I’m eventually starting to write up a few things about our recent trip to South Africa. I don’t know how long it will take so it could be days/weeks/months before I actually post this. Or it could be later today if the boys are as happy to see each other as I hope! After Master 4 having his first full day at Kindy, Master 3 is eager to have him back home. Master 3 has been an angel today, probably because he hasn’t had to compete for my undivided attention. He’s now happily playing with his toys while I get a few minutes to myself before picking up Master 4.
First up, I thought I’d share our experiences on the numerous plane rides our trip entailed..SIX! As you can imagine, I was
pooping bricks a little worried about how the boys would handle the long stretches cooped up. My prep started weeks in advance…both mentally and physically! I trawled the internet (any excuse to use pinterest) for ideas to keep kids busy on a plane and I prepared the boys by talking quite a bit about what it would be like on the plane and what behaviour we would expect from them. (You’ll laugh, but I did the same for Hubby! I subtly reminded him a number of times that we would need to be cool, calm and collected no matter what the boys threw at us..literally and figuratively!)
I bought the boys each their own special backpacks (and by special I mean cheap!) to carry on board & I filled them with a few things. And by “filled” I mean I didn’t fill them much at all as I didn’t want them to end up too heavy, with the result of us having to lug them around! I put all the heavyish stuff in my carry on bag! My Mother-in-law put together a little pack of things as part of the kids Christmas presents, which they opened at our Christmas get together a few days before our flight. Things like their own drink bottle, a pack of kids “snap” cards, a book that comes with a paintbrush that only needs water to paint on the pictures and a few other bits and pieces. Some new matchbox cars too that went perfectly with the car caddy I had made.
I also told them that Santa would be leaving some presents for them on the plane and that, when they showed me good listening and calm playing, they could chose one.
I had 4 small gifts each from the $2 shop that I wrapped and carried in my bag. A pack on stamps ,the ink ones not the posting letter ones of course, which got about 5min of manic stamping before lids were dropped under chairs and ink leaked everywhere (sigh). A transformer toy that changed from robot to car; this was a hit but being cheap crap, died a limbless/headless death sometime before we landed. The Dora books got a very unenthusiastic reception, despite being read ad nauseum while we were in SA itself! The Ben 10 watch thingy I still have, wrapped, in the cupboard after deciding it wouldn’t be a good idea to unleash this on the plane where I wanted the kids calm & quiet(it was more of an impulse buy than a well thought out one!) I also took my Galaxy Tablet loaded with a few kids games and fave movies.
I had some snacks/treats too as Master 4 is a
pain in the arse bit of a fussy eater and I knew he would probably turn his nose to the meals on the plane. I was right! I think he had a plain dinner roll and a cookie off his dinner tray. Luckily he’s not what you would call skinny, so he survived on built up stores I’m sure. Master 3 was enthralled with the butter containers, and yes, I allowed him to eat it…I wasn’t about to start a war over that. And yes, that’s a plastic knife too.
We had a pretty good flight time for our Auckland to Hong Kong leg. 1430 take off so I figured that by the time the excitement wore off, it would be sleep time for their little body clocks. As much as I would’ve like for them to have slept longer, they did manage about 4 hours(total flight time was 11.5hrs). I, on the other hand got zero sleep, but watching endless mindless tv was the second best option. I think Hubby said he got about an hour, I’m pretty sure it was more though but I digress…Master 3 had a bit of a meltdown on this flight, but I probably would’ve done the same if I were him. He had fallen asleep on the floor under our feet & the seatbelt sign went on so we had to pick him up & strap him in. Oh boy, was he annoyed!And the most frustrating thing was the sign was on for no more than 5min! Grrrr. As soon as the sign went off I hauled him into the toilet to try & contain the noise. We were in there for about 20min before he calmed down. He also didn’t like being strapped in for landing, but we survived.
We had a 2.5 hr layover in Hong Kong so we had enough time to get a coffee (for me) and something substantial for the boys (read “substantial” as a bag of potato chips!) We found a quiet little nook by a window so we could lie down and rest our tale bones while the boys played with their ninja window men! Sticky hands and feet and they tumble slowly down the wall. Boys loved them! We also had “Cars” movie for them to watch but it didn’t occupy them for more than 10min. I don’t blame them really, after all the screen time on the plane. They had space to run a little to stretch their legs and burn off some energy.
We were a little apprehensive about the next 12.5 hr leg as we didn’t think that the boys would sleep much due to the fact they had had a sleep already, we were right. They stayed awake most of the trip, with a couple of light dozes, but nothing substantial. Luckily we had 3 hours in JHB as we had to collect our bags & trek all the way to domestic departures and recheck onto a different flight. I had done online check in before we left so avoided the long lines but it still took us a big chunk of those 3 hours to get through to the departures area. A play area for the kids right by our departure gate was a bonus too. The short 2 hour flight to CPT was uneventful. I sat with the boys while Hubby got to sit in front of us due to the 3-3-3 seat configuration. No inflight entertainment on this plane so it was a full on 2 hours for me!
The trip back to Auckland was broken up with a 2 night stay in Hong Kong, which I will blog about another time. The flight from CPT to JHB was at stupid o clock, which meant we had to be up before 5am. Not ideal when the next 16 hours or so was travelling, but it was better just to get started on the trip instead of a later flight which would’ve meant a lot of hanging around waiting to leave for the airport. We managed to book the bags straight through to Hong Kong so we didn’t have to worry about picking them up in JHB, much easier. The JHB to Hong Kong seemed to go quickly, despite being a smaller plane (3-3-3 configuration instead of the 3-4-3 we are used to for long haul flights) so yours truly got to be with the boys while Hubby got to be across the aisle from us. Master 4 didn’t last very long until he passed out…
We were shocked at the amount of bags allowed on board. We had 1 small backpack with change of clothes,passports,wallet etc and 1 each for the boys but people were coming on with 2-3 small suitcases each! The advantage of being a young family is we got to board first, which meant we got first dibs on the overhead lockers. Hubby had quite a large rugby world cup mirror he was bringing back to NZ so we wanted to make sure that it was safe. We guarded that locker like a pack of rabid dogs I tell you! Hubby even pissed off one of the flight attendants by telling her she was not to touch that mirror or even think of putting other peoples shit in there. Hubby doesn’t worry about what he says most of the time but, in this case, it just made me laugh because I have never seen an obviously angry attendant on an Asian airline. They are usually over the top friendly & helpful, and never let you see them annoyed. Trust Hubby to crack that exterior. Needless to say I think she was a bit stressed trying to find space for all the endless onboard baggage. We did eventually get off the ground, albeit 10min late.
The boys slept quite a bit on this leg, which was good. I didn’t use presents or anything on this leg. I figured that they knew what they were in for and it was ‘only’ a 12 hour flight. They did get some more use out of the car caddies. With endless trips to the toilet, which was right 2 rows from where we were sitting. Amazing how much of a draw card that was! We didn’t mind too much though, as it kept them busy & whittled away the time. Hubby had a baby in front of him that screamed 8 of the 12 hours! No word of a lie, I timed it! I felt so sorry for the mother, a few of the other passengers even tried to take the baby off her to try their luck, which would work for about 10 min before he would start all over again. My boys weren’t perturbed at all, slept through most of it and we just stuck our earphones on to drown it out. One time she did manage to settle him in the bassinette, and he was quiet for about an hour before they made her take him out when the seatbelt sign went on! I remember that happening to me when I flew alone with Master 4 when he was 6 months old, and I felt her pain. No use in getting annoyed by it either because there was nothing else that could be done. I must say that the rest of the passengers around us handled it pretty well too. I think everyone just felt sorry for them.
After a short time awake, Master 3 fall back asleep about an hour before we landed & woke when I strapped the belt over him, despite my stealth mode. HE.WAS.NOT.HAPPY and screamed until we got off the plane(so about 20 min at least!). Nothing I could do but stay calm & carry on. Once we stood up to get off the plane he stopped screaming, but was still a grumpy little so-and-so until he realised we were off the plane & he was free to run. I will blog about our experience at Hong Kong Disneyland soon. We had a 2 night stopover before heading back to the airport for our last 11.5 hour leg.
We were quite early for our flight as hotel check out was 10am and our flight was only at 1530. We didn’t feel up to just hanging around the lobby so headed for the airport & dropped our bags off. A McDonald’s meal for Hubby, McCafe coffee for me & some chips for the kids was in order so at least Master 4 would have something in his tummy for the flight. Oh, and the last little shop for souvenirs of course. Some running around for the boys and then the long wait to get on the plane. No special treatment for families on THIS boarding, it was stand in the line & suck it up. Amazing how accustomed one gets to special treatment!
We were back to the 3-4-3 configuration so we could all sit together again. The boys tag-teamed their sleeping with only a very short time when they were both asleep. But it was better than having them not sleep at all. Master 3 spent most of his sleeping time ON Hubby, who made the most of that by sleeping himself. After he warmed up of course…
All in all not too bad actually. We all handled the flights well…mostly 🙂