Travelling in Vietnam with 2 under 2
In April 2019, we were supposed to have a family holiday in a beach town resort in Danang, Vietnam. We bought a Luxury Escape deal, offering 7 nights package accommodation with meals and spa massages included. But, I found out I was pregnant with my #2 and fearing Zika transmission, we postponed our trip to the end of December 2019 (before the voucher expired).
We were so excited about the trip. My husband and I both have our businesses, and the trip was the perfect time to relax and rejuvenate. Although my family had their doubts of us travelling to Vietnam with a 12-week old baby and 18-month-old toddler, I didn't think too much about it. After all, winging motherhood and everything in life are what I'm good at!
Boy, was I wrong. This trip was the ultimate humbling experience.
First of all, we miscalculated the best flight time to be flying with 2 kids. You see, the last time I travelled overseas with a kid was when my #1 was 8 months old. That's very different from flying with a toddler. We chose a 12-midnight flight for the first 8-hour leg, expecting the kids to be too tired and would sleep through most of the flight. This was the case for my #2, but it backfired on #1. She was awake since we woke her at 9 pm to go to the airport. Once boarded, she was so curious about the plane and the passengers, she did not sleep until 3.30 am. We tried everything to get her to sleep.
And I'm the type who can't sleep well on the plane. So my husband (who shared a seat with her) and I didn't catch any sleep till 3.30 am.
*2 hours later*
The movement and noise in the plane woke #1 up. She hated being strapped in the chair, so she crawled around to my side, woke other passengers up, and woke her sister up.
How I kept #2 from hysterically crying was just constantly giving her the boob. But do you know how hard it is to breastfeed a baby who hates the nursing cover, all at the same time still trying to keep yourself covered? It's so awkward and fidgety. And of course, #2 had to have a poo explosion. Argh, this must have been the longest flight of my life.
We finally got off in Singapore and had a 3.5-hour layover there. Singapore airport is very kid-friendly with a movie theatre and butterfly park among other attractions. But, we're still trying to survive with bloodshot eyes with no sleep here.
Our second leg to Danang only took 3 hours. Due to airline policy and the type of aircraft, we couldn't sit next to each other on the plane. That's not an issue for us. At least #1 couldn't disrupt #2's sleep. My husband and #1 were seated 2 seats behind myself and #2. On the plane, I met a lovely family with a 2-year-old toddler from Sydney and we talked about how challenging it was to travel with a toddler. Witnessing another family having to go through the crying tantrums, iPad bribery, and even resorting to begging the kids to please use the seatbelt (all these helpless experiences that we went through) made us feel less alone. We're all in the same boat!
Finally, we're in Vietnam.
But I couldn't find my airport pick-up! Did the hotel send someone to pick us up? I started to panic. This is not the place to be stranded with 2 very very tired kids. (A little background story: my husband and I were stranded in Maldives airport at 12-midnight because the hotel didn't send someone to pick us up after confirming via email that they would do so. And Maldives airport at night was scary and I would say dodgy). Thank goodness we found the guy after 20 minutes. And he looked legit.
Now the real holiday starts.
After we checked into the hotel, my plan was for us to have a shower and take a nap before getting food to eat. So far, #2 had been sleeping on and off in the baby carrier, feeding every 2 hours (#2 doesn't take a full feed when she breastfeeds. She'll feed for 30 minutes and want to feed again after 1.5 hours). I, on the other hand, could feel my anxiety at full force.
"#1 needs to sleep. She only slept for 3 hours the entire night. She needs to sleep. She needs to sleep. She needs to sleep."
This playing in my head. Over and over again.
As the day progressed and it became clear that #1 was not napping, my lack of sleep and high anxiety made me so snappy and mean to everyone. I called #1 a monster and to go away. My husband was so angry at my behaviour, he left with #1 to find food. I felt like the worst mother.
20 minutes later, I gave up on sleep, strapped #2 in the carrier and went to find them. I just couldn't go on another minute without apologising to both of them. It was 3 pm and I found them in the hotel restaurant. We had a nice meal, went for a walk by the beach, and went back to the room to rest before our Christmas Eve dinner at 7 pm. We were all so exhausted by 6 pm, but couldn't skip the compulsory $400 dinner we had to pay for.
Surprise, surprise, after fighting sleep for the past 24 hours, #1 finally fell asleep in her stroller as we walked to the Christmas Eve dinner location. I fed #2 before we left, and she's sound asleep in the baby carrier.
We enjoyed the Christmas Eve dinner buffet. We had 1.5-hour to ourselves before the kids woke up. It was a very long day, but I was so sure of how amazing the rest of the trip would be.
Merry Christmas! We woke up to #1 having a high fever. My nightmare came true. She fell sick and continued having a temperature for the next 3 days. She was very cranky throughout the trip because she wasn't feeling well and was teething. 6 teeth were coming out at the same time!
#2 was an angel for most of the day, apart from witching hour and night time. When she's in her fussy mood, she refused to latch which perpetuated her crying cycle. Her witching hour was usually around dinner time, so we would order room service every night.
One of the things that made me stop breastfeeding altogether, was the number of times #2 woke up to feed! She woke up every 2-3 hours to feed every single night. I was more exhausted than rejuvenated. Also, I didn't bring a breast pump to Vietnam apart from Haakaa. I thought that was sufficient, but I underestimated my milk supply and it'd led to hard engorged boobs on most nights.
Aside from all that, Vietnam was a dream. Danang had such clean gorgeous beaches. The hotel was very family-friendly, the staff was accommodating, breakfast was always a feast, and the food was so YUM! We were completely okay staying in the resort for 5 days straight. In the morning, it was breakfast. Then, we go for a little walk before going back to the room for a mid-morning nap. We had lunch by the beach while taking advantage of their 2-for-1 cocktail offer. We had spa massages every second day, booking our appointments back-to-back so one of us could take care of the kids. And then we finished the day off with dinner in the room so the kids could be in bed by 8 pm. You think we would have some alone time after the kids were asleep, but the truth is, we were so exhausted from the day. My husband and I mostly slept at 8.30 pm. Not exactly what I had in mind.
On one of the days, we tried the babysitting service and it went well! It cost $20 for an hour to babysit #1, and so well worth it. Finally, #2 had some one-on-one time with us.
On day 6, we finally ventured out to Hoi An. It is a historical town located about 40 minutes away from our hotel. The second biggest mistake we made was to wing Hoi An! Okay, it's mostly my fault. I googled Hoi An, and I stupidly assumed it was going to be a small town that you could tour around on foot.
Instead, we were dropped off at a busy intersection. No one around us spoke English. No one could understand us. We didn't have mobile data to check Google Maps. It did not look like the images on Google at all.
I went into a retail store to ask for directions. All I could remember was this famous Japanese bridge. They had no idea what I was on about and kept telling me to go straight. It was quite scary reliving that day. We had to walk on the roads with cars and motorcycles zooming past, while pushing a stroller and a baby strapped to me, because the pedestrian pavement was blocked.
We went into a hotel to ask for directions, and the concierge tried to sell me a boat ride instead. I did get a map, and we spontaneously jumped onto a Tuk-Tuk. Best decision ever!
We had a beautiful day in Hoi An. The lack of baby change stations was somewhat expected, and the kids fell asleep mid-trip giving us some alone time to enjoy a beer and the famous coconut ice coffee.
On our last day, we decided to venture out to Danang city to have a local lunch experience. We hired a car from the hotel and had a kind driver to drive us around. We also visited the Marble Mountains and it was so majestic and incredibly beautiful.
On our journey back to Melbourne, we had 6 hour layover time in Singapore. We had dinner with my sister and niece. #1 acted out again in the restaurant, and we let her cry it out for some time. Until the whole restaurant stared at us. Which made me wonder... what's the socially acceptable rule for crying kids? How long is too long? Hmm.
The kids slept fine on the plane surprisingly. It was a 9 pm flight back to Melbourne from Singapore, and the novelty of flying probably had worn off for them.
At the end of it all, I ask myself: Is the trip worth it?
Because 1 hour of good behaviour from the kids was everything. We were present, we made new memories, and that's timeless and forever.
Will I do it again?
Probably not until they're older xD
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