Don’t drop your iPhone in the ocean and other lessons learned in Bali

By Lindsay Nash

For a quick update, we still live in Korea. But now we are four, as my son Finn likes to say. There’s me, Whit, Finn (age 4), and now, 3-month-old Poppy.

It was when I was about 6 months pregnant (translated: crazy) that I decided to book us all a trip to Bali for the winter holidays from Korea. Oh, we’ll winter in Bali, dear! And the flights are on sale! Lucky for me he tends to go along with my adventures as long as it’s not too too outlandish (which he deems is my idea of eating sushi in Mexico or my habits of cleaning the bathroom naked so I don’t accidentally bleach my favorite pair of brown pants that he despises).

So, 6 months later, I write this on my back veranda in Sanur, Bali, as the two little resident chicks peck the ground in search of crumbs from Finn’s breakfast and sweet little Poppy naps in our suitcase in the other room. The giant green palms occasionally wave to me and the aroma of incense burns three times a day in offerings to the gods. I do believe I might be in heaven. But I did bring a 3-month along, so the term “heaven” is, of course, relative.

I learned some valuable lessons on the flight over alone. Whit and I consider ourselves to be a bit expertish when it comes to traveling with youngsters. When Finn was 7 months old, we flew with him from Korea to Canada, and then to the United States for a month to visit and meet all his family. Then, we flew to Ireland so I could run a marathon (bye bye baby weight!) and then back to Korea. We have created a gypsy child, one that now speaks Korean near fluently and one that calls airplane turbulence “just a little bouncing!”

We’d never flown with a tiny baby before, but how difficult could it be, we asked ourselves. Well, we did get lucky in that department. Oh, don’t get me wrong, she wasn’t quiet. Every time she needed to nap (every 3 hours), she screamed like the airplane was free-falling from the sky, plunging into the ocean. She needs that, apparently, to get to sleep and all. But, our ticket to success was having a bald, big-blue-eyed baby on an airplane full of baby-loving Koreans. They learned her name in the first 30 minutes of our first 7-hour flight. So every time she woke up, or cried, a chorus of “Poppy!!!!” and duck clucks (why the clucks? No idea!) rang out from every row behind us on the plane. Men in sweater vests and women in track suits carried Poppy up and down the aisles, taking her photo and clucking every time she made a noise. She could do no wrong! (Picture that, America!)

Please take a quick haitus from reading this blog to see Louis C.K.’s bit about flying with a baby. It’s so inappropriately hilarious and, to me, there is nothing funnier than inappropriate humor.

Finn is always easy. I don’t know how we got so lucky with this gypsy child but he’s a wonderful traveling companion. I traveled alone with him last year from the States to Korea and he couldn’t have been more pleasant of a partner. We ate sushi at the airport, watched movies on our personal screens, and just generally had a great time. I couldn’t help but laugh when people told me, “Oh, I feel so sorry for you having to travel so far alone with a toddler!!”

So Poppy was parading the aisles and Finn was watching his regular favorite, “Lightning McQueen.” We ordered him some Malaysian seaweed popcorn. Finn loves dried seaweed in Korea so we know this would be a hit. We took a picture of him with the green-tinted popcorn. Oh, this will be a hilarious Instagram post for all our American friends. Seaweed popcorn!!

Well. Pride cometh before the fall. The fall of seaweed tinted vomit out of the mouth of Finn that is after two hours of airplane “bouncing.” All in that handy little sick bag the airline provided and then another. And then down the aisle as I chased him toward the bathroom as the plane taxied on the runway toward the terminal. Then it started coming out his other end. But I’ll spare you details.

At our stopover in Malaysia before our last 3-hour leg to Bali, Whit allowed me a short wine break. Bless him. I sat like a normal adult and drank that glass of red wine, watching couples enjoy their quiet drinks and young people kicking a hacky sack as they waited calmly for their flights. I couldn’t help but smile and think that one day, we’d be traveling alone again and dreaming of the days of green barf and hugging toddlers while sitting on the gross airplane bathroom floor. This is our life and I love it.

Two weeks later, we’ve hit our family stride in Bali here along the quiet beaches of Sanur (perfect for families and small children since the waters are calm on these shores!). We’ve discovered the beauty of AirBnB, where we rented a traditional Balinese house (“joglo”) for $39 per night. Whit and I take turns taking Finn to the beach or pool each morning, while the other stays at home and chills with Poppy. In the evenings, we venture out for dinner, walks on the beach, and quick frolics in the sea. Frolicking. Yes, that was what I was doing when my dear iPhone 5 popped out of my bag and landed in the ocean. It’s currently buried in a sack of rice now, and I’ve lit some incense in typical Balinese fashion to plead with the gods to save it.

But, for now, I’ll enjoy the peace and chorus of the chickens pecking and the roosters crowing while the palms wave me back to their world.

With love from Bali,