Given A’s “cry baby” nature, I had to convince S to let me bring A along to our annual family trip to Hong Kong. S is worried that he will cry his lungs out on the flights and hence cause attract unnecessary stares from other passengers. I told him that yes, he may cry but it’s also a good chance to train him to be more sociable and get used to strangers. So I promised to train him before the trip so that he’s used to large crowds and not be so “cowardy” in terms of “stranger anxiety”.
The daily trips downstairs proved to work. I guess the constant exposure made him more comfortable of “non-threatening” strangers and now he merely stares at them instead letting it all out by crying. Mind you, his cries can be deafening and you wouldn’t want to be near him when that happens.
So he behaved well during the flights and all I can say is that I’m just so glad that it worked out fine. The only thing was that, with two babies in tow, I didn’t get to go to my usual shopping pilgrimage hunts at all. But well, all was worth it when I saw the smiles on both L’s and A’s faces at Disneyland. I can see that the kiddos and the oldies (my in-laws were on the trip too) were happy during the trip. That’s what matters most.
After a few nights of disappointment of not catching the northern lights, we were down to the final night. It’s a make it or break it kinda thing. I prayed hard that our trip would end on a high note of the light sighting. On our way up to the mountains, my heart was pounding wildly. I could literally hear my heartbeat in the silence of the wintry, snowy night.
When we got into the mountain top café, as I was removing my hood, beanie, scarf, balaclava, 2 layers of gloves etc; I told S that if we didn’t see it this trip, we will make another trip to Iceland next month in January. I was that desperate. We kept our hopes high even though the sky was overcast. We went for the 30-minute guided tour/talk on the Aurora Borealis and came back out to have a cup of cocoa.
Then suddenly, someone shouted “Aurora! Aurora!” and we quickly don the multiple pieces of apparels that we just removed minutes ago and gulped down the hot cocoa.
We dashed out of the café and trod on the shin-high snow and there we were, captivated by the beautiful dance of the aurora. It was just a slight appearance of swaying green lights but that’s enough for us at that moment. I was thrilled. S quickly asked me turn around for a quick photo snap. It was not a great picture given the conditions of dim lighting and snowing surrounding. But it was really enough for me. I was just too happy to able to tick one of the last items off my bucket list. I said a quick thank you prayer of course. Mission accomplished.
The next day was equally adventurous. We went to the Polar Park and saw reindeers in person. We initially mistook the moose as reindeer. Lol! Anyway, the reindeers were allowed to roam freely and “co-exist” with us in the park. That was quite an experience on its own.
The highlight of the Park was the private visit to the wolves enclosure. Looking at them from outside the fence, they look like super large dogs with enormous jaws (not to mention sharp teeth). The rangers explained to us that the wolves will come very near to sniff us and they may even “greet” us by leaping onto our crossed yet outstretched arms. They warned us not to make any sudden moves or sounds that may startle them. The usually animal-phobic me was so terrified at that moment and I could not imagine going into the same space as the wolves. I backed out. One of the rangers told me that it’ll be an experience of my lifetime if I were able to pluck up the courage and do it. I psyched myself up and braved through, holding my breath throughout. I kept telling myself not to scream, not to move suddenly.
We were allowed into the enclosure, so it’s just us (with two rangers) and the wolves. True enough, the five of them came really close and sussed us out by sniffing our legs. Some of the leapt onto S’s arms and once S knelt on one knee, one of them went up to his face and licked him. Yikes! I can never imagine doing that, ever, not even for a million dollars.
Then the rangers started howling like them and soon after, they gathered around us and started their symphony of howls. It was really surreal, like in the movies, except that we are in the movie this time. What a haunting sound! We were so mesmerized by their howls that I had to snap out of it and quickly asked S to film it for memory. It was simply beautiful.
It was the first morning of our trip and we were all pumped up for the whale-watching. I had a hearty breakfast cos the food was extremely fresh and nice. Big mistake!
One hour into the cruise, the water became really choppy and I asked for a plastic bag immediately; on sensing that my breakfast was about to make its way out. The next moment, I “merlioned” (a phrase to describe the projectile movement of the vomitus) big time but alas, the plastic bag given to me had a slit on it so the vomitus went onto the nice wooden floorboard instead. Yikes!
I was asked if I wish to abandon the trip and cruise back but I refused to especially after making my way half the globe for this trip. So for the next few hours I was in agony and threw up just about everything that was in there. Towards the end, I was throwing up bitter bile water. Double yikes!
When S asked me to go out to the deck and watch the whales, I could only manage a feeble effort to put on the warm suit, took a glance, then head back indoors to lie down. It was that bad. So much for whale watching…maybe next time, or maybe not.
A few days before we took off, S wanted to upgrade the flight to business class. After finding out the absurd premium that we have to top up (not to mention the tedious, multiple conversations I had with SIA and SAS), I managed to convince him that we will do just fine roughing it out in coach class for the 30-hour journey (especially since we do not have kids travelling with us). I managed to get us a 2-seater and all went well.
During one of the 3 connecting flights (we flew Singapore/Copenhagen/Oslo/Tromso), the connection time was only 40min and the flight was delayed. We prayed hard and literally had to run like crazy to the other terminal after collecting our bags and re-checking them in. Luckily, we made it. What a close shave.
On arrival, we treated ourselves to a fabulous meal at a local restaurant. We had lunch but it felt as if we were having dinner since the sky was dark already. They served the best duck confit and of course, the bottled artic water was ever so sparkling and fresh and thirst-quenching. It was, indeed, THE best meal cos we did not have anything (nothing came close unfortunately) as yummy thereafter.
After spending 4 months in Paris in 2003, I’ve not returned since then. There was discussion on revisiting Europe but I never got round to that. It was either my in-laws’ timing did not coincide or I was pregnant/breastfeeding/L was too young etc. My in-laws have already made two trips there and I still have not even flown anywhere near there.
This time, our friends who relocated there invited us to visit them and we took the opportunity to do it. It’s now or never. L is now coming to 2 years old and we find it more manageable to make the trip. So I got ourselves the air tickets and S did the itinerary planning. My parents-in-law are coming along as well for this trip.
Planning for a 2-week Europe trip has never been a headache for me. But this time is different. There’s so much thinking that needs to be done. The packing alone for L is overwhelming but thank goodness my helper was there to help. Then my family reminded me that I’ve to exercise a lot of patience as I’ll be playing the role of wife, mother, daughter-in-law, navigator…just to name a few top considerations on the list. That’s when I felt tightness in my chest and giddy spell in my head. It took me a while to come to terms with it and I’m happy to say that I’m more ready mentally to take it on. After all, it’s the frame of mind that matters. Come what may, I’ll just do my best. 🙂