This June holidays, we decided to take a road trip through Malaysia. I had been wanting to explore Malaysia more ever since I worked with Sharon Cheah on Malaysia Bagus!. Sharon made Malaysia sound so interesting & varied. Last December, we ventured to Kota Kinabalu and were charmed by the sleepy town and stunningly beautiful beaches. So this school holidays, we decided to drive around West Malaysia. Here are the stops we made:
This was our family's longest holiday ever--a total of 13 days. And I would rate it as our second best family holiday (meaning, a holiday we took without friends, just family). The best family holiday is still our Australia family trip but this one comes in a close second. Why? Because we truly bonded as a family through the trip. I came to love my kids more, came to understand them more, and came to really enjoy their company more.
I thought I would dread 13 days driving around in an enclosed car with the kids. I really thought I'd end up strangling them, and even told Sharon Cheah so! But God is gracious, and works in mysterious ways. You see, our holiday was meant to be only 10 days long. But on the 10th day, friends started Facebooking about the horrible haze situation in Singapore. It was because of the haze that we decided to extend an extra day in Port Dickson, and then, when the haze reached Port Dickson, we drove up to Penang for a completely unplanned new portion of our holiday trip!
So, through the "curse" of the haze, we got the "blessing" of spending 3 extra days with the kids, PLUS visiting Penang, a state I've always wanted to explore. We got the "blessing" of avoiding the worst of the haze in Singapore (which reached PSI 400, hazardous level) and we got the "blessing" of seeing God's Hand and Provision upon us, as he provided us with a fantastic hotel at the last minute in Penang, and a few more surprises too!
I must really take my hat off to my kids, who have mastered (by necessity) the art of occupying themselves in the car for long drives. The longest drive was Port Dickson to Penang, which took close to 7 hours (including a lunch break & several rest stops)! The longest day of driving was Penang back to Singapore (which took 8 hours, though there was a long break in between at KL for lunch).
How did they entertain themselves?
1) They played with their stuffed animals--I allowed them to bring one each on the trip.
2) They listened to audio books--we brought Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland, and Sherlock Holmes!
3) They napped. Even Daniel napped!
4) They snacked!
5) They massaged Daddy and Mummy, and each other! That was really fun to watch!
6) They did activity cards from "50 Things To Do On A Plane", which Husband wisely bought before the trip.
7) They quizzed each other from Brain Quest, a thoughtful present given to Ben for his birthday
8) They listened awe struck to Husband's wild and wonderful tales from his childhood;
9) And yes. We downloaded Richard Scarry, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Ninjago short videos as "treats" to show 45 mins before arriving at each of our destinations.
Because we had a captive audience (in the car, and for so many hours), we also took the opportunity to talk to the kids about the haze. We drew a lot of points from these websites by Jason Kwek & Pastor Adrin of ARPC.
Some people really hate driving and find it a waste of time. I actually don't really like driving, and anything longer than 2-3 hours really exhausts me. However, this Malaysian Road Trip has been a wonderful experience for the whole family. I was able to manage the tiredness of driving by taking turns with Husband, and I was very grateful that the kids were manageable, despite all the long hauls we were dragging them through.
Sometimes, God does work in mysterious ways. This trip was amazing, and it gave me the break I needed from work and life in Singapore, as well as time to reflect, pray and think about plans for the future. All in all, I thank God for this amazing family holiday, extended mysteriously by the haze!