Friday, October 31, 2014

Fun for Free Friday #6 - Fire Station Visit

One of the best things about having kids is that we're given the green light to play tourists and discover Singapore. And one of our best discoveries must be the local fire station.

Time required: 60-90 minutes
Bring: an extra set of clothes, especially for the kids


I simply love visits to the fire station. We can read all we want about firefighters but nothing beats actually being in a fire station and coming up close and personal to fire engines. 

My 2-year old really loves fire engines. And fire hydrants. My 6-year old though, is pretty nonchalent about them. So one Saturday morning, the little one and I headed to Alexandra Fire Station for our dose of red.

Speaking of fire engines, their doors are left open so that you, yes you, can climb on in and have a feel on what it's like to be in the hot seat. Pun intended.

All fire stations in Singapore (except the one on Jurong Island) throw open their doors to the public every Saturday between 9 and 11am. We've been to the one at Alexandra Fire Station as well as Central Fire Station a couple of times, and enjoyed both thoroughly. The good thing about Central Fire Station is that it's got the Civil Defense Gallery next to it, so you can pop by for a (yes, free!) visit after you're done with the fire station. And because they're so used to handling big crowds, every tour is handled smoothly, almost like clockwork. On the flip side though, it's usually extremely crowded.

The one at Alexandra though, and I suspect it's probably the same at all other smaller fire stations around the island, is that it gets considerably fewer visitors, which means that you can take your time and roam around and ask questions without feeling rushed. There usually also isn't one appointed person in charge, rather, visitors are grouped together and ushered around by several firefighters who will gladly answer any questions you might have. Of course, you're welcome to break free from the group too.

How long do firefighters have to respond to an emergency? One minute. One. Not two, not five, not ten. One.  They have a couple of shortcuts that help them achieve that goal though - the fire pole for instance. It takes them from whatever storey they're on right down to the ground floor in a matter of seconds. And then they step into their boots (with pants already rolled around them) and dash to their vehicles to put on the rest of their protective gear. Getting dressed in a hurry is always stressful to me. I can't imagine how it must be to get dressed in a hurry with my heart thumping with an adrenelin rush.

Visitors can have a taste of fire-fighting as well and have a go at the powerful water hoses. And of course, once that segment is over, there will be lots of water everywhere, which is likely to draw the attention of any curious little person. So that's where the set of extra clothes will come in handy.

Little kids get handed cute little plastic helmets and you bet yours is going to hold on to his the entire morning. Until of course, he finds something more interesting to do with it. 

More fun for free ideas here! Till next week on Fun for Free Friday! Got a fun for free place to share? Link up with me here!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mum of All Trades

Whenever I meet a mum who shares with me her woes about her choice of childcare (be it outsourced, or falling under her own jurisdiction), I am usually able to nod my head and empathise. You see, there are 4 main categories of mums - FTWM, SAHM, PTWM, WAHM - and I've done them all.

Most mums I know have moved from one category to another and are able to see both sides of the picture. But I thought it might be interesting to hear from someone who's experienced all 4 working conditions. I also offer a little background of each situation in order to give you a better understanding.

What I've found is that no matter what category I was in, there were 2 things that were constant: 1) I always felt guilty about my choice and 2) there were always people who scoffed at it

Please bear in mind that all thoughts expressed are entirely based on my own experience, and that no matter your choice, there's a chance you're going to feel guilty about it at some point or other. And with that, here we go!

On being a Stay-at-home-Mum
Duration: About 12 months
Age of child: Newborn to 12 months
Financial situation: Dire
Condition of home: Messy
Newly minted SAHM? You'll need these survival tips!

Unlike some mums who carefully planned their route to being a home-based mum, mine was a hurried decision. I'd initially intended to go back to work after Poppy was born but things didn't work out with our babysitter, and we didn't want to put her in infant care, our parents weren't able to take care of her,  and we didn't want to get a domestic helper. So the only option left was for either one of us to stay home to take care of the baby. We had a short (and by short, I really mean "Who's it gonna be?" "You would make a better choice." "Me? Ah ok.") discussion and I left my job in a hurry and plunged into my days of stay-at-home-mumhood.

We experimented quite a bit during this time. We tried getting domestic help because it was just too much for me to wrap my mind around. New baby, new responsibilities, new everything. Well, that lasted something like 5 weeks before I decided I wasn't happy about not being comfortable in my own home. And I dabbled a little in some freelance work, which I did when the baby napped, sometimes with one foot rocking the cot while my body was twisted toward the computer table. But in general, I was a SAHM.

To be very honest, my confidence took one hell of a beating. At this point, whenever someone new asked me, "So what do you do?", I would reply that I was a stay-home mum, and then quickly add that prior to that, I was working with IKEA. Why I ever felt like I needed to justify my choice, sometimes even to strangers, I have no idea. You might find yourself doing lots of stuff just to justify your position of 'just being a SAHM'.

You must remember that by making this change, you will go from leaving your job where you're probably treated with respect and dignity and are able to hold proper conversations, to facing a newborn who will only want to spit on your or grab your boob and give you smelly diapers. You will go from handing out glossy namecards to not having time to wash your hair, and peeing alone will be considered a luxury.

Everything, and I really mean everything, will be either for your kids or about them, and it will be nothing short of exhausting. You'll find that a lot of your time is spent running errands. Just because you're the stay-home parent. You will also feel jealous about the fact that your spouse can head out the door and enjoy talking to adults and eat his lunch without one arm cradling a baby stuck on his chest. You'll do all kinds of weird things, like prepare the most nutritious of meals for your baby, and yet forgetting your own.

But it's not just that. Apart from feeling utterly miserable and useless (economically speaking of course), because no book or internet search will ever prepare you for what you're going to face with a newborn, I also had to face friends and relatives who would mock my choice of parenthood. Be prepared because it is highly likely that you will hear insensitive comments from even your closest of friends, and perhaps even your relatives, and maybe even your own parents.

"You're wasting your education!" "Oh, so you must be a tai-tai at home?", "Oh how I envy you for not having anything to do at all at home all day!" and "Wow your husband must earn a lot to let you enjoy life like that!"

Well let's put it this way. Every situation requires sacrifices and nobody knows the sacrifices you have to make to reach where you are or want to be.

I think your biggest enemy and your closest friend is yourself. You must first of all be able to accept that you're no less a human being just because you've chosen to give up your career for the sake of your family. If you choose to be believe the people who mock you, then you will only head toward depression. Plus, the fact that every form you fill will require you to tick the box that says "Housewife", or "Income, $0-$1,000", is bound to feel like a good kick in the stomach.

The biggest blow of course, is the money. Or rather, the lack of. Some women feel embarrassed to have to ask for money from their partners. Others dig into their savings. For us, having a shared bank account works - my husband puts some money in there every month for me to pay our bills and manage the household; I use my own money for my own expenses.

But don't be mistaken - I truly truly enjoyed that time I spent with Poppy. Newborn times are so precious and I simply would not have given that up for the world. I was there for every single one of her milestones. We went to so many places together. I cooked all her meals. I read countless books to her. But looking back, I wish I hadn't allowed myself to be so affected by insensitive remarks around me. I wish I had been more confident of myself and my choice.

The most important thing about your choice about being a SAHM, I feel, is to have your husband's support right from the start. I'm very lucky that both my husband and I knew that surviving on one rather average income meant sacrifices, and that he's been nothing but supportive. He's never once made me feel that I was a burden, nor nudged me toward the work force.

Also ranking high in the list of important things : Please have a group of like-minded SAHM friends. I say like-minded because you will find out that there are many different kinds. I'll let you find out on your own. But having a group of friends going through the same situation will keep you sane.

One thing's for sure: You'll have no need for exercise programmes; your daily activites will be way enough!

On being a Full-Time-Working Mum
Duration: About 8 months
Age of child: About 2.5 years
Financial situation: Reasonable
Condition of home: Still messy

At some point I got offered a job that was better paying that my husband's, and it made financial sense for me to go back to work while he stayed home with Poppy. Again, I recognise how lucky I am to have a husband who's not only willing to, but fully capable of looking after our then 2.5 year old.

Going back to work presented a different set of challenges. I made the mistake of assuming my husband would simply be a replica of me and take over all my responsibilities as the home-based parent. I was wrong. I continued to be in charge of the marketing, and prepared most meals for Poppy, including cooking in big batches and freezing them.

At work, no one offered a kind word about our parenting choice. Not that I was looking for one, but still it wasn't nice to hear jokes and sniggers about me 'being the one who wears the pants in the relationship'. But no matter, I knew that my priority was just to work, and not to make friends.

That's the thing about full-time-working mums. They know that they have to throw themselves into their work, and then rush back at the soonest opportunity to be home to spend time with their children before bedtime. There were so many nights that all the time I had with Poppy was the 10 minutes of lying down in bed with her before us both falling asleep with me still in my work clothes.

Also, there are bosses who snort at Childcare Leave despite it being a working mother's entitlement. Working mothers seem to have to put in additional effort just to prove that they aren't letting their children get in the way of their professionalism. The sad thing is that our society is such - people who leave work on time are seen as calculative whereas those who work late are often viewed as industrious. And this is true for many companies. It didn't matter that I arrived a good half hour ahead of everyone else in the department; I was still picked on for leaving at 6pm.

Of course, there's also the pressure of declining invitations to events, and feeling guilty toward your other half when you do accept them.

I think that the most important thing a full-time-working mother needs is an understanding immediate superior. And of course, a reliable caregiver. For me, I left my full-time job because I felt that if something were to take me away from my child for 10 hours a day, it should at least be something that I thoroughly enjoyed. And it wasn't.

On being a Work-at-Home Mum
Duration: About 4 years
Age of children: 4 years, and infant respectively
Financial situation: Barely surviving
Condition of home: Messier than ever
To read more, I wrote about being "Just a Mama" here

Essentially, a WAHM is an SAHM with paying work. Many tend to call this band of mothers "SAHMs with hobbies". Work to me meant accepting freelance writing assignments. This allowed me to supplement the family income, which was of course, very welcomed. Being based at home still allowed me to attend all firstborn's school activities, pick her up from the school bus daily, and handle my usual household responsibilities like marketing and cooking for the family.

I'm grateful for kids that go to bed early, because that's when I get to work.

The hardest bit about being a WAHM is that you'll have to convince the people that you're working with that you're every bit the professional. Which means that work calls (oh on work calls! This is how work calls are like in my house!) should ideally not have screaming children in the background. And that's not always possible. 

Sometimes you'll have no choice but to let the TV, or some other usually forbidden device, babysit your kids for an hour while you struggle to meet a deadline. For example, today's conference call went something like this: My 2.5 year old had the iPad with her for 45-minutes because I needed to know I could concentrate fully on my call and being asked questions every 2 minutes would not be helpful. I needed something I knew would keep her occupied. She talked to me but I knew she was telling me things about her game and I could get away with smiling and nodding. Yes I could have given her something to colour, or cut, or paste, or play with. But I didn't know how long my call was going to take, and I wanted full concentration instead of having to move around rotating toys and activities.

Sometimes you'll work till 3 in the morning. Sometimes you'll forget deadlines because your mind is occupied with playdates and sensory bins. Sometimes the kids will be on your lap while you try to work.

It's a little lonely because you won't have colleagues, and you'll feel very stretched, but the wonderful thing is that you'll get the best of both worlds - spending time with your kids and also contributing to the household income.

On being a Part-time Working Mum
Duration: (current)
Age of children: 6 years, and 2.5 years respectively
Financial situation: Reasonable
Condition of home: Would you believe it? Still messy!

At this point in time, on top of my freelance assignments, I'm also working on a part-time basis. I work a few hours a day for a few days a week, during which time, a sitter takes care of the kids. My husband is on the same arrangement so if we plan it right, we could technically manage without a sitter. However our schedules overlap on some days, and a fraction of our salaries go toward the sitter.

For such an arrangement, a reliable sitter is absolutely necessary; we are so thankful for ours! 

That said, I am thoroughly enjoying this time. For a few days a week, I can be with adults and not have to sing "I'm a little teapot". When there is additional prep work to be done, I can negotiate with my sitter to watch the kids for an additional hour so that I can fully focus on getting the work done at the office instead of being harried and flustered at home. Of course, there is also the guilt that comes with it, but I must say that it's a managable amount of guilt.

Because I know that for the rest of the week, I'm all theirs and I can bring them out and go for all kinds of fun activities with them.

So it's heels and pressed clothing for a couple of days a week, and shorts and flip flops for the rest of the week. I can live with that. The toughest part about this arrangement is having to switch from one mode to the other; it takes a little getting used to. Also, it's important to work for an organisation that recognises that you are a part-timer and respect your time.

I'm not saying be calculative to the last second, but I remind myself that I've chosen this option for the flexibility it offers. I'm willing to put in the additional time for things related to my job but when it comes to joining Dinner and Dance committees, I'll leave that to those who actually enjoy benefits from the company like annual leave and medical leave and dental care and the likes.

I'd like to see it more as making calculated and carefully thought-through decisions. As a part-timer, you are likely to not receive as many perks (sometimes none at all!) as your other counterparts who are on a full-time scheme. I know that I don't have the luxury to chat over coffee breaks or to check my Facebook account during office hours, or go for 2-hour lunches. I know that I have to zip in, get my job done, and zip right out again. And so far, it's been good.


At the end of the day, I think you have to be happy with your choice. And as long as you have the support of those around you, everything should be ok!

If you're a parent, I'd love to hear your views too!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Dialogue in the Dark

Each time I pass the visually handicapped busker who plays the keyboard at the Orchard Road underpass, I feel a little uneasy. Almost guilty, even. Because here we are as equal human beings, living unequal lives.

I'm able to see the sunlight bring out the bronze glow from my 2-year old's curly hair. I'm able to see my 6-year old's face light up as I start a story without her asking. I'm able to watch my kids play, run, cry, grow. I have the gift of sight. And he doesn't.

I had the opportunity to visit the Dialogue in the Dark exhibition recently, and it was mind-blowing. I would have said it was an eye opener but that would have been distasteful, given the circumstances.

Before my visit to Dialogue in the Dark, I read up a little about it to try to have a feel of what I was to expect. Nothing I read prepared me for what I experienced.

Our group of 3 made small talk with polite smiles but when we were handed our white canes, the atmosphere changed drastically. The cane wasn't a prop. It wasn't something given to us just to make the experience seem more real. Unlike 3D glasses that help you see better in a 3D movie, the cane was something that we grasped tightly for our own survival.

The Dialogue in the Dark website explains the concept very gently to readers, about how a tour will allow visitors to experience things that they are used to, without using their sight. Easy peasy, I'll just close my eyes and experience it now by moving around my house, right? Wrong. Very wrong. Could not be more wrong.

First of all, it's dark. It's pitch dark. It's so dark you can't see your shoes. It's so dark you can't see your white cane. It's so dark, you can't see anything. You know how when you close your eyes in the sun and you can still see bits of red beneath your eyelids? Not even that. It's black. Entirely black.

And scary. Oh my, it is scary indeed. Fear grips you the moment you walk in. Fear of the unknown. Fear of falling. Fear of not making it through. But you're not left to bump into things on your own, no, it's not a maze, nor a challenge.

You're met at the entrance of darkness by your guide. By the way, all the guides within Dialogue in the Dark are blind. And in the room (we're told it's about the size of 3 lecture theatres), they are completely comfortable, and we are entirely dependant on them. We were told that the tour was to last an hour but within my first 2 minutes I was already panicking - was I really able to last an hour? An hour is an extremely long time to be in a position of fear. I truly contemplated screaming and asking to be let out, pronto.

But our guide was chirpy and very approachable, and the 3 of us trusted her immediately and literally clung on to every word she said as she gently guided us through. With our cane in one hand, and our other hand on the walls, we inched our way through by following her reassuring voice.

The aim of the tour is not to make you climb, crawl, jump, hula hoop or run through an obstacle course while blindfolded. It's to make you experience everyday situations without being able to see. Our guide brought us to a park, and we knew it was a park because we could feel the grass, the gravel, the plants. Our first milestone? We made it to a bench to sit with our guide. Something that would have taken me 3 minutes to do on a regular day in the sun, took me 10 minutes without the use of my sight. And as I sat there in complete darkness, I started to cry.

I cried for those who were able to hear the birds chirping in the park, but not able to see them. For those who are able to feel the cool grass, but not able to see it. For mums who give birth to their babies but are not able to see them. I cried because I was there in a safe, pretend environment, knowing that in an hour, I would be able to see again and live normally, but there were people to whom living in the dark was normal. The good thing about crying in there is that nobody can see you, and you also don't have to worry about your tears obstructing your vision, because remember, it's complete darkness.

We ventured around the park a little, and then from there, we set off to the Singapore River and boarded a boat. One of those river cruise like kind of things. And I sat there, I couldn't help but think how alone I would feel in a world of complete darkness. I began to question how I would motivate myself to go through each day because sitting there on that boat and feeling it move and hearing the engine vibrate but not being able to see the sights was very very depressing.

Next we went to town and went shopping at a supermarket, and tried to make out the fruits and vegetables on display. And we crossed a traffic light at a busy road. Despite knowing that it wasn't a real one, we all quickened our pace when the escalated traffic light warning chrip came on.

Our tour ended at a cafe. A real cafe. With real food. And real drinks. And a real person manning it. A blind person. Our guide led us to the sofa were we struggled to push our straws into the little aluminium barrier of our packet drinks, and open our cookie packs, and throw our trash into the bins. Such simple things that we do without a second thought, right?

There we were, 3 sighted people in a completely dark world, chatting with our visually handicapped guide. In there, we were the same. In there, she got us from point A to point B. In there, she held our hand and told us to follow her voice. In there, we knew that we could always trust her to tell us what to do next, and that she would save us if we bumped into walls or couldn't get off a boat on a river. In there, we were completely reliant on her. But in the real world, who's out there looking out for her? Who tells her, and all like her, when their buses arrive? Or how to choose their clothes? Or where it's safe to sit? Or to guide them away from the edge of pavements with no barriers?

Our guide was not born blind. She shared that she was born premature though, and as a newborn, she was placed under the light and that the nurses did not cover her eyes. It was that that caused her to lose her sight. And this was when I bawled. How often do we take our gifts for granted? And how easily it can be taken away from someone just by a mistake, and by a mistake made by another?

It was probably the most honest chat I've had with a complete stranger ever. Outside, the same 15 minutes with a stranger would probably have been more superficial. But in there, where I knew that no one could see me, and I couldn't see anyone, I felt strangely safe to bear myself with raw honesty.

She told us that she was lucky because she was given an education, and that there were others who weren't as fortunate, so she counted her lucky stars. She told us that she was grateful for people who helped her at bus stops. She told us that it's very easy for a blind person to be disoriented and they often can't walk in a straight line. She told us all these things matter-of-factly without any bitterness or anger. I felt like I was talking to an everyday hero.

The chat at the cafe marked the end of our tour, and I was surprisingly upset that it had ended. At the start, I couldn't wait for it to end. I just wanted to get out and be back in the world I was familiar with.

At the end of the tour, I just had to hug our guide and thank her profusely. She had helped me see things in a different light. But my heart felt heavy for this kind, funny woman with the good heart, as she went back to work in that big dark room and I headed back to my world of colours. Now, above everything else, I am grateful, eternally grateful, for my sight.

I strongly recommend this for those of us who want to encourage empathy, not just for the blind, but for anyone who might be a little different for it is when we ourselves are thrown into an unfamiliar setting, that we learn to be kinder to others.

Dialogue in the Dark is located at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Block 5, #01-03, Singapore 599489, and completely run by Ngee Ann students as part of their internship programme. Booking for visits can be made here. It costs $20 for adults and $12 for students. The minimum age is 9 though they allow children in from the age of 7 if they are accompanied by adults. Bear in mind though that it can be scary, even for adults, and that your instinct of being able to protect your kids will be taken from you because you too will not be able to see.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fun for Free Fridays #5: Chinese Garden and Japanese Garden

One of my favourite things to do is to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and search for calm places to re-energize myself. I love the convenience of Singapore, but sometimes feel the need to face some greenery and go for long walks to balance my inner self, and the best place to head to in search for a zen-like feel is non other than the Japanese Garden.

Bring: Hats, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, the mood to walk
Time required: Anything from 90 minutes


Located in the West of Singapore, the Japanese Garden is accessible via the Chinese Garden. It's beautiful, no doubt, but don't be in too much of a hurry to get there. Take your time to enjoy the beautiful pagodas within Chinese Garden.

Aww this was taken at the beginning of the year!

Take your time to admire the gorgeous bridges.

Take your time and stroll through the stone statues and look for your zodiac sign.

Take your time to admire the scenery. Really, take your time and enjoy the views because that's what Zen-ness is all about. That's right, s-l-o-w down.

Rest wherever you like, be it on the cool grass or on the stone benches, for this is a place where you will almost feel cut off from the noise, removed from the stress, and alienated from the rush that comes with your daily life. Just... relax.

Does it matter than you don't climb every pagoda? Does it matter if you don't touch every statue? That you don't photograph every bridge? No, my friend, of all the places in Singapore, no.

So. Like I was saying. Japanese Garden is accessible through Chinese Garden by means of the Bridge of Happiness.

Apart from the Torii gates, cute little bridge, amazing landscaping, beautifully manicured gardens, picturesque views, breathtaking scenary and tranquility, the Japanese Garden pretty much offers... nothing else. WHAT? Nothing else?

Precisely. Nothing else. Isn't that wonderful? Nothing to distract you from beauty, peace and serenity. 

I wouldn't blame you if you feel the sudden urge to pratice a little Taichi or some deep cleansing breathing because this is really what a place like this does to you. Zen, my friends, think Zen.

Happy Zen weekend, everyone!

Chinese and Japanese Garden are accessible from Chinese Garden MRT station on the EW line. There are no food options available within, but there's a small drinks stall (and it's very reasonably priced too) at the entrance of Chinese Garden. There's also the live tortoise and turtle museum within at a small fee. Please note that no scooters or bicycles are allowed within the premises.

More fun for free ideas here! Till next week on Fun for Free Friday! Got a fun for free place to share? Link up with me here!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Fun for Free Fridays #4 - Land Transport Gallery

Tucked away within the Land Transport Authority compounds at Little India is a little gallery that showcases the beginnings in land transport in Singapore from the 1960s. The Land Transport Authority is housed within the old Kadang Kerbau Hospital so just being in the compound was like taking a step back in time somewhat.

The entrance to the gallery was done to resemble an MRT platform - we all thought that was quite cool! For those of you who do not bring the kids on the MRT often, this is the perfect opportunity to teach them about safety on the platform. The doors open into the gallery proper and if you're not with a guide, look out for a white button to press to activate the doors. All aboard!

I've always found history interesting, and one of the perks of being such a young country is that it's likely that we can sometimes hear about things from the past on a first hand basis from our older relatives. My father for instance, has told me about old pirated taxis that he used to take to go to school, squeezed with a few other kids. It was nice to see examples of that at the Land Transport Gallery.

"Not KPE, I said MCE!"

I don't know about you but my kids? If anything has a steering wheel, they just have to drive it. And there will opportunities for that at the Land Transport Gallery. There are even old seats of rickety buses (or mosquito buses! - They were nicknamed such because they could move really fast and weave in and out of heavy traffic) and even an old trishaw you can hop on. 

Perhaps one of the most interesting things we saw was that of the 'traffic light'. The first traffic light was human powered - as in a ratan man would literally stand in the middle of the road with coloured wings behind him to direct traffic! They were made of wood initially but replaced with ratan which was more durable, thus the name the ratan man. Gosh, it sounds like a very dangerous job!

There are two options when you want to visit this place - the guided tour and the free and easy way. We usually opt for the latter because we think it's simply easier to move around at our own pace. I hear 'guided tour' and I immediately think of how one parent is running after the kids while the other is giving polite smiles to the guide with her eyes on the kids.

But for this particular place, it turned out that a guided tour would have been a better option. It's easy enough to navigate by on your own, but with a guide, you'll be able to access more exhibits and try your hand at more things. Like the Challenge Theatre for instance. It's an interactive theatre where visitors are given the task to tackle transport challenges like whether or not to increase bus fares, where and how to increase train routes, and whether dedicated bus lanes are necessry. Sounds like we would have had fun with it, but nevertheless, the kids were very entertained.

Plenty of blasts from the past as well. I remember having these and refering to them, looking at the routes of all the buses and planning trips around the island. I suppose that even as a teenager, I was already looking out for fun and free places around Singapore, how about that!

The old bus tickets are very faintly imprinted in my memory. I must have taken such buses only as a very small child. There'd be a conductor on the bus with a little hole puncher and he'd go around punching passengers' tickets. I think he was also in charge of distributing them (which explains the little pouch bag shown below), but where did passengers pay for their fare? Directly to him, or when they boarded the bus? Does anyone remember?

There's no better way to see how our country has grown than by looking at its landscape. And just look at how Singapore's landscape has changed! And with that, we move from the past to the present, and the future.

Public transport grew more efficient, as the economy grew, but as people grew more affluent, there was also the rise of private cars in Singapore, which brought about the need to enforce different measurements of keeping the roads safe and uncongested. Like the restricted zone - remember that? And the different licence plates! I only know the regular ones and the red ones! Join the tour and find out eh?

As parents, part of our job is to plan transport routes, right? So this 10-metre interactive wall was really fun for our 6-year old. Visitors are told they have to get to East Coast Beach (hey, last week's edition of Fun for Free Fridays was about a special part of East Coast Beach - Castle Beach! Read about it here!) from Ang Mo Kio, and are asked to choose between taking the bus or the MRT. Each decision they make will bring them to more questions, and finally leading them to their destination. Can you believe it - it takes 45 minutes to get from Ang Mo Kio to East Coast Beach! That's unbelievable!

It's not a very big place, but if you're going with little children, remember that they're not very big either! We were there with 4 kids below 7 for an hour and throughout that time, none of them was bored. Well, simply because there's plenty of space for kids to run around, and because it's enclosed, it's practically a hide-and-seek paradise.

The Land Transport Gallery is located at 1 Hampshire Road, Block 1, Singapore 219428. Email to make your bookings. It's free but bookings are necessary, even if you want a free and easy session. Open Tuesdays to Sundays, 9 to 5pm. Closest MRT station: Little India on the North East line

More fun for free ideas here! Till next week on Fun for Free Friday! Got a fun for free place to share? Link up with me here!

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