Baby Nina Meets the Dragons

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People say we are superheroes when they hear our story about the three weeks trip to Indonesia, which we did with a 6 months old baby in April 2018. I must say that after all our trips with a kid (it has been 3 during her first year of living), I started considering that our Nina is just a very special kind of baby - baby-traveller. I’m 100% sure she decided to come to our family right after we had booked our trip to China – she was so eager to travel there! When we went to Beijing she was in my belly for 5 months. 

by NATALYA HE

“What can I say? Dragon is not the abstract thing for me anymore. Travelling with a baby neither.”

We always travelled a lot. Why should a kid change that? 

My husband Max is a more experienced traveller than me. I wouldn’t even try counting all the countries he has been to. He also has stopped counting, I guess. Once, he was spending a night in Jordanian desert totally alone and out of a sudden was freakishly scared by the jerboa scraping in the cave where he was sleeping. I sincerely love his stories about various adventures and interesting people he has encountered during his trips. My active traveller’s life has begun only with him. Together we’ve made a lot of beautiful trips: Nepal, India, Thailand, Cambodia, Norway, China, the Balkans… 

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I have noticed that when we are travelling we are extremely harmonious – no quarrels, no pushing, no tension. I trust him fully and he is always busy trying new experiences, meeting new people and planning our trip further (we never book something in advance). Max says it’s all about the experience: “I just want to see how this World looks like to make sure that my home is sweet home.” If you ask me why I’m travelling – it’s about breaking out of routine, finding inspiration and getting new memories. It is such an important part of your life, that you can’t just leave it for a couple of years aside until kids will grow up, I think. Kids should not be seen as an obstacle to travel!

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When Nina appeared in our life, it felt so natural that we are going to travel all together so we booked a trip to Bali for three of us. Although a baby doesn’t need a separate seat until he is 2 years old, airlines usually take a small fee for an infant ticket (from 20 to 60 EUR, depending on the airline). That’s another reason why you should travel with a small baby, because after he/she becomes 2 years old, full price ticket will be required for him or her. 

OMG! How did you manage with such a long flight? 

We usually travel in a rather cheap way by using travelfree.info tips and momondo.com tricks. Riga – Amsterdam – Singapore – Bali, 27 hours in total at the airports and airplanes with a baby – that looked challenging for me. Shortly after booking, I reserved on-board cot for both intercontinental flights (you can get it if your baby weighs no more than 10 kg and is no longer than 65 cm on the day of the trip). It was a brilliant idea! Also, because the cot can be attached only in the front part of the cabin and parents’ seats are there too, you get an extra leg space for a 12 hours long flight. Who would say travelling with a baby is a bad idea, ha?

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Nina loved watching people from her cot passing by and we loved the fact that we don’t have to carry her for the whole flight. Also, it saved us from making a hundred laps in the cabin, saying hello to every single passenger on a way or doing a “knock knock” on the pilot cabin’s door. Good thing is to book the longest flight on a night time – so the kid is sleeping and you are sleeping and everybody is calm and happy. However, our case wasn’t so splendid. Since on the return flight Nina woke up in the middle of the night because of colic and obviously wanted the whole plane to know about it – two hours of stress and hearing unsatisfied passengers’ comments didn’t help at all. Well, thanks to snacks delivered, breastfeeding and chilling on a baby-changing table in the toilet, we overcome it and the whole plane had two more hours of calm sleep. 

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Hello, babyyyy!

Basically, in every single spot during our trip, Nina met new admirers. In the very beginning, I was quite frustrated about the intentions of locals to touch her so often. One could read from my angrily looking face that I was not happy at all. But do you know how many different expressions human’s face actually is able to make to get a cute baby’s smile? In the end, I haven’t seen more baby loving people as in Indonesia. 

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Famous writer Dale Carnegie gave a great piece of advice in one of her books, which essence lies in the fact that if you want to make people like you – give them compliments. Since I have my daughter, one thing is 100% effective in making me like you - you need simply to be kind and loving to my baby. So, Nina felt like a little princess, all those white-toothed smiles were cheering her up and saying “Hello babyyy” ten times per day. She got used to smiling people so much, that it was rather strange to see ‘neutral’ faces back home. I keep thinking that those three weeks when travelling had contributed immensely to Nina’s oppeness and warm personality.

 

How about the danger of infection? 

Actually, Indonesia is one of those countries where before going you better take a vaccination. Diarrhoea, Malaria and Measles are among the TOP diseases children under-5 can get. Also tuberculosis, hepatitis and typhoid fever are dangerous to be infected. Sounds terrible. And if you are a freshly baked mom, it sounds even worse. How not to think about it? First of all, the area for tourists is not the same area local people are living in. Finding affordable, clean and cosy hotels and homestays wasn’t a big problem there. Indonesians understand tourists’ needs and concerns. Also, I got a blessing from our paediatrician before the trip, so tried not to think of the possible danger of infection too much. Especially, when we took a boat trip to Komodo Island to see the dragons. 

It’s gonna be adventurous they said…

Locals said that people with babies do it often, but somehow I didn't believe them so much. There were 3 or 4 boats going every week to a 4-days-3-nights trip along the islands of Indonesia and at least 20 different people were trying to sell this adventure to us during our trip to Gili Island, which is super small place near Bali. 

Max saw the poster advertising the Komodo trip on the second day of our stay on Gili Island in one of the local "travel agencies". And straight away he told me with the look full of excitement: "We have to do this. It's once in a lifetime experience." I said no…

I'm not a boring person, I think. During our very first trip together we have crossed 4500 m Laurebina pass during 9 days hiking in Nepal, without even having a guide or porter (Nepalese guy who would carry our stuff to the top) with us. I also was brave enough to climb a cliff in China on my 5 month of pregnancy (well, it wasn't so high). But this time he was proposing me 4 days on a quite small boat with no hygiene facilities, with 28 strangers in the middle of nowhere and with a 6 months old baby... Honestly, it wasn’t the best proposal he could think of then... 

But later I changed my mind. Many tourists we met during the trip were truly excited about this ‘cruise’. So Max proposed me to go, again. “Maybe it’s not such a bad idea.” – I thought. And I was right. 

The boat was white and clean, spacious enough for 28 people plus a crew, with some kind of a small kitchenette and toilet, and two nice open decks at the front part to chill on. Max said it’s going to be an adventure. And it was from the very beginning. We had a cabin right above the engine, so it was really hot and loud, with the annoying smell of fuel. Members of the crew were also smoking all the time and you could smell it everywhere. We started our trip by crossing Alas Strait – really fast stream, so the pitching was really strong and the best option was to lie down and try to sleep. After everything calmed down, I woke up from the heavy smell of fuel, so we decided to try to sleep on an upper deck - right under the stars. By the way, Nina’s night sleep was perfect on the boat, thanks to the gentle and not so gentle swaying, I guess. 

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The other night Max woke me up and said that I have to go and see an erupting volcano. Whaaat? We have been passing the uninhabited island with the volcano spitting out lava from its muzzle. The third night was calm - we slept on a boat with engines being stopped. Some of the crew guys were not sleeping - they were trying to catch us some lunch for the next day. My romantic husband went to watch the stars again and got a grilled squid on the way back from one member of the crew. It was the most remarkable seafood meal I have ever had. 

Many nice things happened, thanks to that boat. I saw the most incredible marine life, when we were sailing along the Rose beach. All the corals and fishes looked very close. I was so scared to disturb the beautiful and harmonious life of these fabulous creatures! As for Nina, she had the pleasure to watch her first sunset on a boat in Flores Sea waters with mom and dad and a lot of other happy people around. We were swimming in a 100m depth ocean waters, watching mantas and touching huge human size turtles. And dragons – Varanus komodoensis, also known as the Komodo monitor, is species of lizard found in the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, Gili Motang, and Padar. It is the largest living species of lizard, growing to a maximum length of 3 metres. Nina and I recently have read a book about the animals of the world. And in the reptilian section, there was it - Varanus komodoensis. Interesting, I think she was happy to see them real. 

For those who doubt

I agree, that a baby needs calm and predictable environment, but happy and relaxed parents are meeting most of all baby needs. And if travelling makes you happy and your baby makes you happy for sure, it’s obvious that they can match together. I believe that if a baby comes to your life, this means your lifestyle being good enough to share it with another completely new human being. So, have a safe trip, guys! 

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I'm glad we took with us for a trip with Nina: 

  • An ergonomic carrier for Nina (it made our hiking trips much easier); 

  • Wet wipes (of course! No comments); 

  • Hat and SPF cream (it was really sunny there); 

  • My breasts. Nina was fully on breastfeeding and it is really convenient if you are travelling. I couldn't imagine searching for a quality hot water, all those exclusive packs of infant food etc. It takes too much of planning and I'm totally bad at it.

 
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