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8 Unique Ways To Help Your Kids Make Friends When Travelling

8 Unique Ways To Help Your Kids Make Friends When Travelling

Children are curious by nature. Less cautious and more open-minded than us adults, they are able to transcend language barriers and make friends when presented with the opportunity to. Over the course of our travels with kids, we have witnessed how they are able to socialize easily with other children and adults, regardless of nationality.

8 Unique Ways To Help Your Kids Make Friends When Travelling

So, what are some ways you can help your children to make friends while on vacation?

1. Stay in family-run accommodation

8 Unique Ways To Help Your Kids Make Friends When Travelling

With platforms like AirBnb and HomeAway, travellers can now stay with hosts in a vacation rental rather than in hotels. When we stayed at a family-run hostel in Otaru and their family, our boys helped “babysit” the hostel owner’s 1 year old son, who bounced around behind our boys throughout the hostel. He was so happy to have other kids coming to play with him!

8 Unique Ways To Help Your Kids Make Friends When Travelling

The owner of the farmhouse that we stayed at in Kyoto also bought little toys for the boys which he picked up from the local supermarket while doing his grocery shopping.

2. Find a hotel with a Kids Club

8 Unique Ways To Help Your Kids Make Friends When Travelling

If you are not comfortable with staying in vacation rentals, no worries.  Many hotels and resorts these days have a Kids Club for children to gather and mingle during their stay.

8 Unique Ways To Help Your Kids Make Friends When Travelling

If you stay long enough in the hotel or resort, pretty soon your children would be friends with the other children at the Kids Club – and also the staff!

3. Dine in a local home

8 Unique Ways To Help Your Kids Make Friends When Travelling

If you like the idea of visiting a local home, but you’re not comfortable with staying under the same roof as the host, no worries. What if I told you that you could still visit a local home where you will be treated to a home-cooked meal by your host? BonAppetour links travelers to carefully curated hosts who will serve you a delicious meal and wonderful memories.

8 Unique Ways To Help Your Kids Make Friends When Travelling

Send a message to hosts in the city you are visiting to find out if they are able to host your family with children, and where available, pick out hosts who have children of their own. They will be more than happy to have your children over as playmates for their own children! When we were in Phuket, the boys not only made friends with our host’s daughter, they ended up having their own kids-only ice-cream party in the room!

4. Go on a cruise

8 Unique Ways To Help Your Kids Make Friends When Travelling

When you are moving from city to city on a single cruise ship for a few days, you can’t help but make friends with fellow passengers on the same ship. Many cruise ships have organised activities for children on board, and your kids will get to interact with children from all over the world through playgroups (for babies and toddlers) and adventure clubs (for older children).

8 Unique Ways To Help Your Kids Make Friends When Travelling

Chances are that they would even make friends with the friendly waiter who serves you dinner every evening!

5. Join a class for children

8 Unique Ways To Help Your Kids Make Friends When Travelling

Before visiting a city, google around for classes for children. Enrol your child in a kids cooking class like a macaron-making class in France or pizza and pasta-making class in Singapore. If you’re visiting a ski resort in winter, send your kids to the ski school.

8 Unique Ways To Help Your Kids Make Friends When Travelling

These are perfect opportunities for children to not only make friends, but to learn something new!

6. Visit a local festival

8 Unique Ways To Help Your Kids Make Friends When Travelling

A local festival is where everyone lets loose, and locals and travellers alike gather at a common place to mingle. When we were visiting the Hokkaido Shrine Festival, we took a seat along a stream together with the locals to enjoy the food we bought, and our boys went to make friends with the Japanese boy sitting next to them.

Despite the language barrier, they even traded some of their candy floss for the boy’s crackers!

7. Visit a playground

8 Unique Ways To Help Your Kids Make Friends When Travelling

Many kids-friendly attractions around the world have dedicated playgrounds for children. For example, the Singapore Zoo in Singapore and Zoorasia in Yokohama have wonderful playgrounds! If the attraction you are visiting has a playground, allocate ample time for the visit to allow your children to play at the playgrounds.

8 Unique Ways To Help Your Kids Make Friends When Travelling

They will have a great time mingling with other children, and will be much happier than if they were rushed from point to point to check off the attractions you have on your list (admit it, you have that list).

8. Queue up

8 Unique Ways To Help Your Kids Make Friends When Travelling

I know many people complain about the long queues at attractions like Tokyo Disneyland and Kidzania.  But being stuck in the queue – with other kids – is one of the best time for (bored) kids to make friends.

Ditch the smartphone and force your child to try to entertain himself or herself while in line. Chances are, your child will start making friends with the people in front or behind you. Try it!

Over to you

We hope that these tips will enhance your travels by creating opportunities for your children to interact with people from around the world and learn more about the country you are visiting. However, always exercise due vigilance, and keep your children under close supervision at all times.

While it is great to socialize, continue to be alert to possible dangers, and teach your children to be cautious and never follow their newfound friends anywhere without you.

Bombay Howrah Dining Car priya barve masterchef asia home restaurant

From India To Singapore, Here’s How This MasterChef Finalist Is Sharing Her Culture Through Food

Why does mum’s food taste best? I’m sure anyone would agree that their mother’s cooking is finer than any Michelin-starred restaurant could ever be. It might be one of the greatest mysteries on earth, but a good reason could be the age-old tradition of passing down cooking secrets from mother to daughter.

Growing up in India, home chef Priya Barve ate most of her meals at home. As a result of this, she spent a lot of time in the kitchen watching her mother and grandmother prepare traditional Marathi cuisine.

That, she tells us, probably sparked her initial interest in food and cooking – she still holds memories of those days close to her heart:

When my mom used to make chapatis, she would always leave a small piece of dough for me to roll out, so the first thing I cooked was a coiled piece of dough!

The catalyst for her love of cooking, however, was her marriage to Aniruddha – also a food-enthusiast – and their subsequent move to Hong Kong. “[Moving to Hong Kong] exposed us to a lot of new cuisines, and that’s how the passion started growing,” she explains.

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Cultivating her cooking skills, Priya has dedicated a lot of time to her trade:

Like with any skill, practice is the most important thing. And since we enjoy cooking, practising it is always fun. But we do research a lot when it comes to recipes and techniques and our sources are endless! Youtube videos, Pinterest, recipe books, blogs, and so on – it’s best to keep an open mind when it comes to food.

Hopping aboard the dining car

Experience Indian Culture In This MasterChef Finalist's Home Restaurant

The Bombay Howrah Mail (now the Mumbai Howrah Mail) is the name of a superfast express train that runs between Howrah Junction and Mumbai CST in India. It is also the inspiration for Priya’s BonAppetour dining experience, The Bombay Howrah Dining Car.

The superfast train was a common childhood link for Priya and her husband Aniruddha. The couple now reside in Singapore, but back then, Priya would “travel on the train to Nagpur to visit my paternal grandparents, while Aniruddha and his family would travel all the way to Kolkata.”

Although the pair did not actually meet on the train, this idea brought them together and connected them with their homes back in India. This is an experience that Priya wants her dinner guests to enjoy as well.

Going pro with a home restaurant

Bombay Howrah Dining Car priya barve masterchef asia home restaurant

Passion turned into profession for Priya and her husband as the couple decided to open up their own home restaurant in Singapore. Commercialising her interest and skill in cooking was something Priya and Aniruddha had long considered.

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Although opening a restaurant seemed to be the obvious answer, the practicalities of such a project reared their ugly head, and it became evident that this venture would be too expensive. They ended up finding a better way:

I began to research innovative ideas on food, and stumbled across the concept of supper clubs in Europe. I loved the idea of hosting people at home because it felt more unique as an experience than going to a restaurant. And that’s how I started developing the concept for our home restaurant.

Thus, the Bombay Howrah Dining Car was born on BonAppetour. The aim of the dining experience was not only to make delicious delicacies, but to introduce guests to the history and stories behind two cities close to our hosts hearts: Mumbai and Kolkata. India’s cultural variations are also represented through the chosen dishes of this dining experience, with a focus on the Maharashtrian and Bengali communities.

Bombay Howrah Dining Car priya barve masterchef asia home restaurant

Inviting the world into their home has so far been a rewarding experience for the couple, who Priya admits aren’t necessarily very outgoing. The first few times were especially nerve-wracking, but eventually they got comfortable hosting guests, and even enjoyed it:

At first we were quite nervous about having people over […] But meeting people has been one of the most rewarding parts of our experience. We also love when our guests compliment us about our food and creativity – it pushes us to continue to improve with every dinner we host.

Bringing the MasterChef experience home

Priya takes great pride in hosting dinner parties in her Singapore home. From printing off little menus for her guests, to relaying the story behind each dish they are eating, she tells us that success lies in these little gestures.

This is something our BonAppetour hostess picked up during her time on Masterchef Asia 2015 on Lifetime, where she took part as a contestant. Priya got to connect with other foodies and learn from them in this once-in-a-lifetime experience. There, she learned how to be more conscientious in the kitchen

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“[The most important lesson I picked up was] food presentation, or plating,” she says. “Indian food is meant for communal eating, and therefore I’d never really thought about presentation as such. As long as you garnish a dish with coriander, coconut or nuts, it was fine.”

But the moment you have to think about serving for one person, plating is really something you have to think about. I would almost say for some dishes you work the dish back from how you might plate it, because then you start to think of other elements that will be needed to complete the dish.

Priya is not only looking to share yummy fare, but she is also sharing a part of herself. A love of food is a common thread that links vastly different communities around the globe, and she wants her guests to feel connected to her past in South Asia by tasting her childhood-inspired dishes.

The Bombay Howrah Dining Car is the perfect passage to India, and it starts in Singapore. All aboard!

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Priya’s favorite recipe

Since I have a sweet tooth, I enjoy making desserts the most. One of our favourite dishes is a steamed yoghurt and condensed milk pudding.

  • The recipe is basically equal cups of yoghurt and condensed milk with ½ tsp of vanilla essence.
  • Whip the mixture till smooth and then pour into containers of your choice.
  • Place it in a large flat pan with water that comes up halfway to the containers.
  • Cover and steam for around 15-20 mins.
  • Insert a skewer to check that the pudding is firm, let it cool and then chill for a couple of hours.

Simple and absolutely delicious!

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Image credits: 1 / 23 / 4

Travel in Singapore: Off The Beaten Path

Travel in Singapore: Off The Beaten Path

When you think about Singapore, you probably think of the array of skyscrapers, concrete roads lined with rows of trees. Being one of Asia’s most important business hubs, Singapore has many 5-star luxury hotels, restaurants and high-end shops on almost every corner, and many other tourist attractions that are bustling with people every day.

But this isn’t all that Singapore has to offer. After visiting said tourist spots, such as Sentosa, Universal Studios and Marina Bay Sands, there are many other places to go. Singapore is, after all, more than just urbanization.

1. Bukit Brown Cemetery 

Located in the central area of Singapore, bordering Lornie Road and parts of the Pan-Island Expressway, Bukit Brown Cemetery (BBC) was the first Chinese municipal cemetery in colonial Singapore. It is a burial ground home to many of the first pioneers in Singapore, making it a historical attraction.

The government has, however, expressed the desire to pave a road though it to widen the expressway. Visit it when you still can (during the day, of course)!

2. Fort Canning Park

Located on a hill, it was once called “Forbidden Hill,” for it was once the seat of royalty for the Malay rulers during the 1300’s. The Park was once the residence of colonial leaders and an important military base in World War II.

Its attractions include The Keramat, which is a sacred burial ground of an unknown Malay revered leader.

3. Bollywood Veggies, an organic farm

For a scrumptious yet healthy dining experience, head to Bollywood Veggies for a down-to-earth organic meal. Once you in the ten-acre organic farm, you feel that you’re no longer in Singapore. It’s a definite fresh change from all the restaurants of the city.

4. Pulau Ubin

Explore Pulau Ubin, a 1,000-hectare island that offers a glimpse of what Singapore used to be. It is home to Chek Jawa, one of Singapore’s richest ecosystems.

Go there a live a life of peace, away from the bustling streets.

5. Dining at home

Travel in Singapore: Off The Beaten Path

For a taste of home, try eating with locals in Singapore at their very own homes. Meet a local family, have a taste of authentic home-made food, and go back home having made some new friends while on a holiday!

Explore BonAppetour for a range of such dining options.

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Image Credits: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

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An Authentic Kerala Indian Cuisine dining experience with Rani and her family in Singapore

An Authentic Kerala Indian Cuisine dining experience with Rani and her family in Singapore

I have never considered having a dining experience with another local from my own home town – Singapore. Afterall, it does not make complete sense for me to dine with a local when I am already one myself. But dining with Rani and her family was such a joy, that it completely proved me wrong!

‘Hello! Come on in!’ were the first words of my hosts for the night and I had to double check the unit number to make sure I was indeed in a strangers’ house. I felt so at home with the warm friendly welcome by Rani and her husband. Besides the cordial company that embraced our arrival, the interior of the house could be easily summed up in 3 words: modern, spacious, and homely. We had a nice chat while sipping the Mango Smoothie that our local host, Rani has prepared for us as a welcome drink. We later learned that Rani was from South India, and had been living in Singapore for a good 12 years with her Singaporean husband!

Rani and her husband were a perfect team in the kitchen! They worked like a pair of cutlery; it was a wonderful sight to see! As cheesy as it might sound, to me, Rani and her family feel like long-lost relatives. A gathering like this felt like a mini strangers’ reunion- unfamiliar yet heartwarming.

While preparing for Kerala curry dish, Rani would share with us the different spices that she used to enhance the flavors of the chicken. These authentic spices were hand-carried by Rani from India. Not only do they work great to elevate the taste of the dish, but spices such as turmeric powder also have a medicinal effect that could cure cancer and boost the immune system. It would be safe to say that Rani’s cuisine really does the job of nourishing the body while satisfying my Umami cravings.

A dining experience like this provides a sneak peek into the work behind the local food that I have always taken for granted. Despite being able to easily spot a Papadum, lightly roasted crisps in the public canteen, the process of frying one was an entirely foreign experience for me. Nothing comes more fascinating than seeing a flat dough crumbling into golden crisps upon meeting the hot oil. Perhaps this almost-magical experience was how the name of Rani’s kitchen magic came about?

 

I’ve got to say the spices and their fragrances does a great job in whetting my appetite because my stomach was grumbling by the time Rani and her family formed a human chain in setting up the tables in serving me and Fai, my friend who accompanied me for this experience. 

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No authentic Indian cuisine experience would be complete without eating your meal with your bare hands! Rani and her husband tutored us on the art of eating with your hands, before long, Fai and I were able to eat Indian cuisine the authentic way. Scooping rice into our right hands, and moving our thumbs skillfully to push food into mouth. I guess we must have looked pretty amateurish because Rani snapped some shots of me and Fai out of great fascination.

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I really love how there were multiple conversations happening concurrently during the meal times, it was as if they are all fighting for air time. This dining experience is a really precious one to me because it is not an everyday affair for me that the whole family get to spend some common time collectively. Rani and her family definitely did a fabulous job in granting me the opportunity to indulge in an authentic and genuine company of true blue Singaporeans. Book your Rani’s homely dining experience here!  

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