Balinesian Backpacking Babies

Bali; tropical honeymoon destination and island oasis for surfing and yoga retreats.

…or ya know… The bucket list must-do of hiking up an active volcano with a 2 and 22 month old to watch the sunrise! Obviously.

But packing was quite different than what I originally envisioned when I thought of visiting Bali… Obviously making sure we had our passports, flip flops, and sunnies was as expected. But due to delays in life and a healthy dose of Zika floating around SEA (South East Asia), by the time we got around to booking the trip, we swapped out the surf board for trekking poles and the yoga mat for diapers and Peppa Pig pajamas.


And once Nana arrived, it was off to the airport we went for our way-too-fast 48 hr tropical escape from the big city.

Monday was spent lounging at the infinity pool with our much awaited fufu drinks and a few hours exploring the local market. And what a market. Asian markets in general are well worth exploration…. But Let. Me. Tell. You. Nothing says Bali quite like a bouquet of huge wooden……… bottle openers. I’m serious – those things were EVERYWHERE!

After an early bedtime, our day 2 alarm was set for 2am, where we would head off to spend the day with our (highly recommended) private driver and guide for only $150 USD.

We were a bit conflicted as to what to wear for the hike. Because reviews from Singaporeans made you expect something akin to Denali in December, but others did the thing in flip flops??! After doing it ourselves, our attire recommendation is to realise you’re climbing an active volcano for about 3-4km distance and 1000m elevation each way. You’ll slip and fall a lot less with hiking or trail shoes of some kind. As for the temp to workout attire, we were all pretty comfortable in shorts/capris, a short sleeve shirt, and light (read: fall) and wind proof jacket or pullover for at the top. Or when in doubt, a fleece blanket, Crocs and your favourite Peppa jammies will do. (Mom of the Year forgot kid socks though, so her feet also got wrapped in our buffs.)

It was a bit foggy the morning we went up, but still absolutely breathtaking. As was the view from where we had breakfast afterwards (top photo) looking back at the peak. The crater (2 lower photos) is riddled with stray dogs and monkeys ready to dig through your bags or jump on your head during selfies. So we held kids close, smiled quick, and had trekking poles at the ready for batting practice if needed (only once), and let the less informed tourists take their pictures while actually holding or touching the raccoons of Asia. In case no one ever told you…. Macaques are not cute. They’re annoying and disease ridden. 

Total trip was 2:30am – pickup | 4am – start | 6:30am – summit | 7:30am – start decent | 11am – finish! 

Despite having sunlight in our favour, going down was harder and slower than going up. The misty rain made things a bit slippery, had to pause for a few trail side diaper changes, and navigated a detour due to trees down over the original return path. But overall, an excursion well worth it that I’m sure our guide had no expectation of finishing when the 5 of us crawled out of the van that morning.

After breakkie with a view, we made it back to our hotel, found some rendang for lunch, and headed off to the airport for home. Of all the places we’ve visited in three years so far, Bali is up there on the must-do-again-before-we-leave list. What a fun and fast few days. And all the better to spend it with my mom, better half, and two munchkins. 😍

“My father considered a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing.” ~Aldous Huxley

Life in Zikapore

I didn’t truly understand what a major life choice was until I lived in Singapore. During the Zika outbreak. While 6 months pregnant.

Miami, according to the news, was basically on lockdown after 49 cases in as many months. Whereas, Singapore springs up  242 cases in the first week and some people were still very “meh – the symptoms seem mild” or “I’m not worried because dengue is worse, you could die.”

What?!?

I mean, I hope they’re right. I hope when the science finally catches up and we’re looking back on this in a decade that we laugh at how much we overreacted. And that the one article about Brazilian pesticides or Asia being a different strain were actually spot on. But so far, it’s not *proven* that this bug doesn’t cause severe brain defects. And I’m not about to bet my kid’s life on that one.

So why not just go back to the US like some women are doing? Well…. Because I have a job. And so does my Husband. And we are supporting – and growing – a family. 

“Just going home” for 3 months really means

  • Relocation, not vacation, back home
  • New job for me, potentially no job for him
  • Expat status and benefits gone
  • US lack of mat leave means no pay and only a few months to financially figure out a new house, car, life, etc…

Not a fantastic plan A.

So since the little shits haven’t officially reached our neighbourhood yet (or even close), we have opted for plan B where I morph into Rapunzel (or Fiona, depending on your fairy tale of choice) and stay locked away in my tower for a trimester. Only difference is that my tower is surrounded by tiny little disease filled dragons and I can’t kiss my prince to make them go away…

Bring on the prevention!

First, most bug stuff in Singapore is citronella based… Which, newsflash, doesn’t work when you’re looking to use it outside! Wait … What?!? Yes, you heard me. Citronella doesn’t actually repel bugs, it just camouflages your smell for a certain radius. So a light breeze will blow it away. And the radius is about this big…


So for everything other than my left shin, and to accompany my essential oil stuff so I can be out for longer than an hour, I had a special care package of Picaridin and DEET flown in from a dear friend (ironically who lives in Miami) who was tuned in on what a miserable quarantine I was in for.

Picaridin and EOs for me and #1 | DEET for him


A typical day means

  • Checking websites and newspapers for new reports of cases in case we needed to venture out – is it by our neighbourhood? Is it by day care? Or his work? Or our 1 place of refuge – the CrossFit gym?
  • Going outside means my new favourite perfume – Eau du bug stuff – and long pants/sleeves.
  • The office was next to a dengue red zone, and I wasn’t about to be the first Zika casualty for that area. So immediately started working from home (thankfully had a very supportive boss!) and went in on a few key days for meetings, but it was taxi driven to the front door, and no more walking between buildings a block apart.

The reprieve

  • You can order in anything and have it delivered in this city; dinner, groceries, massages… Anything!
  • I could still go for runs along the Marina. The concrete jungle that was downtown was pretty skito-free with the nice breeze we have!
  • I should be safe 61 stories up with zero plants on my balcony because I can’t grow them to save my life!
  • My desk chair at home is a yoga ball – which made the last month of emails a lot more comfortable. 
  • I got to spend more lunch and breakfast dates with #1 when I would’ve otherwise been at an office. 🙂

This also meant cancelling a few vacations though – buhbye Bali and Vietnam – as it probably wasn’t a great idea to go hangout in an actual jungle for a few months. But we will make those up.

~*~*~

Fast forward to December… we made it! I stayed sane, kiddo arrived healthy, and I would do it again if I had to. And thankfully for my other still pregnant friends, the cases are almost gone!


Nice try, Zikapore, but I won this round! 

“It’s better to lose one minute in life than to lose life in a minute.” ~Author unknown