When we went on a family vacation, parasailing for kids in Goa was never on the agenda. But they managed to put it there soon and were done with it too!
We finally managed to take a family vacation to South Goa this November. We all travel a lot, my husband does, so do I! Chhavi travels with both of us! But we three rarely get a chance to go together!
But this time we were a big group. Seshadri and I were there, so were double trouble– Chhavi and my niece Vasu. Seshadri’s parents were there. And one of Seshadri’s college friend joined us too. So in all we were 7 people staying in a serviced apartment in Goa.
Still one evening it was only the kids and me chilling at the Fatrade Beach. Everyone else was tired and taking their siesta. Double trouble asked me if they could go parasailing. I told them to go and inquire about it. If the experts allowed them I would think about it.
The place was about 50 meters from the shack which we used to frequent. I thought the girls will not go on their own to ask! But off they went without giving me a backward glance!
They came running back to say they would be allowed and it 2400 rupees for two people. However, at that moment due to lack of customers, the parasailing was halted temporarily. I knew that. But they thought it had stop for the day. I didn’t correct them.
So, they went back to the beach again. However, in a while the parasailing guys got another customer and it went up in the air. They came running with excitement shouting, “lets go, lets go!”
I got up thinking I will talk to the guys and see if they were really allowed. I was still finding it hard to believe that they would take two small children up in the sky! But they told me as well, that it was not a problem at all.
Out came two small life jackets for kids. The girls are eight and ten. There was no other adult from my family on the beach. The decision to let them go was entirely mine. Truth be told I was scared but I did not want to hold them back! Tintin was equally surprised at what I was doing!
But my heart was almost in my mouth. I, for a second, thought of the consequences of something going wrong but then I had seen the sail go up so many times the same day. There was an instructor with them. He went on all the sails.
And within no time they were soaring up in the sky. They must have remained up in the air for just a little more than a minute. And yet it felt like an eternity.
Here is a short video of their adventure. I stopped mid-way because the guys handling the activity wanted me out of the way of the ropes.
As they came back to terra firma, I exhaled a huge sigh of relief. They were busy, chattering with each-other. And of course, they wanted to do it again!
When our guide for the day told us that the pickup back to the hotel was at 9.30 pm, I had my sincere doubts if the kids would last that long. He was leaving us at the Hong Kong Disneyland. It was 10.00 am in the morning. The 9.30 pm pickup otherwise made sense as there are fireworks at 9.00 pm. But I made a note of the taxi stand anyway. I knew I would need it, negotiating the metro with two cranky kids and my sense of direction didn’t feel appealing even at the start of the day.
When my daughter got her passport this year, I was probably more excited than her! I wanted to take her and my niece out, who already had a passport. What better place than Disneyland for the kids, or so I thought.
It was a hot and humid Sunday when we visited the Hong Kong Disneyland. I know that was nobody’s fault that the day was hot. It was also a Sunday. It was a long weekend back in India. It was school holiday time in Hong Kong too. So, it was everyone’s idea of fun, to head out to the Disneyland on that Sunday! From the coach parking to the entrance was a short walk. Anyway, both the kids are good at walking, walking was least of my worries.
We saw the Disney characters at the entrance, there was a long queue in case you wanted to get photographed with Mickey. My kids said they would give it a miss. The queue looked daunting.
We stumbled into the area called Tomorrowland. The first ride we saw had a 50 minute wait. I chicken out, we walked into a ride called Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster. It had a shorter wait, it was indoors too, which meant air conditioning. The attendants at the ride advised me to sit with Chhavi as each car has two seats. My niece Vasu is big enough to sit alone. We go along the track with guns in our hands trying to blast Zurg and everything else in-between. The kids laughed and I was happy.
We come out to the same ride I overlooked earlier, the Orbitron. The kids want to go, they say they don’t mind the wait. I quickly decided that I would let them handle the rides and wait period. If they were happy to wait, I was happy to wait. At the entrance, the staff politely informed us that the wait was 50 minutes. I thanked them and we got into the queue. The queue was orderly, surprisingly the kids were well behaved, all the kids I mean. There was hardly anyone telling mom and dad that they wanted to do it right now!
We went up in the same car this time as it could seat 4, when our turn came. My niece fiddled with a nob and our car went up, then she made it come down! It was fun while it lasted, for about 5 minutes. It was a 50 minute wait for a 5 minute ride!
By now we had been out in the sun for more than an hour. The kids were thirsty, they were hungry too. There was a restaurant nearby. Only there was hardly any place to sit. We anyway placed our orders of ice creams and cold drinks and managed to find a seat. The kids polished off the ice cream and told me that they would walk with the drink. I agree.
We stumbled on to the Fantasyland next. We stood in a queue for the Cinderella Carousel. The wait time was about 20 minutes, which meant the ride was not too popular. My daughter said she has done such merry go rounds before. Well, this one looks a lot more posh but she had a point, the basic idea was the same. The kids left the cold drink aside saying they could not finish it. Food was 3 times more expensive in Disneyland compared to the rest of the Hong Kong. I paid in dollars (OK Hong Kong Dollars but still) to buy it and here were two brats leaving it aside! I don’t like cold drinks at all so I could not finish it off for them! You can only bring in water from outside to the park. No outside food is allowed.
After this, my niece spotted a ride called- Dumbo the Flying Elephant. It had a wait of 60 minute and it was a much smaller version of the Orbitron. I tried to dissuade her but she was firm. So Dumbo the flying elephant it was after a wait for 60 minutes. I forgave her in the end because I saw really grown up ladies in their saris (from India too as we chatted later) enjoying the ride after standing in the queue, my niece is after all 9 years old! We then went in to see a show called ‘Mickey’s Philhar Magic’. It had a very short wait time, it was in 3D, it was in an air conditioned hall. It was a lot of fun, particularly the AC.
By now not only the kids, even I was hungry. We went into the restaurant called the Royal Pavilion. We ordered pasta and drinks. By now I was ordering a little less. I decided I could always buy more stuff but I didn’t wish to see my dollars going waste! I had a minor altercation with Chhavi and the lady at the counter offered both the kids stickers to distract them! That was mighty nice of her. And that is the only Disney merchandise they got! We sat outside in the shade as there was no vacant seat in the air conditioned hall. It was quite nice actually in the shade. Later with some food inside our stomachs we decided to give the Toy Story Land a try.
My niece was attracted by the RC Racer Roller Coaster. My daughter was below the height restriction. I asked the staff if I could let my niece go alone and they said that was perfectly fine. So off went Vasu, while Chhavi and I waited at the exit for her to comeback. It was a long wait in the hot sun again, there were a few umbrellas that offered some shade. Chhavi asked me to go inside a shop after waiting for a long time. She said she wanted to be in the AC for a while. She told me she would not ask me to buy something from the shop. I was fidgety inside the shop, what if Vasu came out? So we got out of the shop and within two minutes Vasu came saying she was looking for us! She had fun on that ride, it actually looked like a lot of fun to me too. But then I could under no circumstances leave Chhavi and Vasu alone and go! They would bring half the Disneyland down in that time.
While we were walking around Chhavi went and attended the toy soldier boot camp! She looked totally clueless and cute! The actors helped her along and ensured that she had a good time.
We then headed for the Toy Solider Para-shoot Drop. It again had a wait time of an hour! By now it was 4.00 pm in the evening and the kids told me that after this ride they wanted to go to the hotel! In this ride you sit in the ‘para shoots’ and drop from a height, go up again and get dropped again a few times. It was mildly exciting for me. But for Chhavi it was dreadfully exciting. Her face would contort when the fall came. After getting out of the ride she started- “now if only we had brought papa along, he would have screamed louder than me!” Till she went for this ride, she hardly ever remembered her papa but now suddenly she kept chanting it for the next hour! He is wise though, he refused to venture with two kids to a foreign land!
I asked them if they wanted to sit in air conditioning and eat something and give other rides a try later? Both firmly refused, I guess it was all a bit too much for them. We headed out to the taxi stand and soon we were on our way to the Royal View Hotel. The hotel was quite close by, 20 minutes ride at the most.
The kids later told me that they would give only 5 out of 10 stars to Disneyland as they had to wait for every ride in the hot sun. If you are planning to go to Disneyland Hong Kong do take a look at the temperature. Also if you can, do not go on a public holiday as every other ride will have about 1 hour wait time. Be aware of height restrictions. The food will cost more!
Overall I think the kids did have fun. It was anyway quite educative for them, the ads of Disneyland and the actual experience did not match up! As we say in our family, it was indeed a character building exercise!
After a light Indian snacks and chai we started out evening tour at the Tower Clock, close to Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong. There was a small park which looked like a kid’s play area but it was under maintenance. Of course, Chhavi wanted to go there. I had to convince them that even though it was possible to jump over the fence it was not done, they could see there was no one in that area. Then I dragged them to the Victoria Harbor.
For about five minutes they were speechless and just looked at the view. Then they started. They wanted to jump into the water from the pier. The elder one Vasu also declared, that after all she knew how to swim! With such ideas being floated around me, photography took a very severe beating. It was sunset time but I couldn’t even locate where the sunset was, at least not properly. I could see the general direction of the sunset and others going at it with their tripods. I hurriedly clicked two-three pictures but none of them are going to make it to the blog! Kids and sunsets don’t mix well, not in my case for sure! The brats also refuse most of the times to get clicked. So while they were engrossed in looking at the view, I decided to click a few pictures.
Then my niece pointed out this ship to me, “Look masi a pirate ship!” It was well spotted, I have to say. It served as the foreground for my subsequent photographs! But with kids jumping around and so much water everywhere to fall into, my attention was more on them than on photography. All of us were quite happy to walk around and then later take a ferry to the tram station for visiting ‘The Peak’. It was a beautiful evening, our first in Hong Kong. I hope there are going to be many more trips in the future with my double troubles!
I recently hopped over to Hong Kong (booked the holiday with Makemytrip, their Simply Hong Kong package) with my niece aged 9 and my daughter aged 6. I was the only adult on this trip, I am the only one who is mad enough in the family! I have taken out my daughter alone and my niece has stayed with us in her school holidays. Before the start of the trip there were jitters all around.I heard that my brother-in-law wanted Vasu (my niece) back just before the start of the trip, but then he somehow managed to let go. Some of the lessons I learnt after traveling with kids:
Keeping their stomachs full: If you have raised a child, you already know this. They are at their crankiest when they are either hungry or sleepy. Having two kids meant they would fight with each-other as well in such scenarios. I knew this from my previous trips. But on the trip to Hong Kong, there was an added issue. We didn’t try too much to get Indian food. I want them to experiment with different food. I had a stock of chips (which my sister supplied) and in addition to that we had a lot of fast food. We tried Starbucks (my niece wanted to go there), we tried Burger King but in the end the kids did miss familiar food that they are used to. At home they take it so much for granted. They enjoyed dragon fruit a lot. Pizza was the biggest hit with them.
Kids are perceptive: Within a few hours of landing in Hong Kong, the kids declared that the country was much less crowded and it was quite clean! They also said people were not honking. I never expected such wisdom in first few hours!
Standing in a queue: I guess we imbibe it from childhood. In Hong Kong we have to queue at so many places. Both the girls wanted to go and stand just a little ahead in the line, they were not jumping the queue but they would just stand a fraction ahead of me in the line! It was quite a task to make them stand in a straight line!
It is easy to teach not to litter when no one is doing it: I found that as Hong Kong was quite clean, the kids automatically started throwing everything in the dustbins. Both the families have a strict no littering policy but the kids try to test our patience in India. But when they felt that no one else did it, they automatically starting throwing things in the dustbin.
When to play and when not to: For the kids everything was an occasion to play, be it the sensor activated water taps or soap dispensers. I had to continuously tell them not to treat everything as an object of play!
Kids love simple things: If I was on my own, I would hardly spend anytime inside the hotel room. But the kids loved to play inside the two bedroom suite we had at the Royal View Hotel. They would invent games on their own and spend quite sometime playing it!
No TV was a good thing: There were not many cartoon channels on the TV and after an initial token protest, they didn’t even ask for TV! At home they do watch a lot of cartoons.
Deciphering advertising: As the kids watch a lot of cartoons they were quite excited about the visit to the Hong Kong Disneyland. In reality we went there on hot Sunday with every other ride having a wait time of 60 minutes. By 4.00 pm they had enough and they demanded to be taken back to the hotel! Later they said they would give only 5 out of 10 stars to Disneyland!
When photography took a back seat: I consider it was quite an achievement that even when I was standing at the Central Harbor at Hong Kong during the golden hour, I was more glued to the kids than to clicking pictures. Vasu and Chhavi wanted to jump into the water from the platform as it looked attractive. With such ideas being floated and voted for regularly, photography took a severe beating.
We had a lot of fun: We actually had so much fun! On the last day my daughter came and asked if we could stay for a few more days! Now if only they study well, I am quite willing to take them out next year again to another country.