Sydney Shenanigans: SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

When we arrived the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, there was a snaking queue to buy tickets. It was right at that moment that I wished we purchased the tickets online because while the boy queued, I had to keep the little man entertained. Thankfully, there is a small cafe within the same premises and I could gobble down a croissant and run after the kid who insisted on running in the opposite direction every 20 seconds.

Tip: Plan ahead. If you know that you intend to visit these attractions that offer online purchase of tickets, DO IT and save yourself a lot of time and stress.

When he got to the front of the queue (finally), the boy wisely decided to buy a pass that allows us entry into 3 attractions centered at Darling Harbour – SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo and Madam Tussaud’s Sydney. Other than saving money, this also means that we do not need to repeat the queuing exercise at the next attraction.

As with many attractions, the staff will get a group photo of you in front of a green/blue screen. You can politely decline if you do not wish to purchase the photo at the end of your visit.

Being the school holidays, the aquarium was packed with school-going children as well as tourists (like us). Elliott has been fascinated by “fizz” (fish) so he was pretty excited to be seeing so many “fizz” in front of him. Most of the exhibits were too high for him so we had to carry him to view them.


The aquarium is designed in such a way that there is a single route that you can follow as you weave your way around the exhibits. However, we did encounter one dead end which was a bit odd. We took our stroller but because of the crowd, we carried Elliott most of the time so that he can see the exhibits and used the stroller to dump our coats and (heavy) diaper bag.

Tip: The entire attraction is pretty dim so if you have more than one child, do keep a close watch because it will be easy to lose him/her in the crowd and low light situation.

One area that was catered to little visitors is the Octonauts Zone. The son enjoyed steering the “submarine” and we had to almost forcibly extract him from it. Again, this area is suited for older kids who are able to read and answer the related questions on the exhibits. Naturally, this area was particularly packed with parents and very excited kids (read: High noise level).

Tip: Do note that the exhibits at this kids area change regularly so check the website for the latest exhibit.


The highlight of the visit is definitely the ocean tunnels where huge fish like sting rays and sharks swam were housed. Elliott couldn’t take his eyes off the various sea creatures gliding gracefully over our heads. Even we were fascinated.



There were a lot of “Ooh look at the SHARK!“, or “Waaaaaah! What a huge stingray, bubu!” that went on. It was beautiful to watch him take it all in as he pointed and verbalized (“SHARK!“) some of the creatures he recognized.

One of highlights was having a dugong swim right in front of us. It was so so close! It made me realise why these beautiful creatures have been often mistaken as mermaids.

And did you know that you more likely to win the lottery than to be killed by a shark and sharks are older than dinosaurs, having lived in our oceans for 4 million years.

Finally, there is also an area where you can view the large tank. There were also benches for weary parents like us to rest our legs.

The last bit of this exhibition is being able to view the sea creatures from top-down, in an open area where it leads to the exit. To be honest, we could not see much except for the larger creatures. Dotted around the perimeter of the tank were interesting information boards about the various exhibits.

I only had time to glance at a few of them because I could tell that the little man was getting sleepy after one entire morning of admiring sealife. Oh, there’s also a small touchpool near the exit which will be suitable for older kids who will not try and squeeze the poor starfish to near death :)


SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium reminded me a lot of Underwater World in Singapore, with a tiny bit of S.E.A. Aquarium (the large glass tank) thrown in. Having said that, I think little ones like Elliott (below 3 years old) will enjoy looking at the graceful sea creatures in their tanks. Also, this is a covered attraction so it is great for days when the weather is not favourable.

Tip: Save this attraction for a cold and gloomy day so that you can remain warm and toasty and importantly, DRY.

We chose to visit because it was a very cold and windy day so staying indoors was the way to go. Also, because of the dim l ighting, it was near impossible to take good photos unless you are good with dim light photography :)

Note to Elliott – 19

Dear Elliott,

When you were a teeny tiny bub, your por por used to tell me that when you are older, you will be much more fun to be with. And how right she is! You are fast developing your own personality and a rapidly-expanding vocabulary.

You repeat everything that we say, including Ah Ma going “Aiyoooo!” whenever you mess up the room after she has just tidied it. You also address yourself as “bubu” and would say stuff like “bubu daw” (bubu draw). You have learnt how to identify some of your favourite food like “pussss” (puffs) and can identify animals like “fizz” (fish), “shark”, “duck”, “bird”. Instead of simply saying “choo choo” like you used to, you now say “choo choo tain” (choo choo train).


The other day, we had this conversation:

Me: What does a sheep say?
You: Baaaaaaaa.

Me: What does a cow say?
You: Moo!

Me: What does a cat say?
You: Meow.

Me: What does a dog say?
You: Woah woah.

Me: What does an ambulance say?
You: *looking confused*
Me: An ambulance says bee-boo-bee-boo-bee-boo.
You: bee-boo-bee-boooooooo!

You still love shower time and if we dare remove you from your fast-getting-tiny bathtub, you scream blue murder. So these days, I simply leave you to sit in it for a while as you busy yourself scooping water using the pail. Oh, did I mention that you also have a knack of sneakily drinking bath water??! What’s up with that?! Eeeew.

On weekday evenings when Mummy is solo parenting, I’d ask “Do you want to paint, Bubu?” and even though you can’t articulate the word “yes”, your eyes light up and you chuckle excitedly. You then sit in your diapers and spend a good 15-minute or so messin’ about with the colours. I have to keep a close watch though because you have attempted to eat the paint.


I tell everyone that you are a happy little kid and you truly are. You get amused easily and are curious about everything around you. In fact, you are so curious, you pushed over a male mannequin at a shop the other day and broke its arm when I took my eyes off you for 30 seconds. Pffffft. Thankfully, you were unhurt and the shop assistants were very lovely. I can almost understand now why parents would put a leash on their toddlers. 

Recently, you learnt the word “point!” (complete with finger-pointing action) and think that it is the most. hilarious. thing. ever. whenever you point at one of us and we react by falling over. This naturally translates to us doing this point-and-fall-over game a million times until you get distracted by the next shiny object in your view.


You also received your very first lantern to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival. Daddy paid $12.50 for a Thomas lantern from NTUC because Mummy wanted to buy it for you. It comes complete with very loud music and flashing lights. Unfortunately, you did not quite know what to do with it. Maybe I can keep it for next year’s festival…


Another milestone I would like to document here is your very first flight! We flew on Singapore Airlines to Sydney to visit our dear friends, Uncle SJ and Uncle G who showered you with too many kisses, hugs and toys. Yes, toys. You returned from your first overseas holiday with 5 – FIVE! – new Thomas the Tank Engine figurines. One of your current favourite word is “air-pane” and you couldn’t stop pointing them out to us when we were at the airport. I am glad to report that despite it being a 7-hour flight, you did remarkably well. Phew.

While in Sydney, we pointed out all the animals we saw at the Zoo, took you to wonderful playgrounds, and you experienced cold weather for the first time. I also randomly taught you the word “bicycle” because images of bicycles were painted on the Sydney roads and you surprised us by going “bye-see-CLE!“. For the next couple of days (until now, actually), you’ve been repeating “bye-see-CLE!“, as if trying to commit it to memory.

In preparation of your foray into playgroup next year, this month also saw you starting on multivitamins. Thankfully, it was a smooth process as you took to it readily (PHEW). Whenever I take the bottle out and say “Time for VIE-TA-MINS!“, you’d flash me a big grin and go “vite-min!”, then open your mouth wide to gulp it all down in a flourish. When you’re done, you’d go “ma-mo” (no more).

I have no way of finding out if the vitamins are working but interestingly, you have remained healthy throughout our stay in Sydney despite the cold weather and lack of proper naps (yes, Mummy here brought the entire bottle Down Under) while your parents fell ill upon our return. Keeping fingers crossed!

Speaking of play, you can play quietly on your own which is a lovely respite for your caregivers. Sometimes, you get a little too quiet and I’d take a quick peek at you, just to ensure that you’re not scaling the wall or trying to eat a dead bug. You are totally into anything with wheels, i.e. trucks, airplanes, trains and cars. As you can clearly see in this picture, your Ah Gong and Ah Ma has totally indulged you in your favourite things at their home. You have an army of vehicles at your command, Mr Bubu-pants!


More often than not, you are simply busy playing with your trains by pushing them along the track and looking dead serious about it. I confess that sometimes, I sit at a distance out of your sight and take in the beautiful sight of you trying to figure out a Duplo piece or attempting to fix 2 train pieces together.

You are also a lot more aware of Moon now and would sometimes, walk up to Moon and pet her on your own (the cutest thing EVER!). You also enjoy sitting in her bed – much to her chagrin. You also recently discovered this fun body part of hers called the tail and would attempt to tug at it at every chance. I am just glad that Moon is a very sweet and patient dog because honestly, I don’t think she likes her tail being tugged very much!


We have been teaching you to be GENTLE but sometimes, you forget and get a tad enthusiastic. You also enjoy watching me play fetch with Moon and would try and throw her toy too but it’s not much of a challenge for Moon because you throw it like, right at her feet. Wahahahaha.

This month, you have also started to show your preference for Mummy. Every other moment, I hear you go “Mummy? Mummy?“. Maybe this is what the books call separation anxiety. You can be in your own room pushing your trains around happily and suddenly, you’d let you a blood-curdling scream and start running towards me going “Mummyyyyyy!“.  I guess it is a stage and it will pass at some point. Mummy is never going to leave you, silly.


On the eating front, you have suddenly decided that carbohydrates are your NEW BEST FRIENDS and would only eat plain rice, plain noodles and…potato in any form (fried, roast). Just look at your gleeful face in the photo below, taken in Sydney. Any attempt to try and feed you a balanced meal results in the offensive food item being spat out in 3 seconds.


The only thing consistent is the fact that you still like chinese-style porridge where I hide put in bits of fish (salmon or cod fish) with chicken bits. I do hope that this carbo diet of yours will fizzle out soon enough. Your mother here has decided to (sings wearily) “let it go…” and not beat myself over it because we all know toddlers have a mind of your own.

I’m not sure if this bizzare eating habit is due to you teething AGAIN but your upper canines are erupting. I can see them coming through and according to charts, you are on track as these come through between 16 – 22 months. You try and chew on random objects around the house and strangely, have developed a love for licking the glass doors around the house. Looking back at my past notes to you, I swear teething occurs almost every month! I guess this is part and parcel of growing up and I can only try and make the experience a little better with lots of kisses and cuddles.


Happy 19 months, my cutie patootie! We can’t wait to embark on more adventures with you.

Love you lots,
Mummy xoxo

Sydney Shenanigans: Taronga Zoo

On our last visit to Sydney, we heard about the zoo but did not manage to check it out. This time round, Taronga Zoo was one of the “must-visits” on our list. We decided to head there was via ferry from Circular Quay. But first, we had to take a public bus. I love how the buses are clean and are stroller-friendly.


Yep, that’s me wearing Elliott’s sunglasses. I was hoping that he’d want to put it on because the Australian sun is pretty fierce but nope, it did not work. In fact, see that hat he’s wearing? He threw it on the ground 5 seconds after I took the picture. SIGH.

When we got to Circular Quay, there was a longggggg queue for zoo tickets. Well, we were warned by our hosts that our visit coincided with the Australia school holidays so a crowd is expected.

Tip: Buy your tickets online before your visit. You can pay for the ferry tickets using the Opal card. You’d need to PRINT the tickets for the visit though (sent via email) so don’t forget!

We finally got our tickets from a mobile ticket seller who was selling entrance tickets at the wharf, and squeezed our way with 10,525 other tourists and local students on their school excursions.

Tip: If you’re travelling with baby, it may be wise to leave your stroller behind and baby-wear. I was glad we did because it would have been impossible to get on the crowded ferry if we had our stroller with us.

The approximately 12-minute ferry ride passed a few Sydney icons, like the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. If you’re keen, you can sit on the upper deck in the open and get burnt suntan, which is exactly what many did. We (wisely) decided to stay covered.

When you arrive at the other side, there are a few options to get to the zoo:

  1. Take the Sky Safari which is on the left of the wharf. Use of the Sky Safari is included in the price of the zoo ticket.
  2. Turn right from the wharf and walk up a steep slope to the zoo.
  3. Take a bus from the wharf to the entrance of the zoo.

There was a long queue for the Sky Safari and we did not fancy trekking up the hill with our toddler so option #3 was best for us. It was a less than 5-minute bus ride which brought us here:

The reason I suggest that you leave the stroller at home is because at the reception area, you can easily rent a stroller, a City Mini Stroller, to be exact. It costs A$15 for a day’s use.

Tip: You have to leave behind some form of identification when you rent the stroller so bring along some identification with your photo on it, i.e. driving license, identity card, etc.

The stroller was surprisingly well-maintained and all I did was to give it a quick cursory wipe-down before plonking my child on it. Having a stroller also meant that we can unload the heavy stuff from the diaper bag into the large basket below it.

Tip: You will have to head back to the exact reception to return the stroller which meant that when you are at the zoo’s exit, you have to make your way all the way back to the reception area again. Keep this in mind if you intend to rent one.

My only complaint? This stroller can’t be reclined (or at least we couldn’t figure out how to!) which meant that when Elliott fell asleep later on in the day, the poor kid was sitting in an awkward position.

At the same reception, we also booked a pre-booked a ‘Koala Encounter‘. It costs A$24.95 and this must be pre-booked before you enter the zoo so if you are keen to do any of the encounters, remember to do it at the entrance!

Once we got all the logistics sorted out and the little man was fed and happy, off we went.


Just before the koala encounter, we decided to grab a quick bite at one of the hotdog stands. As it turns out, this was the only meal we had at the zoo.

Tip: If you’re visiting, it might be a good idea to pack your own food and have a little picnic.

After that quick bite where the little man ate far too many chips (or french fries, as we call it), we headed off to the koala enclosure for our encounter.

We were escorted into the fenced enclosure by the zoo keeper and brought to meet Darwin, an 8-year-old koala…


…who snoozed throughout our 15-minute or so visit. Oh, he did scratch his (furry) butt and yawned, then went back to sleep. Elliott was pretty fascinated and attempted to poke Darwin’s nose, much to our horror.

That pretty much sums up our koala encounter. Hehe. We also received a nice family photo as part of the experience.

At this point, the son was getting really sleepy so we popped him back into the stroller. Another observation about Taronga Zoo? It is pretty hilly. This means a fair bit of going uphill and downhill.

Soon after, the son fell asleep (HOORAAAAAY!) and this is what I mean by him napping in an awkward position.

We managed to catch the Sea Lion performance which was packed to the gills. Despite the loud cheers and music, Elliott slept through it all.

Taronga Zoo has spectacular views of the city skyline and this is the view if you catch the QBE free-flight bird show at noon.

Pretty breath-taking, I’d say.

As we walked around the zoo with our sleeping child, we came upon the seal enclosure. We stood by the glass silently watching the lone seal that was in sight and suddenly, it lumbered towards where we were standing and lo and behold, we had a life seal in our face, separated by a glass wall.


For a brief moment, it was just us and the seal. It was a beautiful moment. Well, it lasted for no more than 20 seconds before hordes of tourists came running to our side to yell in the seal’s face.

And because of all that yelling, Elliott woke up. Alamak. He barely napped for an hour and we all know how babies are when they don’t sleep enough. Check out that sleepy face. (Elliott, not the seal).

By then, we have nearly covered all of the zoo and decided to head towards the exit. As usual, there was the souvenir shop where we spent a bit of time.


Amazingly, we managed to walk out of the shop without a single purchase (yeay). By then, we were pretty exhausted, both from the sun and a lack of food but still had to take the Sky Safari all the way back to the reception to return the rented stroller.

The same Sky Safari took us back to the wharf where this time round, we chose to sit on the open-deck where the little man got his milk feed and the boy snapped photos of the beautiful skyline along with the 10,525 other tourists.

In summary, the Tarango Zoo was nice but I found our zoo better in terms of overall experience, especially when it came down to viewing the exhibits. Some of the exhibits, like the tiger enclosure, had a glass window that was too small to contain the huge school-holiday crowd so all I did was take a quick peek by standing on tiptoes before moving along. Also, I think zoos are better for older kids and Elliott might enjoy it more when he’s a little older. Still worth a visit though because one thing that it wins (hands-down) over our local zoo? The beautiful weather. You can walk and walk, uphill and downhill, and not get sweat-drenched. That in itself was lovely :)

Back from Down Under!


Hello! Sorry for the radio silence but we have just spent the past 10 glorious days Down Under in Sydney. It was the little man’s very first plane ride which made this mother very very nervous. I am pleased to report back that he was generally a trooper on the flight there and back.

We were also lucky to have won the airplane seats lottery this time round by having lovely people beside us on both flights. On our flight in, we were seated beside a lovely grandmotherly lady who was really kind and kept assuring me how Elliott will be ok during the flight. On the way back, we were next to a family of 2 kids – a little boy Z (2.5 years old) and a little girl E (1 year old). Their mother and I exchanged encouraging smiles to each other whenever one of our kids acted up.

In fact, on the descent, Z started to complain loudly how his ears hurt and I offered him some of Elliott’s favourite yogurt drops. They also watched Duplo clips on my phone together and before you know it, I heard the plane wheels touch the tarmac. Cue big sighs from both mommas. Gotta love how motherhood bonds you right away with random strangers!

We had a wonderful time, a big part due to our lovely hosts, SJ and G who were nothing short of amazing. They fed us (very well), drove us around (to and fro Hunter Valley, to be exact), helped us keep an eye on Elliott and basically spoilt him rotten with love and gifts. That little man came home with a bagful of Thomas the Tank Engine toys. They are truly a blessing in our lives.

I shall attempt to blog about the trip soon because we all know how as the days go by, we start to forget and the inclination to write about it goes out the window. I know because I wrote a draft entry for our amazing hot-air ballooning experience during our last trip to Sydney and never got down to completing it.

Wish me luck!

miss ene eats: Ma Maison (Bugis Junction)

I am positive that one of the most commonly-uttered phrases amongst (Singaporean) couples isn’t “I love you” but….

Today eat what ah?

Ok, at least it is for us.

We take Elliott to his music class every Sunday morning and after it ends, one of us will inevitably end up asking that question. We’d usually end up saying “dunno”, and we’d sit at the carpark cracking our heads, only to end up at the same few places that we always patronise.

In recent weeks, Ma Maison at Bugis Junction has been one of those few places. We arrive at about 11.30am before the lunchtime crowd (very important!) and get a nice table easily.


As the poster states, this family promotion rewards families. Dads get a free glass of beer, Mums get free ice-cream (SUGAAAAR IS GOOOOOOD) and child gets a free toy. I was wondering what sort of “toy” they were giving out and was pleased to note that they have a large wicker basket that sits near the entrance. This basket contains all sorts of toys that appeal to different ages of children. I think that this is a brilliant idea because a 10 year old’s preference for a toy would differ greatly from a 1 year old.


The first time we were at Ma Maison, I chose a plastic clapper thingy for Elliott. I was glad we only got it at the end of the meal because I can only imagine the din he’d create with it. On our last visit over the weekend, he got to choose his own Police toy car which kept him suitably occupied for a good part of the meal. HOORAY!


Right from the time we waited to be seated, to the time we left the restaurant, every staff that we came into contact with was cheerful and friendly. Quite a few of them were also really friendly with Elliott, making little conversations with him, and one lady server even gifted him with a small bar of Hersheys chocolate (“from aunty, ok?”). That was a small gesture but I think it is nice to dine at a family-friendly restaurant where the wait staff are not scowling at you because you have a 1.5 year old who cannot stay still in high chair.

I also like that the moment we sat down at the table, a child’s bowl and cutlery set were immediately placed in front of Elliott. My only complaint? The cutlery is made of metal which means that when child waves metal fork around, there is a high chance of metal fork poking mother in the eye.


Which was exactly what happened.

I was leaning towards Elliott for a kiss which is why the boy shot this perfectly-timed photo. Instead of planting a kiss on my right cheek, the little man decided to wave his fork around and my eye got in his way.


Anyway, it was an accident and my left eye is still intact, thankfully.

The food quality is also pretty decent and we will usually order dishes that Eliott can eat as well. He quite enjoyed the pasta and onion soup and the police toy car kept him suitably occupied till the end of the meal.