Malaysian celebrity and nature activist Aishah Sinclair brought her young daughters to Singapore in September, with the intention of nurturing within them a passion for nature. “I remember going on family trips to Tasik Chini, Kuala Selangor and fishing over a bridge in Terengganu in the middle of the monsoon season! So I try and recreate the same experiences for my children,” shares the board member of the Yayasan Anak Warisan Alam, an NGO dedicated to educating youths about conservation and Vice President of the Free Tree Society. Easily accessed from the city and filled with moments of discovery and inspiration, her family’s trail spanned both rustic sights and modern gardens.
“If we had to choose the family’s favourite spot (although it’s pretty tough to do), it would be Pulau Ubin,” Aishah shares. After a few minutes on a breezy ferry, her family met with Singapore’s premier wildlife consultant Subaraj Rajathurai who introduced Pulau Ubin’s many plant and animals, along with residents of the yesteryear ‘kampung’ ('village' in Malay) that still exists on Pulau Ubin. “The children loved that they could explore every nook and cranny of the island. Being close to nature is also how we nurture and create future environmentalists, marine biologist, geologists, because this is where the interest and the curiosity starts.”
You can get to Pulau Ubin by taking a 10-minute bumboat ride from Changi Point Ferry Terminal.
Changi Point Ferry Terminal. 51 Lorong Bekukong, Singapore 499172.
Pulau Ubin. 61 Pulau Ubin, Singapore 508310. +65 6542 4108.
Daily 24 hours.
S.E.A. Aquarium and Ocean Restaurant
“I was very excited to go to the S.E.A. Aquarium™ with the girls,” Aishah describes of her visit to one of the largest aquariums in the world, which is home to over 100,000 underwater creatures like the leopard shark and goliath grouper. “I had been wanting to take them to an aquarium and see the larger sea animals like the manta ray, as they would not probably get the chance anywhere else.” Aishah and her family enjoyed an intimate encounter with the underwater world, as they got the opportunity to touch a sea star at the Discovery Touch Pool and enjoyed dining in Ocean Restaurant by celebrity chef Cat Cora while sea creatures swam above them.
S.E.A. Aquarium™, Resorts World Sentosa. 8 Sentosa Gateway, Singapore 098269. +65 6577 8888.
Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden
“The girls did not want to leave the garden,” Aishah recounts of their trip to Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden in the Singapore Botanic Gardens, which is Singapore’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Aina and Soraya enjoyed themselves playing hide-and-seek among the treehouses, running along the suspension bridge and also climbing trees in this sprawling park in the heart of the city.
Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden, Singapore Botanic Gardens. 1 Cluny Road, Singapore 259569. 1800 471 7300.
“The architecture of the bridge is just spectacular, as was the view from the bridge,” Aishah divulges of her memories of Henderson Waves Bridge, a 36-m tall futuristic bridge where movies like Equals was filmed. Families love visiting this multifaceted bridge on the weekends, as their children like to play on the wave-shaped side of the bridge. Henderson Waves is an escape route into nature that is easily accessed from the city. “I can definitely imagine going for walks with the family here, or going for a run and exploring all the paths and trails in the surrounding forest.”
Henderson Waves. Henderson Road, Singapore 159557.
Daily 24 hours.
Gardens by the Bay
Aishah and family loved Gardens by the Bay, especially its Cloud Forest. “It completely blew our minds,” she remarks. “It really felt as though we were transported into a different world and were expecting to see some pterodactyl flying around!” Here, her daughters got to learn about many things that they had never seen before, like the Flower Dome’s 32,000 different plants. Within these domes, the family got to experience a temperate climate and marvel at the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. They also enjoyed strolling through walkways that are suspended in the air between nine- to 16-storey-tall Supertrees.
Gardens by the Bay. 18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore 018953. +65 6420 6848.
“It’s also very easy to get from one place to another in and around the city, extremely family friendly and great facilities (which is very important if you have young kids with you),” Aishah shares. She divulges that she desires to bring her daughters to Singapore Zoo, trek through Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and spend more time exploring Sentosa. “Every aspect of (Singapore’s) design had our planet’s smallest explorers in mind. Our only regret was that we did not spend more time there.”