10 January 2019
Ah, what a great night’s sleep I had! I woke up at 07:15, then again an hour later. The bed is so comfortable and the blinds kept the morning sun out perfectly. We weren’t even disturbed by the numerous construction works taking place opposite. Ian showered first and warned me that the pressure was really bad and he’d had barely a drizzle coming out at one point. Mine wasn’t too bad, although the shower nozzle kept popping back into “bath” mode. Anyway, we were both clean and dressed by the time Bugsy woke up.
We were ready for breakfast and decided to head down to the 3rd floor for the buffet there, as opposed to the breakfast that was served on the 17th floor, which the reception staff had said wasn’t as big as the main one!
The only thing breakfast was missing was chocolate spread for the child who’s been hoping for a chocolate croissant… I offered to fetch her mini jar of Nutella that Father Christmas had brought for her – after all, that’s what it was for – and she munched her way through her croissant, a bowl of “honey stars”, and some watermelon.
After we’d brushed our teeth, we were in our taxi by about 10:30, and he whizzed us over to Sentosa, which is basically an island holiday resort, filled with shops, theme parks, casinos etc. It’s a bizarre and wonderful place! On the way over, Cornelia told me all about the rules of fairies: “Fairies must keep their wands secret; They have extra special glittery tears; Make sure no one makes them look ridiculous to make them laugh; Fairies must always fly over traffic lights and try to keep their wands safe in their fairy magic pockets; Fairies must always be in a happy mood and they have to have dragons to help them stay in a happy mood. In case anything happens to their wings they still have a dragon who can fly them. And they have a water breathing dragon in case anything is set on fire.” So, that’s clear then…!
On arrival, it turned out we needed cash for the taxi ride (we had been able to pay by card previously), so Ian hopped out to the ATM while Cornelia and I waited in the car. The machine would only allow a minimum withdrawal of $200, so we have some cash to spend now.. 😉 Unfortunately, once we’d left the cab, it was quickly apparent that the driver hadn’t dropped us off at KidZania, and it took us a while to figure out how to get there. We eventually found the (free) Sentosa Express train which took us a few stops from where we were able to walk the rest of the way, through the craziness that is Sentosa!
KidZania is amazing!! As you approach, you can see a whole plane that has been embedded in the wall of the building. To explain KidZania, it’s a mini city for children, where they go to work to earn money which they can then spend. She was given her own bank card that she had to activate on arrival in the bank (adults are not allowed to go into the individual places with the kids – it’s all about independence and autonomy), then first we visited the hospital where she was a paramedic, then the police station where she became a police officer. After this, we went upstairs to collect a “queue card” for the very popular pilot experience, but they only hand out the cards at specific times, so Cornelia went into the Milk Innovation Lab first, where she learned about milk formula, how to weigh out the powder and mix it all up etc. It is all fascinating, and I couldn’t help wish there had been something like this available for teenagers when I was younger! Not only do you have the opportunity to be paid for work, you can also pay to go to university and get a degree in either maths, science or English. Once you’ve earned your degree, you get paid an extra 2 Kidzos (which is their currency) for the jobs aligned with those respective degrees (eg, you earn 10 Kidzos instead of 8 for being a paramedic).
One of the most popular activities was in the aviation zone where you could choose to either be the pilot or cabin crew. I was very surprised when Bugsy asked to be cabin crew, but it meant that she didn’t have to queue so long. Her queue card was for the 14:00 session, so we went off and had a piece of pizza while we waited. This was one activity that parents couldn’t view from the outside (all the others were visible through windows), and by all accounts she had a fab time, serving food to the crew!
Each session generally lasts between 20 and 30 minutes, so there is a lot of waiting around, but this teaches patience and the art of queuing… Speaking of queuing, while we were waiting for the Ice Cream Factory to open up, having asked Ian to keep an eye on the queue to make sure it didn’t fill up (only six kids per class), when I came back from the loo, I could see a line of children had formed. I whizzed Bugsy up there (having given Ian a death stare for epic failure to make sure she didn’t miss the next slot) but she was the seventh child in line. She asked if she could wait and I said that was fine and actually, she should wait anyway, as sometimes things happen and people change their mind, so she may yet get in.
This prediction came true, as the little boy at the front of the queue did not have his bankcard on him. He was told by the woman running the session that he needed to have it, and his father made him leave the queue. However, a couple of minutes later his mother appeared carrying his card. The woman taking the session had nipped off to the lo, and if she hadn’t said anything before she went to the bathroom is, that little boy would still be at the front of the queue. I explained this to Cornelia and after a few tears and foot stamps, she reluctantly offered her place back to the little boy. However his father told him he couldn’t not have it as it was his fault he had lost his card and therefore his place. We were all trying to teach our children good things, but this poor little boy ended up losing out. I explained to the parents that he should have Cornelia’s place as she would be in no worse a position as she had been five minutes previously, but the dad was insistent that his child should bear responsibility, as the bigger boy. This is contrary to what I was trying to teach Cornelia which was about fairness and kindness, whether he was a big boy or not. I certainly do not want her to grow up thinking that being a girl you can cry will mean she gets her own way. Not in my world!
The PaddlePop contained ingredients that I rather wished I hadn’t seen: corn syrup, palm oil, tartrazine… bleurgh. Thankfully, Cornelia only had about a third of it before deciding she didn’t want anymore, and handed it over to Daddy to polish off. We were then off to the dentist, but once we arrived, she changed her mind about being a dentist, and after thinking and resting for a few minutes, decided she wanted to try working in the bed shop, as Assistant Sleep Master, following which she became a Window Cleaner. For this, she took her bucket, spray, cloth and squeegee along to the 7-11, cleaned their windows, then had to have some paperwork signed off to say it had been done properly. Honestly, this place is brilliant!
While Cornelia was busy at worked, we had plenty of time to kill, so looked online at the various KidZania outfits around the world, and the idea of one in Russia made us chuckle as we mused over the various shops and activities that may be on offer: weapons training, travel agencies where you can buy a trip to Salisbury, vodka making, skin your own bear, understanding state-sponsored doping, make your own bling clothes… haha, we could’ve gone on for a long time!
Finally, she had had enough, and we made our way back to the Sentosa Express and took the little shuttle back over to the mainland, from where we took a taxi back to our hotel. Our driver was baffled when we tried to give him a tip… we looked up the tipping expectation in Singapore, only to find that it is very unusual and that no-one really expects a tip – especially taxi drivers. No wonder he looked so awkward as I shoved the notes into his hand! D’oh!
We had a very brief pit stop back at the hotel, so that we could wash our hands and change for an evening meal. Ian had been looking hoping for a street food experience, and “Building 84” opposite our hotel came highly recommended as having plenty of variety. We walked over there, and spent some considerable time looking for it – all of the buildings helpfully have giant numbers displayed on their walls to assist – but eventually realised that the building wrapped up in fencing and curtains must be Building 84. It was closed for redevelopment.
The East Coast Parade Food Court had been recommended to us by a local mum I’d been chatting to in KidZania earlier, so we walked back to our hotel and took a taxi there. It was certainly the street food experience! There were, maybe, 50 different stalls all selling similar food. We managed to find a table, which I wiped clean while Ian went off to order our supper. To my great irritation, a man came over with a tray of drinks and said that he had reserved this table, by putting two packets of tissues on the table. He added that he was with three people. I was not going to give up the table, and said that one of them should have stayed to keep their place, and that simply putting a packet of tissues on the table didn’t mean a thing. Then Ian returned to find me arguing and found another table around the corner. I quietly hoped he had a crappy evening, and left with Cornelia for our new table.
Ian had ordered a nasi goreng, a seafood rice dish, and ten skewers each of lamb and chicken satay, along with two enormous Tiger beers. It was all delicious, and the meat unexpectedly tender and sweet. Even Cornelia ate loads of chicken and all of the prawns from the rice dish – if only she liked rice too!
We watched the sun set, in our lovely seats right near the water. It was all just as we had hoped. Then, as we left, Cornelia smelled roasted chestnuts and could see the men with their fire and cauldron cooking them. She couldn’t remember if she’d had them before, and was keen to try them, so she bought a bag, and we eventually found a taxi to take us back to our hotel. (There was no taxi rank around – you just had to wait in the car park for another taxi to arrive, then get in it before anyone else steals it!)
On the way back, Cornelia made up a joke: “What do shrimps do when their bandages fall off? They roll over and snap.” It made absolutely no sense whatsoever, but it made her laugh!
When we were back at the hotel, she had a very quick bath and then went straight to bed, and straight to sleep. I stayed up blogging, then rolled into bed just before midnight!