Summer vacations are just around the corner. I am usually quick off the block to plan a trip with my daughter, Chhavi. Last year we visited Koh Samui together and we had amazing fun.
Before that my niece, daughter and I went to Prague. My sister and I have travelled to Budapest and Paris on vacations. I am quite used to applying for a Schengen Visa. When I did the formalities for the first time, I remember I was surprised that the Schengen countries have an approved list of travel insurance companies.
However, this year has been different. I have never been so confused as to where to go. I am torn between taking a simple vacation vs taking my daughter to a place where she can play tennis as well. Chhavi started playing tennis in 2017 and within two years she started playing tournaments as well.
— Mridula Dwivedi (@mridulablog) April 6, 2019
Life was a little less hectic before. Now every holiday means extra practice. Twice a month we go around NCR to play matches. In tennis, All India Tennis Association is the apex body that runs a national league popularly known as AITA. She plays in under 12 and 14 age categories as of now. Contrary to all expectations, she won her very first match of Under 12. By the virtue of that one win she has a ranking of 539 or so in the country. The ranking is of course a dynamic thing and changes from week to week!
Before tennis, choices were simple. She would go to school, play in the park in the evening and we were free to travel in all her vacations. Now there is tennis practice and matches to juggle with school!
My original plan was that we will go out in June to a European country. Within Europe, I prefer a Schengen country as it gives me some flexibility to travel around. Schengen visa travel insurance is also easy. We would combine tennis with a vacation.
But I am not so sure now. Her practice is going on well with her coach, Aman Rawat. I am reluctant to break her rhythm. On the other hand, I feel she is not getting any break so we should simply go on a vacation. Going by this idea I start looking at the air fares and then I feel if I am going to spend so much money; why not add a week of tennis in it! I keep chasing these ideas within my head without reaching anywhere!
Another thought is to take a quick short break on one of the long weekends when the school is open and only focus on tennis during the summer holidays. The difficult part is that I am not feeling peaceful with any of these choices. I keep over thinking without arriving at any decision.
Then I ask the child what she wants, and she says, “Whatever you decide!” So, we go back to square one! She doesn’t seem too keen on an extended weekend break! So, I somehow must find a way to make something work in the summer vacation itself or convince her to take a break later! But before I do anything, I need to make up my own mind. Who thought taking a summer vacation could be this tough!
The first trip of 2019 was to Ranthambore with Abhyaran Hotels. Chhavi and I took the Janshatabdi from Hazrat Nizaumddin to Sawai Madhopur in the afternoon. We arrived at the hotel in the evening after 7.00 pm.
After going for a quick refresh in our spacious room we headed to the pool for bonfire and much needed tea. Every evening a group of local singers perform by the fire under the starry sky. The first day of the trip was almost gone in reaching the destination and recovering from the fatigue.
Tired as we were, there was dinner to look forward to. We joined the buffet dinner at 8.00 pm. The hot roits are served at the table. The buffet offers both and vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. The food had a homely feel. Later I realized they grow some of the produce in their own farms.
After dinner we retired to our room. It was a blessing not to have TV there. Kids are so glued to screens these days. However, my endeavors were only partially successful. There was WiFi at the resort so Chhavi could watch something on the mobile. But we both crashed quickly. And we had a lazy day ahed.
Waking up without an alarm is such a simple pleasure of life, more so when you went early to bed the previous night! We woke up refreshed and it was a beautiful sunny day. After a leisurely breakfast we went about exploring the resort.
We had seen the pool the previous night, now it was time to see the farms, cows, rabbits and hen! The garden surrounded by the the Sahtoot (mulberry) trees is a serene place overlooking the mustard fields.
After a round of the hotel, Chhavi and I walked out to the blooming mustard fields! And it was such great fun. We were peering at the fields by the narrow road. Tractors went past us playing local songs at full blast!
After walking for a while, we found a break in a fence. So, went closer to the field. I had to reign in Chhavi or she could have gone wild with the blooms. Still a few flowers ended up in her hands and in her hair band!
While we were walking back to Abhyaran, we met three little girls coming back from their football practice. If we had more time Chhavi would have loved to join them. After tennis, football is her favorite game!
But we hurried to lunch and the evening safari! Our safari was in Zone 10 which is at the other end of the city. It took us quite some time to reach the jungle. The canter was filled with tourists from Italy. They greeted Chhavi warmly. No two adjacent seats were vacant but the driver offered Chhavi the front seat next to his! Her day was made.
We had no luck with the big cats but then we had gone to the jungle and not a zoo! Even Chhavi understands that. It is always a pleasure to go to the jungle.
We went to the bonfire again after the safari. It was followed by a sumptuous dinner. We wish we had one more day but Chhavi had tennis to get back to.
As we waited for our train from the small Sawai Madhopur station at the sunrise we both knew it was a good start to the year!
PS. Chhavi and I were invited by the Abhyaran Hotel on this trip.
The summer vacation is over, Chhavi has just gone back to school. This was the most fun summer vacation we ever had. We both played tennis, we did the quick trip to Thailand and of course we ended up studying as well. My child will never know the joy of playing non stop for two months, like we did, back in the days when there was no holiday homework! But such is life. Traveling with my daughter is so much fun though!
While Chhavi played tennis and I would wait for my turn, I often ended up discussing summer vacation plans with other moms. I have never understood the logic- if we do not take our kids abroad what will they go back and tell in the school?
I have been travelling abroad since 2014 with Vasudha and Chhavi also known as double trouble. That was the year when Chhavi got her passport but I don’t think she has any inclination to go back and brag in her school. That has never been our motivation for travelling.
This year I heard a new variation of the theme- my children refuse to go anywhere which is not exclusively meant for kids. The first time Chhavi, Vasudha and I traveled abroad it was to Hongkong and primarily Disneyland. But since then the kids have been to Prague with me.
And this year Chhavi and I went to Thailand, we visited Koh Samui. A a lot of people told me that Samui is a quiet place and the kid would not like it. I am happy to say that Chhavi can entertain herself for hours on a beach and in the swimming pool.
I had plans of taking her on a speed boat ride but I was a little hesitant. Those trips are long and the sun is hot. She took the matter out of our hands. She refused to go anywhere.
She was happy to stay at the resort. After breakfast we would go look for water. She would jump in the pool, then get out and go jump in the sea only to be back and jump in the pool again. This is what she more or less did for the entire vacation. She also enjoyed the Jacuzzi in our room at the Royal Muang Samui Villas.
She refused to go out anywhere other than to the street outside to have a few of our meals. There were open air massage shacks which we both enjoyed. She went on a jet ski ride too. All this was available right by our beach, the beautiful Choeng Mon Beach.
I firmly believe that kids can enjoy any destination as long as we are a little creative, listen to them and give them the freedom to voice their opinions. For example when we were in Prague, I realized that the kids like to go to open parks once in the day. They would race me to the top a Castle, visit a church, sit down quietly for a meal in the afternoon but by the evening they would nudge me towards either Kampa or Lanta Park where they could run around, walk or just make a silly game to play.
While we were flying back from Koh Samui I read an article in the in the Silkwinds, the magazine of Silk Air which precisely voice my opinions but in a better way. The authors in their story, Have Kids Will Travel, mention that they took their 2 year old to Angkor Wat. And the kid loved visiting Mr Buddha’s house! You can read the article and the may issue here.
As a parent I feel we already protect our kids too much. I do not want to make their vacations a complete bubble wrap. Until I read the article I always felt unsure when people said their kids refuse to travel if they are not taken to a theme park or a water park or something similar. But when I read that article at 32 thousand feet I exactly understood what I felt.
So if a two year old can enjoy visiting Mr. Buddha’s House, what is wrong in enjoying a beach or a swimming pool? One can just explore a new place and realize that the world is beautiful. As they say in Thailand, we in the end are same same but different!