As you know – we’re all about adventures here at Singapore Kids 365. Last week we found out about the Army Open House @ Our City and posted up a newsflash. We went ourselves on the Sunday, and were so impressed we had to write something, hopefully encouraging everyone’s attendance and support next year.
Coming from the UK, and attending the Aldershot Army Tattoo and the Royal Tournament on a regular basis, I must admit I didn’t expect much to be honest – how wrong could I be??? To start with we dropped lucky and managed to sneak into the Singapore Flyer car park just as one came free – BONUS! And from there we didn’t get 10 metres before smiling soldiers were thrusting badges, stickers and other cool stuff into the boy’s hot little hands.
There was a good mix of things to do and see. The racetrack and pit lanes themselves were stuffed full of Apache gunships, tanks, APC’s, mobile rocket launchers, troop carriers, mobile bridges and other things you would not normally think about, such as catering units and mobile washrooms. There was a selection of guys walking around in full kit answering questions and posing for photos. I wanted to get a photo of our boys with this guy in a full snipers Ghillie suit, but they took one look at him and ran off screaming – the desired effect I guess. Inside the pit building itself was as series of static displays showcasing the military band, Military Police, dog units, new technologies, weaponry and gadgets – mainly from ST Kinetics who were a main sponsor. Although we did not get to see it ourselves, there was also an exhibit about the National Service as it approaches 45 years of existence, “From Father to Son”.
On the side nearest the river were a series of marquees which housed shooting ranges, an urban warfare shooting simulator, a “Kidz Boot Camp” area and of course, a canteen. Unfortunately our kids were either too short, too young or didn’t weigh enough to participate in a lot of the things here, but they were in heaven in the kids area, which was crammed full of bouncy castles, a high (two metres) rope walk, camouflage face painting and ride-on electric jeeps. The only thing was the lines were LONG – we waited 40 minutes for the boys to get a two minute ride on the electric jeeps – which made their day. The canteen had most types of food including kebabs, ice cream and burgers, but it was a little light on seating so we had to jostle for a table for a while.
Further down the racetrack under the bridge there was even more stuff to do and see including a climbing wall, zip lines and more hardware to clamber over. Even further away was the “Battle Ride Zone”, where you could take a trip on the Navy’s Fast Craft, amphibious LARC V vessels, Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicle, Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicle and the Army’s Light Strike Vehicles. There were long waits required here, especially for the last three attractions, but we waited only 15 minutes to get on the LARC V and the boys loved it, especially when it went straight down the ramp at full speed and hit the water (Andrea got soaked, much to their amusement).
By this time it was approaching 4pm and the boys were exhausted. We did contemplate joining the line for the Dynamic Show which promised thrills and spills from the Red Lions parachute display team, more military hardware, lots of big guns and bands – but to be honest, we’d all had enough. There are plenty of videos already on YouTube if you want to check this out yourself. There were also fireworks that kicked off at 7pm.
What would we do differently next year? Definitely go on the Saturday. Apparently talking to the guy who served my kebab, he reckoned the Sunday was ten times busier than Saturday! We’d also get there early – the shows were at 10am and 4pm so I would think next year we may go in time for the early show and try and miss some of the crowds.
Finally – be warned, despite being outside and next to the river, it seemed there was no air at all on the track areas. I’m still not used to the heat here (even after 11 years) and do suffer, but I was not the only one – everyone was soaked through and seemed to be wilting, so take lots of water.
All up, a great day out – but it was the soldiers and staff that made it. They were so patient with the kids, very helpful, approachable and just seemed to be having fun. Maybe it was because they were proud to be a part of this event and their service – and so they should be. Job well done MINDEF and SAF – and thank you for a great day.