Over the Christmas and New Year holidays, we flew up to my hometown, Kota Kinabalu, to hang out with family (and satisfy our Tuaran mee cravings).
For the first time in my life, I am now a real bona fide aunt to a gorgeous little niece, whom we were looking forward to meeting. Nathan and Grace just loved the fact that they had a true blue cousin to add to their generational count.
Nathan and Grace had unlimited hang-out time with their grandparents. Enjoying nightly sleepovers with them in their bedroom and staying up for late night pillow talks together.
On Christmas Eve we let the kids stay up late to attend a candlelight service at the church I grew up in. They were super stoked that they could hold an actual flickering fire-lit candle on their own.
We took the ultimate family photo together at a famous photographer’s studio. Nathan picked up some slick photo posing tips during the session.
I couldn’t stop laughing at the jaw-dropping expression on the kids’ faces as they enjoyed their first taste of roti tisu.
We went nuts with the arcade games at Imago shopping centre and let the kids whack several rounds of the cheap games there.
For New Year’s Eve, my mum prepared her own home-marinated chicken satays which we grilled ourselves over a charcoal barbeque.
Durian. ‘Nuff said.
Nathan had a mission on his holiday agenda to see a real life pitcher plant and the famously elusive Rafflesia flower.
So on Christmas Day, we loaded up eleven people in three cars and drove 90km up to Kundasang for a mini family road trip. We experienced a couple of misadventures along the journey (the way family road trips often do), which included one car (ours) getting lost and another car radiator shooting up a geyser of boiling hot water. But no one can say the trip was not a memorable one.
At the National Park, we managed to see several different species of pitcher plants.
Then, following an unexpected tip-off we drove another 40km back and forth between Kundasang and Ranau on the hunt for Rafflesia. And we finally tracked down our lucky sign for the new year…
We also stopped by this spot called Bombon Kg Marakau in Ranau for a feeding session with these large and super-friendly fish. The fish were so friendly, they would swim right up to your feet and nudge at you for food. We were able to pet and stroke the fish as they sucked and nibbled at the fish food straight out of our hands.
We rounded up our holiday with a short family getaway at Nexus Resort in Karambunai.
The kids enjoyed being freaked out by the monitor lizards lazing around the resort grounds.
Having water fights with daddy in the swimming pool.
Playing board games.
And hunting for sea shells along the beach.
My friend Rebecca called this age combo of the kids (seven and four) the golden age for travelling. I have to say I agree. As much as I miss the baby years, there is an undeniable liberty and so much more flexibility when travelling with older kids. Yet there are still oodles of sweetness and sparkles in four and seven to make holidays like these feel magical.