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A week in Tokyo

Just got back from a week in Tokyo with the husband and I think it was straight up right there in the top 3 most amazing trips we’ve ever had.

We’ve done Tokyo twice before with the kids; it’s one of our favourite cities in the world. Tokyo checks all the boxes for a good time – delicious food, all the desserts one could possibly want to taste, bizarre but delightful experiences, lots of shopping, efficient transportation and warm hospitality. Even though I only know like 5 Japanese words, I always feel at home in Tokyo. Maybe not necessarily my home I suppose, but the home of a favourite aunt who fills your plate with the most yummy food.

This trip, I was looking forward to doing all the things we normally would not be able to when we’re traveling with kids. I love them with all my heart but when there are 5 babies all up in my face telling me they’re tired or bored every 2 minutes, it can be very difficult to perform basic human functions in a city like Tokyo. Even easy things like shovelling food into my mouth took tremendous effort – I remember having to stand outside the crowded izakayas to tag team eating during our previous trips.

Here are some of the memorable things we did this time around:

1. Bike tour around the city.

I’ve developed a bit of a love affair with bike tours. It’s in that sweet spot between a bus tour (where you cover a lot of ground but always feels impersonal) and a walking tour (which is more intimate but you get to see much less).

We found Soshi’s Tokyo Bike Tour after checking several reviews and had the most incredible afternoon cycling around the city. Soshi took us on a super chill 3-hour bike ride starting from Ginza shopping district across the Nihonbashi bridge, through little alleyways to a quaint shitamachi (like a Japanese old town that used to house Kabuki theatres years ago), stopping by at Ryogoku sumo wrestling stadium, across Akihabara tech city, around the Imperial palace and finally to Hibiya park. We got to visit some very charming little alleys that we would never have explored on our own, and the cherry on top of this amazing cake was hearing stories about these places from a local.

2. Robot restaurant.

Tokyo has some of the most bizarre experiences one can possibly try and it’s characterised but an evening out at the Robot restaurant in Kabukicho. While planning the itinerary, just looking at photos of the place online was enough to trigger seizures I never knew I had. I can only describe this as an insane take on a Disney parade but with too much acid or speed or ice. I don’t know what it says about me that I really enjoyed it. It was so committed to being campy and absurd and outlandish and just so much fun.

*The only thing I’ll say about it is that while they claim to be a family family establishment, I definitely would not bring the kids till they’re much, much bigger because their little brains will explode from this much visual stimuli.

3. Creepily awesome arcade at Kawasaki.

In line with the theme of bizarre but wonderful experiences in Tokyo, we also visited the Anata no Warehouse in Kawasaki, a creepy dystopian Kowloon themed arcade that redefines hardcore. I wasn’t sure about this one at first because haunted houses are not my idea of a great time.

Turns out that this measures very low on the haunted scale and as far as theming goes, is a solid 10. Whether you’re a fan of Hong Kong’s gritty Kowloon Walled City, this arcade is nothing if not completely dedicated to providing an immersive experience, which was surprisingly fun.

4. Eat all of the food.

I don’t even know where to start with this. There is so much delicious food in Tokyo that you’ll definitely find something that speaks to your palate. We had gyozas in Harajuku, yakitori at Memory Lane, sushi at Tsukiji, street snacks at Asakusa, ramen + soba everywhere, and the desserts…good heavens, the desserts were unbelievable.

If I had to pick one favourite meal though, it would have to be Satou steakhouse in Ginza. I’m not a fine dining type of girl and my favourite meal back home is a hearty $2.50 ban mian which I would be happy to have every meal for months. But I do love a good piece of meat and the matsusaka beef from Satou is unquestionably the most delicious thing I’ve ever put into my mouth. It’s pricey for sure but for a special night out, this was from start to finish a most delightful experience. All of the courses were a home run and the staff were warm without being intrusive.

We didn’t actually eat at this yakiniku bar, but if anyone asks, this shall be my new motto in life. Hashtag no meat, no life.

5. Go for drinks.

One of the benefits of being without kids is being able to go out for drinks and spend the night talking. We had sake tasting at Kurand Sake Market and whisky/cocktails at classic Japanese bars like Zoetrope.

6. Massages/Onsen.

I didn’t think I’d love Japanese onsens this much but I do. The first few seconds of stepping into a geothermal hot spring (springs?) feels like you’re being cooked, but totally in a good way. And then after a while when your body acclimatises, you start to feel your problems wash away in the relaxing warm water. There was a very decent hot bath at our hotel (Hilton Shinjuku), but we also visited Oedo Onsen Monogatari at Odaiba. It’s admittedly more touristy and crowded that I would have liked but the place was big enough to still be relaxing. Also, Japanese massages are pretty amazing.


We got to do some really fun things this trip but what made it special was getting to spend a whole week with the one person I like most in the whole world. There’s something magical about getting away to a different city that lets you discover the side of yourself that had been locked up and stored away in a dusty little box back home.

We’ve spent so much of the past 11 years being solid, responsible adults who had to take care of the kids and bills and homework and chores and healthy meals and more bills and work stress that it was necessary to let go of the spontaneous, free-spirited, super fun part of ourselves. I mean, it’s hard to put on the hot and exciting wife hat when I’m wearing my boring make-sure-the-kids-are-fed-and-home-is-in-order wife hat all day, every day.

I tell myself that I’ll get to that box again someday but then a year passes and then another and then another and years later, that box is still there, now hidden behind all the other boxes of lost toy parts and old books and leftover craft supplies.

I’m grateful for the life we have and I wouldn’t trade it for anything (and also, I missed my babies every moment till my heart hurt) but it was a treat to spend a week feeling like kids again. We held hands and walked for hours under the stars like teenagers; the way we used to when we first fell in love. We stole kisses on escalators and on sidewalks. We did a lot more than steal kisses but you probably don’t need to know that. We talked and laughed and talked some more until it felt like we would run out of words, but that would have been okay too because just being together in silence was good enough for me.

It’s hard to imagine that we’ve been together for 18 years and married for 12. It’s both the easiest and hardest thing I’ve ever done. At the same time, this feels like the only life I can remember, waking up every morning next to this wonderful man.


We’ve only been back home for 2 days and being able to hold my babies again makes my heart complete. It also suddenly feels like the trip was whole lifetime ago because that box is back up on the shelf again, this time displayed a little more prominently so I get to glance at it from time to time as I go about my day.

I’m happy to do all the boring grown up stuff with this man and for however long that box remains on the shelf, it makes me smile to remember that we’ll always have Tokyo.


10 days in Switzerland

We brought the kids to Switzerland for 10 days during the March school holidays – yes we took 5 babies on a plane 14 hours to Zurich and lived to tell the tale.

Normally, we wouldn’t do Europe with so little time but the Krisflyer Spontaneous Escapes promo that dropped in Feb was too good of a deal to resist. It was 50% off the miles required to fly to Zurich, which made it only 19,000 miles one way (that’s significantly cheaper than a redemption ticket to Tokyo) for travel in March only, so y’know, YOLO and all that.

How was it like bringing 5 kids to Switzerland? A lot less crazy than it sounds.

In fact, it was a very acceptable level of crazy. I’ll credit it to the fact that these kids are the best travelers and they’re the reason why we even dare to attempt these crazy adventures. They helped with the luggage and strollers and kept a lookout for one another and had zero meltdowns the entire trip. I was prepared for a bit of madness but it was all very smooth and easy.


March is a really nice time to be in Switzerland. We started in Lucerne, a gorgeous city an hour from Zurich.

Lucerne is the kind of dreamy that is just straight up unfair. Nestled between the breathtaking Swiss alps of Mt Pilatus and Mt Rigi, the city is a mix of old world medieval architecture and modern shopping malls. Our hotel was 3 minutes from the Reuss and we spent most of our time walking beside the river, along the Chapel bridge, then to the colourful Altstadt to explore the cobbled laneways of the charming old town.

The husband says that I’m like 85 on the inside but I’ll embrace being an old soul because my enduring love for cobblestones and old school charm will probably never go away.

I still like trips where there’s a lot to do, but I’m also starting to really enjoy just being with my favourite people in the world, walking and talking.

On our second day, we sat by the Lion of Lucerne for an unusually long time, during which we saw bus loads of tour groups coming by to snap selfies furiously and then leave. The place was strangely moving and the kids didn’t seem to be in a hurry to leave so we sat by the little pond quacking at 2 ducks and googling details of the French Revolution.

The big kids were fascinated and even Hayley was like “Why is the lion so sad?? Did he lose his mommy? I think we need to give him some snacks to cheer him up.

To mix things up a bit, we also took a cruise around Lake Lucerne. After the ridiculous fjord cruise in Norway, we’ve developed a love for boat rides. There’s something about having the cold wind in your hair as you stand on the deck looking out on miles and miles of pretty blue water.


Part 2 of the trip took us to Lauterbrunnen, our base from which we explored the Jungfrau region.

Instead of renting a car, we decided to rely on the Swiss Railway to get around. Turned out to be a great decision because the trains are convenient and comfortable. Okay, lugging the suitcases + strollers up and down the trains was a bit of a hassle but totally manageable.

Lauterbrunnen is nuts, you guys. This tiny little Swiss town is in a valley flanked by towering rocks and we woke up each morning to this.

Before we arrived, I read all about how Lauterbrunnen is one of the most beautiful places in the world and I took it with a pinch of salt because hyperbole, but when we got there, we were all a little speechless.

During the 3 days we spent in Jungfrau, we explored Lauterbrunnen, Interlaken, Grindelwald, and took the cogwheel train to Jungfraujoch, the highest railway station in Europe. It’s 3,466m above sea level, which is a lot of numbers but I really understood how high that really was when we reached the peak and I felt the ground start to give way beneath me. My head was throbbing and I had to draw sharp breaths and I felt nauseous so I found a corner to do my Asian squat with my head between my knees for a bit. I peered over at the husband and he was also looking rather green so we high fived on both being afflicted with altitude sickness.

I thought some time to acclimatise would help but not by much, so we powered on ahead to visit the viewing deck and some of the touristy indoor attractions.

One of the stops was the ice palace, which is an entire place covered in ice. The floor and walls were solid ice and there were ice sculptures of penguins and bears and a dog, I think. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time to explore because on our way in, Finn slipped on the ice floor and split open the top of his left brow. It was pretty brutal – when I saw it, there was so much blood I thought he had lost his left eye. Thankfully, it was just a very, very bad gash that was deep and raw and angry. I don’t think I ever want to see this much exposed flesh ever again in my life.

I kept pressure on his brow while the husband carried him back to the first aid centre. They couldn’t do much up on the mountain so we had to rush him back down to the nearest doctor 2 hours away in Lauterbrunnen.

Poor baby took 4 stitches to the head like a trooper and I held his hand super tight as he cried and cried while they injected anaesthesia into his raw wound and stitched him up. Yeah that wasn’t fun.

On the way back from the doctor, Tru said sadly “maybe if we didn’t come for the holiday, Finn would be ok and not injured.

Which is…true.

But then also what kind of life would it be if we don’t do stuff because we’re afraid bad things might happen? Bad things happen all the time anywhere and the best thing we can do is plan and take precautions and after assessing all the risks, just go for it.

Although in retrospect, the only thing we might not do again is go back up Jungfraujoch and mostly because it’s more touristy than we expected + the altitude sickness makes for a less than enjoyable experience.

After sleeping it off for a night, Finn had almost completely recovered the next day. We asked him if he wanted to rest in the apartment but he would have none of it. He wasn’t going to sit around all day when the option to go sledding in Grindelwald was the alternative.

And Grindelwald? So much fun. The town at the base of the mountain is adorable and we spent the better part of our afternoon sledding at Bodmi, a super fun kids play area. This was Hayley and Theo’s first real experience with snow and they were in heaven.

They made snowballs and snow angels and snow castles and went up + down the hill squealing like well, very happy kids.


It had already been a spectacular experience in Switzerland but the pièce de résistance of this trip was definitely the stunning car-free ski town of Zermatt. It was like stepping into another world, like we had walked into Diagon Alley, except maybe even more magical.

5 days seemed like a lot of time to be spending in a tiny town but those 5 days went by in a flash because as the kids say, “when you’re having fun, a day is like one minute.

Zermatt may not have Niseko’s powder but that view of the Matterhorn as you come down the mountain? I don’t quite have the words to describe it.

After some time in the snow, the other kids preferred hanging out at the playgrounds and walking around the town so the husband and I took turns to hit the slopes with Truett. I don’t think I’ve seen this boy have so much fun in his life as when he was flying down the slopes on his skis. I asked him if he preferred skiing or Disney and I saw actual pain in his eyes, like “what kind of cruel question is this, mom??!

Being able to spend some quality alone time with my #1 baby who hasn’t been a baby for a long time now was a special bonus this trip. He’s grown up to be a really good kid who is funny and kind and considerate and very cool and he’s got such a big heart it makes me feel like we did ok as parents who had to learn everything on the fly.

My favourite part was getting to the bottom of the mountain so we could ride the ski lift back up together and chat while taking in the beauty of the magnificent Swiss alps.

And most of all, I’m just pleased that my almost teenager still enjoys our company and genuinely likes of hanging out with us. :)


I’ll always be grateful for all these memories that we get to create together and I hope when the kids grow up, they’ll be as fond of each other as they are right now.



Norway with the kids (Part 2)

I’ve finally gotten around to part 2 of our Icelandic + Nordic adventure last year (read part 1 here).

Norway is a different kind of beautiful – way more chill with all the nature; it’s got more of a calming picturesque wallpaper vibe. No boiling water shooting out of the ground or scary snow storms. Even the waterfalls are gentler and you don’t feel like like a catastrophe might befall you at any moment. The sense of adventure in Iceland was fun but it was a nice change of pace in Norway.

From Reykjavík, we flew into Bergen where we spent 2 days in the prettiest little town surrounded by water and mountains and fjords.

Oh wait, remember our bus ride out to catch the northern lights in Iceland? We had the most disinterested tour guide who spent the drive out being all like “you need a lot of patience and luck to see the northern lights. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes not so lucky and you have to try again for many days…” and that was that. Turns out that we didn’t get lucky and as a consolation prize on the drive back, he decided to tell us a story about Grýla, a terrible ogre who ate naughty children. We were all dozing off on the bus and we didn’t expect the story to escalate very quickly into how Grýla would round up all the badly behaved kids, put them in her sack, haul them home and cook them in her cauldron. This was the only time he came alive with excitement, and he enjoyed telling the story so much that it was almost worth the trip out. Yeahhh maybe not, but it was a hilarious story.

And guess who we saw at Reykjavík airport? Grýla!! With her cauldron and everything!

The kids had a great time hanging out in Grýla’s cauldron making like they were getting cooked for dinner. Meanwhile, the other Icelandic kids at the airport were like “these guys are nuts, we’re staying over here where it’s safe.


Bergen is my kind of small town. I loved those 2 days walking along colourful houses by the wharf, looking at fish in an old school fish market, riding the Fløibanen funicular railway, and hanging out at Mt Fløyen, the spot where you get the best view of all of Bergen.

As far as food goes, there were more hotdogs and fish and chips to be had, but we were nearing the limit of fish and chips a person could put into one’s mouth so we had other delightful food such as burgers, nuggets and ham sandwiches. When we finally came upon a food hall with (very decent) katsudon in Oslo, the kids cried tears of joy and gave thanks for their food with more enthusiasm than they have ever done before.

In the evenings, we had crepes + mulled wine at the Christmas market, then went back to the hotel for more board games.


Getting to Oslo from Bergen was one of the highlights of this trip. We did what was essentially the Norway in a Nutshell tour, except that instead of buying it as a package from the tour company, we purchased all the tickets separately on our own, saving about $200 in total. It is way more convenient buying it as a package but um $200 in savings for some research? I’m in.

From Bergen, we took a train ride to Voss, hopped on a bus to Gudvangen, then took a gorgeous cruise to Flam, where we spent the night before taking two more train rides to Oslo. This could have been done in one day (11 hours) but we decided to take it easy and split up the journey.

It’s actually very easy to do and I highly recommend it. I was a little nervous about missing the connections but the entire journey is customised for tourists and there’s no way of getting lost along the way. If you’re unsure, the conductors are really friendly or just follow all the other tourists and you’ll be fine.

The fjord cruise was jaw-dropping level of magnificent. It was the first time I’ve seen a fjord and it was one of those “why have I waited so long to see this?” sort of moment. It was cold and windy but the water was perfectly still and there were mountains on both sides, with small clusters of pretty houses along the edge of the water.

Norway is number 2 on the list of happiest countries in the world and as I stood on the deck of the fjord cruise with the wind in my hair, it was easy to see why. There’s a certain lightness in the air and I think if you’re looking at something so beautiful every day, the madness that life throws at you suddenly seems a little less overwhelming.

Upon arriving in Flam, we spent the rest of the day at an Airbnb overlooking the water in Aurland (about 15 minutes away). The hosts were lovely and we managed to chat a little about life in Aurland vs life in Singapore. They bike down the mountain in the summer, brew their own beer for fun, and spend most of their free time enjoying the beautiful view and fresh air. I feel like I want to be the kind of person who thrives in an environment like this but when she told me about having to drive out 2 hours to buy Christmas decorations, that was a straight up dealbreaker for me.

So that night, we had planned to head out for a quick dinner at the town centre (a very tiny town centre with 1 grocery store and a handful of diners) nearby. It was supposed to be a 20 minute walk out but by 6pm, it was already pitch dark with zero street lamps around. We brought a torch along and walked for 3 minutes before turning around and heading back because the 3G was spotty and walking for 20 minutes in complete darkness without secure internet connection seemed like a very bad idea.

There was no food delivery service or McD’s or pizza, plus we were also out of grocery supplies so the kids shared the last 2 packets of instant noodles while the husband and I shared a can of Christmas beer, a cup of Milo and half a leftover cookie. We were all too hungry to play board games so we spent the night talking about how we were dying of hunger, it was great! On hindsight…because it makes a for a memorable story. While we were actually starving, it was much less great.


The next morning, we got back to Flam early for our train out, hoping to grab a bite at one of the cafes near the train station. Believe it or not, all the cafes were still closed so we had to continue our starving streak till we got to the next stop 2 hours later.

The Flam railway was gorgeous though, so that made up for the misery brought on by the lack of food. It’s an old school train very much like Puffing Billy in Melbourne, one of our favourite train rides. As train pulled out of the station, it started to snow, which made everyone forget about how hungry we were because snow makes everything better.

We discovered that there was a cafe on board our next train, and I will tell you that there have never been 5 people so happy to see ham croissants + hotdogs.


We didn’t spend much time in Oslo but in the 12 hours or so that we were in Oslo, we had delicious katsudon and the second best cookies I’ve ever tasted. #1 is still Levain but while I wait for our next trip back to New York, I’ve been on the search for the next best cookie. I found it at Backstube bakery in Oslo while we were on a quick grab and go breakfast run.

The cookies were just sitting there next to the pretzels and I knew I found a winner when I saw them. It was respectably chunky, crispy around the edges and gooey in the middle with melty chocolate chips – basically perfection in a cookie. I bought one, bit into it and went back to buy 7 more.


Instead of hanging out for a couple of days in Oslo, we drove out two hours to the mountains to do some snowboarding in Trysil.

We stayed at Radisson Blu Trysil and while the slopes aren’t as good as those in Niseko, the resort was incredible. There was a bowling alley, a playground, an arcade, several excellent restaurants, and a huge indoor pool with a wave pool, a hot tub and a rock climbing wall.

It was Finn’s first time on the snowboard and after watching Tru and Kirsten blitz down the hill, this little guy picked it up in a day.

On day 2, he was already going up on the ski lift for a black run, which might have been a little ambitious but all the other runs were closed so yolo, amirite? Look at how exhausted he was after making it down. He was like “I cannot feel my legs, I need to lie down now. You’ll have to drag me back because I’m done.

This is the face we call peng san.


I missed the babies terribly the entire trip and I think from here on out, we’ll have to bring all 5 of them on our next adventure but it was such a treat spending time with my big kids who are growing up way too fast.

For two weeks, these big kids got my undivided attention and I got to snuggle up with them until they fell asleep every night. There isn’t much more a girl could want.


Iceland with the kids

We’re back from a 2-week trip to Iceland + Norway with the big kids and I’ve got lots to update!!

As with most of our adventures, this particular one began with the discovery of an excellent airfare to Oslo. Norway has been on my travel list after watching Frozen and turns out, Qatar Airways was flying to Oslo for a sweet $660 per person. After some research (that the airfare onwards to Reykjavík was $90 each), we decided it was gonna be Iceland -> Bergen -> Oslo -> Trysil with Tru, Kirsten and Finn.

We went back and forth on whether we could bring the 2 babies along but 5 kids in unfamiliar territory did seem a little reckless, plus the minimum age for most of the activities like snowmobiling and ice cave exploration was 6 years old so the babies stayed home for this one :(


You guys, Iceland is like a dream.

I still have difficulty wrapping my head around the fact that a place like this exists in the world. There are waterfalls and geysers and volcanic rocks and black sand and ice caves and floating ice diamonds and the sky is painted in pink and purple and orange and the prettiest shade of blue. I can’t say that I’m a fan of rocks but I spent a lot of time looking out on the horizon feeling like “wow ok, these rocks are something else.

Most places, you drive several hours to get to one magnificent spot but in Iceland, every spot is trying to outdo the last one like it’s a competition for how we can make nature more breathtaking. Like “Oh you liked the waterfall? Here are a couple more, and here’s some boiling water shooting out of the ground, and look at these giant ice diamonds in a glacial lake and how about a solid blue ice cave right here?

In 6 days, we went to the Golden Circle, drove along the south coast all the way to Jokulsarlon and then back again to Reykjavík.


Okay I love trip planning and I have the most fun putting together all our trips but planning this one was by far the most challenging ever. This was largely caused by the decision to make the drive in an Icelandic winter. According to most of the forums, Icelandic winters are brutal, with insane snow storms, whiteouts with basically zero visibility and winds that can blow your car door right off. The dude at the car rental made it a point to repeat that many car doors have been blown off and the insurance does not cover missing car doors so if there’s a storm, sit tight and whatever you do, do not open the car door.

The consensus on the forums were mostly “unless you’re an expert at this, you must be insane to self drive in an Icelandic winter” and yes, we are just about insane enough to try because we find tour groups insufferable and there’s nothing like an exciting road trip where your life might be in a tiny bit of danger.

J/k, we are very responsible parents so I had planned for several contingencies. There were plans A to E with multiple backups in case of bad weather, which meant having to keep the itinerary fluid. I usually have everything planned and booked way in advance but for this trip, I was booking some of the hotels 12 hours prior, after we decided it was safe to make the drive for that day.

Thankfully, we had the most beautiful weather for all 6 days so it turned out to be plan A all the way, which is this:

Day 1: Reykjavík (explore the city, try to get over jet lag). We stayed at Fosshotel Baron – nice location, decent rooms, excellent breakfast.

Day 2: 1-hour drive to the Golden Circle, starting at Thingvellir, to Geysir, Gullfoss, then back to Laugarvatn for a night swim at Fontana Spa, a geothermal lagoon. We stayed at an Airbnb cabin in the middle of nowhere and it was amazing.

Day 3: 2.5-hour drive to Vik, visiting Skogafoss and the black sand beach along the way. We stayed 2 nights at Icelandair Hotel Vik – fab rooms, not so great breakfast. Go grab a croissant from the cafe across the street for breakfast instead.

Day 4: 2.5-hour drive to Jokulsarlon to look at floaty ice diamonds + ice cave expedition. Drove back to Vik for the night. We wouldn’t have done this 5-hour drive to and fro if the weather had been rough but it turned out to be a beautiful sunny day and this was probably my favourite day in Iceland.

Day 5: Back to Gullfoss for another ice cave tour + snowmobiling, nose-nuzzled some horses along the way. Spent the night at Bjork Guesthouse at Laugarvatn – superb rooms and only for $150 a night. My second favourite day.

Day 6: Back to Reykjavík. We went shopping at Kringlan, grabbed hot dogs at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, hung out at the old harbour and Seltjarnarnes, then went swimming at Laugardalslaug. Spent our final night at 41 A Townhouse Hotel – gorgeous rooms, amazing location.


These are some of the things you might want to know if you’re planning a trip to Iceland.

1. Iceland is beautiful. If you’re sort of sitting on the fence about this, I’m here to tell you that it is absolutely worth the trip.

2. It’s very kid friendly. The only thing you’d want to consider is that some of the activities have a minimum age requirement of 6-12, so if you’re bringing young kids, one adult will have to sit out on them.

3. Food is pricey. The mains at an average restaurant costs about $35-50 and a straight up black coffee from a cart is $5. Even at food trucks, it will cost $25 for a box of fish and chips. Only hot dogs are okayish, at $5.50 each. Also, they’re deliciously lamby (yeahhh meat!!) and pretty perfect topped with a mountain of crispy onions.

4. Kronan and Bonus supermarkets are your best friends. Considering the cost of food in Iceland, the supermarkets are surprisingly reasonable. Stock up on fruits, milk, beverages, snacks, sandwiches – your wallet will thank you.

5. Pack your swimsuits. Icelanders love their pools and I can totally see why. There’s nothing quite like being dressed in your swimwear in -2 degree weather and then jumping into a delightfully warm geothermal pool.

At Laugardalslaug, the kids went up on a slide multiple times and the pool with the slide was considerably colder than the hot tub I was in. Like unacceptable level of cold in the winter and I had to follow them to make sure they were ok.


6. Dress warm. As they say in Norway, there’s no bad such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. With good thermals, fleece or wool layers, a water-resistant coat, proper gloves and snow boots, you’ll be warm and toasty.

7. Go see the ice caves. If you can only make it for one activity, this is the one to go for. This phenomenon only happens in winter when the water freezes over and it is out of this world.

8. Snowmobiling is the most fun and terrifying thing I’ve ever tried. I love that in Iceland, they don’t coddle you with watered down, overly safe activities. Like you want to ride a snowmobile? We’ll take you out for an hour into the wilderness of snow and you’ll have to keep up.

We took a 30 minute ride out to the ice cave deep in the mountain and Finn was behind me so I went slower at first. But too slow is not good because the group ahead had disappeared into the mountain and some stretches, I could see nothing but empty white snow everywhere. If we got lost and had to Revenent our way out like Leonardo Di Caprio, we would 100% not make it. I do not possess those life skills.

On the way back, I decided to speed it up to keep up and that was more terrifying because we hit several patches of uneven snow and flew up from the seat. It was buttocks off the seat legit hang time kind of flew and I gripped the handles so hard my hands started cramping. On the last bump, Finn fell right off the snowmobile and was dangling off the side. He’s ok thanks to the helmet and padding but my heart stopped for a moment.

When we got back to base camp, I realised that Finn fell because he was holding on to a piece of ice from the cave the whole time, which by then had started to melt. “I fell off the snowmobile for nothing, it’s all water now,” he said sadly. This sweet little boy just wanted to bring it home for Theo and Hayley 😭

9. One of the things we wanted to see was the Aurora Borealis but after 6 days in Iceland, we didn’t get to see it once. Some of the remote locations we were in were great spots for finding the northern lights but it required one to step out of the cabin to look at the sky at various times throughout the night. I had planned to wake up every hour to check the sky but when the alarm went off, I considered suiting up and hauling my bottom out into the cold, but I took a deep breath, snuggled deeper into the warm blankets around me and thought “urgh, it’s only lights in the sky”, then went back to sleep. So that’s the story of our northern lights adventure.

Oh wait, there’s part 2. On our last night, we figured we’d join one of those northern lights tours to go hunt for the Aurora Borealis because c’mon! we’re committed to this. We made the kids suit up at 10pm and took them on a tour back out towards Laugarvartn. Except there was very little hunting and a whole lot of standing around. There were about 40 people on the bus and they dropped us all off at a remote carpark somewhere in the wilderness and told us to stand around to wait for the lights to appear for the next 90 minutes. Eventually, 6 other tour buses full of people showed up and we were all just clustered around waiting.

The guide was like “you have to be patient and if you have no luck tonight, you can join the tour for free again tomorrow” and we were like “we paid actual money for this?? I could have done this from my apartment for free and we’re spending 3 hours on a cramped bus to look at a sky of black.” I thought they would have some inside intel on where the lights were going to appear and there would be some actual hunting instead of a “here, stand around and wait” situation.

On the bright side, they kept the heat on in the bus so the kids could sleep while the husband and I shared waffles and a coffee in the cold, dark night, making jokes about our unusual predicament. I know I’ve got it good because this man makes me laugh when we’re standing among some bushes for 90 minutes in the cold, looking at nothing but black sky.

10. On our next trip back, we’d probably still drive but then again, we were extremely blessed with beautiful weather. We could just as easily have been stuck in Reykjavík the whole time or snowed in for days in the middle of nowhere or blown off a cliff by freakishly strong winds.


Back to the big apple

We were in New York + DC for 10 days to celebrate the husband’s birthday (no kids!) and it was such a treat to have him all to myself for all that time.

This trip was planned this way back in January when I spotted an error fare from Hong Kong to Washington on Air Canada for $170 USD. Where did I spot this magical fare? Ah, let me introduce you to one of my favourite FB pages for travel planning: secret flying. Most of the flight deals posted depart from North America and Europe but once in a while, a gem pops up and one has to act fast.

It was the sort of decision that took us 2 minutes to make. Actually it took us no time at all to decide and the 2 minutes were spent scrambling to secure the booking. It required positioning in Hong Kong (which we redeemed using miles during the Singapore Airlines Spontaneous Escapes promo last month) plus a connecting flight from IAD to JFK on Delta for $68 USD. On the way back, it was an easy drive to DC, where we spent 2 nights before flying home.

The next step was to convince our parents to watch all 5 kids for 10 days. Turns out, it took no convincing at all because we have the best parents in the world.

They were all “go have fun, don’t worry about the kids” and we were like “SAY NO MORE! WE’RE OUTTA HERE!!


The plan was to do the things we normally wouldn’t be able to do with the kids, like watch all the shows on Broadway and go for concerts and comedy clubs and late night drinks. The only way we could do Broadway during the last trip was to take turns to watch it alone while the other person watched babies.

So this time, we went all the way with Broadway. We went for Mean Girls…

We had a long discussion about whether to schedule a musical on the night of arrival in New York, mistakenly being all gungho like “the adrenaline should keep us awake, we’ll beat the jet lag for sure” but no, the jet lag always wins. After over 20 hours in transit, we were basically dead on arrival. I managed to catch like 65% of the show in my dazed stupor but the parts I was awake for were hilarious.

There was also Frozen…

I know the reviews for Frozen are sort of meh but our experience with Disney musicals have been very positive. Lion King, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast were all very fun productions so Frozen was definitely on the list.

Well, I loved it! They nailed all my favourite songs from the animation and the couple of new songs were great. It’s also very kid friendly so I’m definitely penciling in a revisit with my 2 girls once Hayley gets bigger.

And Dear Evan Hansen…

A story about a kid with social anxiety who writes letters to himself may not seem like the most compelling narrative but as a musical, it was very well done.

We also made it for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child…

This was so. much. fun. The set was incredible, the cast was stellar and it was like watching a live magic show together with the play. We did both parts in a day, which was a long commitment of almost 6 hours but those 6 hours were very well spent indeed.

And the best one of all, Hamilton.

We’ve been waiting to watch Hamilton ever since watching the opening number on youtube. I’ve since rewatched the clip another 40-50 times and listened to the soundtrack on repeat so let’s just say that there was no way we would not be watching Hamilton this trip.

Before the show, we were like “maybe we should manage our expectations for this” because our expectations were about bursting at the seams but I’m very pleased to tell you that you should go in with all of the expectations for this show. You will not be disappointed.

TL;DR: If you only have time for one show, that’s the one you want to watch. Solid 10/10, no question.


In between all the shows, we switched gears a bit and went for a bike tour around Brooklyn.

We expected it to be a relaxing ride with many breaks for food and stuff but it was hardcore. We covered 15 miles around Brooklyn riding uphill, weaving in and out of traffic, blitzing through Prospect Park, cruising across DUMBO, all the while listening to interesting nuggets of information about these places from our guide. In short, it was fantastic. It was exactly the sort of thing we wouldn’t be able to do with the kids around and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

And you know what’s another really fun activity? Eating. At Smorgasburg.

It’s an open-air food market sort of like artbox, except with a different selection of food. I wouldn’t ever say better food because there is nowhere in the world with food as good as we have back home but Smorgasburg had a few very decent options.

So if you know me, you’ll know that meat makes me happy. I love beef, lamb, pork, venison, chicken, duck, goose, and I eat them in all manner of ways: grilled, smoked, seared, fried, baked, broiled, stewed, all of it. I can satisfy most of my meat cravings back home except for one: smoked short ribs with a beautiful dry rub (if you know of any good places in Singapore, let me know!!). And I found it here at Smorgasburg at a little food stand called Carnal.

I can tell you that this piece of meat made me a very, very happy girl. I still dream of that lovely afternoon by the East River with my fall-off-the-bone-tender short ribs and that delicious dry rub.


From New York, we rented a Mustang Convertible and took a slow drive to Washington, DC. We only needed the car for a day and it didn’t cost much more than a compact car ($76 USD including the one-way drop off fee) so of course we went for the Mustang.

First stop was some outlet shopping at Jersey Shore Premium Outlets, then lunch at Jersey Shore, where we stopped for the most amazing coffee milkshake in the history of milkshakes. See, this is exactly why I like road trips, because it is on road trips where I’ve discovered unexpected tasty delights that made my mouth and tummy very happy.

We drove past an ice cream shop spelled with an extra “pe” as in “shoppe” and yes, this is one of the things that influence my decision making in life. I told the husband to pull over for a milkshake and tbh, I would have been happy to enjoy a totally average milkshake from a quaint little ice cream shoppe but instead, I had the most delightful coffee milkshake that was rich and subtle and full-flavoured but not too sweet and basically perfect.

After lunch, we wanted to swing by Atlantic City for a stroll on the Boardwalk and then stop in Philly for a cheesesteak but we are Singaporeans after all, so we traded that for more outlet shopping at Arundel Mills in Maryland before getting in to DC. #priorities


Okay during the planning, DC was a bit of a throwaway stop because of the flight situation. We got in late the first night so all we had was one full day in the city in case all the monument-looking got a bit boring.

Well, I’m a little sad to have scheduled so little time for DC because we really enjoyed that one DC day. We did a segway tour around the National Mall, covering the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the White House, the US Capitol, and the Smithsonian museums. I had just watched Daniel Day Lewis in Spielberg’s Lincoln and it was quite something reading the Gettysburg address at the Lincoln Memorial.


On this trip, I learnt that 10 days without the kids does crazy things to the brain. By the time we boarded the flight home, I was so happy to see babies on the plane, which for some reason, there were a lot of. There was like a record number of babies on that flight and it felt strangely comforting. I know most people are like “so many babies on the flight? Urgh, kill me now” but I was like “yay babies everywhere!! this feels like home.

I will admit to spending a large portion of that flight ogling at chubby babies and thinking of ways I could attempt to munch on someone else’s baby’s cheeks without being creepy. If you must know, there are none. At the end of the flight, I had munched on zero babies but on the bright side, I was home and free to munch on all the baby cheeks I wanted.


Also, happy birthday to my favourite person in the world!


A week in Melbourne

So we finally did it – we brought all 5 of our little ones on an adventure to Melbourne.

When I was planning this, I told the husband that it was nuts to even attempt it and he was like, “yeah it’s definitely nuts but it’s going to be so fun!” and the man has a point. In deciding if one should attempt something crazy in life, always consider how fun the endeavour would be and in this case, totally worth it level of fun.

If there’s one place to attempt a first trip with 5 kids, Melbourne would be it. It’s incredibly kid friendly and everything was very seamless and fuss free.

After a red eye flight in to the city (the two babies slept almost the entire way there), we picked up a minivan from the airport and drove to our Airbnb in Docklands. So far, so good.


We spent our 6 days in Melbourne doing a lot of this.

Feeding sheep.

Feeding deer.

Holding a bag of food near the deer and making him wait because we know how important it is to take photos of food before eating it.

Walking next to what appears to be the hind legs of a deer.

Feeding camels.

Feeding guinea pigs.

Patting bunnies.

Patting crocodiles. Yeah, no, there’s no way this baby is patting the crocodile even though it’s clearly not a real crocodile. She was all “haha, I’m just going to pretend to want to touch it and then run away because eww so gross.

Patting more bunnies.

Okay why in the world is bunny fur so ridiculously soft?? These kids could pat bunnies all day.

And also just casually standing around looking all dapper next to bunnies; so dapper, in fact, that the dude at the back was shocked like “I had no idea one could look this dapper standing next to a bunny.

Talking to sheep.

Learning to count sheep.

Having to explain to the alpacas why the hay was all gone.

The alpacas weren’t pleased. They were like “there are three of us against the three of you and I like our odds” and the boys were smart enough to make a hasty retreat after a quick discussion. They know not to take on annoyed alpacas unless you’re prepared to get spit in the face. Nobody pfffttss like an alpaca pfffttsss, I mean, these guys know how to make their displeasure known.

Although alpacas are so adorable. Look at that fluffy, cuddly face. I’d risk getting spit on any day.

And this little fawn? It was totally giving me bambi eyes the whole time and I might have thought about bringing it home.

Looking at the kids having so much fun with all the animals was such a treat, and for a brief moment, I considered it. Maybe having a different life, one with wide open spaces and farm animals and bundles of hay and little bunnies. I told the husband about it and as the words were coming out of my mouth, I started to laugh because who am I kidding? I wouldn’t last a week as a farm girl.


Apart from spending time with all the animals at the farm and the zoo and the parks, we also sat on our favourite steam train, dear old Puffing Billy.

This little daredevil baby loved having her head dangle out of the window as the train was rumbling down the tracks. For days after that, she was still talking about how “Hayley sit train and put the head outside SO FUN!!


There were also some tree climbing adventures, some museum adventures, some penguin adventures, some playground action adventures, and a little bit of walking around the city but mom this is so boring adventures.

All in all, this trip went as well as we could have hoped, which is to say, very well indeed.

And my most favourite part of all was having a whole week just doing fun stuff together with all these babies and watching them love on each other.



If life is a collection of memories, then some of the very best ones I’ve collected are from Disney World.

Being in Disney World is like walking into a bubble; every small part from the resorts to the theme parks to the classic Disney music to the aroma of freshly made waffle cones on main street to the characters who play their parts to perfection, it all comes together to create some incredible magic. Strictly on a fun per minute basis, Disney is so far ahead that any comparison just wouldn’t even be fair. It’s 24 hours of amazing experiences non-stop every single day that we’re there.

I know there’s a whole world out there to explore and hopefully one day we’ll get to it, but now while the kids are still little, there is no place that lights up their tiny faces with such delight as the happiest place on earth.

We typically do Disney at the end of the trip because no matter how fun all the other parts get, you always know that there’s something better waiting for you at the end. And man, those last 8 Disney days were some pretty epic days.

Okay I’m going to attempt to put it all into one post.


#1. Oh hello, Beach Club!

Choosing a Disney resort depends on several factors: how much time will you be spending at the parks/rooms? what’s your favourite park? how many people are there in your party? are you going to be spending any time at the pool? what kind of theming do you like? what discounts are available?

This trip, it was a toss up between one of the monorail resorts (Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Contemporary) for easy access to Magic Kingdom or the Epcot resorts (Beach Club, Yacht Club, Boardwalk Inn) for a short walk to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.

I’ve heard a lot about the legendary Beach Club pool but all our previous Disney trips were all commando style park touring, which left very little time for chilling out at the pool. I mean, look at all the roller coasters! carousels! train rides! character meet and greets! It was always rope drop at the parks all the way till they shut the doors on us.

After some extensive research and a ton of rave reviews, we decided to go for the Beach Club resort and turns out, it was the perfect choice because yeah, we ended up doing a lot of this.

So every morning, we would ask them if they wanted to hang out at the pool or head straight to the parks and it would be like the most difficult decision they’ve ever had to make. They would huddle up and discuss the merits of each option and grab their heads and take a poll and finally decide to do 2 hours swimming followed by roller coasters for the rest of the day.

I’ve never seen them change and get ready at double speed like this ever. The big kids would be hustling the boys and helping them put on floaties and goggles, the whole time being all, “We need to hurry, if not there won’t be enough time for rides!!

2. Lovely to meet you, Pandora – the world of Avatar!!

I’m not a huge Avatar fan, but I was really excited to experience the new addition to Animal Kingdom, which has always been sort of an underrated park for me. Compared to Magic Kingdom or Epcot or Hollywood Studios, it’s definitely more of a slow burner.

But that all changed with the opening of Pandora. This place is stunning; the Disney Imagineers hit a solid home run with this.

photo credit: Disney

Both the new rides at Pandora are insanely popular and the only way to not queue 2-3 hours for them are to book fastpasses 60 days out (these go fast!).

Na’vi River Journey is a slow boat ride that’s visually mind-blowing, but it’s probably not worth a 2-hour queue. Avatar Flight of Passage (a simulator where you get to fly a banshee in Pandora), on the other hand, is possibly the best ride in Disney World right now. It’s a very difficult choice to make because TEST TRACK!! and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad!! but okay, this one is nuts.

It’s been a while since I stepped off a ride feeling completely blown away and this ride? It was full on goosebumps, jaw hitting the floor insanity. This is Disney magic at its finest.

3. What’s up, Animal Kingdom?

Maybe because of Pandora, Animal Kingdom became one of my favourite parks (can all 4 parks be my favourite?).

The kids were very enthusiastic about side quests this trip and one of the best ones was making like Russel from Up and learning to be a Widnerness Explorer. It’s an interactive experience where they could collect badges at over 30 stations around the park. All the cast members at the different stations were excellent, they made it super fun for the kids to learn about spiders and flamingos and goats and dinosaur bones.

4. I really like you, Epcot.

Thinking of Epcot gives me some serious withdrawal. This place is everything I want in a theme park – solid rides, beautiful theming, the best shows, somewhere to sit by a bench and share an ice-cream brioche with my babies.

The new addition to Epcot since we last visited was the Frozen ride, which took the place of Maelstrom in Norway. It’s definitely a major upgrade because now the boat ride takes you around Arendelle to hang out with Elsa and Anna and Olaf and Sven and the poofy Marshmallow thing.

Here’s Finn trying really hard to be a viking in Norway. Poor boy is good at a lot of stuff but clearly, being a viking isn’t one of them. He’ll have to take lessons from baby Theo on how to muster a proper angry viking face.

5. You’ll always have my heart, Magic Kingdom. 

If what you’re looking for is a good time, then Magic Kingdom is the place to be. Nobody knows how to party like Magic Kingdom does. Street parties, dance parties, sing-a-long parties, parade parties, there’s always a party to be had when you’re here.

The bigger kids kind of knew what to expect but this was a first for Theo, who was in a bit of shock when he saw all the parties. He was quite stunned for a while as he tried to process all this information, and then suddenly he was all like, “WOOOO PARTYYYYY!!!” and started running around dancing everywhere.

6. You’ve got a friend in me.

I’m of the opinion that one can never be too old to have a good time meeting Disney characters, but I think the big kids were starting to feel a little self-conscious about the meet and greets. Truett was like “but those are real people inside, isn’t it a little weird to be queueing up to meet them?” which ok, point taken. Although I’m 35 and I would take a hug from dude-wearing-mickey costume any day.

The kid who enjoyed it the most was Theo, who was also in shock (in a good way!) at seeing all his favourite characters walking around.

This is the longest Minnie hug ever and also baby Theo’s “I cannot deal with this level of awesomeness” face. This face makes me swoon.



TL;DR? Here’s a video instead.

Disney World 2017 from Daphne Ling on Vimeo.