Adventures in Georgetown, Penang

The only time I pray is sitting on a minivan in South East Asia. I find myself sucking in air, the way my mum does which is extremely annoying, I get passive aggressive road rage in my head and I hold on for dear life.

This is much to the amusement of other passengers who seem to think it’s ok to drive bumper to bumper with the lorry ahead carrying tree trunks. Stopping distance people! Its rainy season here too and during one downpour we had no visibility, did the driver slow down? hell no. He did, at one point have to stop because his windscreen wipers were broken. This was easily fixed by placing a plastic bottle under the hood of the van, PROPPING IT OPEN, then the wipers worked, phew…(not really)

Onboard there’s constant commotion, wailing Thai love songs, a phone ringing, or someone chatting on a phone or a phone message beeping A LOT, there’s always a pit stop at a roadside cafe where the curry looks as though it’s been there a while, alongside the nondescript meat sticks and squat toilets to practise your aim, or lack of.

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minivan selfie

Of course our little lady took it all in her stride, napping and boobing, she’s happiest strapped to me with full access.

Thank you to the angel Nicola for treating us to an Ergobaby which easily is my favourite piece of baby ‘kit’

When finally we reached Penang, after a full day of travel, I was excited to get to our hotel. (My current dreams are of hotel rooms with fluffy sheets, pillows and an entire night of undisturbed sleep) We were greeted by a VERY small room, one which had the bathroom in the room that was surrounded by a cement step which was awesome health and safety for an adventurous 10 month old. We went out for laksa and then all crashed out except for baby who always gets overtired and instead of sleeping flings herself around.

Gratefully the next day we were moved to a slightly larger room and then I understood why the Apollo Inn gets such rave reviews. The breakfast was amazing; french toast, roti with massaman curry, fruit, toast, weird coffee in bags?!

We made the most of it and over the weekend the rest of culinary delights in Georgetown:

Bagels from Mugshot cafe easily one of my favourite cafes in the WORLD! The building is stunning, art on the walls, friendly staff, great homemade yogurt and delicious coffee makes this place very special. We had a feast in Little India after walking around in the BOILING heat; well deserved dhal, tandoori chicken, garlic naan and my favourite panel palak! The last night I ate dim sum alone with just a teapot for company as the baby was restless, it was (really) good. I was reminded of how much I loved Georgetown, the cultural fusion and the buildings…ahhh the buildings just blow me away!

 

The last day we tracked down the Hin Bus Depot, a new art space in the city that smacks of a cool, urban east London hangout and I think will only get better and better. I would recommend a visit!

 

 

Finally we made it back to Thailand after a fun, unexpected trip. I was glad to see my bicycle which currently feels like the safest way to travel… very, very, mummy, slowly.

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Travel + Baby = mission

This week we are off to Penang, Malyasia- 4 hour bus + 8 hour train + however many hours we sit and wait for transport to work.

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I remembered my writing about our journey here 3 months ago…

The thought of flying with a small baby did not make me feel all gooey with joy, in fact it was something I dreaded. Not that my little one isn’t a great traveller, at 7 months her favourite mode was without a doubt, the London tube, where she could peer at strangers, staring at them until they cracked a smile (not the done thing) She has been on trains, buses, cars and the DLR but flying was one mode not yet ventured.

My dread started when Thai Airways notified me I wasn’t allowed a basinet as she was over 6 months, so began an email onslaught until they agreed. I was close to asking the phone operator to fly with us and try to hold my extremely bouncy, fidgety baby on their lap for 11 hours.

Then there was the VAST amount of stuff!

It amazes me how such a small person can generate so much equipment, especially as our move to Thailand was more permanent. I considered everything for our new home. Thankful now I brought an intercom, night light, a load of medicines and homeopath teething powder, I found a no talc talc from Neals’ yard which I love, I took lots of cotton clothing too without stupid sayings and cuddly animals on!

For the flight I went o.t.t even bringing a spare pair of socks incase she vomitted on the ones she was wearing, although she never vomits, my paranoia ran high and the last thing I wanted was to be glued to my seat with a sleeping baby and needing the one thing I didn’t bring.

I made a travel list, I asked other parents and this is what I found useful.

  • Toys, especially her favourites including a toy that sings, lights up and talks; for maximum entertainment/distraction value.
  • A nursery rhyme app on phone although at present she just wants to eat my phone so that was useless.
  • Clothes, extra baby grows, change of clothes again for the vomit factor.
  • Spare clothes for mum, factoring in accidents as well as the vomit (which never happened)
  • A blanket. This was one item I brought onboard that I was thankful for as airplane ones always give nasty electric shocks.
  • Portable changing mat, nappies and tones of wipes, because what cannot be solved with a wet wipe?
  • Food for her that she likes (basically apple puree)
  • Sandwich for myself as attempting to eat from a tray with a bouncing baby was not going to happen.
  • Chocolate for morale.

The result of my packing filled my brother’s entire car!

We had a buggy, carseat, sling, one suitcase for mum, one for baby, carry on suitcase and carry on bag. I am so glad now that I brought so many children’s books but I was very close to chucking them out of the window, it was all so heavy!

The flight was uneventful, although when I return to the UK later this year I may consider getting another seat-you really have to rely on the passengers on either side being kind and patient. My little lady kicked them quite a few times as nursing is a horizontal affair. Luckily they didn’t mind and actually helped me, holding her so I could eat and passing me stuff from my bags. The staff were great too, I think because they were Thai and Thai’s LOVE to whisk a baby away, coo at them and say “ta-kay” A LOT (peekabo) They love pinching cheeks, nose and legs while asking how old, how much does she weigh and “gin nom”? (drink milk?) as they point to my boobs-then I get a well done slap on the back!

She slept most of the flight so I was grateful that I could put my feet against the bulkhead wall and support her as typical, she didn’t like the bassinet (after all that bloody fighting for one) I don’t think I slept as I was too paranoid I’d drop her. It was good to get off the flight and I was excited to see her buggy, to then be handed a wheel from the buggy. My thought “ok great now what”. Sling on, 4 bags, a broken buggy in tow and off I go to immigration…

Happy days!

It was a mission but I was so glad I did it and alone-whoop.

Previously when in doubt of my strength I have thought “I’ve ran 2 marathons, I can do anything”

I now think “I’ve had a baby, moved her to a different country, started working in a new profession, breastfeed and still manage to clean my house” oh how times have changed and I am a f***ing superwoman (as most mamas are)