Meet Gauravi a mommy from Mumbai, India who was so crazy about travelling that she ended up becoming a mommy on the island of Manila in the country of the Philippines.
Thanks, SuperMOM Anisha who gets everything organised to make this Travel section a reality.
Tell us something about yourself Gauravi….
A graphic designer by qualification, I am a SuperMOM from Mumbai….My toddler is a little over 3 years old and was born in Manila in the country of the Philippines.
Wow…how was it staying the Philippines that too with a baby?
It was really amazing SuperMOM, Her first two years were spent there with lots of backpacking trips and weekend adventures.We were fortunate enough to stay in the main city of Manila where the main centre of the place was a street across. There were plenty of parks and fountains with walking and cycling tracks. We spent evenings walking in parks meeting lots of babies, dogs and playing around. The main square always had flea markets, pet shows, music concerts to keep us involved socially. And I made sure I documented Aadya’s growing years as and when possible.
Tell us something about your travel journey…
We started travelling as soon as my daughter was 3 months old and then there was no looking back. We’ve travelled to islands in boats and ferries, we took Aadya in planes and cruises and even backpacking when she was just about 2 years old. We were fuss-free travellers and wanted her to join us in our small n big adventures. She happily joined in.
We believe that travel with a little one is also an adventure and most importantly…. this is a great time to escape. The most we cared was to ensure a night’s sleep and a day full of activities with Aadya.
2 destinations I would recommend are – Palawan and Boracay in the Philippines – both are beaches but yet so different.The Philippines is an under-appreciated tropical travel destination, especially with their extraordinary Snorkelling, diving, surfing, hiking, pristine beaches and of course — islands that are THIS beautiful. Where the beautiful blue water mixes with emerald green, jungle-filled mountains that appear to rise up from the ocean, and small fishing villages dot the island. Together with its neighbouring islands, it creates the Palawan province, aka paradise. It’s also home to Subterranean River National Park which a natural wonder of the world and a Unesco World Heritage site.
Which islands did you visit?
We had a bucket list for travelling in the Philippines and our top contender was Palawan – And while we’d like to visit every single island in the Philippines, there’s one island, in particular, we’re zeroing in on — Puerto Princesa, Palawan before we move back.
We planned a 3N 4days trip to Palawan in January 2016 with our 22-month kid.
Puerto Princesa is a coastal city on Palawan Island in the western Philippines. Palawan is known for It’s a base for boat trips through the massive limestone caves and an underground river of the biodiverse Subterranean River National Park Puerto Princesa.
We took an afternoon flight that took us an hour to reach Puerto Princesa and about 30 mins to reach the hotel. It was Aadya’s last free flight before she turned two. Luckily we got an empty seat that made our travel even more comfortable. We Settled our luggage and headed to grab some authentic lunch, yes we are foodies! And we want to try everything local everywhere we go.!.
Any flight rules that we all parents should adhere to?
We have a simple rule for flight travels… give the kids some lollipops or fruits and let the kids suck on to something to avoid ears to pop
And if the child still gets cranky all we can do is to wait for the child to calm himself/herself.
It is important that we as parents remain calm and not worry about what the co-passengers might think they might be disturbed but…..it’s not your fault. You are a parent and a kid is just a kid!
Tell us something more about Puerto Princesa
So the most important thing is that we only carried our backpacks and a small bag of ironed clothes. Simple swim and beach wear, shorts and tees this was only accompanied by sunscreens and hats flip-flops and beach toys.
As far as the food was concerned we bought bananas, pineapples and mangoes locally. And milk tetra packs. We mostly substituted milk with Yogurt or Yogurt drink when necessary. We had done our homework well and planned activities and lunches to all the authentic places as suggested by travellers.Our favourite Picks were – Badjao Seafront, KaLui Restaurant and Haim Chicken Inato
Can you plz explain your itinerary for the trip?
Day 1- First day was for settling in and doing some local sightseeing. There were a Crocodile Farm and a Bakers Hill with a butterfly garden and many more places to choose from. It was a full moon evening so we decided to take a walk in the Bay area. We even took a rickshaw ride and hogged on some local delicacies. Keeping it simple.
Day 2- Early next morning we set off for the Subterranean Underwater river tour. This needs to be pre-booked and takes up the whole day. It’s extremely scenic with pristine blues surrounding a tropical rainforest. A small boat known as banka takes us to the island at the entrance of the Subterranean River National Park which is a Unesco world heritage site.
Day 3- The next day was entirely for Island hopping in the pristine waters of Honda Bay. There are 2 options to book island hoping either through a travel agent/front desk or just catch hold of a trike rider (local rickshaws/auto) he will take you to the jetty where you can book your own boat at government approved price, we took the latter option. We started early and took a private banka(boat) that would take us to 4 islands for snorkelling, diving and lastly lunch.
Each island at Honda Bay offers different thrills but Luli Island, Starfish Island, Pandan Island and Cowrie Island are all great for swimming and snorkelling. Snorkeling in the beautiful coral gardens
A lot of things to do on the island hopping tour involves snorkelling and swimming, so don’t forget the armbands or floats for kids if u plan to swim with kids. Maybe you’ll swim with your eyes open, but just trust me. Rent it and it will make your island hopping experience a whole lot more exhilarating and fun!
First Luli Island which means Sink & Rise, which is what the Island does; at high tide, the island disappears and at low tide, it reappears.
Second, the Starfish Island has the greatest population of Starfish (Sea Stars) in all of Palawan. Symmetric five-armed orange Starfish are the most abundant type in the area but you may be lucky to spot other varieties. My little picked one out of excitement and got it on her sandcastle. She loved those sea creatures so much that she wanted to bring one home. It’s surprising how children are so enthusiastic and fearless until we influence them about it.
Cowrie Island is named after the small-to-large sea snail, called “cowrie.” The island has a number of cabanas, a pavilion and thatched-roof spa huts, all overlooking the sea and creating a beautiful, picturesque scene.
Pandan Island had the finest, whitest sands of all the islands and a lush tropical forest. This oval-shaped island offers stunning views of the Honda Bay. The only structures on this island are wood and nipa cottages and stalls selling drinks and massages. The lack of concrete structures enhances the feeling of an island left to be at one with nature. We ate our lunch there which was local fish delicacies cooked specially for us on the same island with juices and beer
Sea sand and sun make a perfect setting for a relaxing holiday. We swam, snorkelled made sandcastles and enjoyed the beach like a private island with not over 10-15 other travellers. In all a day well spent doing a lot yet relaxing.
Day 4– On the last day, we decided to simply pack things meet our friends we made during our island hopping tour had lunch near the airport so that it would be easy to board a flight. Please note while flying in and out of such beach destinations the airports are small and are not equipped with modern facilities we still need to manually open our bags for scanning, there will be dogs who do the sniffing here, weigh your luggage at a point get the tags and then move to the check-in counter. That was our flight while returning with the famous Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao’s branding.
So how did your travel experience end?
Saying Goodbye was tough, but we promised to be back one day when Aadya grows up and wants to visit the country of her birthplace.
“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck
That is exactly how I feel about travelling. My last beach vacation was Goa and my mind is already working on where to go next – Andamans, Phuket or Greece! Most parents stress too much while planning a vacation with toddlers or kids, instead they should just relax and travel.. These are the experiences that we share, show them a new world that makes them smarter and more caring towards their environment and surroundings.
How do you share your experiences and be active on social media while on a vacation with kids?
I’m not a blogger but I document all our milestones on Instagram – #Babyaadya # growingupisfun #happinessishere. Follow me on my Big adventure with my princess @gaukau on Instagram Sometimes on facebook as we can share our experiences with our near and dear ones living miles away.
Any special camera equipment or tricks for a great family pic with kids?
One should invest in a DSLR and some good lens while travelling with kids.
My favourite and my personal iPhone7’s camera that gives me amazing light adjustments and bright non-pixelated images and videos that we’ll cherish all our life.
We rarely meet such travel crazy people but i am so lucky to have Gauravi in Mumbai and we are planning a meetup soon.
I am sure you must have loved reading this.
Keep on Travelling!!!