Tag Archives: travel

My Beach Holiday

Beach holidays with kids are the best. Sand, sunshine, swimming, collecting shells, building sandcastles (I get pretty serious about mine!). An added bonus, the boys always sleep well after a day swimming and running around.

We recently spent a week in Da Nang, Vietnam, and it is without a doubt my new favourite destination. Da Nang is the third largest city in Vietnam, and only a thirty minute drive to the charms of Hoi An. Da Nang itself has some good restaurants and is relatively easy to get around, unlike our trip to Ho Chi Minh City, which with the two boys was a bit of a nightmare.

We stayed at Premier Village Danang– a lovely resort situated perfectly on My An Beach. Our villa came with its own pool, kitchen, living room and two bedrooms. The facilities at the resort were fantastic. The communal pool was huge, right next to the beach with a swim up bar. The beach was stunning, the resort provided buckets, spades and all types of things for building sandcastles. There were floaties, boogie boards and life vests for the less confident swimmers.

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IMG_5887The kids club was just up from the pool, a two storey villa, filled with toys, craft and colouring and Xboxes games and movies for the kids. Xavier would have been happy to spend most of his days there.

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I managed some quiet time at the very nice resort spa (highly recommend an hour long massage!), there was a gym we didn’t try and various other activities (yoga, etc.) for guests.

We had the buffet breakfast and a couple dinners at the resort, and then did a little research and headed out to Da Nang for a few meals.

Fat Fish is a two story Asian/Mediterranean fusion restaurant in Da Nang (10 min drive from the resort). The service were fantastic, a great place to take kids as they have a relaxed atmosphere, high chairs and have a lot of options for fussy little eaters . It was very easy to see why this place is the #1 rated restaurant in Da Nang on Trip Advisor. The boys loved their pizza and I was more than content with my ‘Lazy Pig’, pork cutlet with tagliatelle and roasted tomato sauce. The food wasn’t particularly modern, but it was delicious, simple and unpretentious. We sat upstairs and had a lovely view of the river and sunset.

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IMG_5918We had a relaxed lunch at Waterfront Da Nang Restaurant and Bar. Modern, spacious and with fantastic views of the Han River, we had a lovely lunch at this establishment. Burgers, beer, good coffee, hummus and pita, Vietnamese spring rolls, zucchini and squash pasta. A satisfying, delicious hour spent here.

After a few days on the beach, we took a 45 min bus ride to Hoi An. Hoi An is a major tourist attraction in Vietnam, due to its history (prior to the late 18th century Hoi An was a major trading city in south-east Asia, particularly with Japanese and Chinese merchants) and the stunning, well preserved architecture which is truly a unique combination of foreign and local influences. The old town of Hoi An was declared a World Heritage Site in 1999.

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Unfortunately for us, taking a four year old and an almost two year old with limited (I’m being kind, zero!) attention span around narrow streets, through History, Ceramics and Folklore Museums is virtually impossible. We contented ourselves with having a good look at the Japanese Covered Bridge, emblematic of Hoi An, originally constructed in the 1590s. We had a wander around the streets, taking in the hustle and dogged pestering of the locals selling touristy ceramics, toys and cards from their shophouses. We bought some fruit at Marcel’s insistence from a little old lady, and stumbled upon a truly gorgeous little childrenswear shop, Copenhagen Delights. I bought the boys some lovely, high quality clothes there.

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We stopped by The Cargo Club for a lovely lunch, pastries and ice-cream. I was dying to try Mia Coffee, known as the best place to get a good coffee in Hoi An, but both boys were not cooperating. Back we headed to the resort.

We spent another couple of days at the resort, swimming, running around the beach, building sandcastles, watching movies, relaxing. It was hard to come back to Singapore and leave this magical holiday spot behind. But we will be back.

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My Neo Life

AN

xo

My Top 10 Toys to take on the Plane with Kids

It’s that time of year in Singapore. The international schools are on their summer break, its hot and humid (even more so than usual, that is!), and most of the playgroups and sports classes are on hiatus. Many of my expat friends have disappeared to Europe, US or Australia to see their families or take a long family holiday.

We are well-versed on the art of travelling with kids. More is better. Bringing out toys or snacks one at a time is a must. Keeping as much of the kids routine intact on the plane as possible (dinner, PJ’s on, brush teeth, story, milk, sleep). Xavier at 3.5 is easy, happy with an iPad, a movie, a snack. I still bring toys etc to occupy him, but on the most part he is a dream. Marcel at 1.5 is hard work. Stubborn, confident, distracted and wilful. Hence my need for oversupply of options to keep his active little mind engaged.

For those struggling to think of ideas of what to bring on a plane with their little ones, here are my top 10 Toys/Activities to take on a plane.

Playdough – It’s amazing how long I can get out of a couple small tubs of playdough and a few cutters and rollers!

Books – I always bring 2 lift the flap books for Marcel and one of Xavier’s favourite (longer read) books.

Stickers – They will end up everywhere, but will keep the kiddos entertained. Ideally one with a sticker book.

Mini Puzzle – The best we have found are small (9 piece ) puzzles you can colour in, great craft and activity for 3 +

Activity Books – Xavier loves activity books (word finds, mazes, colouring). Marcel will have a scribble of a wipe clean book, or a felt/magnet book works well.

A bag of small toys – I usually pack a lunch bag with a variety of small toys – takes ages for them to sift through.

Duplo or Lego – a small zip lock bag of Duplo for under 3, Lego for 3+ works a treat. You will likely spend a good deal of time hunting under the seats for all the pieces, but it will definitely give you a few happy moments with the kids!

Etch A Sketch – Just a small one. Marcel loves scribbling and pulling the lever to wipe the screen clean.

Finger Puppets – Easy to carry and interactive. Trying to get the puppets on their chubby little fingers is half the fun.

Giftwrap a New Toy – Gift wrap a new toy for the plane (matchbox car, dinosaur, something small). Only bring it out when all other avenues are exhausted. Unwrapping is half the fun.

FullSizeRenderHopefully this list will provide some respite!

Happy travelling.

My Neo Life

AN

xo

My Tasmanian home.

We just returned to Singapore from our holiday, a friend’s wedding in Tasmania. My family moved to Tassie from Blue Mountains NSW when I was 13. They live in the Huon Valley (south of Hobart where all the apple and cherry orchards are found). I spent high school and uni there. And every time I go home to visit my Mum and Dad, my family and my oldest and dearest friends, I remember why I love it so much.

Its one of those places where you know everyone (or they know your sister, or your mum or your friends…). Even though it has been 10 years since I left and moved to Sydney, I still go home and can’t walk down the street without seeing someone I know (the downside of this – you can’t leave the house without looking decent, you’ll run into someone you haven’t seen in 10 years!).

Xaiver and Marcel have the time of their lives when we visit my mum and dads place. There are places to run and jump and hide. A swing. Animals. Nana and Pa. Great Granny (Gigi), lives next door and always has presents for both of them. Aunties and Uncles to amuse them (and give Mum and Dad a bit of a break!) The river is only a few hundred metres away with beautiful scenery. The weather is usually cool, a welcome change from Singapore’s sticky, unchanging humidity. We can head further south to the Tahune Airwalk (treetop walk overlooking the Huon River). We eat like kings. We can visit the Bonorong Wildlife Park and feed the wallabies. MONA Winery and Museum (where we were for my friend’s wedding) is only a short drive or ferry from Hobart. We are guilty of not showing the boys more of Tassie when we are there (Freycinet, Cradle Mountain, Bruny Island, etc etc), but find that with all the people to see we usually run out of time. But there is always the next trip (only 4 weeks away this time, back for my sister’s wedding!).

Seeing friends from home at home is also just the best. You reminisce about old times. Give each other crap the way you always did. Notice how some have stayed the same, others have changed, but you are still close, you have history, you know they are people who will be in your life forever.

My Neo Life

AN

xo

My Travelling Life.

Living the life of an expat means one thing for me. Travel. Travel to see your family, travel to explore your new country or region. When we lived in the Caribbean in our pre kiddo existence we would head off every 6 weeks or so. New York. Los Angeles. Toronto. London. Cuba. Jamaica. Sydney. The flights were sometimes long, sometimes delayed. I once booked a connecting flight and mixed my ams and pms up and spent a night at the Miami airport. I read a lot of books. Watched a lot of movies. Drank.

Life travelling with kids is so different. Delayed flights go from being a mild irritation to a quick calculation of adjusted sleep times. Snack, nappy and toy inventory. I no longer saunter around the airport buying duty free makeup, stocking up on magazines and sneak in a cheeky vino prior to the flight. I no longer wear a cute outfit and bring all my toiletries for a quick re do of my makeup before landing.

Having said that it’s not all bad. The upside constantly taking the kids on flights (Marcel had his first international flight at 12 days old!), is that you and they are well trained on the drill. You know what to expect. You know what to do to keep them happy on a plane. You know exactly what and what not to bring. And you also lose the anxiety of what will happen on the plane. Because you know after a few short hours it’s all over. You have arrived.

Xavier, at 3, absolutely loves flying. He knows the drill. He insists on bringing “Dog” his favourite toy who has been on every flight with him. As soon as he is seated he will pop his headphones on and watch a movie or kids programme. He has a drink and snack. Sometimes a nap. Does his colouring. Plays with his dinosaurs. Really, he is a dream. Marcel is at the age where his attention will only be on one thing for a maximum of a couple minutes before he is onto his next. He needs lots of toys, snacks, attention. My husband and I will take turns occupying him and given Xavier can amuse himself for a period of time, with any luck we can both can now (almost!) fit in a movie and eat our meal on the plane.

I have learnt to always bring more rather than less. Don’t just bring a bottle of milk and a toy. I have a Mary Poppins bag of epic proportions, crammed with toys, extra clothes, snacks, treats, IPad, books, colouring books, crayons, wet wipes. And always a change of clothes for Mum and Dad (I learnt that the hard way!).

I also learnt that the timing of the flight is critical. For us, night flights are avoided like the plague. The kids will sleep ok, but you never do. Arriving at your destination with two tired kids and two sleep deprived parents does not a fun holiday make. We love morning flights. Earlier the better. Waking the kids up for a flight usually means by the time you board, they are close to needing a nap. With any luck we can have both boys sleeping at the same time. Heaven.

I am still conscious that our boys can disturb fellow passengers on planes. I really try to keep them 100% happy to minimise the irritation to others (I have been on flights where I have received the eye roll when a single guy is seated next to us). I take great satisfaction when someone comments on how well they have behaved when we are disembarking. But you know what I have learned? If we do have a meltdown, if we do have a nappy disaster, if our flights are crazy delayed. We will still make it. We will still enjoy our holiday. And the people on our flight may be bothered by our crying babies, but they will still get wherever they need to. To their holiday, their business meeting, their home. And you are very likely to never see them again.

In three short weeks we are off to Tasmania for a friend’s wedding. We have a few days in Sydney to break up the flight and see family and friends on the way. My Mary Poppins bag will be at the ready.

My Neo Life

AN

xo

First Flight with two boys