We went camping again, during the March holidays this year. We have lost count of the number of times we have gone camping. This is probably our 6th or 7th time, thereabouts. I find that, the more we go camping, the easier it gets for us to pack for it, and we also seem less tired out by the experience. Every time we go camping, our companions may vary as well, as different groups of friends express interest to join us. Or, we have friends who invite their own friends along. It's always fun to make more friends.
This time round, I tried to post more on social media, since I wasn't sure if I'd get around to writing this post. But now, since I am writing the post, shall insert all my instagram and fb postings here too :)
|Paragliding @ Pasir Ris Park!|
When we got to our regular campsite, we saw people attempting to get in the air on their paraglides - or whatever you call them. We never actually saw them take off. But it was interesting that they were even there as we have never seen any before on all our previous camping trips.
Also, one remarkable thing about this camping trip was that it was windy, VERY windy, throughout the entire time we were there. I wondered if the paragliders had known ahead of time that it would be so windy. Was there a windy prediction of sorts available?
|Our kampong on Day 1|
We went about pitching our tents. The ground was dry and hard, making it tough for us to knock the pegs into. We managed by using rocks we found at the beach as hammers. The three families that were there on Day 1 all had similar looking tents as it was the same Winning brand tent. It can be easily bought at any hypermarket, or at the Beach Road Army Market where we had gotten ours. It's cheap - less than a S$100 - and hence a great tent to buy if you're not sure if you would be getting into this camping gig for multiple times. We have more or less fully amortised our tent since we have camped more than 5 times for sure. The tent frame has started to show wear and tear, and we're ready to get new tents after this camping trip since we know that we'd be camping many more times to come.
|Even the bear wants a sea view!|
We discovered something in recent camping trips... It's better to camp on weekdays! Weekends see the parks becoming much more crowded than on weekdays. This translates to having more people around, and more significantly - dirty toilets. It's not that the toilets are not being cleaned, no. The cleaning Aunties and Uncles we see there do a magnificent job of keeping the toilets clean. But more people on weekends simply mean dirty toilets due to high usage, and sand and mud being tracked into the toilets faster than any cleaner - mechanical or human - can clean up. As such, we highly recommend camping on weekdays, if possible.
|Airbeds for the win!|
Here's the inside of our 8-men tent. Plenty of space for the 5 of us. On our first camping trip, we brought along yoga mats to sleep on. "It's just for one night." we thought. Yes, it was just for one night. But in that one night, hubbs and I realised that we were no longer 17 year old teenagers on camping trips. Our bones and body ached badly just after one night! So we bought a queen sized inflatable air mattress the next camping trip, thinking hubbs and I could sleep on that since the kids didn't seem to mind sleeping on the yoga mats. Well, one CAN be optimistic, right?
Of course, the kids happily took over the queen sized airbed and hubbs and I were left to the yoga mats again. Subsequently, we bought another two single beds - one each for hubbs and I. Separate single beds for two reasons. Firstly, air beds are such that if one person moves on one side, the other side is affected and would move as well. So for undisturbed sleep, two singles is better than one large one for two adults. Secondly, having two separate small mattresses gives us more flexibility in positioning it in the tent/s.
Except of course, we didn't count on Shawna claiming one of the singles as her own. Staked her claim by placing her pillow and bear (which she packed and brought herself) on the single bed. Grabbed the one right by the tent flap too - so it'd be more breezy. So hubbs ended up on the queen bed together with the boys. Well, at least it was more comfortable than the yoga mats!
This is a 40 litre solar powered camp shower. You fill it up with water and hang it up somewhere in the sun (signages work great). The black colour pvc absorbs all the heat of the sun and warms up the water within. When needed, just turn the red knob and you have a warm shower! We wouldn't want to go naked in public but it's handy as a tap to wash your hands or for washing off the kids after they go to the beach. You could let the water heat up all day, then take it into the public toilet's bathroom at night and have a hot shower. But, truthfully, we didn't do that. Too much of a hassle. Besides, after an entire day outdoors, a cold shower was a welcome. The kids and I have all gotten used to having cold showers when we go camping. Thus, this hot shower device remains to be just a novelty. It'd be great for people who simply can't stand cold showers, though. Purchased at the army market at Beach Road too.
With regards to toilets and bathing - yes, we use the public toilets. At all designated camp sites - the toilets would come with shower cubicles as well. As mentioned above, they can get very sandy and muddy on weekends due to high usage. But in our experience, even when it is muddy and sandy, it is still very acceptable for use. We also do our part to make sure WE don't track mud and sand in and add to the mess. Be sure to bring some large s-hooks along so that you have some place to hang your towel or bag of clothes on.
|Bubble fun for the kids!|
"So what do you do when you go camping?" people often ask. For the adults, we'd be busy with setting up the tents, pumping air beds, cooking meals (outdoor cooking woohoo!), chit chatting with other adults, taking turns to go kayaking - if you or your friends brought one of those inflatable kayaks, or you could rent them as well. On the day we break camp, adults would be busy with taking down the tent, packing and keeping stuff... Yes, sounds like a lot of work - which is why we now camp 3 days 2 nights, so the pace is more relaxed. If you camp for 2 days 1 night - you pitch tent on day, and break camp the next day - very tiring, and doesn't seem worth the trouble.
The kids on the other hand, other than helping the adults wherever possible (helping to pitch the tent, getting water from the toilets, pumping the air mattresses and the kayak), get to play, play and play some more! In previous camps, they would have spent at least half a day on the beach playing with sand. They didn't do that this camp, but were similarly busy anyway. They played with bubbles a lot, played a bit of frisbee, a bit of football, played at the huge Pasir Ris playground a lot, went kayaking, and played board games in the tent when the sun got too hot and high in the sky. Oh and Isaac self taught himself to skateboard on a friend's penny board. Excellent fun for the kids, whole day long!
In Singapore, one is never far from food. So technically speaking, you could always go buy whatever you wanted for meals. However, outdoor cooking is part of the fun of camping! So we almost always tend to cook instead of tapowing food. Camping with kids, we find it useful to cook for the kids first. It is important to grab them to eat their meals when you know they SHOULD be hungry, instead of waiting till they come asking for food - coz that means that they're famished by then and would not have the patience to wait for their food. Thus, we often cook a big lot of pasta or noodles, and quickly settle the kids first. After the children have eaten their fill and run off for more fun, we can proceed to cook the adults' meals. This time round, we tried having a barbeque! We've not done it before so we thought we'd give it a try. Usually, hubbs buys shabu shabu meat from the supermarket and we have an impromtu steamboat using the saucepan.
The darkness provides the kids with its own entertainment - playing with torchlights! The children enjoy going about with torchlights. The camp site is only lit with our own torches and light spilling over from the park's lights along the running and walking paths.
Be sure to zip up the mesh later of your tents so that mozzies and other insects do not enter into the tents and feast on you while you sleep. But other than that, there are hardly any mosquitoes around. Be prepared and come with insect repellant though - we find that people who tend to get bitten by mosquitoes, will still get bitten despite the place being seemingly moz-free!
Hubbs' and EJ carrying the inflatable kayak to the sea. No, we don't drag it as it can cause damage to the kayak. It's not very heavy at all - 8 year old EJ can manage carrying it just fine. We understand that there's a kayak rental just further up the beach. Perhaps next time, when the kids are older, we can rent them and all go out to see at the same time! Expedition to Ubin! hahahaha...
The last camp, this kayak was the novelty. This camp, it was a hammock that someone brought that was the novelty. the children promptly lined up for their turn in the hammock, all camp long!
|Great company for a camping trip - priceless!|
At the crux of it all, what makes a camping trip good is the company. Fantastic activity for families and friends. Kids have fun, adults have fun. None of the kids asked for any electronic gadget at all, and this mummy blogger here got "scolded" for fiddling with her phone too often - I was posting pictures!!!
If you're not sure if camping is the thing for you, do the following, in order - top down...
- Go visit a friend who is camping - or simply walk up to some friendly looking people who are camping - that's what happens to us, people just come by and look-see, talk to us.
- Recce your intended campsite at the same time, check out the toilets and nearby amenities.
- Buy/borrow/rent a tent and camp for 2 days 1 night.
And then, if you think you might continue camping, then proceed to buy more stuff. Oh and before you start asking a million other questions, read the links below - more blog posts on camping, written by yours truly.
Read the FAQ!!! :)