I am mindful when writing this that I may be giving the wrong impression. Mainly, that travelling with a family is ultra easy and life is all roses. When blogging, it is easy to stick to the highlights with some really low lowlights thrown in occasionally. It’s not like anyone wants to read about the more mundane aspects of our lives. However, naturally a lot of our day is spent on mundane and, at times, unpleasant tasks. Our kids are just 1 and 2. They are a lot of work and, at times, very frustrating. Just like they are at home. There is just some different challenges and much bigger rewards.
The impression that I do want to give is that having young kids does not make travel impossible. In fact, it is still lots of fun and quite accessible. Just different to what you may be used to. I think one of the keys to success of travelling with kids is having realistic expectations. So, I thought I would write a post about a day in our lives to give a better picture of what travel with kids is like. Once I decided this, I decided there was no time like the present, so I started writing about today. There is no typical day at the moment, part of what I love about travel.
Unfortunately, I decided this in the morning and, although the morning was a bit tougher than usual, I didn’t realise today was going to be one of the hardest days of our trip, and thankfully not a typical day at all. I had already written a fair chunk of this and the idea of throwing it out was too much for me, so instead, this will be an example of a day that is as hard as it has got on this trip so far. I did say I would write about the good, the bad and the ugly, so here it is. It was pretty crap, but really not all that bad. We still got to see and do cool things, and the bad is already mostly erased from my brain. Bad days are far more common for me at home. It’s important to keep these days in perspective.
Anyway here we go!
S woke me up just before 6am (after a few wake ups during the night, one of which was after she fell out of the bed although she somehow slept through this!). We both went into the lounge room, but it wasn’t long before Z woke up as well. Both kids played for awhile, until J got up and gave them weetbix. S and I then went to get some yummy bakery treats from a nearby “bread top” style bakery.
We cut up the food and all ate some back in our apartment. We got ready to go out (always a time consuming task).
About 8:30am, us, a big backpack of stuff for the kids and the pram, walked down the 5 flights of stairs in our apartment building and headed to the train. I was a bit reluctant about taking the pram on peak hour train, but we felt we needed it for the zoo.
It was another dreary day in Taipei. It is basically drizzling (with patches of heavier rain) all the time.
The first part of the train journey was annoying – we needed to catch three different trains, and we had to change after going only one station on the first two. Being peak hour, the trains and stations were full of people, with lines to get on the trains. S lost it a few times, making it all the more painful. With some threats of time out and a lot of embarrassment, we finally made it on our third and final train where we could give her my iphone to play with (and Z his magnetic drawing board), and it was all a lot more pleasant! It is hard to get on and off trains and between platforms with the two kids plus a folded up pram in very crowded conditions.
This final train was a monorail, so it was more interesting as well.
We all got off, waited for everyone else to go and then made our way out of the station and to the next door zoo. Thankfully, this was all easy peasy, especially when we found out that we could use our easycard (metro card) to enter the zoo. We were soon inside the zoo.
I had read about a mini train, so we headed to this, thinking it would give us a good overview of the zoo, as we knew the kids wouldn’t be up for walking around all of it. We found it but it seemed to say that it was just going to the gondola (an activity we wanted to afterwards, but not right now). So we left the “train” and kept walking.
We found ourselves at the pandas which was a lucky break as what we are most interested in. Hardly anyone was around and we felt like we had them to ourselves!! One was in the outside part of their enclosure and the other on the inside. They were both sooo cute and I could straight away see why pandas get so much attention. The kids also loved watching them.
However, before I got to see the inside panda, I had to race back to the entrance where there was a 7/11 to get S something to eat as she kept complaining (loudly, but she only ever does anything loudly). The situation was rapdily escalating, so there wasn’t much choice. This took awhile as the entrance was now full of many crazy school groups. While I was there, I went to the loo and saw this great sign next to the toilet:
Interesting… I guess.
We then walked to the rainforest area. This is where things went downhill. I tried to get S out of the pram, so she could walk around and actually see things. She lost it. And we lost about 15 minutes while she either ran away or laid on the ground screaming in front of a whole class of Taiwanese school children :-/ Nothing would make her happy. In the end, she was forcibly strapped into the pram (quite a task in itself) and put in “time out” by being positioned to face nothing. We talked about leaving, but Z was enjoying the zoo so much that this seemed really unfair. Instead, we walked around without talking or looking at S until she calmed down and wanted to join in again.
S acted like nothing had happened and was soon enjoying the animals. This is her with the elephants 🙂 I guess this illustrates well the dramas and rewards of travelling with a two year old. Her delight in things is so wonderful and really makes the trip. However, her tantrums and carry on makes some moments very hard, and some activities pointless.
She got sick of it quickly and wanted to leave. It started raining again, and we felt we had no choice but to move on. The promise of the mini train kept her moving a bit longer.
We got on the mini train and then a shuttle bus heading to the gondala. There was some carry on when S had to get off the train. The joys! Z continued to have a great time, though, and looooved the mini train.
S was still not happy – so i told her we were going on a plane. Well, a gondola is kind of like a plane?! Ok, so may not, but she was suitably impressed when she did see the gondolas. I was not as impressed when it turned out we had to share the gondola with someone. The poor man. It was about 10:30am by now.
Thankfully, the gondola ride went smoothly. Both kids enjoyed it and so did we.
At the top, it was quite cold and S was whinging about walking again (as in she wouldn’t) and about being hungry. We found a hawker area across the road and had some lunch. We didn’t really know what anything was, but thankfully some pointing got us some yummy food that was kid friendly (ie not spicy).
It was then all the way back in the gondola and then the train. The kids were well behaved and no problems for this part of the journey. Z slept through part of it, and S was in full on charming mood, telling me how pretty my hair, glasses and eyes are!
Instead of taking 3 different trains to get home, we took one and then had a fast 20 minute walk, which we broke up with some more food. Back at the apartment, I got S up the five flights of stairs easily, by telling her about the present I had bought for her at the zoo (a small panda toy). We were back about 1:30pm.
We were all well and truly exhausted. We put the kids to bed and J left to check out the National Palace museum (its about an hour away including 3 trains and a bus, so not one we want to take the kids to).
It usually takes about an hour to get them to actually go to sleep. An hour and a half later, they still weren’t asleep and Z kept crawling out. I gave up on enjoying my beer and working on this blog and gave into their demands to get out of bed.
It was 3pm, and we had a sushi and fruit snack.
They ate and played together. Z ended up getting so tired that he totally lost it at 4:30pm and finally went back to bed and to sleep. I had half an hour of peace while S watched the ipad.
A bit after 5pm, Z was up screaming and with his second big diarrhea for the afternoon 🙁 I couldn’t calm him. J finally got home and ended up looking after Z while S and I went to dinner. While we were gone, Z did another diarrhea and seemed quite ill 🙁 When I got back home, he was white as a sheet, poor darling.
S and I went to dinner at a yummy semi posh yum cha place nearby. She was very happy and in high spirits. Perhaps too high, as she was being very loud and chatty and kept getting off her seat to give me hugs. She ended up moving her seat over next to me. I felt like I was getting disapproving looks from the waiting staff – I barely ever see kids S’s age here, except at the park, and when I do, they are quiet and the complete opposite of my little girl. It is hard in these situations, as I’m not sure what exactly I can do to quieten her down, and I don’t really want to. There were no other diners near us, so it’s hard to understand why it’s a problem. It’s probably the one aspect I am not liking about Taiwan.
Anyway, we survived. Our dinner came… omg it was so absolutely delicious. I ordered something that I had thought was so so good the day before, but it was totally eclipsed by the sweet and sour chicken. I had no idea it could taste so good, may be best chicken I have ever had.
My joy over this was short lived. Not long after we started eating, S suddenly looked all alarmed and said she needed to go to the toilet. I got straight up and pulled her up too. The waitress seemed to understand what the problem was and pointed towards the toilets….
but it was too late. wee everywhere. I was mortified.
Usually, we go out everywhere with a big backpack that includes a change of clothes for S, but since it was just the two of us (and most things in the backpack are for Z), I hadn’t bothered with it. This meant that I couldnt even change her.
I was mortified. I didn’t know what to do as I had just started eating the most delicious and expensive meal yet. So we sat back down, I wiped S’s legs with a serviette (she had a dress on which was basically dry, and I just had to leave her undies on). We finished eating.
I was too embarrassed to even look at the waiting staff but I could tell that they were annoyed. It probably didn’t help that they no doubt thought S was 6 or something (she was bigger than the younger primary school kids at the zoo). They kept coming back and mopping more, which I thought was rude and just making a point after the first time or two.
Eventually, we finished and raced out after paying. I took S straight to the supermarket to get wine. It was necessary. There was not much of a selection.
We got back to the apartment to find Z looking white as a sheet and to find out he was definitely sick 🙁 S and I had a shower and then the battles to get her to sleep started. This was about 7pm.
Thankfully, she was asleep about 8pm. This is early at the moment (usually about 9:30pm). The one good aspect of no nap today. Z went down easily thankfully.
Then the wine was opened. It tasted like non alcoholic detergent with a dash of blackcurrant juice :-/ I was just not going to win today.
So, that was my day. More good than bad, and if it hadn’t been for Z getting sick and S’s toilet accident, then I think I still would have summed it up as a good day, even with the mega tantrums. These are all things that could have happened at home. Anyway, I hope to have a typical day blogged about soon, although next time I will wait until the day is over before I start, so I don’t jinx myself again!
Read more about Taipei here – it wasn’t all bad!