Monday, June 23, 2008

Too-Pampered Campers

There are some really cool gadgets out there for pampered campers these days. I had no idea roughing it had become so easy.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Singapore Theatre Festival

The month of August is going to be an exciting time for theatre-goers. It is the month in which you will have plays going on at all of the local drama houses, with new works by several of Singapore's established and emerging playwrights.

This is the 2nd time round for the Singapore Theatre Festival, with the first one back in 2006. The plan is for it to become a biannual event. The programme looks great this year, with these shows coming for us in the month of August:

The Swordfish, then the Concubine
The Last Temptation of Stamford Raffles
Apocalypse: LIVE!
I am Queen
Own Time Own Target
Magdalena Double Bill #1 - Bond-Age + Just Late
Magdalena Double Bill #2 - Sperm + The Lunar Interviews

You'll find shows by local theatre companies W!ld Rice, the Substation, Drama Box, panggung ARTS, spell #7, and The Theatre Practice. It promises to be very entertaining. You can book tickets from now till the time of the event.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

So. Much. Easier

I went to collect our visas to China today, after complaining about the difficulty involved in applying in my last two posts. This time, the process was so much easier, and so smooth. It was just like it has always been in the past. Of course, when I went out, I still saw the same very long queue for people submitting applications. I understand that this will be the case till after the Olympics. I do understand the need for it, but it is no fun being caught up in the hassle.

What I don't quite understand the need for is the hike in prices for visas. It is crazy that our visas cost us more than double the normal price. It equals nearly a third of what our air tickets cost!!!!

I am getting ready for the Olympics to be over, from a personal standpoint. It will be nice to have life back to the routine again.

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Tomorrow We Will Know

My two nephews and I have tickets to go to Shanghai next week. Tomorrow we will know if our visas are approved. I never do that — pay for a ticket before the visa is approved — but I had to this time because of the special rules concerning visas to China that are in effect till after the Olympics.

The boys have their fingers crossed, and "that thing... what's it called...? oh yeah, a visa" has been an important part of their nightly prayers all week. I don't know if the trip to the embassy tomorrow morning early will be quite as troublesome as the one earlier this week when I went to apply, but I kind of expect it to be a bit easier (or at least a shorter queue). We'll see.

And I hope the visas are approved. I've not been rejected before. But wouldn't it be just my luck for this to be the time for some hiccup. Well... we'll see.

Tomorrow we will know....

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Applying for a Visa to China these days...


Applying for a visa to China has officially become a hassle. For the past couple of months, and up till the time of the Olympics, Singaporeans also must apply for visas (they normally have a 2-week grace period).

And wouldn't you know it... my visa expired, and I am planning a trip at the end of the month.

When you have to apply for a visa to China these days, it is best to allow at least half a day for it. I was in an incredibly long queue this morning... and that was just to pick up the application. From there, you've got to fill it up, then queue again to hand it in. Four days later, you can collect it... if it is approved.

Oh, and nowadays, you can't apply until after you've bought and paid for your tickets. You have to show return tickets and a hotel voucher for the period you are in China. Without that, you won't even be able to apply.

And, of course, fees are a fair bit higher than normal. My single entry visa this time will cost more than double what it did before.

All of this is supposed to revert back to normal after the Olympics. If you can wait till then to go to China, I would advise that you do wait. It will save you money and a whole lot of hassle.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Duan Wu Jie

It's been a hectic week (see previous post about the kids who've invaded my house for the summer, and you'll understand), and so I missed posting about Duan Wu Jie last weekend, on the actual day of the event. Shame on me.

My friend, however, posted some photos of the dumplings his mum made, and it makes my mouth water just to stop by. Check it out... but don't drool on the keyboard when you do.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Defeating Jetlag

I just got back to Singapore about 2 weeks ago, bringing my nephews (7 and 8) back with me for the summer.

My best friend just got back to Singapore for the summer too, bringing along her two little guys, ages 4 years and 5 months.

jetlag + kids = difficult

We've all recovered well from jetlag at my house, and my friends seem to be doing exceptionally well with it this year too, even the little ones. The 4-year-old hasn't done very well with it in the past, so it's especially good to see him coping well this year.

Jetlag isn't always easy to handle, especially for kids, since they don't really understand why their system has gone haywire. I've found that there are a few things that work.

The trick has been keeping everyone up till bedtime, and not allowing heavy sleep at odd times (regular nap times for the little guys are ok, but not longer than usual.)

This evening we really got it all together, I think. We took all the kids running before dinner, letting them get their exercise. That seems to really help too, as does drinking plenty of water and avoiding other drinks (carbonated, sweet, and/or caffeine).

If you don't give in to the weariness — which is intensified when you are taking care of kids — then it seems that you can overcome jetlag very quickly. I've heard of a lot of little tricks here and there, including pills (both "medicine" and herbal), that are supposed to work. The most effective thing I know of, though, is simply discipline. Don't give in to the urge to sleep at odd hours. Force yourself to eat regular meals at the regular time. Try to stay in bed when you wake up unreasonably early, even if you can't sleep. Exercise. Drink plenty of water. If you stay pretty disciplined with those things it will just take a few days to get over jetlag.

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Mozart, Child Prodigy

Last week we went to the Mozart exhibition at Singapore's National Museum. It focuses on Mozart's childhood, and him being a child prodigy. Most of the exhibit demonstrates what life in Mozart's time was like.

The kids all enjoyed the exhibit, but the adults thought it overpriced. The set up was small, contained in a single function room. There were games, costumes the kids could wear, and some hands-on activities, and all of that was fun for the kids. What was there was, in fact, pretty good. The only problem was that there wasn't a whole lot there, at least in proportion to the cost of the ticket to get in.

It was a fun day, but don't expect something huge. If you keep your expectations geared toward a smaller show, you probably won't be disappointed.

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He's Been to Over 96 Countries

Now this guy is a real world traveler — over 96 countries!!

Check out Richard Meng's travel magazine, World Traveller

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

All Your Luggage Needs...

There are a few things every traveler needs: pants with pockets that can hold lots of stuff, and do so securely; good walking shoes; good sunglasses; a good, versatile coat; and of course, good luggage.

Fortunately Innovation Luggage has everything you could want, available online. There's great kids' luggage, including some really cute pieces of Disney luggage. I have my nephews with me right now (ages 7 and 8) for the 3rd summer in a row, and I have seen how much they love having the perfect piece of luggage with them all the time. Finding good luggage for kids makes traveling with the little guys much easier, because they are more than happy to carry luggage that they are proud of (leaving my hands free to deal with tickets, passports, etc.).

You can find all sorts of great brands at Innovation Luggage, including Delsey luggage, and pieces by High Sierra, Deuter, Samsonite, American Tourister, and all the big names.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Mozart at the Museum

My friend and I will bringing 4 kids to the National Museum in Singapore today to see the Mozart exhibit, set up especially for kids. They are all very excited about it, and have been doing research on Mozart. We're putting together a DVD for them to show to their friends and family. I'll post parts of it here when it is completed.

The event looks like a fun one. It runs through early July. You will need to book tickets in advance. It looks like a not-to-be-missed activity.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Where to Find Good Travel Writing?

Sometime towards the end of last year I invited other bloggers to list good books that offer a sense of place, particularly a place that the blogger is familiar with. Not a whole lot of bloggers have responded, but the books listed there are pretty good.

If you know of some books that give a good sense of place, visit my main blog and let me know where you've listed them. I'll provide a link to your list, and let visitors know where they can find your recommendations and/or reviews.

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