Summer vacation looms large in a child’s life, pretty much no matter where you grow up or what your summer vacation looks like.
To celebrate the range of wonderful summer experiences out there, the Sassy Mama team will be sharing our own fond summer memories from childhoods spent on five different continents. Look out for a new summertime reflection from the Sassy Mama team every week through July and August, mamas! Today: Partnerships Manager Nadia recalls family road trips in Peninsular Malaysia during Singapore School Holidays.
Summer Vacation growing up in Singapore was simply known as “June Holidays”. We had about three months of vacation in total over the course of the year, but they were split into a month in June, six weeks at the end of the year, and a couple more weeks in March and September.
Since my parents were both MOE teachers, they also had their vacation period at the same time we did. This was fantastic and horrible at the same time. Fantastic because that meant they could take us out to do fun stuff all month long. Horrible because well, we couldn’t get up to no good while they were out at work!
My most memorable vacations during this period were our long, long, LONG road trips up and down (and up and down) Peninsular Malaysia. My dad would pack all of us into his car, my older sister and I would sit in the back, and my mom would whip out the map and play navigator (she had to — we didn’t have GPS systems back then!).
It’s so crazy but half of the fun we had was IN that car! Sometimes, we would travel with another family, my mom’s bestie, her hubby and two daughters. The younger daughter Emilia and I would sit in our parents’ car. And my sister Nealda and the older girl Zarina would sit in theirs. We would talk and play games for HOURS while on the road.
How did we manage to entertain ourselves so well and stay out of our parents’ hair without iPads? When my younger sister Eva was old enough to join us, it became even more fun. I remember one trip where we entertained ourselves in the backseat by reciting the ENTIRE SCRIPT – word for word, including all songs – of The Land Before Time. We were obviously obsessed with that movie. At least once a year we would have to sit nervously and silently in the back while my parents squabbled about which hotel to stop at (we didn’t have online reservations back then, everything was impromtu!), which route to take, who was more stubborn than whom… We usually tried to stay as invisible as possible during those moments!
When we were no longer in the car, we had some spectacular experiences throughout Peninsular Malaysia. Sometimes we would visit Emilia & Zarina’s family at a typical Malaysian kampong. Imagine three spoilt city-girls raised in Singapore, trudging around in muddy kampong grounds, sleeping in a wooden house under mosquito nets, stepping into cow dung. It was a huge adventure for us.
Sometimes my dad would drive all the way into Thailand and we had the most memorable food there. Once we also stopped at Terengganu to watch turtles lay eggs. Another time we stayed at beach huts, caught prawns and grilled them right there by the beach. Yet another time we ventured by boat into Kenyir Lake to stay at a wooden long house where I swear I saw the biggest beetle that has ever flown around. I was terrified. But we went fishing, we swam in waterfalls, we went on jungle treks. It was brilliant!