24 March 2012, by Tan Yi Lin
We’re back from our trip to Bali aka The One With Coco’s Inaugural Flight.
I know, the topmost question on everyone’s mind is, “So how was it?”
The verdict is: WE SURVIVED! (well, obviously)
As for the truth: … we’ll get to that later at the end of this entry.
But first, here’s a detailed rundown of the trip:
1. The Flight
We chose to fly on Garuda because we wanted the convenience of traveling on a full-service airline. Also because we didn’t feel like paying premium prices to fly on Singapore Airlines.
We picked a morning flight that was scheduled to depart Singapore at 9am and arrive in Bali at 11.30am. This proved to be a good move because it tied in well with Coco’s morning routine and also because she is in the best of moods early in the morning.
Similarly for our return flight, we chose a 6.30pm departure from Bali, which would have us arrive in Singapore at 9pm. This would give us enough time to enjoy our last day in Bali, pack our luggage and get to the airport without having to rush.
The service on Garuda was pretty good. We had requested for a bassinet for Coco so we were allocated seats right at the front of the Economy Class. The seats were comfy enough (as comfortable as it can get up in the air in ‘cattle class’) and we had a decent amount of legroom.
Our only gripe was the slight inconsistency in the baby’s provisions: on the flight up, Coco was given a diaper pack (comprising diaper in a resealable plastic bag, waterproof sheet, wet wipes, powder and a rubber ducky) but no meals. We didn’t mind the lack of food because she usually eats biscuits for breakfast (which we had) and doesn’t like the ready-to-eat purees in the jars anyway. On the flight home, Garuda remembered the food but not the diaper pack and blanket for the bassinet.
I nursed Coco during take-off to prevent pressure from building up in her ears and causing her any pain throughout the flight. It worked like a charm and she was a happy baby for the entire two and a half hours onboard. She explored the plane (her favourite being the shiny clasps on her bassinet that said ‘Open To Release’, ate her biscuits (or rather, bludgeoned her poor bunny with a stone-hard teething rusk) and slept.
I get the baby; he gets the bunny
2. The Villa
We had a booked a three-bedroom private pool villa to accommodate three couples and two babies.
One point to note about private villas: these, while spacious, are often situated in remote locations away from the main shopping and F&B strip. So getting around may be a challenge. We shared the cost of renting a seven-seater MPV and were fortunate that our friends were willing to drive the group around throughout our five days in Bali. Do note also that all rental cars in Bali are manual.
Enjoying the spacious grounds and private pool in our villa
The generous living area proved to be ideal for babies – and frazzled parents – in that nobody suffered cabin fever throughout our stay. We had plenty of space to set up a dedicated play area for Coco and Cristan, away from ‘dangers’ such as the kitchen and swimming pool areas. The villa came with a high chair and the local agent handling the villa booking also arranged for two cots to be provided (at an extra cost).
… and Cristan too, if he hadn’t decided to make an obstacle course out of it and get stuck midway.
While Coco usually has cereal and porridge at home, we decided to take the cue from Mandy and embark on baby-led weaning during the trip. Coco showed a keen interest in new foods and had a good mix of pasta, bread, potato, fruit, biscuits and milk throughout the trip. In fact, she liked ‘adult’ food so much that she rejected her baby cereal and screamed for our bread! As for us, we enjoyed some really good food at some nice restaurants such as Ultimo and Metis. Plus, I was pleasantly surprised that all the restaurants that we went to provided high chairs upon request.
The part I loved most about the trip was introducing Coco to new experiences. It was so much fun to watch her enjoy herself in Bali.
Swimming in our villa pool
This isn’t new: refusing to let go of her frog float
Discovering the pleasures of having chilled watermelon dripping down your elbows while dangling your feet in the pool
She was also more sociable as compared to two months ago in Bintan and often reached out to touch and play with Cristan and our friends.
I was a bunch of frazzled nerves for most part of the trip because there always seemed to be so many things to do i.e. feed baby, clean poop, pack diaper bag, bathe baby, put baby to bed, go out, eat, etc. I must admit that I wasn’t very good company because of this, especially when dining out because almost all restaurants in Bali are non-airconditioned and I was forever feeling hot and sweaty while carrying Coco around.
I also made the mistake of bringing my office laptop to Bali in hope of getting some work done but I was simply either too tied up with the baby or tired out by her to do any. Plus, I wanted to spend any free time that I had socialising with friends.
6. What Went Well
We’re pretty happy that we accomplished certain little things on this trip and are feeling good about it:
– We didn’t forget to bring ANYTHING! 🙂
– For the first time ever, I showered the baby alone, without the use of a bathtub nor the husband’s assistance.
– We both managed to visit the spa (albeit on different days) for a Balinese massage, traditional lulur scrub and a relaxing flower bath. It would have been much nicer if we could have enjoyed a couple session, but hey, I’m happy enough with how things went.
7. What could be done better
– More clothes for Coco. I had *just* enough sets of clothes – and this is after I washed some outfits during the trip. I simply didn’t expect her to go through so many outfits in a day.
She’s not posing sweetly: she’s trying to pull her hat off
– We should have been better prepared for traffic jams because being stuck in traffic meant that the babies had to nap in the car. So clothes had to be sleep-friendly and Coco unfortunately, had to put up with the metal clasps and press studs of her overalls poking into her.
– It’s also a good idea to check the local calendar for cultural festivals, such as Nyepi – the Hindu New Year – where everything is closed. We barely missed the onset of Nyepi in Bali and had to suffer major road congestion due to processions leading up to the festival.
Zipping off to the airport and back home just before Nyepi
– We learnt that while not scheduling any activities in advance meant that we were free and easy to go with the flow, it also meant that we often ended up not doing anything at all because we were always waiting for one baby to get changed, or to wake up, or to feed, etc. It would have been better if we had a rough programme for each day so that everybody could make the effort to get ready to depart the villa on time.
We didn’t make it to the beach due to a cyclone hitting Bali (really!) so this is the only proof that we have of us being at the uber-chic Potatohead beach club in Seminyak
8. Poop Happens
And it WILL happen just as you are leaving for airport; when you are All packed; and it WILL leak all over your baby’s last flight-friendly outfit.
Poop WILL also happen while you are enjoying a nice breakfast or dinner at nice spiffy restaurants, which do not provide a parents’ room for diaper changes.
Traveling with a baby is incredibly tiring. Always schedule down time during the trip to rest and recover. I was also glad that I was on leave from work for one more day after we returned to Singapore as I really needed the extra rest before I returned to the office.
10. Always Wash The Casserole Dish
I’ll leave Mandy to tell you all about this one.
All in all… it really was a good trip. The truth is, I would be lying if I said that I enjoyed myself at all times during the trip. There were instances where I wished that I was in the comfort of home and my parents and helper to take Coco off my hands. But I’m glad that everything went smoothly, and that Coco was generally well-behaved, and that we shared many a good laugh and fun times with our friends.
While sharing a private pool villa with our friends was really nice, if we ever travel alone as a family, I would opt for a hotel room in a large resort – simply because it’s more conveniently located, has more staff to tend to your needs 24/7, has dining options within the resort and might probably be better maintained and safer due to the presence of security personnel.
To end off, here are some of my favourite photos from Bali:
That’s my girl 🙂
One for the family album: WE DID IT!