Krabi Part 3- Elephant Trekking Tour

I’m really not good at keeping up with my holiday posts so continuing on our Krabi vacation, we headed for elephant trekking the next day after our island hopping adventure to Hong Islands.

Actually as I was writing this post, I was in two minds about sharing our elephant ride experience because some of the things I saw was really unsettling. Later my friends shared about the disturbing truth behind this seemingly touristy activity in Thailand and it made me feel guilty for doing it especially since we love these gentle giants.

So I’m changing the focus of this post on how you can support a more sustainable elephant tourism industry.

Why you shouldn’t be riding elephants

Like many tourists to Thailand, going for an elephant ride seems like a must do activity. Every corner we turned in Krabi offered elephant trekking yours and we booked our elephant trekking tour along with our island hopping adventure. Before we set off for the elephant ride, we were entertained by an elephant show.

The guide introduced the little fella to us and it charmed us by curtsying, playing with the hula hoop and even balanced on its hind legs and fore legs. At one point, it even played or rather made noises on a harmonica!

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While all these seemed impressive to us tourists, one can only imagine the kind of training the elephants have to go through and this might even mean abuse in some cases to get them to obey.

Photographer Brent Lewin won an award for capturing this haunting image of the torture which I wished I never seen. But not knowing the truth will only leave me ignorant of the problem and I hope that others will be made aware of this problem and not support the elephant tourism blindly, causing them more bodily and emotional harm.

Mistreatment of elephants

During our elephant trekking, we sat on a metal chair that was strapped on the back of the elephant. But little did I know that their spines are not made to support the weight of humans  and that riding on them can cause serious long-term harm and spinal injuries. And the chair that’s attached to it’s back?

The contraption rubs on the elephant’s back, causing blisters that can get infected along with wear and tear on the elephant’s feet :(

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And if that’s not enough to make you think twice, I actually witnessed the guides using a bullhook like the one in the photo below to pull the elephant’s ear to direct them so that they will not steer off course. Can you imagine the pain that is being inflicted on these elephants just so they would submit :(

The guide for our elephant was not so cruel and only used a wooden stick, but it’s not hard to imagine that the elephant might have received beatings just to tame it too.

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The truth about elephant training

Later as I read up more about elephant training, I was horrified that elephants have to go through rigorous and abusive training known as the Phajaan in Thailand, or more colloquially ‘‘the crush’, because of the way it crushes the elephants spirit and forces them to be submissive.

The young elephants are taken away from their mothers by force and held in confined cages where they are tortured and beaten constantly for an extended period with bullhooks, bamboo stick and even cattle prods. They are often starved, sleep deprived and mentally and physically tortured and abused for many days until they learn to submit.

During the trek, there was a baby elephant that came along and it was chained to it’s mother. We had to navigate a very steep and muddy terrain and it was clearly a very daunting task for the little fella because it lost it’s balance a few times and even fell while trying to keep up.

And as you can guess, when it went the wrong way, the guide would prod it with a bullhook to keep it moving.

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Truth is, I’m not proud to say that we rode the elephants in Krabi and wished that we could have chosen a more elephant friendly way of interacting with them. And I hope that this post about what I’ve learnt from my experience will make you think twice about adding this to your bucket list when you visit Thailand.

There are now elephant nature parks which allows people to get close with the elephants by bathing them, feeding them or growing and harvesting food for them.

Make an informed decision and support these sustainable elephant centres which  promote ethical interactions with elephants. 

I hope this gives you a fresh perspective of elephant trekking tours and let’s do our part to protect these gentle giants.


I promise that there’ll be a final post on the places we dined at in Krabi. So stay tuned for that :)

Organising Kids Stuff with Daiso

Many of you know that I enjoy crafting and one place that I swear by to get my supplies is none other than my favourite $2 Japanese shop, Daiso. While the items may be affordable at just S$2, you are assured of pretty quality stuff.  Some of the great finds I have include punches, shadow boxes, canvas, frames and of course washi tapes!

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Washi tapes from Daiso

For some of these items, you’ll  easily have to fork out 3, 5 or even 10X more in the local scrapbook shops so imagine the savings! #auntymodeon

But another reason why I’m always headed to Daiso again and again (God bless my very patient hubby and daughter) is because they have so many great products that helps with organisation.

From storage, stationary, kitchen wares, containers and the list can go on forever, Daiso wins hands down for stocking up so many options which they update ALL THE TIME. A very smart strategy I tell you, which is why I’m always headed there just to check out what’s new.

And as a season Daiso shopper, I can tell you that each outlet stock up different items and have their own version of top selling products. And here’s an insider news if you don’t already know, there are Facebook groups dedicated to sharing their best buys from Daiso, no kidding.

So here are my some of my recommended buys to get organised for your kids stuffs.

Organising kids stuff with Daiso

1.Clear B4 folders

Every term, we receive worksheets, art work and exercise book from Sophie’s childcare. Some of her artwork can be in irregular shapes and sizes so I wanted to have a file big enough to keep everything.

These clear B4 size folders with zips are perfect as they are big enough to hold paper bigger than A4 size  and keep them neat and tidy. Do look out for the version that has pockets to separate the worksheets and exercise book.

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2. Tension Rods

At one point, these tension rods were Daiso’s hottest selling item where people were seen grabbing all of them off the racks.  For us, we used it between a cupboard and the wall and with hooks, it’s perfect for hanging Sophie’s bags.

Here are some other ingenious ways that you can use these tension rods from holding up plants, chopping boards and even keep your mess out of the way.

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3. Flash card organiser

I doubt this is a flash card organiser but I lost the packaging that came with it and nevertheless thought it was perfect for the Berries flash card that Sophie brought home every week!

I’ve shared this one with friends before and I still think it’s a fanatstic way to store her flash cards. Plus having it in clear pockets means she gets to see them ever so often which helps practice reading the words.

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4. Alarm Clock

Not quite an organisation tool, but with Sophie going to Primary One next year, it’s important that she learns to wake up independently.

Not the fanciest alarm clock but it gets the job done.

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5. Muji like containers

These Muji like containers are such a gem and comes in a few variations with different heights, widths and compartments. And like while they look like they are from Muji, they costs only a fraction of the price. #superbargain

I have a couple of them to store my craft supplies and they are great for storing creams, lotions and powder on Sophie’s bedside table to keep everything neat and organised.
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 6. Stationary holder

Moving on to They say your desk tells a lot about you. So what can you tell about me with my choice of stationary holders?

One is a watering jar, but since I have no green fingers at all (Seriously I cannot even care for an air plant) I decided to use it as my stationary caddy since it looks so cute with the bumble bee print on it.

And the other is the Maison series pen holder which was another hot selling item in Daiso. In this series, they have a few more containers and people were snapping them fast from the shelves. These days, I see so many of them around. So really, no point chasing after all these hype products coz the craze will eventually die down.

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7. Clear shoe boxes

These clear shoe boxes are one of the best storage solutions. They are regular shaped, have a cover and stackable. I have so many of them in my craft room to store all kinds of things and are wonderful for holding all my washi tapes too!

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8. Boxes with compartments

Another items that are a must have for organising are boxes with compartments especially for smaller items which can easily get lost if they are just thrown into a box. For Sophie, I used it to store her rainbow looms bands and perler beads by their colours so it’s easily to use them for her projects.

For me, they work well to keep my wood veneers from Typo and from other scrapbook brands so I know exactly where to find them.
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Whoops I got distracted towards the end and started showing the Daiso items that I used for myself. But these are still great for getting organised.

And lucky for me, paying a Daiso is so convenient as I live along the NEL where there are 4 Daiso at these MRT stations – Vivo City, Chinatown Point, Dhoby Ghuat and City Square Mall. More shopping at Daiso!

Here are also some of my DIY craft projects made with items from Daiso that you can check out below too.


This is part of a blog train hosted by fellow blogger, Justina. Jus is blessed with three little boys, and blogs about her family and homeschooling adventures at Mum in the Making. She has itchy fingers and loves to craft, and will be sharing about how she uses Daiso products around the home in tomorrow’s post.


Mid-Autumn Festival 2015 at Gardens By The Bay

Just when we all thought that the persistent haze was going to leave us with no choice but to be home over the Mid-Autumn weekend, we finally had a respite and woke up to clear and blue skies on Saturday morning. Thankfully, the haze continued to be at bay with PSI levels of below 100 throughout the day and we headed out to Gardens by the Bay for their annual Mid-Autumn festival celebration.

This year, the Flower Dome is transformed into a traditional Chinese garden with more than 10,000 Chrysanthemums with over 40 varieties on display which runs from 24 September to 10 November 2015. And Chrysanthemums are the perfect choice of this season as they are often used in traditional Chinese art to represent the autumn season.

Do look out for the unique Spider Chrysanthemums that has been specially brought into Singapore for the first time!

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When we got there at 6pm, the Flower Dome was packed with families, young and old and I guess everyone like us was glad to be out for a change. And to make this a family affair, kids aged 12 years old and below who show up with a lantern (the LED ones as candle are not allowed in the conservatories) between 5-9pm get to enter the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest for free.

And under the SG50 Seniors Special, local seniors aged 60 and above can enter the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest for free with accompanying caregivers enjoying 50% off tickets till 31 December.

Here are some of the spectacular blooms in a beautiful tapestry of gold, red, pink and yellow.

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My little budding photographer also wanted to capture some photos of her own and asked Daddy to lend her his handphone and the selfie stick to take photos of the pretty flowers.

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But that’s not all. Head on outside to the lantern light up where as many as 300 lanterns shaped in animals and plants are lighted up from 7pm for the Mid-Autumn Festival.

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Chang-Er in the moon with her rabbit near the main entrance

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Floral archway

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A pond of koi fish

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Look out for the hungry Otters

After we exited from the Flower Dome, we saw these 50 goat-shaped lanterns as we’re in the year of the goat. Many of them bore symbolism of Singapore and SG50.

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As we walked towards the Supertree Grove, Sophie pointed out the animal lanterns and the lanterns of the Chinese Zodiac Signs. While the lantern light up is on a smaller scale compared to previous years, what we liked was the variety of the lanterns and how they we could get more up close for photo taking opportunities.

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Sophie with Grandma, the two oxes in the family

If you’re feeling peckish, there is also a food street that offers lots of food choices. But I must say that prices were on the high side as we paid $2 for hotdogs, skewer of chicke seaweed, $4 for Ramly burger and $8 for a chicken kebab! While there were tables and chairs inside, I’ll suggest that you head outside with your food and lay  picnic mat as it’s a lot breezier.

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After dinner, we caught sight of more lantern light up like this mega dinosaur ones at the heart of the Supergrove tree. The kids were all so fascinated that their heads could move too. 

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Besides the dazzling display of lanterns, don’t forget to catch the cultural performance as well as the daily Garden Rhapsadpy that happens every night at 7:45pm and 8:45pm where the Supertrees comes to life in a spectacular light and sound show.

The Lantern Display at Gardens by the Bay will be up till 4 October and they will also have fireworks display on 3 October,if the weather isn’t too hazy, so keep your fingers crossed.


Just a few tips if you intend to head down today or next weekend,

  • If parking if full, you may want to find alternative parking at Marina Barrage of Satay by the Bay
  • If crowds are not your thing, then do visit on a weekday
  • For kids below 12 years old to enjoy complimentary entry to the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest do bring along their LED lanterns between 5-9pm till 4 Oct
  • Seniors get to enjoy free entry to the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest till 31 Dec and do look out for the special seniors queue at the ticketing counter


Wishing all of you a very Happy Mid-Autumn festival with your family and loved one!


For more information, do check Gardens by the Bay facebook page here.

Giving Our Children Roots and Wings

As parents, we all want to raise successful kids. But often the yardstick of success can be so vastly different from parent to parent depending on our backgrounds, experiences and expectations. When I look at the throng of parents who send their kids to tuition centre every weekend, I suppose it’s having smart kids who ace in every single subject.

For some it could be developing their kids full potential in the area of arts, music and sports by enrolling them in a variety of classes right from a young age. And for others, it might be equipping their kids to have the life skills to get them through whatever life throws at them, the kind of smart I like, street smart.

Over the years, we’ve seen how the Singapore education system is slowing steering it’s direction going from just developing book smart students to being more holistic, realising that there is more than one way to recognise our kids’ abilities.

As a mum with a soon-to-be primary one, I’m really glad about these changes because to be honest I wasn’t an ace student and many times I felt that I let my parents and myself down when I didn’t achieve outstanding results. But over the years, I discovered that I have other talents and gifting that are just not related to how smart I am.

Though I think Sophie’s a pretty smart cookie (okay, I’m super bias), but I know these changes to the education system gives me greater assurance that she will thrive well when she starts formal school. But as a parent, I also have an incredible responsibility in shaping who she is as a person and we have the role of giving our children roots and wings.


Roots & Wings

Giving Our Children Roots and Wings

Giving Our Children Roots and Wings

What comes to mind when you think about roots?
A tree. Or perhaps a towering sturdy tree with it’s branches spread out wide and tall? In order for a tree to reach such heights, and stand strong to withstand the different elements, its’ roots must go deep and be firmly planted.

1. To be rooted in her identity
I want my daughter to be deeply rooted in the knowledge of her identity in Christ and and having God’s Word as the ultimate authority in her life. I want her to love herself for who she is and not strive to be someone else as she’s uniquely her, complete with her vivacious and vibrant personality, her funny sense of humour and heart of gold.

2. To be rooted in character and values

If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.

As Sophie enters primary school, peer pressure will be a very real issue and that’s when her character and values are put to the test. As a parent, we have to inculcate values of honesty, compassion, integrity, kindness, responsibility, perseverance, kindness and the list goes on.

And the best way to teach these to our kids is to model them ourselves.

3. To be rooted to the ties of home
As parents, our role is to provide a safe and secure home as the fertile soil for Sophie so that her tender roots can sink deep and be nourished by love and acceptance from us. If there’s one thing I want her to always know is that without a shadow of doubt we’ve always got her back no matter what happens.

And as a very homebody, my desire for Sophie is to be rooted to the ties of home having a sense of belonging to her family. And beyond her physical home, is to also never forget her roots as a Singaporean even if she ever decides to venture abroad.

4. To soar on wings of exploration
And as her roots grow deep, my hope is that she’ll develop wings to seek out the world. To be filled with curiosity and awe with a hunger to know more. I want to be the parent that says, ” That’s an interesting question, let’s find the answer.” and not to stop her from asking questions.

5. To have wings of creativity

While I wish that schools will encourage more creativity, there is nothing stopping me from being that catalyst of creative thinking with Sophie. And we all know how things stick better when our kids gets taught in a more engaging and creative way. Plus, it’s usually more fun too!Maybe that’s why I don’t like route learning especially when I see how rigid maths questions are being tackled.

6. To have wings of independence

Truth is, our kids will grow up no matter how we wish for them to remain cute and small. And the key is to ensure that they are equipped with life skills to see them through life. For young, I’ve made Sophie help around the house and pick up after herself, load the laundry, taught her our mobile numbers and what to do if she ever gets lost, how to deal with dodgy strangers and now she’s learning how to count money, a skill essential at the canteen.

And in time, I intend to teach her to cook maybe starting with frying an egg, how to manage her time wisely, how to budget and save, how to use the vacuum cleaner…But one step at a time.


I know that as parents, it wouldn’t be easy for us to let go of our kids when they eventually grow up, have their own ideas, friends and all. But when that day comes, we’ll be glad that our children are ready to take off and soar high with their roots and wings!


DIY Vacation Memory Box

Vacation memory box title

It’s no secret that I enjoy travelling and being a memory keeper, I’m often guilty of returning home with all kinds of memorabilia from ticket stubs, maps, name cards of the places we dined at and also souvenirs and trinkets of all sorts. Sounds familiar to any of you?

Every trip, I often end up with literally hundred of photos because I’ll be busy snapping photos. Some to scrapbook, some to blog and lots lots more for those precious memories down the road. And while I have these photos stored on my computer, on Facebook or this blog, I prefer doing something tangible about them so they don’t just remain in digital format.

On my recent holiday to Krabi, the highlight of our trip was the visit to Hong Islands so I decided to make a unique vacation memory box with memories of our time there. And thanks to little Sophie, I was gifted with some sea shells which she picked up when we went snorkeling.

DIY Vacation Memory Box

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Shadow Box from Daiso

I printed three photos for this project and used a shadow box from Daiso. Did you know that of late Daiso has become a crafting heaven which they brought in so many craft items and at such affordable prices, I often buy things like that and keep them until I get struck with an idea.

The box comes with a transparent  cover that you can slide from the side but I left it out in this photo as it was too reflective. The cover was a great idea to keep dirt and dust out of the way especially if it’s going to be a display piece.

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Decorated with chipboard stickers from Simple Stories Summer Vibe collection

Since this was going to be a beach scene, the Simple Stories Summer Vibe collection was prefect for this project and I used the chipboard stickers like the flip flops, sand pail and beach ball. Plus I really like how cheery the colours are. Totally reminds me of how wonderful Summer is :)

The word stickers are also from the same collection and how cute is the hashtag #summertime sticker too. The cloud cardstock was from another collection but I can’t recall which one anymore.

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To accent the edges of the box, I used a marine coloured washi tape and just a splash of colour made so much difference. To hold the sea shells down, I used foam dots stickers from Diaso too and it was only on hindsight that I realised one at the corner was exposed 😛 That’s what happens when I stay up to craft late at night.

I really like how this vacation memory box turned out and took me less than an hour to complete it.


If you liked this DIY project, here are some other vacation memory making ideas: