PRE TRIP JITTERS
I really thought my back-packing days were over. I was wrong! They have just got better (albeit very very different).
There were highs, and there were lows, but I honestly found back packing with 2 kids in the Philippines almost easier that being at home??!
Before I explain, here is a brief run-down of the trip……..(ended up being longer than expected so part 2 coming soon, story of my life, just have so much to say!)
As any mother would be, I was apprehensive about out 3 week “back-packing” (loose term as we had 2 kids, suitcases and only 3 weeks) in the Philippines with our 2 boys, 21 months (Kitt), and nearly 4 (Arlo). My husband and I had done quite a bit of travelling pre-kids, but this was going to be our first taste of proper travelling with kids.
My brother was getting married to a lovely Filipino girl, Janice. They lived together in NZ but we having a wedding in her home town of Davao. We were to spend a week there, then 2 weeks travelling.
I had a million and one things I was worried about- rabid dogs with red eyes, loosing luggage, loosing kids, kids being sold for goats, husband selling me for a goat, kids eating random shit off the floor, kids licking random shit, Kitt using random flip flops as teethers, drowning, getting eaten by sharks, swallowing dirty water, shitting dirty water out, getting poorly, getting bitten, earthquakes, tsunamis, sleep being even worse, loosing passports and having to stay in Philippine forever (should have done this), inhaling cockroaches whilst asleep etc etc. Weird, I would never have worried about so many things pre kid travelling. BUT the main thing I was worried about was the 14-hour flight.
Pretty sure I’ve blocked most of this out? From what I can remember……my 1 year old cried for maybe 10 out of the 14 hours? He was on my lap for the duration…but of course wanted to be either on top of the seat, on top of passengers, in aisle 45, under the seat or in food trolley. Zero sleep from him. I let him feed from my empty boobs for 14 hours in awkward positions to try and keep him still, quiet and happy. Zero sleep from me. My 3-year-old couldn’t get comfy, angry that he couldn’t get comfy, husband angry that he couldn’t comfy, I’m angry that husband is angry etc. Zero sleep from them. Ran out of snacks. Ran out of Peppa Pig episodes. Ran out of nappies. 1 year old had diarrhoea, had to use 3 year olds pants-sanitary pads-nappy bag to tie round. No baby change, so had to change shit nappies on seat or toilet floor. Our cocky “lets book a night flight then they will just sleep” statement totally backfired. It’s like they were on crack. Babies crying everywhere on flight, setting each other off. Apart from one baby opposite that slept the whole way. The mum even had a glass of wine. Yes, I was watching you. I’m surprised this flight didn’t end in divorce.
I literally balled my eyes out when we saw the bright lights of Manila as we were about to land. Part of this was probably pure relief that we had made it. But most of it was I just felt so emotional that we were DOING IT, travelling with 2 kids!!! Giving them their first taste of the world. Such an amazing feeling. I felt more like “us” again.
One more short flight and we arrived in Davao. We knew what to expect when you walked out of a foreign airport: the heat, the craziness, people everywhere, people grabbing at you. Even though I felt like a total zombie, I kinda enjoyed this. I had missed this craziness. The only westerners I saw, what we must have looked like (ginger, blonde, freckly, back combed hair, whiter than ghosts). Jumped in a taxi and drove through the back streets (and rabid dogs) to our hotel. Realised we had been totally ripped off but didn’t care as WE WERE THERE.
Had struck the gold mine with our hotel. S-W-A-N-K-Y (we didn’t pay for it). Checked in, all in one room, but had air con and a Snickers in the fridge. Must had been about 3 am? And I can’t remember how we did it, but we all went to sleep.
FIRST STOP DAVAO
The next morning, opening the curtains onto the tropical gardens of our new home for the next week was a lush moment. Our balcony (hello!) backed onto the pool. Yes, we were going to be very happy here. Jet lag is a wonderful thing, the boys slept until 8 am, unheard of at home. And we all napped, also unheard of at home! All you can eat buffet breakfasts are also a wonderful thing.
Here was our first taste of how much the Filipinos loved western children. Literally everywhere we went “hey baby, what’s your name”. They were like celebs. I should’ve started charging, would have made a fortune. Dread to think how many FB they have ended up on. Everyone thought Kitt was a girl, in the end I just rolled with it as I had always wanted a girl!
We stayed here for a week, did little trips out but mainly chilled by the pool. Poor Kitt was suffering, constantly crying and HATED being out in the heat (turns out he was actually poorly but we just thought it was heat/ teeth). Old ginger Arlo was loving it however, totally surprising us how well he took to it all. I ended up chilling in the air con quite a bit with Kitt, (he needed my boobs) watching the boys tan by the pool…..I think I became whiter this week
Then the wedding was upon us. Like any Asian event, to an outsider it all seems chaos, but then it all comes together at the last minute and is the most beautiful thing ever. What wasn’t so beautiful however, was my face!
I was a bridesmaid and they spent maybe 2 hours doing my make-up, telling me how beautiful I was. I’ve never had my make-up done before and I was so excited for “the big reveal”. He held up a mirror for me at the end and wow…….I looked like a lady boy!!!! Maybe it was just because I looked so different, but I think I looked a bit like a tranny?! I kinda got used to it as the day went on and by the wedding and by the end of the day, I had grown to love “Kevin”. I think the amount Kevin’s face sweated during the day softened the tranny effect.
Rich obviously refused to wear anything Filipino. Rich wasn’t keen on Kevin
The ceremony was just magical. My brother said his vows in Filipino (no idea what he was saying but it was so emotional). Janice was beautiful, the view was beautiful, Kevin was semi beautiful. Just everything was perfect. Paige boy Arlo even walked down the aisle holding a sign like he was supped to. And didn’t piss on any of the wedding party.
Poor Kitt was hysterical during the ceremony, so luckily Rich took him off to try and calm him down. There was no air con and it was 35’. Just before the reception Kitt was at the peak of his illness. He had a fever and was going all floppy. Only wanted me. There was a doctor there and she thought he had an infection from the water and might need to go to hospital. Obviously, everything starts running through your mind.
I had to make such a hard decision. Do I go to my brother’s wedding reception, who I haven’t seen for 4 years, who I might not see for another 4 years, flown half way across the world to see……or do I stay with my kid, who was really really poorly by this point and needed medical attention???
I stayed with Kitt. I hope this was the right thing to do. It felt like it was, but I still feel so guilty on my brother
Anyway, so no wedding reception, saw bits from the outside whilst waiting for the taxi, it was honestly like a full-blown theatrical performance! Like something you would get on an all-inclusive holiday but way way more classy. My brother even sang and danced. Ricky Gervais springs to mind (sorry bro, stick to the day job).
We were really limited with stuff we could do in Davao as Kitt was still poorly. But we did squeeze in a little island-hopping boat trip when he perked up one day.
This was AMAZING. Arlo went “snorkelling” (put his face in the mask for 3.5 seconds) and we all went swimming off the boat and hung out on beautiful beaches. Kitt had diarrhoea in the sea and Rich nearly swallowed it through his snorkel.
PART 2 COMING SOON– trikes, waterfalls, beach huts and cock roaches, coconuts (not mine)