Monday, 17 July 2017

Why I took 6 kids on holiday by myself

I did something I've never done before. I took the 6 kids rock climbing in Krabi without the hubs.

Even friends who knew that I used to take the 5 little kids out everywhere by myself, to places like East Coast beach and Sentosa said, "Sounds crazy. Good luck, and tell us how it went!"

I was on a mission. It was going to be a family OBS. Kids these days take things for granted and don't appreciate how good they have it.

We cushion our kids too much and then wonder why they have an entitled mentality. On family trips, they are constantly asking, "Daddy, can you turn on your hotspot?" After which they would busy themselves snapping Snapchat or Instagram pictures.
Railay Bay
It was easy choosing the destination. Every school holiday, I take them rock climbing and they have been to all, including Yishun SAFRA, with the tallest wall in Singapore. Since they managed to make it to the top, the next step was to let them experience the real thing. And the best place to go? Railay, Krabi - where climbing enthusiasts from around the world flock to scale the magnificent limestone cliffs.

With that decided, the fun began!
25m wall in Yishun SAFRA
I had another purpose for this trip. #1 was talking about going traveling with friends in her gap year. It's time she picked up life skills and I'd rather she made mistakes under my watchful eye.

I took our adventure one notch up by handing over the reigns to the teens.

The first thing I tasked them with was to Plan and Budget. Usually, the hubs will be in charge; booking the hotels, arranging for a rental car, checking out restaurant reviews while I'll be googling suitable activities.

This time, I gave them a budget for the entire trip and they were free to choose the accommodation and plan the itinerary. #3's reaction was "Wow! We get to plan everything? Oh great. Dad can't make us go to Chinatown while on holiday."

They spent days searching the internet for the best hotels which still kept under budget. They read reviews on everything before booking, including finding a reputable rock climbing school.

We had plenty of dinner discussions to consider details such as location, where the airport was in relation to the beach/town, how to get around, how long it would take to travel from one place to another, and they realised how much goes into planning a trip.

Unforeseen circumstance. Everything was booked, packed and we were ready to go. The night before, #1 came home from a hockey game and said, "Er Mum, I busted my ankle at hockey. I think it's swollen. But don't worry, I can probably still go rock climbing."

With 6 kids, I was prepared for the probability of something popping up and took the news in my stride. I looked at her ankle and asked if she wanted to stay home. She assured me that it wasn't too bad and she was fine to go ahead. I advised her to minimise putting weight on that foot and alleviate it when possible. The younger siblings assisted her and helped with luggage.

Briefing. At the airport, I gathered them and did a briefing before we left. I stressed that safety was paramount, and they had to stick together at all times. I assigned them in pairs, and they were accountable for one another at all times. The last thing the hubs said to me when he dropped us at the airport was Make sure no one gets lost ok!

I also told them to be careful with what they ate and drank, especially roadside food, salads and exposed drinks with ice. I gave the 2 older ones the added responsibility of holding on to a small portion of the cash and to be mindful of our daily expenditure and they took their role seriously.
Low tide
The first hurdle came when we had to take the longtail boat from Ao Nang beach over to Railay. We bought our tickets from the booth and the lady pointed to the boats. As we made our way across the sand, we stopped in our tracks as it dawned upon us that the boat wasn't able to come near enough to shore.

We had to wade out. With our luggage! In shoes and dry clothes!
Longtail boat
We stood there for a few seconds and finally one spoke the obvious. "We need to take our shoes off." The boatman carried #5 while I carried Kate. When a big wave washed up, the water reached our waist!

It was a lovely 15-minute journey, with the magnificent limestone cliffs in full view. Kate was the only one apprehensive about the whole wading-out-to-sea episode and probably wondering what else was in store!
Sand Sea Resort
We stayed at Sand Sea Resort and ordinarily, they would have made comments about how run down the rooms and bathrooms were, but because they had a say in choosing it, there were no complaints. Anyhow, we spent most of the time out of the rooms, either by the beach or in the swimming pool.

Being the start of the monsoon season, the tourist numbers were low and Railay Beach was nice and not too crowded. However, the weather forecast for that week was scattered thunderstorms. I prayed hard that it wouldn't rain or our trip would be dampened.

It rained hard through the night and while we were tucked safely indoors having our meals. Remarkably, every time we were done and wanted to step out, the rain stopped.
Headed for the cliffs
On the day of our rock climbing session, the weather was beautiful. No rain and not too hot. Our guide met us at our hotel and took us to gear up before walking to the climbing site. It was a good 15-minute walk and we took turns calling out, "C'mon Kate. Walk faster!"

Finally, we reached the climbing site, and seeing all the tattooed, muscled men and the high cliffs, their jaws dropped. And here I was, with 6 kids, and a picnic mat ;)
Limestone cliff
Amazing experience. The friendly instructor started them off on the beginner route and the older girls progressed to the challenging ones. They really enjoyed the climbing experience and with the encouragement of the instructor, pushed themselves to reach the top. Way to go, girls! I was also proud of #5, who tried his very best.

Kate? She went along with the rest, but when she was buckled to the rope and we lifted her up, she burst into tears! I asked if she wanted to try just a little bit and she wailed, "Noooo!" We all laughed, and her first climbing experience in Railay ended as quickly as it began. Maybe next time, Kate :)

After the 4-hour climb, we relaxed by the beach and watched the spectacular sunset before dinner.
Railay Beach
With daddy not around on this trip, #5 took over his role. He carried Kate around the swimming pool and when she was tired he offered to carry her. I was heartened to see them take responsibility for themselves, their belongings and look out for one another.

The older girls were really good and took care of Kate and #5 while I had a nice hair wash and massage on the last day. They really bonded over this trip, working everything out themselves.

They were careful in ensuring we had enough cash to last us until the end of the trip and started noticing how much everything cost. They even learned to bargain!

Kate had no choice but to be independent. Not only did she pack her own luggage, but she had to lug it around too. It was pretty comical how when an item in a store caught someone's eye, the whole line had to halt and everyone waited till that person was done before moving off (more often than not, it was #1).
Big bro
On our last night, we bought takeaway from MacDonald's back to the resort as I didn't want to travel out again for dinner. We had a leisurely time dipping in the pool while #2  set about re-heating the food and setting the table.

After dinner, we showered, packed, and prepared for an early pickup. But guess what?

Our adventure took another turn. At 11 pm, I heard someone throwing up. I rushed to the bathroom. #2 was hit by food poisoning!

We had eaten and drank the same food. Fear gripped me. It would be catastrophic if all 7 of us fell sick!

Who was going to carry the younger ones and it would be horrible having to catch a plane with everyone wanting to throw up or needing the toilet urgently.

I prayed so hard.

Thank goodness no one else fell sick. Of course, I couldn't sleep a wink as #2 came out to throw up every few hours. I had to monitor her condition and remind her to take sips of water. Poor girl. Yet, in her sickness, I saw her strength.

Weak from throwing up and not having any sleep, she still insisted on carrying her own backpack so as not to burden us. She said, "It's ok Mum, it is not heavy." I insisted and it was heavy.

Home sweet home. When we stepped foot in Changi airport, one of them blurted out, "It's soo good to be home!"

I told #5 not to carry Kate but he said, "I can, Mum. I can." Well, at least it was a nice change from constantly bickering with her.
she ain't heavy
Yes, it took more effort guiding the kids to plan the trip instead of doing it myself. Yes, I had to be vigilant every step of the way, ensuring the safety of all 6 of them. Yes, I was exhausted by the end of the trip.

But it was well worth it.

We broke a glass in the hotel room, misplaced one room key and lost a charger, but I dare say the kids passed my little 'challenge' with flying colours and gained so much from this experience.

Mission accomplished ;)


~ www.mummyweeblog.com - a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singaproe ~  

2 comments:

  1. Wow! Think you did a great job exposing them to this trip and letting the older girls plan it. We also went there recently, and I also blogged about how we had to wade back to shore - cos I'm so short, the water was thigh deep where the boat stopped us!
    Here's our write-up if you wanna have a read. :)
    http://www.lilbluebottle.com/scenic-railay-beach-at-krabi/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lyn,

      I should have read your review before the trip! And would have advised the kids to don their swim wear under their clothes for the wade ;) I'm sure we will be back anyhow; the girls want to scale the more challenging routes!

      Delete

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