A Gold Coast Family Vacation

It felt rather surreal for hb and I to have returned to the same place where we first visited 16 years ago, when we were poor, ‘starry-eyed’ Uni students.

Then, we took a 30+ hours Greyhound coach ride from Melbourne and spent a week in Gold Coast, hopped onto public transportation to get the various theme parks. Being poor students, we could only afford one expensive steak dinner, from a steak restaurant which we discovered while strolling along the 5km stretch of long sandy beaches along Surfers’ Paradise.

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The Gold Coast that we remembered 16 years ago, definitely had less buildings peppering the skyline.

This time round, we opted for a less busy place to stay in Gold Coast, specifically, Broadbeach, instead of Surfers’ Paradise, which was quieter and had plenty of amenities. Broadbeach has a nice stretch of the beach, with good restaurants.

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So what do you do in Gold Coast with an 8 year old?

Gold Coast is theme park central in Australia, so visiting the theme parks is a mandatory major part of the visit there.

We spent 4 days in a theme park, mostly weekdays, from the time the parks were opened in the mornings to the late afternoon queuing up to take the various rides in Dreamworld, Wet & Wild, Movie World, and viewing marine life and watching performances at SeaWorld.

Dream World

Goldcoast holidayDec2015 combi2KungFu Panda themed section in Dreamworld 

Dreamworld main attraction is its Big 9 thrill rides, rides with names like ‘The Giant Drop’, ‘Tail Spin’, ‘Tower of Terror’, ‘Wipeout’, ‘Cyclone’ etc, you can probably know what to expect.

I used to be very game to take thrilling rides in theme parks, but not anymore. All it took was one ‘deceiving’ rickshaw looking ride known as ‘Pandemonium’,  in KungFu Panda theme section, which kept me off from taking any ride for the rest of the day. I definitely did not do well in the ride which soared 8 meters high, sent round and round in circles, side to side and upside down at up to 3.8 G-forces!

The little boy on the other hand, seem to do quite well even after taking the rides.

Dreamworld had a wildlife area with a small section of Australia wildlife, which provided a good respite from the crazy rides.

Goldcoast holidayDec2015 combi3Birds in Dreamworld Coroboree

Goldcoast holidayDec2015 combi9The customary photo with the Australian Kangaroo


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This theme park was Kyle’s favourite amongst the others, I think it was the experience of viewing marine life, animals, sitting rides and watching animal shows, all found in one place.

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The highlight of Kyle’s SeaWorld visit had to be the 30 minute Helicopter ride, taking in the aerial view of Gold Coast and the Hinterlands…

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and getting his personalised trucker cap and temporary tattoo :)

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Mount Tamborine

We took a drive up to the Hinterlands, Mount Tamborine when the weekend came around. It was a refreshing change from the theme park experiences, but it fell short of what I expected the place to be like. If you have been to the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, or Cradle Mountain in Tasmania, and expect something similar to these places, you would be sorely disappointed, like how I was :(

Apart from some quaint cafes along Gallery Walk, the row of shops sold mainly china-made goods and offered new age services like tarot reading. I was hoping to see some shops with locally sourced products or hand crafted goods, but there was none. The only shop that was worth visiting was the shop that sold Tamborine Tea.

The Gallery Walk experience was such a disappointment that we decided to skip the nature hikes and took a drive back to Broadbeach.

Goldcoast holidayDec2015 combi10We had a Devonshire Tea set in a quaint cafe along Gallery Walk

Burleigh Heads

We headed over to Burleigh Heads on Sunday morning to visit the monthly Art and Crafts Market at the beachfront, which was about a 10 minutes drive away from Broadbeach.

There were quite a number of interesting stalls with handmade items, and locally produced products. Although it was smaller than expected, it was worth the visit.

Goldcoast holidayDec2015 78Along Burleigh Heads Beach

Goldcoast holidayDec2015 59Spotted a Peaceful Protest along Burleigh Beach

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

One of the things we felt we didn’t see enough of from the last 6 days of our Gold Coast trip were animals, so a trip to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary was a must-do on our last full day in Gold Coast.

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Kyle spent his time feeding Kangaroos and spotting the lizards that freely roamed around the Sanctuary

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A key milestone he achieved from his visit to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary was attempting the Treetop Walk Challenge, as he overcame his fear of heights by braving through the course with hb behind him.

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I think a week in the Gold Coast is adequate to experience the most of what Gold Coast can offer, while I would most likely need another week at home to recuperate from the trip 😛

Goldcoast holidayDec2015 17The view from our room in Broadbeach

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Must do! 4 Singapore Heritage Trails to bring your children 4-8 years old

One more week before the June school holiday ends. So are you running out of ideas where to bring your children?

I love authentic experiences. Not that I don’t bring K to theme parks, museums or fun kid places. But I love fresh ideas for experiences that are enriching and engaging for children.

There is so much about Singapore that K still don’t know about and I realized that we don’t need to travel out of the country, for him to experience something new and educational. In fact, I learn so much about my country each time I develop these heritage trails itineraries for K and his friends.

I have put together a series of posts and activity sheets that I have previously created (tried and tested with 6-7 year olds!), that will be useful guides for you to bring your children on a cultural and heritage walkabouts around Singapore.

Singapore Heritage Trails for Children

The four key cultures that will be introduced through these trails will be the Chinese, Arabs/Malays, Indians and the Peranakans. The Arab Street and Little India walkabout take about 4 hours, while the Peranakan and Chinatown trails are a little more extensive, as there are separate areas to go to.

The cost of each walkabout is kept at a minimal, to only meals taken at these locations, admission fees to the museums and small souvenirs that your child might be keen to bring home with him/her.


1. Arab Street 

The Malay historic district is on Arab street, right off Beach Road in an area known as Kampong Glam.

The key landmarks for this Arab Street walkabout will include Sultan Mosque, and the Malay Heritage Centre. But do spend more time browsing through the textile, handicrafts and rattan shops along the streets. And keep a lookout for the shops with Muslim and Arab influences, selling the Islamic prayer rugs and skull caps, sarongs, batiks, all which have been in Arab Street to 3-4 generations.

Do make sure to pop by one of the coffee shops to relish in a plate of Nasi Lemak or Goreng for lunch.

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Here’s a post of my previous Arab Street Heritage Trail experience for a more visual breakdown of the things that children can do, and download a copy of the Arab Street Trail for Children Activity Guide.


2.  Little India

The Little India trail starts at Serangoon Road at Tekka Centre, where you can have some South or North Indian cuisine, coupled with Teh Tarik for breakfast, then shop for an traditional Indian costume for your children.   As you take the walk down Serangoon Road, you will see many Goldsmiths shops and you can buy a flower garlands made out of jasmine, lilies or chrysanthemum flowers, from the little carts that line the street leading up to the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple.

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Here’s the post on the Little India Walkabout and your can download a copy of the Little India Trail for Children Activity Guide here. 


3.  Peranakans – East Coast and Koon Seng Road

I guest-blogged on The Gingerbread Mum about my Peranakan Heritage Trail, and you can download a copy of the Peranakan Heritage Trail Activity Guide here.

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4. Chinatown – Telok Ayer and Pagoda Street

The trail for Chinatown starts at Telok Ayer Street for a visit to one of the oldest  Chinese Temple in Singapore, Thian Hock Keng. Before moving on to Pagoda Street (which is not a short distance to walk to btw!), stop by for brunch at Maxwell Road where you can savor authentic Hainanese Chicken Rice or Hum Chim Pang.

Once you reach Pagoda Street, there will be plenty of handicrafts and souvenir shops along the way, and the vast variaties of knick knacks sold in these shops might distract the children off the purpose of the visit for a while. However, don’t miss seeing the traditional Chinese Medicine shop with their tonics, and strong smelling exotic herbs left outside their shops in rattan trays to dry in the sun.

Chinatown Heritage Trail for Children 1

Then make your way to the Chinatown Heritage Center on Pagoda Street to view dioramas of the dark living quarters of the Chinatown immigrants. Read this post to see what to expect at Chinatown Heritage Centre and my experience visiting Chinatown.

Here’s the link to download the Chinatown Trail for Children Activity Guide.


These Heritage Trails are must do for children 4-8 years old as they will be sure to learn something unique to the rich heritage of Singapore. And I am certain that you will find yourself learning something new about these cultures too!


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Why I don’t celebrate Good Friday or Easter

I didn’t go to church this Sunday.

Well, if you have read my previous posts about church. You would recall that I shared on this blog before that I don’t attend church, and I am still not attending church.

This weekend, most Christians celebrated Easter Sunday where most churches recognize it as the day that Christ was risen. Churches usually get extra crowded on this day, apart from Christmas Eve, Christmas Day services and the watch night service the day before the New Year.

I always wondered why.

Being a non-church goer, special occasions set in traditions by the church doesn’t motivate me to go to church either.

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I never liked to be fed information by religious institutions and then believe for the sake of what a church pastor or leader proclaims, or common practices in Christian traditions. I always like to find out truth for myself.

I have always been really curious about why eggs and Bunnies are celebrated visuals used during Easter, and why the word Easter? Before finding out the roots to ‘Easter’, I have done some research through this post about Christmas, and this Christian celebration sounded suspiciously like it was from the same roots.

So neither I am keen to buy easter eggs for K from the supermarket and be all enthusiastic about Easter egg hunts organized by the churches.

Many believe it is harmless, it’s all in good fun? How do you explain to a child, when he/she asks when we have eggs or visuals of bunnies during Easter. The closest lie I can think of is, ‘”Eggs signify birth, its like a new birth of Jesus” and uh.. “Bunny signify fruitfulness, Jesus died so that we can be blessed abundantly…”

Sounds pretty convincing doesn’t it?

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I don’t like to perpetuate nonsense to children. Especially religious claptrap, or false information (in this case, paganistic practices) masquerading as Christian tradition.


Good Friday to Easter Sunday? 

Jesus resurrection has nothing to do with eggs or bunnies, and Good Friday or even Sunday.  The question I have is, how do you fit three days, three nights on a Friday to a Sunday?

“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” – Matthew 12:40

So Good Friday and Easter Sunday works out to only 3 days and 2 nights, so what are we missing here? The only thing that can explain this contradiction is that Friday-Sunday timing is not biblical.

So oops…the church have not been getting this right all along.

It just seems a little more suspicious now when I share this possibility that the person from the past or some religious institution conveniently used this Friday-Sunday timelines to bring in paganistic Easter on the Sunday.

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So then, after saying so much, is this week being Ressurrection week even biblical? It is.

This month is the first month of the Hebrew Calendar, the month of Nissan. Jesus was buried on Nisan 14, either on AD 30 or 33, which works out to Wednesday – Saturday (Sabbath).

Saturday afternoon Resurrection of Christ is supposedly found in Matthew 28:1, 5-6. The text reads: “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the tomb. . . And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay” (KJV).


Passover this Week

The Jewish people celebrate Passover as a remembrance of how God redeemed the Jewish nation from slavery in Ancient Egypt, that was ruled by the Pharaohs. The original celebration centered around the Passover lamb, which was sacrificed and its blood put over the doorposts as a sign of faith, so that the Lord passed over the houses of the Jews during the last plague poured out on the Egyptians – the killing of every firstborn.

The Passover lamb has been eliminated from the Passover festival. However what matters here, is the significance that Passover has for Christians. The New Testament says that Jesus is our sacrificial Lamb. The Passover lamb was to be a ‘male without defect’, which was the same description given to Jesus.

Much of the symbolism of Jesus’ last Passover week is lost to us due to ignorance of the customs during that time. Jesus came into the city of Jerusalem five days before the lamb was killed in the temple as the Passover sacrifice for the sins of the people of Israel. Five days before the lamb was to be sacrificed, it was chosen. Therefore, Jesus entered Jerusalem on lamb selection day as the lamb of God to be sacrifice for the sins of the world.

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Passover starts on the 15th Day in Nisan and ends 7 days thereafter. It started Monday April 14 and will be ending on April 22.

So it will just be Passover week that I will celebrate from henceforth.


Still Not Attending Church

As for not attending church.

Don’t try it, unless you have made a commitment to search out the bible daily and spend time dedicated to reading the bible and prayer daily.

Don’t even consider, if Christianity is limited to Sundays only, and special occasions like Easter, Christmas or the New Year. Just stick with attending church weekly, as I believe you will still benefit from some preaching of the Word of God.

It is still a personal choice for me and my faith is still going strong despite finding out all these untruths from Christian traditions and churches.

I don’t wish to blindly believe what traditions or what pastors tell me, I want to find out the truth from the bible myself and search it out. Faith is not a walk between me and the leaders of the church, it is between God and I.

I want to be like the 1st century Christians in Thessalonica;

These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so – Acts 17:11

And I take this very seriously;

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My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. – Hosea 4:6 

This is no laughing matter for me. As I sure don’t want God to reject me or forget my children.


P.S. I am aware that I got some Christians irate for publishing the last post about not attending church the last time. Christians were concerned that I was turning people away from attending churches by reading a post like that.

Well, the modern church these days are not exacty role models of what the bible deemed a fellowship of believers to be. I have learnt that the truth offends, and I don’t mind being that person to say it, whether people like to hear it or not.

For non-Christians reading this, I do encourage you to search the Christian bible if you are curious and also do ask God if He is real.

The church route may not work for everyone. It didn’t for me, at least for a while.

Update Sept 2014 – I have since found a local church and have been regularly attending weekly and appreciating the fellowship of the small congregation from this new church. To read about my journey searching for a church, go to this post.


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