Right after Bobo’s first birthday, we decided that we were confident enough to travel with him by ourselves. No parents. No helper (this sounds shameful but the reality is that working parents spend only weekends caring for their progeny and confidence levels don’t exactly run high). After much discussion (nothing hectic, nothing too far etc etc), we flew away to Kota Kinabalu in East Malaysia
The packing –
Two large suitcases, one small suitcase, one backpack, one stroller and one baby carrier. D and I occupied half a large suitcase. Toddling babies clearly travel like royalty with innumerable luggage and two caretakers
The flight –
You never quite realize how cramped economy class seats are till you actually take a toddling baby on one. It takes extreme social conditioning to understand why one needs to remain trapped in a 2.5 ft by 3 ft space for 2.5 hours and clearly babies are too young to comprehend this aspect of life. Air Asia (bless them) gave us front row seats both ways and that made a lot of difference to our travel experience. It gave Bobo a bit more room to play. Considering that the onward journey bordered on his bedtime, he mercifully slept off in our arms. On the return leg, we made full use of strangers who smiled at Bobo and seemed ready to entertain him for a couple of minutes, albeit with us hovering next to him.
The stay –
The first part of our stay was in a child-friendly resort. They had high chairs, baby cots, stroller-friendly walkways, a special kids menu, a shallow pool, kids club, babysitting service and basically the works. In a different life this would have got me pounding the gates to be let out. Now I was willing to throw large sums of money to avail of these services.
Multiple trips to the pool, beach and one lovely massage later, I was bored. There is only so much you can do in a resort and I was glad we had also planned a three day stop in a downtown hotel, a much more modest affair. The plan was to walk around and take in the sights and sounds of the city. The idea was quite nice, except KK is not an exciting city to walk around in. The promenade was well-built but quite dirty and it rained all evenings, forcing us into malls for entertainment of any sort.
East Malaysia is stunningly green and beautiful, what with its rain forests and marine parks. People do the 9-km Mt Kinabalu trek or snorkel around the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. Luckily with Bobo, we had the perfect excuse to just laze around in the beach and ignore the more strenuous activities which we are anyway not capable of undertaking in our present state of sloth.
We went for an orangutan feeding session on one of the days, which Bobo watched open-mouthed, as did we. We went on the North Borneo Heritage Railway, a charming half day train journey reminiscent of colonial times when liveried waiters scurried around serving yummy breakfast and lunches as the train gently rolled past the landscape. I love train journeys and this one ranked highly in my book.
We were reasonably confident that Bobo would not be too fussy when it came to mealtimes. Neither were we. Following a friend’s advice, we did not particularly care if he was not getting a perfectly balanced diet. Of course, considering we were yet to introduce Bobo to the pleasure of loading up on the muffins, pancakes and waffles, it was us we had to worry about on the issue of balanced diets. Bobo pretty much ate fruits, wholewheat bread, cheese, rice, chicken, boiled veggies and fish. He was happy to eat off our plates most times (and vice versa. Especially the yummy kids pasta or the breaded fried fish. I came back with a vastly expanded waistline).
And all that bonding –
Bobo basked in all the attention he was getting, which was of course primarily just our physical presence. We basked in the joy of being next to Bobo 24/7. D and I took turns to babysit Bobo so we could do our own thing too. But most times we were just happy watching him be mesmerized by the sound of a loud bird outside our room or loll around patiently while Bobo examined every lamp post in the long walkways to reach our room.
A good vacation