Celebrating a Birthday, Bohemian style

So just how does a Bohemian Traveler celebrate a birthday?  How can you make a special day when your friends and family are thousands of miles away?

When we left the US, we also left our exorbitant spending at holidays and birthdays behind. Admittedly, we used to buy loads of toys, have huge parties, and in general just go way over the top. When we began living a nomadic life we minimized what we purchased even more.  In doing so we had to re-invent the wheel, so to speak, on what makes a special day.

We decided that special should be based on experiences you carry with you for a lifetime, rather then "things" that end up broken, thrown away, and forgotten.  Not to mention the fact that we really do not need any more weight to carry around. So we focus on a couple small gifts, ones that can be carried easily and are very inexpensive. But more importantly, we choose to focus on a great experience for the day, one of the birthday child's choosing and one in which we all happily go along in celebration. The day is all about them and so far, none of the boys miss getting extravagant gifts or having a huge party.

Our littlest guy just turned 5. We started the day opening a few presents, things he had seen at the local market and wanted, total cost around $10 and all quite easy to fit in his backpack. After much debate about where he wanted to go, and a desire to share his cake with the monkeys, the zoo seemed the perfect answer. We had already visited Orangutan Island just outside Penang but never went over to Taiping Zoo.  That seemed the obvious choice.

We rented a car in the morning and off we went, 2 hours from Batu Ferringhi to the zoo in Taiping. Driving in and around Penang is extremely easy -- even though it's on the wrong side of the road. After living in Costa Rica where there are little to no signs as a guide,  Malaysia is a welcome relief.  Signs adorn the highway and off ramps and are always in English, a welcome thing when driving in a foreign country.

We arrived in Taiping and truth be told I felt a bit disappointed right off the bat. You first drive through a park that was lovely, but as soon as we arrived at the zoo we were greeted to trash everywhere. Very few people were inside, workers or visitors.  But this may have been because it was the end of Ramadan and they just came off a heavily celebrated holiday weekend.

We forged on after paying at the gate to what became even more gloomy.  Empty cages, overgrown walkways, and a general lack of staff started to make the low entrance fee, $4 for adults and $2.50 for children, seem overpriced.  I was worried as I often feel the pressure on making a fun experience and on a birthday I just want it to be extra amazing.  This zoo was starting to feel as though a plan B would need to be thought up, and quick!

T was so excited the whole day he was nearly always this far ahead of us!
Thankfully, the birthday boy hardly seemed to notice and ran ahead with boundless energy.  As we rounded the cornet to the area of the primates, everything changed.  Orangutans, gibbons, and chimpanzees, including a small adolescent that was a real treat. They all had small but well maintained enclosures and were active and engaging with us in a playful way.

Crocodiles, lions, panthers, zebras, camels, and more, this small zoo had a large variety of creatures. After the initial disappointment all the animals seemed to be in a good space. All with the exception of the elephants. They had a really dry and boring landscape. You could feel their boredom and sadness when you looked at them.  It was hard to bare, and we all hope they improve that enclosure soon.

The kids ran all over the place from one exhibit to the next and back again.  A word of warning though to not let the kids stray too far from you, the wild monkeys were at times aggressive and confrontational. One very large monkey in particular scared the crap out of all of us.

The wild monkeys even pestered the giraffes for their food!
Overall, it was a great trip.  It's no San Diego zoo and we all hate seeing animals out of their natural environment, but it left us with a good feeling.  After seeing the wild monkeys roaming around, pestering visitors, and tearing through the garbage bins we quickly realized why there was such a mess in the parking lot.  Sure enough as we were leaving we saw countless workers picking up the disaster that we all were sure must happen each and every day.

Next step in the birthday was for dinner. The birthday boy chose to go to the mall and eat at Chili's. It may not sound special, but eating out at the mall is not something we do often.  He had macaroni and cheese, grape soda, and chips and salsa. The real highlight for him, though, was when all the staff came out singing happy birthday to him and presented him with an ice cream cake. Because there really is no point in a birthday at all if you don't have cake...or so our little one thinks anyway!

When he blew out the candle, we reminded him that he gets to make a wish, he looked around the restaurant and said,"I wish everyone in the whole restaurant would sing happy birthday to me"!  No, he doesn't like attention at all.

How do you make birthdays special for your little ones??

Follow our adventures on Facebook!

Sharing is Caring

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


Post a Comment