Sorry for the radio silence. The Lau family has been "stormin' Thailand" for the past 10 days and we are finally back - shacked xia. Travelling with Daniel was an experience. Daniel's sleep arrangements were smooth - he managed to take his naps in the baby carrier when we were out and about, or in the hotel-provided cots, and he slept through the nights very well too. But when Daniel was AWAKE, man, it sure was tiring for the parents! Are 11 month olds supposed to be this active and jolly all the time? Almost makes us miss the days when he just lay there, at the edge of the bed, immobile and going "Uh!" ^__^
Well. I certainly learnt a lot about travelling with a baby from this trip and want to share a few musings / tips here. Hope this helps you, dear readers, the next time you are planning a trip with your kid(s)!
1. Luggages are like refrigerators - no matter how big they are, they just fill up! I thought we had a super size luggage - but whoa, where did all that stuff come from? Ah, all "that stuff" turned out to be Daniel's stuff - from a dozen sets of clothes to 40 diapers, from a mini slow cooker to a big can of formula milk, ... and let's not forget all of Daniel's milk bottles and teats, and equipment for grating and grinding solid foods. Being the kiasu mom, I even packed a couple of sweet potatoes, a zip lock bag of rice, kiwi, and taukwa! Say hello to the Lau Supermarket in a Suitcase! Quite embarrassingly, we weighed in at 20+kg at the Budget Terminal, but they let us through with no extra charge because they were having a half-full flight. Praise God!
2. Choose your accomodation wisely.
a. Example of UNWISE place to stay in: A place where when you ask for a baby cot (over the internet when you are booking the place), they end up giving you a PLAYPEN when you arrive. Mind you, a playpen with NO MATTRESS, just a hard bottom surface. And then when you ask for the playpen to be replaced, a shifty character shows up at your door with an even shiftier wooden cot that, literally, rocks left and right, back and forth, and is completely unstable. I've heard of rocking your baby to sleep, but this is ridiculous. It took us over an hour to explain and get a working wooden cot in our room, by which time, it was 10pm - way past Daniel's bed time of 8pm. By the way, this place is the Mariott at Hua Hin (a beach getaway 2 hours from Bangkok). Don't go there. The grounds are small, and as a foodie, I'm still trying to get over the fact that they serve dry baked sweet potato and an assortment of bland processed food for their breakfast buffet!
b. Example of WISE place to stay in: A place with separate living room and bedroom areas. A place big enough that baby can crawl around and have so much fun, without feeling cooped up. A place with HBO, Star Movies, CNN, BBC, National Geographic, Disney Channel, and Discovery, on TWO flat screen TVs!
Oh, now what kind of place might that be? Well, I have 1 example to recommend - the service apartment called Centrepoint Sukhumvit. Check out these pictures from the website and the pictures I took below:
Left: The living and dining area - note the flat screen Philips TV mounted on the wall. There was also a DVD player! Right: Standing in the same position, I turned my body and took a picture of the kitchen. Note toaster, microwave oven, amazing washing machine and full size fridge! There's also hot water flask, a lot of pots and a stove!
I know it is very auntie to take a close up shot of a washing machine - but this was was truly amazing. It washed ... and then turned into a dryer! So, you just do the settings and leave it alone for a couple of hours and voila, you pop it open and all your clothes and fresh and clean ... and dry!
Left: the bedroom - note another flatscreen TV! Right: the bathroom - the fittings were nicer than mine at home! Plus, got long bath AND shower area.
Left: from the edge of kitchen, there's a small balcony. Right: a lovely pool. By the way, the floor where the pool is on also has a huge playroom stocked with a large assortment of toys for babies and toddlers. Daniel loved trying out all the toys he doesn't have at home!
All this for $112SGD per night (excluding tax)! Add another $10 and you get a better room. We really felt like we could stay here forever. The kitchen area made preparing Daniel's food easy and hygienic (instead of using a typical hotel bathroom to double-up as a kitchen area) and the separate living room area meant that after putting Daniel to sleep in his cot in the bedroom, Husband and I could spend the night lounging in the living room, pottering around or watching DVDs! The breakfast buffet was good too - because of its regular Japanese businessman clientele, we had Nikujaga (Japanese stewed beef soup) for breakfast, together with other hearty choices like porridge, french toast, udon, and so on.
If you're planning to book, try Precision Reservations for good rates. Also, you may want to consider checking out the other Centrepoint service apartments in Bangkok - along Silom, Saladaeng, and Langsuan. The Sukhumvit one was a bit far from the main road, but the hotel made up for it by providing a free shuttle tuk tuk to the main road any time you wanted.
3. It's great to be in a country that adores babies! Bangkok was just amazing because everybody loved babies. Strangers on the crowded train, service staff at the hotel, random cashiers and supermarket ladies, even bellhops and waiters... wherever Daniel went, a little bevy of cooing adults would gather. And of course, Daniel, being Daniel, would just lap it all up and charm their socks off. A restaurant to note is Baan Khanitha - this is a very good Thai restaurant along South Sathorn Road with terrific warm ambience, great Thai food (the kind that leaves a warm, satisfied feeling in your tummy, NOT the overly sour and fiery kind of feeling), and to top it all off - waiters who will happily whisk your baby away and play with him while you enjoy some romantic couple time with Husband!! I kid you not - my sis in law's friend had told us that this restaurant's waiters loved kids, so we e decided to try it out on the first night we arrived in Bangkok - all the waiters took turns to hold Daniel, show him around the restaurant, and give him little treats like plastic straws to play with. It was really amusing to watch them - but heartwarming too! I do hope that my focus on the babysitting waiters will not make you think the food is substandard. Ambassadors bring their guests here to dine as it is on Embassy Row. The food is both elegant and very yummy. But you MUST make a reservation.
Well, there ends my three tips for travelling! I've got many more, especially about Bangkok, so if you'd like to know, do drop me an email. For now, I'm heading off to kick off my shoes and let my hair down. It's been a loooong 10 days, but certainly memorable! Hope you benefit from my tips!