In July we spent twelve days in Bali, our first overseas holiday as a family. Over the next few weeks I’d like to share the story of our adventure with you. I hope you’ll follow along.
I’d read somewhere that taking a red-eye flight with young children can either be great or a total disaster, depending on their inclination to sleep. So when planning our first overseas family holiday I booked the night flight to Bali, crossed my fingers, and promptly put the thought of six and half hours with an over-tired, irritable two-year old to the back of my mind. Until we found ourselves two hours into the flight, having exhausted all new toys, books, snacks and the patience of the people around us. The Monster finally slipped into sleep eating a packet of sultanas three whole hours later only to wake twenty minutes after hysterical with the pressure in his ears as the plane descended in to Denpasar. Nerves shot and bleary-eyed, we cleared customs wondering if we could perhaps just stay permanently if it meant not having to do a return flight.
There’s something fascinating about the first moment of stepping outside airport doors into a new country. Instantly, the smells hit, the cars look different, the people holding signs, the thickness of the air: if it hangs with humidity or feels light with altitude. All these little differences tell me I’m no longer at home, but elsewhere, where experiences are new and keenly felt.
With Lachlan held close we pushed our way out into the humid Bali night. The throng of drivers bustled for position holding signs in every language and the noise of heckling “taxi, sir” filled our ears. As I cuddled Lachie tight, I felt him register the change, uncharacteristically silent as he drank it all in. Finding our driver and car we bundled in, keen for a hotel bed and desperate for sleep.
The Denpasar streets were still thick with traffic, even at midnight. As we pulled out of the airport Troy pointed out a group of dirty-faced children perched on the median strip. Some looked as young as Lachie. We wondered at their life-smarts, their ability for survival where our son wouldn’t last a few minutes alone on a Bali street: such vastly different worlds they live.
The lights of the hotel lobby glowed softly as we unloaded from the van. I left Troy with check-in duties as Lachie found his second wind, racing precariously across the polished floors in dirty socks and adopting two Danish children as friends. Before long we were shown to our apartment. Pajamas were thrown on, faces roughly washed, and despite the fact that the pillows felt like sleeping on a bag of socks, we slowly drifted into a travel-weary slumber.