After the craziest drive from Singapore to Phuket (Read about it here), we arrived at Tri Trang Beach Resort. It is just a 10 minute drive from the famous and bustling Patong Beach which means you get the calm and quiet.
How did we enjoy a beach resort with a 3 month old?
Phuket like most South-East Asian beach resorts don't have advanced public transport like large cities. If you are able, rent a car! If you are adventurous, drive to Phuket from Singapore! We were so thankful we didn't have to haggle with Tuk Tuk/Taxi drivers on the road side and worry about finding a taxi to get around Phuket. If you have a child in toll, DON'T EXPECT to get a good bargain. The drivers know you NEED them. Having your own transport will make the trip far more enjoyable! We were able to venture beyond the resort, visited places like Promthep Cape and enjoyed delicious food outside of Patong Beach.
Get ENOUGH REST! It is very easy to come back from a vacation needing another one because we tire ourselves out with too many activities! We spent the first day sleeping and watching tv, taking our minds off work. Take time to get organised and sort out all the baby stuff like washing towels, sterilising bottles and boiling water. Matthias was being himself, doing what a 3 month old baby does best: Eat, sleep, poop, repeat! We had the luxury of bringing his mattress in the car boot and that meant he slept with no issues!
Enjoy the pool with your little one! Make sure you get that sunblock on for everyone! Babies at 3 month old can enjoy the pool with a neck float! Make sure you don't forget swimming diapers for your little one! You don't want ordinary diapers to leak poo poo in the pool!!! We only took a stroll at the beach and enjoyed the wonderful views
If you are from the 4th most expensive city in the world - Singapore, you know that baby formula is priced exorbitantly. An average price for a 1kg can of milk costs between $40-60 Singapore dollars (USD 30-45). Visit a local supermarket away from the tourist areas if you are able to drive. You can get baby formula at almost half the price in Thailand! We bought a 6 months supply and saved quite a bit! Who doesn't enjoy a bargain?
Since the September school holidays are fast approaching, we are writing a throwback post on the craziest road trip we have gone on in our lives.
Back in 2014, when Matthias was 3 months old, we were dying for a holiday since it was December. We didn't want to shop for winter clothing and weren't too confident with long flights. I have been to Phuket 3 times before this road trip by plane thinking it is an Island disconnected from peninsula Thailand. Google maps proved me wrong and showed us we could do a road trip to Phuket by road!
Going by road means that you are not limited by any liquids rule or by overloading your luggage. The limit will be how large your boot is! We dumped the steam steriliser, Matthias' mattress, bottles, milk and toys all into the car for this trip!
All within an afternoon, all the planning and hotel bookings were done (This was a crazy bold decision!). Phuket is a very popular destination and is in high season between October and December. Try not to visit during May to July because monsoon rains are in full swing and you won't get to enjoy the beaches.
Some things we did to get ready before driving to Thailand:
1. Make sure you recently did engine servicing and everything is in good working order
2. Make sure all tire pressures are optimum
3. Top up the PLUS toll card for use in Malaysia (250RM should cover the return trip)
4. If you are taking your baby along, bring sufficient toys, milk, clean bottles and boiled water
5. A secure carseat for children
6. Print your vehicle log card from www.onemotoring.com.sg (Login with Singpass)
Printing a copy of this is COMPULSORY to purchase your vehicle insurance for Thailand and clearing your import permit with border officials in Thailand (if you are not the owner, please prepare a an authorisation letter with your name to prove you are allowed to drive the vehicle to Thailand)
7. Get enough RM and Baht in cash ready for fuel stops. Some remote petrol stations may not accept foreign cards.
8. Update your satellite navigation device's map.
If you are running mobile data to use google maps, do try to download certain areas on your phone to save data overseas. Sign up for overseas data plans or rent a portable router to save on data charges!
THE 17 HOUR DRIVE
We decided to do a night drive and set off at 10pm so that we can arrive at the Malaysia- Thailand Border early in the morning. The Woodlands-JB checkpoint was also less crowded.
I drove all 17 hours by myself because I was the only licensed driver. I thoroughly enjoyed the long quiet drive in the dark through Malaysia with almost no traffic on the highways because we set off at night. Debra and Matthias slept through most of the night while i enjoyed a nice speedy ride. The perks of bringing a 3 month old on such a road trip is that they only need MILK, SLEEP and DIAPER change! The constant movement of the car is amazing for lulling any baby to sleep!
The car had a tiny fuel tank so we stopped 5 times to refuel. It gave me time to have a quick bite and drink to stay alert during the trip. Make sure no one has to hold their pee! It is one of the most miserable things on a road trip! I stopped once for 15 minutes in a small town somewhere in south Thailand to take a short nap to ward off the ZZZ monster. Safety first!
Advice for drivers: we tend to drive on the right most lane and feel like we are entitled to be there once we hit the max speed limit i.e 80 or 90km/h. Things are quite different in Malaysia and Thailand. When you are in a foreign land, do as the locals do. Even if you are doing 160km/h and see someone flash their lights behind, get out of the way! They can be doing 240km/h and being rear-ended at such high speeds can end in tragedy for everyone. Many south Thai roads (Especially from Phang Nga to Sarasin bridge that links the mainland to Phuket) are very windy single carriageways! Do be alert and don't take turns at very high speed because you can't see what is on the other side of the bend! Pay extra attention because Thai drivers tend to speed.
We crossed from Malaysia to Thailand via the Sadao Border. (Opens at 6am, closes 10pm GMT +8)
Before you cross, do these:
1. Fill up your petrol tank to the brim. Petrol in Malaysia is highly subsidised and is much cheaper than Thailand's
2. At your last filling stop in Malaysia, the petrol stations near the border offer Thailand car insurance and immigration cards (they ask for 2RM a piece). Do fill them all up before u get to the border.
3. Print two copies of the TM2/3 conveyance forms here (these are for the temporary import of a foreign vehicle into Thailand) They will stamp both copies and return one to you. That is the one you have to submit when exiting Thailand. . KEEP IT SAFELY. THERE IS A HUGE FINE for losing it!
4. Don't be perplexed when the immigration officer asks for money. They usually ask for 25Baht for the driver and 5 Baht for each passenger. Just pay up.
5. After passing the immigration and having your passports chopped, do pass by the customs building to settle your vehicle import documents.
6. Adjust your watches 1 hour backwards. Thailand uses the GMT+7 time zone.
I bit off more than I could chew and drove the entire 1350km journey to Phuket in record 17 hours including 5 refuels and snack times. The crazy journey took us on the entire length of the north-south highway passing by, Malacca, KL, Perak ,Penang and Kedah. Settling all the paper work, we got past the Malaysia-Thai border and drove past Hat Yai, Trang, Krabi and Phang Nga before finally crossing a bridge onto Phuket Island. You don't have to be as ambitious as I was to take the entire journey at one go. Stopping by Penang to rest for a day would be great! Back in 2014 we drove our trusty old Nissan Latio all the way without a sleepover stop. It is amazing we survived all this with a 3 month old on board!
More on the time in Phuket itself and the perks of taking your car to Phuket in our next post!
If you enjoyed this post do check out:
New Zealand Adventures here
Falling in Love in London series here
Gwyn only cut her first tooth at 10months and 3weeks. It was quite a challenge bringing a foodie (aka greedy baby) for our overseas trip. The only things that weighed on my mind were meals and nap times.
I would have been less worried if she actually had any teeth during the trip. It meant I could simply order soups/breads/mildly seasoned rice for her to have as her meals. Or she could simply nibble off our meals. Unfortunately, I didn’t have this option.
I didn’t like the idea of feeding her bottled baby food or instant powdered cereals for ALL her meals. So here are some things you can note in the event you’re stuck travelling with a toothless foodie too:
#1 Bring along a handheld blender and/or food scissors
We got our Philips handheld blender before the trip and it has been a lifesaver!
You can easily pop some fresh bananas/mango/apples/oatmeal into a hotel room mug and whizz it up for a quick meal or snack.
#2 Plan to stop by a local market/supermarket on Day 1 of your trip
It's so much cheaper to get fresh produce for your little one! We managed to get a bundle pack of pre-cut asparagus/carrot/baby corn and a small pack of spinach to use for 5 days-worth of meals together with the Heinz baby pasta we had packed for the trip.
#3 Make the most out of your daily breakfast buffet
There’s no need to feel ashamed about saving a couple of bananas, buns or croissants for your little one’s snack later in the day. You’ve paid for it anyway! On days when oatmeal wasn’t part of the buffet spread, we made special requests for the chef to cook up a bowl for Gwyn. You can also use this time to try out new food (within allergy-tested limits) with your child. By day 3 of our trip, we were mostly feeding her plain pancakes and bread pudding for breakfast instead
#4 Bring along an insulated food storage container
Our hotel room had a kitchenette, so we made requests for a saucepan, a chopping board, a knife and a ladle. I made daily meals for Gwyn by blending up boiled baby pasta and veggies and storing them in the food container before heading out around 2pm. The cooked meals are usually recommended to be consumed within 4hrs so you could either schedule earlier meals for your child or substitute bottled/prepacked baby food for dinner if you’re going to be out till late.
If you only have access to a microwave, you could whip up meals easily too.
Water+pasta in a bowl of water on max heat for a couple of minutes = boiled pasta
Water + veggies in a bowl of water on max heat for a few minutes = boiled veggies
Combine everything (throw out excess water), blend them up and you’re good to go!
I must say I was rather satisfied that there wasn’t a single occasion on which I had to deal with a HANGRY baby!
With barely any teeth now even at 11months, she has been begging us for our adult meals. It has been so difficult keeping up with her food requests. Perhaps, I’ll do up visual on what yummy solids you can feed a single-toothed 1yr old in time to come!
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Find useful tips for flying with toddlers/babies and crazy road trip with a baby
Making a family vacation fun for everyone is a bit like trying to get your make-up perfect or make that perfect cup of tea. You can't have it too much, too little, too long and too short. Everyone likes their cup of tea and make-up done differently. Tough huh?
This 5 day trip to Bangkok somehow felt just right for all of us. We weren't tired at the end of the trip and the kids didn't fuss one bit the entire trip. We realised that the key to making family vacations great lie in these 3 secrets:
1. Less is actually more
The point of a family vacation is to spend time with each other. How often do we get to abandon work/chores and give each other 100% quality time? We did exactly that. We were blessed to stay at the 5 star Chatrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok. (This is NOT a paid review). The bigger suite-like room meant we had time to play with the kids and give them the fullest attention.
The morning breakfast was AWESOME. We started every morning with a 1 hour breakfast! It is such a treat to be able to sit down, eat awesome food and just enjoy each other's company. We also had LOTS of pool time with the kids. They had fun splashing, we just soaked and had drinks. A win-win situation!
2. Meet basic needs!
You cannot enjoy a holiday if you were hungry all the time, sleepy and grumpy as well as uncomfortable because you need the toilet. So point 1 (above) is extremely important. We made sure the kids had their naps as much as possible, everyone got the food they liked and no one needed to hold their pee/poop.
3. Find middle ground.
The Sealife Aquarium visit was probably the most memorable and fun for us because everyone enjoyed seeing the amazing sea creatures! Matthias got to collect chops at different exhibits, we were just in awe of the variety of creatures and Gwyneth got to sleep in her stroller fully reclined in the dark + comfy air-conditioned place.
It is not always possible to find an activity that everyone enjoys. It is however always possible to plan it such that everyone gets their turn to do what they enjoy. We visited Asiatique and it was quite a lot of walking. Debra enjoyed the alleys full of local crafts and apparel. Matthias was obviously not too interested in shopping so we threw in a ride on the Ferris wheel on site for him.
When we had a bit more energy, we walked along the Bangkok streets and took in the unique local sights. We even tried their BTS (above-ground city trains) and the famous Tuk-Tuk! When we were tired, we took a taxi! (Always ask if they can run a meter, if they say no, agree on a price before boarding!)
Hope this helps with your next family vacation!
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You can read about our...
New Zealand adventures HERE!
Falling in love London series HERE!
I think flying with kids/babies is one of the most daunting tasks for parents! We will share some tips on how you can fly like a pro with your kids/babies!
Many years back, Debra and I flew Scoot to Gold Coast when they first started with a fleet of old Boeing 777s passed down from Singapore Airlines. We paid for upgrade immediately upon boarding. We are both not taller than 1.66m and it was mad cramped and the aircraft was noisy as hell. The food was horrid too. Imagine a 7.5 hour red eye flight - pure torture!
The memory of our past experience + we have two kids made us quite nervous! We used our Miles to redeem free flights for the whole family so we couldn't be picky. Scoot has since upgraded their fleet. We took an Airbus A320 (small plane) there, it was quite comfortable and not cramped. It was a little dirty though so bring anti-bacterial wet wipes just in case! Our return flight was on a new Boeing 787 Dreamliner and we managed to redeem a Scootbiz (Budget style Business class) ticket. Very comfortable and spacious plus the stewardesses were REALLY friendly and helpful.
Here are some pictures of our awesome fuss-free flights!
Here are some tips to fly like a pro with babies and kids!
100ml Liquids rule don't apply with Baby food/Breast milk. You can bring a food flask and vacuum flask for your baby's milk or porridge! Just tell the security staff that it is for the baby. Most of the time they won't ask you to open it. Pop it into the x-ray scanners and you are good to go.
You can bring your stroller on board if it can be folded into cabin size
(Details under #Hack 2 here)
You will need your stroller because Suvarnabhumi airport is HUGE. We walked almost 15-20 minutes before reaching the immigration queues from the gate.
P.S You can use the ultra fast diplomat special lanes if you are travelling with young children! The Thais are super nice to people with kids. Priority everywhere!
If you are Singaporean and want to use the automated clearance gates at Changi Airport, you CANNOT do that if you are travelling with a baby. Head straight to the priority lane and see an immigration officer instead.
Let your baby drink milk or suck on a pacifier when the plane is taking off. Play the game of "who can yawn with the biggest mouth" game with your toddler. This helps relieve the pressure in their little ears! A new toy/book and fully loaded laptop or iPad will really help them pass time on a budget airline with no in-flight entertainment.
(Details under #Hack 3 here)
There are changing places in most male and female toilets + dedicated baby change areas in Changi Airport. Suvarnabhumi airport doesn't have changing areas in male toilets! So mummies, please take over. Don Mueang airport is REALLY old and run down like going back to 1970s so don't use that airport if possible when booking flights.
Read part 4 about the stuff we did in Bangkok
If you enjoyed this post do check out:
Our Hong Kong trip (Disneyland) with a 6 month old here
Falling in Love in London series here
Vincent & Debra Kwan, Founders of Hiro & Jack and stay-at-home parents with the odd life.
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