Category Archives: Carriers

Our 1st Royal Caribbean Adventure – Voyager of the Seas (4-8 June 2018)

Everything is uploaded except videos as they need editing. 🙂

It’s a LOOOONG post because there’s so many things I wanna tell everyone!
And BIG THANK YOU to the lovely mummies who provided me with so much information before & during my cruise!!! We had so much fun!

What’s in this post:
(1) Important information to ensure you don’t look swakoo (well, I was so swakoo lah) and also to help you plan your trip well.
(2) Photos (to tempt you if you haven’t already booked your trip).
(3) Tips on how to maximize your holiday.
(4) My personal opinions of the cruise. I will also share on how you can enjoy it on LOW BUDGET. And of cos if you have big budget, it will be even better!
(5) Comparison between Costa Victoria & Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas.

Do look through the album on Facebook for more info too!
I will post more tips at the description of photos & videos!

Click THIS to get to the FB album with more photos & tips!

Click THIS to view PDF files of the Cruise Compass (daily schedules), Kid’s Club details, etc!

Who went?
Initially when I booked the trip, we booked 3 rooms. It was for us (Ahjussi, Myself, 2 kids), my parents (Mum, Dad, Sis & 1 kid) and my bro (Him, my SIL, 1 teen counted as adult price & 1 baby).
BUT, we had to cancel 1 room 2 weeks after we booked because my SIL found out she was preggy with #3 🙂
Cruises have very very very strict policy about preggers on board. Please take note!
If you are more than 24 weeks or will turn more than 24 weeks preggy during the cruise, they will reject! Just nice my SIL will be 25 weeks during our cruise dates so end up they can’t go.
So the trip proceeded with just 2 rooms (total 5 adults and 3 kids).

Which ship?
We booked Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas.

Which ports?
Ours was a 5D4N cruise covering Penang & Phuket.

Type of cabin?
We took Oceanview Stateroom on Deck 3 (front of ship).
RC Day 1-15.jpg

Price?
It was slightly more expensive due to school holidays.
We booked under kids & seniors get 50% off. I heard my cousin who went 2 weeks earlier (not school holiday yet) than us got a better deal. When I compared prices, it was significantly different too, so if you don’t have primary school kids, please book off peak period to save $$$!

Total for our 3 rooms was SGD7110.10. Round off is around $2400 per room of 4 pax. Do note for RC, this price is inclusive of gratuity, which is not the case for another cruise we took last Nov (Costa Victoria). This is an ALL INCLUSIVE PRICE. Which means if you did not make any onboard purchases, you do not need to pay anything more. And don’t forget whatever pricing you see onboard, it is in USD and you need to ADD 18% to it!
1st deposit $2400 and balance can split payment (read on to find out why I split payment).
(Compared with Costa Victoria which I paid $2100 for 2 Oceanview Staterooms with 5 adults and 3 kids + a compulsory SGD$600+++ gratuity at the end of the trip which was billed to my credit card. So that worked out to be SGD1350 per room for 4D3N compared with VoS SGD2400 for 5D4N. But really, you pay peanuts you get monkeys lah! Costa Victoria was acceptable for me cos it was cheap and I managed my expectations, but if you want to compare the 2 cruises then it sucks! #oops!)

Click THIS to get to the FB album with more photos & tips!

Click THIS to view PDF files of the Cruise Compass (daily schedules), Kid’s Club details, etc!

PART 1: BOOKING THE TRIP
While I was searching for pricing & promotional deals, I saw that many travel agents had promotions. RC’s website also had promotions and you can book online or via phone. The prices are ALL THE SAME to be honest, just that some travel agents have credit card tie ups to offer free luggage or other freebies if you pay using certain credit cards. So it is really up to you. 🙂  If you love freebies, keep a lookout for those travel agents!

For us, I wanted convenience. Someone to do the booking for me. Someone I can blame if the booking went wrong :p
So we decided to check out WTS Travel at Waterway Point (walking distance from my place). And being typical auntie, I was aiming for the Fraser Mall Reward points.
I mean… Since I’m going to pay for it, then I might as well try to get some freebies out of it right?
Plus Waterway Point had promotion if you spent $100 you can get $10 credit! Sometimes they have other freebies too! Anyway Fraser Mall Rewards membership is FREE. Just download their app and sign up!

So I did the most incredibly cheapskate thing… I requested for split payment at WTS and they were so nice to say OK! (You don’t have to do this if you are rich and don’t like trouble :p)
Why split payment?
– Fraser Mall limit 500 points per day ($500 spent = 500 points). I recently redeemed 7000 points and got a $35 credit!
– Can claim many many $10 credit if I split the payment! This is while promo lasts though. Check with them on latest promotions!
– I enjoy walking to WWP daily anyway, Ahjussi and I treat it as couple time to walk over together.
WhatsApp Image 2018-06-08 at 23.21.27

The staff are super nice at WTS! They calculated the minimum deposit first, then the balance split into $500/day to pay. Ahjussi is also a Fraser Mall Rewards member so we split the deposit into 2 payments on the same day to get the mall points. Anyway, we cleared the payments within a few trips since each of us paid $500/day.
Details on Fraser Mall Rewards here: http://www.frasersrewards.com/fr-home.php?CategoryID=649 (They have more than 1 mall and you can accumulate from all the different malls, so why not?)

When we had to cancel 1 room, WTS staff were super prompt and awesome again! They helped us with the whole process.

They also guided us through important details and how to login to pre-book anything we needed. They printed out all our tickets, luggage tags, etc too! Very good service!

Important tip when booking: Choose your meal time wisely! Ours was 8pm slot so we had to watch later show times (9.30pm start) which may not be suitable if your kids are early sleepers. Mine are fine with sleeping late and I’m not fussy about their bedtime. They are trained to be flexible and adapt, so I didn’t get grumpy kids due to changes in bed time.

Important tip when booking: Book early if you want connecting rooms!

We took Oceanview Stateroom on Deck 3. This is the ‘second-cheapest cabin type’. If you have bigger budgets, can go try their balcony staterooms. I was worried about balcony as Meimei is very active and I was worried about the safety factor (we didn’t even allow her to walk on her own at the open decks). My kids loved looking out at passing ships, so Oceanview was the best option for us without a big dent in our pockets.
RC Day 1-19

We saw the Interior Staterooms on board and they looked cool too! You can actually view the Royal Promenade which is the main activity area (the Dreamworks character appearances and mass dances happen here).

Click THIS to get to the FB album with more photos & tips!

Click THIS to view PDF files of the Cruise Compass (daily schedules), Kid’s Club details, etc!

PART 2: BEFORE YOUR TRIP
(1) Login to RC’s website to manage your trip! You can upgrade your dining options, book internet packages & drink packages or book shore excursions. And you can link your credit card for easy check out!

  • Link your credit card to your room. You can link for multiple rooms too. This makes the check out process very convenient because you don’t have to queue up to settle payment in cash. Cash payment is in USD, they accept SGD at unfavourable rates. So it is best to link a credit card with good exchange rates & doesn’t charge you for overseas charges. You can select to be billed in your local currency or in USD. I opted to be charged in USD. They will leave the bill outside your door once it is ready, for you to check.

Total Bill

  • If you like GOOD COFFEE, I suggest that you book their drink package with coffee… OR bring your own 3-in-1 coffee packs. My parents said the coffee at the free cafes are diluted and not nice… Or if you are a soft drink junkie like Ahjussi, you can consider the soft-drinks package too. I didn’t allow it because we were getting off at Penang & Phuket where he can buy cheap soft drinks. LOL!
  • If you MUST be connected to internet at all times, do take a look at the Voom Wi-Fi packages (price list uploaded). It is rather expensive as it goes by number of devices. If you book it for the whole cruise, it is around USD80 for 1 device. This is the basic one, not enough to stream YouTube or movie hor! Too expensive for me!
    We didn’t get it because I’m alright with being not-connected for a while.
    Day 1 we had Singapore network till around 6pm. Then after that no network till we were near Penang the next morning (Day 2) around 9+am. We had Malaysia SIM cards so we switched and used our Malaysia lines. No network again while we slept, then we had Thailand network the next morning (Day 3) till 9pm. Then no network for 24 hours (Day 4), followed by some Malaysia network at night (Day 4) and then back in SG (Day 5) in the morning.
    For those who do not already have Malaysia & Thai SIM cards like we do or hate having to change SIM cards, my sis used a very convenient pre-paid Data Sim card by Starhub: http://www.starhub.com/personal/mobile/mobile-phones-plans/value-added-services/roaming/postpaid-roaming/data-plans/datatravel.html
    I found this super affordable too. SGD15 for 2GB!
    Ours was SGD5.50 for the Thai card (SIM + Data) & RM3 for the Malaysia card’s data usage (existing Malaysia pre-paid SIM). Ahjussi got for Big Boy a Malaysia 30-day Data SIM for SGD7.99, unlimited data! First 5GB is fast then after that is low.
    If you are tech-savvy enough, you can buy your own Wi-Fi egg and put the SIM card in to share the data! Or use Hotspot 🙂
    You can shop around for good deals!

(2) Read through the program sheet I’ve uploaded and plan your activities wisely. Time is precious on board!

Click THIS to get to the FB album with more photos & tips!

Click THIS to view PDF files of the Cruise Compass (daily schedules), Kid’s Club details, etc!

Print out and highlight what you wanna do!

Highly recommended:
– Magic Show by John Taylor (comedy + magic show)
– Ice Skating Show: Ice Odyssey
– Flow Rider (there’s minimum height, but adults please make time to try!)
– Dreamworks Parade & appearances (some are free for you to pose for photos with them like Gloria from Madagascar, some are paid type like Kungfu Panda)
– Join in all the dances at Royal Promenade & Poolside! Don’t be shy! No one will recognize you anyway!
– Dine at Main Dining Room because the food quality is good. Then eat more at Level 5 24 hour café. LOL!
* Do note that program may change. Check again when onboard with our updated Cruise Compass! I’ve uploaded the Cruise Compass from 2 different sail dates, so you can compare.

Important Tip: Many of the shows & sign up queues start around 20-30min before the actual time stated! So plan enough walking time and queue time! Go early to avoid disappointment!

(3) Make your kids watch Dreamworks movies like Madagascar & Kungfu Panda so that they will recognize the characters on board. Meimei went bonkers when she saw Kungfu Panda!

(4) Decide if you wanna get off at Penang & Phuket. Then decide if you prefer to follow RC’s shore excursions (price & what’s available uploaded) or go on your own.
PENANG: You can just stroll off the cruise. It is easy to just head out of the pier and get a taxi (tonnes of them there), or book a GRAB, or just walk around on your own. We hired a driver to bring us around. RM250 in a MPV (we squeezed a little) for the duration of the stopover of our cruise (3pm to 8pm). More details about where we went and what we did in Penang later in this post!
PHUKET: You need to take a smaller shuttle boat to the pier or beach (depending on season). More info about the port when you scroll down to read.
We decided to book GRAB because the drivers we contacted quoted us quite high price and Ahjussi only had 1 word for the price: SIAO!
They quoted us 4000baht for 8 of us, just bring us to shopping area and pick us up after we are done. We checked Grab and decided Grab is cheaper.
If your cruise docks at Patong Bay, you don’t need a driver at all. Check with them when you book.

(5) Download all your kiddo’s fave YouTube videos. I almost went crazy because Meimei kept asking for YouTube before bed (while the adults took turns to shower). Thankfully Ahjussi used VIU to download Pink Fong Baby Shark songs to entertain her. And the boys were so helpful in playing with her too.
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Click THIS to get to the FB album with more photos & tips!

Click THIS to view PDF files of the Cruise Compass (daily schedules), Kid’s Club details, etc!

PART 3: PACKING FOR YOUR TRIP
Due to our bad experience drinking SALTY ‘plain water’ on board Costa Victoria, we were very determined to bring our own drinking water on board. However, the water on board Voyager of the Seas (VoS) was alright! With slight chlorine smell which is very similar to our normal tap water in Singapore.

But we still brought water because we didn’t know the water on VoS would be drinkable unlike Costa Victoria.

What we packed:
(1) Casual clothes for 4 days + 1 spare
(2) Formal attire (dress for ladies, long pants & shirt for guys) for formal dinner night. And yes, they reject if you are not properly attired. We saw it happen to an old uncle in front of us.
(3) Mozzie repellent & sunblock
(4) Toiletries
(5) Own towels (their towels are super clean, but I’m very fussy about this and never let my kids use the hotel towels when we travel)
(6) Slippers & good walking shoes (preferably something that can double up as nice shoes for formal night)
(7) Drinking water (5 x 2L bottles spread into 4 luggage). We bought 5 more bottles when we were in Penang.
We used the drinking water for Meimei’s water bottle refills, to make milk for her, and for the kids to brush their teeth. My parents also used some of the water we bought to take their vitamins in the morning.
(8) Swimwear if you intend to swim or try the Flow Rider!
(9) Backpack to bring the kids’ stuff around easily (we had to make sure we had milk & diapers ready at all times with Meimei). I brought a small sling bag & Ahjussi had his usual waist pouch for our credit cards, cash, and phones (more for when leaving the ship in Penang & Phuket).
(10) LANYARDS FOR EVERYONE including the kids! Because you need to have the SeaPass cards (your room access cards) with you at all times. You can choose one to hang around the neck or as like a wristlet. It’s your preference 🙂
(11) Hot water flask (NO KETTLES ALLOWED – They provided but again I don’t dare to use.) & some bottles to refill water to bring to the room for convenience. We used the hot water to wash & sterilize the milk bottles & water bottles daily.
(12) Your chargers for your devices! Do note that EXTENSION CABLES ARE NOT ALLOWED! They will be confiscated! So, if you have multiple devices like us, then make sure you have something that can plug many USB cables like ours.
Ahjussi got ours from Lazada. There are many brands and they have different number of USB ports. Take your pick! Link here: Click here to see the charger!
Tip from Ahjussi: Buy the one for use in Singapore. On board just add on a travel adaptor (2 pin round style) will do. Then you can still use it in Singapore. Not wasteful at all.
RC Day 1-80.jpg
(13) Carrier/Stroller if you need. Carrier was my choice as it was easier to manage than stroller. Many families had strollers on board.
(14) Bring PORTABLE FANS! Because during the compulsory drill, it is HOT and STUFFY. Be prepared! We also used it while we were in Penang & Phuket! Ahjussi the genius daddy used them to blow the milk bottles to dry (cos we lazy, dry bottles means you can put the milk powder in first so when the girl asks for milk we just need to pour water in).
(15) Pencil case with HIGHLIGHTER. So you can highlight on the Cruise Compass! It’s very helpful!

Click THIS to get to the FB album with more photos & tips!

Click THIS to view PDF files of the Cruise Compass (daily schedules), Kid’s Club details, etc!

PART 4: THE ACTUAL CRUISE!
Sorry we don’t have much info for the kids’ club other than the info sheet I’ve uploaded. The boys said they were not keen and Meimei didn’t qualify as she is not fully toilet trained yet.
Requirements: Must be 3yo and above. Must be toilet trained.  

DAY 1: Boarding!
Though our tickets said our boarding time is 3pm, my parents insisted that ‘can go early and eat lunch on board one’… And I checked with the nice staff at WTS, she also said no issues to go earlier.
So, we arrived at Marina Cruise Centre at 9am! Agreed to meet my parents at 9.30am, we were worried about traffic and left home earlier.

The whole check in process is super simple!
(1) Make sure your luggage is locked and secured.
(2) Staple the luggage tag. If you forgot to bring it or don’t have a staple, don’t worry! They have 2 counters with staff to assist you.
(3) Hand the luggage over to the staff and they will handle it for you. Do note that it takes quite a while before you get your luggage back, so pack your necessary items into your backpack or handcarry bags.
(4) Head on in! Make sure you have your ticket & passport on hand. The staff will check and direct you to the correct place.
(5) CHECK IN! The staff will check your tickets, passports and issue you with your SeaPass! If you had linked your credit card, they will need the actual card to swipe and confirm.
(6) Scan your belongings and pass immigration, then you can BOARD!

While waiting to board, take a good look at your SeaPass. Memorise the room number and check against the layout of the ship to familiarize yourself. I’ve uploaded it for you, take your time to analyse when choosing rooms too!
When taking photos with the official photographers, remember to give the room number so you can view & purchase the photos (if you want).
Also take note on your dining time and dining room level.

Upon boarding, your room will not be ready till 1pm. They will announce over the PA system once the rooms are ready.
What to do while waiting? Head straight to level 11 at the back of the ship to enjoy free buffet lunch! It’s quite crowded, so be fast and send 1 or 2 reps to go grab seats first.
The kids need to be tagged, but you can do it later. Go grab lunch first because it is hard to get a table. At the fire drill, the staff will check and issue the tag on the spot.

At 1pm, you can head to the room and relax. Or drop off your handcarry & explore the ship before it gets crowded! Flow Rider opens at 2pm! Go try before the crowd comes in!

At 4pm, the MOST IMPORTANT THING will happen. Which is the Muster Assembly Drill. If you don’t turn up, the ship can’t sail!!!
On your SeaPass there’s a Muster Number, SUPER BIG. You have to assemble in the correct area. The staff will direct you.
Don’t go too early, esp with kids & old folks. You end up standing there in the hot sun. They will start to chase you out of the room, so start walking over at 4pm.

After you are dismissed from the drill, head straight to LEVEL 5 to get a good spot to watch the DreamWorks Parade (5pm). This only happens ONCE on the entire cruise. So don’t miss it! Somewhere near the popcorn machine will be a good spot!

Then you can hang around and check out the ship or go for your early dinner if your timeslot is 5.30pm.
For us, we hung around and went to watch a little of Jumanji at the poolside, snacked a little at L11 Windjammer’s buffet dinner before our actual dinner at 8pm.

Day 1’s show is ice skating show, they are quite strict about the ice skating show due to super limited seats, and it goes by your main dining allocation. 5.30pm dining people get a guaranteed seat at either 8.30pm or 10.30pm show (check again for details depending on your dining deck). BUT, you can go half hour earlier to queue/wait. If there’s enough seats, they will let those on the standby queue head in to watch.

DAY 2: Penang!
Baby Oppa wanted to skate and 10am was the sign ups for skating, but we were too slow and there was a crazy long queue. So I told him it’s OK, I will bring him ice skating in Singapore.
Do try to come down earlier to queue for slots. At around 9.30am the queue started. Make sure you and the kids are already in long pants and you have socks with you.

Tip: Don’t promise your kids anything. Explain to them that there are many people on the cruise too. If they are cooperative and fast, high chance they can do the activities. If they drag time, they will miss it. After this, Baby Oppa learnt to MOVE FAST & the kids were cooperative.

There’s loads of activities but my kids ended up wanting to play golf! It was fun but very hot under the sun! Bring caps/hats & sunblock!

We got off at Penang at 2.30pm. A lot earlier than the expected 3pm (probably due to the good weather and quiet sea).
Head down to Level 1 (follow the announcements) and step off the ship!
Stop 1: Peranakan Museum (Entrance Fees Payable total RM120 for us). My parents enjoyed seeing all the antiques! Not very suitable for active kids as loads of breakables in the area. I was prepared to wait outside with Meimei but thankfully she fell asleep and took a long nap so I managed to walk and take photos too!
Stop 2: Penang Coffee. To be honest, the coffee is a little exp. I’m not a coffee person so I don’t know how to appreciate. But Ahjussi loves it. So indulge him and let him buy.
Stop 3: Bak Kut Teh – RM120 (paid by my dad – Thank you Papa!) We love this place! For intestines loving people, the intestines here are super good! Big Boy loved the pork knuckle. Baby Oppa loved the golden mushroom, youtiao and gravy! Meimei was happy eating plain rice. Zzzz
Stop 4: Convenience store shopping! I know it sounds crazy but I had to grab chips, chocolates and water. Whatever makes my kids happy! Ahjussi needed his Coke too.
Stop 5: Pharmacy. To replenish my medication stock and my sis had to buy more contact lens solution (because she didn’t bring enough).
Then we headed back before the crowd came back. Went to our room, showered and had dinner at the main dining room and went to watch the show at 9.30pm.

Click THIS to get to the FB album with more photos & tips!

Click THIS to view PDF files of the Cruise Compass (daily schedules), Kid’s Club details, etc!

DAY 3: Phuket!
Had to start the day EARLY because we were KIASU. I heard that it is a long wait for the tenderboats and we should queue early. So we had breakfast at 7.30am and went to join the queue for tickets at 8.15am.

TIP: You can send 1 representative to queue. But that person needs to be holding all the SeaPass.

If the whole group is ready and are in the queue, they will let you board the 1st tender immediately!

Thanks to my kiasu-ness, we managed to get queue #1! And we headed to shore. The tenderboat ride was around 20min. Very pleasant as that boat was air-conditioned. Enough seats for all. RC staff were very experienced and organized! Instructions are clear too.

Upon arrival at shore, there were loads of taxi/van drivers… So we didn’t notice the road side stalls as the drivers totally blocked all our view.
We kaypo ask for a quote to decide if use them or get a GRAB as per our original plan and it was 4000baht to bring us to eat seafood, shopping in the same area and head back to the pier.

So we took a Grab to Phuket Old Town (the Central Market). 490baht, we gave 500 baht. It is MPV, so sit 7-8 pax (squeeze a little) is OK. If the group is bigger you really need to hire van and pay the 4000baht (or you can try to bargain).

At that area we walked around to see street art. Then settled down at a nice old café run by an old lady and we chit chat with her.
Then we continued walking around and found a massage place! 250baht for 1h of foot massage (Thank You Mummy!). It was so so so good! Baby Oppa had a massage too! My mum tried their oil massage.
After that we continued walking and found a small chicken rice place. Very hungry and my mum was happy to see Chinese food after eating western meals on board for the past 2 days. After that we went to a convenience store (again) to shop. Bought some cup noodles because we wanted supper but too lazy to walk to the 24h café to get food. Ahjussi bought soft drinks again and was a happy man.

If you don’t wanna go anywhere else, you can come out later to the pier (around 1-2pm) and just shop & eat at the roadside stalls just beside the pier. At least try the tenderboat experience!
My boys loved the BBQ food there. There’s local street food (sit under a tent and eat) too, but we only saw it on our way back, and we were too full! We bought some souvenirs for the boys’ friends here. Cute little magnets!

And the service by RC is really awesome. On our way back, we noticed a huge table with 3 ice water dispensers and loads of cups. And a familiar looking uniform. It was a RC staff standing there waiting to give us water to drink!
The weather was really scorching hot so we were happy to see him. 3 dispensers had different type of water. Plain iced water, cucumber ice water, lemon ice water. The cucumber iced water was the best to cool down!

The tenderboat arrived just as we strolled into the pier, so we boarded after 5min (to allow the passengers to get off). But this tenderboat was different from what we took to shore. It was older and no aircon. Just fans. But because it wasn’t crowded, we had good seats and managed to take crazy amazing photos of the ship!!!
We headed back at around 2pm to enjoy the facilities on the cruise.

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Do note that due to tide/sea level, the port may change. Some nice mummies told me their Nov/Dec cruises docked at Patong Bay (and the tenderboats will drop you off smack in the middle of Patong Beach). From there you can just walk around and there’s no need for driver unless you want to go to other places.
For us, it docked at Deep Sea Port and the pier was Phuket Marine Customs Pier.

As the next day was my mum’s birthday, I sent her for a facial on board the cruise as a treat.
To be honest, I found their prices steep. My mum too. She kept telling me so expensive. But it’s worth it to make my mum happy! Anyway, we used a coupon which was in the room. $50 off if you book spa/facial services during docking days (Day 2 & 3). So it worked to be quite alright. USD150 after the discount for her facial (which the staff said is some super good anti-aging treatment).
Receipts

The rest of us went round the ship taking photos, watching people try the Flow Rider, letting the kids play golf, hung around at the café to eat (again).

As mentioned earlier, our dinner time at the main dining is 8pm. But we wanted to catch the 7.30pm magic show as we were worried the kids might be too tired to enjoy the 2nd show at 9.30pm. So we tried our luck!
I approached the staff at the main dining and asked if we could eat earlier as my mum was hungry (she was cos she went to have her facial while the rest of us snacked). And they were so nice! Took them a minute to double confirm they had an empty table for 8 and could take us in. So we sat down and enjoyed our dinner very much! Yay!

So we finished dinner on time and went early to grab good seats to watch the magic show! We didn’t want to sit to near the stage as we had to run out in case Meimei cried (which she did because she wanted to sleep). But our seats had a good view, so we were happy. And our room was just outside the theatre, very convenient for us to head back to our room to rest.

We had our cup noodles for supper in our room. Heehee! Hurray to Ahjussi who brought 2 huge thermal flasks kept them filled with hot water daily!
You can easily refill plain water & hot water at L11 Windjammer or L5 Café. So, choose your room/deck carefully!

DAY 4: Cruise All Day Long!
Chillax day for us! Woke up late, lazed around! Went around the ship to let the kids play and take photos. Watched people at the Flow Rider again (it’s addictive and fun to watch)!

Had early lunch because we wanted to catch the ice skating show at 2pm.
By right, our allocated slot was the 4pm show but we wanted to try our luck and we got into the standby queue at 1.40pm. We managed to get a good seat for the 2pm show! It’s quite cold inside, wear something warm!

As it was our last dinner, I think my sis went all out.
So did Ahjussi. They ordered like multiple sets of starters because the food was just too good. And multiple sets of mains too!

And it was my mum’s birthday! Ahjussi secretly went to tell the staff and they came over with cake and a candle lit up! Sang Happy Birthday to my mun and wished her too!
And funniest was Meimei wanting to blow the candle but too sudden and she was too far away. By the time she ran over, my mum blow it already!
The staff saw it and he was so so so nice, simply re-lit the candle and told Meimei to blow it! Small little attention to such details made us so so so happy!

Then we went to watch the finale show. Meimei loved it so much! Applauded a lot and smile non-stop. But the show was marred by an inconsiderate family sitting behind us. Talked so loudly. We turned behind to glare so many times but they talked EVEN LOUDER. Even Meimei turned around and ‘shhhh!’ them! Until someone behind them couldn’t take it and said, “CAN YOU SHUT UP OR NOT?” then it stopped.

Most people on the cruise were nice and friendly. Especially the family that kept giving up their seats to us at Windjammer! Thank you so much!

Overview & Comparison
There are definitely a lot more activities I didn’t mention. Don’t miss out on the fun! Check the Cruise Compass I’ve uploaded and see what may interest you & your family!

Basically, our expenses on this cruise was really minimal: Popcorn to make my kids happy. & a facial treatment for my mum. Plus the driver/Grab, food, massage & shopping when you go to shore (which you can choose not to and enjoy the deserted cruise all to yourself). I’ve posted our total bill earlier 🙂

The bags & items on board for sale had really attractive discounts. If you are a shopaholic, you may like to spend some time there. We saw a lady grabbing the handbags (she had 4 on each arm) as if they were free. LOL! My mum said maybe she has many daughters and 1 handbag for each of them.

And you have no idea how many times my dad said, “This cruise is way better than Costa Victoria!”
I was very bad lah, I impatiently told him this cruise is a lot more exp, so quality sure better. But really, you pay peanuts you get monkey. RC hospitality and service is really top top top!

My friend Whatsapp me to tell me… Once you hav tried RC, you won’t wanna try anything else! I really wanna go again, without the kids. Just me and Ahjussi because the poor man was so so so good with the kids I think he barely enjoyed himself.

Psst… We heard Ovation of the Seas is even better with more activities! But I heard it’s not back in Singapore anytime soon… That’s the one I’m aiming next! 

Click THIS to get to the FB album with more photos & tips!

Click THIS to view PDF files of the Cruise Compass (daily schedules), Kid’s Club details, etc!

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Mummy Audrey
Mummy to Big Boy, Baby Oppa & Meimei

Note: Mummy Audrey runs her own online store, www.TLO.com.sg, while looking after her 3 kids ages 11yo, 6yo, and 3yo. Her business focuses on Korean baby products, thus she travels to Korea frequently to source for new and unique products to bring into Singapore. 

Mummy Audrey and her children are available for product/service reviews as long as the products/services are not conflicting with her own products. Do contact her directly at audrey@TLO.com.sg if you are interested for her to review your product. 

Korea Travel Series Part 13: Day 10 – Saemaul Sikdang 새마을 식당, Seoul Forest (Great for Kids), Wangsimni Station (Cheap dinner & Indoor Playground)

Continuation of Mummy Audrey’s trip to Seoul, Korea with 3 kids and Ahjussi from 1st to 15th Sep 2016.

Links to the entire series HERE.

Day 10 – 10th September 2016 

We started the day with breakfast in our Gangnam apartment as the kids slept in. We ate very juicy grapes which our host bought for us!

First stop when we headed out was for lunch. This restaurant was highly recommended online when we were searching for food near our Gangnam apartment. Thankfully, it was just a few steps away from our apartment, on the way to the train station.

Saemaul Sikdang  새마을 식당 has many outlets around Seoul. You can simply Google for the outlet nearest to you. 🙂

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Non spicy pork soup for the boys!

Food was affordable if you order the one dish sets. Grilled meat can get pricey.
Ahjussi ordered a stew and I ordered the 7min Pork Stew. It was superb! We kept coming back for more.

Taste wise it was yummy and the boys enjoyed their food. They serve dried seaweed (FREE FLOW) to the boy’s delight. Any restaurant with free slow dried seaweed, the boys will help themselves and flood their rice bowls. And they can finish 2 bowls of rice each when there’s seaweed around.

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They each finished almost a bucket of seaweed at every meal!

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Quick translation for the menu at the bottom:
(1) 7 Minute Pork Kimchi Stew 5,000 won
(2) Saemaul Bean Stew 6,000 won
(3) COLD Kimchi Noodles 4,000 won
(4) Anchovies Noodles 3,000 won
(5) Pork Noodles 6,000 won

After lunch, we headed over to Seoul Forest. This place is amazing! It’s a forest in the middle of the city. Loads to do and see!

How to go to Seoul Forest:
(1) Take the train to Seoul Forest Station
(2) Take EXIT 3
20160910_152300.jpg(3) Find the escalator
(4) You can use the elevator
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(5) You will see this once you are out of the station
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(6) See this sign? You can choose to go either ways and you will arrive at the forest. We chose the left side, which happened to be nearer to the Visitor’s Centre (where you can get maps). There’s a convenience store at the Visitor’s Centre and also you can hide there to escape the heat (during summer or hot days).
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(7) Just keep walking and follow the sign.
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We saw this along the way. Interesting rest stop and there’s a greenhouse next to it!

(8) Arrived!
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Visitor’s centre. Too bright for them to smile properly at me!

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Baby Oppa loved the piano! Insisted on waiting for everyone else to move off, then he ran back to play!

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First time seeing a real APPLE TREE!

While I admired the lovely butterflies, Meimei got her first taste of ICE CREAM! And she loves it!

Walking further into the forest, we chanced on the Butterfly Garden.
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Meimei gave us a weird look when we asked her to pose!

 

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Pouting because the boys went with Ahjussi into an insect place and “NO STROLLERS ALLOWED”. She refused to put on her shoes and get off the stroller, so we hung around outside.

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I managed to run in for a quick photo of the insect place.

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As we walked further in, there were rabbits!

And finally, we arrived at the main attraction! Our reason for all that walking!
The deers!

You can feed the deers here!

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Vending machine for deer food.

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Insert 1 x 1,000 won bill. Then press the button (both buttons are the same).

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Food being dispensed!

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Collect your cup of food.

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Looks like dried kibbles and some dried corn kennels.

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Took them a while to realised there were people here wanting to feed them!

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So near!

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Information poster on how to feed the deer!

Big Boy was so brave and he loved it! Baby Oppa wanted to try but he was afraid that the deer will bite him. A previous trip to the goat farm in Singapore didn’t help as the goat nibbled on him and how he has a weird fear of animals.

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My turn! But I was also afraid of them licking my hand. So… Direct from the cup!

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Sorry for the blurry photo. You-Know-Who took this. Anyway, they have stands for you to recycle the cup!

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And of course, please only feed them with the designated feed for their health. Feeding them human food may cause them to be sick!

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We continued our stroll and saw many interesting art fixtures!

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And a wonderful play area! Too bad we were in a rush to check out another place so the kids just had to admire the place instead of play here. We’ll be back again soon!

After a whole afternoon of walking, it was almost dinner time. We wanted to get out of the forest before it turned dark as we observed that there wasn’t much lamps in the forest itself, so getting out before it turns dark will be a better idea. Especially since we are not familiar with the place and needed to refer to the map quite often.

From Seoul Forest Station, we decided to head to Wangsimni Station for dinner and some shopping.

We love E-mart at Wangsimni! It’s our ‘must go’ place when we are in Seoul.

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I waited outside for him and happened to read an article on how others managed to travel in Seoul on tight budget and wanted to try it out too. So we looked around this building and decided on our dinner menu: Gimbab!

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Anyway, we found this really nice indoor playground here at Wangsimni Station. It’s super near the Gimbab place!

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Not a very huge place but good space planning allowed them to pack in a lot of different play areas and activities.

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Price is for 1.5h play. Kids 8,000 won. Adults 6,000 won.

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Such a fun day she fell asleep even before we started to head home!

Next up: Day 11 – Lazy Day! Coex Mall Duty Free, Andong JimDdak & MAD FRY CHICKEN (The BEST Fried Chicken EVER!)

Keep a lookout!

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Mummy Audrey
Mummy to Big Boy, Baby Oppa & Meimei

Note: Mummy Audrey runs her own online store, www.TLO.com.sg, while looking after her 3 kids ages 9yo, 5yo, and 1yo. Her business focuses on Korean baby products, thus she travels to Korea frequently to source for new and unique products to bring into Singapore. 

Mummy Audrey and her children are available for product/service reviews as long as the products/services are not conflicting with her own products. Do contact her directly at audrey@TLO.com.sg if you are interested for her to review your product. 

Korea Travel Series Part 11: Day 8 – Namdaemun Shopping (babies & kids clothing), Insadong (custom name stamps), even more shopping @ Lotte Outlets (Seoul Station), Octopus & Beef for supper

Continuation of Mummy Audrey’s trip to Seoul, Korea with 3 kids and Ahjussi from 1st to 15th Sep 2016.

Links to the entire series HERE.

Day 8 – 8th September 2016 
Our original plan was to visit the various palaces (all within walking distances to each other), but it rained and we figured out that the palace grounds will be MUDDY. So we just went wherever we felt like today.

Breakfast + Shopping: Namdaemun Market
Want cheap and yummy breakfast? Check out Namdaemun market!

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There are street stalls!

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Our fave drink: Shikhye! It’s a fermented rice drink. Super nice!

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To find the really secret and affordable yummy food, walk slowly and peep into every alley! They are hidden in the alleys!

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Vege Bibimbap! Yummy! And large portion. Their rice is mixed with barley.

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And strangely, we thought we ordered just a bowl of rice but it came with noodle soup and bibimmyeon (noodle version of bibimbap)! Complementary! So for 7,000 won, it was a super filling meal!

And after eating, you can just jump into shopping! How perfect!

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When you see a crowd, GO KAYPO! This shop was selling very nice leather shoes for 10,000 won a pair. That explains the crowd!

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Many different buildings. Pricing varies by stalls. BARGAIN BARGAIN BARGAIN. No need to know Korean, just use calculator or phone to press prices back and forth!

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Every stall has something different. Similarly, every building has something different!

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Another building! It seems endless!

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Our fave PJ & home clothes store is in this building. Nice panties and undies for the kids too!

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Another of our fave!

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This is more like a mini department store. Many cheap stuff outside and inside.

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And my fave are these stalls along the street. 2,000 won for anything you can dig. We’ve gotten really nice dresses for Meimei here! Not to mention, Mickey Mouse pants for the boys and also Paul Frank skinnies for the boys!

Namdaemun market is just a short walk from Myeongdong Station. Or if you are already on the train, just stop at Hoehyeon station instead.

There are other buildings catered to other products (ladies wear, bags, watches, etc etc). But as parents, we were only focused on buying stuff for our kids. We seldom shop for ourselves anymore.

Once we finished our shopping, we walked back to our apartment to drop off the shopping before we headed out to Insadong. Insadong is near Gyeongbukgong. You can try to arrange Gyeongbukgong and Insadong on the same day.

Insadong: Traditional arts & souvenir shopping

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My first stop at Insadong is always to make these lovely stone stamps. The kids each have 2, one in their English names and one in their Chinese names. So this round, I got them as gifts for 2 beautiful newborns. There are many of such shops available along Insadong, we don’t have a fixed place we frequent but we noticed some places give nice book marks like this, and some don’t. So if you want it, do ask (show them this pic) before you commit.

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The stamp takes around 15 to 20min each, so we took a break at a cafe nearby. It was raining anyway, so hiding here for the time being. Enjoying Berries Sorbet while playing games on Ahjussi’s mobile phone.

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When the rain cleared we collected the stamps and went out walking. Looked for lunch and there are many nice restaurants hidden in the alleys. Some are high end really pricey ones while some are more affordable. Menus are usually displayed outside, so take your pick and browse.

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Ssamziegil is a building with many small stores dedicated to unique craft and merchandises.

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The “Poop Bread” always attracts my attention. But the filling is red bean which I wasn’t very keen in that day. They should have choc filling, I think that will sell well with the tourists!

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Nice big artistic space inside. Loads of photo opportunities! There’s a ‘love cafe’ at the rooftop. Ahjussi and I have written sweet nonsense there before and it is so fun to head back and find it every time we visit.

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Very cute displays. The boys got the hang of posing for photos this trip!

Baby Oppa enjoying the hopstotch in the building.

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Maracon ice cream along the way.

And after the nice stroll at Insadong, we headed over to Seoul Station for another round of hardcore shopping!

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Seoul Station: Lotte OUTLETS (loads of stuff to see & buy) & Lotte Mart (our fave). For those following Kdram “Shopping King Louis”, these are the very same steps Bok Sil found Louis (homeless beggar at that time)!

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Left building: Lotte Outlets. Extreme Right: Lotte Mall.

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My fave Choc Bana snack! Chocolate + Crunchy Bites of Dried Banana! HEAVEN!!!!!! I snagged 20 packets of this! *PROUD MOMENT*

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While shopping, if you want to visit the electronics mart, you will need to park your trolley as no trolleys are allowed into the electronics mart. They have large lockers for the trolleys! So cool!

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And with kids in tow, of course, we needed the diaper change room, right? Meimei gave us a mega leaky poonami while we were here. Check this out! They provide wet wipes and guess which brand it is? Of course the top brand in Korea: Organic Story!

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And after shopping and too lazy to carry your stuff back? You can arrange air shipping back to Singapore right here (just beside the cashiers). WARNING: The shipping prices here are a lot more expensive compared to shipping at the post office. Example: One of our 4kg boxes only cost around 25,000 won to be shipped at the post office.

If you like branded stuff, Lotte Outlets will be a good place to shop. If you prefer quality yet affordable, Lotte Mall is the right place for you! Toys, clothes, household items, etc. It is a huge hypermart with everything! We ended up with a lot of toys and clothes for the kids. And food!

We were too tired to head anywhere else for dinner, so we settled dinner at their food court then went back early to pack our now ridiculous amount of shopping (e-mart + Namdaemun + Lotte Mart = CRAZY AMOUNT OF STUFF). Plus we were going to change apartment again soon, so it is best to be as organized as we can!

And FYI: You CANNOT push the trolley to the taxi stand here, unlike what we did at e-mart. So pack your shopping well and be prepared to carry them to the taxi stand (back down that flight of steps).

*** ADD ON ***

Totally forgot about our sneak out for supper! LOL!
Big Boy can be trusted to stay in the apartment on his own and he didn’t want to come along anyway (busy watching his shows on the iPad). So we went out with a sleeping Meimei and an excited Baby Oppa!

 

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Premium sliced beef! 

 

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So we ordered for 2 of us (1 pot + fried rice) and the bill was 28,000 won.

 

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From Myeongdong Station, go to Exit 4. You will see a small road between Paris Baguette & MacDonalds. Walk straight in (you will see an art school building that looks like a boat) and the restaurant is just beside it!

 

Sorry to make you hungry! Blogging about this also made me hungry~~

This is our MUST GO place every trip and we didn’t manage to plan it in this round as the food served are mostly spicy, but we were thrilled to manage to eat it still!

Next up: Day 9 – On The Grill (Lunch), Han River Cruise, Yeouido River Park, Paddle Boating, Seoul Bamdokkaebi Night Market (SUPERB!)

Keep a lookout!

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Mummy Audrey
Mummy to Big Boy, Baby Oppa & Meimei

Note: Mummy Audrey runs her own online store, www.TLO.com.sg, while looking after her 3 kids ages 9yo, 5yo, and 1yo. Her business focuses on Korean baby products, thus she travels to Korea frequently to source for new and unique products to bring into Singapore. 

Mummy Audrey and her children are available for product/service reviews as long as the products/services are not conflicting with her own products. Do contact her directly at audrey@TLO.com.sg if you are interested for her to review your product. 

Korea Travel Series Part 10: Day 7 – Tosokchon Samgyetang (토속촌 삼계탕), Dragon Hill Spa (AGAIN), E-Mart @ Yongsan Station, Sinpo Woori Mandu (신보우리만두)

Continuation of Mummy Audrey’s trip to Seoul, Korea with 3 kids and Ahjussi from 1st to 15th Sep 2016.

Links to the entire series HERE.

Day 7 – 7th September 2016 
We loved our trip to the jjimjilbang so much just a few days before and since it was originally planned for today, we decided to head out early so that we can have a full day at the jjimjilbang for R&R!

First location: Late Breakfast!

We initially wanted to take a train and walk, but the kids woke up late, so we decided to cab over from Myeongdong (our apartment). It cost us 7,000 won (the old driver got slightly lost).

This is a popular restaurant for both locals and tourists, so be prepared for table sharing and a bit of a crowd.

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The place isn’t along the main road. You will need to look out for this traditional looking house while walking in.

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Prominent signage you can’t miss!

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Traditional seating on the floor. You will need to remove your shoes, so wear presentable socks. There’s no baby chair, so we opted to sit in the corner where she can play on her own without disturbing others.

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Even their napkins are souvenir worthy!

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Menu

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In the menu, they have a ‘quick guide’ on how to enjoy your meal!

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We ordered the regular Ginseng Chicken Soup and Ginseng Black Chicken Soup. They were superb. The portion is just right for 1 person per bowl.

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Look at that thick ginseng hidden inside with glutinous rice!

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Take your order chit and head to the cashier counter for payment after your meal.

Address: 5, Jahamun-ro 5-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 종로구 자하문로5길 5 (체부동)
They are open every day from 10am to 10pm.
Check their website for map: http://tosokchon.com/sub/sub0301.php?lug=en&mcnt=301

 

Was this place worth the hype? YES!
We’ve heard that queues can run up to 1-2 hours during peak meal times, so we decided that having it at 10am was a good idea because we got seats immediately and even got a good spot for the kids to enjoy resting while we feasted.

And after breakfast, we took a cab over to Dragon Hill Spa @ Yongsan. Basically, we explored the place in greater detail which I’ve shared in an earlier post, so I’ll skip them. You can read about it again here if you missed it: Korea Travel Series Part 7: Day 4 – Abalone Porridge, Dragon Hill Spa Jjimjilbang [Nudity Alert!], Hanilkwan (Traditional Korean Food)

But I’ll share about the massage I managed to get! Learning from our first visit, this round, I managed to persuade Ahjussi to take all 3 kids with him. Then I went off on my own to enjoy my shower, scrubbed myself super squeaky clean (I thought – wait till I share about my real scrubbing session later on!), and went for a nice oil massage & nap!

So we agreed that I will have 2 hours to myself while he handled 3 kids on his own, then I will join them in the common area and Ahjussi can go off for his massage and nap.

So again, strip totally naked (I got used to it already). I was worried that you will need an appointment for a massage so I asked the Ahjumma at the massage centre first. She didn’t have any appointments that afternoon (perks of heading over on a weekday), so she told me to shower then come back.

This time, I was ‘armed’. I bought shampoo packet, conditioner packet, a scrub and a shower gel packet. I found a nice spot at the shower area, sat down and started taking a slow, warm and enjoyable shower. For mummies, this is pure heaven. No one yelling for your attention, no worries about someone being up to some trouble while you are in the shower. Mummies, you really must try this and deserve to have a shower in peace!

Once I was done cleaning myself, it was time to head into the warm baths waiting for me. There are instructions on recommended durations for each bath, so just follow the instructions and it was fun alternating the warm and cold baths.

Finally, I had enough fun. My body was nicely warmed up by the bath and my muscles didn’t feel as sore as before. I dried myself and went to get my clothing (provided). The massage Ahjumma helped me place my clothes and towel aside and I lay down on the massage bed. She started off with simple stretching and kneading of the muscles. Then came the oil. Strangely, the massage was a lot nicer compared to what I had in Singapore. I think the warm soak before the massage did the trick. Very soon, I drifted off into dreamland.

My massage lasted for slightly more than an hour. Full body massage including legs, hands, scalp and face. It cost me 60,000 won. Worth it!

As my body was really relaxed, I slipped into the next room which happens to be the ladies’ nap room. Took a nap before I went to join the kiddos!

Ahjussi also managed to get a massage. I guess massage for guys at the common area is cheaper as it costs 40,000 won for 1 hour of massage. Ahjussi enjoyed his massage too. Came back to the common area and napped the afternoon away.

The jjimjilbang is really a great experience. And a wonderful place for a mid-trip recharge. For those travelling without kids, you can even consider this place as a cheap accommodation! You can lock your luggage at the lockers easily available at the train station, then simply bring a small backpack for your overnight stay!

And since we were at Yongsan, how can we miss out on our fave shopping spot right at Yongsan Station?

Dinner & Shopping: I Park Mall & E-Mart

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After a whole afternoon of ‘nua-ing’, we decided not to be fussy and simply filled up our tummies with whatever we can find. So we stepped into the first restaurant we saw.

This place is well known for their mandu (dumplings). And yes, they were good!
Big Boy had pork tonkatsu (with sweet curry) which he loves. Ahjussi and I shared spicy stir fried octopus with rice and the mandus. Baby Oppa had seafood-katsu. Total bill: 28,000 won. Not expensive!

Address:
I’Park Mall, Level 4, Store #24
서울특별시 용산구 한강로 3가 용산민자역사 아이파크쇼핑몰 동관4층 24호
And within the same building is our fave hypermart! E-Mart!
It has many many items under their own house brands (NO BRAND, JAJU, DAIZ, etc). Cheap and good quality!
This auntie here chiongs for their lelong stuff. We’ve gotten set of 3 ORGANIC COTTON undies for the boys at just 2,000 won! This is the reason we go home with the crazy amount of shopping.

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During our trip, we heard that there was a Zika outbreak in SG and insect repellents were sold out in Singapore. Being typical kiasu Singaporean, we headed to the right section straightaway. AND SWIPED THESE OFF THE SHELVES.

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Hahaha… The Ahjummas there were very helpful when I explained about Zika in Singapore and they helped us to get more stock from their storeroom. *YEAH*

 

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And of course, from our previous trips, Meimei was fallen madly in love with organic baby rice crackers. Nothing similar in Singapore, so guess what these crazy parents have to resort to? We’ve previously begged suppliers to purchase and send them to us when we ran out of stock. So when we saw the supermarket well stocked up, we couldn’t resist. Total: 20 cartons x 6 packs. Meimei can easily finish 1 pack a day if we don’t control her.

We also bought many other stuff. Do note that they have a strict policy of charging for plastic/paper bags. Bring your own bags. Or use their recycled carton boxes to pack your shopping back. We always use their cartons and try to find sturdy ones we can use to check in our shopping if needed. Masking tapes & ribbons are all provided at their packing stations.

Scarily, we managed to lug all our shopping back to the apartment. Of course, we took a taxi back! Squeezed cartons into the boot and with us in front.

Next up: Day 8 – Namdaemun Shopping (babies & kids clothing), Insadong (custom name stamps), even more shopping @ Lotte Outlets (Seoul Station), Octopus & Beef for supper

Keep a lookout!

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Mummy Audrey
Mummy to Big Boy, Baby Oppa & Meimei

Note: Mummy Audrey runs her own online store, www.TLO.com.sg, while looking after her 3 kids ages 9yo, 5yo, and 1yo. Her business focuses on Korean baby products, thus she travels to Korea frequently to source for new and unique products to bring into Singapore. 

Mummy Audrey and her children are available for product/service reviews as long as the products/services are not conflicting with her own products. Do contact her directly at audrey@TLO.com.sg if you are interested for her to review your product. 

 

Korea Travel Series Part 9: Day 6 – Hongdae, Thanks Nature Cafe (Sheep Cafe), Raccoon Cafe, Eel Restaurant (풍천장어구이), Paris Baguette, Myeongdong Street Food & Shopping

Continuation of Mummy Audrey’s trip to Seoul, Korea with 3 kids and Ahjussi from 1st to 15th Sep 2016.

Links to the entire series HERE.

Day 6 – 6th September 2016 
This day started off according to our itinerary but changed drastically when Big Boy made a lunch request…
Warning, this post is full of awfully cute photos and videos that will make you squeal and make you really really HUNGRY! 🙂

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Easier for you to take a look at the map to get a feel of where we walked. We ended up taking a cab from Hongdae street to the Eel Restaurant as we were not very sure how close it was. Taxi fare was just the minimum base fare of 3,000 won.

First Stop: Thanks Nature Cafe (Sheep Cafe) 

Warning: Apparently the sheep are not here all year round. They do have their ‘off days’. Do check on their FB page to confirm if they will be around. During our pre-trip planning, it was stated on their FB page that the sheep are on vacation and will only be back mid-Sep. We just tried our luck since we were already in Hongdae area for the day and VIOLA!!!

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Look out for this banner outside the building!

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This is what you will see when you peer down!

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Their drinks are nice! We had Lemonade and Strawberry Ade (5,000 to 7,000 won each). 🙂 Look at how happy Baby Oppa is!

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Trying to pose with the sheep that are running around freely.

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Only managed to capture the sheep’s butt. Oops!

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Really way too cute!!! Cafe customers are allowed into the pen for close up interaction with the sheep.

I wanted to stroke the sheep but Meimei was really scary and looked liked she wanted to grab some wool so I had to stay further away for the safety of the sheep.

It was a really good experience. The boys loved it and the sheep were really cheeky, running amok digging into the containers with their food. Meimei enjoyed watching them run around and she was squealing.

Second Stop: Raccoon Cafe (Found by chance!)

Just as we crossed the road from Thanks Nature Cafe towards Hongdae Street, we saw an interesting poster stand and headed up for a quick look. I did research on this place online before our trip but reviews said that they didn’t allow kids until 12 years old, so I left it out when planning for our trip. We really just wanted to try our luck to see how the place looks like. We prepped the boys that we MAY NOT be allowed to enter, don’t be disappointed.

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This is the banner. You won’t miss it. It is beside ABC Mart.

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The cafe’s entrance. We didn’t see any signs stating that kids were not allowed. So they eagerly peered in.

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I checked with the staff and they said no problems with having Big Boy and Baby Oppa in! But not for Meimei as they were worried she will chase the raccoons and frighten them (THEY ARE SO RIGHT ABOUT THIS). So I carried her and waited at the waiting area (where the lockers and shoes are, but we could still look inside.  There’s an entrance fee of 6,000 won per person. Drinks were cheap, though. The staffs were very fun and friendly too.

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The one who enjoyed this cafe the most. Want to go near but scared. Want to play with them but scared. But he really enjoyed watching them play and running around.

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You can go really up close! They are really cute!

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See how curious Big Boy is?

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The staff were really nice and brought a raccoon nearer to Meimei for a photo though we didn’t pay entrance fees.

Do note that they have 2 dogs in there. Baby Oppa was afraid of the bulldog and cried when the bulldog licked his leg. Ahjussi had to carry him around to see the raccoons.

So we got hungry after walking around and only had some snacks along the way plus drinks from the 2 cafes. We decided to walk along Hongdae and see what food options we can find.

Stroll & Look for Lunch: Hongdae Street

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The clothes here are cheaper and more trendy, catering to the uni students. Nice place to shop for trendy young stuff. Loads of makeup stores further down too.

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Along Hongdae Street, keep a look out into the smaller alleys. You will find this! Hello Kitty Cafe! This photo was taken in Oct 2014. We didn’t head there on this trip as I thought that the boys wouldn’t enjoy the pinkish environment.

Anyway, after a short walk here with the boys rejecting all the food options. I finally asked Big Boy what he would like to eat. And he said, “Eel.”

So we asked Google for an eel place near Hongdae…

Ended up here for lunch: 풍천장어 – Pungcheon Eel

Warning: This place is a little on the pricey side amongst all our meals. We ordered 3 eels to share among the 4 of us as Baby Oppa said he wasn’t very hungry. The total was 87,000 won. But the eels were alive and prepped upon order. And NO BONES. Ahjussi watched them prep the eels and he saw them removing the bones. Awesome. After trying cheaper eels at another place (Myeongdong), I think this place is WORTH EVERY CENT!!!!

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Looks old and run down, but Google said this place has excellent reviews.

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The boys were fascinated by the live eels in the tanks.

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Many many of them!

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The eels were seasoned right in front of us with some salt.

Look at the eel still moving!

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Slowly, the eel cooked over charcoal.

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And it became crispy on the outside…

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It was super super good. Even Baby Oppa who said that he wasn’t hungry finished up half an eel on his own! Big Boy finished an entire eel on his own! Though on the pricey side, it was really a good splurge! I can still remember the taste and the crispy texture of the skin. Nothing like the eels we have in Singapore!

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Address in Korean: 홍대 · 서울시 마포구 연남동 568-25
Address in English: 568-25 Yeonnam-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea

 

After the full meal, the boys got tired & sleepy so we headed back to our apartment at Myeongdong for a nap, then started to walk around Myeongdong to hunt for dinner. We filled our tummies with awesome street food.

Baby Oppa whined about having some chocolate cake before we headed back for a nap, so we dropped by Paris Baguette for chocolate cake.

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PB in Korea is really different from SG. The bread, pastries, and cakes taste and look so different. You must try them when you are in Korea! Outlets are everywhere, so it is easy to find.

 

Final Stop: Myeongdong Street Food

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The Line Store @ Myeongdong! There’s a queue for photo taking, so do join the queue.

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The boys love octopus as much as I do! They kept asking for MORE MORE MORE! 4,000 won per stick.

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Another of their fave. Grilled fresh scallop! 8,000 won each.

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They loved it so much I had to recreate this at home. Thankfully it was really easy and I did it with our oven!

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Then we saw this and couldn’t resist. Grilled shrimps and grilled abalone. Can’t remember the pricing, though. Abalone was 10,000 won per stick (3pc), I think.

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We chose chocolate!

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Fried Ice Cream!

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This is near Lotte Duty-Free (Myeongdong). Just across the road. And just near this will be a stall that sells grilled chicken. MUST TRY!

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This is our fave stall for grilled chicken. They have many different sauces for you to choose from and description are stated in English. 🙂

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Hand made dumplings. Different fillings available and different condiments available!

Really too many pictures to go into them one by one so there’s the whole collection. There’s loads to try and loads to see! Settling dinner based on street food is definitely very filling. But can get quite expensive at Myeongdong as you will spend quite a bit at each stall.

That’s the end of Day 6! We went shopping at Uniqlo & Forever 21 too. And of course, contact lense shopping for my sister.

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There are many different shops and I do not wear contact lenses so I was clueless. Just randomly walked into one with good reviews online (Lense Story). I had to ask them to recommend. They have many different types and pricing varies accordingly. They have daily use type, 6-month type, and 1-year type. Do note that their lenses do not cover those with astig. Either you can’t get any or you can be like my sister, vain until can ignore the astig.

How to get to Myeongdong Street? Train to Myeongdong Station and follow the signs! Exit 3 & 4 are our usual routes.

 

Next up: Day 7 – Tosokchon Samgyetang (토속촌 삼계탕), Dragon Hill Spa (AGAIN), E-Mart @ Yongsan Station, Sinpo Woori Mandu (신보우리만두)

Keep a lookout!

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Mummy Audrey
Mummy to Big Boy, Baby Oppa & Meimei

Note: Mummy Audrey runs her own online store, www.TLO.com.sg, while looking after her 3 kids ages 9yo, 5yo, and 1yo. Her business focuses on Korean baby products, thus she travels to Korea frequently to source for new and unique products to bring into Singapore. 

Mummy Audrey and her children are available for product/service reviews as long as the products/services are not conflicting with her own products. Do contact her directly at audrey@TLO.com.sg if you are interested for her to review your product. 

[Sharing] Nursing in Public – Yay or Nay?

In the past 2 weeks, we headed to the Singapore Zoo twice. We were searching for family friendly places to spend quality time with the kids and the zoo just popped up naturally.

During both outings to the zoo, Meimei had to latch as we were there for more than 6 hours each visit. Well, there are nice nursing facilities at the zoo, but I can’t possibly run all the way there each time she needed to nurse, right?

So, who cares? Just NURSE IN PUBLIC!

Meimei is my 3rd child. I’ll be frank, my breasts are ‘public property’ every time I’m still breastfeeding the kids. My priority as a nursing mother is to nourish my kids. And of course, the endless stream of visitors during confinement helped thicken my skin. Those aunties and cousins who shoved their faces at my boobs to take a closer look at baby toughened me up. And not forgetting the endless stream of nurses, cleaners and visitors or random strangers who entered the wrong room at the hospital who happily yank open the curtains when I was half naked, trying to get my newborn to latch. *poof to privacy*

Anyway, back to the zoo. I was happily latching while my elder boys went off to check out the snakes at the Snake House. It was cool in the share, nice bench and most importantly, Meimei was hungry. We went ‘bare minimum’ with our zoo trip and guess what we forgot to pack? The nursing cover!

With the girl yelling ‘neh neh neh’ non-stop, demanding for a latch, I couldn’t care anymore. Sat down. Lift up. Pull down. Latch.

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While I sat there latching, many tourists and locals walked past. Young children, their parents and grandparents, teenagers who were with their friends, etc. They saw, they looked, they continued with what they were doing. There was no fuss, no rude stares, no horrified looks.

It was really the best place to latch a baby.

And in my head, I was geared up. Ready to defend nursing in public (NIP). Anyone who dares tell me to cover up or go elsewhere to latch, I will tell them this:

“Please tell all the mammals in the zoo
to cover up
when they are latching,
then come back and talk to me.”

Alright alright… I know it sounds rude but hey! If I need to feed my child, I need to feed my child! Bring your own sexual fantasy elsewhere! My breasts have a function, they make milk and I feed my baby milk. That is all. I am not a sex object! This is how mammals have been designed and you don’t see a male monkey getting a hard on just by looking at a mummy monkey latch her baby monkey right? So get your head straight and keep your pants on.

Anyway, I was really happy that day. I latched her again as I sat on a mat near the waterplay area. Again, no one bothered me at all. Except a naughty monkey who came over to steal food twice.

And so… I gathered some mummies to share their views and experiences on nursing in public.

I’m so happy with the responses! There are so many ways we can nurse in public, depending on our comfort levels! Individualize your NIP experience!

The Modest Approach

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Mummy LM: NIP is a breeze 🙂

Covering up according to your comfort level is most important.

 

The No-One-Will-Know Approach

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Mummy Regina: To be able to advocate breastfeeding in public and let more people have more awareness about breastfeeding is what mummies should dare to stand up for – Nursing in Public.

I love this. If you don’t mention it, no one will notice!

The Proud-Mummy Approach – (MY PERSONAL FAVE)

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Mummy Fadilah: Excuse me for sending so many pictures. I am just too proud that I am capable of BFing on the go and not giving any s**t of the stares/glares I get from ppls around me. I am also proud of my husband Zaly Bikerboyz for stand up for me and supporting me through out my BFing journey with both our kids.The 1st picture is of me at Jurong Polyclinic. Accompany my mother for the medical check up as she is diabetic and require regular check ups. The clinic was very crowded and lil bumbum (Luqman Bahri) being very fussy. He was also at the phase that he does not like go be under the covers. The nursing room was on the 2nd floor but my mother was seeing the doctor on the 1st floor. Could not sit to nurse as lil bumbum was very fussy. Some aunties smile and gave encouraging words but there are some cheeky fellows that keep staring. Of course I cover as modestly as I can.

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Mummy Fadilah: 2nd picture was us at my brothers work open house. He is a Marine Firefight. They were giving talk about fire safety and giving tours of the fire station and their fire boat. That is us getting ready to get on board the fire boat. No nursing room there. But lil bumbum was not affected at all. He is nicely snugged inside the carrier and feeding away. I didn’t really care what everyone else was thinking as long as my lil bumbum is fed and happy.

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Mummy Fadilah: Now the most recent one is of us at Pahlawan beach. This was after the My Little Pony Run. Lil Bumbum must be super thirsty waiting for Mama and sister to finish the run. The moment we settle ourselves at the beach, lil bumbum wants to be nurse. There were a lot of ppl that day due to the MLP event and furthermore its a Sunday. I forgot to bring my nursing cover on that day but I still manage to keep myself modestly covered with my hijab and baby towel. There are ppl that look at what i was doing and smile but there are cheeky eyes also. Thankfully Mr Husband was in front to stand guard…..
I will continue nurse my babies as long as they want. Where ever they want.To date my lil ones are 4 years old and 19 mths.

I really applaud Mummy Fadilah and her husband! She is so happy with her hubby’s support and I guess the key formula to successful breastfeeding is good support!

The It-Is-The-Same-As-Eating-In-Public Approach

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Mummy AuntJess: My thoughts on NIP is the same as my thoughts on eating in public. Haha

YES!!! Baby is simply ‘eating’. Nothing special. Don’t need to stare ok?

The I-Don’t-Care Approach

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NIP is so convenient for mummies who are always on the go. I love how light my diaper bag is as I only need to pack diapers, wet wipes & small towels when I’m out with my baby. Now I nurse without covers, do it anywhere & not bothered with the stares.

Love this attitude! Don’t bother with the stares! Just latch on and feed on!

 

The Forgot-Nursing-Cover-So-Just-Latch Approach

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Mummy Shareen: Picture above is me NIP my newborn, who is also my 2nd child. With my first child, I was more conscious with NIP and would religiously put on a nursing cover or find a nursing room.
But with my 2nd boy, the need to NIP came quite unexpectedly and I forgot to bring out my nursing cover. He was wrapped up in my K’tan and fussing. So I had no choice but to make do.
Later that night, same thing happened as we were out grocery shopping after gynae appointment. Forgot the nursing cover again and had to nurse him on the go in the supermarket while wrapped up in my K’tan.

I’ve no issues with NIP but I would do it so I don’t unnecessarily expose myself. I don’t see the need to draw attention to myself or my child while nursing.

We always start off somewhere… right? Incidental NIP due to circumstances are the best way to start!

 

The Forever-Looking-Gorgeous Approach

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Mummy Alicia: I nurse in Mrt station, fast food restaurant, church, in the park on the bench. So far no unpleasant incidents, except this one (photo). I was nusing at Burger King Woodlands. One hand carry baby, the other hand use hanky to cover the rest of the boobs. Then there is this pervert uncle, purposely sit directly opposite my table (I’m alone) and keep staring at me. Then I took out my phone to take selfie and pretend to take photo of my surrounding. He walk out immediately.

Ah… That pervert uncle.
Good tip from Mummy Alicia on how to fend them off!
TAKE THEIR PHOTO!!!

And I’m officially jealous. Why Mummy Alicia still so pretty! I look totally ‘auntie-fied’.

The Baby-Is-My-Joey Approach

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Mummy Yvaine: Breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful experience I had being a mother. It increases the bonding I have with my child more than anything else. A wonderful memory that belongs to us solely.
NIP is the most natural thing to do. My child is hungry, he has the right to be fed anywhere he deem fit, just like everyone else; regardless child or adult.
Most of the time I nip while babywearing. Babywearing enhance me with freedom to nurse discreetly yet continue doing my own stuff; shopping, eating, etc.
Enjoying breastfeeding while it last.

I personally can’t do wraps but I love baby wearing Meimei in her carrier and yes! It is easy to feed while on the go with aid of carrier or wraps!

Reach out to wrapping friends for help if you are keen to learn!

The Partying-Can’t-Stop-Me Approach

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Mummy Crystal: I enjoy nursing my kids (currently still breastfeeding my one year old). Maybe it is the convenience. Maybe it is the rush of oxytocin. Maybe it is the simple joy of holding my baby close as she gazes at me…

Who says we gotta stop partying after we have a baby?
Although it’s a ‘different’ type of partying… Life is all about fun!

The beauty of nursing is that it doesn’t stop our activities. Especially now that we have many carrier options to breastfeed: HANDS FREE STYLE!

The Less-Things-To-Bring Approach

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Mummy Rizal: I love doing Nursing In Public as it is free and easy. My bags are lighter. No need formula milk, hot water n milk bottles. And I love doing Nursing In Public in my carrier. Plus no need nursing covers.

 

I agree! I don’t even have a special diaper bag for Meimei. If I’m heading out alone with her, her stuff goes into my handbag! All I need is her small wetbag of diapers, wipes & spare clothes. And another small ziploc bag for her snack & water bottle. Easy peasy!

The Watch-A-Game Approach

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Mummy June: Initially I’m very worried about being exposed and attract attention, however, after our first attempt to NIP, I have never thought it can actually be so easy. It’s been months since I start to NIP, didn’t attract stares or rude remarks so far.
Was an Express Pump mum for my #1 and didn’t know the joy of nursing. Now with my #2, we successfully work our way towards nursing with the great help I get from FB support group, Breastfeeding Mum & of cos, my hubby and the elders in my family are supportive in breastfeeding.

 

Stylish nursing colour! Who says being a mum means ‘auntie’ clothes & ‘auntie’ looks? Mummy June is so pretty!

And again, who says nursing should stop your activities?

The Who-Says-I-Need-A-Baby-With-Me Approach

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Mummy Sharon: I hate hate hate pumping in toilets or diaper change areas so I pump in public. Of course, it also depends on the situation but there’s nothing to be ashamed about.
I’ve pumped in public in planes, restaurants, in car in front of non immediate family members. I’m fortunate no one ever criticized

Location of the photo  – SQ business class from London to Singapore. Male cabin crew helped me with washing and storing bottles. No one looked or criticized.

Lastly… Who says nursing in public is limited to mummies who latch?

As long as you are producing milk, you are a nursing mother! Some don’t latch due to varying reasons, it’s alright! To be honest, I find pumping a chore (stuck to the pump, must wash so many things) and salute Exclusive Pumping mothers!

Note on SQ: I’ve flown SQ with Meimei and I have to say, I’m so proud of SQ. Male crew were understanding on breastfeeding. No disapproving looks or any weird vibes from them. They even offered to send our meals at staggered timing so one of us could attend to Meimei while the other eats. Super awesome. All parents have to fly SQ with their kids!

 

While we encourage and want to promote breastfeeding, let’s not forget to be considerate towards others who do not breastfeed for various reasons.
I’ve met some mummies recently who shared with me on medical issues that were really serious to cause them to stop breastfeeding. It’s not easy for them emotionally to lose the opportunity to nurse their baby. Yet they have to face pressure and judgmental comments from other parents for not breastfeeding their child.

Let’s encourage, not judge. And let’s fight for our rights to nurse anywhere, anytime.

Mummy Audrey
Mother of 3 & Owner of TLO.com.sg
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Wraps – The Whats, The Whys & The Hows

An Introduction to the World of Woven Wraps

I love sharing my passion for wrapping with other babywearing mamas. It’s not often that I spot another wrapper out in public, but when I do, I get a thrill. I want to run up to that mama and say “hello” because I know that she understands. She is like me, a kindred spirit who has taken the plunge into the wonderful world of woven wraps. I’m confident that if I actually did find the courage to approach this mama and if I were to ask to pat her wrap (after the pleasantries of course) that she would not find this strange at all. Not at all. She gets it. Instant BFFs us woven wrap lovers.

Unfortunately, such sightings are rare. Babywearing parents are more likely to be found sporting a Soft Structured Carrier (SSC) such as an Ergo or Tula. Of course this makes me happy too. It’s great seeing parents bonding with their little ones by keeping them close and carrying them whether it be in arms or using one of the dozens of baby carriers available today. The choices can be overwhelming to a new parent or just a parent new to babywearing. So, as an avid babywearing wrapaholic, my goal here is to offer a basic introduction and to demystify the sometimes intimidating yet, oh so, wonderful world of woven wraps.

So, what is a baby wrap?

One of the most common misconceptions about wraps is that they are complicated and that it takes some kind of babywearing mystic guru to be able to use them. When in fact, it is quite the opposite. A wrap is simply one long piece of cloth that can be tied in many different ways. There are two main kinds of wraps: stretchy and woven.

Stretchy wraps such as the Moby, Hana or Boba Wrap, are usually cotton, but some are blends using spandex or even bamboo. They are most appropriate for newborns and lighter babies (despite what the manufacturer says) and should never be used for back carries. They are extremely soft, easy to wrap with and, due to their significant amount of stretch, are very forgiving. Characteristics that are good for a beginner wrapper. These characteristics combined with the fact that they can be found on the shelves of most baby stores means that stretchy wraps are quite often a gateway into the world of wrapping.

Unlike stretchy wraps, woven wraps can be used to carry babies from newborn to toddler on the front, hip or back. They come in different lengths and are woven from all kinds of different materials from 100% cotton to linen and bamboo, silk, wool and cashmere to more exotic animal fibres like camel, alpaca and vicuna. Woven wraps also fall into two categories: machine or handwoven. Classic names in the world of machine woven wraps include Didymos, Storchenwiege, and Natibaby. Well-known handwoven brands include Uppymama, Woven Rainbow and Warped and Wonderful.

Sizing and choosing a wrap

Woven wraps come in different lengths in order to allow for different carries. The longer the wrap, the more versatile.

Length                                 Carries

size 1 –  2.0 meters                             Rebozo

size 2 –  2.7 meters                             Rebozo and super short carries

size 3 –  3.1 meters                             Shorty carries

size 4 –  3.6 meters                             Petite base size and short carries

size 5 –  4.1 meters                             Small base size

size 6 –  4.6 meters                             Average base size

size 7 –  5.1 meters                             Plus base size

size 8 –  5.5 meters                             Longer carries and fancy finishes

For beginners, it is important to determine base size and most babywearing consultants would suggest starting there when choosing your first wrap. Base size is determined by the Front Wrap Cross Carry (FWCC). The user should be able to comfortably tie off in back. As you can see from the above chart, the average base size is a 6. A FWCC instructional video is included in the “Carries” section of this article.

After determining your base size, the next step in choosing a wrap is to find one that can be described as “a good beginner” wrap, meaning they are soft, floppy and easy to wrap with. Wraps that are good for beginners tend to be 100% cotton or cotton/linen. There is no specific brand, but it’s helpful to decide on a price range to help narrow down the search. The average cost of a woven wrap is $40-$200USD. Finally, look for one that is aesthetically appealing to you – one that you’ll want to use every day, but also one that is not too expensive or too pretty that you’re afraid to use it!

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My first woven wrap was a pre-loved cotton/linen Didymos Ruby/Gold 1975 Old Standard size 3 that I bought for $125USD. One of my biggest concerns when choosing my first wrap was babywearing in Singapore’s hot and humid climate. I was determined to buy the absolute coolest fabric and airiest weave.  Didymos Indios seemed to fit my criteria perfectly. I ran an internet search for linen blend Didymos Indios and came across the Ruby/Gold 1975 OS, which I thought was gorgeous. After reading a couple of reviews online, I decided to buy a preloved one that was fully “broken in” or, at the very least, on its way. Most woven wraps, regardless of the fabric, have a breaking in period similar to a new pair of jeans. New linen can be a little difficult to work with for beginners. However, once linen is fully broken in, it is wonderfully soft – making it suitable for a newborn, yet supportive enough for a toddler.

I also chose not to follow the standard rule of starting with my base size, which is a 5 since I am petite. Instead, I chose a size 3 because I did not find working with too much length appealing especially in a hot and humid climate. I had also done my research regarding all the carries I could do with a size 3 and I was confident that I could make it work. And, I did. Within a couple of months, I was able to master quite a number of carries including FWCC tied under bum (TUB), semi-FWCC, Front Cross Carry (FCC) with a sling ring, Short Front Cross Carry (SFCC), Kangaroo, Poppins Hip Carry, Robins Hip Carry, Inside Out Coolest Hip Carry (IOCHC) and a Rucksack Back Carry.

w2The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn and the more interested I became in trying other wraps and sizes.

In the year since I bought my first woven, I have tried many, many wraps. However, my Didymos Ruby/Gold OS survives the churn bug and remains. To me, it is still the ultimate wrap for Singapore’s weather and it is the one I reach for whenever I am planning to spend any significant amount of time outdoors.

Size 3s remained my favourite size for more than a year. However, as my little one grew and became more curious and squirmy, the less manageable wearing her on the front had become. It was awkward having an 8kg squirming, grabbing bulge on my chest all the time, especially when also caring for an older child. It seemed as though my baby had turned into a toddler overnight. And just as quickly, I stopped using my size 3s and found myself reaching for longer wraps that allow for more supportive, multi-layer back carries and ones that include a chest pass or chest belt such as a Double Hammock (DH), Double Hammock with a Candy Cane Chest Belt (CCCB) or a Rucksack Tied Tibetan (TT).

w3It is definitely possible to get similar support from a shorty (sizes 1, 2 and 3), but these wraps tend to be thicker, which often translates to warmer and more difficult to wrap with.

Carries

Just to reiterate, it does not take a babywearing mystic guru with godzilla arms and a gymnast flexibility to use a woven wrap. Of course, like most things in life, there is a learning curve. But watch a few YouTube videos and you will be amazed to see those seemingly complicated carries deconstructed before your eyes. Most beginners start with Front Wrap Cross Carry (FWCC) and Front Cross Carry (FCC). Once you feel that you’ve mastered these, move on to other front and hip carries such as Kangaroo, Robins Hip Carry and Inside Out Coolest Hip Carry (IOCHC). Do not move on to back carries until you feel confident working with the wrap. However, once you do, a basic Rucksack Carry or Back Wrap Cross Carry (BWCC) are good starters. When learning and practicing new carries, always keep the “T.I.C.K.S.” of safe babywearing in mind.

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Why are woven wraps so expensive?

Another big misconception about woven wraps is that they are all very expensive. In reality, like all consumer products, there is a wide-range of brands to choose from for all budgets. For the budget-minded, some common classic brands on the market are Storchenwiege, EasyCare, Lenny Lamb and Little Frog. On the other side of the spectrum are brands such as Artipoppe, Woven Wings, Solnce, and Kokoro. Handwoven wrap brands such as Uppymama, MadHatter, and Farideh will always fall into the more expensive category. Like any handicraft, these brands are lovingly and painstaking custom designed and created by an individual weaver. However, there are also budget handwoven companies that mass produce wraps like Girasol and Inda Jani. And, of course there are many others that fall in-between. New brands are emerging every day. Retail prices can range wildly from as low as $45 to as high as a few thousand for some of the luxury high-end (HE) blends and custom handwovens.

Thousands???  You ask. I’m imagining that this has sparked a bit of shock and awe from a reader (or two) here. Maybe a few readers are wondering why anyone would spend any significant amount of money on a baby product that is inevitably going to be spit on, chewed on and there is a good probability that it is going to be pooped on. In part, retail cost are largely influenced by the quality and sourcing of materials – the more exotic or refined, the more expensive. Then, there is basic economics and boils down to supply and demand. Most woven wraps are produced in very limited numbers in a single release (some are even 1 or 2 of a kind) and don’t come anywhere close to filling the demand, especially the highly sought after (HSA) designs. In turn, this enormous discrepancy has created a huge resale market. It’s fairly easy to recoup some, if not all, the money spent on the wrap. Nor is it uncommon to see some high-end wraps that are highly sought after or hard to find (HTF) being resold for 3 or 4 times their original retail value.

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Wraps can be most simply compared to shoes. Most peopw6le have more than one pair of shoes, some more expensive than others, for different occasions and purposes. However, unlike shoes, woven wraps do not wear out. Instead, wrapping qualities tend to improve with use or after the breaking in period. This is another factor that contributes to the strong resale market and has, in turn, created the expectation that money spent isn’t necessarily gone forever, which certainly makes spending it much easier. It also allows for “churning,” the trying out of different wraps, through buying, trading and selling on the numerous “B/S/T” (Buy/Sell/Trade) Facebook groups. This is where the slope can start getting slippery- very slippery for some and is lovingly referred to as the rabbit hole of the wonderful world of woven wraps.

Most seasoned wrappers will agree that not all wraps are created equal. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Each wrap is special and has it’s own unique wrapping qualities (WQs). However, WQs do not necessarily correlate with price. Wrapping qualities are entirely subjective and come down to personal preference. Ask any seasoned wrapper to choose their favourite wrap and you will more than likely get a different answer from each. Personally, if I had to name my favourite wraps, most would fall more into the budget-friendly category. For example, my current favourite based solely on wrapping qualities, is Tiny Tiger Baby’s American Beauty. It is a 100% cotton, plain weave natty (natural coloured wrap) that is thin, airy, and moldable. A perfect beginner wrap that has the perfect amount of stretch and a little bit of bounce. It is extremely soft, making it ideal for a newborn, yet supportive and cushy enough for a toddler.

 

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Why choose a woven wrap over other carriers?

There are so many reasons to choose a woven wrap over other carriers, but my first response is always, versatility. No other carrier can carry a child in such a myriad of ways on the front, back and hip from newborn to toddlerhood. Breastfeeding in a woven wrap can be done both easily and discreetly. No other carrier can fit all body types as comfortably as a woven wrap. When wrapped correctly, woven wraps are also the most ergonomically suited for both parent and child conforming to the body, distributing weight evenly and alleviating pressure points. Finally, it’s impossible to leave out aesthetics. They are beautiful: allowing parents to maintain a sense of style while also keeping little ones safe and close.

My journey down the rabbit hole of the wonderful world of woven wraps has brought me far more than I could ever have imagined. I think everyone can agree that life changes dramatically with parenthood. Gone are the days of spontaneous, carefree adventures. Gone are the late nights out with friends and the lazy mornings lying in. Time spent previously on favourite hobbies and activities is now relegated to tending to babies and young children. We see less and less of our childless friends and it can be challenging making new friends that fit into the children’s varying nap schedules. The transition into parenthood is rarely smooth and easy for most. For me, I could never have known that the day I bought my first woven wrap would become one of the most significant choices I would make influencing my happiness.

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Since becoming a mother, my marathon training has been put on hold and my stilettos are buried in the bottom of my closet. However, journeying into the world of woven wraps has taken me on a new adventure – one that has become a new hobby that I can explore, most importantly, with my children. I have a new appreciation for textiles and the intricacy of these beautifully designed pieces of fabric – each woven wrap is special with it’s own unique wrapping qualities. The wide-array of colors and myriad of designs to choose from has also allowed me to maintain my sense of style. Even though I still wear my “mommy uniform” (shorts and a tank top or t-shirt) on most days, using a woven wrap helps me feel beautiful, while performing the important yet, not-so-glamorous, work of motherhood.

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Lastly, but certainly not least, is the community I have found on my journey. I have spent countless hours chatting, stalking and geeking out over wraps with other wrap-loving mamas. The wrap chatter inevitably turning into conversations about our lives, family,  and children – sharing with one another the highs and lows of our day, offering support when a child is sick or providing a much needed giggle at the end of a long day (a recipe containing breastmilk and curry comes to mind here). Eventually, we are sharing our wraps with one another and organising playdates. Babywearing connected me to a community of like-minded parents, while wrapping has bonded me to some amazing women and lifelong friends.

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Written By: Mummy Kristi