And so it goes: off we go, one month with the monsters in South-East Asia. Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) and Indonesia (Bali & Nusa Penida).
Those of you who read our previous ‘adventures’ might wonder … Why back to places we’ve been a couple of times before?
For one, it is ‘affordable’.
We could afford two weeks Europe, sure. Even three or four if we camp, drive to Eastern Europe instead of France, Swiss, or Great Britain. And that would be nice as well. Agreed.
But one month South-East Asia is not only affordable, surely not. If money were the only deciding factor, we’d stay at home. Or would we? Imagine. A dinner in a restaurant in our Belgian hometown. A day at a theme park, with the obligatory ice-cream, parking fee, maybe some merchandising at the exit… Catching a movie. A visit to wave at whichever newborn baby elephant, bonobo or rhino is on display at the zoo. All this with three kids … Staying home is definitely not cheap. And – I risk to offend some people – surely not if you are teachers and have two months of holiday. Lucky us poor teachers. J
One month South-East Asia is of course more than just affordable. It is seeing exciting culture and nature, and, when you are all cultured and natured out, jumping in your cool swimming pool, enjoying a five person meal for 20 euro or a two hour massage for 8. (A bit more expensive if you go for the hot stones.) One month South-East Asia is your own Airbnb-villa in between the rice paddies, for a week, with housekeeping, a private pool, four bedrooms etc etc. It is affordable luxurious travel. It means hotels with bellboys carrying your luggage up to you room, with ‘valet parking’ and with rooftop pool, spa and sauna facilities, with breakfast buffets, banana pancakes and fresh papaya juice. The Capri by Fraser in Kl, for example: three bedrooms, two bathrooms. Sounds pretty decadent to you? Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. Well, I wouldn’t call it flash-packing anymore. Check the prices if you want (hit the links), it is all still quite reasonable. And renting out your own house while your travelling helps, for one.
We did do all the backpacker hopping about, the dirt cheap rice meals that send you to the bathroom all night. Always being on the lookout for the cheapest flea-inflected guesthouse, sleeping in Moroccan shitholes, scratching or bums in stinking rooms on Kathmandu’s Freak Street, gasping for air in the cupboards-with-matrass in Singapore and in scorching rooftop shacks in heat waved-Delhi, with aluminum walls and a broken fan.
But when it comes to travelling with kids, a bit of luxury helps. And, okay, let’s be honest, you get used to it. On top of that, safety is an issue of course, and so is hygiene. India is obviously still out of the question, South-America is dodgier, and more expensive.
Lux will be four on this trip, Marie-Lou is six, Ella eight.
It is getting easier: no more diapers, no more teeth pushing through the gums, less tantrums. More drama-queen-behavior though, and also more opinions. I want pizza! I want a cool pool! Luckily for them, mum and dad also want a cool pool. But dad hopes we’ll also hit Nepal in a couple of years, do a trek in the Himalayas, or the Inca Trail in Peru, maybe go see the lions in Uganda, or catch a wave in Australia (the monsters that is, not mum and dad).
But this summer South-East Asia it is: three weeks Bali and Nusa Penida (an island to the east of Bali), plus a short week Kuala Lumpur (mainly to visit a friend, and because of the yummy Indian food and the cheap Airasia flights to Indonesia). So beaches, spider monkeys, gently rolling rice fields, maybe a volcano (Who knows? From afar? Could happen…) and each house its own statue of a Buddhist god, a black and white checkered sari draped around its stone waist, warungs serving steaming dishes topped with creamy coconut milk sauce, peanut butter dressing, some grilled scampi, fresh mango and rambutan. And a smile on every face. No complaints here.
So right now, we are looking out over Kuala Lumpur, from our room on the 26th floor. No jetlag so far, but tired because of lack of sleep. We just came back from Simply Mel’s, a restaurant 5 minutes walking distance from our hotel, situated in Bangsar, ‘an amazing neighbourhood full of both expats as well as middle and upper class locals living there. Bangsar is a mere 10 minutes from KLCC and is situated upon a hill boasting glorious views of the skyline, Bangsar is also known for its thriving nightlife and street markets.’  In Simply Mel’s we had delicious curries, flavoured with loads of ginger, onion fritters, pineapple pickled with sambal, fried rice … Great food. A ‘little bit’ spicy though. The waiters, as always, were laughing and brought extra tissues and ice water.
When we had finished our meal, a tropical storm hit us, rain torrents, heavy lightning and thunder, and, of course, a hysterical Marie-Lou.
We welcome your advice.