June 30, 2013


During Yiu Yiu’s birthday last year, I took leave with the intention of bringing her and Yihao to Kidzania but unfortunately, since it was nearing year end holidays, there were loads of school trips and tickets were sold out.  As her school declared a holiday on Ching Ming, I took the opportunity to bring them there.

Looks like I wasn’t the only parent from her school to do that – we met so many of her school mates, even her Standard 1 class teacher brought her twin sons to Kidzania that day J

Anyway, the kiddos enjoyed themselves very much, and earned plenty of Kidzos throughout the day.  The only disappointment was not able to become a fire-fighter, as the queue was long the entire time we were there.  We thought of trying our luck nearing the end of the day, but unfortunately, we were too late.  By the time we got there, the queue for the last session was closed.

So these were what they tried out:

First stop - learning to become a dentist

In the queue to get into the cockpit to pilot the plane

Ready for action - all scrubbed and dressed in surgical gown

Looking into the lungs of a patient with lung cancer

Policewoman cordoning off the hotel on fire for the firemen to extinguish the fire

Marching back to the station after their duty

Yiu Yiu was the prosecutor while Yihao was the witness in this trial

Trying to break free from the jail

It was a long day and we were all hungry so they went to Marrybrown to make their own burgers for late lunch

 Phua Chu Kang would be proud of her! 

Depositing her kidzos after a hard day's work

June 22, 2013

Central Vietnam trip – Hue and Danang

We checked out from the hotel after breakfast and made a quick stop to visit the large Dong Ba market, before visiting the Tomb of Tu Duc.

The variety of stalls at the Dong Ba market.  Clockwise from top left: conical hat stall, food stall, goldsmith (first time I see goldsmith in a market), stall selling various strings and ropes

Traders of Dong Ba market

Clockwise from top left: White rose apple (first time seeing it), Vietnamese version of cincaluk I guess, some buns, dumplings

Not far from the Tomb of Tu Duc is the incense making village, and we couldn’t resist stopping for some photos of these colourful incense sticks.

We took the Hai Van Pass, a scenic 21km long mountain pass, back to Danang.  Hai Van Pass is the highest pass in Vietnam at 500m above sea level.  Hai Van means “Ocean Clouds”, since the peak of the mountain is in the clouds while its foot is close to the sea.

Train heading to Danang on the Hai Van Pass

Hairpin bends on the Hai Van Pass

A fortified gateway on the top of the Hai Van Pass – looks like the entrance to an old citadel.

Back in Danang, we headed to the Linh Ung Pagoda.  Built on the cliffs of Son Thuy Mountain, the temple commands a stunning view of the sea.  The temple has a fine array of white marble statues dominated by a 67-m tall statue of Kuan Yin.

Traditional fishing boats by the beach

We then checked into the hotel for our last night in Central Vietnam, and as it was a gloomy and cold day, instead of going to the pool, we spent some time at the beach.

Girls imitating the pose of the marble statue

Traditional Vietnamese basket boat

After breakfast the next morning, we hit the pool and beach again before bidding Danang farewell.

 Me with mum, and me with girls

Girls with their 小姨姨

June 19, 2013

Central Vietnam trip – Hue (Imperial Tombs)

After lunch, we headed out of the city to visit the imperial tombs.  First stop was the Tomb of Khai Dinh.  Emperor Khai Dinh was the 12th emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty, ruling from 1916 – 1925.  Dating from 1925, this is the best preserved of the imperial tombs.  While comparatively compact, the tomb is pretty grand.  While it follows the classic formula of forecourts leading up to the tomb of the Emperor, complete with statues in attendance, European influences were evident.  

The obelisk, with minarets shaped like stupas on both sides of the courtyard, symbolizes dynastic stability and majesty.

The large steel panel in the pavilion bears Emperor Khai Dinh’s biography written by his son, Emperor Bao Dai

Stone sculptures of Mandarins, soldiers, elephants and horses in the courtyard, representating the royal entourage that accompanies and protects the Emperor in the after world.

Thien Dinh Palace with three halls is the most important building in the complex.

The middle hall is ornately decorated with inlaid ceramic and glass mosaics and contains relics of the Emperor, as well as a life size sculpture of the Emperor cast in France in 1920.  The Emperor sits shaded by a concrete canopy decorated with incredibly detailed and opulent glass and ceramic mosaics.

The Tomb of Minh Mang was built from 1840-1843.  Emperor Minh Mang was the 2nd emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty, ruling from 1820 – 1841.  This 28-hectare tomb comprises several temples, pavillions and lakes, in addition to the courtyard with sculptures of the royal entourage.

Steel inscription of Emperor Minh Mang’s biography, written by his son, Emperor Thieu Tri

The mausoleum itself features large gardens and lakes, but according to our guide, no one knows exactly where his final resting place is amidst the vast area of the mausoleum.

Another interesting tomb in Hue is the Tomb of Tu Duc, which we visited the next day.  The 4th emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty, Emperor Tu Duc ruled from 1848 – 1883.  The tomb was constructed from 1864 – 1867, and served as the second Imperial City for Emperor Tu Duc as his vacation palace.  The vast sprawling complex set around a lake also comprises tombs and temples dedicated to his wives and favoured courtesans.

Hoa Khiem Temple initially served as Emperor Tu Duc’s office during his stay at the tomb complex.  After his death, it became a temple dedicated to worship him.

Inside the Hoa Khiem Temple complex, which used to be Emperor Tu Duc's living space

As usual, there are stone sculptures of Mandarins and soldiers

Stone steel pavilion and inscription – unlike most tombs, the biography at the Tomb of Tu Duc was an autobiography, instead of written by the emperor’s son.

The Emperor’s tomb itself, tucked away in the back, is surprisingly modest – the final courtyard is nearly empty with just a stone coffin in the middle.