Sakura Singapore 2018

Gardens by The Bay (GBTB) is celebrating Sakura Singapore (樱花) from now till 08 April and families are rejoicing! (Sakura Matsuri event)

Matsuri (祭) is Japanese word for Festival, and Japan is already forecasting first blooms in Tokyo.

Spring is here 春天来了

If you are a anime fan, today is the last day to catch the cosplayers in action (schedule and programme link). Sorry Pikachu Parade was only one run on the 17th.

Temperature in Flower Dome is kept at a cool 19 degrees to prolong the sakura’s lifespan. Also known as Cherry blossom, the flowering will normally last around one week.

Torii gate greeted us at the entrance of Flower Dome. Whip out your cameras and phones 🙂

Besides the beautiful Sakuras, GBTB has added dolls into the landscaping.

These life-like dolls infuse a dimension of Japan into the setting. Many are dressed in intricate Kimonos!

Tea house in the center.

Introducing the stars of Sakura Matsuri, the Sakura flowers 🙂

They look splendid from all angles, I like to look up and see the sakura canopy above us. Closeups macros are even more endearing.

More wefie and family photos 🙂

Popular corners will need to queue too, but I am only piqued by the constant stream of photo bombers (we are guilty too haha!)

Japanese themed bridges, umbrellas and Torii gates add to the feel 🙂

Look closer, some sakuras are still budding

The cosplayers are attracting some attention too! The makeup, costumes, are elaborate and the actors really spend a lot of efforts to craft the desired appearance.

We must have seen at least 50 cosplayers, mostly females. I only noticed the hair and iris colours haha, purple, red, blue, white, green or orange.

Any colour except black :p

Our kids are not anime fans but we find these folks (and culture) fascinating. You can spot many more characters at hashtag #SakuraMatsuri

You can catch anisong concerts and even a cosplay parade from 5pm onwards.

Map below indicate that most of the activities are confined to three areas. Except for Flower dome entrance, all other activities are free.

Fringe activities include posing with famous cosplayers from the region and do look out for the pulsating Taito drums performance.


Refer to the first photo of no1 Wei, he is imagining the splendid spread of Sakura Blossoms in Tokyo 🙂

We hope your family will enjoy Singapore’s magnificent Sakura Matsuri too. One day, I will bring them to see the real deal in Japan 🙂

Tips to enjoy Sakura Singapore (Sakura Matsuri) at GBTB :

-It will be crowded, buy the tickets online to avoid the queue

-Take note of the ‘special events” timing, so you plan accordingly (refer link to Sakura Matsuri below)

-Carpark space will be packed, alternate carparks at Satay, Barrage will be full house too. Drop your family at Gardens by the Bay Visitor area, and try parallel park at “Marina Mall”

-Flower Dome itself will be swamped!  It will be super difficult to get your perfect portraiture, even harder to mount your tripod

-Although official cosplay activities are only on 17/18 Mar weekend. You will still spot many cosplay enthusiasts (with wings and swords too!)

-Leave the mat and picnic at home, you cannot hanami in Flower Dome :p

Sakura Singapore
Sakura Singapore

Additional links :

-Gardens by the bay Sakura Matsuri – from now till 08 April
-Do follow GBTB Facebook and Website for sakura’s blooming status

-Read our previous Sakura Singapore experiences at Gardens by the Bay, all magical! (2016 and 2017)

-SengkangBabies Gardens by the Bay stories





National Geographic’s Ocean Wonders at S.E.A Aquarium

No more shark fin’s soup. Our family pledged that sharks should be admired in their natural environment, and not served up in bowls!

I visited S.E.A Aquarium with Boon Xin recently, and it was another opportunity to explore Marine conservation with the kids.

Hey President Trump, even my 9 years old girl knows about the impact brought by climate change. Pollution, excess harvesting are destroying our ecosystem and depleting the fish stocks.

Many animals will disappear in the wild in this generation. Not extinct yet, but it means the only place to see a tiger or whale shark might be in zoo or aquarium! So Sad.

From now till 20 May, Resorts World Sentosa is hosting the first ever National Geographic Ocean Wonders event featuring the Ocean Record Breakers exhibition, Marine Photography Adventure and the National Geographic Ocean Exploration Children’s Workshop.

The Maritime Experiential Museum™ is reopen after an extensive revamp.

We followed some of the pioneer explorers and visited ancient Singapore. When Singapore was still a fishing village, the time before Sang Nila Utama, when merchants (and pirates too) used to ply the sea around Singapore.

The pioneer explorers

Braving treacherous sea conditions, ships were the only means of transport for goods and human.  We could traced how spices were transferred from Asia to Europe, or Gold from Middle east to Asia. Cultures were exported via sea route too.

Trade, barter, economics, livelihood. Where the ships go, ports flourished and cities bloomed. This was the Maritime Silk Route.

Our girl understood more about the adventures and perils of an adventurer, and we had fun with the workshops.


Muscat was berthed outside last time, this boat was constructed with old workmanship and sailed all the way from Oman. Sailors used traditional navigational aids, no GPS or satellite back then 🙂

Photo below, can you guess where is the Head (aka loo)?


Left Muscat, and right Chinese Junk

Our junior explorers pickup some life skills in the workshop. We need to understand North East South West before we can start navigating.

Seamanship requires us to be resourceful and adaptable. The Ocean is a harsh environment and rope skills secured our goods and ourselves.


Kids had an opportunity to craft their own yacht, or sampan. Just make sure your boat can float 🙂

With all the skills they pick up, we were ready to explore the Marine Silk Road on a Chinese Junk. However, we did not expect Typhoon to be so devastating!

The 4D experience was supposed to allow us to follow China’s emissary to somewhere in the Middle East… (fast forward) the crew encountered a Typhoon and our Chinese Junk became a wreck.

In another corner, we noticed “Noah’s Ark”  (the huge wall of giraffe, elephants etc) has been transformed into a pirate cove.

The second part of our exploration was the exploration of S.E.A. Aquarium. The highlight was S.E.A Aquarium’s newest resident, the sand tiger shark.

Kids are invited to go on a photography adventure and take part in an Ocean conservation mission.

Boon Xin is looking out for her Sand Tiger Shark.

Mr Bala told us Sand Tiger Sharks are harmless to humans, but the rows of menacing teeth told us otherwise :p

S.E.A Aquarium
S.E.A Aquarium

Save our Oceans! Protect the Marine Animals.

Beautiful corals. I shared with Xin that Great Barrier Reef (Queensland Australia) is the largest living structure, and the only one which can be spotted from Space! Unfortunately, coral bleaching is threatening to wipe off the reefs, and a vast habitat for the organisms 🙁



Chocolate Chip Sea star 🙂

I hope the kids will have a better appreciation of our ecosystem, and we can all play a part to conserve our Ocean.

No more Shark Fins! Sharks are more graceful when they swim, not in a bowl.

Some of the featured animals (and experiments) from National Geographic and S.E.A Aquarium.

How can the cute colourful frogs be poisonous?

I shared with the girl that Nature has a unique way to shout “Don’t eat me!!”. Leave the most colourful and brightest animals alone.


We need to talk about Recycling in the same wave as conservation, they goes hand in hand.  We are dumping too much plastics and by-products into the ocean. All these rubbish follow the currents and end up somewhere.

Marine animals which mistake plastic for food choke their stomachs and die a miserable (and suffocating) death.

Ocean Record Breakers exhibition, the name is self-explanatory.

We saw some of the monsters, and all are still living in our oceans. I would recommend the kids to stay clear of the Giant squids. They are sperm whales’ favourite snacks, and not the delicious version we see skewed at Old Chang Kee.

Wow, 18m squid is longer than our 11m buses!

I hope future generation will have an opportunity to see the majestic Orcas, Mola (sunfish) and whale sharks in the wild, not in aquariums.

The other fishes in S.E.A Aquarium does look cuter. But I told Xin puffer fish are actually voracious hunter, they will tear their preys apart!
So much for fugu.  

You can take part in a photo contest too, simply submit one of the featured animals in S.E.A Aquarium to Instagram (public profile). Tag @rwsentosa and #rwsoceanwonders And you might be one of the lucky winners every month 🙂

I showed the kids additional videos on how we humans are damaging the Ocean.
-Trawler and dredging basically scoops everything  off the seafloor, there  must be a more sustainable way of harvesting.
-Plastic Ocean!

Video (YouTube link) : Sea Aquarium, Conservation

Thank you for the education experience, S.E.A Aquarium, I hope my kids will appreciate the Earth’s fragile ecosystem more.  I hope they play a part to conserve our  ecosystem and marine habitat for future generations.

Workshop and Ticket details are available at this link
Do follow RWS website and Facebook for latest updates.

Exploring our Taipei Neighbourhood

Exploring our Taipei Neighbourhood is fun, there are many stalls and shops which are off the radars of Google. We stayed 3 nights at a HomeAway apartment next to 南京復興站 Nanjing Fuxing MRT Station.


We will share more about our HomeAway apartment and its neighbourhood in this blog post. know something is good, delicious, cool when you see a queue.  And there are many such “treats” (pun intended) in the streets of Taipei (Taiwan too!)



Below Instagram (link) depicted our friendly Taiwanese friends. Through word of mouth recommendations, we string up an impromptu neighbourhood itinerary .


Another famous Taiwanese trait is the folks’ friendliness 台湾人热情好客 !

A post shared by Andy Lee (@sengkangbabies) on

#Taiwan #台湾 people Super friendly and 好客 🇹🇼 Host recommended us #遼寧街夜市 #LiaoningNightMarket (we will share our gorgeous #Homeaway unit later) . We found Champion #LuRouFan #滷肉飯🍛#冇冇有麵攤 Kids all thumbs up 👍😋 . The friendly boss recommended us 💆‍♂️foot massage at #足將軍養生館 🙌✊ Massage 师父(shifu) recommended us Bak Chang #肉粽 at #王記府城肉粽 . Taiwanese will help forklift your car out of tight spots too 🚙 (joking, the parked cars were blocking 🚧the lanes 🤣). . #sengkangBabies #sengkangBabiesTaiwan

A post shared by Andy Lee (@sengkangbabies) on



A reliable host is hard to come by, and HomeAway’s Lydia is exceptional!

(Link to our HomeAway link). Our family got many requests, and she exceeded our expectations. More photos and details here and here.

Lydia will give you super detailed instructions to her apartment, and is very accommodating too. She was positive to our requests to drop our heavy luggage enroute to Keelung Ruifang, and also extended luggage storage after we checked out.

Beautifully decorated, we got a feeling of home away from away staying 3 nights here. Thank you Lydia, you made our Taipei stay so much more memorable 🙂

Video (YouTube link) : Christmassy feeling from our Taipei HomeAway apartment

We would gladly recommend Lydia’s apartment to our friends. Do use promo code “HomeAwaySKBabies” and enjoy 8% off your booking (Valid until 31 Mar 2018)

~~ back to our Taipei Neighbourhood recommendations ~~

#01 遼寧夜市 Liao Ning Night Market
(GPS 25.049110, 121.542156)

This is a niche Night Market, 8 minutes walk from our apartment. Plenty of seafood and hawkers are super enthusiastic to secure our business.

Dessert stalls are very popular in Taiwan, ideal when the temperature drops.


We saw this stall which advertised Champion 滷肉飯 Lu Rou Fan. We would recommend #冇冇有麵攤  (rated 3.75/5) 古早 old-school menu too.

(GPS 25.049000, 121.542150)


We also ordered beef noodles from next door. Most of the eateries (neighbourhood, not restaurants) would allow you to bring food to another stall.

The boss and staff are very friendly and recommended a massage centre 3 stalls away to sooth our tired legs.


#02 – 足將軍養生館 ( GPS 25.048488, 121.542120)

We went for a 60 minutes massage for NTD 900 each.

A good massage experience always depend on the 師父 shifu’s (therapist) skills. Ours were chatty and really know where to press to release the tired knots.

Before they press the pain point, the female therapist would make Mrs laugh so the soreness (pain) is more bearable haha.

There are a few branches and depending on demand, the shifu sometimes need to cover a few area. Me and Mrs had an enjoyable massage and I would rate 足將軍 (4/5). The kids were happy indulging in mobile games in their room.

#03 – 王記府城肉粽 is a 老字号 (traditional)  Bak Chang 肉粽  outlet in Taipei.

(GPS 25.048026, 121.546059)

The 肉粽 Bak Chang was recommended by our massage therapist. If you mention traditional 肉粽, many folks would direct you to the famous stall.

Some will recommend the carrot soup and “面线 mee shua” too. We had extra servings of the delicious  肉粽 (salted egg and walnut fragrance) (rated 3.75/5)


#04- Haritts donut 甜甜圈
(GPS 25.051219, 121.545522)

Recommended by Google, their donuts received good reviews. Donuts are tasty but the cover child per pax and drinks were expensive (overshadowing the donuts). (average NTD 200 to 250 per pax)

We love our Mocha and hot Chocolate beverages.  We would rate the donuts experience (3.75/5)



Many Instagrammable corners in this donut shop.

Hunting for more stalls, Taipei neighbourhood never fail to surprise us.


Boon Yee’s favourite egg snack, 鸡蛋糕.

#05 – 金車快餐便當 (GPS 25.050188, 121.544807)

Kids enjoy their economical rice. Cheap and yet delicious, the meat balls and chicken cutlets were fulfilling.

We first noticed the long queues, both white and blue collar workers. If in doubt, trust your instinct and follow the queues 🙂

(rated 4/5)

Yummy local delights

The MRT is just downstairs of our apartment if we needed to venture further. Infact, we even transited from Nanjing Fuxing to Taipei Main enroute to Taoyuan airport terminal.

SOGO and parks around our HomeAway department. Although we stayed here for 3 nights, we did not have enough time to explore everything.

Besides finding new attractions, the amount of steps helped with my Marathon recovery too.  I had just completed my Marathon a week before our Taiwan trip.


Taipei Neighbourhood
Taipei Neighbourhood

#06 – 八方雲集鍋貼水餃 Dumplings and 煮炒
(GPS 25.052445, 121.546859)

八方dumplings are delicious and cheap. I was hunting for snack and saw students lining up. Google revealed many 八方 branches in Taipei.

Hint : If you see students queuing up, it means the food is good and affordable (example Bubble tea)

We also packaged some fried rice and seafood soup from the 煮炒 (Zhi Char) stall next door. If you love to experience good local eats, most of the Zhi Char stalls would not disappoint. We would rate both stalls (3.5/5)

#07-Some other findings around our Taipei Neighbourhood

-Bikes (YouBike) are almost always neatly parked at allocated slots. When we walk on the streets, bike lanes are clearly demarcated and road users keep to their own lanes, minimising the chance of collision. Unlike Singapore, walking in Taipei is very safe, you need not worry about another speeding reckless escooter.

-(Below, Right picture). We witnessed a road work, and the forklift simply moved the cars away swiftly and efficiently. I am puzzled why the alarms were not triggered, this is a rare sight in Singapore.

Civic-mindfulness of Taiwanese  🙂



佳德鳳梨酥 Chia Te outlet is about 1.8km away from Nanjing Fuxing MRT station. We still prefer Chia Te’s crispy Sun cake (NTD 360 for 12 pieces).
太陽餅 and 鳳梨酥 anyone? (GPS 25.051316, 121.561493, nearest MRT is Nanjing Sanmin)

-1km south from our apartment,  路地 氷の怪物 cute ice creams await (GPS 25.044674, 121.544192 )

林東芳牛肉麵 Lin Dong Fang beef noodles (GPS 25.046850, 121.541353)

慶城海南雞飯 Ching Cheng Hainan Chicken Rice is highly recommended by our host (GPS 25.052921, 121.545550) , but we wanted to try something which is less common in Singapore :p

– No worries about fast food, Mcdonald’s and KFC are around the corner

-Shopping Mall Urban One is just opposite and a very popular bakery downstairs (Brothers Hotel). We always miss this bakery due to its early closing time (first come first serve), and there is always a constant stream of customers!

Wherever you stay in taipei, we hope your family would have Fun exploring Taipei  Neighbourhood too.

Photo albums :

Day 1 Aowanda, Cing Jing
Day 2 Cing Jing
Day 3 Xitou Nature Education Area, Monster Village, Sun Moon Lake
Day 4 Taichung (Zhongshe flower, ShengXin station, Cycling, Fengjia)
Day 5 Taichung (Animation Lane, Rainbow, Miyahara)
Day 6 Keelung 基隆
-Day 7 Ruifang, Jiufen and Shifen
-Day 8 Taipei HomeAway attractions
-Day 8a Taiwan

Blog posts :

** Taiwan Itinerary for families 
Day 1 Google Sheet, Aowanda, Cing Jing
Day 2 Cing Jing Farm
HomeAway Recommendations for Taiwan
Day 3a Xitou Nature Education area (溪頭)
Day 3b Monster village 妖怪村 and Sun Moon Lake
Day 4 Cycling Taichung 台中 
Day 4a 台中 Taichung  attractions
Day 5a 台中 Taichung food Ice cream and Bubble Tea
Day 5b 台中 Taichung Fengjia night market
Taipei Neighbourhood around our HomeAway Vacation Home
-Day 6 Keelung

Instagram Hashtag #sengkangBabiesTaiwan
Instagram #sengkangBabiesTaiwan