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:

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.

Stunning Photos and Videos with Canon EOS M5 Mirrorless Camera

I first met the Canon EOS M5 in December last year over dinner, and I wasn’t very attracted to it then. But when I got to try it over a few weeks since March this year, I’m getting quite attached to this upgraded model from the EOS M3 I bought some time back. The camera is faster, better and steadier when shooting video. If only it was a full-frame mirrorless, I would have bought it right away. For now, I’m still sitting on the fence and may eventually buy it for work purposes.

Here are some of the reasons why you should consider the EOS M5 as your next camera upgrade, and photos taken with it by me. Disclaimer: I’m not a professional, so don’t expect magazine spread quality shots ok!

Versatile EF-M18-150 IS STM kit lens

The kit sent for my review came with the EF-M18-150 IS STM, the range of this lens is suitable for everyday, anytime, anything also can shoot kinda lens. I could capture the happiness in my girl without getting wet when she was far from the edge of swimming pool. If you zoom into it, you can even see clearly the water droplets around her hair in the shot below. [Click here for the full resolution shot]

Zara having fun in the revamped pool at SAFRA Yishun over the weekend

The zoom lens, even when zoomed into the maximum, gives me very good control and stability when shooting with a single hand.

Hula girls enchanting everyone with their beautiful moves at Aloha Party to celebrate the reopening of SAFRA Yishun last weekend.
Ayra attending her first swim class with FINS Swim School at SAFRA Yishun

Fast and Steady Won My Heart

The Canon PowerShot EOS M5 packs with Dual Pixel CMOS AF gives me very fast autofocusing in every shot, making photographing kids much easier. I can tap anywhere on the touchscreen to pick the focus point with my left finger while framing the shot with the camera on my right hand. There’s no need to wait nor feel that you will miss a shot because autofocusing is really quick on the camera.

Superb Low-Light Shots

You can shoot at up to ISO 25600 on the EOS M5, giving you superb low-light control even without the use of a tripod.

Brunch at Wild Honey and these cheese buns were super delicious!

Steady Video without any Gimbal nor Tripod

I love shooting videos with the EOS M5 and the new EF-M18-150 IS STM lens. With the combination of IS (image stabilizer) lens and in-camera stabilisation, shooting movie is very steady even when on the move. I’ve created a reel of randoms shots taken on the move with the EOS M5 and the EF-M18-150 IS STM.

The Canon PowerShot EOS M5 is at the top of the existing mirrorless line-up for Canon. If you need an all-rounded lightweight and yet powerful and stable camera for photos and videos, you can consider this camera as an upgrade or a companion for your Canon DSLR.  Find out more about the Canon EOS M5 on Canon’s website (I suggest you check out the brochure for more detailed writeup), and you can purchase it online at Canon online shop and have it delivered for free to your doorstep. There’s $80 online warranty cashback promotion and mother’s day free gifts too if you buy online. Psst… have you spotted our mini feature on their website?

Can my fairy godfather please grant me a Canon PowerShot EOS M5 Kit please? I’ve been an awesome mother right?

“Best Pool Ever at SAFRA Yishun!” said The Little Ones

We spent our weekend at the newly revamped pool at SAFRA Yishun and we had a terribly hard time getting the girls out of the water! The pool at SAFRA Yishun Country Club has new and lots of fun upgrade and I think we will be using more of our SAFRA membership soon. Why the pool not at SAFRA Punggol leh? Splash@KidsAmaze is fun, but the Mummy me don’t get to swim nor even dip into the pool. As SAFRA members we get to enter the new pool at Yishun for free some more wor!

New Pirate Theme Wet Play Wading Pool

SAFRA Yishun Country Club offers family-friendly amenities in a resort-like setting. The newly renovated swimming pool opened its doors to members and guest in March 2017 and features enhanced waterfall and slides, an expanded patio, new changing rooms and a brand new pirate-theme wet playground.

When the girls saw the pool on Saturday, they couldn’t wait to jump right into it! And once they’re in, no one can pull them out of the water…

The pirate theme wet playground that’s suitable for all ages
Adventurous and never say never, Zara had too much time that day at SAFRA Yishun!
The duo can just lazed like that forever…
The waterfall and rainbow slides that got everyone excited! One slide is not enough please, good thing they’ve got two!

First Swim Class with FINS Swim School

Children and adults of all ages are guided by dedicated coaches who strive to bring out the best in their students. Swim lessons are well-structured and designed to be comprehensive and safe, helping students gain proficiency as independent swimmers.

Ayra had her first swim class experience with one of the coaches at FINS Swim School, and the shy girl exclaimed it was fun! The 45 minutes passed too quickly and she wants to go back for more. Maybe I should register both the girls for their July intake.

Shy girl hiding behind at start of lesson, but eventually eased and got comfortable with the coach.

SAFRA Facebook Page Contest

To celebrate the opening of the new pirate adventure wet play wading pool, SAFRA Yishun Country Club is giving away 10 sets of FINS Arena Kids Swimmers Starter Kits to 10 lucky winners. Find the missing puzzle on SAFRA Facebook page here and share a treasured #SAFRApools moment to participate in the contest.

Check out the video of this new swimming pool on our Facebook page.

Photos in this post taken with the Canon Powershot EOS M5 camera.

Happy Planner Me with Create365 and Canon New Print Media

I am going to be more hardworking this year as I embark on my first happy planner project; something I want to do but been lazy to get started. Because we’ve got a new printer in the home and new photo stickers medium by Canon, this is the best time to get started! I stepped into my favorite scrapbooking store and out with happy purchases – Create365 2017 planner, some pretty stickers and new washi tapes. With the other stash I’ve accumulated over the years I was all set and ready to fill up my happy planner.

Keeping it Simple

I know time is limited and I may only have a few hours each month to fill up those pages with memories with my loved ones. So I choose to keep the planner simple, using only photos printed on the new Canon photo stickers, short journaling and little bit of stickers to decorate the page where space allowed.

Photo Stickers Make Things So Easy and Fun

One of the reasons I didn’t start my planner journey before is because I know I will end up with a very thick and bulky journal if I were to print my photos on photo paper and stick them in the planner. When I saw these new photo stickers from Canon for the first time, I knew this is it! I can get my photo memories into journal without adding bulk to it.

These photo stickers are thinner and easy to trim and stick. This makes the whole planner process simpler and mess-free. I create montage of photos over the week into one to two 4R photo sticker, print them with NFC connection from my mobile to my new Canon Pixma TS8070 printer, trim the stickers and stick.

Photos are for Printing

Every year, I can accumulate up to 10,000 photos on my mobile and cameras combined. Only a fraction of these got posted and shared on Instagram or Facebook with family and friends, and some get to see some lights on this blog. More than 90% of these photos are simply stored and backed up in digital form.

My girls, my mum and my grandmother love looking through photos and it is impossible to scroll through the thousands of photos every now and then just to see memories from the past. Print is our way of sharing precious memories among the four generations.

I print highlights of each year into photo books which my girls get to flip through whenever they want to. This year I printed our memories from 2016 onto HD FotoJournals from Canon EShop online. I feel safe leaving these photobooks in the living room for my girls to flip through anytime they want to. Unlike the other photobooks from past few years which were printed on matte/glossy photo paper instead of the High Definition Canon luster paper and mounted together with flatspread binding, making the HD FotoJournals more durable.

Besides photobooks, I also print out photos after each family gathering or celebrations onto photo papers in different sizes. Some framed and hung on our walls, some kept in photo boxes and some gifted to my mother and grandmother for their safekeeping. Everyone is always very happy to receive photo printouts and I simply love seeing them smile. Makes me feel so warm and fuzzy.

Start Sharing Happy Prints

Sharing happy memories in print with friends from the blogging community at a Canon Christmas gathering.

Because I’ve personally witnessed how prints have delighted the little ones and their family, I want to share and spread more happiness. In the month of February, I am embarking on a personal project to spread happy prints. If you would like to receive printouts of your photos, submit your details and mailing address via this form.

  • Please check “Happy Prints Project (Feb 2017)“.
  • Enter URL to your online photos within the message section. *Photos must be posted online, either on Instagram, Facebook or photo hosting sites.
  • Enter a mailing address within the message section.

I will pick 10 families to send happy prints to. Only public viewable photos will be selected for prints. Each family will receive up to 10 photos, printed on Canon photo papers and mailed to you anytime in the month of February.

I hope I’ve managed to inspire you to want to start printing photos too! Let me help get it started, submit your Happy Prints requests to me now!

My Little Photographers at KidZania Canon Imaging Academy

The Mummy loves photography and has been a supporter for Canon cameras for a long time now. The girls have been the subject of Mummy’s shooting obsession since the day they entered into her life. They have seen how the Mummy handled the camera and are rather familiar with how the camera works. When they were given a chance to handle a big camera like Mummy at KidZania, they were thrilled.

Although they didn’t get to complete their task as a photojournalist, as they were too distracted with the other activities going around them on their first visit to KidZania, they did get to put on the Canon EOS vest (which Mummy is rather jealous of) and tried handling and shooting with the Canon PowerShot EOS DSLR inside the Imaging Academy.

Look at how adorable and professional they look!

At the Canon Imaging Academy inside KidZania Singapore, the kids get to pick between being a Photojournalist or a Photography Student.

Photojournalist at Canon Imaging Academy

  • For +4 years and above
  • Each session allows up to 4 kids
  • Takes about 20 mins for each session
  • Kid earns 6 Kidzos

Being a Photojournalist, they were supposed to learn how to handle the DSLR camera, go on a mission to shoot different objects around KidZania and complete their task to earn the Kidzos.

Photography Student at Canon Imaging Academy

  • For +4 years and above
  • Each session allows up to 6 kids
  • Takes about 20 mins for each session
  • Kid pays 8 Kidzos

As a Photography Student, they get to learn how to pose for the camera and shoot other student models with the DSLR. Each student will also get to bring home a printed photo from their session.

The girls were happy to have snapped some photos of Mummy with their cameras and were issued a certificate at the end of their task.

Guess we will be back again for more KidZania fun since Mummy bought the girls their KidZania Passports! Perhaps we should make trips to other cities too to check out the other KidZanias.

Read other kids’ experiences at KidZania Canon Imaging Academy…

Capturing and Preserving Memories in Full Frame

Crazy times call for crazy retreats, and November is looking fantastic! With a family trip to Hong Kong, and a day of fun with My Little Pony planned, I am ready to capture and preserve our family fun time and memories with my the loaned new toy which I’ve been shooting with for the past 5 to 6 weeks. My first experience with a full frame camera and I do not want to return it!

Time with Family is So Precious

I am a super workaholic, many times I use so much time on work I neglected my family. Guilty every time it happens but I just keep doing it over and over again. This is what happens when you work for yourself, every minute spent on work may potentially give a good return. Whenever I can, I will pull myself away for a day and focus on family. On such days, I spend time holding my kids hands, hugging, laughing and playing together. And I hold the camera more than my mobile phone. Capturing memories with mobile phone is convenient but on days when I am dedicating to my family, I want to have better and higher quality photos so I can print them out as large as I want and flip through the albums 30, 50 years down the road. “Look girl, this was your mother when she was your age. Look like you right?

Zara “working” at Trehaus, looking very serious right?
Enjoying their joyride in a sing-along-bus at Suntec City

The Everyday Life

With the compact size (small considering it’s a Full Frame DSLR), I can fit it into most of my everyday bags. When I’m out for meetings, events or running errands, I can always have the camera with me if I want to. On good days, I get to enjoy the afternoon with high tea and champagne, brainstorming and discussing work stuff with my business partner, or when you chance upon this beautiful floor and just want to take a photo with it. With the EOS 6D, it makes these days look better and so Instagram worthy.

Afternoon tea set at Westin Singapore
Those beautiful tiles at Chong Wen Ge Cafe near Telok Ayer
Some painting fun in the evening before bedtime

Freezing Fast Moments

I love to take random photos of my girls at play outdoor and indoor. With the girls running around, sliding down and doing all the funny faces so quickly, it is almost impossible to snap a decent shot of them that is sharp and in focused with my mobile phone. With the Canon EOS 6D, I was able to freeze such fast moments and share the quirky and fun moments with my girls. They love looking at these photos I took of them. They do make requests every now and then too. “Mummy can you take photos for me? I want to see.

Ayra going a little crazy with her dancing and singing at Families For Life picnic.
Girls sliding down at Petite Park on a Sunday afternoon

Sharper Clearer Better Videos

With two YouTube and video enthusiasts and a geeky Mummy, one of the things we all enjoy doing together is to create videos! When the girls get a new toy, Ayra will request for a video to be shot of her unboxing and playing. Sometimes they will ask me to shoot them creating stories with their toys. If only Mummy has got more time to edit these videos and upload them online! Here’s one of the recent video we shot with the Canon EOS 6D when the girls received their new LEGO Duplo set.

Desire For Better and Newer Camera

I have been sitting on the thought of buying the Canon EOS 6D for a month now, price is reasonable and all, but the little voice inside me is telling me to wait. Hang on for now, cos there may be a better and newer one coming out soon. With rumors going around online of a full frame Canon compact, I am sitting on the fence now waiting to see if this rumor is true. What matters to me are features like the built of the camera (cos I am super rough with my camera lah), speed, sensor and the ability to shoot in super low light situation.

My photography companion at the moment, Canon EOS 6D

For now, I shall try to hold on to this unit from Canon for as long as I can. Ha!

Disclaimer: The Canon EOS 6D is a borrowed unit from Canon Singapore and I secretly hope they’ll let me keep it for good! I’m really loving it!