Families bond 'under the sea' at aquarium sleepover

Fifteen families of four people each who won an ST+ news with benefits contest were treated to an Ocean Dreams sleepover at the S.E.A Aquarium in Resorts World Sentosa on Friday. Yesterday morning, they were treated to a farewell breakfast and watche
Fifteen families of four people each who won an ST+ news with benefits contest were treated to an Ocean Dreams sleepover at the S.E.A Aquarium in Resorts World Sentosa on Friday. Yesterday morning, they were treated to a farewell breakfast and watched manta rays being fed.PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

This Christmas, 11 year-old Dion Lai is going to spread the message of ocean conservation.

Dion, who will be in Primary 6 next year, has dreamt of being a marine biologist for as long as she can remember.

She, along with her older sister, Fion, 13; father, Mr Lai Sze Hai, 41, and grandmother, Madam Chng Siu Neo, 71, woke up yesterday in S.E.A Aquarium in Resorts World Sentosa.

The family had been selected, after taking part in an ST+ news with benefits contest, for a sleepover at the aquarium on Friday night. The experience is called Ocean Dreams.

Just before leaving the venue yesterday morning, the family was treated to a farewell breakfast and watched manta rays being fed.

To take part in the contest, entrants had to answer the question: Why do you want to win an Ocean Dreams sleepover?

GETTING OLDER FOLK INVOLVED

It was so nice to take my mother to the sleepover at the aquarium. She doesn't get to move around so much, so bonding as a family was the best gift of all.

MR LAI SZE HAI

Fifteen families of four people each won the package worth $558 per family.

Dion, already confident that she will pursue marine biology, returned from the experience with an insight into conservation.

"We need to stop using so much plastic. Every time we do, it goes into the sea and then all the sea animals eat it," she said.

Fion, who aspires to work with animals, echoed her sister's view on plastic use. The 13-year-old said that watching the manta rays being fed yesterday morning was her favourite part of the experience.

"Sleeping under the fishes was just so cool," the girls said in unison.

Mr Lai, a civil servant, said the experience was the best Christmas present for his daughters.

"I am so grateful as this programme allowed Dion to learn more about her ambition," he said.

Tomorrow, the family will present their Christmas gift to others. Mr Lai, who is a single father, will be taking the girls to Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home on Christmas Day to distribute food and gifts to residents.

The family has been doing this for the past three years.

Mr Lai also said it was important to involve the older generation in Christmas celebrations.

"That's why it was so nice to take my mother to the sleepover at the aquarium. She doesn't get to move around so much, so bonding as a family was the best gift of all," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 24, 2017, with the headline 'Families bond 'under the sea' at aquarium sleepover'. Print Edition | Subscribe