The plane from Dubai disgorged three grimy, overwrought, pale Kieler-Australians, the smallest of whom had closed her eyes for a total of 90 minutes over a 17 hour travelling period. Long haul with a toddler … sweet Lord. How much easier is carting them to the other side of the world when they a) fit in the baby bed b) alternatively, happily sleep on Mum and Dad c) aren’t mobile? We got a couple of short naps out of her, by hovering between the toilets, and singing Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer directly into her overtired ears. And I managed to send a look laden with ‘be smug now, parent of immobile 7 month old who is wowing the flight with her perfect flight behaviour … mine did that too, and now look at us’ to a spritely looking father, jigging his sleep-refreshed baby around. But mostly it was, you know, a shocker. I began composing an article in my mind, somewhere over a vast ocean, one that gave truly helpful pointers on travelling with wilful toddlers, as opposed to ‘pack plenty of nappies and snacks!’ Tips like, ‘lower your expectations, lower them again, and then go in expecting even less than your lowest expectations.’
But we made it, and like childbirth, one forgets most of the horror of flying 14 hours plus layover with a 17 month old, particularly when there is the wilderness of jetlag to slog through. (As an aside, before I stop complaining about a brilliant trip to Asia, how much easier is jetlag with babies who wake up every 4 hours to eat anyway?) 14 hours is, by the way, only two thirds of the trip to Australia, and I began to wonder if I would ever actually fly to Australia again. I also began to wonder what life would be like if human beings came with an off button, that could be utilised when, for example, flying. Think of the endless possibilities of life, if we could simply temporarily turn humans off while we dealt with a situation.
Since arriving, and possibly sleeping less than we did when we had a newborn, and one of us contracting a short-lived tummy bug, oh and another one of us celebrating a birthday, it has been wonderfully hot and sticky, and our days filled with family and food. My brother and sister flew up from Sydney with their partners, and Mum had a full nest once more, from her eldest to the newest hatchling, who herself was completely thrilled by the constant presence of aunts, uncles, Nana and Pa. Completely thrilled and completely spoilt.
It is in the 30s everyday and tropically muggy. As a reptile, this is ideal for me. It is also ideal because I barely have to dress my child. No Hausschuhe or snowsuits here, only maximum a nappy for around the house, and a very light cotton frock for outside. No bibs when one eats almost or completely nude, only a swift wipedown at the end. The ease with which one leaves the house in hot weather, is a thing of beauty. Die Lüdde, who sprints in the opposite direction every time she sees you advancing with her winter coat, agrees. The only thing to consider is how much you’ll sweat, and whether you have an umbrella against the daily tropical downpour.
Chinese New Year is just around the corner and Singapore is laying out the sparkle. The lights in Chinatown are out, monkeys and red and gold adorn window displays, and all of the treats are in the shops (I personally have already eaten a bucket of pineapple tarts, for example). I will, at some point, drag my camera out and do a decent photo session with the CNY lights, but until then these rather mediocre phone snaps will have to do.
We have snuck in a couple of fantastic dinners as well, courtesy of inbuilt babysitters, including a delicious Peranakan dinner at the newly opened National Gallery. Of course Hawker stall food in Chinatown, and hot roti in Little India go alright as well. So does the neverending font of watermelon juice, or ginger and lemongrass tea, or lychee, or mango anything, whereever you are.
Little India is one of my favourite spots in Singapore, not just because of the food, although I do manage to make myself sick on mango lassis, and SG does manage to set his mouth on fire each time we go. But I love the colour, and the smell, and the easy bustle of it all.
So we have another ten days to go, Chinese New Year to ring in, and plenty, plenty more to see and eat. Aja, and how good is it that Angie Kerber won the Aussie Open! Heilige Makrele, what a match!