Out and About in Brunei

新年快乐! Happy Chinese New Year! We just returned from a short trip to Brunei but managed to squeeze in some playtime for the kids while we were there. Here’s a quick overview of what we did:

 

Times Square Shopping Centre

Address: Spg 13-29, Jalan Berakas, Kg Jaya Setia BB2713

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We passed by this place many times before but this was our first time venturing inside. There are a few shops and stalls selling children’s clothes and accessories. There is a bookshop on the ground floor, around half of which was dedicated to children’s books. The ground floor also had a bouncy castle; not sure if this is a permanent fixture or just a temporary thing. It was really cheap, 50 cents for 30 minutes or $1 for an hour. Can’t imagine anyone wanting to spend a whole hour on it though. The third floor had an arcade and indoor playground. We didn’t go inside but the assistant said that the charge was $6 for 2 hours of play.


Mabohai Shopping Complex

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Can't read the sign on this picture but the shop is called Carousel

Can’t read the sign on this picture but the shop is called Carousel

The kids love the Toys r Us here and we visit every time we are over in Brunei. There is a nice maternity shop on the floor below as well as a branch of Flexa. I like the Supa Save on the ground floor; it carries a few British items that I don’t commonly see in Singapore like Monster Munch, Chewits and Robinsons squash (although I know you can get some of that stuff online from Expat Food Hall and Tuck). I noticed a babycare room but didn’t venture inside because it’s next to the security area and wasn’t sure if I needed to ask them to open (the kids were in Toys r Us…).


Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium playground

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We got here just after 6pm and were sad to see that it was closed and padlocked (think it was closed due to prayer time). We didn’t have time to wait for it to reopen so had to leave a visit for another time.

Westpark Kiddieland II

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There are 2 branches, hence the II in the title. The first branch is in The Mall, Gadong and would be easier for a tourist to find. The second branch is not far away, also in the Gadong area. We paid $10 per child for unlimited time in the playground and water park area; it’s cheaper if you just want to do one of those 2 things. The playground is nice and clean and a good size. There is also a miniature train that runs around. We came on a weekday and there were only 2 other kids here the whole time. The cafe has plenty of seats and it was nice to see kiddie sized tables and chairs. The food selection wasn’t great but the kids enjoyed the fries and one meal was enough for the both of them to share. There are toilets inside along with a nursing room. However there was party stuff all over the changing unit which would have been inconvenient if I had needed to use it.
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The indoor water park was small and the water was very cold. M was scared of the main structure due to the amount of water coming down so the assistant turned off the water supply there which we appreciated. The kids mainly stuck to the smaller water features. There are changing rooms and showers in this area.
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Overall we enjoyed our visit here and will probably come back next time but skip the water park section.


Jerudong Park

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The theme park was small but fun for young kids. We went on the paddle boats and the carousel but most of our time was spent in the play area. It’s important to note that at prayer times the rides and water park shut down but the play area and food stalls remain open.
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The kids really enjoyed the water park. It was actually really big compared to the rest of the park. Only a limited number of tokens are given out for each time slot so arrive early! There was a huge structure with slides for the older kids and the younger kids could splash around near the various fountains. One thing to note is the strict dress code. Females can’t wear “regular” swimsuits and definitely no bikinis. It would be best to wear a rash guard and board shorts or just wear a t shirt and leggings like a lot of the women I saw. Guys need to wear tops and I’m not sure if trunks are allowed, better check first or wear shorts.
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Food here was very reasonably priced. We paid $5.50 for a chicken hotdog, fries, and freeze drink. You could also order rice and sweet corn at the same stall for a healthier option although most of the food inside the park was fried stuff.
The nursing room was large but sparsely decorated. There was only one changing station and armchair. There was also a sofa so if it gets busy, you might find yourself sharing.
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Legoland Malaysia, Sanrio Hello Kitty Town & Little Big Club

Legoland Malaysia

We chose to go to Legoland in Malaysia as our annual short trip/staycation this year. M has just started to enjoy Lego and I also enjoy building with her. We booked in for two nights and because of the Legoland promotion, got two days entry into the parks for the price of one.

First up, the hotel.

The bus dropped us off quite a distance from the hotel. I was a bit surprised by this, I had assumed that we would be dropped right at the entrance. Anyway, we were greeted by these guys outside.

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A few pictures of the hotel interior:

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We chose to stay in the pirate themed room. There were two sleeping areas; the main one with a big bed and a smaller one (with it’s own TV) with a bunk bed plus trundle bed.

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The interior decoration was great and the kids especially enjoyed the treasure hunt.

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Contents of the safe after completing the treasure hunt. A notepad, a Lego magnet (we got a Star Wars one) and a keyring (we got Frodo from LOTR).

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M loved that there was a kids sized bathrobe and slippers. There was a box of Lego provided to play with throughout your stay.

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There were quite a few areas to play Lego in. Regular sized Lego in the lobby and Duplo and foam bricks in the area near to the restaurant. This was really great for when it was raining and we had to take shelter indoors. There is also a nice castle structure for the kids to play in.

The main restaurant was okay but not great. We chose to only have breakfast there and instead, took lunch and dinner in the shopping/restaurant street located outside the parks.

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A few shots of the park. The toddler playground had nice shade but most of the park was exposed to the sun/rain.

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There was a babycare room near to the duplo area. You have to register with the staff on entry so it ensures that the room isn’t misused.

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The chairs were super comfy and the place was deserted the whole time that I was there. There was a little play area too, which was nice.

And some shots of the waterpark. There were some little slides that the kids enjoyed but they were too young for the main waterplay area (see third picture).

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Sanrio Hello Kitty Town & Little Big Club

We didn’t have Legoland tickets for our third day in Malaysia so thought that we’d come check out Hello Kitty Town and Little Big Club instead. Both of these attractions are housed in the same building and it’s just a short taxi ride from Legoland. It was a last minute decision to come so we hadn’t arranged for any tickets. No problem, our taxi driver called someone and within 5 minutes we had them. Of course you can also buy tickets when you arrive. We paid RM110 per person for both attractions but it’s cheaper if you book on the internet in advance. Z was under the age limit so didn’t need a ticket.

I was a bit disappointed with Hello Kitty Town. There were photo opportunities which were fun, but M and Z were not really interested in the crafting sessions. They would suit older kids (M is 3 and Z is 1 year old). The kids were more interested in the little playground where you shoot soft balls around. There were a few school groups on this day (wish my school brought me to places like this!) so it was quite busy and I had to really keep watch that they didn’t get knocked down (pictures were taken after the groups left).

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We all enjoyed Little Big Club more, despite M and Z not being very familiar with the characters. They had seen Barney on DVD but never watched Bob the Builder or Thomas the Tank Engine. Again, it was another indoor playground that caught their eye though.

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This playground was bigger and had some attendants. The kids enjoyed building up a wall out of soft tetris-like shapes and then knocking it down. There were also places to climb and slides.

The kids had some photo opportunities then sat down to watch the Thomas the Tank Engine and Barney shows. They really enjoyed them!

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I wouldn’t travel all the way from Singapore to visit these two attractions, but if you’re in Legoland it’s a nice short trip. The admission price was a bit higher than I would have liked to pay but if your kids like having their photo taken with characters and enjoy watching the shows, it’s a fun morning/afternoon.

Afterwards, we ate at a Japanese restaurant in the walkway outside. I was a bit worried about the food choice inside the attractions so was grateful to see a wider variety outside.

Websites: Legoland, Sanrio Hello Kitty Town & Little Big Club

London

Here is my final post from our England trip this summer. We spent time in London both at the beginning and end of the trip. Having lived there for many years, our goal was to visit friends and do a little bit of shopping, not go sightseeing. So this post has got lots of random things in it and doesn’t follow an itinerary.

When we arrived in the UK, we wanted to stay near to a relatives place for the first night. We chose Travelodge in Enfield due to it’s proximity, it’s low price, and because there were a few retail parks nearby. We rented cars and it was pretty easy to get there from Heathrow. There were supermarkets nearby, as well as a Boots (like Watson’s or Guardian but cheaper) and Toys R Us.

Nursing Room – Toys R Us Enfield

I was a bit surprised to find a nursing room here but it’s a good idea to have one within a toy shop. The room was pretty shabby but clean.

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Some Central Shopping

We had done lots of shopping around Manchester so when we were in London, we mainly stuck to Regent Street (Hamleys) and Oxford Street (where the department stores are).

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Oxford Street

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Regent Street

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The above bookshop is Waterstones, just around the corner from Piccadilly Circus. It has a great children’s section with some small tables and chairs for kids to play and read books. I didn’t spot a nursing room so ended up using a nursing cover here. For a children’s section, it was surprisingly quiet.

Below are some random pictures that I took whilst shopping. The first is the greeting card section within a supermarket (Tesco). I struggle to find nice cards and gift wrap in Singapore so it was great to see such a huge selection here. Yes, that whole isle was dedicated to it! The second picture is my haul from a pound shop (can’t remember which one though). So it’s like Daiso but everything costs £1. A six pack of fudge for £1 is a bargain!

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Nursing Room – Tesco Kensington Superstore

Found this little nursing room within the supermarket (L2)

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Nursing Rooms – John Lewis

There are a few nursing rooms within John Lewis on Oxford Street. The first set of pictures show the one on level 4. The actual nursing area is a shared one and separated by a curtain from the changing area. There are also a couple of highchairs here.

 

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This next lot of pictures show the room on level 5. There is both a formula feeding area and a breastfeeding area. Again, the areas are shared ones.

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The cafe in John Lewis serves some child friendly food (they had yoghurts and some pouches if I remember correctly). There is also a good children’s department with clothing and toys.

 Nursing Room – Heathrow Terminal 3 Departures

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So that’s it! Hope you enjoyed this series of posts and that they help you if you’re visiting the UK.

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Marché Mövenpick Suntec City

Address: Marché Mövenpick Suntec City, 3 Temasek Boulevard, #01-612 to 614, Suntec City Mall, S(038983)

Website / Facebook 

Marche opened a new branch at Suntec City a few months ago and I had the chance to try it out last weekend. We love the one at 313 Somerset as there is a wide variety of food and a small play area for the kids. So even better for us that there is now a branch at Suntec, just a few bus stops away from us. The bus actually drops you off outside the restaurant but you have to walk around and into the building before entering.

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The setup is pretty much the same as at 313 Somerset. You are given charge cards as you enter and then order food and drinks from the various stations, giving in your card each time. Then at the end, the cashier bills you according to what’s on the charge cards. One cool thing was a little highchair/trolley for kids to sit in while you go around to collect food. So they sit in the front, and there is a tray at the back to put food on. You can even use it as a highchair if you wish, although there are also plenty of Stokke Tripp Trapps available.

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There is a kids menu, priced just over $10, but we decided to just share our food with Z as she is too young to be able to finish a full meal of her own.

And then, the bit that we came for…

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…the play area!

In the first picture is an activity board and a playhouse to the right. Second picture shows the interior of the little playhouse. There is a treehouse which I didn’t climb up into and a small bridge with a firemans pole at one end. There is a climbing wall at the end. There was also a really nice train table which I didn’t snap a picture of as it was very busy, with kids crowding around it.

Suntec is really a great destination for kids now with Cool de Sac, Polliwogs, Marche, Toys R Us and the Lego shop all close by. And then Marina Square is just a short walk away with Mothercare, Kiddy Palace, and the free playground. Also, Hokey Pokey at Millenia Walk! Could easily spend a whole day around here.

Marina Square

Location: level 3

I had a morning free with the kids and nothing to do, so thought I’d take them out for a play at Marina Square. The plan was to go to Paragon later so Marina Square was a good choice as it has an MRT within walking distance (and all undercover).

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The playground was empty at around 11:00 and during our time there only 4 or 5 other kids came to play. I like that there are toilets and a nursing room nearby and also benches to sit on while you supervise. There are also quite a few maternity and children’s shops in this area including Kiddy Palace, Mothercare and BabyOnline (great for snacks). I guess the downsides would be the electronic car rides that your kids will beg you to pay for and the lollipop and sweets machines that help make themselves obvious by playing loud music every now and then.

But we really enjoyed ourselves and best of all, it was free!

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The nursing room is a little small but we managed to squeeze our stroller inside. I know that this one is often busy but I guess you can also sit on the benches near to the playground if baby doesn’t mind the noise!

 

Cheshire and Manchester

Our next destination (after leaving the Peak District) was a small town just outside of Manchester. We came over to this part of the country to visit family. We chose a place through Airbnb; our first time using the site. I have to say that I’m very impressed. It was nice and easy to book, our host greeted us on arrival, and then left us to ourselves for the rest of the trip. The house was clean and had everything we needed (including an Xbox 360 and blu-ray player!). Shopping wise, I only had one goal and that was to visit Cheshire Oaks, a designer outlet.

Cheshire Oaks

Cheshire Oaks has so many great shops with big discounts. If you’re staying nearby, I would definitely recommend visiting.There are quite a few shops with kid’s stuff like Clarks (shoes), Mamas & Papas, Joules, Gap Kids etc. There is a big play area that M and Z really enjoyed (there is also another smaller area, that we didn’t check). You need to keep an eye on them though as people kept leaving the gate open.

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I checked out the nursing room that’s near to Wagamama.

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The room was a bit small considering how big the outlet is. I’m not sure if there are any other nursing rooms around. I did have a look around the toilets where the customer services area is and couldn’t find one (so don’t bother to trek up those stairs looking).

Manchester Arndale

We didn’t spend much time in Manchester itself but decided to park in the Arndale Centre while coming out for a meal in Chinatown. I asked at the information counter if there were any nursing rooms and was informed that no, there weren’t, but there were changing facilities in the ladies toilet. So I headed over there and came across…a nursing room! Very strange that the staff didn’t know about this.

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I can’t remember if there was a lock on the door but it seemed to be a shared nursing area, with so many chairs. They had a nappy vending machine but so expensive at £2.

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  • London (coming soon)

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The Peak District & Surrounds

The children were born and raised in Singapore so when deciding where to stay in England, I wanted places that would give them the opportunity to try things a little different than in Singapore. We drove up to the Peak District so that they could experience the countryside, see farm animals and stay in a different kind of accommodation to home. We found a nice place just outside of the Peak District; only a 30 minute drive or so to Bakewell. It was a whole cottage which really suited us as there were six of us staying, plus the children. I can’t remember exactly how we found this place. Maybe a review on tripadvisor? Anyway, it’s called Church Farm and you can have a look at their website by clicking on the link. It’s a beautiful grade 2 listed place with exposed wooden beams and even a well (!). The kids were excited to see the pear tree in the back garden.

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We used this as our base to explore a few places in the Peak District. The town of Derby is also nearby, just a short drive away.


 Nursing Room – intu Derby (shopping centre)

Location: levels 1 and 2

I was really happy and surprised here with the facilities for children. I thought that things were pretty good in Singapore but this was even better!

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The baby rooms were all very clean. As you can see in the second picture, the walls in the nursing rooms are actually protected by a plastic screen, so the wallpaper doesn’t get dirty or torn. The chair is comfy and there’s a table to put your stuff. There are these activity zones in the main part of the room. So when you need to wash your hands or put the baby down, you can do so safely and this keeps the baby occupied. There was also a family bathroom inside with 2 toilets.

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There was an activity area on the ground floor. The Entertainer (in the second picture) is a toy shop.

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The above pictures are of the main baby room. Very spacious. There were lots of changing stations here along with nursing rooms (sorry for my finger in that last picture!).

The parking charges weren’t too bad compared to some other places that we parked later.

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Bakewell

Bakewell was our first Peak District destination. Hubby and I actually spent our honeymoon in the Peak District so I was familiar with the place already. We came here to sample Bakewell tarts (my favourite!) and look around an older style of town. Parking was a bit difficult; the first two car parks that we tried were full so we had to drive around a bit to find another with space. August is holiday season so it was predictably busy. We bought the tart from Bloomers, one of the well known shops here. Apparently it’s the Bakewell Pudding, and not tart, that is the original. But this looked much nicer. We ate lunch at The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop.  The food was good and I bought some treats to bring home.

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Chatsworth House

We spent the whole day exploring Chatsworth House. We bought the full pass which includes the house, gardens, farmyard and playground. The kids weren’t too interested in the house but had a lot of fun in the other areas.

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Next, the farmyard!

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We managed to catch a presentation on milking goats and a handling session with guinea pigs.

And finally, the playground.

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The playground was bigger than the bit in the picture. It was quite busy though so I didn’t want to take many pictures.

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