Monday, February 29, 2016

LEGO Movie 4D: A New Adventure

Last Friday I brought little Stacci over to LEGOLAND Malaysia for a media preview of their latest happening at the park, the launch of LEGO Movie 4D: A New Adventure. When I told Stacci about the trip, she was thrilled but it also led to shouts of "not fair!" by her siblings! Too bad it's on a school day, let daddy plan for something during the school holidays okay?

Look at her smile! LEGOLAND Hotel is a happy place for kids for sure!
She could spend hours and hours at the hotel lobby alone, but too bad, we are only passing by this time!
And we are here!
This is what we are here for! To be the first to catch the 4D movie in Malaysia!
It is no secret that the whole family are LEGO fans (except maybe the wife, who had to deal with LEGO parts everywhere in the house) and we had already been to LEGOLAND Malaysia multiple times. When we heard about LEGO Movie 4D, I seriously thought it was a movie premiere of the wildly popular and successful The LEGO Movie Part II over at LEGOLand Malaysia. I just googled, and there would be spinoffs as well as a planned release of the real Part II somewhere in 2018!

It was pretty hot that day!
And Stacci got into the shade and tried her hands at building a Unikitty instead!
It didn't quite work out due to a lack of time but hey, she enjoyed it together with the friendly "master builder"!
Now, this is a huge one!
Everyone who caught the LEGO movie would probably be very interested to find out what Emmet, Wyldstyle and the rest of the gang is up to since then. The storyline of this short 4D movie revolved around the gang (including MetalBeard, Unikitty and Benny) getting an invitation to a LEGOLAND knockoff by a new character named Risky Business (who looked uncannily like Lord Business). How they were tricked into performing at the park, against their own free will and how they finally managed to escape, with YOUR help no less! Stacci was thrilled by the great animations as usual and the 4D effect added much realism to the scenes, eliciting shrieks from excited kids and adults alike!

Stacci with the stars of the movie!
We can't wait for the movie to start and we are just a few rows behind many important people!
The official opening of the movie by Dato' Mirza Mohammad Taiyab Beg
The filming of interviews kept the VIPs busy!
That's when we sneaked off for some kiddy fun!
Stacci loved the slow boat ride.
Wowed by the huge LEGO model of the machinery.
And wowed even more by the big selection at the shop!
Now that the stage is set, be sure to pay the LEGO Studios a visit when you are in the park. LEGO Movie 4D: A New Adventure is now showing and do check out LEGOLAND website for the various on-going promotions to get the biggest bang for your buck. Oh, and you can also catch the trailer below -

Monday, February 15, 2016

Disney On Ice presents Magical Ice Festival [Giveway]

I never understood how someone could sit through 2 hours of watching some dancers prancing around on ice, dressed as some make-belief fantasy characters and acting ridiculously happy (or rather should I say, high). That was, until I brought the kiddos to Disney on Ice for the first time in 2014.

It was the first time the kiddos watched the live performance.
There were no fidgeting, no fighting and no quarrels throughout the show as the kiddos indulged in the performance and happily pointed out the various characters they were so familiar with. It was pure magic how they were so into the show. I believe they even held back the urge to go to the toilet until the intervals!

They can't wait for the show to start and were really glued to their seats throughout!
And now, Disney on Ice is back! And it will be an even greater event because besides the classics like Beauty and The Beast or The Little Mermaid, the kiddos are going to see Elsa and Anna from Disney’s Frozen in the flesh, working their magic on ice too! And the theme for this year is aptly named Magical Ice Festival.
The famous sisters are gonna wow the kiddos!
Here are some Disney On Ice trivial for you –
  1. The show has already been around for 35 years, and has been to 75 countries over 6 continents!
  2. It takes between 12-15 hours to set up one Disney On Ice show, but only 4 hours to tear it down.
  3. 100 persons work on 180 costumes, with one performer changing up to 8 outfits at any one show.
My kiddos love singing along to "Under The Sea" with Sebastian!
My kiddos are really lucky to be able to watch the show again, especially so now that they can catch their favourite ice princess in action too. And we are also happy to be able to bring another family along for the ice-skating extravaganza! All you need to do is to complete the steps in the following raffle and keep your fingers crossed to win a family set of 4 weekend tickets (worth $180, with chance of upgrade) to the show!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
I am sure your kiddos wouldn't want to miss the all-time favourites!
Just so to ensure that your family do not miss the show, tickets for Disney On Ice presents Magical Ice Festival can be purchased online here as well!

Useful Information

Date: 11 March 2016 to 20 March 2016
Venue: Singapore Indoor Stadium
Official Website:
Booking Website:

Monday, February 8, 2016

Loewen By Dempsey Hill

[Media Invite]

When I hear the name Dempsey Hill, the first image that came to my mind was one of me relaxing with a drink in hand in one of the bar and chatting with friends. It has been years since I last visited the area, with friends who drove in. I knew that public buses did not ply the area and it was really quite a long walk to the nearest bus stop.

I was re-acquainted with that area (specifically the newer Loewen Cluster), having gone on a media tour of the place together with my 2 daughters a while ago. The busy me, who always left things till the last minute, failed to research on how to get there beforehand and we ended up taking a taxi in. I should have done my work beforehand, for there is actually a FREE shuttle bus service from the following places from Botanic Gardens (Nassim Gate Visitor Centre and Tanglin Gate Botany Centre) as well as Thai Embassy and Four Seasons Hotel to the cluster. You can check the full bus schedule here. Before this trip, I only had hazy ideas of what is available there. I knew there were eateries and some furniture shops and that was about it. Only found out that the area housed quite a number of kids’ enrichment schools after that visit.

Alpha Gymnastics occupies unit #01-07 at blk 72, offering a wide range of classes, such as Rompers for little walkers to toddlers up to 3 and all the way for teens 13 and up in their Adults Recreational Gymnastics classes. Of course Stacci and Steffi went on a trial lesson, and they enjoyed the running around and testing of their balancing by walking on beams, all under the watchful eyes of the instructor. I tried walking on the gym’s raised platform where all the activities took place, and it felt a little bouncy. I was later told that it was meant to reduce the impact on the joints when they practice their moves.

Getting to know each other first.
And look how fast they got familiar with anyone!
We next moved on to SWISH! Swimming which boasts pools that are temperature controlled and salt-water chlorinated. There were quite a number of parents with their toddlers, taking some aquatic programmes in the indoor pool when we visited. I tested the water with my hands, and it was warm to touch. Starting the kiddos from young is the key to water confidence, and I can feel the difference between the siblings. Like Steffi who started really young and can swim without a care, and Stacci who is less confident in water because we took her to the pools later, and with lesser frequency too. I know that Louie would love the water here too, because he would shiver when in the water for too long whenever we go to the public pools. We also got to see another interesting class being conducted. It was the “Merfit” swimming lesson for aspiring mermaids, or merkids, using the Mahina Merfin.

The heated indoor pool. 
Some young girls learning how to swim like mermaids!
The Tanderra Club reminded me of my childhood days, where I will play in and around the colonial houses at the foot of Mount Faber because my grandmother was working for one of the tenants as a coffee lady. I had full access to the place then, much like the full access to the facilities that a Tanderra member enjoys at the vast premise. The whole idea of the club is to be an all-inclusive club for the entire family. Where parents can leave the kiddos (aged 6mths - 12 years old) at one of the four play ateliers suitable, and then go on to enjoy their free time doing Yoga, having a pampering spa treatment, learning how to cook or simply having a cuppa at the Officer's Mess. The club also offers numerous drama, music, dance and art classes, for both kids and adults.

One of the play ateliers.

The outdoor play area, where the kiddos can be free to get down and dirty!
A room in which yoga and other classes can take place.
The ladies would love this room where various beauty treatments can be done.
One would linger just a bit longer in this vintage washroom.
The officer's mess is shaded by this really old heritage tree.
I do send my kids to tuition classes and art classes at our community centre. These classes are really affordable, and manageable for me since I have so many kiddos. Cost aside, sometimes I do wonder if they are really effective, as the teacher to student ratio often exceeds 1:20. Anyway we were introduced to Little Mandarins, a place where 18mth old babies to adults can learn to how to communicate in Mandarin. What impressed me was the bright and colorful classrooms that are full of works from the students, and the fact that their class sizes are only kept to a maximum of 8. With their learning ethos of Play, Grow, Make, Care and Share, I am pretty sure that students get to learn much more than just the language at the centre.

The classroom is like a meeting room!
Bright and cheery rooms!
Full of students' artwork too!
I am a noob when it comes to chocolates, often only indulging in the relatively cheap mass produced bars on supermarket shelves. Of course there's the occasional pralines or branded chocolates that I get to try out too. It was an eye-opener for us at ANJALICHOCOLAT, an Artisan Chocolatier, a chocolate factory, shop and school. We were taught how to distinguish the really good chocolates from cheap bars that boasts little cocoa contents just by listening to the clean snap when breaking the bars. They do customized gifts for corporates, and organizes chocolate-making classes where one can create their own chocolate truffles too! Oh lest I forget, their chocolate don't last at all, simply because only fresh ingredients are used and no preservatives are added. Not that the delicious chocolates would escape the fate of being devoured fast anyway.

The retail shop is like a pop-up store!
Lots of pretty gift packs available!

We were treated to some great tasting chocolate and toffees!
We ended the media tour with a lunch over at Portico Prime located over at the Dempsey Cluster, and the kids were wowed by the beauty of the restaurant (or maybe also a little because they finally had air-con!). Truth be told, I had NEVER visited any fine-dining restaurants on my own and it was almost always for work. I often fumble on what utensils to use for which particular dish too! This restaurant however, is not exactly fine-dining, more of an in-between I would say. Slightly more casual, even though it felt grand, with its high ceiling and looks. I often joked that if I had to finish EVERYTHING (including garnishings) on the plate, it has got to be fine-dining. We had their signature menu, and polished everything off the plates and was definitely satisfied after the gastronomic experience. I loved the excellent Wagyu A4 Ribcap, which I still reminisce till now.

Very beautiful interior!
Collection of Heirloom Tomatoes : Tomatoes never tasted so good, and the melon dressing added the sweetness! 
Caramelized Leek and Potato Soup: The soup was poured in front of me. The soup was a little fishy with the smoked eel but it was ok!
Pan-Seared Pulau Ubin Barramundi: Great presentation of our humble seabass, but seemed like it was a little too charred  for my taste.

Tochigi Perfecture Wagyu A4 Ribcap: I am not going to pretend to be some food connoisseur, but this is the BOMB. Love the taste of the beef and the aroma of the fats too! Secretly wished that it would be a bigger piece!
Deconstructed Blackforest: I had this without reading into what I was having and I thought that I was having some ice-cream with lots of toppings and sides. It was a pretty dish, and tasted great too! 
The Loewen and Dempsey Clusters definitely housed more than the bars and restaurants I naively thought initially. After this tour of the place, I can see how this Loewen Cluster targeted families with young kids. It tried to be a place where families can spend the entire day at, where the kids can participate in enrichment classes such as swimming or language classes, while the parents can also pursue their passion in Yoga or indulge in a relaxing spa experience, all within close vicinity. And finally ending the day with a good dinner at one of the many restaurants available.

I am also not surprised that I saw more expatriates there than locals. That, I would assume, is due to their higher spending power and the sense of community, especially at the Tanderra. There are definitely quite a lot to explore at the two clusters if you have not been there before or if you happen to stay nearby. But in the case of my family, I guess it would still most likely be only the occasional visit to the restaurants, as a treat for the family.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Hotel Jen Orchardgateway Getaway

[Sponsored Review]

First and foremost, sorry lah, this is about our getaway, not giveaway! Yours truly also have to scour the Internet for deals when it comes to bringing the family on a vacation. It is never easy because I have 4 kiddos mah. Many a times, I read the EDMs from Groupon or with great excitement, only to utterly disappointed and brought back down to earth after reading the fine prints. There are often this surcharge and that levy etc. The accommodation over in Bali may be on discount, but remember that airfares are not included, and even for Bintan / Batam, you will need to factor in your ferry tickets too. So sometimes, a short staycation makes perfect sense for the family, especially if time or cash-strapped, or both! Lol

We took a bus and MRT down to the hotel and the kiddos thought we were going overseas!
We planned it as a surprise treat for the 4 kiddos and popped over to Hotel Jen Orchardgateway last December, just before the school reopens. Told them we were going to stay over at a hotel and they actually thought we were going on the plane as we brought along a luggage. After alighting at Somerset MRT, I told the brood that we had reached our destination and that got them rather confused. Only then I revealed to them that it was actually a local hotel stay! We exited right from the MRT gantry (exit C) and took a short walk to the lift (to get to the main hotel lobby at level 10). But because that was also a public lift under Orchardgateway that is used by EVERYONE, it took us quite a while to get into it! However checking in was a breeze, and before we know it, we were already being whisked to out rooms.

The kiddos couldn't wait for the staff to open up the adjoining doors to the other room!
The rooms were bright and cheery, much to our liking!
We had a king-sized bed in one room.
One can work on their laptops at the writing area, which comes fitted with power points. There is also FREE WIFI access provided that you can tap on to get online!
And twin beds in the other.
A staycation for us is basically, a home away from home, plus all the awesome amenities, think bath tubs and swimming pools. And our experience at Hotel Jen was just that, except that it doesn’t have a bath tub though! It is situated right in the center of the Orchard Road shopping belt, prime area where almost everything is available for anyone with a penchant for shopping, though I am secretly happy that my wife doesn’t have the shopping bug! One could even walk over to Orchard Cineleisure to check out the latest blockbuster after supper! There will be absolutely no lack of food and entertainment choices within just walking distance from the hotel, only a lack of time!

The open-concept  wash area, shower and toilet near the room entrance.
Was a little concerned that the kiddos might make a mess and get the floors wet, but no they didn't!
No bath tubs to soak, but the showers were spanking clean though!

The staycation was really meant for the kiddos, and I am happy to say that they loved the rooms the moment they stepped in and went wow! Hard for the adults to really relax with the kiddos around right? They were amazed with the views from the glass windows and they could make out the youths skating at the skate park. Having adjoining rooms meant everyone had enough sleeping room, and lots of running room too! The clean beds were comfy, but the kiddos had other ideas and went fighting and jumping from bed to bed shouting “no more monkeys jumping on the bed!”, earning a stern warning from me lest they fall and injure themselves.

The city view we had from our rooms.
Quickly snapping some nice photos first before the kiddos mess the entire place up.
And it wasn't long before they started using the beds as a fighting ring!
I love the fact that the hotel took the effort to personalize the welcome message on the TV screens as pointed out by my kiddos. And the eagle-eyed glutton Stacci also easily found the pack of complimentary old-school biscuits on the shelf. Many hotel chains love to give fruit baskets, but Hotel Jen went one step further, and had them cut and chilled in a sealed cup in the mini-fridge! How convenient and thoughtful, especially for a lazy person like me! These are what I called the frills, not necessary but nice to have, a really nice gesture by the hotel.

Mr Steven would be nice but I am cool with Mr Teo too!
Our welcome drinks and a cup of fresh, cut fruits!
How nostalgic! A packet of biscuits with colourful sugar toppings, promptly devoured by the kiddos!
Want some cold drinks? Go fill the container with ice from the ice machines!
My little glutton enjoying her fruits by the window ledge!
We barely rested after our check-in before the kiddos started complaining about what’s taking us so long to get to the rooftop infinity pool on level 19. There are two pools, one baby pool and the big salt-treated infinity pool. The wading pool was just nice for the younger ones, and the water temperature also felt much warmer compared to the infinity pool. My kiddos love playing with water and it's great that mom gets to rest on the many bean bags and seats available nearby, keeping an eye on the brood while I get into the water with the kiddos too.

The shaded area beside the baby wading pool is just nice for parents to relax and look over the kiddos playing.
Even little Louie can enjoy water play time here with his older siblings.
Stacci decided to rest that day though, and found a rocking chair to rest and relax.
Pool noodles are provided only on certain days. In our case, it was a Sat. But floats are readily available every day.
The older ones trying to get Louie into the big pool!
But he would have none of it!
Having a relaxing dip and watching the sun set at the same time.
If you get hungry after the swim, you can order BBQ by the poolside too!
In case you do not know, Hotel Jen is actually the newest hotel brand in the Shangri-La Group and when I hear  the name Shangri-La, I will always think of their buffet at The Line. Expectations were a little high I guess, as I loved the spread over at the Shangri-La, but the buffet dinner we had over at Makan@Jen did not disappoint! Just check out the spread we had during our stay, I was only sad that there was only that little space in my tummy! The seafood spread, with the crabs, prawns and lobsters, was awesome and the dessert spread satisfied my sweet tooth perfectly!

It was the Xmas season when we visited, hence the turkey and ham as part of the spread!

Flavourful Seafood Paella was chock full of you guessed it, SEAFOOD!
For those who fancy a little spiciness in their prawns.

Local favourite! Roast pork belly!
Crabs, no added flavourings, just freshness at its best!

Free flow of Boston lobsters!
The sweetness of the prawns comes from its freshness!
Alaskan King Crabs are part of the menu too. Just the seafood alone, is reason enough to have the buffet in Makan@Jen!

There's even an ice-shaving machine for you to make your own ice-kachang! I did!
Log cakes since Xmas was just round the corner!
And basically lots of other sweet stuff! My love!
The buffet dinner was great, and the intercontinental breakfast buffet we had the next morning was not bad either. There were the usual cereals, pastries, local delights and even ice-cream too! That was where I got the idea of having a nice cup of affogato after my fishball noodle soup! It was a great way to spend the weekend with the family. With a late check-out at 5pm, it meant that the family had got so much more time to enjoy the last day, with another swim of course! So unlike other hotel stays where we basically had to wolf down breakfast and get ready to check out!

Breakfast mainstays like waffles and French toasts.
Healthier choices for the health-conscious.
Or you can also have local delights like pratas with curry!
The fish ball noodles soup was nothing to shout about, as the soup was kind of bland. 
Wide selection of hot beverages! Sure can find something you like.
I ended up making my own affogato with chocolate ice-cream from the dessert row and espresso from the coffee machine. Yummy!
Lots of pastries and cupcakes, but not enough storage space in the tummy.
There are more than enough space in the restaurant but the outdoor area can be another nice choice too!
Our 26 hours stay at Hotel Jen Orchardgateway was really enjoyable. Have you even been to some hotel rooms that looked clean and nice on the website or when you first arrived, only to find filth and dirt hidden in many areas, with dirty cushions and musky smell too? We had, and we are glad that we have no such problems here, for the hotel rooms were all clean and up to (high) standards! Thank you so much for having our family over at your bright, colorful and cheerful establishment, and ensuring that the kiddos had more than enough space with the adjoining rooms!
2 meals, 2 swims and 26 hours of fun later, having to check-out and leave for home sure was a downer for the kiddos (and us as well). But home was just 30 minutes public transport away, and we re-adjusted our feelings for work the next day pretty quick. But we sure look forward to be back at Hotel Jen again soon!

You may wish to check out the various on-going promotions on the official website now!