Rest of the World


February 13, 2018


This was our family’s unanimous assessment of our 10 day trip to Singapore last July…

There is a very good chance that if you’re an avid traveller, and you live in Australia, that you have been to Singapore before. Changi Airport is world renowned, and is consistently in the top 3 worldwide hubs for very good reason. There’s also a high likelihood that you’ve never left Changi airport, and have been merely passing through on your way elsewhere. Singapore is so much more than just a stop over…it’s time to change your mindset, because Singapore is a brilliant destination for a perfect family holiday.

Our requirements of a holiday are simple; the destination needs to be hot, the food needs to appeal to all, and safety is as ever, of utmost importance. Transport there and on the ground needs to be safe and fast. Singapore more than satisfies all these requirements! Singapore prides itself on it’s efficiency; no traffic, no queues; no crime, no litter, no fuss, no worries!

Singaporeans are a hard working lot, and when they’re not working, they love to have a good time. As such, the opportunities for play are limitless. Eating is a national pass time, and dining options are unlimited, from cheap eats at hawker stalls/food courts to high end brunches at top hotels. Shopping is crazy good, and not just for fashion…I’ve been known to lose myself in local supermarkets, checking out the insane varieties of imported goods! If the great outdoors or thrill seeking is more your thing, Singapore has got you covered there too…naturally, if you just want to kick back on a pool lounge and read a book, that’s an option too!

Singapore is only tiny, and public transport is cheap, efficient and clean, so getting around is not a hassle, nor is it expensive. For the sake of convenience during this holiday we booked the Sentosa Sofitel Resort for the first half of our stay, and Raffles Singapore for the remainder of our time there. Many of Singapores attractions are on Sentosa Island, so it made sense to be stationed there; courtesy buses run between hotels and attractions and across to the mainland at regular intervals. The Sofitel is lovely, with wild peacocks roaming the grounds, and a complimentary fish foot spa which the kids have to visit several times a day. There is a large centrally located swimming pool, where the kids make friends easily. For families with younger children there is a kids club conveniently (considerately?) located adjacent to the spa! Our interconnecting rooms are gorgeous and spacious, and importantly, just a short walk to the main restaurant where the buffet breakfast is so extensive it snakes around the inside of the restaurant and outside it too! Asian buffets breakfasts are my favourite thing!

Staying at Raffles for the second half of our trip was very special for both Mez and I; for Mez because he’d stayed there with his family as a boy in the 80’s, and for me because as a child living in Singapore as an expat in the 90’s, it’s where my dad often took important visitors from out of town for Sunday brunch, and if I’d been good, I was allowed to tag along. It really evokes a sense of glamour and luxury of a bygone era…to stay there was such a special treat. Even though it’s luxurious it’s not stuffy; we never get a sense that our kids are not welcomed. Quite the contrary, the staff go above and beyond to engage with them. Our room was stunning; we shared a Palm Court Suite, and with a sitting room and large bathroom we were never cramped. The hotel turns 130 this year, and as a birthday present is getting a face lift…it will be partially closed for part of 2018, so even if you can’t stay there, it would be sacrilegious to not stop by for a Singapore Sling! (for info on the renovations check the website)

Here’s what we got up to…

Every time we go to Singapore we start our sight seeing here…it’s an exceptional aquarium, and as a bonus it offers a refuge from the humidity until we all acclimatise. Our faves here are the ‘Open Ocean’ exhibit, the jellyfish, and the interactive education corner, where you can have a touch and feel of some resilient specimens. Go early! It gets chockers!

Our kids have never been tall enough/old enough to go to a proper theme park, so this was a first for us. They loved it! Go early, and you may even be pulled out of the queue to open the park (we were! I think it’s because we were the tallest family lining up?!) It gets very hot very quickly once the sun is up, and there is not much shade whilst walking between attractions; go early and do it all then head back to the hotel pool!

What better way to keep cool on a hot day, than spend it floating on an inflatable tube, winding around a waterpark on a ‘river’? That’s my idea of theme park action; the kids have other ideas and want to go on every crazy slide! We do both, and yes, I end up with atomic wedgies more than once. I now know why some women wear boardies at these parks! Remember to be sun smart, and have sunscreen handy, as you still burn when it’s overcast.

The Yayoi Kusama exhibition was on whilst we were in town, so we booked an early session. The gallery itself is a stunning building and there are many activities set up for kids through out. (This exhibition is on currently at QAGOMA, if you get a chance GO! It’s super fun!)

We loved the birdpark! Geographically, it’s a bit out of the way, but we felt it was worth the 15 minute cab ride from the CBD. For a gold coin donation we fed lorikeets in one of the largest aviaries in the world (yes, we went to Singapore to feed Australian Parrots!) and African penguins too. The Birds of Prey show was particularly entertaining, a must see. Also, they have an Ibis enclosure, and the Ibis are PINK! Buy the ticket that includes the tram pass, very handy for tired, hot little folk.

No matter where we find ourselves on our travels, we always visit the local zoo. Singapore zoo is lush and verdant, the enclosures seem much bigger than average, and the animals are all engaged, happy and healthy. We find it impossible to pick our faves, but breakfast with the Orang Utan is a highlight, as are the white tigers.

Next post: EATING IN SINGAPORE (it really deserves a post of it’s own as there’s MUCH ground to cover!)

The Watts family would like to thank Singapore Tourism Board, Sofitel Sentosa Resort and Raffles Singapore for their assistance in making this holiday our “best ever”.


We slept at:



We played at:









July 28, 2016

Travelling with kids can be tricky for so many reasons. Meal times can be particularly stressful, kids can be fussy, unfamiliar food can be daunting, and in foreign countries it pays to know what the local specialties are before you go, and where you can find something to please everyone.

The golden rule applies; if a place is busy, it’s most certainly fine to eat there. When Mez and I travelled here before kids we were very adventurous, with kids in tow, we’re far more cautious. Having said this, we have never been sick from food or drink travelling through Vietnam.

Vietnamese food is light, healthy, fresh, bright.
Most importantly, Vietnamese food is DELICIOUS!

Here are a few ‘must try’ dishes…

Perhaps Hoi An’s most famous dish (legend has it that the noodles can only be made with water from the famous Ba Le well, any other water wont work!) features thick flat noodles with a splash of super rich pork broth (more of a sauce, not a soup) roast pork, fresh herbs and salad leaves, and a topping of crunchy crackling and friend wontons for texture.

Get it at:
The Market Restaurant and Cooking School
3 Nguyen Hoang Street, An Hoi Islet, Hoi An

Like Cau Lao, the dough for these dumplings can only be made with water from the well, so these are only available in Hoi An. They are delicate shrimp and pork dumplings, and they pair very well with a cold beer/lemon soda to have pre dinner. Every restaurant in Hoi An seems to serve them!

A crowd pleaser, much like it’s Hainanese cousin (Hainanese chicken rice), the Hoi An version of chicken rice is served with shredded chicken, mixed herbs, raw onions, pickled papaya and carrots and a super chickeny savoury broth. The rice itself is cooked in chicken broth. Winner winner, chicken dinner indeed.

Get it at:
Cơm Gà Bà Buội
22 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoi An

Banh mi actually means bread in Vietnamese, but in this case refers to a baguette filled with grilled pork/pork floss/pate/chicken/vietnamese sausage/egg (there are many possible variations!) with pickles, cucumber, chili, soy/chili sauce and herbs. Vietnamese baguettes are much smaller than their French counterparts, and are super crunchy, perhaps as a result of the addition of rice flour to the dough. In Hoi An, the most famous place to get your Banh Mi is at Banh Mi Phuong, a hole in the wall bakery made famous by TV chef Anthony Bourdain. When I went, the queue was 30 people deep! I bought 3 banh mi, and 2 cans of drink for a grand total of $5.40. Bargain!

Get it at:
Banh Mi Phuong
2B Phan Chau Trinh, Hoi An


Danang is right on the coast of the South China Sea, as such, seafood is plentiful and fresh and features heavily in the local cuisine. All along the coast there are pick your own/cook your own type restaurants and the variety of shellfish and seafood in general is incredible. There were many things I had never seen before! Ask how much before you commit! Our favourites were steamed clams with spring onions and peanuts, bbq sun dried squid with chili mayo dipping sauce and lemon white pepper dipping sauce, and huge sweet bbq prawns. The kids loved egg noodles stir fried with veggies and tiny prawns. The alternative is to pick your seafood (from aerated tubs and tanks) and cook it up at your table in a lemongrass, onion and okra hotpot. Served with chili’s in vinegar, rice noodles and veg, really good stuff! People watching at these restaurants is very good. Keep your eyes peeled for street vendors, with their motorcycles laden to the hilt with balloons and toys, our kids were mesmerised!

Get it at:
Ba Thoi 2 (for BBQ)
Duong Hoang Sa, Da Nang

Quan Be Anh (for hotpot)
Hoang Sa, Da Nang

















July 21, 2016

(A photo essay)

Hoi An is a beautiful small town in Central Vietnam wedged between the coast and the Thu Bon River. What makes it so special is it’s UNESCO listing as a world heritage site; among the heritage architecture stand Chinese temples and pagodas, a Japanese bridge, wooden shop houses, French colonial homes and an old canal system. These ancient buildings line the picturesque streets, having somehow managed to avoid the ravages of war.

Hoi An Old Town is a welcome relief from the hustle and bustle of other large Vietnamese cities, as it’s small enough to explore by foot, and most of it’s narrow streets are pedestrian/scooter/pushbikes only, no cars!

Mez and I have been to Hoi An three times now, and a more comprehensive guide to the town can be found here.

We jumped on the complimentary pushbikes on offer at our hotel and headed off for a ride after breakfast, before it got too hot.

This is what we saw…
















November 5, 2015

Family holiday disasters? We’ve had a few! Wolfie hospitalised in Venice for acute food poisoning at 3 months… The great street food tour of Langkawi, during the month of Ramadan (EVERYTHING was closed!)…the gastro/hand foot & mouth disease/severe morning sickness in Fiji… I was determined to plan, and execute our best Watts family holiday yet.

The requirements were simple; our destination needed to be hot, the food needed to appeal to all, safety was of course of utmost importance, and transport there and on the ground needed to be safe & fast.

Mez and I had been to Vietnam before, pre-kids, and LOVED it. Perhaps it was time to give it a go with the kids in tow. I researched (Weather, rainfall, monsoon patterns etc!) and I researched… and then I researched some more. Finally I booked it, and we were away!

We had a two week break, and split our time between Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An and Danang..

Ho Chi Minh City is a dynamic and modern city, and had changed a lot since we’d last visited. Traffic was greatly improved, but motorbikes & scooters still rule, and the first thing we heard upon waking, and the last thing at night was the beeping of horns! We played games of ‘spot the scooter transporting the most humans’ and ‘spot the scooter transporting the most random load’ …There are many museums, cultural and historical places of interest to visit in HCMC, but our kids are a bit young, we’re not there yet. We used the city as a place to acclimatise and then jump off to the central coast. Having come from the middle of winter in Sydney to the humidity of HCMC, we all need to adjust and get our bearings. A couple of days poolside in HCMC was perfect before our journey further north.

The flight to Danang is only an hour, and there are multiple flights a day. Upon arrival in Danang, we headed straight to Hoi An, a thirty minute drive inland to the very pretty Anantara Resort. The soft peach of the colonial buildings is very much like staying at a mini Raffles! The old town of Hoi An is seriously photogenic; bougainvilleas tumbling down the yellow shopfronts, fruits & flowers of every shape & colour overflowing onto the footpath at the town market, and the quaint traditional fishing boats chugging along the river. We were lucky to have arrived on the right day of the lunar calendar to witness the full moon lantern festival, and we lit ours, and released them down the Thu Bon river along with our wishes for happiness, luck & love! Hoi An has hundreds of restaurants…we were spoilt for choice! We made a wonderful discovery of “Com Ga”, (a dish similar to Hainanese Chicken Rice), rice cooked in chicken broth, served with shredded chicken, vietnamese mint, loads of onions and sometimes a green papaya & carrot pickle, served with the loveliest chicken broth…we ate it EVERYDAY! We had 4 perfect, lazy days of swimming and eating and doing little else… Good times!

We left the Thu Bon river behind, for a sea change…back to Danang to the Hyatt Regency, seriously one of the largest hotels I think I have EVER stayed at! This hotel caters brilliantly to families, with dedicated kids pools & a waterslide, a kids club, a rock climbing wall and most importantly, family friendly accommodation. We had a ground floor two bedroom apartment with kitchen and two bathrooms, a balcony and access straight out the front to all amenities. The space and privacy after interconnecting rooms was great! This property is right on Non Nuoc beach, dotted with traditional basket boats & jumbo jellyfish, with the famous Marble Mountains just across the road. In the heat of the day, the kids disappeared to the kids club, to paint and draw, and glue, and play with other kids whilst we snoozed and read…perfect! Once cabin fever set in (i can’t help it, I need to be getting the most out of every trip!) we jumped in a cab and headed inland, to Ba Na Hills, a well known Vietnamese amusement park, an easy 45 minute drive away. This park is truly unique, for several reasons. Firstly, it boasts the longest continuous cable car in the world, we were in the cable car for 17 minutes!!! The resort is also a replica of an original French retreat from 1919, and it’s so European in it’s styling it’s freaky, you could really be in France! The price of entry covers everything except for food, and there is so much to do; a luge, a three level amusement arcade with games & rides & an indoor playground, cellars, and cafes, mazes, a funicular, more cable cars (different ones!) and religious landmarks…we ran out of time! Being on the coast, seafood is spanking fresh, and a short cab ride from the hotel is a strip of restaurants, with fishtanks and seafood on display that I had never seen before, let alone eaten before! BBQ clams with peanuts and shallots were the highlight, washed down with icy cold Bia Saigon! The Han Markets in Danang deserve an honourable mention too, if you’re into that sort of thing…really very interesting displays of dried squid and prawns, and the fresh seafood section in particular was beautiful, as was the fresh fruit piled high into pyramids!

And then, it was all over! Time to go home.

I read not one, but two books, worked on my tan, caught up on some zzz’s, the kids made friends, swam all day everyday, and enjoyed a kids club experience! We ate incredible food, day in and day out, and enjoyed several icy cold beers! The kids are already asking if we can go back next year…! The verdict: Vietnam was VIETNAMAZING!!!!!
Trip Notes:

We stayed at:
Intercontinental Asiana Saigon

Anantara Resort Hoi An

Hyatt Regency Danang

We flew internationally & domestically with Vietnam Airlines. Utilitarian, but good!

Where we ate:

Com Ga Ba Buoi
22 Phan Chu Trinh
Hoi An

Ba Le Well
45/11 Tran Hung Dao
Hoi An

Ba Thoi 2
My Khe Beach

Ba Na Hills Amusement Park














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