Adventures in the big city

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Mummy Musings is a fortnightly column where Elisabeth Lee navigates the ups and downs of bringing up her daughter.

Ever since we got back from our Asia trip, A has been asking for another adventure.

“Mummy, can we go to Thailand again? Like, tomorrow?” she pleads. I turn her down as gently as I can.

“Mummy, I really miss Singapore, can we go back there and see gong gong and por por?” she asks, minutes later. I try and explain budgets and vacation days but I doubt much of it is getting through.

What to do? Maybe it’s time for another adventure – but this time, a little more local. Now that Easter is over and we all have a little more breathing room in our routine, the time seems ripe for a week in the big smoke. Next week, we are off to the big city for a week of museums and good food.

Living out where we do, in a village of 3,000 that’s part of a large valley community of about 100,000, we have what we need for day-to-day life. Life in general is pretty easy. There are big supermarkets, a few shopping high streets where there are bookshops, florists, butchers, boutiques and more. But there’s only a handful of authentic Asian restaurants, and I must drive an hour to a bigger town just to get groceries like silken tofu, fish balls, and fresh rice noodles.

With all her cosmopolitan perks, it’s not hard to persuade me that the time is ripe for a trip to Vancouver. A fellow Singaporean transplant who lives there has already emailed me her spreadsheet of places to eat: kaiseki meals, roast goose, dumpling, dosas and more. I’ve got a shopping list in my draft emails of everything I need to buy that can’t be bought where we live. There are spring break events everywhere – beer tastings, art gallery openings, festivals, as well as museums galore.

The problem is narrowing down the options to fit the limited time we have in the city. And frankly, this has also been the best part about our trip. Brainstorming with A and my partner T about what we will do each day is hands down the best part about travel, I think. Her wild and wacky suggestions give us a glimpse of how her mind works, of what she values, of what and who she misses.

Top of her list? Mangos. I blame Thailand. Mangos are unlikely in rainy spring Vancouver – but who knows? We can visit the local Asian markets and see what delights are in store.

Next on her list is a sleepover with grandma Jacquie who is coming on the trip!

Then, she wants to “see all the museums but especially dinosaurs”. Well, we can certainly do that and much more. And also “go to the biggest playground with the biggest slides”. Oh, yes, we can do that!

It’s charming in a way, to know that her definition of a fine adventure boils down to yummy foods, family time and discovery of new things.

It’s a lesson worth learning, I think. As parents or adults, we sometimes overthink everything or base all our decisions on Fear Of Missing Out. There’s none of that fear in A’s mind – no anxiety that we are only at the 2nd second best ramen joint (not the bestest one), or that we have failed to effectively and precisely optimise the entire trip. Just the simple delight of taking pleasure in food, family and fun.


Elisabeth Lee is proof that it is never too late to consider a second, third or even fourth career, having come to both motherhood and writing late in life. She occasionally freelances and can be reached at

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