Thursday, 15 December 2016

Media Invite: Legoland's Brick-Tacular Holidays

Embark on a Brick-Tacular journey with Legoland this Christmas season!

Throughout December, guests can experience the specially set-up 'snow' village with machine providing the special snow effects four times a day, a Christmas market and interactive Christmas shows.

There's also a host of exciting prizes to be won through the advent calendar activity.  The calendar features 31 windows, one for each day of the month.  It presents one lucky guest the chance to open a window at 7pm to win an attractive prize.  The prizes include a set of flight tickets for a family of four to Chiang Mai, hotel stay packages, Canon camera and so much more.

We enjoyed the Christmas atmosphere at Legoland especially when night fell and the resort twinkled with lights! Besides the Christmas activities, we were also invited to witness the launch of the upgraded KL cluster in Miniland.

Here's a list of Christmas activities you can enjoy at Brick-Tacular Holidays from 1 - 31 December:

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Akaroa: Dolphins and a Scenic Summit Drive

The only encounter we had with dolphins in the wild was when we took a boat ride in Tai O, Hong Kong.  It was fleeting and brief.  The elusive pink dolphins were spotted from a distance.  It was a now you see it, now you don't kind of encounter.  C, however, did not manage to catch even a glimpse of the dolphins and was sorely disappointed.  It took her a while to get over it and I have her sulky face captured in many photos after that fateful boat ride.

So how could we possibly miss out on a dolphin cruise in Akaroa? 

The world's rarest and smallest Hector's dolphin is found in Akaroa. We embarked on our cruise with Black Cat Cruises.  If you are keen to swim with the dolphins, this option is available in the summer months.  We were there in early spring and it was considered too cold for a dip.

As we sailed from the harbour towards the Tasman Sea, we spotted sea birds, a lone seal swimming, sea caves and volcanic cliffs.

As we approached the open sea, the choppy waters and biting cold wind made the search for the dolphins more precarious (amazingly none of us experienced seasickness)!  There was so much buzz in the air when the first dolphin was spotted! 

On hindsight, I was a little over-zealous and threw caution to the wind when the pod of dolphins appeared.  I was moving from one end of the boat to the other, trying my utmost best to keep my balance, enthusiastically taking as many shots as possible while keeping an eye on the kids to make sure no one fell overboard! 

I don't think it was the wisest thing someone with a baby bump should do.  But the adrenaline of finally seeing dolphins in the wild made me forget for a moment that I was preggers!

The hubby, being a different breed from the "chiongster" me, was calmly taking photos on the upper deck.

I thought this was going to be the highlight of our time in Akaroa.  There was yet another delight in store for us!

After the dolphin cruise, we went in search of a beach.  The GPS led us through weird terrain and we went round in circles.  We never found the beach but instead were rewarded with a beautiful sunset on a secluded summit drive. Just us and the beauty that unfolded before us...

Travel tips:
  1. Discount codes/ vouchers are found in brochures which you can get from the airport and tourist offices. We received a 10% discount off the dolphin cruise using the discount code found in one of those brochures. 
  2. To get an even better discount, pre-book activities on the Bookme website.  This would require some planning as the cheaper rates are for activities booked a few days to a few weeks in advance.
  3. Visit the Akaroa Tourist Office and request for a map which shows you the route for the Summit Road Drive. Especially lovely at sunset!  


Thursday, 6 October 2016

Akaroa: An Underrated Gem

Whenever the South Island of New Zealand is mentioned, images of soaring snow-capped mountains and stunningly blue lakes come to mind.  I knew we were going to see plenty of those jaw-dropping vistas so I figured it would be nice to enjoy a different kind of scenery.  I am a 'give me variety' kind of gal so to keep boredom at bay, I needed something vastly different.

Akaroa. The perfect destination to recover from jet lag.  An underrated gem.  While it doesn't take your breath away like the above vistas I mentioned, it has a soothing effect on the soul.  

Akaroa is about two hours drive (including photo stops) from Christchurch airport.  This was ideal for us as we didn't want too long a drive as we were still battling jet lag.

On our way to Akaroa, this is a sight for sore eyes or rather sore limbs and and an almost non-functioning brain due to my inability to sleep on flights.  Instantly revived!  

You can enjoy a meal at the Hilltop Tavern, complete with an up close and personal experience with curious sheep. We didn't eat here, choosing to enjoy free views instead.  But it did look like a nice place to chill and have an alfresco meal.

Due to city kids going wild over sheep and spending a long time desperately trying to attract their attention, we arrived at Akaroa way past lunch time.  Most of the restaurants were closed (Akaroa being a small town) but thankfully we managed to satisfy our growling bellies at The Brasserie Kitchen and Bar.

Rest and relax...but not for long.  There are birds and a rooster to chase after in the garden of this restaurant. Adrenaline keeps the kids awake!

After a good night's rest at our airbnb accomodation and experiencing first-hand the delightful invention of electric blankets (so snug and warm), we were off exploring this pint-sized harbour town.

Here's the garden view from our accommodation.

Enjoying fresh milk served in wine glasses in our very own garden ;)

Thursday, 16 October 2014


We visited KidsSTOP during a school holiday and it was probably not the best idea to visit during peak hours.  The kids enjoyed themselves but it could have been more fun if we had the luxury of time to leisurely enjoy each exhibit.  

There were long queues at the hot favourites like the Dino Pit where you can dig for "dinosaur bones".  The kids were given only five minutes to play (understandably so because of the crowd) and E, the dinosaur lover, was clearly not too satisfied with this touch and go approach and wanted to queue for another round.  By then, the queue had grown even longer. So, we decided to maximize our time and explore the place (instead of getting stuck in queues) before our session was over (each session was limited to 2 hours).

As I was there alone with the kids and I have a 8 year old and a 3 year old - the 8 year old gave a cursory glance at some exhibits which the 3 year old had a lot of interest in, I had to leave the 8 year old on his own at times to explore the place (thankfully the area wasn't huge so I could occasionally check that my boy had not gone missing!) while keeping a close watch over my 3 year old.  

And of all days, the settings on my DSLR went nuts! Okay, not really.  Just that the hubby set it to burst mode to take photos of the fireworks display on National Day and we forgot all about it until I started taking photos and blurred images were all I got.  I had no idea how to revert to the original settings and ended up taking most photos with my phone.  So, pardon the image quality.

We started off at this exhibit where you can role play being a pilot seated at the cockpit, complete with a photo opportunity of the kids looking smart in a captain's uniform. This attracted mostly the younger kids and  I was surprised that E enjoyed this exhibit so much that he came back to this a second time.  Pilot in the making, perhaps?

Next, was the ever popular Dino Pit where the kids dug for "dinosaur bones".  I'm not too sure about the digging part because the bones looked exposed to me instead of being buried under the sand.  It would have been more exciting if the kids actually had to spend some effort digging and be rewarded with their find.  Nevertheless, this is a huge hit with the kids.  You can never go wrong with sandplay!

                                  C used to be all squeamish about stepping on sand but now she loves sandplay at the beach, at the playground and right here in this sandpit.

Here's another interactive exhibit which C enjoyed.  You can choose from different-sized gears, connect them together and make the gears move round and round.

 This was another hot favourite judging by the long queue.  Kids get to operate this clamp-like thing which grabs coloured balls from a big basket.  Someone has to standby to catch the balls when the coloured balls are being released.  This catching the balls job is serious business and the child needs to stay focused.  I was guilty of distracting E when I asked him to smile for the camera and he missed the moment.  All the balls came tumbling down and everyone there had a good laugh!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Intense concentration

This is when the 4 years age gap comes in handy.  I can sit back and relax while E and C climbed the play structure.  C made it all the way to the top with the help and encouragement from her brother.

A must try for the older kids.  You are pulled up to 7 metres and dropped.  E went all the way up to 7 metres the first time but on the second try decided to go for 6 metres instead.  It can be quite scary especially with the suspense building up when you are being slowly hauled up to 7 metres.

This section is not housed in the main area.  It is behind a set of doors found near the above exhibit. This brought out the performer in C.  She spent most of her time in this section on the stage.  There is a control panel where you can control the lights and other special effects.

  This was captured on the panel where director wannabes can control various components of a stage set.

For the boys, this was the attraction.  You can choose from a variety of scenarios and it gets projected on the screen behind.  You can now imagine you are a hero, fending off dinosaurs and other exciting adventures.

Back at the main area, we explored the Human Body section.


Incisors, molars and yes, those are intestines.  You can examine the internal organs on an operating table, that is if you are not grossed out by it (which my kids were).

Trying to get the skeleton to co-operate!

This was taken at the last stop and made me laugh.  This is an exhibit on construction.  And look at what we have here.  Construction workers loafing on the job!  What were meant to be bags of cement have now become cushions!

They were reluctant to leave so we hung around this tiny play area after our session was over.

We didn't manage to visit every exhibit because of the crowd but it was definitely a hit with the kids.  I'm coming back on a weekday!

Do note that KidsSTOP is catered for children aged 18 months to 8 years.  Although E had fun, a number of the exhibits did not interest him while C was very entertained by almost everything.  

For more information, visit  http://www.kidsstop.edu.sg/.

*Disclosure: We received complimentary entry to KidsSTOP for the purpose of this review.

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