As a mum, I must admit that the school holiday is a stressful time! Not only do I get to see my child for one whole day, 24-7, I also have to come up with entertaining and nurturing activities to occupy him for 30 days! Seriously, his holiday is my OT. So here I’d like to say a big “THANK YOU!” to Epigram Books for saving my sanity. How? The local book publisher invited us for a sleepover at S.E.A. Aquarium at Resorts World Sentosa for the launch of the book Sam, Sebbie and Di-Di-Di & Xandy: Return to S.E.A. Aquarium by author David Seow and illustrator Soefara Jafney. Entertaining and Nurturing? Check! We’re on!
We were ushered into the S.E.A. Aquarium at about 7:20pm, way after its official closing time. It was so different from our first visit there! With the masses gone, we “owned” the aquarium. It was dimmer and quieter and the peaceful atmosphere, thanks to the lack of crowds, gave me an instant sense of relaxation. I felt the tension accumulated over the holiday ease.
We had a short introduction to the programme line up, were told the dos (follow your captain and take lots of pictures) and don’ts (no eating in the premises) and were then ushered to the 360º multimedia Typhoon Theatre.
No photo-taking is allowed here, so I can’t show you how excited my boy was and how much fun he had! Here, visitors ‘board’ a sailing ship and encounter a perilous storm… The bench we were on shook, we felt passing breezes on our faces and the cool wetness of a drizzle. It was so realistic that I began to feel sea sick. Suddenly, lightning struck and then we were brought down, down, down… Frankly speaking, I had no idea what the show was about but you know what? It was real fun!
Down… Beneath the Waves and Into the Ocean
When the doors opened… surprise! We had descended into the depths of the ocean! And apart from the marine life, it was just us. What a treat! Let me say it again: No crowds! We could see the sea creatures without having to look over someone’s head or (for the kids) under someone’s armpit.
We were separated into smaller groups, each with a Captain who brought us on our own exclusive, personal tour of the Aquarium. Every group went a different way, so we could all have our own private time with the fish, if we wished. We had ample time to spend in front of each tank to observe the denizens of the sea as they swam gracefully in the water. It was like a meditation app come to life. I loved it!
Our leader of the high seas, Captain Celine, fed us information and gave pop quizzes to the children as she led us around the Aquarium. By now, my boy had abandoned me. He and his new friends were running beside Celine and bombarding her with questions. I enjoyed a relaxed stroll behind them, admiring the watery wonders around us.
Open Water Awesomeness
Finally, we arrived at the Open Ocean Habitat. This is the centrepiece of the S.E.A. Aquarium and one of the highlights of any visit here. Do you know that it made it into the Guinness World Records for having the World’s Largest Acrylic Panel (as big as two rows of three double-decker buses stacked atop one another) when it was first constructed?
Everyone stopped to admire the spectacular sight — this is home to more than 40,000 marine animals of 120 species including the majestic manta ray and leopard shark. The children went “Wow!” and immediately started competing to see who could identify the most fishes.
Then it was story time. We gathered under the magnificent shimmery display as author David Seow read to us from his new book: Sam, Sebbie and Di-Di-Di & Xandy: Return to S.E.A. Aquarium. This is the latest in the best selling Sam, Sebbie and Di-Di-Di series of picture books, and the first of four all-new titles to be done in collaboration with Resorts World Sentosa.
In this book, the family has returned to the S.E.A. Aquarium to celebrate Xandy’s birthday. But someone has forgotten to bring the decorations! So the children go around the aquarium in search of some. This book is perfect for preschoolers, who will learn more about sea creatures and environmental awareness as they read. Beautiful illustrations by Soefara Jafney accompany the text, allowing children to easily identify the sea creatures. They also make the book a work of art that the kids will want to keep forever!
Our Ocean Dreams stay tonight follows the experience that the characters in the book go though, offering the same immersive experience around the S.E.A. Aquarium which Sam, Sebbie, Di-Di-Di and Xandy’s adventure is based upon. Artist Soefara Jafney (who is as gorgeous as her illustrations) accompanied David at the story-telling, and gave out some of her work to a few kids as prizes.
All too soon, it was over and bedtime beckoned! We stretched out in our sleeping bags right in front of the enormous panel with a perfect view of the fish, the manta rays, the sharks, the yellowtail fusiliers, and the scads (thanks to Captain Celine, we could now identify them all). My son kissed me good night and said this was the best holiday he’d ever had. *mum does inner fist pump and a happy dance* He was too excited to sleep properly, and we woke up several times to stare at the swimming fishes. It was nice though, coming out of slumber to see such a magnificent sight right before our eyes!
Waking in an Aquatic Dream
At 7am, we woke up to the never-ending-swimming fishes. Captain Celine brought us to catch a glimpse of the RWS dolphins before breakfast. There are a total of 27 Bottlenose Dolphins in the aquarium including three that were born here. Unfortunately we only managed to see four. We returned to the Ocean Gallery and had a pleasant surprise. Photo taking time!
After breakfast, we were brought to the ‘Back of House’ to feed the fish. This is an experience that normal visitors to the Aquarium don’t get to see. We went right to the top of the enormous fish tank to watch Manta Rays being fed. The mum in me observed that it’s just like feeding children: you lure them with smell of the food, wait for them to come over, then pour the food into their mouths. All of us loved the Rays; they are so graceful as they glide through the water.
And with this, it was the end of our Ocean Dreams Sleepover with Sam, Sebbie and Di-Di-Di and Xandy. I recommend the S.E.A. Aquarium’s Ocean Dreams Sleepover as a wonderful experience for the family, especially if your children love sea creatures and are fascinated by them. As my son confirmed, “This is Awesome!”
Sam, Sebbie and Di-Di-Di & Xandy: Return to S.E.A. Aquarium is the latest in the bestselling Sam, Sebbie and Di-Di-Di series of picture books, and the first of four all-new titles to be done in collaboration with Resorts World Sentosa. It is available at all major bookstores in Singapore and online at http://shop.epigrambooks.sg
The next Ocean Dreams sleepover at the S.E.A. Aquarium is from 1-2 September 2016. Get more information about the stay, and registration details here.