Kids have own adventure on family trip
SCHOOL'S in after the one-week holidays. And the euphoric glow I got from my September recess is fast evaporating.
Still, the memory of our family Bali break is recent enough to keep a smile on my face. For five days last week, the Supportive Spouse, our two sons and I were at a resort in the idyllic Indonesian isle, lazing in a poolside bale. The most stressful decisions we had to make were what time to have lunch and dinner.
A friend of ours had discovered a rather-good deal at the Intercontinental resort in Jimbaran Bay - stay three nights and get one free - and we had booked ourselves into the club duplex. As part of the package, the boys were able to take part in the kids' club activities for free.
A lifetime ago, when my elder son, now seven, was only two years old, we took a trip to Club Med. There, we tried to deposit him at the Petit Club Med for toddlers, but he refused to be away from us.
Since then, we have always eschewed child-minding services when on holiday. After all, being on vacation was about bonding with the kids, right?
Yet, this time, it struck me that the boys might enjoy the kids' club activities, which included learning about turtle conservation and releasing hatchlings back into the sea. And, with his elder and worldlier brother for company, our pre-schooler was likely to have fun.
Feeling just a little apprehensive (Will they like it? Are the hotel's babysitters trustworthy? Will they miss us?), I registered the boys at Planet Trekkers, the kids' club at Intercontinental Bali.
On the day's schedule were Balinese arts and crafts, duck feeding and fishing. The boys went a little nuts, exploring the club's various attractions: PlayStation consoles; a collection of toys; as well as a trampoline, a shallow pool and a playground outdoors.
Their dad and I said goodbye gingerly, and then crept to the adults-only club lounge next door to nurse cocktails. After half an hour, we tiptoed back to the kids' club.
"Do you want to go to the beach with us?" we asked the boys. No, they retorted, barely looking at us, as they splashed around ecstatically in the pool.
So we slinked back into the comfort of the club lounge again, where I started a marathon magazine- reading session to the soothing sounds of music played by the resident pianist.
That first day, the sequence repeated itself several times: We would visit the kids at the club and, each time, we would be waved away impatiently by them.
Having made friends with another kid clubber, a girl aged about eight, younger brother Lucien was in tears when it was time to leave before the club closed at 10pm.
It took a while for my husband and me to get used to our new-found freedom and leisure time. But, gradually, we widened the radius between us and the kids. On Day Two, we ventured to the beach to watch the sunset over iced lychee teas.
On Day Three, our eighth wedding anniversary, we took a nap, then walked hand in hand down the beach to a clutch of seafood restaurants nearby. There, we had fresh, Jimbaran-caught seafood, grilled to aromatic perfection.
On Day Four, we booked a car to take us to Seminyak, a high-end enclave about 20 minutes away, where we had lunch at Chandi, a trendy restaurant, before poking around the boutiques.
The kids hardly even knew we were gone. For them, it was their little independent adventure: making friends, having their meals together sans parents at the resort restaurant and basically having fun without us breathing down their necks. At night, we regrouped to soak in the bath and fall asleep as a family.
I wished it would never end.