Tips for PSLE   

For those of you parents out there who live in Singapore, where I used to live for the past 12 years, and have a child attending Primary School, you might know something called PSLE. Yes, PSLE, or Primary School Leaving Examination is a series of examinations your child has to take that would determine his (or her) Secondary School. Since the competitions to get into good schools are fierce, many parents and students alike treat it very seriously.  

I know that the exam results might mean your child’s future just by what is printed in the sheet itself. It may be terrifying, and even I was a little nervous when getting the results all the way from New Zealand since my parents have expectations! Although we knew that we would be moving to NZ a long time before the actual exam dates, my parents still wanted me to prepare early and get good results. So, thanks to my hard work and perseverance, I got a sweet, sweet 255. (By the way, I was exempted from mother tongue, making it harder for students like me to get high 250s and 260s as we have no mother tongue!) I have to say that this report card is even scarier than classified FBI documents! 

So if you want your child to pass the exams with flying colours, here are a few useful tips. 

1. Start studying months before the actual exams take place. 

Since PSLE is a test usually about everything from P1 all the way to P6, I suggest that you should ask your child to start training for whatever PSLE is going to throw at him early, especially if he is struggling. Whether it is Science Concepts or Math Problems, you need to make him both smart and fast as some of the tests not only require brains, but also speed! The recommended time to start training your child’s brain is in the P5 December Holidays. That was when I started my brain refresher since that was my mom’s planned schedule! Even a struggling mind would eventually become fit thanks to months of practice! 

As the months go by, you would start to see weaknesses in your child’s work, enabling you to act against them early by focusing on them until they are fixed so that during his actual paper, he would have no problem answering questions he previously had no idea about! 

2. Give your child some play time. 

You know what they say, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! Well, take it to heart. Of course, you don’t want to see your child suffering through sheets of exam papers! You should give him some play time at least once a day. You don’t want your child to feel sad while studying as that would reduce his morale to fight for good exam results. And indirectly, it might be your fault!

3. Reduce the use of Digital Gadgets. 

Well this might be a little hard, but still necessary! The digital age has given your child many new stuff to use, like the smartphone or a computer. Well, unlike playing downstairs with friends or exercising with family, these devices would usually have a bad effect on his concentration. Not only do they make him distracted, but they might affect his mood! 

So weeks before the PSLE period begins, I declined from playing computer games and reduced the use of my phone which in the end had a good effect throughout the exam period! Although your child might feel a sense of withdrawal, (I didn’t) he would eventually get over it.

4. Stop studying during the exam week itself! 

It won’t only make you stressed, but the fact that you don’t know an answer to a particular question would only reduce your morale! 

5. If you don’t know something, just ask!  

If your child has any burning question that are related to curriculum, make sure your child has no fear of just asking his teachers! I mean, what are the consequences of asking a question? Well, the worst that could happen is that your child happened to be not listening to the teacher, and the teacher would tell him the answer back and tell him to listen next time round, that’s all! 

Lastly, take it like a normal exam! 

Well, this is the most difficult to fulfil! By taking the exam as per normal, as if this is just another normal assessment, your child would have not be thinking about what his or her future might be after the exam and won’t be very scared of what would happen if he fails. You might think I’m nuts for this but by having that mindset, your child would be focusing more on getting the questions right as the fear for failing and going to a bad school had been suppressed.  

So there you have it, these are all my tips for making your child do well in the PSLE! ! 







Camping at Catchpool Valley

Rimutaka Forest Park offers a lot of things to do – from nature walks to picnicking, you could do a whole lot of activities that could keep you resplendent for a long time! For us though, we were looking forward to camp at their scenic campground, Catchpool Valley! Just a stone’s throw away from a stream and a lot of nature trails. We were sure excited for our 2nd camping adventure!

After a good breakfast, we packed up and departed in our Mazda for the campsite, which is close to an hour’s drive! We first stopped by at the small town of Petone which was along the way. We went to Rebel Sports, a sports store to get more cricket gear and also bought some ice-cream for the hot afternoon and water from a grocery store to keep us hydrated during our stay!

We arrived in the early afternoon at the campsite and found a good empty space to set up camp! We got to work after filling in our camping details about our stay which we would hand to the DOC (Department of Conservation) Ranger later that evening!

The assembly of our tent was pretty quick since we were getting used to a method to make the tent standing the fastest. That was our 3rd time to setup our tent! In approximately half an hour, our accommodation was up and strong! However, since it was a really windy afternoon, we were afraid that our tent could plunge back to the ground any moment. Despite our fear, our strong pegging and the product’s good quality, lent our tent no trouble… although one of the poles dislodged twice from its position! Anyway, we fixed that and had some well-earned ice-cream while keeping an eye on the tent!

The stream nearby had extremely cold water, I reckon even colder than the water at Battle Hill’s stream! It might have been because of the strong cold breeze, but nevertheless, I was happy that I could get myself wet under the scorching hot sun. Unfortunately, unlike Battle Hill, there were very few deep swimming holes and most of them were upstream. There was also no high ground to jump from into the water! In the end I still had a great time exploring the cold waters and sunbathing!

As the sun slowly descended towards the horizon, I decided to abandon the stream since the water was getting cold and decided to join a group of small kids who were playing cricket and had a whale of a time for the rest of the afternoon!

For our early dinner, we had pasta as I babbled on about my new friends and the activities I did for the day! After that, I did a few more balls with my new buddies before ending our game.

As nightfall came, we enjoyed a supper of chips and I also did crossword with my parents before giving our fees to the DOC ranger as we ended an extremely enjoyable day!

The next morning, we woke up at 7.15am ready for a good and easy nature walk. Although I had a good night sleep, my dad was scared of last night’s strong winds and did not doze of well. In spite of exhaustion, he was also kind of ready to get up and about.

Although we had a cloudy breakfast, the sun soon illuminated the campsite and that gave us the all ‘clear signal’ to go trekking! Before we went off, we first unpitched our tent under perilous windy conditions and did it without any mishaps, fortunately. Once all our equipment were packed in the car, we left it at the camping grounds and went to the Park’s entrance, where there were an abundance of routes to try out.

We chose to walk through the Nga Taonga trail which was 45 minutes. In the nature walk itself, you could hear choruses of cicadas and also see many species of native trees such as the unusually tall Miro tree! There’s also a lot of ferns and fungi too!

Once we were at the other end of the trail, we were a little exhausted but still had a great time exploring nature at its finest! With that, we took the link via the stream without getting wet back to the campsite!

Before we left once and for all, I bade farewell to my friends and departed with a smile! Once again, I had an extremely magnificent camping experience!

Lavender Picking in Carterton 

With the fine weekend weather, my parents and I decided to occupy ourselves with some lavender picking at the rural town of Carterton, just 16.2km South of the major town of Masterton. The lavender garden, called Lavender Abbey, is a couple of kilometres away from Carterton’s quiet town centre and houses a lot of lavenders that would really suit as air fresheners in your house. Since this was the last week for PYO Lavender programme, we decided to drop by to get some lavenders in the early afternoon after the usual church service.

At around 11.30am, we left Johnsonville, and rode along SH2 once again towards Greytown, dubbed ‘The Most Beautiful Small Town in NZ 2017.’ We were really enthusiastic to have our lunch there as the town has numerous restaurants that offer sumptuous cuisines from different parts of the world! The town is also pretty rustic and you could see several townhouses at the center that are now run as restaurants, antique stores or other businesses! Moreover, it is just a stone’s throw from Carterton, just 6km along the SH2! We arrived at the bustling town centre at around 12.45pm and ate at this townhouse restaurant called Swan Lake, which served Western and Seafood Meals. My parents ordered a salad and seafood chowder soup while I ordered a beef burger served with fries.

Since my parents were on diet, they did not eat the potatoes from the soup but we all enjoyed our food as I gobbled up my meal, ending up with a full belly! At around 2.00pm, we left the restaurant and headed forth for the Lavender Gardens themselves!

Since the distance was short, the drive was pretty quick although we nearly got lost due to GPS miscalculations and soon arrived at the garden! After getting all the scissors and rubber bands which would be used to harvest the flowers in bunches, my mom and I got to work at the scorching hot sun! (it was 30 degrees Celsius!!) Unfortunately, since the bees were pretty irritating to me as they came in the masses, my mom did most of the work. However, her solo streak paid off as we took home 2 big bunches of refreshing lavenders along with tons of pictures of us at the garden! The cost of each bunch was 5 bucks, which is very cheap compared to Singapore!

As we headed home with a good smell, we stopped by shop selling antiques before heading home sweaty for being under the sun for such a long time! It was worthwhile though!


Road Trip around Martinborough, Masterton and Castlepoint

With the Christmas holidays at its finest, everyone in Wellington is up and about leaving the windy city going both domestically and internationally! With my new family’s hometown, Johnsonville, also getting boring with people leaving by the masses quickly, we too decided to have a trip upstate towards the alluring sights at Castlepoint Lighthouse, approximately 163km from our house! Castlepoint is located at the eastern end of New Zealand’s North Island and around 60km from the major town of Masterton. It offers breath-taking views from the lighthouse itself and it really is worth the long drive just to get a good shot.

We departed from Johnsonville in our reliable Mazda at around 9am towards our lunch stop located in the iconic town of Martinborough. The town is known for being pretty rustic, with its old Victorian buildings around every street! It is one of the oldest European Settlements in New Zealand! Along the way, we also stopped at Kathmandu, a store specialising in hiking gear to look at some camping gear offered at tempting boxing day prices and also passed by a few music stores to look at piano deals since I’m really keen to get one soon. I really miss playing those tunes a lot!

The way to Martinborough from Johnsonville was via SH2, a highway that starts off as a 4-lane motorway that later merges into a windy single carriageway road as you drive through a breath-taking mountain range that had many lookout points to stop by at. The mountain range is located after Hutt Valley and is the only way to the rural town of Featherston! One of the major stopovers along that stretch of tarmac is the Rimutaka Hill Crossing that has a very mind-boggling view at its peak, just a 5 minute walk up the hill from the parking area! Moreover, there are also walking paths for hikers to try out that range from a short 1 hour to some tiring 4 hours! However, we weren’t geared to go for that sort of intensive walks and besides, shortage of time was also another factor!

As we moved on for Martinborough, we drove past more sights and sounds as cattle just grazed among the fields. Unfortunately, it seemed that the weather conditions were not in good shape as we started enduring light showers along the way to town! Moreover, when we arrived at Martinborough, we realised that the restaurant where we planned to have lunch was closed! Thankfully, there were other restaurants at bay and we still had a mouth-watering at the Village Café, located near the centre of Martinborough!


With our bellies full, we finally drove for Castlepoint itself, a town famous for its lighthouse, which is the tallest in New Zealand, standing at 52m! Since 1988, it has been an automated lighthouse. Its beam could be seen from 35km far at night! It was originally built in 1913 and was ran manually at that time!

We arrived at the vacation town after a quiet drive of about 60 plus km at around 3.45pm and were excited to have an up close and personal look at the building. 

From the nearest car park, it would be a 10min walk up to the lighthouse and another few steps up to the peak of the cliff on which the lighthouse is standing tall on! From the cliff, you could see the spectacular coast of New Zealand and could also see the far inlands at the same time! You should also try to spot marine wildlife in the sea as there are an abundant of them! Oh, and as it is very windy there, you could actually see the sand gliding along the beach!

After we had a great affair with the view, we left Castlepoint in a great note and with new memories!

Road Trip Around Kapiti Coast 

With hot summer shining over windy Wellington, I assure you that there are many farms out there yielding a lot of fresh produce. As such, my family and I chose to go to one of the hotspot farms located along the Kapiti Coast (Otaki, to be precise) called Penray Gardens!

We left Johnsonville late morning towards Kapiti Coast, excited to collect many strawberries and plums! Along the way, we planned to stop by Paraparaumu Beach, which houses many B&B due to its convenient access from its own airport and for the fact the beach is considerably long. (It stretches for 3km approximately, making it ideal for a quick morning stroll!) The beach is located west of the town itself. The airport also has domestic flights around the country and flights to Kapiti Island!

The town itself is 40km away from Johnsonville and is along State Highway 1 (SH1). Unlike SH2, there is no windy path ahead and SH1 is an expressway most of the way, making our drive way faster than our trip to Martinborough! There is also no is no jam along the way to the town, which is great news for ‘tourists’ like us!

We arrived at 11am and had packed sandwiches and juice for lunch. As we gobbled up the light meal down our bodies, I noticed some hungry seagulls scavenging the beach for food. Sympathising for them, I decided to feed some of my bread crumbs to the fleet, and they sure did enjoy my meal!

After feeding the starving bunch, we took some well-posed photos along the coast of Paraparaumu Beach and also took in the view of the sea and Kapiti island!

We began our journey for the gardens itself soon after and assumed that we would have another short drive…famous last words! Halfway through the 15km journey, we got bogged down by a bad traffic jam that presumably lasted all the way to the next major city, Palmerston North!!!

Due to the delay, we arrived at the Gardens around 30mins later than planned. However, that did not really affect our plans a lot. We were still able to proceed with the PYO (Pick your own) program, which is what the garden is famous for in which we gathered an abundance of plums and strawberries. Unfortunately, due to the popularity of the place, many other ‘tourists’ had already picked and we were only able to get the small strawberries. But we were still satisfied with our harvest! We paid for what we got along with a few other fruits and veggies in-store before heading home with great results and a happy heart!

The Start in El Nido

From Manila airport, we travelled from the island of Luzon to the scattered region of Palawan Islands, particularly to El Nido! We departed in a 50-seater propeller plane at around 11am and arrived at the tiny yet exotic El Nido airport at around 12 noon.

Although it was scorching hot, we could not dismiss the fact that the waters were sky blue and the sceneries were amazing from the airport!

After retrieving our checked-in luggage from the plane, we reported to the tricycle stand where we waited for a tricycle that would send us to our hotel, Coco Resort. Just by the beach, it was around a 20min drive from the airport. When we arrived at the hotel, we checked in and brought our luggage to our room, which was all the way at the other end of the hotel. We then had lunch at the resort’s restaurant. I ate their local delight, adobo and my parents ordered fish sinigang, another local dish.

After our late lunch, we had a dip in their small pool and also tested our new and sturdy GoPro which we would use for tomorrow’s tour around El Nido’s straits! With our camera working spot-on, we had a quick bath at our room before heading to the nearby restaurant just beside our hotel, a la Plage! (in French, it means ‘to the Beach!’) It was facing the beach which was illuminated by the orange setting sun!

As we took photos of the fantastic sunset, we ordered our food.

By nightfall, our food had arrived! As we gobbled down our sumptuous meal, a dog that was owned by one of the restaurant staff was collecting coconut husks thrown to the sea by the tourists with its sturdy teeth! When it saw our food, however, it came to our table and started begging. When my mom tried to call the waitress, it apparently got ‘unhappy’ and sort of pissed behind my mom’s sit in ‘revenge’! It was such a humorous sight to behold! Another dog was also caught napping under our table!

Out of nowhere, a shower poured as we ditched some of the food and ate the remaining under the shade. I also fed another dog who was begging for a long time already! What a starter day!

Our Beginnings in the Philippines

Our holiday in the Philippines began quite a few days ago. We started off in the bustling city of Manila, and from there, a vast adventure began!

Our hotel was located in Ortigas, a bustling district in Metro Manila. Our hotel was called Discovery Suites. For the next two days, we did nothing much as my dad fixed several paper works. We mostly went for window shopping in the gargantuan SM mall.

However, the highlight of our start here was my ice skating session on the second day. My parents and I were at SM and were intending to watch a movie. Unfortunately, the cinemas had few movies available. Moreover, the movies we wanted to watch were R-13, which meant that we could not watch them since I was only 12!

As such, we decided to look for other ways to entertain ourselves. Upstairs, there was just the things for us to do… supposedly.

We dropped by the bowling center first as that was the sport my dad and I were most keen of! Unfortunately, there happened to be a bowling tournament. As such, we could not bowl! The second thing I tried was ice skating! Thankfully, I was allowed a spot as I got into a sturdy pair of ice skating shoes. I also got a fake polar bear which would help me to balance as I hadn’t ice skated before!

Once I was on the rink, my parents got onto the seats outside the rink and spurred me on as I encircled the rink with the polar bear. Although I suffered a few cuts along the way, I soon got the hang of things and let go of the polar bear as I started gliding without assistance! With the sense of accomplishment, I enjoyed the rest of my session.

With that, we got ready for the next adventure…El Nido!!