This travel post is written by Pamela who blogs at Tan Family Chronicles. She camped overnight at Pasir Ris Park, Singapore with her husband and her petite travellers, Shawna (3 years), Asher (3 years) and Isaac (6 years) in May 2013 and again this year in July 2014.
We went camping in July this year. Most of the pictures below are from that trip, though some are from our earlier camping trip in May last year. The hubs and I have camped before, but that was when we were students in Junior College and in University. This time, we were camping with our children. We found that it was very manageable, though it certainly helped that the people whom we were camping with all had children of their own.
That's us this year. Nine tents in all. Eight families - someone brought a one-man-tent for their helper to sleep in. Together, we made such a large kampung (Malay for 'village'), that not all the tents were captured in the photo below!
|Families camping at Pasir Ris Park, Singapore|
The huge yellow tarpaulin above was erected into a basha to act as our kitchen. We placed all our food provisions, pots, pans and whatnot there. The clothes and other stuff, we kept in our tents. There was always someone about and our tents were more or less surrounding the basha, so there wasn't any fear of having our belongings stolen.
That's our tent below (in orange and blue) that the kids are helping to put up. Our tent was a basic, no frills, 8-men tent from the Beach Road Army Market which cost us just over a hundred dollars. I took a quick look in NTUC Xtra recently, and they had 6-men tents being sold for $72. Very affordable accommodation, considering it can be reused.
Nowadays, tents tend to be dome tents, like the ones you see in the picture below. These are very easy to set up, though you probably need two adults (teens, at least) to do the job. The tent usually composes of at least two parts: the Orange and Light Blue part below that has the tent rods running through it like a skeleton; and the Dark Blue flysheet that goes over the entire tent, which also serves as a waterproofing membrane, in case of rain or strong winds.
For five of us, an eight-men tent provided to be ample space. Just make sure that the area you're setting up the tent on does not have stones or roots on the floor, for you'd be feeling it through the thin waterproof groundsheet.
|The kids helping to set up, and take down the tent. Look at the huge flysheet!|
If you think our tent looks nice, look at the rest of our village's tents! I managed to photograph two tents with and without their flysheet. It looks cool when you can see through their frame - with mesh all around, it makes a tent very "breathable" and hence not as stuffy inside.
The tent that took our breath away though, is the brown one below! It's like the bungalow of tents! It looked like something out of a movie and surprisingly wasn't even all that expensive! My friend paid S$200+ during a sale from an overseas website. Gosh, makes me want to keep a look out for sales on camping gear websites.
We didn't have any inflatable beds but one of our friends did. We brought yoga mats instead to sleep on which was comfortable enough for one night. The kids were fine. But hubs and I are getting a bit old to be able to sleep on such a thin layer without some repercussions. So, we are looking out for an inflatable bed to buy for our future camping trips.
For our first camping trip last year, I packed pyjamas for the kids as I thought it would be cold at night. But it turns out that the tent was good at retaining our body heat, and we were comfortably warm throughout the night. Helped too, that we were by the beach, so the sea breeze at night provided good air circulation for our tents. All in, we were all pretty well rested for both nights of our 2 day 1 night camping trip.
|Our village tents at Kampung Pasir Ris|
What about food? We cooked pasta for the kids' dinner and they ate instant noodles, sausages and eggs (scrambled or boiled) in the morning for breakfast. Most of our friends cooked similar food. One even made pancakes for breakfast and another made "muah chee" (a sticky glutinous dough that is covered with grounded peanuts) for our tea time snack on our first day.
The kids had no problem eating as the food was decent. Although, in all likelihood, also because they have been so busy playing and having fun that they are usually famished by the time meal time comes about.
Hubs has now earned for himself the moniker of 'The Shabu Shabu Man'. This is because since the first camping trip that we came on, he would buy thinly sliced meat and other ingredients to cook in the steamboat shabu shabu style for supper at night when the kids have gone to bed. For this is one of the most enjoyable things about camping - to sit around the fire and talk late into the night. I didn't manage to join them last year as the kids were sleeping ON me. But this year, I managed to extract myself from the tent after the kids fell asleep. The ladies were talking about childbirth and stuff, over cups of coffee. The men were having their own chat over shabu shabu and other food.
|It's really up to you to cook whatever you want to on a camping trip!|
Of course, in any camping trip, it helps to have useful gadgets.
The red bag below is actually a water hydration pack, hung up on S-hooks and placed in the sun which served well as a warm water bath! We didn't really bathe there, of course. But it was very useful for hosing down the kids after they came up from a dip in the sea. And S-hooks are supremely helpful for hanging clothes and towels while you're in the bathroom or toilet.
The jerry can below helped transport tap water from the nearby public toilet for us to use for cooking. And of course, we have the cooking utensils. The small one on the bottom right is a very handy, portable little bunsen burner. The one we brought is the huge one in the bottom left hand corner. It's one that people buy to use for having steamboat.
See, this is where we camping as adults now, with kids in tow, in our own country is different from when we went camping decades ago when we were young adults camping in a foreign country. Most of us drive, and so we can afford to bring as many things as we want to. We didn't have to worry about the weight or bulkiness of things we were bringing. These two factors were very important to us in the past, when we usually only go camping because we were climbing a mountain that needed more than a day to ascend and descend from. But now, there is no such constraint as we were still in Singapore, and can easily take a cab, even if we didn't drive. So, you can bring anything you want. The first time round, we even brought our telescope along!
This is how we camp now, and there is no shame in it. In fact, we want to bring a bigger saucepan the next time. The one we brought this time round was too small for a good shabu shabu session.
|Useful camping gear to have. And sometimes, you just need to innovate!|
The camping ground we chose was a nice flat area, near the sea and a short walk to the beach, public toilets and the playground. In sunny and fine Singapore, yes, you need a permit to camp. You can apply for the camping permit at any AXS machine, or online. Of course, there are rules and regulations to abide by, but most of them aren't very onerous. Click through the two links above to read about it.
The kids were very naturally drawn to the beach - sun, sand and sea! Well, maybe not the sun. But the kids were having so much fun dipping in the sea that they didn't even complain about the hot sun.The kids ended up pretty tanned by the end of our short 2 day 1 night camping trip. We had forgotten to bring sunblock lotion, but thankfully, some of the other more experienced campers did. So the kids were not totally defenceless against the sun. Note to self: bring easy-to-dry clothes for kids to play on the beach with!
|Nearby public toilet at the camping grouds have shower facilities. Look at our clothesline!|
The collage below are photos from 2013. Before that camping trip, my 3 year old daughter would not play with sand. Or rather, she didn't mind playing with sand, but she would not stand for sand in her shoes or on her feet, between her toes. She just didn't like it. However, the camping trip "cured" her from all fear of sand. She enjoys playing with sand now, and will not fuss if sand gets into her shoes.
We remembered to bring beach toys last year. The kids had a whale of a time though we had problem sorting out the beach toys as everyone's were mixed in together. We came to a consensus that in future, only one family will bring toys for all to share. We always forget to coordinate though.
Do you see Isaac holding a crab? The kids found it at the beach.
|Sand, sand, more sand! And a crab!|
Last year, one of our friends even brought his inflatable kayak! How cool is that, huh! Complete with child sized life jackets, hubs took the kids at least 30 metres out to sea in the kayak. Shawna had such a good time that she has been asking to go kayaking every so often. So much so that hubs is tempted to buy one!
After much deliberation, we decided not to since it'd be another thing to keep in the house and we were trying to declutter. It's great that we have friends who have inflatable kayaks we can borrow from. We're also trying to check out places that rent out kayaks in Singapore so we can go kayaking on our own.
This year, we had no kayak to ride in. And it was so hot, that we retreated into the shade to play! We had friends of ours visited us during the day, even though they couldn't stay the night. They brought frisbees, balls and bats. The shady area just opposite our tents was perfect for the kids to run about and not be in the direct sunlight. We even had a mini picnic there with some finger snacks.
|Ample space for running about - in the shade of the huge trees!|
|Don't fly the kite too near the trees!|
Come evening, when we could feel the breeze, we started flying kites! That's our kite - a flying lizard with a super long tail!
We also brought books and games along. Our kids have the habit of reading before bedtime, so the books are a must. The board games are handy too, since they didn't have anything much to do if they wake up early and the rest of the kids are not awake yet. Last year, the books and games came in very handy when it rained heavily in the early morning of the second day. We played our board games and read while waiting for the rain to stop.
This year, even though it wasn't raining, the kids still played the games and read the books, even without our prompting. So I'm glad we packed those.
|Board games and books - essentials for a camping trip!|
Late at night, the children had a grand time walking about the campsite with their torch lights and light sticks. And soon, they started going on their own make-believe adventure exploring caves - which were actually the different tents.
All in, we had a very good time for both camping trips. It's very affordable and definitely so much fun. We are definitely doing this again and it's something that we would recommend all parents to do with their kids. I hope this post encourages you to do so! :)
|Sunrise @ Pasir Ris Park|