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Travelling with children in Asia

Our children are 4 and 6 years old respectively and we like to travel. In 2012 we spent 2 months exploring parts of Europe together and our son turned 3 in Italy so we needed lots of nappies, changes of clothes, mattress protectors etc. As you can imagine we had a lot of luggage. The trip was a big success in every way;

  • it broadened horizons,
  • we lived for 1 month in Bologna and got to know that lovely city in a way that evades the casual tourist,
  • it gave us two a break from work and daily routines,
  • We had the opportunity to live with my family in rural Poland for 17 days,
  • we had our first block of time together as a family, and
  • our children still talk about aspects of the trip.

Having cut our teeth so to speak on an easy destination like Europe (we hold European passports and speak a few European languages between us), we decided to try something more challenging this time. Our children are learning Bahasa Indonesian at school and Indonesia is one of Australia’s closest neighbors, so we decided to venture into the unknown for an Asian adventure. We found very cheap flights from Denpasar to Sydney so we bought those then started to build the trip backwards. We ordered the Lonely Planet Guide to Indonesia and discovered that we can only get 30 day visas on arrival but we are away for 5 weeks so we decided to start in Malaysia where we could speak the same language and become accustomed to the culture.

On Christmas Eve 2013 we flew to Pulau Penang and began our adventure (you can read my daily posts under the Travel menu). Our children have been excellent travellers in many ways on this trip:

  1. They maintain positive attitudes regardless of the situation, for example while my daughter and I were stranded on the roadside near Ipoh in the hot sun for over an hour while buses refused to stop for us, she didn’t despair or complain,
  2. They haven’t shown strong signs of culture shock. Their biggest complaint is about the smell of sewers and toilets but they have cheerfully adapted to using squat toilets, always being stared at, photographed and touched by strangers, and moving on every 3 or 4 days to a new ‘home’,
  3. They are quite discrete, opting to whisper in my ear when they see something usual like an amputee or a person with dwarfism,
  4. We haven’t had any travel sickness in our daily use of myriad vehicles and they cheerfully adapt to whatever seating and seat belt arrangements are/not available,
  5. We bought tablets before the trip to make up for the Air Asia lack of screens, so occasionally we have 2 smart phones and 2 tablets in use but mostly our children are entertaining themselves and aren’t using any screens (we have minimal screen time and no TV at home),
  6. They have reinforced and built on their vocabularies and pronunciation in Bahasa Indonesian and delight strangers by speaking with confidence and charm.

Our only real problem is their refusal to eat most foods. Somehow my husband and I have bred children with very unadventurous palates. As a result our children have abandoned their normally palaeo-friendly diet and are subsisting on grains and fruits. Ho hum I just hope that they eat a more balanced diet when we get home.

So far, according to my 4 year old son, the highlights of our trip have been:

  1. Swimming,
  2. Taman Safari drive through zoo,
  3. Pulau Pangkor for its resort and beaches,
  4. Tangkuban Perahu volcano,
  5. Sari Ater Hot Spring Resort,
  6. Kuala Lumpur Bird Park and feeding the parrots,
  7. Catching a boat to Pulau Pangkor National Park and having a barbecue lunch on the beach, and
  8. Getting presents from santa on Pulau Penang

Today marks the halfway point of our trip. We are planning from day to day and booking as we go thanks to good 3G networks in Malaysia and Indonesia and I hope that the rest of our trip will be as comfortable and successful as it has so far!


5 comments on “Travelling with children in Asia

  1. jack miko
    January 11, 2014

    if u like heritage, u can come to yogyakarta. have more history temple.

    • strivetoengage
      January 11, 2014

      Thanks Jack for the advice! We are actually on the train to Yogya from Bandung right now 🙂

      • jack miko
        January 13, 2014

        Thanks very much, u come to Jogja.if u want natural view Gunung Kidul is good place, Temple u can visit Borobudur, Prambanan, Boko. History Kingdom please visit Sultan Palace, Tamansari, &Kotagede.

      • strivetoengage
        January 13, 2014

        Thanks for the excellent tips!

  2. tumorotak
    January 11, 2014

    Terimakasih infonya gan

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This entry was posted on January 11, 2014 by in Asia, family and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .
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