Easy Ham & Cheese Wrap

A wrap is any homemaker’s best friend.

It’s so versatile it can be used for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

You could go heavy or light depending on the stuffing. You can always mix and match like wrapping pan-grilled chicken with scrambled egg whites and tomatoes or use leftover corned beef mixed with corn kernels and fresh lettuce.

I thought my daughter a snack idea that she herself can do using her favorite ham and cheese duo on a wrap.

It’s so easy as one, two three. Check this out!

One: Place slices of ham and cheese on a wrap (I used Mission’s Onion & Chive Wrap) then fold it.

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Two: Heat the wrap for 2-3 minutes on a pan with some oil or go oil-free by heating it up in a toaster or an oven.

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Three: Serve your wrap with sour cream dip or as it is, and enjoy while it’s hot!

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3 Baby Bedtime Tricks That Really Work

My baby is soon turning two and she is still that terrible, irresistible, little munchkin.

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I still remember the time when we went home to Manila to celebrate her special days – Christening and 1st Birthday, and consistently, she was crying as soon as all the attention was on her. She sees our families and friends as strangers, unfamiliar faces trying to snatch her from mommy and daddy.

And 22 months passed. My baby is no longer a cry baby but she still got this cute temper that we could not resist smiling, if not laughing out loud, when we see her run her tantrums, with the rolling of her eyes and everything else.

Kids are kids. So we just try to let her be and at the same time tell her what is good and not good to do. And I think, she listens. We must really never underestimate the little ones.

She also recently joined a playgroup in our community. She enjoys her class. She is learning to make friends and interact more positively with people around here. She enjoys singing children songs, dancing to whenever there’s music, role play with girly stuff in the closet, she cuddles and kisses. She also knows now how to say and when to say important words like bye bye, thank you and hello.

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I believe establishing a certain routine helps up in making a child understand her daily activities which leads to less stress for both the parent and the child.

My child’s routine is to wake up at around 8am, eat her breakfast or drink milk, next is bath time then she dresses up for her playgroup. Her class starts at 9:30am and ends at  11:30am. By the time she comes home after her class, she is hungry and ready for lunch.

After which, she can watch TV or play with her toys for an hour then our room shifts to quiet mode for her afternoon nap. When she wakes up, she has another play time hour in our community playground where she interacts with other kids in the neighbourhood.

She can be very active playing in the playground that when she comes back, she definitely needs some clean up.

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I have been using  Johnson’s Milk Bath for my baby’s day time bath and it is nice that Johnson’s got this baby bedtime bath and lotion samples that they sent me recently for my little one to try.

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Johnson’s recommends clinically proven 3 steps to help our child sleep better and longer: (1) a warm bath (2) soothing massage (3) some quiet time.

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  1. Warm Bath using JOHNSON’S® BEDTIME® Baby Wash: A bedtime routine, including a warm bath, helps baby know it’s time to sleep. The gentle and soothing NaturalCalmTM aromas featured in JOHNSON’S® BEDTIME® Baby Wash has been developed to calm baby in preparation for sleep.Research has also shown that babies bathed with a fragranced bath product were more relaxed and spent nearly 25% less time crying before sleep, compared to those bathed with a non-fragranced product.
  2. Gentle Massage using JOHNSON’S® BEDTIME® Baby Lotion: A massage, as part of a bedtime routine, can help baby sleep better. JOHNSON’S® BEDTIME® Baby Lotion also features NaturalCalmTM aromas developed to help soothe baby, and hydrating emollients that leave skin feeling soft and smooth.Familiar and pleasant scents can make baby feel happy and relaxed and lead to better well- being by enhancing baby’s mood and emotions.
  3. Quiet Time: The moments before bed are an opportunity to help baby wind down through quiet time activities, such as reading, singing or listening to music.

    JOHNSON’S® recommends that parents try the Bedtime Routine for at least one week to discover its physical and emotional benefits.

After reading the benefits of bedtime routine, it really feels good to know that I have been doing the right thing for my baby.

If you have not started a bedtime routine, never fret, you can still start now and even arm yourself with a bedtime app, an interactive 1 week challenge from Johnson’s to  help you create that bedtime routine with your baby. To know more about this, click here.

Sweet dreams and don’t let the bedbugs bite!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Agape Babies, New Baby Loot

Agape Babies, the number online baby store in Singapore has a new awesome look.

Busy working moms would be very glad to know that Agape Babies now features easy sign-in and checkout, mobile-optimised interface for a better shopping experience.

agapebabbiesI also noticed that there are more affordable choices. It has expanded its brand and product selections quite well. It now carries hot brands like Jujube3M, and a lot more.

To give the new website  a try, I browsed through some stuff that my fast growing tot is needing at the moment and was hoping to read some product reviews before purchasing but there was none. I hope more and more customers would write product reviews so parent-customers could help each other out with feedbacks on certain products or that Agape Babies would provide details on the information page of the products, like indicating the country of origin or material used.

Anyhow, I trusted my ever reliable gut feel and I ordered for a Clevamama suction plate (because my tot is starting to eat by her own), a Hello Kitty water bottle (because she needs it in her play school and she fancies only two red cuties – Elmo and Hello Kitty), and the rest are mommy’s choice for her snacks: Holle Organic Baby Muesli Porridge, Alce Nero Organic Tomato Sauce  and Barbara’s Snackimals.

You can enjoy free delivery for $80 and above purchases otherwise there is an option for paid delivery and self collection from 3 convenient locations – Newton, Sengkang and Old Airport Road. Smaller parcels enjoy 72 pick up locations to choose from, click here to know more.

As expected, my checkout was easy and I made a secured payment via Paypal. I got happily surprised to receive my baby loot the next day. It was that fast!

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About two years ago, I also wrote a post about my happy shopping experience with Agape Babies and revisiting their website now, I feel nostalgic. I still remember the happiness that these awesome people behind  Agape Babies brought me when I opened our first loot box. My baby J was just about a year old that time. I ordered for Owen Pink Octopus baby bath robe and booties plus a few of California Baby products. Agape Babies  is among the first brands who trusted my blog and I always cherish such productive collaborations.

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If it is your first-time to  shop at Agape Babies, you are entitled for a $10 OFF and a FREE Bellamy’s Organic milk tin + next day delivery on your first purchase of $150 or more. Use code: agape10. And as a sweet treat, Agape Babies is also throwing my readers a 5% OFF just use the code: expatmom5%.

What are you waiting for mommies? Shop now at Agape Babies and enjoy limited time offer discounts and freebies. Ciao!

 

 

Blues Night at Crazy Elephant

Planning a date night with the hubby is a bit of struggle now that we have a toddler in the family and I have crazy schedule at work. Time is just so precious nowadays but good thing we managed to just do it one fine Sunday night.

We went to Clark Quay, a popular night spot in Singapore, without any idea where to go. We just let our feet lead us to the best place to hang out that night, and we landed having a great time at Crazy Elephant.

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His & Hers. Waiting for the Band.

Crazy Elephant is in a little corner of Clark Quay facing the river. The bar is nothing fancy, the mood is casual which we really like. They got a bar with a good variety of liquor and non-alcoholic drinks.  They have no in-house food but could readily give you a menu of light, tasty grub sourced from nearby restos. The service was friendly and fast. The price is cool considering the great free music that night.

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Seth Roach and the Blues Machine slaying a load full of New Orleans’ music that spectacular  night at Crazy Elephant.

It was a beautiful crazy act from Seth Roach with unassuming blues talents behind his back. The performance was superb. It was like I was transported back to that raw, amateurishly perfect act I could find in St. Peter’s Square in NOLA. It was like they just happened to pass by, felt the groove, and started to play like it was their first and the last.

After their gig, there were some excited expats holding on to their music pieces eager to play in front of an audience. We learned that Sundays are jam nights at Crazy Elephant and anyone and can freely jam on stage and perform like rock stars for a night. They nailed it!

The crowd was pleased. We were ecstatic. I could sense my man was itchy to have his fingers on those guitar strings too, but he is too shy. Oh well, maybe on our next date night. Cheers!

 

Travel Blog Award: I am Richer!

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I am always itching to explore new places and at the same time,  experience culture unknown to me and discover food unfamiliar to my taste. I always have this ever curious, free spirited, 18-year-old trapped in me no matter how old I become.

I do not have to be insanely rich to travel. I just need to be smart in finding the best travel deals and bring along a lot of common sense in my escapades and ultimately, be open to adventures and misadventures. That is what makes the journey more exciting. This is also what I want to teach to my children. That our experiences in travelling makes us rich. It feeds our souls with joy and wisdom.

Not just food and whatnot, my blog documents the travels I made in the past and the memories I captured in photos. Little did I know that some witty editors at Food Panda Singapore magazine thought that my blog is cool. Sweet!

My blog got it to Food Panda Singapore’s Best Travel Blog in 2016 (no. 19th to be exact) and won me this badge ↓

Here are some of the travel related posts I wrote in the past:

A Foodie Guide to New Orleans

Gardens by the Bay: Quick Guide for Moms

Travel Must Have: Emergency Phone Numbers Card

7 Things I Love with Changi Airport

Weekend Getaway: Johor Bahru

Weekend Getaway: Batam, Indonesia

Weekend Getaway: Bintan, Indonesia

My Phuket Retreat

Thank you to Mr. Alexander Hihler, FoodPanda Online Marketing Manager, and to the rest of the staff of Food Panda Singapore for the wonderful recognition.

 

 

Finding the Best Airport Baby Care Rooms

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Imagine travelling alone with a baby. You got a wheeled luggage bag, a handbag carrying your passports and tickets, a baby bag with milk and nappies, and a sling carrying your precious one. Suddenly, the inevitable. The little munchkin pooped!

While this scenario can be stressful, it is a relief when you are in Singapore’s Changi Airport. I will never run out of praises for Singapore’s Changi Airport. It is by far the best airport I have been to. It has the best facilities including well-equipped and well-functioning Baby Care Rooms.

Changi Airport got baby strollers you can use within airport premises. It has safety harness and handles to carry shopping or baby bags. So as soon as you reached the airport, you can use this stroller to help you carry your baby and the rest of your stuff while you head to your airline’s check in counter.

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Take a peek inside one of the Baby Care Rooms in the Departure Area.
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The changing station got paper towels and vendo machine for diapers.

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Hot and Cold water dispenser. A wash basin with liquid soap. Plastic bags for soiled diapers. Rubbish bins. A cozy corner seat for breastfeeding moms with a nearby charging station for mobile phones and gadgets.

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Don’t you just agree with me mommies? We got here the best airport baby care room!

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A Foodie Guide to New Orleans

Anyone would easily fall in love with New Orleans. It has this captivating vibe that would make anyone indulge, if not hooked.

The quaint French-inspired mansions in the Garden District. The petite, colourful shotgun houses in Royal Street. Those soulful music of jazz and blues on Frenchmen and Bourbon Streets. The magicians, the musicians and other street performers at the Jackson Square. The historical museums, the lovely parks, and of course – the FOOD that is uniquely Louisiana.

If you are planning to take a trip to New Orleans to experience good food, and maybe a bit of learning about its history and culture in your itinerary, here are a few suggestions of what to do, where to go and what to eat.

La Madeleine: Country French Cafe

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Delicately delicious Quiche Florentine (eggs, spinach and Swiss in a delicate pastry shell)

While they say that your trip to New Orleans is not complete without getting your Cafe Au Lait and Beignet at Cafe Du Monde, it is not at all bad to try other french cafes in the area and one that stands out to me is La Madeleine at Carrolton Avenue. Love their steaming French Roast paired with one of their specialities, Quiche Florentine . They also have  a variety of soups, fresh salads, fruit tarts and pastries. Their location is also more serene perfect for quiet coffee time unlike common coffee joints like Starbucks, PJs or Cafe Du Monde which are often crowded with tourists. Furthermore, the streetcar ride to St. Charles line heading to all the way to La Madeleine is a fun way of discovering centuries-old mansions and buildings in the Garden District.

TIP: Take the streetcar, ready your camera, enjoy the view and take a stop at La Madeleine at the end of ride. You are saving a lot from those pricey guided tours. 

Remoulade – The Casual Side of Arnaud’s

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Flavorful and filling Seafood Jambalaya at Remoulade.

Remoulade offers delicious local favourites in a casual setting which makes it much affordable than its fancy counterpart, Arnaud’s. It is a good place to explore classic creole dishes such as Crawfish Etouffée, Turtle Soup, Gumbo or like what I had… Seafood Jambalaya. They also have variety of traditional New Orleans sandwiches such s Po’ Boys, Muffaleta and Cajun Sausage or something familiar like burgers, fries and pizzas for kids. Good to know that there is Remoulade, a family friendly restaurant amidst the adult fun happenings in Bourbon Street.

TIP: Check out the mystical Marie Lava’s House of Voodoo also in Bourbon St. and see some interesting Voodoo souvenirs or try a spiritual reading from their resident psychics. 

Mike Anderson’s Seafood

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Crispy, tasty and bite-sized pieces of Fried Alligator with Slaw

Seafood in New Orleans is not limited to the usual fish, shells, shrimps or crabs. They are abundant with alligator and so does its meat. Mike Andersen’s has Fried Alligator that is usually served with coleslaw with some red beans and rice. Aside from Fired Alligator, it stands out among other fast-food shop inside  The Outlet Collection at the Riverwalk as it offers other local seafood cuisines like Louisiana Crawfish, Catfish Lefete, Shrimp Scampi, Boiled Oysters and a lot more. The service is fast,  food is tasty, price is affordable – just what you need for a quick meal when busy shopping inside the mall.

TIP: The Riverwalk offers good factory outlet selections at 50-70% discounts from brands such as NEW BALANCE, COACH, GUESS, etc. Tourists also get 9% tax refund claimable at the tax refund center inside the mall. 

The Besh Steakhouse at Harrah’s New Orleans Casino

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Steaks that delight your palate. Photo grabbed from http://www.downtownnola.com

The Besh Steakhouse is led by award-winning chef John Besh. This fine dining restaurant inside Harrah’s Casino offers traditional steakhouse menu items infused with local Louisiana ingredients and cooking techniques.  The dishes simply goes amazingly well with hand-selected cellar wines and spirits from it’s Las Vegas inspired bar. While critically acclaimed and seriously mouth-watering, be ready to burn a lot of money for a luxurious dining at The Besh.

 

French Market

The historic French Market is home to some of the best artisan food and locally made souvenirs like those naughty Mardi Gras tees, colourful beads and masks, silver jewelries and accessories, among other arts and crafts. In the food section are fresh produce and groceries sold by local farmers. There are also freshly made pralines, fresh oysters, crocodile meat jerky, shrimp tacos, a wide variety Cajun spices and many more.

TIP: There is a FREE walking tour of the French Market District. No registration required, just show up at the scheduled time advertised outside the French Market arched entrance and a local tour guide will show you around. 

New Orleans School of Cooking

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Everyone looks having a great time in this cooking demonstartion. Photo grabbed from http://www.noculinarytours.com

Curious how to make those Cajun / Creole dishes when you return home? Attend 2-3 hours of cooking demonstration at the popular New Orleans School of Cooking and learn how to prepare authentic New Orleans dishes from experienced chefs. It not just that, these local chefs are also very knowledgable of New Orleans cuisine history which makes the cooking demonstration both entertaining and informative. You can just sit back and watch or get your hands dirty and attend a hands-on class. The lunch classes include snacks and refreshments, plus you get to try the dishes cooked during the demo. I guarantee this is a fun bonding time for couples who love to cook. The cooking school is along St. Louis Street at the French Quarter.

TIP: Look for cut-out coupons on tourist maps and magazines for discounted rates to NOSOC. 

TABASCO Pepper Sauce Factory Tour

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The most popular hot sauce in the world. Photo grabbed from http://www.tabasco.com

If you and your family are a fan of the Science Channel’s How It’s Made, then a tour at the factory of the world-famous pepper sauce is something you would not want to miss. Located in Avery Island in Louisiana, the TABASCO factory is about 2 hours drive from downtown New Orleans. During the tour, you would see how they age the sauce in white oak barrels, a film-showing on the history of the sauce, and a guided tour on bottling and packing of TABASCO sauce. You may also get free recipes, take home souvenirs and taste some samples. Not only that, the island has 170-acre of beautiful jungle gardens and some wildlife wandering free for every guest to see.

I hope this post will be of help in planning your foodie trip to the Big Easy.

Happy travels!

Easy Organising with StickerKid Labels

My 12-year-old daughter joined Tampines Secondary School this school year and we were overwhelmed with how busy secondary school could be.

First day of school was orientation day for students, next day is a the Principal’s dialogue with the parents, and the next two days were immediately their discovery camping.

She felt overwhelmed with how big her school is, the new subjects and activities she will deal with, and the many new stuff she have to bring everyday as a freshman in a new school. New books, new notebooks, new school uniforms, new P.E. uniforms, new shoes and a lot of stationaries.

I wanted to help my daughter organise her school stuff and contacted www.stickerkid.sg to try a starter pack of labels to help identify her stuff and not misplace her things.

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It was easy using www.stickerkid.sg website. There are many cool design labels to choose from. You can mix and match colours and fonts according to your liking. I actually had fun in the ordering of sticker labels for my daughter. It is just like a simple online art project.

Checkout was a breeze as major credit cards are accepted. Delivery was also very prompt. I ordered Sunday night, I received the labels Tuesday morning.

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The labels are of high quality and look very durable. It is really value for money. I recommend www.stickerkid.sg to every mom out there. Give it a try!

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Hopes, Wishes and Finding My Element

 

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FLOATING LANTERN OF WISHES. People of Singapore wrote their New Year wishes on white lanterns and let them float in Singapore River. Photo beautifully captured by my husband on December 2012.

New Year is one of my favourite words.

It is like a clean sheet of paper. It beckons fresh start. It creates the feeling of hope, of new opportunities coming, of changes for the better, and of only the nicest surprises on the days to come.

Looking back, my 2015 was not at all bad. I could actually only recall the good times and I am thankful I have this persistent Dory memory (remember the forgetful fish from the movie Finding Nemo?) and it is always like so natural for me to forget so many things, not just where i placed my keys but as well as the troubles and heartaches I had in the past.

My blog life was not as socially active as I wanted it to be, not as popular as other mommy or expat blogs, and I may have struggled to write in the last quarter of the year but I feel I have written some  interesting posts and I have made fruitful collaborations with wonderful people I met through this blog.

Among the highlights of the past year was a post on my family’s Chinatown Trip on Chinese New Year which became a hit among fellow bloggers, a positive recognition from globally recognized expat online community – Internations.org, and my entry post  Which Stylist Celebrity Mum are You? had me won $400 cash prize from a contest run by Flipit Singapore.

My family life, on many ways, had the same favourable moments as my blog.

While the planning was in Singapore, we were able to pull together a successful kiddie party in Manila for my bunso (the baby in the family) who turned 1 last year. The ate (the elder one) meanwhile scored well on her PSLE, got eligible for the express course and she is now enjoying her first day(s) high at Tampines Secondary School.

We were also able to successfully add in to the household our Domestic Helper from Manila and I shared through a post a few practical tips on How to Hire a Filipino Domestic Helper in Singapore based on that experience.

As the freshest days of 2016 is here, what I would love to see on my new, clean sheet of paper are… new adventures to embrace as woman, as a mother, and as a wife.

I wish to write on my blog as often as I could, do more blog collaborations, finish reading as many books, enrol in a short course, and plan more outdoor activities with the family.

I wish to travel more this year. I hope to find new inspirations to write and maybe finally answer the exercises on the book, Finding Your Element (by Ken Robinson), in between layovers perhaps. This book has been lying on my bedside table for ages. It was a Christmas gift given by my sister, Hazel, after a long heartfelt conversation I had with her back in 2014. The book has now turned 2 years old and still trying to get my attention. Hopefully it will succeed this year.

l also want to spend some lovely time with my husband and discover new places, eat good food together or try diving with him one of these days.

So there goes my hopes and wishes.

I would love to hear your hopes and wishes this 2016. Send me your thoughts through a comment on this post or follow me on Instagram, Twitter , Google+ or Pinterest (@expatmomdiaries) and feel free to open your heart. No right or wrong answer.

Live, laugh and love!

Gardens by the Bay: Quick Guide for Moms

Gardens by the Bay is one of the most stunning, one of the largest, and probably one of the most sophisticated outdoor garden landscape anyone could ever find on earth.

The 32 hectare wide garden is purely man-made but the ingenuousness behind the entire master plan is simply amazing.

Imagine the dome-like cooled conservatories – Flower Dome and Cloud Forest, the magical symphony of those towering SuperTrees, the attractively manicured lawns and the themed display of various plants from corner to corner.

It takes lots of walking going through the conservatories and other attractions inside the garden but thank God for the shuttle service! It made it easier for families with small children to enjoy the views without tiring much the feet and surrendering to scorching sun. You can hop on and off all the day for only $3 per person.

Another good thing is that the Gardens also has a fantastic water play area for children.

IMG_0894Young kids  can enjoy the water playground in the Children’s Garden while parents are resting in the shaded waiting area. They could definitely not resist the fun water attractions so better come  prepared and bring proper swim wear and your own towels.

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Older children can try trekking in the adventure trail just beside the water playground. There are also tree houses that offer jungle-like adventures with some spider net, hill climbing ropes and spinner bowls.

These attractions for your kids are free and are fully equipped with shower and changing rooms, toilets and snack shop for those always hungry tummies.

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How are all these for some active fun? It would surely be nice to cap your family day out with some local food. With a little more walk down the riverside, try some mouth-watering fresh grills at Satay by the Bay.

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Find savoury, fresh off the grill satay varieties like prawns, chicken, beef and mutton. Try Hookien Mee or Prawn Noodles too.  Cool down with fresh coconut juice or lime juice while enjoying the sight of the Singapore River.

Oh, and not to forget! Head to the SuperTrees Grove around 7:30 pm and watch the rhapsody of lights and music. These trees truly come alive in the night.

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Gardens by the Bay maybe be reached through the train, bus, taxi or private car. Also, check out special rates and promotions for local residents. Click here for more information on planning your trip at the Gardens.