Part 1 of our 6 city, 3 countries, and 7 flights adventure through Kuala Lumpur, Bali and Singapore did not disappoint! I was apprehensive about the longest travel time of my life plus doing it with two kids (Ellie is two and Bash is three) in tow. Questions running through my head:
- How many changes of kids’ and perhaps parents’ clothes would be soiled due to vomit, pee or poop?
- How many flights would we miss?
- Where would we sleep if we missed said flights?
- Are the kids going to sleep at all on the planes?
- … and so on
With every time we travel, I always assume the worst. On a scale from 0 – 10 where 10 is completely optimistic – expecting everything to go right and 0 is the most negative you can be, assuming the wheels are going to fall off at every turn: I am a 2. My anxiety for this trip was at least productive leading me to do as much prep work as I could. Now, Jessica would find this laughable because she takes care of most everything, but I try to help where I can.
Once again, another travel experience came and went and it was nowhere near the worst case scenario. In fact, everything went pretty much exactly to plan!
It started out by renting a minivan the day ahead of time at home in Saint Louis. The day of (D-day: Destination day?) started just a little early at about 7:30am. We got us out of bed, got the luggage packed into the van, scooped the kids out of bed, plopped ourselves into the van and off we went on our way to Chicago! Fortunately, our timing worked out just right with the one-way van rental, and we were on our way to Tokyo.
The Tokyo airport is magnificent in that it’s clean and there are wonderful lounges. I think we had especially good timing given that we were there around midnight, so the airport was sparsely populated.
But, the lounge… oh the lounge!… was exactly what we needed. We paid our $9 USD per person (kids were free) and headed on into the private bathroom/shower area to shower and get all refreshed. It was soooo worth it after the 12 hr flight!
After the shower the 7 hr flight to Singapore was a breeze. The Singapore Changi airport was another immaculate airport (Why are airports in the US sooo uncomfortable and dirty??). The kids had fun running around the airport as usual. And, Bash grew a real fondness for moving walkways, escalators and elevator. He can spot an elevator from the opposite side of a busy airport shopping mall.
The “short” 3 hr flight to KL went by in no time, and the kids were still going strong. Bash was disappointed to find out that he was on his last airplane ride for this leg of the trip ? But, he couldn’t wait to get on the train.
The train from the KL airport to downtown KL was not too crowded, and the kids loved it. They showed a few signs of being tired – mostly just wanting to go from mom’s lap to dad’s lap and vice versa over and over. But, still being traveling champs.
Every time we arrived back at the Shangri – La hotel was such a pleasant experience, but that first arrival from the 40 hr door to door travel was like arriving at an oasis. Every time we arrived by car at the hotel, about 3 employees would open the car doors, grab a kid or two, grab some bags, and greet us with smiles. What a way to feel welcomed!
We promptly set up Ellie’s travel crib, let them play a bit, then laid down for a very welcome nap! Ahhhh… ?
Morning 1: we were greeted by the most amazing breakfast buffet I’ve ever seen. Probably about 100 different types of food to try organized by region. I love Indian food, so I had to have some spicy tikka masala every morning. I think Bash found the donuts on morning #2; it was no surprise that he was in love.
Jessica was attending a conference, so Grandma, Papa and I got to hang out with the kids during the days. We had a great sight-seeing tour of the city via the Hop-on Hop-off bus. The sidewalks are pretty poor in KL, so that was by far the best way to get around. We didn’t hop off, but the 3 hour tour was still a good way to get some fresh air.
We finally got some Jessica time, and we all went up in the Petronas towers – the tallest towers in the world from 1998 – 2004, but are still the tallest twin towers in the world. We got to spend about 15 minutes on the walkway, then we were escorted up a second elevator to the top observation deck. The views of the city are mesmerizing!
KL is not exactly a comfortable city for traveling with kids: poor sidewalks, lots of construction, and it’s hot! We hardly got to see the city given we were only there for 4 days (so I don’t mean to judge too harshly), but the bird park was really a great experience. It is the largest free-flight walk-in aviary in the world. I’ve never seen so many birds flying around me! It was exciting getting to experience the birds zooming all around us. If we had more time, we’d find more places like that to take the kids.
We discovered Kakigori!! It’s shaved ice but it has the consistency of snow and is tastefully flavored with creamy toppings. And, the final creation is beautiful! Needless to say it was devoured quickly!
Jessica perfectly executed her plan to bring waffle mix and make waffles in the hotel room with only needing to acquire two eggs and some milk. The mini waffle maker she brought worked just as it did in the initial trials at home ? And the final product was tasty, nutritious, needed minimal refrigeration, and was great during travel days.
Food in KL was scrumptious– it’s so much fun to search Yelp in a foreign country and figure out where the next food adventure will be. One night, we were having a hard time finding a restaurant (with poor planning and just walking around hoping to get lucky) and we stumbled into this open air Chinese restaurant. The food… oh the food… so good! Everything was similar to Chinese food back at home in the States, but everything was fresh and just a little different; we can only assume more authentic given many people there looked to be Chinese.
I can’t believe how good the kids did getting over jet lag. The first five days were a tough struggle waking up from naps, but they always recovered pretty quick. There were a few nights we were all up until midnight, but that’s not bad when we switched 11 time zones. That is almost as close to the other side of the world as you can get!
KL won’t be on our list of travel destinations again in the future, but I would fly anywhere to go stay at a Shangri-La. The name is very appropriate!