Archive for ‘travel’

April 12, 2013

Travel to Thailand, tot in tow (part 2)

For anyone out there who read part 1 of this post, you’ll know that we were left relatively unscathed by the flight to Bangkok.

And I’m happy to report that on arrival, things remained pretty easy.

We checked into our hotel at around 1am, hoping that we would all collapse into bed and wake up at a reasonable hour, resetting our body clocks etc etc and so on.

Well.  Uncharacteristically, Lottie decided not to go to sleep, and decide that it was a most excellent time to play.  I’d like to admit that I was also in a playful mood but as it was around 4am Sydney time I basically just lay on the bed poking Lottie in the tummy with my foot every so often (not to be mean, it makes her laugh. Honest).

Anyway, at around 7am Bangkok time I had had enough of this, so hopped in the shower and took Charlotte for a stroll around the block.

Unfortunately it was already 35 degrees and on hubbys insistence we had not taken a stroller with us, so it wasn’t the most pleasant stroll.

What made it all worthwhile though was the reaction we got from everyone we passed.  From young girls to old ladies, teenaged boys and grown men – they all loved our little chubby bubba!

And I’m not talking about a little smile or a wave – young men were actually stopping on their scooters and running over to squeeze Lotties fat (yet totally delightful) white thighs.  (For some reason, noone gets excited about my chubby white thighs, but thats another matter).

We managed to squeeze in a bit of shopping and had a great time at the aquarium underneath one of the malls.  We also quickly picked up an el-cheapo stroller – if anyone tells you that you won’t use one in Bangkok, don’t listen to them!  There is a lot of walking – i.e. shopping – to be done, and the footpaths around the shopping areas are fine.

Enjoying the aquarium in Bangkok

Enjoying the aquarium in Bangkok

We all got a good feed in during the hotel breakfast, where I would usually pilfer some fruit, cheese and rolls for Lottie to munch on later.  Otherwise, baby-suited food was reasonably easy and cheap to find. I must admit to resorting to Mickey D fries on a few occasions when I couldn’t find (or didn’t trust) food that would be good for bub but hey, we were on holidays!

From Bangkok we headed over to Samui, where we stayed at the delightful Miskawaan, where we met up with the rest of our group. And what a delight it was!

We were housed in a group of villas, with every room being self-contained giving everyone privacy, but also plenty of opportunity to catch up as a group.

And for a family, it was perfect.  The staff were amazing, happy to help with anything, and especially happy to play with our little cherub while I had a massage, a cocktail, or both. They were also happy to assist if we wanted to do some fun, pre-baby type activities, like head out on a scooter to goodness knows where and just amble about.

It was right on the shallow, clean, waveless beach so we could take our choice between that and the pool, and there were plenty of grassy areas for the little one to toddle about on.

I just could not get enough of the place. So much so, we’re planning a rendezvous there sometime next year – baby # 2 plan-willing. (If you’re interested in a place like Miskawaan, check out the website – a must-do holiday for a group or big family. And don’t be put off by the prices, it works out very well if there are a few of you, especially at low season).

So all in all, the holiday was an amazing success, and if you’re thinking about heading to Thailand with a little one, I wouldn’t hesitate!

June 13, 2012

Travel to Thailand, tot in tow (part 1) – an ode to the travelmate

We’ve just returned from a trip to Thailand with our toddler (she isn’t really toddling yet, but I couldn’t resist the alliteration), and I can’t let this experience slide without adding another notch to my blog posts.

It was generally pretty awesome, and I hope this post makes any parent sitting on the fence about whether to take their child overseas hop off the picket and get on board that jumbo jet.

Sure, the flights would have been better if it was just mom’n’pop, watching movies and catching up on gossip mags over a bevvy or five, but they weren’t nearly as bad as they could’ve been.

(please ignore my panda eyes, and the unusual spelling of Charlotte by the lovely Emirates crew member)

In fact, the worst part of the flights were the other babies whose cries woke up my little munchkin as she tried to sleep (not blaming the other parents or babies.  Not at all….really).

One thing that helped in a major way was purchasing a seat for little Lottie, who isn’t so little anymore.

Technically she could’ve sat on our laps the whole way but at 11kg and a whole lotta squirm, it would have been very uncomfortable for everyone concerned.

How parents manage to keep their (bigger) babies on their laps for a long haul flight I don’t know, and I give them a standing ovation.

How do they eat? Nap? Read or watch anything?  I guess they don’t, and just sit there muttering the mummy mantra ‘this too shall pass’ under their breath the whole way.

Anyway, we were lucky enough to score seats on sale cheap enough to make it financially viable to purchase three seats AND were wise enough to purchase a gogobabyz travelmate.

When I initially told hubby that our options were to carry Lottie in our laps during takeoff, landing, and anytime the seatbelt sign was turned on (which could mean waking her up, a lot, if the flight was turbulent) OR carrying her car seat on board – which also meant lugging it through the airport – he said no way jose to the carseat option.

Of course I wasn’t keen on the lap-holding option because I was pretty certain whose lap Lottie would be getting in and out of if so required.

Then my reliance on the internet for all things knowsy turned out to be fruitful when I unearthed the travelmate.

Basically it is a contraption a bit like a dolly that straps on to your carseat to convert it into a pram while in the airport (and running to your gate), then easily comes off when you need to use the carseat on board the plane (or at your destination, if it isn’t somewhere like Thailand i.e. somewhere that has child/vehicle safety laws).

This thing saved our life, or at least our sanity for around 12 hours each way.

Awesome to use as a pram in the airport, great on the plane (once it’s strapped in you can leave the baby in the seat for take off, landing etc) and because the little one is used to sleeping in her carseat anyway it made it easier for her to doze off AND leave me in peace enough to watch the whole first season of Downton Abbey over a couple of sauv blancs.

At the risk of this post sounding like one long infomercial, I also need to give a shout out to the staff on board Emirates.

We were looked after really well with a little baby travel kit (wipes, baby food, toys etc), and they took polaroids of all the babies/kids on board which I thought was a nice souvenir for bubby’s first o/s trip.

They were also super friendly and didn’t act like we were a hassle, although I’m sure we were.

Don’t get me wrong, there were certainly a few moments where I wanted to disappear into thin air (or at least into business class, on my own) but it wasn’t a total horror story, more a three star drama/comedy.

But as everyone knows, it’s not the journey that counts, it’s the destination.  That’s how the saying goes, right?

It should be.  Once we arrived in Thailand everything was E.A.S.Y.

I’ll let you know how well it went in Part 2…

April 8, 2011

the sixth sense – babymoon take 2

Six Senses Resort, Con Dao

I’ve posted a few times on the idea of a babymoon, and even taken one of sorts not long ago – or so I thought.

Apparently, traditionalists say that a babymoon is a holiday you take AFTER the baby is born, not while pregnant (although according to our friend wikipedia both are correct).

Either way, looks like a great excuse to start planning another trip – babymoon take 2.

Well, you can’t blame me for wanting to try the Six Senses resort at Con Dao, Vietnam.

I mean, come on- every new mum needs some butler service!

Someone suggested rolling the babymoon and honeymoon into the one holiday – most insane thing I ever heard!  I think a repeat visit to Con Dao is in order and I haven’t even been there once yet.

Six Senses, Con Dao - Ocean View Room

March 23, 2011

The Pram – part one

I’ve been a little quiet on the blogging front lately, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been taking it easy in preparation for bub’s arrival.

Well, not all the time.

In between liaising with the designer for the renovations to the new abode, sourcing appliances and furniture, deciding on paint colours for the nursery and the house at large and getting ready for the move, my lovely partner in crime and I finally took the long-awaited babymoon.

Kewarra Beach Resort - babymoon perfection

We spent a beautiful few days at Kewarra Beach Resort near Cairns relaxing, swimming and eating (and of course leafing through renovation mags).

If you like eating – what pregnant woman doesn’t – you can’t go wrong at Kewarra, the menu was an absolute joy to work through and the meals were a perfect punctuation to our heavenly days lazing on the beach and on our beachfront balcony.

Most importantly, the beautiful boy popped the question so there will be an easy answer when bub is asked “who’s your daddy”.

It was all very lovely and romantic, and we couldn’t be happier.

It’s lucky I love planning, checklists and research because now not only do we have baby’s arrival and renovations to plan for, but a wedding on the (far) horizon as well.

Good news and renovations aside, we decided last weekend to really make a start on getting all the required baby gear sorted.

Easier said than done.

Armed with a list of must have (and nice to have) items we hit the baby megastores, ready to go.

What did we get?

A car seat.  That’s it.

And while I’m loving the car seat (too scared to do any research on it now in case I see something bad), I’m feeling totally overwhelmed by everything we need, and all the choices out there.

After doing what may have been too much research, I had a list as long as my arm of requirements for The Pram.

Bassinet or capsule attachment, reversible handle, not too wide, not too flimsy, not too small but not too big, great for walking but manoeuvrable for city shopping and coffee shops.  Also stylish, not too mumsy OR space age, and a reasonable price (I had to add the last one after I found a emmaljunga pram that ticked most of the boxes but came in at a hefty $2200).

BF (sorry, fiancé!) and I stood there like deer in headlights, staring at the rows and rows of options, before hotfooting it out of the store into the safe and comforting arms of Ikea (that should give you some indication of how bamboozled we were, when a trip to Ikea seemed like a walk in the park).

Everyone keeps saying “just get one that will fit your lifestyle”. 

Oh, OK.  If only I knew what that was going to be!

Not knowing the area we’ll be moving to it’s hard for me to judge how much time will be spent walking (outdoors, in parks, on pavements or in the mall).

And while I have fantasies of shopping, heading to the gym and enjoying a coffee with friends – all in a morning with baby – this might be far from the reality.

Think I’ll have to take the advice of one wise friend and expectant mother – “you aren’t going to get a pram with everything you need, so compromise where you can and if you end up hating it, there’s always eBay”.

Will keep this in mind when we attempt The Pram – Round 2 on the weekend.

So what am I looking at?  As of today the top contenders are the mountain buggy and baby jogger, any advice from mums out there will be warmly appreciated.

(Don’t even get me started on cots).

HOT TIP for any budding investors out there – buy shares in ACP because I am buying up magazines in previously unheard of quantities. 

Along with reno mags, pregnancy mags and my usual fashion and gossip titles, I can now add wedding issues to the mix.  If you don’t hear from me in a while I am no doubt buried under a pile of glossy pages.

January 28, 2011

maybe babymoon

I’ve been a bit flat out lately between selling a property, hunting for a new more family friendly abode, weddings (and associated hens parties etc), preparing for baby, catching up with friends and family, work etc etc etc – you know how it is.

As a reward – and who needs an excuse for a mini break anyway – I’ve decided that a babymoon is in order (although I haven’t yet given up my idea of a holiday after baby!).

Here are my picks to head to tout suite if we happen to get well over and above what we’re expecting from the property sale!

Pretty Beach House

Pretty Beach House (picture courtesy of Australian Traveller)

I’ve had my eye on this place since it first came across my radar a year or so ago.  It’s not cheap, but then a true combination of style and luxury never is.

Located in the Bouddi National Park on NSWs Central Coast, only three villas make up the accommodations here, each with their own plunge pool.

If we feel like meandering down to the beach (and a beautiful one it is, was lucky enough to be there on Australia Day) we can choose to be guided there taking a scenic bushwalk route, or can go solo (carrying thoughtfully packed, personalised Pretty Beach House backpacks.)

What really gets me though, are the all-inclusive meals designed by chef extraordinaire Stefano Manfredi.

A pregnant gal needs her vices and boy oh boy is mine great food – can think of nothing better than lazing around a lap pool in secluded bushland, sampling the delights of a renowned chef.

So why am I waiting?  Well, the price for one.  And two?  All inclusive means alcohol included – seems a shame to let specially selected fine wines go to waste, non?

Wolgan Valley Resort

Another pick that doesn’t quite fall into the budget category, at almost $2,000 per night (they do, however, have a some specials which brings the price down a tad).

This beauty is located in the Blue Mountains and takes around three hours to get to from Sydney (or just 45 minutes by helicopter if you want to dip into baby’s trust fund).

Wolgan Valley Resort (picture courtesy of Gourmet Traveller)

Again, each self-contained villa has its own pool and the price includes all meals and selected beverages.

One thing (apart from the price) that has me hesitating is that the resort offers some great activities like horse riding and mountain biking that sound perfect…for someone who isn’t pregnant.

Still, if we make a property market killing you’ll find me here (actually you wont find me, Ill be in my private villa).

Now if only they would put together some kind of babymoon package with pregnancy massages, ahhhhh.

Other honourable mentions have to go to Bedarra Island, Qualia and Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island. Yum. Yum. Yum.

Bedarra Island Resort...*sigh*

But – if it turns out we don’t get the money we were after from the property sale?  I’m more than happy to hotfoot it to any of these locales:

Bells at Killcare – comprising Stefano Manfredi’s hatted restaurant of the same name, and sister venue to Pretty Beach House.  I love the idea of the cook yourself gourmet breakfast hamper – maintain your privacy (ie walk around in your underwear) and feel like a Michelin star chef at the same time.

Artist’s Cottage @ Port Douglas – whimsical holiday rental in Port Douglas, for a self contained holiday that packs some heat.  Might be a goer when stinger season is over and bub, the BF and I need to get out of the cold Sydney winter.

If anyone else has some babymoon suggestions I’d love to hear from you!  Until then I’ll keep dreaming…

 

January 13, 2011

taking baby on holiday – the fine line between genius and insanity

Here’s how the daydream goes:  after a long, restful sleep in a gorgeous waterfront villa, my partner and I awake to play with our gorgeous, smiling bundle of joy (who is about three months old at this stage).

After a quick feed for baby, the BF and I settle down to a sumptuous breakfast of tropical fruits, delicate pastries and strong, sweet coffee.

The three of us head down to the beach and settle under sum palm trees, swaying in the breeze, to watch the sunlight play on the water and some locals go about their daily business.

After another quick (but entirely fulfilling) feed for babe we hand him/her over to a smiling local mama to  lie down for an hour long head to toe massage and then – so soon! – it’s time for a decadent three course lunch.  For the purposes of this daydream this is accompanied by a cocktail or two, possibly in a pineapple and definitely with an umbrella.

I don’t often voice this daydream because as soon as I mention I’m planning (well, thinking about) a holiday with a new baby I’m met with guffaws, raised eyebrows, concern, or a mixture of the three.

What’s so wrong with my dream?

Nothing, in my mind.  But as others have pointed out, plenty. 

Firstly – the long, lazy sleeps (all through the night) are an impossibility, or so I’m told.  Frequent naps may be an option but rather than a refreshing moment of shut-eye after a meal, they will be the only shut eye I get.

And the usual aspects of tropical travel such as heat, lack of schedule and possibly questionable hygiene will be magnified with a baby on board.

All is not lost however.  Dugald Jellie recently wrote an article in the Herald, Baby steps in Bali, that borders on inspirational.

While he does say that the trip is reminiscent of a sequel to Eat Pray Love, “Cry, Poo, Dribble” there are plenty of good pointers and reassurance that a holiday with a young baby is, in fact, possible.

Has anyone else pursued this potentially idiotic dream? Maybe I should stick with the babymoon…