Travelling with kids in tow is a relatively rare occurrence for me. I’ve only done it a couple of times in the past, brief weekend jollies with friends who have children and one week long trip to Madrid when Emily was a tiny tot – parts of which were certainly not my finest hour and confirmed, not that I was ever in any doubt, that parenting was not for me.
So, even though I was super excited to welcome Emily and Grace (and their mum and dad of course) to Cambodia, I was a little trepidatious also.
But I needn’t have been. For numerous reasons, some of which I’ll share with you now, Emily and Grace were the making of the holiday.
There was the time when:
- Emily marvelled at the size and frequency of roadside billboards in Bangkok, wondering out loud if people here don’t have tvs and thus get their advertising fix this way.
- Grace gazed in awe at the inscriptions on the temple walls of Bayon, refused to lean on one for a photo for fear of damaging it and declared that she “couldn’t wait to write her blog about it”.
- Emily was incredulous when we first arrived in Cambodia and she spotted a concrete staircase standing alone like a beacon in the middle of a field.
- Both girls were excited beyond words when we rounded the corner to be met by the elephants, were handed the baby crocodile to pet at the farm and saw the monkeys lazily preening themselves by the roadside.
- Grace embarked on a paddy of epic proportions at the dinner table, berating her mother’s bad choices, declaring everything she’d been fed ‘scrap food’ and refusing to touch a morsel. The discussion that followed post naughty corner reflection time focused on good and timely choosing by Grace being the key to happy and healthy meals in the future.
- Emily became adept at the Khmer numbers from one to one hundred and thus took on the role of bill reader, market barterer and tuktuk payer. That was until Grace joined in with the learning and thus a system of ‘it’s your turn next’ had to be employed.
- Grace and Darryl engaged in a game of Hangman on the bus from Kampot and the theme was places. Amazingly Darryl managed to get the answer right despite rather interesting spelling
- Darryl and Emily joined in with the nightly group dancing in front of the Vietnam-Cambodia friendship monument, latterly breaking off and performing their own vigorous and entertaining routine with Grace joining in too.
- Sophat played ‘shout out to my ex’ through the speakers in his tuktuk for the girls and then produced a microphone for an impromptu karaoke session which saw Grace become all shy and coy and Emily give a performance worthy of a Brits nomination.
- I got to kiss one or both of them goodnight and have a good old cuddle as they took it in turns to be my roomie.
- Grace introduced me to the movie Trolls, and, when we were unable to watch it all in one go persisted in asking “so what shall we do now Auntie Sara?” every time we returned to our room until I eventually relented and we watched the rest of it.
- Emily performed somersaults & handstands, Grace learned to dive and the whole family had hours of fun in the different pools at every stop of our trip.
- Grace regaled us with her poo reports and Emily her various (and numerous) ailments on a regular basis.
- Having pestered us for days, Emily finally got to have her fish pedicure only to declare herself scared thus forcing Darryl to step up and endure the procedure alongside her.
- On the last day in Phnom Penh, Victoria & I returned to the hotel post errand run to find Darryl lounging at the pool edge with Emily and Grace totally engrossed in playing a very complicated and involved make believe game in the pool involving mermaids, outfits and gardening from what I recall.
But most of all they made the holiday by just being their glorious wonderful selves. They brought Cambodia alive in a different way for me and gave me a holiday that I and they will hopefully never forget.