Camping isn't the kind of thing Singaporeans normally do. I used to like the idea of camping as a youth but I didn't get around doing it much. We used to do a lot of BBQs during Secondary School Days. A few times, we ended late. So late that the only way back home was cycling back from West Coast Park to Choa Chu Kang with a guitar on my back on a single gear BMX bicycle with a rare back-pedal coastal brake ... which actually belonged to Master Wong. I had no idea why that bike was entrusted to me for so long but it remained the outstanding and memorable one among the rest I actually owned later throughout my days in Singapore.
Those days. Those are the days without NightRider Bus Services. So if you miss the last train or bus you are pretty much fucked. Taxi was a last resort thing, used when we heard our dads were hitting our mums or the house was burning. If not, something else would be burnt - our hollow pockets. Why don't we just pitch a tent and camp? I ever asked. "Crazy," I was told that I was. Well back then, camping was illegal in public parks. They were normally done in "rural areas" like Serimbun or the offshore islands such as Pulau Ubin or St John Island etc.
By the time we finished NS, camping in parks were allowed in Singapore though none of those impromptu ones I needed when I missed the last bus was possible. We need to pre-book those or risk being chased away by rangers. "Wanna camp?" I asked Tucky once. He retorted, "In army haven't camp enough izzit!" So the most memorable camping trip I had in Singapore remained that one done in my poly days in Pulau Ubin where we cooked chicken buried in the soil with charcoal, saw amazing sights and possibly supernatural stuff better left untold.
After moving to Perth, I have since camped thrice. That was a criminally low count but reasonable considering the circumstances and challenges we had to cope with on higher priority. Judging from the experiences so far, we will be doing that more often in the future.
Yeah, camping is cool but driving 3 hours just to camp? Considering there is a (pretty shitty) camp site within 'walkable' distance from my house and plenty of top notch camp sites along that 270km drive, the campsite in Busselton better be good. For some reasons, M seemed to like the site very much and invited us to go along with them in December last year. So we did.
|Our tent, pitched just in front of our car, which serves as good storage for non-valuable items|
|An ad-hoc emergency bath for the boy|
|The ladies explore one of the neighbour's caravan|
|The beautiful sights all around|
It was enjoyable. I get to see two mothers carrying their babies in 'kangaroo slings' playing pool. We cooked and ate simply without fuss and enjoyed superb scenery despite summer flies. There is no need to further elaborate activities in detail. I just want to drop a few notes to remind myself why we bothered to get out there to spend a few nights away from our comfortable home with the kids.
- You'll be surprised how challenging it can be doing the simplest of tasks with an excited kid and an active crawler. It can provide an excellent opportunity to build up better team work for the family in a different setting.
- When the tent was set up, it reminded me of the work I did to provide a roof over our heads for this family. That night before I slept, I was grateful that we did not have to spend every single night that way.
- I found that kids enjoy it despite the obvious drop in 'quality of life' in the new environment. It is always the adults who expect, worry and analyse too much. I see the same trend in migrating to a new country. The adults are always the bitch - but they blame all their decisions on the kids.
- A camp site environment in WA is one of the best environments to talk to strangers. The casual chats. The willingness to help another stranger. I didn't even feel unsafe leaving my car unlocked. I couldn't even say so doing that in Singapore. That was how it was. Campers here seem to follow a unspoken code of ethics. It was remarkable to experience.
- Family spend 100% of the time together when they go camping. Whether you hate your kids or sibling or not, it is the time to improve things. No iPads and shit. Just everyone doing everything together, communicating like actual humans.
- It is good to be close to nature once in awhile, to be away from the hectic city lifestyle - though to be honest, Perth lifestyle isn't that hectic. Still, the fresh air, waking to see ducks waddling past, being waken by birds, absolutely no traffic noises and watching the grandness of the ocean .... You can't argue against that.
Up to this day, Albany still tells me how much she enjoyed the trip. It will be likely to stay in her memories till she grows up. It is the duty of parents to create moments like that for children. For they never remain young very long. Soon enough they will grow up and leave us to pursue their own life and dreams. We will be glad that we did not prioritize the meaningless over-pursuit of money over creating beautiful memories with the family.