Sydney 2017: Solo Travel with 6 year old – Day 1 Journal

Someone, I can’t recall who, planted an idea in my head – “Travel solo with your girl one day, it’ll be fun!” And it got stuck in my mind so I told myself this will have to happen when my girl is in their K2 year, before they start their six years in primary school.

Ayra is starting primary school next year, so I flew us both (just Ayra and me) to Sydney in June because she wanted to experience winter (though she really wished to see real snow, oh well…) and it was Vivid Sydney festival too, which was really an excellent period to visit! Another reason why I picked Sydney is also because I was just there last December and still have very good navigation memory of the city, and I know where and what we can go or do together.

I tried to be as prepared as I could for this trip and ensure that Ayra is comfortable, safe and happy. Flying for the first time on a long haul redeye flight, we brought along the JetKid BedBox, packed in as much as I could with activities and things for the girl. The BedBox was super handy while we zoom across the airport with Ayra seated on it. The ride was smooth and it pulling it around was a breeze.

DAY 1

After our redeye flight, we took a taxi to our hotel – Fraser Suites Sydney. Both of us were super jet lag and were hoping to get some rest in our room before we take off for our first day of adventure around Sydney. However the room wasn’t ready for us when we arrived (5 hours before the hotel check-in time) so we took a quick shower at the hotel gym, checked in our luggage and off we went on foot to explore places near our hotel. The weather was chill and windy! We loved it!

Our hotel is just minutes walk to Darling Harbour, we spotted a huge playground which Ayra enjoyed throughout our stay! She kept asking me to bring her there EVERYDAY! Playing outdoor is so much more fun due to the nice cool weather in winter.

Ayra loves the soft smooth sand at Darling Harbour Children’s Playground at Tumbalong Park

After our McDonald’s lunch near the playground, we continued our walk towards the harbour. Taking in the sights, sound and super cool breeze by the harbour. It did make me rather sleepy though since I couldn’t get much sleep in the plane.

Australian National Maritime Museum

At the other end of the harbour, we spotted some cool ships and Ayra wanted to check them out. An unplanned trip to the Maritime Museums it was and I’m glad we did that. We got to check out the ship and Ayra enjoyed going up and down the navy ship and the Australian-built replica of James Cook’s HMB Endeavour. Find out more about the museum here.

HMAS Vampire, Australia's largest museum vessel
Ayra onboard the HMAS Vampire, Australia’s largest museum vessel
Australian-built replica of James Cook's HMB Endeavour
She’s not as keen to stay onboard the Australian-built replica of James Cook’s HMB Endeavour because she could feel it swaying with the waves.

Buskers around Sydney

One of things we both enjoyed is the many different buskers spotted around Sydney during our trip. Not sure if they appear only during Vivid season or busk weekly over the weekend. Here’s the first we saw while walking back to our hotel after the museum. We both enjoyed the show – the busker was very comical and interacts very well with his audience. Awesome juggling too!

Cheese Tarts and Angel Hat for Dinner

As we stepped out from our hotel after some rest, hoping to find a nice place for dinner, drizzles greeted us and we couldn’t get anywhere without getting wet. It was Sunday night so every dining place near our hotel were packed! Just as we gave up our search for food, the smell of cheese greeted us as we discovered Uncle Tetsu’s Triple Bake Shop. We joined the queue, bought some tarts and Angel Hat.

Here’s our dinner from day 1…

Angel Hat from Uncle Tetsu (we much prefer their cheese tarts!) and Gong Cha (just as they bid goodbye to SG at that time).
Enjoying her tart and the not-so-likable milo from Australia (she prefers the local version with lots more sugar and flavour!)
Pasta from the hotel room service

This wraps up our day 1 in Sydney. By end of the day, both of us collapsed in bed and had a very good night rest. Though I wished the pillow was firmer though. Day 2 coming up in the next post…

All photos taken with my Canon Powershot G7X Mark II which I bought just before the trip. Till today, I’m so loving it!

Read more about our Sydney 2017 trip at these links:

The Loving Mum is Not on Hiatus, Just Busy

Friends and fellow blogging mums have been checking in lately to ask if I was still alive or something has happened. Thanks much for your love and letting me know that there are still real people who cares about my well being. Very grateful.

Well, it’s been quiet a crazy time for me and my new baby. Yes, The Loving Mum has got Baby No. 3 and her name is AM Collective. Ha! At times I think I spending more time on this new baby than my own two real babies at home, but hey, newborns usually get more attention right? So ya, I’ve been busy with this baby and I’m happy it is growing up well and very well nurtured by the awesome team I am blessed to have onboard. And I’m super excited about our new home for AM Collective!

Besides work, I’ve been spending the very last bit of my left over energy and time on my family and a little on myself. Personally, I’ve put on a lot of weight, so much that my grandma who’ve not seen me for few months asked what happened to me when I visited after a work shoot near her.  I was just relieved that she didn’t assumed I was preggy again! LOL! For the record, my factory is closed for good ok. I missed my slimmer days when I was undergoing my #TLMgetfit journey… maybe it’s time to set aside time to do it again!

With the crazy weight gain, my body has also been acting up with lots of aches and pain all over my body. I feel like a 70+ old lady each time I had to stand up from my work desk and in the morning when I have to get out of bed. I tried an hour of session with Dr Stretch a month back and it did help relieve some pain, but after that I’ve not managed to book another session due to the erratic schedule of mine. I’ve paid for a package with them so I must die die force myself to visit them again soon so that I don’t waste money again lah.

Family wise, I think we are doing well. And I think I’m probably the only parent whom isn’t overly panicking about primary one registration. So we did our registration online and if we don’t get into this school, we’ll just register at the next closest one for us. No pressure. Haven’t been doing much of a coaching nor teaching with the girls also, play is important right? They are still a kid! Studies and all these stress will be on them for a big part of their future days so why start so early right? See I’m trying to comfort myself already. Ha!

Ok… seriously I have no idea where this post is going… I’m just blabbing away here trying to get some time away from the crazy among of work waiting for me…

Ending this quick update with some photos from the recent days and activities in my life…

My forever baby… refused to go to bed because I was still busy typing away past her bedtime. And this happened.
We don’t get to go out on weekday nights so this rare visit to Mustafa was quite fun. Bought these for their racial harmony day celebration in school and the littlest one will be performing on National Day at a community event! This is one of her moves for her dance performance. Can’t wait to watch her dance on stage!
Sometimes I can’t tell who’s the elder one… can you? 😛
My birthday weekend was spent in JB and it seemed more like a celebration for the girls than for me. It was fun to just getaway from work and spend time filling my family love tank.
And lastly here’s me in my super round face and spot all those white hair! OMG!

Ok, break time’s up! Back to work now…

My (Gaston Luga) Backpack is Better Than Yours Here’s Why

It took me forever to find a suitable all-purpose and fits any occasions kinda backpack that I want to own. When I saw Gaston Luga Lifestyle Backpack for the first time on Instagram and on their website, I fell in love with the everlasting design and style. When my order arrived via express airmail, I was 101% sure that this backpack is going to last me for a long time.

Think Scandinavian minimalism and elegance design to suit all different occasions. Crafted with leather parts, thick quality cotton, metal details and a mix of carefully selected colours put together to became the foundation of the Gaston Luga backpacks and accessories.

GASTON LUGA CLÄSSIC – OLIVE & BROWN

That was my selected design from the range of backpacks and colours from Gaston Luga. It has travelled with me around Singapore both for work, play and family outings. The bag has also flown to Sydney and back recently and I have double confirmed my good taste and selection, the Gaston Luga Classic has served its purpose very well.

Standing tall along Sydney Harbour Bridge, unbothered by the many attention from the birds.

Compact Yet Huge in Volume

When I saw the bag on their website, I couldn’t visualise how much I’ll be able to fit into it and was a little worried. So I searched on Instagram to see how other people have been using it and use these images to confirm my selection. This backpack fits more than I’d expected and with the amount of stuff and weight I loaded into it so far, it has retained its shape, workmanship and quality. I am impressed. I’m also considering buying another colour to match my different mood.

My Gaston Luga Classic with my love at Circular Quay waiting for our ferry to Luna Park. Love the versatility of the backpack!

Not Much Difference in Price for Herschel Little America Backpack (in case you’re comparing)

The first brand that came to mind when I think of a similar style backpack is the Herschel. I bought one couple of years back and sold it off after a few times of using it. Because I find that the material is too stiff and the cushioned shoulder pads on the bag were little clumsy for my liking. The padding inside the bag also restricted the volume of stuff one can stuff into it.

The Gaston Luga CLÄSSIC backpack retails at S$319, but you can get yours at just S$216.92 just because you are awesome! The price is after a 20% off as tax rebate (from non-EU country) + 15% off with my special code “claudial15” on the remaining price after tax rebate. And you get free shipping all year round when you buy from GastonLuga.com.

guston luga backpack discount code

My next question is… which colour should I get now? Black & Black or perhaps the Navy & Brown?

Things I Learned When Travelling Alone With My Daughter Ayra

Fifty Shades of Tiredness

Travelling with a pre-schooler takes a lot more energy and patience than I imagined.

The worst meltdown was on day 4 which lasted a good long 45 mins, I was lucky it happened in the hotel room. It was initiated from our train trip back from Bondi Junction and turned massive the moment she plonks herself down in the room. I did my best to control myself and keep breathing… “I want Mummy to hug me…“, that’s all we needed to get through the painful struggles.

Day Tour Is Exhausting

When a day tour is planned, prepare activities, for us, it would have been the iPad and food. Hungry and exhausted little one can really drive you crazy when stuck in an hour plus long bus journey. Unfortunately, I didn’t prepare either of them for our planned day tour, I had to pep talk every time we start our ride in the bus. I think I came up with 1001 reasons how we were going to have a great day if she would just rest and nap whenever possible.

Just Go With The Flow

Don’t bother to plan an itinerary, what you do depends greatly on the mood of your pre-schooler. Just go with the flow and go slow, it’s ok you don’t get to visit every place you planned to. Avoid purchasing too many tickets before the trip and keep to just the main highlights, perhaps one attraction every two days.

Be Overprepared

Never underestimate the weather… 11 degree is too cold for our summer-trained body. 3 layers and we were still shivering. Should have bought that Ultra Light Down from Uniqlo! And we almost hit our personal freezing point on the fourth night while walking back to our hotel from Darling Habour.

Promises Not!

When the little one made a promise, don’t take it seriously. “Ok fine! We go to the playground then we go dinner.” – Never happened. We ended up spending too much time at the playground and grabbing a quick bite from McDonald’s instead of a lovely dine in dinner by the harbour.

Stay Away from Social Media

Live in the moments for real and not just capturing and posting about it online. In the past, I used to have the habit to check my mobile and want to post everything I do instantly on Instagram. This trip, I make a conscious effort to keep my mobile away and focus on our time together.

One hand holding onto my girl and the other my compact camera, we lived in every moment together and I capture shots and videos without putting in much thought or planning. Just turn on and shoot. Looking through the photos and videos captured, I double confirmed that perhaps all or most of the “Instagram-worthy” aka well framed and posed shots of kids travelling are lots of hard work and pep talk. Wouldn’t this be too much a hassle just to capture that one great shot? Unless of cos, your little ones are mini supermodels, well trained to respond to “Look here, smile (and pose)!” That’s exactly what I did too but it never worked on Ayra. Just look at the shots I got!

“Ayra look here! Smile! Look here!!!”

Not happening! My girl is just as stubborn as the mother!

Like Parents Like Child

Ayra is very much like me when travelling – She keeps everyone in mind and ensures she buys something for each of them. At the shops, she’ll browse around and go… “This can give to my friends… this I think meimei (Zara) will like… hmmm I think I want to buy this for…“. This is her distributing her loots after our trip at Luna Park.

With one and a half day more to go, it’s time to get something for me perhaps?

Ayra is very much like her father – the moment she stepped into the hotel room, she must have the TV turned on. And it is very difficult to get her to turn it off and head out!

Video Calls FTW

Always have a connection even if you plan to stay disconnected during travel. Because sharing moments and experiences with the sister back home is lots of fun via video calls.

Every day we will stay connected with family back in Singapore via Whatsapp video call. Thanks to unlimited 4G Wifi powered by ChangiWifi (www.changirecommends.com), we called anytime anywhere without worrying we will exceed our data roaming or the need to top-up credits etc. We shared our time on Blue Mountain, view of the Sydney Opera House, travelling in the double-decker train and a lot more happy times with our loved ones during this trip.

With unlimited 4G Wifi also makes waiting in a queue a lot more bearable for the little one, who kept herself entertained with videos on YouTube. That’s us waiting in line for our Scenic Railway ride.

Break a Routine

Travelling could also be one of the best way to break a routine, like wanting milk in a bottle every morning and night. Or the need to hold a hanky to sleep. We survived so far, 5 Days 4 Nights, with Ayra and she has never asked for either of them. Not sure if she will start the routine again when we’re back, but I really hope she has grown out of it.

We are on our final full day here in Sydney and will be flying back tomorrow afternoon. We both miss our family very much and Zara has been upset too without her sister around. Can’t wait to land back home and give a big warm hug to Zara!

Sydney 2017: Preparing My First Solo Trip with My Daughter

The much-anticipated trip for my elder daughter is soon approaching, with less than two weeks to THE day, I am starting to get just a little bit nervous about this whole solo-travel-with-my-girl plan. I have not planned out the exact itinerary yet for the 6 days in Sydney, but I’ve been doing my research and started preparing for the trip since the day I made the flight and hotel bookings. This trip is going to make a big hold through my bank account this is for sure!

After my first visit to Sydney last year, I knew my next trip is going to be another mad shopping spree. Even before we fly off, I’ve already started shopping because this is the first time I’m flying solo with my daughter, her first 7-hour flight to a potentially 15 to 17 degree country and our first navigate-with-google-map and long-hour road trip adventure.

So here are what I’ve planned and prepared so far…

For better in-flight experience

To ensure Ayra is comfortable and be able to sleep through the redeye flight to Sydney, I’ve gotten the children’s airplane bed, BedBox for her from Taxibaby.sg. I first learned about the BedBox by JetKids when a friend shared the demo video on Facebook. I thought I’ll never need one because I had no plan to travel anywhere more than 4 hours with my kids when they are little. And this happened! HA!

From our previous flight to and from HongKong, I noticed that Ayra couldn’t sit comfortably on the plane, her legs were not long enough to touch the floorboard and when laying down reclined, she slept in quite an awkward position. With the BedBox, Ayra will be able to stretch out her legs and be in a more comfortable position. Hope this will help her to sleep soundly through the flight into Sydney so we can both be refreshed and ready for our first day of adventure.

bedbox-inused

For safer travel in cars

We will be travelling quite a bit on cars and private vehicles around Sydney, and Ayra will need to be in a booster seat! For this, I didn’t need to worry as we already have two very compact and travel-friendly boosters which I’ll be bringing along to Sydney. If you’re wondering how I am going to fit a child booster seat into my luggage, here’s how ours look like. Can you even spot it in the photo below? LOL!

Meet mifold, the most advanced, compact and portable booster seat in the world! mifold grab-and-go booster seat is 10x smaller than the regular booster. Instead of lifting the child higher in the car seat, mifold brings the seatbelt lower to fit the child shifting it from their stomach to their lab and away from their neck. We have been using the mifold booster seats in our family car and the girls have come to get used to it (as long as they are occupied with toys or the ipad).

For constant connectivity

Having been introduced to the Wifi router from Changi Recommends, I cannot leave Singapore without one! Connectivity is even more essential and important for this trip since I’m alone with my precious daughter. The last thing I want is to lose connectivity and get lost in the big city. With unlimited and constant Wifi connection and the ability to connect up to 5 devices on the ChangiWifi router, we will be able to stay connected and use our phones and tablets to navigate around Sydney, Ayra will be able to catch her videos when we take breaks at cafes and I’ll be able to catch up on some emails and work when I can (I SHALL abstain myself from work when I’m in Sydney).

The last time I was in Sydney, the ChangiWifi was loading faster than the Wifi in my hotel and the airbnb I stayed at!

For capturing happy travel memories

I have been battling with the decision to bring which camera to Sydney for the past one month or so. I didn’t want to carry around a heavy and bulky camera because I know there’ll be time when I have to carry Ayra when she’s too tired to walk. I didn’t want to just bring any compact that may potentially not give the best quality shots for this first-in-our-lifetime-adventure! So… I gifted myself with a Canon Powershot G7 X Mark II for Mother’s Day!

This is compact enough to fit into my small sling pouch and yet powerful enough for superb photos and videos! I’ve been carrying the Powershot G7 X Mark II everywhere I go since I got it last week and I’m loving it.

For time-saving and lower costs

Two of the places I confirm will be bringing my girl to are the Blue Mountains and Sydney Tower Eyes. To save time queuing for tickets or finding a trusted tour package, I booked ourselves through Changi Recommends attractions and tours offering.

Purchasing attraction passes/tickets and tour packages on Changi Recommends is very convenient and easy. And because it’s recommended by Changi, it should be among the best right? If anything goes wrong, you can come back and complain loh! ermm… you can always provide your feedback when you’re back in Singapore!

I’ve had good experiences with Changi Recommends when we visited HongKong last year, so I know I can trust them lah.

For unforgettable experience at Vivid Sydney

One of the major deciding factor to visit Sydney was because of the huge line-up of activities and attractions at Vivid Sydney! If you are travelling during the period from 26 May to 17 June, be sure to check out Vivid Sydney website and download their mobile app! I’ve got so many items bookmarked in my profile I hope Ayra will have enough energy to go crazy chasing lights with me when the sun sets in Sydney.

So I’ve got about ten out of the one hundred and one things I plan to do with Ayra in Sydney planned out, I shall leave the remaining 90% of the trip to our sense of exploration and adventure with Google Map and Foursquare.

Next on my to do list… get more warm clothing for Ayra and the luggage packed.

Sydney here we come!

Angry Mum Go Away!

I am angry every day.

In the morning, I get angry when I try to wake my girls and they refused to budge. I get angry in the day due to lack of time to complete all the things I need to for the day. I get angry in the evening because the girls don’t want to feed themselves and refused to finish their dinner. I’m angry again at bedtime because the girls refused to sleep! I’m angry even when I’m the only one awake late into the night because I still have 999 things on my to-do list for the day… for the week… for the month… “WHY SO MANY THINGS TO DO?!

I’ve never wanted or thought to be a perfect mum. Because I know I will never be. I’m such a lazy mum that gets distracted very easily and spent too much time worrying about everything in life, at home, at work and the kids.

My girls, especially the youngest, is starting to be like me. They are always so angry at each other, angry at being forced to do things, angry at our constant reminder to get moving, angry at having to do their work from school and even angry at being asked to go out!

A few days ago I read this post and my mind went blank. My girls are angry so often because of me! I reflected back to how I had been communicating with them, how I shooed them out of the room because I was trying to work on a proposal. I shouted at them when they dropped their food over dinner, I gave them the devil stare when they refused to follow my instructions.

Strangely, I only get angry and mad at my girls. But I don’t show anger when faced with angst moments at work or with peers. Is this the norm? Do other mothers feel and behave the same too?

I want to stop being an angry mum.

I am The Loving Mum! Yes, I do love my girls too much, but I haven’t been loving myself (nor my husband) as much as I used to. This is probably one of the reasons why I am forever angry.

This year, on Mother’s Day, I pledge to change and stop being angry. It is going to be very very very tough, but I am going to do it. I am going to take more effort to be aware of how I talk, react and express my emotions towards my girls. I will not let the anger side of me surface as much as it had been. I will step back and take deep breaths before I react to situations when I am around the kids. I will do my best to become a peaceful mum and slow down my pace a little a day. I will love myself and my hub more, do things that make us happy and always try to sneak time off just for us.

If you are reading this and if you ever see me being angry, please remind me of this post. Remind me to stay peaceful. Help me get the angry mum out of me.

Happy mother’s day to all my friends who are mums. Hang in there and feast on all the chocolates you want this weekend! We deserve it.

BeautyPlus_video_20170512193948.mp4

Celebrate Moments That Matter This Mother’s Day

Being a full-time working mum isn’t exactly the easiest job on earth.

I often find myself in a challenging juggling act – managing the heavy demands of being literally on-call 24/7, for my clients and team because of crazy deadlines, and being a present mother and wife for my family. It takes a great deal of persistence and a lot of strength to pull through my everyday. I try to live as lightheartedly as I can and navigate through the journey of motherhood and building a business.

Being busy doesn’t mean I neglect my family. I try to make every moment fun with my two babies and hope to build beautiful memories for my family. We spend a lot of time crafting, colouring, making things and just rotting around the house. We really are quite a lazy bunch of humans. LOL!

Photo credit to Canon Singapore

Doing what I do at work, and my love for capturing moments with my loved ones, this year, I gifted myself, for Mother’s Day,  a brand new PowerShot G7X Mark II, because it was time for my personal G1X Mark II to retire after serving me well the past 2 years.

I’ve been asked many times, which is the best camera to get and why. Seriously, the best camera for anyone depends on which camera you have beside you when you want to capture that precious moment. It could be your mobile phone or a compact camera that you bring along everywhere you go.

I use the huge DSLR at work and also recently added the Canon PowerShot EOS M5 to the work routine. These are great cameras that help my team delivers very professional quality work. But to carry them everywhere I go is not ideal and also my team is using them to shoot very often lately. So my new friend the G7X Mark II will be my BFF wherever I go. And just in time too for my upcoming trip to Sydney with my eldest!

If you are a mum who, like me, likes to capture memories with your family and loved ones, it’s time to consider rewarding yourself with a new camera too!

Photo credit to Canon Singapore

This Mother’s Day, let’s celebrate the love and sacrifice of all the mothers out there; mums who have tirelessly poured into our children’s lives – teaching, inspiring and giving. Flowers and chocolates are nice gestures of showing gratitude but there’s a more meaningful and purposeful way to express our thankfulness and love – capturing moments in time by spending quality time with our family and preserving them with precious photos taken with a Canon camera.

If you’ve already got a camera, how about getting yourself a printer too? Don’t get me started on the reasons why every family should own a printer! I’ve got two at home and used them on a weekly basis! My girls love flipping through photo books, scrapbook and even my journal because they love laughing at how tiny and funny they looked when smaller.

Photo credit to Canon Singapore

Get a complimentary bouquet from Dawn Q. with every item purchased from Canon’s Mother’s Day gift guide and a free Shiseido gift set along with a personalised Shiseido skin indulgence (skin consultation and luxurious makeover) with the purchase of selected Canon products from their e-shop. I’m waiting for my camera and free gifts to arrive! This promotion is valid till 18th May 2017. Get your Canon products now and receive these special gifts.

Canon Mothers Day Guide

Thanks to the nice folks from Canon Singapore for the above beautiful photos of me with my girls. It is so so rare to have photos of me with my girls, because THIS.