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Vagabond Kids: December 2010

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

May you all have a Very Merry Christmas and may the following year bring peace, love and joy to everyone.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday Dreaming: Santa In Singapore

Our family is really quite lucky. No matter where we travel, Santa has always been able to find the Vagabond Kids. The first year we moved here to our current home, we moved in on Christmas Eve. The kids were obviously very concerned that Santa would miss our house and go to our old one, but without fail he finds his way. We start the evening with Fondue (my family tradition) the kids get ready for bed and Santa finds his way to our Condo to drop off one present and speak with the kids for a few minutes. Santa isn't able to stay too long as he has the real delivery to make later that night, but the kids love seeing him.

I am not sure how many more times Santa can make a visit here in Singapore before they go to bed, the kids are getting older and Santa is surely busy and may need to visit other children who are younger. But my Monday Dream this week is to have him visit at least one more time. Take a tradition from my husbands family, tied with a tradition from mine and celebrate a few moments with a hot Santa whose clothing are much more suited for temperate climes.

If you want to see more Monday dreams check out Mondays are for Dreaming over at Mother of All Trips.

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Top 5 Free Outdoor Activities for Kids in Singapore

A Skink

Around Mount Faber

Singapore can be an expensive city. Expensive to live and expensive to visit, but there are some gems that can be unearthed with a bit of advance planning and a willingness to be outdoors in the tropics.

Here are the Vagabond Kid's Top 5 Free Things to do Outside in Singapore

Owen and Kiera at Palawan

The Beach at Palawan

1. Go to the Beach. This can be free if you visit any of Singapore's free beaches on the East Coast at East Coast Park, but for a small fee if you drive or take the monorail(Okay I may have already broken the "free" rule) we like the beach at Sentosa Island. It is free to enter if you take the bus onto the island however. Sentosa can get really crowded on weekends and let's face it, Singapore is only 45 miles from the equator so it can get hot, so we head to the beach early in the morning, get there by 9am and enjoy 4 hours of beach time before people really start to arrive en mass. Palawan Beach has lots of food and beverage outlets nearby as well for a lunch before you end your morning out. In favor of the totally free option, East Coast Park also has a number of food options and a great bike/hiking path as well.

Digging a hole!

2. Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Did you know that there are only two primary virgin rain forests located within city limits in the whole world? Did you know that Bukit Timah Nature Reserve right here in Singapore is one of them. Did you know that Bukit Timah Nature Reserve has over 500 species of animals and over 840 flowering plants? The Summit!

Keep Climbing (Bukit Timah)
(Thanks Kathy for these pictures)

Where else can you climb to the peak of Singapore's tallest "mountain", see monkeys and watch people walk up hill backwards. Only Bukit Timah! The parks have also opened up a learning center on the Dairy Farm side of the Reserve with trails and another visitor center. Oh, and it is very likely you will see monkeys. Please leave them alone and don't feed them as they become aggressive and unable to fend for themselves when we feed them.

Monkeys at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

3. Mount Faber Park and the Henderson Waves. Take a walk and explore the views from the top of Mount Faber over the Singapore skyline, look over and marvel at the World's Busiest Port(in terms of tonnage see more stats here) and then walk over Henderson Waves Singapore's highest pedestrian bridge as a link between two parks. Henderson Waves

Part of the Waves
Jeff and Declan at Henderson Waves

Finish your walk, if you are full of energy over the Canopy Walk a great above ground walk through some of Singapore's tallest trees.

4. MacRitchie Reservoir and the HSBC Tree Top Walk. While your head is still up in the air after your Canopy Walk and Henderson Waves, head back out of the downtown core and off to the MacRitchie Reservoir. MacRitchie Reservoir serves as one of Singapore's water catchments and therefore there is no swimming allowed, but there are plenty of trails to keep kids busy exploring.
MacRitchie Nature Trail
Treetop Walk

Owen and Reed on the Bridge
The Treetop Walk is Singapore's first free-standing suspension bridge through the Secondary Forest at the canopy level. (Thanks again to my sister for her Pictures of the Treetop Walk).

5. Botanic Garden and the Jacob Ballas Children's Garden.
Botanic Gardens
More Trees

The last on this list is Singapore's crown jewel of parks. The Botanic Garden is filled with plenty of activities to keep any kid happy. From the Orchid Gardens (Not Free) with over 6000 species of Orchids to the Ginger Garden, from the central amphitheatre to the Pitcher Plants (one of my son's favorites) the day can be finished over at the Jacob Ballas Children's Garden where there are water play areas, trees that are climbing approved and exhibits that share information about the plant diversity in Singapore and the region.

A snack bar with kid friendly food is also available at Jacob Ballas and many Singaporeans, and guests have been known to laze away a Sunday morn having breakfast in the Garden at the open air restaurant located near the Visitor Centre.

So, while Singapore can be spendy, I hope you have a few free outdoor activities you and the kids can share. Which is your favorite?

Water Play, Jacob Ballas

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Photo: Angkor Wat Cambodia


As the year winds down, we have only one more trip for the year. We will be taking the few days before the New Year and going to visit the temples of Angkor Wat in Seam Reap Cambodia. Can't wait to share the amazing culture of Cambodia with the Vagabond Kids.

This post is part of Friday Photo over on Delicious Baby. For more pictures go check it out.


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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vietnam For Kids: Shopping in Saigon

Entry to L'Usine

While in Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon) I walked around expecting another “big city” one that had little to no soul. I was pleasantly surprised by the funky feel of District 1, a mixed district of hotels, offices and art galleries next door to trinket stores, high end designers meet local designers, trashy tourist tschoskys and hand made goods.


While walking around the city I ended up at a store I read about in Travel and Leisure Magazine called L’Usine. L’Usine is an art gallery, coffee shop and kick butt cool concept store set in an industrial style space. The store was chock a block with stuff for mom (I picked up a great scarf and shirt there) as well as for dad. The kids section has great clothing from fun companies like Munster Kids, Paper Wings and Rittenhouse and how about these super cute dolls from Zubels?

Images from L'Usine's Blog

The store was all decked out for the holidays while I was there and all of the decorations were just amazing. My pictures of the shop did no justice, so I have pulled these from the L’Usine blog. To get to L’Usine, walk down the “Art Alley” off of Dong Khoi Street and head to the stairs to get to the first floor.


The second shop that I fell in love with was Nagu, which means to ease one’s mind or subside in Japanese, and features Japanese inspired handmade clothing and gift items. Most of the clothing at Nagu is for younger children (infant to toddler) but a few pieces could probably be stretched to fit a smallish 5-6 year old.

None of my bear pictures turned out so this is from Travel and Leisure SEA

Nagu has two stores in Saigon, one at the Continental Hotel which does have some adult clothing and the most adorable Vietnam Bears. The second branch is located just up the road and the upscale mall Vincom Centre. There is also a store in Hanoi, but I missed it when I was there.

Hat at Nagu

Nagu has seriously cute stuff, handmade, natural fibers, super fun. I only wish my kids were the right size to be able to wear these clothes or that my pear shaped frame would suit the Japanese style clothing. But this time I walked away with only pictures and a great place to visit again on my next trip to Vietnam.

Cute kids clothes at Nagu

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Friday, December 10, 2010

India's People- Photo Friday

Colorful Saris, Bombay India
My Photo Friday post is about the people of India and a reminder about the last few days of Passport With Purpose's goal of building a village for the poor of India.

Mother and Child

So many lovely people in India. So many beautiful faces. Each with a story, each with a smile. Loved my time there so much.

Serious Young Man in Mumbai


Selling Flowers in Mumbai

Watchful Old Ladies, Mumbai India

Indian Navy Band

Shy Child, Bombay India
In addition to the faces, have you gone and contributed to the worthwhile cause that Passports with Purpose is doing this year? Building a village in rural India. Go donate now, there are only a few days left. Give back and win some prizes today!

Today's Photo Friday is part of Delicious Baby's Series go see some more Photo Friday posts here.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

India Images and PWP (Passports with a Purpose)

I just spent an incredible week in India, one that has changed the way I think about travel. While the bulk of my travel is in 5 star hotels in part for work obligations and great corporate deals as well as a husband who can find great Internet deals with his eyes closed. When we do stay in lower end hotels, they are still clean, safe and contain the basic requirements for an overnight guest. You know those things like beds, pillows, blankets. A TV perhaps? So many in India don't even have the chance to have a place to stay the night, let alone a pillow, certainly not a luxury hotel.


Traveling around India I was blessed to have it easy. Staying in a good hotel, no scams, no hassles, very little intestinal distress. Win! But I was talking to a good friend, an Indian who himself comes from a high caste but understands and empathizes with those who have little. We were discussing the life these individuals face, the lucky ones are able to send the children to school, feed them 2 meals a day and have a ramshackled shelter to let them sleep on the floor. The not so lucky sleep on the streets.


Did you know that many people in India live on less than US$200 per year? Did you know that the "slums" in Bombay house over 60% of the cities total population of 14 million. That means that around 7 million people, roughly a little less than the entire combined city of New York, all live in substandard housing.


The India that I saw was one that was clean, planes left on time, water flowed in the hotel. And while I sat and complained that the Internet wasn't fast enough and that the cellular service on my phone was patchy, that the eggs at the hotel were runny people outside were lucky if they had a tarp pulled over a few sticks covering them from the impending Monsoon season. People outside the hotels were begging in order to feed their family, people were digging in garbage in order to eat. Not a pretty site I can assure you, but yet the modern traveler can avoid all of that and see a clean, sanitized and prettified India if you want to.

Ready for the next load

I learned about Passports with a Purpose this year when starting my blog. PWP is a group of travel bloggers who want to give something back, travel the world and show that individuals can make a difference. I wanted to be able to give a prize this year in order to help raise money for the good works they do, but my schedule this year made it difficult to figure those logistics out. But, what I can do is promote the organization, bid on some prizes and urge you all to do the same. This year PWP is partnering with LAFTI and they are building a village in India. Giving people homes, allowing them a basic standard of living that most of us would find uncomfortable and spare, but to these people in India it is a true life changing chance.


So, have you checked out the prizes? If you are in North America there are some kickin' prizes. Europe has some pretty cool prizes as well. Not in either of those continents? Well there are also books, clothing, e-prizes and of course the ability to donate without trying to win a prize.


The Vagabond Kids will be traveling with me to India this spring to see some of the cultural wonders that India has to offer. We will also be going to some of the places that tourists don't travel and seeing some of the people that organizations like LAFTI are helping.

But, now, I am going to go donate. How about you?

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