Adventure Waterpark at Desaru Coast

Friday, June 21, 2019

It has been such a whirlwind, I realised that not only have I not blogged about our trip to Desaru in June, I haven't even uploaded and saved those precious memories. So, since the holiday season is here (almost), let me share with you what we did last summer.

We decided to take a short trip cross the border to Desaru and our first stop was the Adventure Waterpark which opened in July 2018. Being a new attraction, we were treated to clean facilities, slides, seats and every other thing. 

Located along the east coast of Malaysia, it is approximately a 1.5hour drive from Singapore. We were stuck in a jam, but luckily, it wasn't too bad. Once we crossed the border, it took us about an hour to reach. The husband is quite a gangster driver you see. It is an extremely easy drive up, with hardly any traffic, so we arrived at our destination at approximately 10am where it opened its doors. Parking was easy as there was a huge carpark (paid), right next to the park.

There are a total of 5 zones and we thought we could cover them all, but we couldn't! The kids simply didn't want to leave and we even had to skip lunch! I guess play was more important than their tummies. However, there are a total of 5 food and beverage outlets within the park and they sell a variety of food ranging from burgers to staples like nasi lemak. Prices range from RM22 to RM18. 

There are lockers, big and small which you may rent and I highly recommend that you do, unless you are willing to lug all your essentials around. The larger ones were at RM40 while the smaller lockers cost RM20. Rental is for an entire day and you can have multiple access. They are activated electronically, hence you do not have to worry about carrying a physical key. The toilets are nice and clean too, needless to say. Do bring along your towels though. 

Here's sharing some of our favourite attractions:


Photo credit: 8Days
The Penawar River is a long, looping lazy river that floats amid the greenery of a riverside with a fishing village scene. A lazy pool is something which most waterparks would have but we went round twice because the water was so clean, and there was really hardly anyone. We simply enjoyed the tranquility and took things slow.

Minimum Height: 110cm

Photo credit: 8Days

The park had several slides but this caught our eyes. Kraken's Revenge is a roller coaster that takes its passengers 30m above the ground! Riders can reach speeds up to 70km/h as they plummet to a splashing finish. Both Big and Small K were eager to try! I mustered my courage for this exhilarating ride. If you must know, I'm not quite an adrenaline junkie. But for my kids, I'll try. But alas! Small K didn't meet the minimum height requirement! I could have sworn that he is 110cm at that point in time. We tried to negotiate with the life guard as Small K was only probably only 2cm away! He tried to tip-toe while the first guard was on duty; and when they had a change of shift, we tried again, and this time, Small K had his slippers on but he was caught red-handed on both occasions. They were that strict.

 My heart broke when i had to tell him he had to sit out and watch his sister and father had fun! It took him so much to muster his courage, only to be rejected twice. Oh well, security first i guess?

Big K enjoyed the ride so much, she went up not once, not twice, but thrice!
Meanwhile, I had to try to pacify my other little darling. 


Fortunately, all was good when I discovered an area dedicated to the younger ones! Kids Ahoy has three age-appropriate play areas filled with several slides designed for the younger kids. I was extremely impressed with how many slides they had at this area. With even a main one for the older kids or tweens! So thoughtful! The kids had to much fun sliding

Photo credit: 8Days

Photo credit: 8Days

This semi-sheltered area was meant for the tiny tots to frolic but both Small and Big K had a whale of a time there as well! I wasn't grumbling as I could seek shelter from the unforgiving sun! There is actually a cafe next to this area should you wish to watch your kids from. Even though it wasn't crowded, I spotted several life guards on duty. Professionalism at its peak. *claps

There were several intense slides like the Tempest (Minimum Height 122cm) which comes with a 60m diameter funnel, Riptide (Minimum Height 122cm)  and the Wild Whirl (122cm). All of which my kids did not meet the minimum height requirement. While my kids, namely Big K, were disappointed, I was secretly happy. They were all parent accompanied you see! And the mere look of the ginormous tower sent shivers down my spine. So I was mighty glad that the Kids Ahoy zone had a mini ride which will still allow the little ones to circle around and end with a splash in the pool. I lost count as to the numbers of times the kids went for this attraction. Probably a few years more and they may wish to travel down and enter the Riptide for an unparalleled feeling of weightlessness. I think I might need to find some way to gain more courage from now till then!


This must have been the biggest draw of our visit! The kids enjoyed themselves tremendously in one of the biggest wave pools in the world, holding more than four million gallons of water over nearly three acres! I had been to a few wave pools, but this one is strong! I was swept away and rolled ashore at one point. I even scraped my knee. Small K was also forced into a somersault due to the sheer impact of the waves. Hence, it is extremely advisable for an adult to accompany the child should they be less than 122cm. After a while, we got the hang of things and were enjoyed bobbing around. If you'd prefer, you may also relax by the 170m sandy beach.

(Minimum height 107cm)

If you have never surfed, this might be a good teaser. The minimum height was 107cm so phew! The boy barely made it! This is a high-energy surf simulator where beginners can catch and ride the artificial wave. If you are lucky, the guard may bring you for a ride! That dude is such a pro!

(Minimum Height 110cm)

Photo credit: Desaru Coast 

We really wanted to try this out as it looked mild enough for Small K. Sadly, he didn't meet the minimum height requirement again and Big K decided not to ditch her brother this time. Next time perhaps!


This was captured as at October 2019 but I'm pretty sure it was much higher when we went due to the peak season.

For a fun-filled day, the ticket prices seem reasonable. Book online for a cheaper rate or be like us, we used KLOOK to get our tickets before hand and received a complimentary coffee or soft serve ice cream for every ticket purchased, along with a 10% retail discount when you book on the Klook app (while stocks last). Oh! And kids under 3 enter for FREE!
There are several properties nearby, with Hard Rock Hotel being just adjacent to the park. We stayed at the Sands & Sandals Resort which was a stone's throw away. A 5min drive to be precise. It is decently nice property which I'll blog about another time. Meanwhile, I'm already missing all the fun at Desaru and hopefully will be able to visit it again in the near future!
Address: Persiaran Pantai, Desaru Coast, 81930 Bandar Penawar, Johor Malaysia
Opening hours: 10AM to 6PM
Telephone: +60 3-2203-9696

The Secret to Speed Math: Fun with Abacus

Sunday, June 9, 2019

As a child, I had always loved Math but something made me dread it -- The mental computation of huge numbers. Back in Primary school, my Math teacher used to drill us so much on model-drawing as well as mental sums, I became fearful of not being able to match up with the speed which my teacher had expected. Then one day, over on Channel 8, I saw a show teaching its audience how to improve mental calculations using the abacus! At 10years old, I was intrigued and glued myself to the TV every afternoon at 4pm, taking down notes on how to operate the beads. However, the explanations were too fast, the formulae were too many and I didn't even have an abacus to do a practical. Hence, I gave up.

Fast forward decades later, it was time for me to drill my kids in mental calculation. Big K aged 7+ is honestly not too bad in her Mathematics. However her bane was her speed at calculating. At age 6, she was so slow at even giving me the answers for making 10, I thought I wasn't doing it right. I did explore the possibility of introducing abacus then, but procrastinated as MOE took abacus out from the curriculum. A million thoughts ran through my mine: Was abacus deemed as useless hence the ministry took it out?

This was when I was introduced to Fun with Abacus. It is a school founder by Joy Tay, who started teaching abacus to the young by adopting syllabus from Taiwan. After a while, she created her own workbooks to fit the local crowdUsing her expertise as a certified Abacus Mental Arithmetic Trainer and her knowledge of the local education curriculum, Joy came up with the solution to help a child learn Mathematics during the challenging stages. She believes that a systematic structure in the teaching program not only help the child but also give parents and schools a firm foundation to assist in a child’s learning curve.

Below was a short interview I had with Joy:
Me: Why was abacus taken out of the curriculum? Is it still relevant?

Joy: Of course it is. It was taken out naturally because the school teachers had a million other things to handle and were short of time even for their core curriculum, let alone enrichments such as abacus. There are also many steps involved in abacus and it's tough for a teacher to be teaching this to a class of 40 young children. The focus will just not be there.

Me: How many years has Fun with Abacus been around?

Joy: We have been teaching for 15years, mainly at preschools. Hence, the relevance is still very much recognised.

Me: There seems to be different types of abacus. What's the difference?

Joy: Yes. Abacus has been around for ages. There are different types of abacus used in different countries. They vary according to the number of beads. Some with fewer beads may require more formulae.

At this juncture, Joy whipped out her abacus and explained to me. Fun with Abacus uses the one below, where you have 4 yellow beads, 1 orange bead on top and 4 yellow beads below.

After her explanation, I found that this type of abacus makes the most sense. Each bead represents a unit. Just like how addition and subtraction are taught in Primary schools.  Let me share with you my findings on an abacus used by another abacus school. Some other schools make use of the abacus which is divided into 1 bead (representing 5) on top and 4 beads at the bottom. For such abacuses, one will need to memorise many formula 口诀 in order to solve higher order addition and subtraction.

Photo credit: Kiasu Parent forum

For instance:
In a question of 7-4, the child needs to apply the 口诀 of "-4=+1-5" So the child is conditioned to first position the "7" (top" 1 bead down; bottom 2 beads up), followed by thumb up 1 bead (bottom) and flick 1 bead (top) up to derive the solution of such a simple equation. This seems redundant to me. 

However, in the 9 bead abacus which we are using, it makes a lot more sense as one bead represents one unit. When they do their vertical addition and subtraction in school, they will then see that both are parallel. With that, I was convinced that this was the school for us!

 Also, I had made a comparison with their worksheets. In another school, they actually made used of cartoon pictorial to represent the beads versus Fun with Abacus which uses actual circles. This allows less confusion for the child in future. 


Big K being older, managed to grasp the concept really fast. Right after our first session, she was so excited that she insisted on doing her homework the moment we reached home. I was really surprised but glad that abacus could ignite her love for Math. In fact, midway through the term, our teacher felt that she was ready for the Anzan which will eventually bring her to mental calculation. Anzan is the Japanese method of doing Mental Math by using a mental image of an abacus.  No physical abacus is used. This has been part of the compulsory curriculum in Japan for many years until the focus on the use of computers in daily life came along. Subsequently, due to the increase in usage of technology, there had been concerns that the general population is losing valuable skills, hence in 1989, the Japanese Ministry of Education reintroduced it into their elementary school curriculum. With such history, it's not difficult to be inclined with the notion that we are becoming too reliant on technology to perform simple tasks for us. 

In fact, I have personally seen how using the calculator is part of a muscle memory for young kids. I witnessed a child aged 12, using the calculator for 1/2 + 1/2 and yet another, aged 16, reaching out for the calculator naturally, to tabulate 1+1. Muscle memory, thanks to the usage of calculators officially for their Math papers at Primary 5. Way too young if you ask me!

After less than 3 months of weekly classes, I noticed that Big K's ability to count fast is improving. Despite the fact that I know she isn't using abacus or Anzan in her mental calculations yet. I believe the course has ignited her love for the subject.


When it comes to this boy, it's a little trickier. At age 4, he is rather fidgety and unfocused. Especially when it came to abacus which were all beads beads beads, nothing but beads. It did however helped that his sister was in the same class as him. You see, different levelled students can be grouped together and still receive individual attention from the teachers. But of course, as far as possible, the level of the class will not be too varied and is also kept small with a maximum of 6 students for effective learning. I'm pretty happy to note that now, he is talking less and working more and his butt is always on the chair! His concentration span is definitely longer now!

Small K wasn't competent for the number bond for 10 but after a few short sessions, he was able to shout out the answer immediately. Getting him to do his homework wasn't too tough also as he deems the abacus as a toy. The only thing is during lesson, I have to constantly remind him to get more work down and to have less talk as he was really having a good time with the teacher. He has made wonderful progress and is in fact catching up on Big K fast and furious After a few months, he too, had been introduced to the Anzan. I was initially very worried as to how he would take to it. I mean there are now no beads! You will have to visualise it yourself! To my surprise, he was superb at it! So much so, I believe he will catch up with Big K in no time.

Abacus may seem a little dry to some, so the teachers at Fun with Abacus always try to incorporate an element of fun. For instance, while teaching the number bonds, to assist them in remembering how to make tens, they turn it into a clapping game and calls the corresponding number for the bond a "buddy". Small K found it cute and was most willing to practice with me. Occasionally they also played games.

Here's Small K having fun fishing for the respective number bonds

At a certain level, the children will be given timed practice. Now this really excites Big K. She likes the adrenaline when she breaks her own record! They are each given a little timer to time themselves and hence, she can do her work independently without much help from me. Now that Small K is also getting the hang of doing his homework, he can also do most of the work independently. I just need to use eye-power on him.

Fun with abacus regularly sends their students for competitions overseas. Namely for the LCT Mental Arithmetic competition in Malacca as well as the International Mathematics Association Competition in Korat, Thailand. And these little brains all did very well! They managed to attain 1st to 5th placings for the respective competitions and they may be as young as 9years old! Hopefully one day, my little tots will be able to attain those standards too!

So with the advancement in technology, why am I still embarking my children on this journey. Well, the reason is simple, calculators and computers are all invented by mankind. It goes to show that the brain is far more superior if we tap on it. If we don't exercise it enough, it will go into solitude. While it is easy to reach out to the calculator in time to come, note that you are only allowed to use the calculator for Paper 2 at the primary level. Also, if the child is able to calculate fast enough, perhaps the time spent on fumbling with the calculator can be used wisely on solving other questions. Foundation in Math is very important in my opinion. It starts as young as when the child is in preschool or maybe even prior to that. If it isn't built well, trouble will start to surface predominantly when they hit Primary 5. By the, it may be too late to salvage. It takes time and effort to build. Similarly, abacus isn't a miracle pill. The child will not become quick in mental calculations overnight. It takes time and effort but I believe the rewards are real.

Fun with abacus accept children as young as 4 years old. Give them a call to check on their scehdule and head on down for a free trial and if you like it, Quote "JANICE WONG" and take $100 off their term fees.

Katong Plaza
West Coast Centre
Seng Kang West

or call: 97865383
Instagram: @funwithabacus