Sunday, March 26, 2017

Our Trip to Singapore, Part 1

I have been promising the kids for 15 months that we would go to Singapore and see our friends, the Greensteins....well, finally, we made it!!!  And, you would think with that much time I'd have some sort of plan.  But, late one Wednesday night as Kris and I were talking about his upcoming trip to DGar, we thought...maybe we could combine a work trip to Singapore with a family visit to Singapore.  Then, after looking at flights we messaged Kacee and said, "how about next week?"  :)  Ten days later Neil was driving the kids and I to Chuo Station at 0630 and our Singapore adventure began!  (PS...I'm pretty sure I answered the question: "How many more days until we see Jeffrey?" at least several dozen times in those ten days)

So, our trip to the airport wasn't as smooth as it should have been for someone who's lived in Japan for four years.  <sigh>  For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to squeeze in a workout before getting on the road.  Not such a big deal, except for the fact that I hit snooze twice and didn't realize that there wasn't enough time to have that very necessary first cup of coffee before we left at 0630.  We weren't rushed to the station at all, I just didn't have that cup of morning glory, which meant that my brain wasn't fully functional when we got to the train station.  
(Hey!  That's my story and I'm sticking to it!)

The Boy in Hong Kong
We arrived at the station (luckily I planned plenty of extra time) and the first thing I thought was, "I have a big suitcase so we need an elevator."  At the first elevator sign we hit the up arrow and floated on up to the platform.  What my coffee-deprived mind didn't factor into this decision was that I actually needed to be on the right platform, which meant I needed a certain elevator to go in the right direction.  Oy....So, we made it to Morounuchi Station before it clicked (a quick five minute ride, or so).  So, we got off the train, figured out that we needed to be on the other track, go down the stairs, across to the other side, up the stairs and then onto the train heading towards Yokohama.  As we're sitting there I notice the doors close on a train next to ours and realize that we actually got on the local train and not the express train.  Geez.  No big deal, it's only a few minutes to Yokosuka where we can just switch (again).  Well, the train we just watched go by was nearly empty, which meant we would have had seats for the hour to KQ Kamata.  What happened was that we got to Yokosuka, then boarded a nearly full train that only got more and more full the farther north we went.  So, children were squashed, toes were stepped on, kids were tired and not appropriately fed, one kid looked at the other and there were was a disaster!   

Two tired kids.  One of which was
expecting better access to the window.
Once at KQ Kamata we switched lines and successfully made it to Haneda Airport with no other problems.  We checked in and found our gate and I decided to find coffee.  I found the closest coffee place within a reasonable walking distance from our gate but it was having issues with its card reader and wouldn't accept my card (Not the best note to head off on card not working?  Yipes!).  I dug out enough change to pay for a coffee, egg salad sandwich for boy, and a chocolate muffin for girl.  Then, we go sit down, where my coffee is immediately spilled.  Nononononononooooooo!!!!  Garytt grabbed it in time so most of it was saved.  Our flights were pretty uneventful.  We had a lot of room on the first plane, but the food wasn't all that great....spicy chicken and reheated fried fish.  Blech....luckily, there was enough rice, bread and fruit to sustain everyone.

I forgot how long it had been since the kids were on an airplane.  Two years doesn't seem like a long time, but for a kid who is only 8, that's a quarter of his lifetime ago!  He was so incredibly amazed at every aspect of the flight.  What we all giggled about was how long we taxied to the runway.  At one point Garytt squealed, "we're on a bridge! We're going over water!  Are we going to DRIVE to Singapore?!"  Wait.  What?  Forty five minutes later, we took off and both kids loved the feeling of being shoved back into their seats as we lifted we have future roller coaster lovers?  Once in the air we had a great view of Fuji.  Garytt took several pictures for me.

Boy asked me to take a pic of the
palm tree to show Daddy.

Well, I knew where Singapore was, geographically.  We spent the week ahead of the trip talking about the equator, rain forests, seasons, etc.  And, even the repeated warnings, "It's so hot here, like so hot that you don't need to prepare for cold...DO NOT bring any sweaters!" from Kacee, I was still not prepared for the heat!  From 30 degree weather in Tokyo to 100 degree heat....I was sweaty head to toe in the three minutes it took to get from the airport door to the van.  Wow was it hot!

The view from our home base for a couple weeks.
We spent the first few days just hanging out with our friends and chilling at the pool.  Not a bad way to start a vacation. :)  Both kids took the Navy Youth Swim Test at the base and passed, which meant they got their wrist bands and had the run of the whole pool!  I must say, it was a relief to be at a pool where the lifeguards aren't crazy, power hungry, angry teenagers just there for a paycheck, a tan, and maybe a boyfriend.
The Terror Club pool at the base....table service!!  Puts our pool to absolute shame!!!  

March 6, 2017

Our first touristy outing was on Monday, day three of our trip.  After Jeffrey and Sierra left for school, Kacee, Emelie, Garytt, Mackenzie and I called for a car (well, Kacee called the car, we just all hopped in when it arrived) and made our way to Chinatown.  We should have known from the start that it wasn't going to be a smooth sailing kind of day....

I'm not sure what these
are, but I think I bought
 some in the
grocery store and
they are not my
fruit thingie.
Hint #1:  When the Uber driver tries to leave with one of your legs still firmly planted on the ground OUTSIDE of the's not a good start.  See, what had happened was...Garytt and Mackenzie slid into the back seat.  I sat in the front seat.  Kacee picked up Emelie and stuck her right foot in the backseat of car.  The driver, who obviously wasn't paying one shred of attention to what was going on, put his foot on the gas and takes off.  Kacee starts yelling, "stop stop stop stop".  I say, "stop stop stop."  The driver hears, "pause for a second and then put your foot back on the gas, because, hey, who really needs both feet anyway?"  As he starts moving again, Kacee is yelling louder, "STOP STOP STOP STOP" as she has one foot stuck inside the car and is balancing a 2 year old in her arms and is frantically hopping alongside the still-moving vehicle.  Finally, the lightbulb clicks, he casually puts his foot on the brake and says, "Oh, sorry."  😳 He finally waits long enough for everyone's limbs to be inside the car and all the doors to close before he takes off ... again.  

We get about halfway to Chinatown (about a 30-40 min drive depending on traffic) and ... Hint #2 ... Kacee says, "I forgot the stroller."  Oopsie...well, we can manage this one.  If she gets tired of walking then we'll just make our way back home.  Well, with the heat and the humidity and the crowded streets, and those strangers who seem to think it's ok to grab onto a 2 year old's arm without her permission (I seriously thought some Singaporeans were going to get a beat down from that tough cookie!) she didn't last past lunch.

Our first stop along the route (Chinatowns everywhere seem to be a lot alike, lots of little streets with things to buy, amazing looking and smelling food to eat, and lots of people) was the Buddha Tooth Relic.  I have to admit that the kids were not thrilled with another temple.  We've seen a lot in the last four years.  But, this one was far different from the ones we typically visit.  The sheer number of brightly colored buddhas all over the walls was magnificent!  And, there was a hall full of people chanting.  I'm assuming it was their prayers.  We didn't venture farther than the first floor.  There was a lot to see here, and no matter how much I wanted to go up higher, the kids just weren't having it.  This place was really crowded.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

Sri Mariamman Temple 

This is Singapore's oldest Hindu Temple, a designated National Monument, and the first time I've ever laid eyes on a Hindu Temple.  WOW!  So colorful!  This place was even busier than the first temple and at this point, Miss Em was totally over all those people trying to hold her hand and play with her curls (don't blame ya, sweet pea...I'd give them a 'Don't Touch Me' death stare too!)  We walked around the outside and looked as much as we could around the big crowd.  

The wood work and statues were amazing!  If there weren't so many people, and it wasn't lunch time, and my kids weren't so whiney, then I'd have taken a million more pictures!

From here, we decided to find something to eat.  There was a food court just around the corner so that's where we headed, only to have Emelie decide (Hint #3) - in the middle of the street - that she didn't want to do what we wanted to do anymore.  Okay, little lady, let's find a place to eat and see how it goes from there.  Welp, Hint #4 was us finding out that the food court we wanted was closed this one day for spring cleaning.  Oy... Kacee decided the best thing to do for wee one, who did a phenomenal job in the heat with her walking, especially with her being on the tail-end of a pretty nasty infection, was for her to head home.  I wanted to do a little more exploring, so she gave me screen shots of maps and directions to get me home (Hint #5: we forgot the extra cell phone at home so I had no working electronic maps...#firstworldproblems).  She told me how to get to the train and then which way to get to the food stall I was looking for.  She also gave me directions on how to get the train to her house and then how to walk ten minutes from the station to her home....go right off the train, right after the turnstile, and left out of the station....Me:  how many exits are there in the station, I want to make sure I take the right exit.  Her:  Just keep right until you are out of the station.  Easy peasy!  Off they go toward home, and off we go on more adventures!

Fried chicken on a stick
We spent a few hours walking around downtown Singapore.  It amazes me how much city we were surrounded by, yet there were so many trees!  So much green amongst the tall buildings.  And, the differences in architecture was the stuff of my dreams!  I loved to see the different structural lines, mostly straight but polka dotted with extreme curves and large openings, short European-looking row houses, and so many churches.  There was just about every denomination you could think of in that city!  Such a melting pot of diversity.  Such a mixed bag of people, cultures, faiths....I loved every thing about it!  Except, maybe for the air of rudeness....I don't think the rude behavior was purposeful....maybe that's my naive outlook on the world.  But, customer service was not done with a smile (except in the two hotels we stayed in, more on that later).  Going from Japan, where service employees go way beyond what you think is necessary to help you, to a place where you have to search for an employee and ask for help and then the help you receive seems to be done as quickly and emotionless as possible, almost as if I interrupted their day with my desire to purchase was a hard pill for me to swallow.  
The fried chicken and ice milk stall

Anywho....after walking around for a bit, we found a street vendor that sold cold drinks and fried chicken!  Score!  So, strawberry iced milks for both kids and a skewer of fried chicken each.  We found a spot to sit down and the kids started eating.  So, the iced milks were not what we expected.  They had balls of something in the bottom.  Mackenzie liked the gooey things, but not the strawberry milk.  Garytt liked the milk but not the goo.  They both managed to drink half of the drinks and they inhaled their chicken.  At this point I found a map at the visitor's center and we started making our way to the train station so we could go back to Kacee's house.

After the long ride down the escalator, we found the card charging station and loaded all the cards Kacee loaned us so we could move about the city without worrying about buying tickets at each station.  Everything went just as it normally does, go through turnstiles, find the correct platform, get on the train going the direction you're heading, and look out the window until your stop.  Well....what actually happened ( knew it was coming!)... so, do you see the picture of the kids in front of the train doors?  Okay, so I knew we were going from the Chinatown station, NE4, to Dhoby Ghaut station, NE6.  I see that the sign at the top of the doors says "to Harbour Front 6".  I think, 6....that's what we want.  The train arrives, we get on, we take seats, and the train takes off.  Wait...why is the next station we are at say NE3?  The sign said 6, I know it did!  At NE2 I tell the kids to get off the train so I can figure out what in the world is happening.  Well...turns out that the big number 6 on the sign is taking us to, oh I really don't know.  I think there are major stations that have those single numbers with the stations between them having the ordered numbers (NE1, NE2, NE3, etc).  Whatever the deal was, we walked across the platform and sat on a bench to wait for the train to arrive.  We're sitting for a few minutes before I realize there is a sign in front of us that basically tells us to get back on the train we just walked off.  Wait...what?! I followed directions, because that's what I do, and sure enough, this train went back the way we came from, somewhere along the way switching back over to the track on the other side of the station.  Magic!
Once outside the city it was mostly a view of apartment
buildings either old and fully occupied, or new and very
shiny, or in the process of being built.  When I say a lot of
apartment buildings, I mean, seriously like in the
hundreds!!  No exaggeration there!
Finally, we are on our way.  Only this time we are standing because the train is a little busier.  But, lucky for us, we find a "Train Auntie".  Now, I've already mentioned how emotionless people and customer service seems to be here, but now here we were, tired, hot and sweaty after spending several hours in the heat, and the kids were being fantastic, standing quietly on the train (because that's what we learned in Japan :) and this sweet, older lady motions to Garytt that there is a seat empty.  So, he goes to sit down and we all smile and say thank you.  Two stops later (it was like a 24 stop ride or something like that, took an hour) I see her reflection in the window as she's pointing to another empty seat.  Mackenzie sits down and we all thank her again.  A few more stops later and she's pointing to another two seats that free up, Mackenzie and I snag those and smile at her again.  Now, this whole time that we're moving, she keeps her eye on Garytt.  I can see her in the window looking at him and smiling at him.  Then, the seat next to her opens up...he already has a seat...but, she motions to him to sit by her, and my sweet Boy does.  She sat there next to him for four or five more stops before a seat opened next to me and then she got off at the next stop.  Our "Train Auntie" took very good care of us!

Once at Kranji station (remember...just a ten minute walk from Kacee's house?).  Well, I'm just going to blame the heat, yeah, that's the way I'm going to go with this part of the saga.  The heat, and donuts!  The train stopped at Kranji and we exited right, just like Kacee said.  Then, we went through the turnstile and turned right, just like Kacee said.  Then, we were going to exit the station where Kacee said to go left, but about twenty steps before the exit .... what is that heavenly smell???  Oh my word!  There is a bakery!!!  DDDDOOOONNNNUUUUTTTTTSSSS!!!!!  And, not just any ole donut, but a giant, as-big-as-Garytt's-face, donut!  We promptly buy two and a vanilla walnut croissant  for me and I take a quick snap....remember the joy on that girl's doesn't stay that way for long.  We're happily eating our sugar bombs and we walk out of the station and start heading down the road.  Who cares about the 109 degree heat.  We have sugar!  Who cares that our feet hurt from all the walking.  We have sugar!  Who cares that it looks like the afternoon downpour is heading our way.  We have SUGAR!!!  Ooh...look at the pretty flower!

Okay...sugar has been, our feet do kinda hurt.  And, wow is the sweat pouring off us now, our shirts are all soaked.  This backpack is getting heavy.  Our water is almost gone.  Oy...those dark clouds do NOT look like good walking companions!  Has it been longer than ten minutes?  Garytt:  Mom, look, it's the cool towers we saw from the train.  WHAT....from the train we just got off and are supposed to be walking in the same direction in which it traveled here?!  What time is it?  345!  We should have been at Kacee's house 30 minutes ago!!!!!  I see a man on a bike and ask very sweetly if he would tell me how to find the correct street.  He doesn't know the street.  :(  I remember that she lives just a few minutes from the Kranji War Memorial.  Oh, he knows that, it's 30 minutes in the other direction.


Come ooonnnn Kenzie!
Thank you kind sir for taking the time to help me out.  Okay kids, lets go back because we went in the wrong direction.  Oh....the things those two sweet children said about me!  Heat'll do that to ya!  I was the worst.  And they never wanted to leave Kacee's house without her again.  And, I ALWAYS get them lost!  It's an adventure kids!  No, Mom, It's hot, that's what it is...HOT!  Okay, kids, true, but those clouds are getting darker, and closer, so lets walk a little faster, mkay?  And...queue the tears from Mackenzie.  Please stop crying....she gets louder....Please cry quieter...she gets whiny-er.  Please walk faster so we don't get drenched....pretty sure she walked slower.  Slow enough that Garytt and I put some distance between those loud sobs and our ears.  Mom of the Year award winner today!

We did finally make it to Kacee's house.  Both kids quickly ran off to get away from me and the horrible reminder that I just turned a 10 minute walk into an hour long walk in 109 degree heat.  Sorry'll laugh about this some day!

 Quick note for the day...for a lady who has been to one country (outside of North America) in her life, I was a little surprised at how easily I adapted to travel in another foreign country.  Granted, they mostly speak English in Singapore, so that made it easier.  But, I managed to travel around the city, on and off trains, to Chinatown, out of Chinatown, back to Chinatown and all around without a shred of anxiety or sense of not having a clue what I was doing....completely different from almost exactly 4 years ago when the husband said, Hey let's go to Tokyo, and I replied, no, another time!  Both of my children were beyond well-behaved.  I surprised myself on my first outing in Singapore on my own, with no maps or weeks-planned and detailed directions that I'm known to obsess over.  

Singapore Botanic Gardens
March 7, 2017

What else would you expect to see
in the jungle but chickens.
Kenzie: Why did the chicken
cross the road?  
After a relaxed evening, we were up in the morning and off on our next adventure.  This time, with Kacee, Emelie, and a stroller!  On today's list....the botanic gardens.  The garden was established in 1859 and the original design remains mostly intact today.  In the beginning, it served as an agricultural development center for the area.  In the 1920s the garden developed new techniques for raising orchids.  In 2015 it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.  

Hello, roots!
I must say....this place is massive!  HUGE!  We walked 6 miles and still didn't walk every path in the park.  I'm surprised I didn't get a kink in my neck from staring up at the tall jungle trees!  I was absolutely floored at the height and the color.  Like nothing I've ever seen in my life.  We started our tour by heading toward Evolution Garden Walk.  This is a path that basically takes you from the beginning of the Earth, through the many years of tree development, to today.  So much fun!

Dinosaur tracks!
Petrified tree
We were trying to make our way to the Children's Garden where we planned to eat lunch in an hour or so.  But, for some reason (I'm pretty sure the map just isn't drawn to scale 😝) we made a few silly turns before getting there.  On the way we found petrified wood.  The kids were amazed!  We looked at ponds and trees, at bushes and giant leaves, we even found dinosaur tracks and then, later bear tracks as we moved through the SBC's timeline.  For the most part we were in the shade all day.  It was a toasty 99 degrees, but we stopped at a little cafe for milkshakes at one point to cool the kids off and curb any whining that may have happened.  Smart moms!  

This tree was the hit of the path for me!  I told Kris I thought it was petrified because it felt like rock.  But, that didn't make sense because it wasn't quite at the petrified section of the trail.  Turns out, these are replicas of the giant clubmoss, or scale tree, which is an extinct plant.  Oh, makes sense now.  Still, cool to see the scaly bark and the claw like branches.

Garytt loved these monstrous plants.

We finally found the Children's Garden, but there was a lot of construction going on back there, and guess what....the cafe was closed.  Noooo!  What will we eat?!  Everyone is hungry and we've barely touched the surface of this place!  Vending machine to the rescue!!  Who says you can't have cereal, chips, M&Ms, Pocky, and peanuts for lunch?!  BONUS....we had plenty of time to watch a monitor lizard eating his lunch too!  Definitely, the kids' favorite part of the day.

After a casual walking lunch, we wandered from the children's area back to a pond area and then to the National Orchid Garden.

The girl needs a rest!

Patiently waiting for his strawberry milkshake.

The pond was really pretty.  Garytt spent the time counting how many creatures he had seen during the day.  At this point it was ten.  Lizards, chickens, turtles, frogs, a few different kinds of birds, and spiders.  While he tallied up his findings I snapped a few shots.  The veins on the lily pads were so pretty!

Orchid garden time!!  Entry to the main garden was free, but the Orchid part cost about $5 Sing, I think, so about $3 USD. 

Garytt, Kenzie and Emelie

Who knew there were so many different types and colors of orchids!

Here's where my must-take-a-picture-of-everything attitude probably gets super annoying, especially when the temps are pushing 100.  We had quite a few laughs in this section of the park.  There was a couple trying to get their wedding photos done and Emelie was quite intrigued.  She followed them and walked around as they were snapping pictures.  At one point, in this little alcove, the photographer was setting up for a beautiful shot when Em took a casual tour around the area, looking at the dress and the bride.  The photographer's helper was trying to shoo her off, and as we were giggling at how cute she was, a crowd was slowly gathering around to watch the show!  Pretty soon there were upwards of 20 people standing around giggling at the cute little girl admiring the wedding gown and zooming as fast as her little legs would carry her - right between the photographer and the wedding couple.

After a quick picture with the giraffes, and a few minutes trying to unlatch Emelie from the pretty girl  she found to hold her hand, we started making our way to the other end of the park where we caught a cab home.

Once back at the house, the kids ran off to play with Jeffrey while Kacee and I made a trip to the local grocery store.  We walked a few minutes to the closest bus stop, caught a double decker bus!  Fun!  And went to a gigantic shopping hub!  So many stores!  So many food choices!  So many people! prices!!!  What's a $6 USD bottle of wine here in Yokosuka, is a $19 USD bottle in Singapore! about a sin tax!  After we bought some goodies and were making our way toward the exit, we decided to buy ourselves dinner at Stuf'd.  Ohmyamazing!  I had a chicken kebab with lettuce, onion, cabbage, cucumber, sweet Thai sauce and cucumber mayo.  It was so delicious!!  

A fun evening with his first best buddy...Minecraft magic!
Singapore Zoo ~ Night Safari
March 8, 2017

After two days with tons of walking I decided to let the kids wake up on their own and then hang out around the house and pool for the day.  Then, after Jeffery got out of school and we finished dinner, we made our way to the Night Safari at the Singapore Zoo.

Kacee's pool.  Not a bad place to hang out!
I'm pretty sure I haven't laughed as hard as I did at the safari that night.  Maybe it was because we were up way past bedtime.  Maybe it's because some of us couldn't see bats.  Maybe it was too much time at the pool that morning.  I don't know, but I laughed until I cried and then I laughed some more!  When we got to the zoo we found out that if we waited about 15 minutes or so we could get a discount on our entry, we waited.  And, while we waited, the kids took the opportunity to pet a hedgehog ... "Sooooooooooooooo cuuuuuuuuuute"
And then we could also pet a ...Dad, close your eyes here.... a snake!  Mackenzie passed on that opportunity, but Garytt and I definitely petted that white guy for just a quick second.  

After our entry time, we made our way in and lucky us, we were just in time for the first animal show!  Kacee said a few times, it's so empty in here!  Well, aside from the fact that it was the middle of the week and so things were probably just a tad slower than normal, we discovered that there were a TON of people waiting to watch the show.  What to do, what to do....we decided to beat feet and jump on the tram that tours the grounds.  Good decision, because we almost had the thing to ourselves...and, bonus, no line to wait in!!!

The tram that took us around the zoo was pretty awesome!  There were so many animals out and about!   A lot of them were feeding, like the lions and the hyenas, so we had an opportunity to watch them moving around quite a bit.

I tried to take a million pictures from the tram, but iPhone and moving vehicle and dark night do not make for good pictures.  I did manage to get a shot of the lion.  He was a skinny lion, but later on we did hear him grunting and growling (do lions growl?  Dunno...but he was making loud noises).

We got a treat in the Australian section...up close with the roos!  There was a zookeeper in there with them and he was feeding little snacks to get them close to the six of us standing there.  There was one with a joey in her pouch, towards the back.  

As Kacee walked around the corner she turned and said, "Hello tiger!"  Well...yes, hello indeed!  Nice and close!  I had to do some major editing to this picture to show that the kids were just 1 inch from the tiger!  Garytt thought this was beyond amazing!!!!

Weird picture the kids enjoyed their GIANT grape slushy drinks, I took a moment to use the restroom. It was outside!  Well, not the actual toilet, they were in stalls like normal.  But, the rest of the room was completely open to the outside.  Ok...I'm a nerd...but it was pretty cool!

Back on the up.....the bats!!!  So, to get to the bat section, and by section I mean a room where we walk around and the bats fly around us, possibly.  So, as my kids were slowly coming to the realization that bats could fly at their faces, Kacee and I say..."Don't worry, they aren't going to fly at you, you'll be totally fine."  The three kids smile, feeling comforted now, and they turn to enter the first layer of doors to this place and Kacee yells, "Aggahhh".  They all jump away from the door in the moms laugh!  "Sorry....the moment just couldn't pass without a little fun, it's okay, you can all go in now."  😂  We walk through the first door.  Then, through two more doors that are connected, so one can't open until the other closes.  Then, we walk through a layer of chains.  Finally....we enter the bat cave and the first thing we see is....a duck.  Yes, a duck.  The kids are standing just a few feet from the duck, who is sitting quietly on the handrail.  And, the conversation between Kacee and I goes something like this:

Kacee-oh, this isn't going to end well.  
Me-you're probably right, let me start 
recording thi.....QUACK, flap flap flap flap.  
Kacee and I-😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

We continue on through the bat section.  They are all awake and eating.  This was pretty cool to see.  Usually, these creatures are quietly sleeping as we walk through their cave trying not to disturb them. Well, as we get toward the end of the path I hear Kacee say, "duck.  Duck.  Duck." And, as I slowly turn my head toward the exit door we hear QUACK flap flap flap, as the duck that was in the path in front of us quickly takes off and flies right toward all of our heads and the kids and I ... duck.  As fun as this cave was, the bats weren't done disappointing us.  Around the corner from the bat cave was another little section with bats.  This section was behind a glass observation window.  As we walk up to the window both Garytt and Jeffrey exclaim:  "The biggest bat we've ever seen is in there!"  Kacee and I walk to the window to see this giant bat.  "Where?"  They both point to the tree on the far right side.  Kacee says, that one?  Jeffrey says (and, I'm pretty sure he made no move whatsoever to see what or which way she was pointing), no THAT one!  This repeats like three or four times before Kacee turns to me and says, "I don't see the damn bat!"  Jeffrey hears and says, I'm serious!  It's RIGHT THERE!!!  Kacee says, I know you're serious, but I don't see the bat!  At this point, I had to sit on the bench so I didn't fall over from laughing and crying too much!  Maybe it's because the conversation I was overhearing was beyond hilarious.  Maybe it was the heat.  Maybe it was the fact that it was nearly midnight.  Whatever the deal was....I laughed entirely too much!  Also...the bat Kacee was pointing to was the exact same bat the boys were pointing to; I know this because when the bat Kacee was pointing to took flight from its branch both boys said, THERE IT GOES!!!!  However, Kacee still didn't see it because she turned around at the EXACT moment the thing took off!  

Good times!  Good times!  

A little animal fun as we waited for our taxi home.

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
March 9, 2017

Taking a rest with a mudskipper
That's a mighty big leaf, Boy!
The next day we decided to hit up a nature preserve to the north of Kacee's house.  It was a hot day.  Hot enough that the car driver told us to be sure we had plenty of water.  I'm glad we were in the trees for most of the day, because it was brutal in the direct sunshine!

We saw so many different things on this walk!  From different flowers, trees, and berries to snakes, lizards, dogs, and even crocodiles!  Yes, crocodiles!  So so so so amazing!

We watched a school of fish whip back and forth in the water below.

I'm not sure what this is, but it has an interesting face :)

When we finally found the mudskippers we were pretty excited!  Such funny looking creatures.  Garytt thinks they are cute.  We watched them swim around a bit.  The tide wasn't out yet, so we didn't get to see them 'walking' on land.  We did get to see their 'pools' - little spots where, as the tide goes out, they flop around in circles to make a wet spot for them to return to and rewet their skin.  

Scary moment of the, after a very late night and then an early (well, anything before 10 is early to Mackenzie) wake up today, Mackenzie was in a bit of a mood.  She wasn't impressed with much, didn't want her brother to even look at her, and walked around mostly silent all morning.  Although when she did decide to chat, she and I had lovely conversations.  💕  Well, as she was silently walking along the path, eating her snack, she managed to walk right over a snake that was a couple feet long and sunning himself on a patch of warm deck.  I didn't see her walk by it so I don't know if she walked over it or beside it, either way, she had no clue it was even there until she was ten feet past it and the boys yelled...SNAKE!

There are no frills to this place.  It's definitely not a place many tourists visit.  Luckily, we had awesome tour guides that know all the awesome places to go!  We walked about 7 miles this day!  
Garytt and Jeffrey walking ahead of us a bit. of the highlights of the day....a crocodile!!!!  Garytt says we saw four crocodiles in all.  He spotted the largest one of the day.  I totally missed it, but there was a gentleman standing on the bridge that had an amazing camera and he pulled up the pictures of the over six feet croc stealthily slide into the water.

Perhaps flip flops weren't
the best idea today!

The kids and I got our fill of mangroves!  Such wondrous creatures!  It was HOT!  Don't we all look a little toasty?!

The paths on the boardwalks were pretty.  Although, this was where the sun beat mercilessly down on us.  We got to see a lot of fish.  Some needle nose fish too.  And, spiders.  Tons and tons of spiders.  Everyone of which the kids pointed out to us.  

The wooden bubble thing in the upper left of the picture is a viewing tower.  There were half a dozen, maybe, for us to climb stairs inside and then get a birds' eye view of the area.

It's hard to see in this picture, but without any planning, the kids all managed to wear Star Wars shirts for the day.  The Force was with us!

After we finished up all the paths around the reserve, we managed to make it to the bus stop just five minutes or so from when the local bus showed up.  You pay a few dollars per adult and I think just one dollar per kid, then they give you a ticket and you can get on and off this bus all day long.  It drops off at the reserve as well as a few farms in the area.  I'm not totally sure what's on the farms, animals I think, but we were just happy to be in the air conditioning and sitting down.

It's hard to pick which experience was our favorite on this trip.  I loved each and every one.  But, this was definitely the most unique of them all!  I mean...walking past six foot crocodiles...what can beat that?!?!?!