As much as I truly enjoyed my last 4 days “solo parenting” (I say ” ” because my mum volunteered to take on bulk of the parenting duties so that her daughter could have some ‘me time’ – hooray), marking the start of the husband’s work trip with a girls night out and ending it on another high with a day out alone, self-nourishing myself with me-time activities with the likes of being able to bury my nose in a book for 3 consecutive nights, it was such a relief having the husband back last night.
Not that he helps out a lot with the kids – I actually freak out more when my super helper goes on leave – but it was nice to have him back to spend family time and me not needing to worry about having to plan my route and being behind the wheel. I much rather laze in the back seat with my kids and make them laugh. Or maybe I just need a really tiny car to gain spatial confidence.
After a rather hurried work week, I decided that we should take things nice & slow today. There was the inclination to check out the RSAF Open House especially after seeing photos after photos on my IG and FB, but I suspected the husband wasn’t prepared to jostle with the crowd and deal with 2 little active boys who would probably jump out of the queue just when we were so close to being next in line for photo op. And so when the husband asked for the 5th time what our plans for the day were, I decided on a whim that we’d make a trip down to Punggol Waterway Park. Our last visit there was some 10 months ago, and since I knew how much Liam wanted to skate scoot, and now that Ollie was walking/running, I thought it’d be perfect since it was just a short drive down.
Some 2 wrong turns later, we ended up at the entrance of Punggol Safra instead. We’ve been going to this part of Punggol so often that it became instinctive. The carparks at the park access points were fully occupied and the seemingly long queue for Safra’s carpark deterred us from joining. Having packed all our gear, snacks and excitement and not wanting to disappoint the kids, the husband decided to take a few more turns to see if it’d lead us to another Park access point. Before we knew it, we were driving down the winding, familiar road leading to Punggol Settlement. How could we not remember about this gorgeous outdoor spot?
And what do you know, within 10 minutes of our stroll at Punggol Settlement, my prayers to see some RSAF Open House action actually came true. A Chinook flew within our sight and as the husband scrambled to go to video mode on his cam, I was only too grateful that I happened to have camera mode turned on, snapping as many photos as I could without those few seconds.
“Quick boys! stand against there so I can take a photo. The 2nd one (Chinook) is coming!!!”, I heard one dad say. I bet his photo turned out breathtakingly awesome.
It wasn’t till some 25 minutes later into the stroll when I saw the husband enthusiastically skating back towards us and exclaiming how Coney Island’s West Gate entrance was just some few hundred meters away. The husband has been keen to check the newest park on our Island since its opening but I haven’t been eager to follow through on that suggestion because feeding sand flies (from what I’ve been reading online) just ain’t my thing. But since we were just steps away…and the boys and superhelper being so excited that they raced past the entrance, I gave in.
There was something hauntingly beautiful about Coney Island Park which made me feel like I was on the movie set of Twilight. The boys and helper were obviously enthralled by the casaurina woodlands and grasslands while all I had in mind was just to take as many family photos with such beautiful foliage surrounding us. I know, priorities.
I could even do a solo shot in peace.
When we finally got to the beach, I insisted that we take a photo with the signage “Coney Island” but no one except the husband entertained me…
Because the boys were more eager to play with the soft sand and get their feet dipped in the sea water than to pose for family photos.
And since our boys couldn’t care less about being in photos with their parents, and the helper offered to take couple shots of us, we jumped at the opportunity to do so!
Clearly, Ollie wasn’t pleased that I carried him out of the sand to have this family photo taken. At least Liam’s all smiles..
And then came the monkeys. While I was aware that Coney Island Park was home to a variety of habitats (I was thinking more of the bird species), I didn’t expect to meet so many monkeys along one of the nature walks. The first time I came across 2 monkeys, I thought that perhaps they were as random in numbers like the one free-roaming cow I read so much about. Turns out there were many more monkeys hanging by the tree ahead of us. The kids got excited about being able to get so close to them that they decided to slow down for photos instead of picking up pace like what I did!
“Don’t engage them”, I instructed, trying to get the boys to carry on walking. I was truly fretting that the monkeys might come and take my hat and sunglasses like what happened years back to a relative during a Bukit Timah Nature Reserve hike. And I was also doing my best not to show my fear in front of my kids. My efforts to get everyone to ignore the monkeys proved futile.
I was too happy when the husband suggested that we take a seemingly shorter and easier alternate route back out when it was time to make our exit from Coney Island Park. I definitely didn’t miss seeing ’em monkeys earlier and I sure appreciated a more even ground to push the stroller after negotiating a few patches of soft sand and rough gravel in the earlier route.
The route back was such a breeze to stroll that I could even attempt a jump shot:
Who would have guessed moments later, that smile I wore in my jump shot would be quickly erased with nerves. The husband spotted a few monkeys ahead and backtracked to tell the rest of us to keep to the middle of the path as more were lining up both sides of the path.
“Aiyo, how can it compare to what we saw earlier, a tree full of them?” I quizzed.
“There’s many of them ahead actually” he said.
As I took every step forward, I could see more monkeys making their way from the trees to the path. Luke was in front with his skate scooter, I was in the middle pushing Liam in the stroller while my helper was behind, helping Ollie with the skate scooter.
At first it was just 2-3 of them watching us walk by. I successfully negotiated walking past 3 troops briskly and as calmly as I could when I saw the biggest troop emerge ahead. It felt like the path was going to go on forever!
And then it happened. One of them quicken its steps towards the stroller and started to rummage through the basket beneath, running off with a pack of wet wipes which led me to freak out instantly and scream. Next, I did what the husband told me NOT to. I ran so hard, leading some to chase (thankfully the husband and helper were experienced at distracting them from following me thereafter) until I reached somewhere near the exit, before catching my breath and then realizing that the rest of them were still back there because Ollie insisted on standing there to say “bye bye monkeys”, complete with a flying kiss!
I’m officially the butt of all monkey jokes in the family now.
We ended our exploratory adventure with a last round of play by the sand playground, catching action of more Chinooks and Apache flying by.
What an afternoon well spent. Here’s to putting back more exploratory, outdoor (sans Monkeys) family outings in our schedule again!