29 July 2016, by Joel Chng
My first family holiday was to Bali in June, for a childhood friend’s destination wedding. As first-time parents, we were excited yet nervous.
A few days before our flight, my wife Petrina scoured the I Love Children blog and read every article tagged with ‘travel list‘ and ‘travelling with baby‘, before coming up with a list of items to pack for our nine-month-old son Ezra.
After doing Internet research and getting opinions from people who recently visited Bali, we decided to leave our umbrella stroller in Singapore and bring a soft-structured baby carrier instead. As we wanted a hands-free commute, we borrowed a friend’s backpack to serve as our diaper bag throughout our trip.
We stayed in three hotels during our eight days in Bali – two nights in Nusa Dua, three nights in Seminyak and two nights in Kuta. All three hotels provided baby cots and we rented a stroller from the hotel in Kuta, as that was where we did the most walking.
Every morning, we would spend a leisurely hour at the hotel’s breakfast buffet –Ezra would be fed papaya, watermelon or apples from the fresh fruits section. After breakfast we usually returned to the hotel room for Ezra to take his morning nap.
When planning for this trip, I wanted very much to maximise our time out of the hotel room but Ezra needed two naps a day. Our solution to that? We tried not to venture too far or for too long – if we did, we would stop at a mall or somewhere air-conditioned for Ezra to take a nap in the baby carrier.
Three highlights from our trip:
1) The Balinese hospitality.
We were amazed at the warmth of the people in Bali, who seemed to really love babies! Ezra received a lot of attention and smiles everywhere we went – from passersby to shopkeepers to taxi drivers. We were especially impressed with the hotel staff, who made the effort to interact with Ezra and enthusiastically greeted him by name. Travelling with a baby has its perks, too – one hotel extended a late check-out to us (4pm instead of noon), while another hotel gave Ezra their signature stuffed toy as a parting souvenir.
2) Ezra’s babbling became more speech-like.
During the trip, Ezra babbled with greater variety. It seemed like he was having daily conversations with us, telling us what he saw and heard. It was a joy listening to his “ah”, “ba” and “ya” sounds with intonations. We enjoyed watching him communicate, and it was amusing because he had accompanying facial expressions and body language (mostly bouncing up and down).
3) Watching Ezra adapt to the new environment.
It was a trip of many firsts, but my favourite memory happened on our last day in Bali, when Ezra fell asleep on my shoulder during our hour-long walk back to the hotel. Despite the scorching noonday sun, Ezra adapted well and did not fuss a single bit even though he was sweaty and visibly tired. That moment was incredibly heartwarming for me, as Ezra usually sleeps only when nursed or rocked.
To be honest, if not for our friend’s wedding, I would not have suggested going on a family holiday. This is because Ezra was too young to remember any of it. However, our first visit to Bali was such an enjoyable experience that I found myself thinking about the next Bali holiday even before we returned to Singapore!