Suburban Man: Flight Risk

by Simon Farrell-Green / 27 May, 2016

Illustration: Angela Keoghan.



Travelling overseas with a baby is one of life’s great challenges.

The three of us got on the plane to Singapore in the middle of the night and sat up the front in those seats that have the bassinets on the bulkhead, in between a nice South American couple with a baby and a nice German couple with a baby. We boarded first, and had great seats with lots of legroom. A man allocated a seat in the row next to us paled when he saw all these babies. He buzzed for a steward. “To save us all some pain,” he said in a sonorous voice, “I think I’d better move.” And despite completely understanding, I thought, Fuck you.

We had a glass of red wine and the beef please, and then Ira looked pretty tired — it was about 2am by this point — so we put him to sleep and we were so tired we actually slept, until he woke up a few hours later. We put him on the ground, and he crawled over to the South American couple and the two babies played in the aisle until breakfast came.

In hindsight, it was an ambitious itinerary. Two nights in Singapore, a week in Chiang Mai for work and then a week in a little villa on the beach in Koh Samui. It was 34ºC and humid at seven in the morning in Singapore, and we couldn’t check in to our hotel until the afternoon, so we set off to explore a cute little 1930s area with hipster bookshops. Ira grizzled on the subway, which seemed to alarm the locals — Singaporean babies appear not to make any noise and don’t seem to go on the subway very much, and certainly not in the heat of the day — before falling asleep in his pram.

The afternoon got hotter and he woke up and wailed and thrashed about and the Singaporeans looked at us with contempt until we parked up on the grass under a tree and bought emergency snacks. He slept fitfully that night, as expected, and then he got a cold, and the first few nights weren’t much fun. Though the worst bit was the flight to Chiang Mai, when he didn’t sleep at all and cried loudly and arched his back and flailed around, and we wondered what on earth we were doing.

But Thailand was great for babies. Ira made eyes at waitresses and waved his little hand in an open-and-closed kind of way, and they picked him up and wandered around the restaurant while we drank Chang beer and ate noodles and grilled fish and som tum.

In Chiang Mai we rented a car, which I can assure you is an excellent thing to have when you are travelling with a baby. Then we checked in and went for a swim, and I did my usual flap about dinner. I had a list of places from Andy Ricker’s Instagram feed to check out, and another list from a chef I know at Saan.

All of these places looked amazingly good and in normal circumstances I might even have been unable to choose and tried to eat at two in one night. I settled on one; it was five minutes up the river, but when we got there it was closed, and Ira started to grizzle so we drove to the night market near our hotel, which was just setting up as our boy started to really yell.

We grabbed some grilled chicken, fresh off the charcoal grill, and sticky rice and laap and a salad made of sliced bamboo with great torn-up pieces of kaffir lime leaf and chilli and lime juice, and we raced back to the hotel and sat on our balcony as the sun went down, feeding Ira balls of sticky rice and bits of chicken and bananas that we also bought at the market. I have to say, it was one of the finest dinners I’ve ever had, anywhere.

Latest

If I were a rich man: A grammarian on the nettlesome subjunctive
98551 2018-11-19 00:00:00Z Diversions

If I were a rich man: A grammarian on the nettleso…

by Ray Prebble

Many people find themselves using one or other of these subjunctive forms without really knowing why.

Read more
As China shuts its gates to our plastics and paper, how can NZ stem the tide?
99059 2018-11-19 00:00:00Z Planet

As China shuts its gates to our plastics and paper…

by Veronika Meduna

Unless we get serious about recycling, there’ll be a tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish in the ocean by 2025.

Read more
Heights of contradiction: American and Israeli Jews' complicated relationship
99055 2018-11-18 00:00:00Z World

Heights of contradiction: American and Israeli Jew…

by Todd Pitock

Todd Pitock's travels through Israel reveal the true differences between American and Israeli Jews.

Read more
The Democrat's midterm wins spell the end of Trump's dream run
99105 2018-11-18 00:00:00Z World

The Democrat's midterm wins spell the end of Trump…

by Paul Thomas

Far from being Trump’s near-“complete victory”, the midterms mean opportunities for rigging electoral boundaries have swung back towards the Dems.

Read more
Sally Rooney's Normal People has the makings of a classic
99094 2018-11-18 00:00:00Z Books

Sally Rooney's Normal People has the makings of a …

by Kiran Dass

Normal People is sharply observed portrait of an on-off romance and a book you need to read.

Read more
Why you should avoid 'eating for two' during pregnancy
98747 2018-11-18 00:00:00Z Health

Why you should avoid 'eating for two' during pregn…

by Ruth Nichol

Doubling down on food during pregnancy is out, unless it’s diet quality we’re talking about.

Read more
The long, slow goodbye to Angela Merkel
99173 2018-11-17 00:00:00Z World

The long, slow goodbye to Angela Merkel

by Cathrin Schaer

German Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to leave the job in 2021, but that’s not soon enough for some.

Read more
Silent witness: The forgotten NZ movie star
97576 2018-11-17 00:00:00Z Movies

Silent witness: The forgotten NZ movie star

by Paul Little

One of the earliest and possibly least known NZ movie stars is Eve Balfour, a silent-movie actress, born in Christchurch in 1890.

Read more