The end of a great trip

Hello everyone. Well, it’s Sunday afternoon and we are all back home. I’d just like to thank all of the parents for realising the value of this Singapore trip and making the whole thing possible. Also, from an admin standpoint, thanks to Ms Maskery for setting the whole thing up – as a teacher it is a real blessing to be able to go on such a trip.

Finally, thanks to the kids. You guys were unbelievable. The way you seamlessly adapted to being in a totally different environment was awesome. Also, you guys really looked after each other over there – hope you remember all of the lessons you learned.

As our trip draws to an end, it is important to remember all of the amazing things we did together: all the successes, the laughter, the challenges overcome. The title of Day 4 was ‘the key to happiness’, and we found that key. Happiness comes from making great memories, and being able to look back at things fondly. Keep these memories safe; don’t bruise them with over-analysis, or batter them with envious comparison. Just be thankful that we all got to experience this together, and we all played a part in contributing to each others’ joy.

Thanks again everyone,

Mr.Pryor

 

Day 7 – Sappy

Another day in Singapore filled to the brim with new experiences. A leisurely start, meeting at 8 for our buffet breakfast – today the roti and curry sauce was quite popular. It being Singapore’s National Day today, nothing was open until 10:30. But we didn’t miss out on anything, with another swimming session organised for 9:00. This one was a biggy – three hours long! But it went by fast because of all the fun we were having. Water rugby and a Ninja Warrior type course were the highlights.

After the pool we headed back to our favourite place, Food Republic, for one last meal there. Most of the boys all went for the Chicken Fillet Katsu Bento Box, however Jeb might have won the day with his Pork Rib Fried Rice (look at me, talking about food again!).

Of course, this was all a prelude to the main event of the day – our trip to the Gardens by the Bay and Marina Barage. Once again, it was a very short bus trip, and we headed out into an increasingly hot day.

The walk around the Gardens by the Bay was beautiful (apart from the Instagrammers). The kids diligently followed the selfie stick (our beacon and guiding light….ask your kids) through the crowds, making the occasional witty remark and taking some spectacular pictures. The succulent section was probably the most popular, especially the hand-crafted dragon sculpture at the peak – pretty cool.\

Next up was the Cloud Forest, an amazing indoor man-made mountain completely covered with a forest of colourful and rare plants and flowers. Once again we were met with a massive queue, but we were fortunate enough to get waved through a special door because we are so special! Either that or they just wanted us out of there.

In short, we took the elevator down, then up (we pressed the wrong button) then walked around, saw some flowers, oohed and aahed, and left. I’m not trying to reduce the significance of the Cloud Dome here, because it is actually a must-see, but I want to move this on.

So we drove to the Marina Barage, a sweeping grass hill with a view of the Singapore skyline (see pics). The atmosphere up here is always absolutely incredible, with a sea of Singaporeans dressed in red enjoying picnics as the anticipation builds for the parade, air show and fireworks.

It was an amazing moment – the sun on its way down through the hazy orange-grey sky, passing through the three columns of the Marina Bay Sands as the crowd built and scanned the horizon for approaching aircraft.

When they arrived the crowd went nuts. First, Singaporean military parachutists trailing smoke as they came out of seemingly nowhere, then two chinooks towing a giant Singaporean flag between the skyscrapers, flanked by Apache attack choppers. Then the jets came. Five of them, the roar of the engines was immense as they screamed overhead and shot straight upwards, almost disappearing in a matter of seconds. It was a goosebump inducing moment.

After the Jets there was a parade featuring traditional dancing – looking at Singapore through the years. Then a fireworks display lit up the sky. Everyone stood for the entire time, even though our feet were sore.

So that ended another day, our last full day in Singapore. Everyone is feeling that bittersweet feeling – happy to be coming home, but sad to be leaving. Or as Mannat put it – ‘sappy’.

Day 6 – Farewell Tampines

Phew! What a day! 5:45 wakeup calls, stumbling onto the bus at 6:15 (still dark), then off to Tampines. Once again, we were welcomed with a truckload of food prepared by the parent helpers. Then our buddies came and collected us to go to the whole school National Day parade. The parade, held outside on a soccer field, is a meticulously planned and precisely carried out affair, with speeches and military-style marching.

Your kids then went off for one more class, this time observed by their teachers. They represented us well in these classes, participating and contributing their ideas with confidence. Next we attended the pre-holiday assembly, held in a massive open hall.

We thought the Singaporeans were obsessed with food, but it turns out singing and dancing are pretty high on their list of go-to activities. This assembly ran more like a concert, with the teachers and students performing plays, songs and dances. The kids even joined them up on stage for the final song – they were loving it!

But, like all good things, the Tampines experience had to come to an end. We said our goodbyes and took about a thousand photographs.

Back at the Y, we actually had some down time (I hope you all received your messages) before another delicious lunch at Food Republic. After letting our lunch go down, we put on more sunscreen and headed upstairs to the pool. The kids (and teachers) enjoyed a great couple of hours splashing around and playing games under the supervision of two YMCA instructors. Turns out Lizzy glides like a fish when doing breaststroke – there sure is some potential there.

We returned waterlogged to our rooms for showers and to get our casual clothes on for the trip to the Singapore Flyer. We sat ourselves back on the bus and before we knew it we were at the base of the Flyer – time to eat! We enjoyed beautiful rice and noodle meals at this cool little hub of hawker style restaurants. The teachers had some down time while Will held the group in thrall with some obviously entertaining stories.

The trip around the Flyer (about 30 mins) was awesome. The lights of Singapore are incredible, even the ships out at sea look like another city. We oohed and aahed our way around the trip, hopped on the bus, and went home to bed. Long day. So long, in fact, that I am going to stop typing now because I have to start uploading pics.

Goodnight all,

Mr Pryor, Miss Mac, Ms Maskery and Mrs Zammit

Day 5 – Home visits!

Hello all. Another day, another array of new experiences. I won’t bore you with the details of breakfast, was just another all you can eat buffet with nothing special. Oh, except for the DONUT TOWER that Ms Maskery and Miss Mac constructed for Ella’s birthday!

After the donuts (normally the peak of any day, this time just the beginning), we headed to Tampines for our Singapore school experience day. The kids did us all proud. They were paired up with their school buddies and left our protective clutches to experience a school day, Singapore style. We teachers did boring teacher things, but occasionally caught a glimpse of a bright yellow Berwick Lodge T-Shirt surrounded by adoring Tampines students – they were celebrities for a day! After being fed a huge lunch (and I will not go into it because I realise this is starting to sound like a food blog, but seriously, all they do here is eat!), the students went off for one more class before meeting their host families who would take them home for the evening.

5 Hours later….

We were overwhelmed by thirteen of the happiest kids I have ever seen. They returned red faced with excitement. Hugs were given, stories were swapped (and there are some doozies), and reluctant goodbyes were said.

I only have a few photos tonight, some of which were shared by parents on the home visits. Also, please accept my apologies for not sending many of the kids’ replies today, but we just haven’t had time. I think there may be a couple of small windows tomorrow in which we can reply. Please keep the comments coming, their faces light up when they read them.

Cheers,

Mr.Pryor, Miss Mac, Ms Maskery and Mrs Zammit

Day Four – The key to happiness

Hello Australians! Wow, it seems we are packing more and more into each day. I’m not going to ramble too much tonight, I’ll just give an outline of our day and leave you with some quotes from the kids (who, it must be said, are growing with each passing day).

It all began with a relaxed breakfast at 8. Each child seems to have honed their buffet skills to a samurai-like precision, darting between other diners to fill their plates with their favourite dish.

After breakfast we walked to Dhoby Gaut Train station with Akhmal, our new guide. We deftly maneuvered through a series of ticket scanners (and two faulty tickets) and made our way to our train. The train smoothly delivered us to the Sentosa Island monorail, and we rode that onto the island.

We were on Sentosa!

Our first job on Sentosa Island was to scale the hill up to Madam Tussaud’s. This climb was made easy by the incredible mosaic sculptures that ran down the centre of the path. We posed for photos, and became experienced art critics as we analysed the sweeping and surreal nature of some of the works. At the top of the hill was the Father Merlion. Not the original, but far bigger and probably more impressive.

Next on to Madam Tussaud’s. This was just great fun. Roaming from themed room to themed room, the kids’ eyes lit up when they spotted their favourite celebrities and posed for photos. At the end of the tour, we watched the Marvel 4D film (it quickly became apparent that Mrs.Zammit is easily scared). Madam Tussaud’s lead to the History of Singapore tour, where we learned about key events from Singapore’s past. In the show, Will and Hayden found work as cart pushers. They did okay.

Lunchtime. We ordered Subway and ate it beside a friendly pond, which we dipped our feet into after eating. We wanted more relaxation, so we marched down to Palawan beach,  crossed the rope bridge, climbed the towers and then headed to the beach for an hour or so, just to relax. Sand castles were built, tunnels were constructed, even a giant hole was dug. We waded around and cooled down.

Back to business. We headed to Universal studios for the obligatory photo in front of the globe. We browsed the amazing lolly shops there, and some of the boys tried their hand at a basketball game.

Then came a few amazing hours. We headed to McDonald’s for a light dinner and still had some time to kill before Wings of Time, so decided to take a walk on the beach. Nothing is that simple with this group, as our leisurely walk turned into a ferocious game of gang-up tiggy on the sand. Teachers versus students. The kids bit off more than they could chew. Miss Mac’s competitive side can be a bit unnerving at times, and I steamrolled Luke (I think the impression of his face will still be in the sand right now). Ms Maskery was not playing nice and Lachie described Mrs. Zammit as being ‘everywhere at once’. Lesson learned kids.

Sweating profusely, we limped to the Wings of Time light show. I won’t go into detail here, but it was amazing. Ask your kids about it when they get back.

There, I didn’t ramble at all (well, maybe a little).

We asked the kids what their favourite part of the day was, and a challenge that they overcame. Here are their responses:

Will:  The wings of time and wax museum, the whole of  Sentosa was great. The challenge was being damp (with sweat) for 4-5 hours.

Nathan: Same as Will. Challenge – being damp and salty.

Rawiri: Loved the Father Merlion and Subway.

Ella: Loved the wax museum and the beach. My challenge was keeping my hat on.

Luke: I liked the gardens and the wings show. Hated damp socks.

Lizzy: I liked the Wings of Time and wax museum. My challenge was the weight of my backpack.

Alana: The Wings of Time and the wax museum. My challenge was keeping the sand off me.

Mannat: Wings of time and dipping my feet in the pond. My challenge was staying focused on the Wings of Time, there was so much to see!

Haddon: Loved the mosaics and the beach tiggy and loved the Wings of Time. Challenge – dealing with chafing.

Lachie: Playing tiggy on the beach and the wings of time. Challenge – trying not to swim at the beach.

Hayden: The whole day. Challenge – my sandy shorts.

Aiden: Seeing Yao Ming and playing tiggy. Challenge – walking around being sandy.

Jeb: The whole island. Challenge – sand

And that’s it. Off to bed for us. Tomorrow is our school visit – the learning continues!

Thanks,

Mr.Pryor, Ms Maskery, Mrs Zammit & Miss Mac

 

 

 

Day 3 – The Zoo and more.

Hello Families! Well, we are the end of day three and we are tired but satisfied. Today began with an absolute feast at the Singapore Zoo. We enjoyed a massive all you can eat buffet with the Orangutans.

Next we headed to “The Splash Zone”, where Pedro the Sea Lion proceeded to drench us all as he showed off his skills in the water. The Elephant show taught us about the majesty and the vulnerability of Sri Lankan and Malay Elephants. The Rainforest rescue show  explored the threats facing many different tropical species. There were beautiful birds, mischievous monkeys and giant pythons.We checked out the White Tiger, before jumping on a tram and doing the express tour of the rest of the zoo.

In the afternoon we finally received some welcome down time. We spent an hour resting in our rooms, writing in journals, playing cards and writing online replies to our loved ones.

At five we drove to the Bugis Market, a huge market in Little India. The kids put their haggling skills to the test as they hunted out bargain after bargain. Before heading home for the night we were treated to a beautiful meal at The Straits Restaurant. Bellies full, we checked out the lights of the city as we drove home to the YMCA, and our beds.

Big day tomorrow, off to Sentosa Island! Chat to you all later.

Goodnight,

Mr.P, Miss Mac, Ms Maskery & Mrs Zammit

 

Admin update

Hi families and friends, I’ve noticed that the comment section is a bit hit-and-miss. Sometimes it appears,  sometimes it doesn’t. Anyway, Some of the kids have left replies to your comments. Most will appear where your original comment was, so if you commented on the ‘Five Senses’ post, scroll down to the bottom and you should see a reply.

I will try to keep the lines of communication as open as possible.

Thanks,

Mr.Pryor

6 pics

Hi all. These took an hour and a half to upload. There are more and I’ll just keep them coming.

 

Day Two – The Five Senses of Singapore

Hello families! Before I start, I’d like to apologise for the lack of photos. The gremlins have hit us tonight and I am unable to upload any photos. I will keep trying to get them up because there are some great shots of your wonderful kids in there.

Also, thank you for your comments. I will show these to the kids tomorrow and try to get some replies through.

Today started in a relaxed manner with a buffet breakfast downstairs. Everyone took their fill from a range of Eastern and Western style foods. Special mention to Will for being the first to try the purple yam bun. Unfortunately for Will, his bravery was not rewarded as the Yam buns were rather disgusting.

After breakfast it was time to meet Mr.Asogun, our tour guide for the Singapore City tour. We headed straight to Little India where we got a feel for the local culture, and took in the sights (and unfortunately the smells) of the ‘wet’ market. I’m not going to go into how the ‘wet’ market got its name, but you could probably guess. All I will say is that of the five senses mentioned in the title of this post, we probably got about seven here.

Today was rich with educational experiences, with a particular focus on the many cultures that contribute to Singaporean society. We learnt about the experience of the Malay people in Kampong Glam, visited the largest Mosque in Singapore, and were fortunate enough to tour the Buddhist Temple in Chinatown. It was a truly solemn moment as we shared the prayer room with the chanting monks.

However, in what was probably the most educational experience of the day, a record amount of Lodger students tested their taste buds to the limit and took on the Durian. This popular local delicacy is considered delicious by Singaporeans. We disagree. In an almost unanimous decision (with the exception of Jeb and Will) we agreed to put this noxious beast behind us and never mention it again.

A more successful culinary moment came at lunch. We strode through the stifling, massively crowded Chinatown market and managed to wrangle enough tables for us all to fit. Miss Mac and Mr.P disappeared into the chaotic throng, and re-emerged victorious with 100 FRESHLY HANDMADE DUMPLINGS!!!!

Obviously, we smashed them all.

After lunch we did another spot of tacky souvenir shopping before heading on the River Cruise, which really gave us a different perspective on this beautiful city. We followed this up with a walk along the Singapore River before some well-earned rest at the Victoria Theatre. Then a short bus trip to Food Republic for some delicious dinner.

Anyway, everyone is in bed now, and tomorrow starts with breakfast at the zoo! All of the kids have been great – we are so proud of them all.

Thank you,

Mr.P, Miss Maskery, Mrs Zammit and Miss Mac

A bit of admin

Hello families. Quick question: Are you able to see the comments on the blog posts? I have approved your comments for publication, but I can only see them when I view the blog on my phone. Please send a comment if you are unable to see them on the blog.

Cheers,

Mr.Pryor

Day One: It’s about the journey, and the destination.

Hi all, just a short post tonight as most of the day was spent in the air (and waiting in departure lounges), and also because we are all absolutely stuffed. The day can be summarised as follows:

After leaving our loved ones we funneled through to our lounge where we began a looooooooong wait for our flight to be called. Upon hearing our rows being summoned we leapt up with furious anticipatory energy and sprinted to our seats, our feet barely touching the ground. Then, breathlessly, we sat.

For hours.

And hours.

And hours.

Then we arrived! We were met by our wonderful guides who arranged some eats for us, even though we were extremely well fed on the plane. We left the air-conditioned comfort of Changi Airport and were instantly punched in the face by the humidity. One of the highlights of the day was the bus trip from the airport to the YMCA in our tricked-out double-decker bus (complete with sub-woofer!).  On this trip, at the exact instant that we crested a rise and were blessed with the full Singapore city skyline, two military fighter jets and a massive military jumbo jet flew in formation across the panorama. Was an incredible moment and it felt like it was scripted just for us.

Anyway, all you need to know is that everyone is now safely tucked up in bed for some well deserved sleep. By the time you read this, I’m sure we’ll be preparing for our first venture into the city.

Oh, and we ate icy poles on the plane that stuck to our lips (see photo).

Night all,

Mr.Pryor

One Sleep to go!!!

I hope you all can feel the excitement building. Get a good night’s sleep and we’ll see you bright and early at the airport.

 

Mr.P