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Sunday, May 03, 2020

Japan trip 2018, Traveling with kids : Part 1

So I thought about sharing this post since last year, but somehow it's 2020 already and the thought was just..a thought. Haha.

So maybe I should just go ahead and blog about it. (Suspect I put this off cause it's Japan? Haven't I been there, for, like, 1000 times already?)

But but, this time is extra special - cause we have Rayyan and Rafiy with us!

Yes, it was the first time we brought both of them with us for an overseas trip..and it ain't easy. Had to learn it the hard way. #itwouldbefuntheysaid

The initial talk about bringing them to Japan was when Shahrul got the direction from his bosses for a  1-week business trip at Osaka, Japan. I immediately agreed to it, cause I've been wanting to show the kids the place so dear to both of us. We even made a pact that both of them would see Nihon, sooner or later, so when the business trip came, it's like a no-brainer that we tag along.

We CLEARLY underestimated an overseas trip with two kids below 5 years old.

Let me tell you how the first flight went; the one from KL to Narita.

We opted for a midnight flight, cause we thought THEN the boys would cry less since it's their sleep time and they'd be too tired. Couldn't be more wrong. The moment we got on the plane, while everyone was getting ready to sleep, Rafiy wailed - from the moment the plane took off until maybe 30 minutes later. Rayyan cried too, not wanting to put on his seatbelt. Rafiy cried for God knows why (maybe he was uncomfortable, but I did everything I could, he was too stubborn) and it was horrible because it was NIGHTTIME and everyone was expecting to get their precious sleep.

In your dreams, apparently. I felt like apologising to everyone, but all I could do was hug my boys tight while smiling sheepishly at the other passengers.

Lesson #1, never opt for a night flight again with the kids, until they're big enough to understand the concept of seatbelts. I was too cocky cause I thought we'd have no issue in this department; Rayyan and Rafiy are used to wearing seatbelts in their carseats all the time - but apparently in the plane, that was not the case. Maybe it's their first time, maybe the universe just wants to screw with us..who knows.

So the next morning, we arrived at Narita. Never felt so happy to be out of the plane!

FIRST DAY


We cleaned up at the toilet, rearranged the stuff in the suitcases, and hop on the first train to Tokyo. Arrived at the hotel, had lunch at nearby restaurant cause we were too lazy to walk further, and I had my kaki furai. It was an awesome feeling, to be reunited with my kaki furai.

Then we checked in and hop on the train again - to Harajuku. No pictures there cause Rayyan and Rafiy were gawking at everything and we had to play security guards; hogging them everywhere. I was carrying Rafiy in baby carrier while Shahrul was in charge of Rayyan.


Then we went to Skytree Tower. Reached there at night which means cranky time for Rayyan and Rafiy - who could blame them; they were gallivanting around Tokyo all day and we took them to see this very, very tall building which have limited significance to 1 year-old and 3 year-old kids. I blamed ourselves for the choice of destination, really.

First family picture we took at Skytree Tower, Tokyo. In this picture, Rafiy was wailing cause he refused to be held by Shahrul (for some reason) and Rayyan was crying into my jacket which was why you couldn't see his face (thank God).

I made them sound so horrible, don't I? Actually they weren't that bad. Half the time, they looked like this, all happy to have gotten their favourite candies from the kind Japanese receptionist.



SECOND DAY


Got up early cause we had a Shinkansen scheduled for Osaka from Tokyo.

Family picture in the Shinkansen!

Lesson #2 - we actually took 2 seats for adults and thought the kids would make do on our laps. When you have limited baggage, this would work; but if you happen to bring extra baggages this would be a nightmare. My legs were cramped between the bags we had in front of us and my lap was feeling like it would break any minute, clearly I underestimated Rafiy's weight. If you can, take 1 or 2 more seats to accommodate the extra bags so you'd have some room for the kids. We took 2 seats only for 4 of us + the bags😐

Reached Osaka, checked in to our Airbnb. We took a whole apartment with 2 queen beds, nearby the station. Lesson #3, always, always make sure the distance between your Airbnb and the train station is not too far especially when you're travelling with kids and stroller. We underestimated the distance and had to walk quite far cause the Airbnb description was misleading. Always double check with Google map! (We did, but still. Sigh. No words.)

THIRD DAY


Since Shahrul had to go to work during the day, we pretty much spent the day in the apartment or a short walk around the area (when the kids were too bored). When he came back in the evening, it was dark already and soon it was nighttime.

This was precedented cause I knew he had to work, so I managed my expectation that all pictures would be dark. Like this one when we went to Osaka Castle at night.

Though it would look soo much better during the day..

Make do, right? Still pretty what.😁

FOURTH DAY


Again, daytime was spent in the apartment and brisk walk to konbini to introduce the kids to the system but come evening, we walk!

This time, we went to the famous bridge in Osaka city.


I forgot the name, but getting to walk around the Osaka city wasn't so bad. All those years in Japan, I rarely ever went to Osaka cause I thought didn't like the city - I'd always prefer Tokyo. But this time, I realise Osaka isn't so bad! Vibrant, loud, packed with people and always feel so welcomed by the people.

There's a difference with Tokyo but can't pinpoint what.

Clearly Rafiy loved the city!


We had dinner nearby the Osaka station. I had unagi and it was the boys' first time having it too - guess they couldn't wait to have a bite off Mommy's meal. Lesson #4, when with kids, always pack some snacks in your bag to occupy them when the food takes longer time to arrive to the table, if not they'd be too restless due to hungry and that would result in crying and tantrums. If not, they'd look like piranhas who couldn't wait to dig into the meal. Case in point, above.😑

Had to split the post into two, so I will post the rest of the trip in the next post. But so far, lessons learnt for traveling with kids:

  • If your kids are not used to flights, take the day flight so their crying won't bother other passengers' sleep
  • Take extra seats in shinkansen if you're bringing extra bags - so that your body won't get sore
  • Double check the distance between your Airbnb and train station
  • Bring a compact, lightweight stroller and a baby carrier - these came in handy for most of our trip
  • Choose kids-friendly destinations, places they can appreciate rather than adults
  • Plan your time well synchronised with their nap/rest time to avoid them getting too tired and tantrums

Side note, we haven't gone for any overseas trip since this trip. So it's been 2 years. I'm willing to wait longer, to be honest. Maybe until both of them are in college cause then we don't have to bring them with us..

But traveling without them would be a fun-less trip, too. Ah, the mom guilt. I hate you.

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