Penang’s culture and history but museum didn’t go the extra effort to organize and explain these visuals.

Penang10Oh well, at least visitors get to learn quite a bit about perspectives and perception. And all my photos turned out cute too!

Dark Mansion

Penang4Penang is home to a number of small eclectic attractions scattered around the UNESCO World Heritage Buffer Zone. They’ve all called themselves museums but they’re really not quite.

Penang5We went to the 3D glow-in-the-dark museum that has zero educational value. Plenty of photo opp in the place. So photos were nice! It’s a fun 45 minutes respite from the scorching sun! But still, zero educational value.

Penang6To survive the scorching day, we ate ice cream and drank plenty of cold drinks on our way to and from the museum!