Our current time zone: GMT +8 (We're home in Singapore!)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Travel In The Time Of Free WiFi

My mum dropped us an email sometime last week to say that they got home safely (until some fellow passenger on their flight gets diagnosed with H1N1 *touch wood*), that they missed us already (awww!) and thanks for making all the holiday arrangements for the family.

My mum has always been the one making all the travel plans for family vacations for as long as I can remember (although
my dad plays an essential role as well by paying and saying "Just tell me where to go, I'll drive".) When we were really young in the 1980s, all we went for were short holidays to PSA chalets on Sentosa (now sadly replaced by the atas Capella Hotel), Malacca and Frasers Hill (a classic English lodge type bungalow, which is also sadly not available anymore) and Golden Sands Resort in Penang. My first trip outside of Singapore and Malaysia was to Perth when I was six. It was then my larvae of a sister decided to swallow a random flu virus while sucking on her toes and kept all of us indoors for the entire week that we were there. We were thus relegated to short beach holidays till my brother came along. Which didn't matter anyway - any beach, to a child, is just a beach. Ditto for hotels with swimming pools - it's all that we can remember of the holiday.

That was all during the pre-Internet era. You know, sometime during the last Ice Age. Everything had to be pre-arranged via a *gasp*,
telephone call to a travel agent. Need to do some trip research? No such thing as surfing the Web. Tripadvisor.com? Never heard of it. Go buy or borrow a travel guide. Or rely on word-of-mouth reviews from friends and family. I think every other kid my age has a photo of them in arm floats, floating in the puddle-shaped Golden Sands Hotel pool or posing on the room balcony.

Short as the trips were, it must have been immensely hectic packing for 3 young kids, hauling them and all the luggage into the car and hitting the road for Malaysia, trying to navigate while feeding the husband, stopping the mongrels in the backseat from maiming one another, desperately looking for a potty stop for just
one kid (after confirming that no one else needs to go), then turning back five minutes later cos now someone else needs to go, grabbing for the puke bag (but it's too late!), wondering what to do with the vile-smelling vomit (why is kid vomit always orange?) laden soft toy cat, cleaning up the car. And repeating the process five days later. Yaaaaay. This Animaniacs clip shows just how fun a car trip can be. Or not.

In 1989, my parents took me and my sister out of primary school (the brother then was still only a sputtering year-old grub) and hauled the whole family to Nottingham, England for 9 months. We went to the local public school, wore plaid skirts with our school sweaters, fed the ducks, had English tea every day and spoke with cute British accents. The parents bundled us up for long drives to London, Portsmouth and the Lake District, and put up with our bouts of seasickness on the ferry across the English Channel (the rail wasn't built then) to Belgium and Holland. Then in early 1990, they single-handedly towed us around Florida, New Orleans, San Diego and Tijuana (Mexico) for a month before heading home (and returning us to the harsh life in Tao Nan School *cry*) I cannot imagine how stressful it must have been for them then.

Fast forward to life with cranky teenagers. We started making longer trips to places like Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the UK. At any one time, Team Parents had to put up with the unpleasant combination of '2 Cranky Teenagers + 1 Pre-Pubescent Terror' or '1 Quarter-Life Crisis Young Adult + 2 Cranky Teenagers', who couldn't care less about where they were going and constantly demanded money for shopping. The superslow dial-up Internet and this new-fangled whatchamacallit called Email didn't make planning or booking the Little Trip Of Horrors any easier.

And my mum thanked me for making all the arrangements for their vacation in the US. In comparison with what she went through, this trip was chicken feed in these times of free WiFi. With the abundance of reliable travel websites like Expedia and Travelocity, I can confirm a room or flight reservation at the click of a button.
A phone reservation? What's that? TripAdvisor, with its user reviews and downloadable destination guides, is a godsend. Don't even get me started on Mapquest - it's simply precious.

So to my Supermum, thank you for making all the vacations within the last 30 (wait...29 - cos I'm not that old yet) years possible and fun (even though our scowls and sulks made you think otherwise.) Not forgetting our dear driver, ooops I mean Dad, who had to play chauffer, porter and banker. We would love to return the favour and bring you along on great vacations, especially when you (finally) retire....

.... so that you can look after the grandkids in the backseat and grab the puke bag in time :P

My Supermum
(Don't mind the lifeless elephant seal on the bed. He's deep in philosophical thought about world peace.)


Honyi said...

Babe, this post is so sweet. And Dannie's post on the in-laws too! I nearly teared while reading them (assisted of course by the pregnancy hormones haha). This post also reminded me to be thankful for my own mom and all her years of travel planning plus more :)

And yes, I have childhood photos taken at Golden Sands too! Haha brings back memories.

Goodluck with the sponsorship! You guys deserve it!

Yi Lin said...

Hi Babe-With-Baby-On-The-Way!

Dan's post got me feeling 'emo' too (to borrow a term from my Daddy Cool) and missin' the folks. And nooo, nothing to do with hormones of the preggers kind.

Like alot of other things that our parents did for us, we only realise all the hard work behind a good family holiday when we have to do it for ourselves. Only then do we really appreciate the effort. Guess you'll be walking down this road more now that you're expecting your own lil' one!

Golden Sands was like the highlight of our lives! Wonder how the resort is doing now. Haven't been back to Penang in yonks. The last trip was back in 2003 with ATMD to conduct a RAID!

Honyi said...

Haha what a way to remember the place, a RAID!

My parents just went back last year to check it out and apparently the place was recently refurbished and pretty swanky now. If you and Dan come back from your US travels needing a beach getaway to recover, maybe you can consider Golden Sands :) love penang food!

Erm, yes, now that we're expecting a little one, maybe I'll be reliving my childhood in Golden Sands more often with the baby. Haha. I keep thinking of going for a beach hol now. After all, if I have to look like a beached whale, I should be somewhere near a beach?

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