family of 9 backpacking in china | part 1

The Background: way back in 2011, my family decided to travel to China. Backpacking style. It was the first (and only) time we all flew overseas together. I was an excited 21yo when the planning started and I decided to start a private family travel blog to record the planning a journey. I recently went back to read the posts and was tickled at some of the things I wrote. I’ll share some of the posts here. And so, on December 30, 2011, we took off (all 9 of us – two parents and 7 kids) to China for about 2 weeks. It was a crazy trip filled with great memories. We flew from Singapore to KL, had an 8 hour transit, flew off to Guilin, went to Yangshuo, stayed there for a few days, took the overnight train to Shenzhen, went into Hong Kong, visited some relatives there then flew back to Singapore. A total of 12 days overseas. Names will be changed to our birth order to help maintain the kids privacy. **psst: this will also give you a bit of insight to how a big family in Singapore works**  

September 5, 2011:

Our journey started out simple enough, I guess. We kids gave the parentals a treat to HongKong for one week. While they were gone, we played around and thoroughly enjoyed having the ‘cats’ away.

Then they returned. They bought lots and lots of stuff! You name it, they got it. Along with the loads of stuff, they said, “We all HAVE to go there one day!”

Now, Sister #2 and I have already been to Hong Kong, when I was 19 years old and she a mere 22 year old. We were practically babes then! And we vowed that we would return one day soon.

What started as a statement became something more. We started talking about it…like all the time. Our plans grew a bit wilder each time.

Initially, we planned to just visit Hong Kong…and visit Gu Por. Then one day, a German boy came to church for a week. He was on his world trip (and he is just my age!) and his next stop was Hong Kong…and Guilin.

Now, why am a mentioning this? Because when Sister #2 talked to him, she somehow went to check Guilin up and realized that it was *just* a 10 hour train trip from Shenzhen! And our plans changed. Again. We decided to ‘rough’ it out and go from Guilin to Hong Kong. By train! Yes, with 7 kids and 2 parents.

Thus, it grew.  And we started planning. And planning. And planning.


After months of procrastinating, we finally booked our plane tickets.   Tickets from Hong Kong > Singapore booked on June 17, 2011  Tickets from Singapore > Guilin booked on August 27, 2011  We are weird like that.


September 20, 2011:

The parentals celebrated 26 years of wedded bliss…of course, they climbed lots (LOTS!) of mountains during these 26 years. Hypothetically speaking. So after 26 years, in-laws (and out-laws) and 8 kids, I still have people telling me that my parents look young. What’s the secret, I wonder?

So, unbeknownst to me, I blindly gate-crashed their anniversary dinner…it was Sister #2’s fault. She was sick and tired of working yesterday and decided to follow the parentals to JB for dinner. Surprise, surprise! She hates going to JB.

Anyway, she asked me if I wanted to go along and I was all game for it (aren’t I always?).

So we ate at KSL Mall in a Japanese restaurant. The restaurant was real stylish…dim lights with sappy, sentimental love songs. It kinda looked like a nightclub (not that we know what a nightclub looks like). It was the PERFECT romantic dinner….if they didn’t have two grown up daughters hanging around. 😉 But no worries, we enjoyed ourselves.

We took pictures with Daddy’s iPhone 4. Maybe I can upload them later.

We talked lots! About the trip…planning…arguing about what to do. Sister #2 wants to go to Macau. 😐 Boo! I need to get a lens…I’m thinking of the Canon 18-135mm. It’s about $350-400.

I want to actually walk around Guilin. Ma wasn’t to keen on the idea but Sister #2 backed me up. And random question was thrown out…how are we gonna do cycling in our LONG denim skirts. Yada yada! 🙂

We’ll figure things out soon…


We have yet to feel any excitement although the time is drawing near, my dears. In about three (and a half) months, we will be high in the sky. Taking on the unknown lands of Guilin (and Yangshuo). Watch out, here we come.

The planners, namely Ma, Sister #2 and I are still not feeling any excitement yet. So far we have the Hongkong hotel motel booked and the Jetstar and Tiger Airways tickets booked.

Sigh, we still have the Guilin to Shenzhen tickets to book, cloth to buy (to make clothes at Shenzhen), and the Yangshao hotel to book. Not to mention, money to save up for buying sprees (Brother #4 will be the biggest shopper if I’m not wrong).

So, do we feel any excitement? Naw, Sister #2 and I are crumbling under the work load (hello, late nights!), Brother #4 is experiencing working life (ha, now he knows why we complain!), Brother #7 is suffering from PSLE (early morning runs with Ma to perk up his brain), the rest are busy with school. Well, except Sister #8.

Daddy is not excited either…maybe because we are not going to Guangzhou and eat tofu?

I guess it’s just too early to be exited. Tune back in when we are a day away from taking off!

January 17, 2017
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