Kuala Lumpur: It was supposed to be a quick, quiet weekend away.
Two nights in Kuala Lumpur, travelling light and a couple of days' relief from Jakarta's choking pollution.
What could possibly go wrong?
I booked our KL flights (deliberately not buying checked luggage), the hotel, made some appointments with people I had needed to see in the Malaysian capital for months and announced to Karen we were going.
Malaysia’s Petronas towers are one of the city’s many attractions we didn’t get to admire during our ill-fated weekend away.Credit:iStockphoto
"It'll be easy," I said airily, "trust me."
"Ok," was my wife Karen's guarded, single-word response.
Back when we had had just one baby girl, it actually was easy to pick up and go somewhere for the weekend.
To say that adding 14-month-old twins to the mix had complicated travelling a little bit – by car, train or plane – was like saying that building the 3803 piece Lego Death Star is a little bit tougher without the instruction manual.
But I was determined to make a statement: would could do this, instruction manual be damned.
…once released from pram captivity, toddler twins, like two ends of a magnet, will push (run) in exactly the opposite direction.
In my mind, I was already cleverly compiling a list of all the places I'd wanted to take Karen and the kids, scheduling these in around meetings I had with some political offices and ambassadors.
Our problems began when we landed in Kuala Lumpur.
The budget airline had lost the twins' stroller.
Given the stroller was approximately the size of an Imperial-class Star Destroyer, we were confused.
It's a little known fact that once released from pram captivity, toddler twins, like two ends of a magnet, will push (run) in exactly the opposite direction. Airport baggage collection carousels provide plenty of room for marauding, but little room for nappy changes or naps for tired twins.
"But how did you lose it? And where is it now?" I implored the 'customer service' staff.
One person said that it had not made the flight.
A second said it had made the plane but was in a different part of the airport terminal. She wasn't sure where.
The third staff member said it would arrive through over-sized baggage "any minute now".
After 180 "any minutes", we gave up and took a taxi to our hotel. I would be late for a meeting if we waited any longer. I turned around and promised Karen I would be back in an hour.
An hour and a half later, I got a message from my wife: "Are you far away? I need some help".
The twins were asleep within minuted of arrival at the city’s bird park.Credit:James Massola
Now, my wife is nothing if not cool, calm and collected. She's an accomplished journalist who has travelled the world and takes things in her stride.
This message was the Karen-equivalent of "EVERYTHING IS ON FIRE".
I high-tailed it back to the hotel.
The first thing I noticed was the pram had finally arrived. The second was that all three kids were screeeaaammming.
The third was that one son had no singlet on, my daughter had no pants on and Karen was holding the other boy very, very tightly.
"Everything was fine until about 20 minutes ago," Karen began. She explained one of the twins had vomited up his dinner. While she was cleaning him up, my daughter wet her pants [she was newly post-nappy].
Then, the other twin ran into the bathroom and jammed his toe under the door. Karen was still holding him and he was whimpering.
Did he bump his head?
"Not exactly. Can you have a look at this left big toenail, please?"
I reached for his left ankle and the howling started again. The nail was hanging by a thread and bleeding badly.
We rapidly administered Nurofen and then called the front desk to get a doctor sent over. Two hours crawled past and we gave him some Panadol.
Eventually, a doctor arrived. He took one look at the nail and declared "That has to come off". But we'd have to bring him to the surgery Saturday morning.
The doctor re-bandaged his foot and left, leaving Panadol, Nurofen, and a hefty call-out fee.
The next day passed in slow motion. I spent hours in the narrow corridor of the doctor's surgery, waiting with my injured son while Karen tried to corral the other two in the hotel room, trapped inside by pouring rain.
Eventually, the deed was done (with much squealing) and the toe was bandaged up again and I figuratively limped back to the hotel with my son.
The weekend was just about a complete write-off, though we did manage a quick visit to the bird park in the centre of the city.
Both boys, of course, passed out asleep within 20 minutes of our arrival to see the 'birdies'.
There was one final treat in store.
While I settled the twins down to sleep that Saturday night, I insisted Karen take a bath in the beautiful tub in the hotel room.
After a while, I noticed my nappy-free daughter had gone unusually quiet while watching the iPad. Just as I looked over, a voice piped up.
"Papa, I've done poo poo. But, it's ok!"
As we limped back to the airport on Sunday morning, I tallied the carnage in my mind.
Several arguments, four work meetings, three appointments with a doctor, two nappy accidents, one explosive vomit, one serious injury and most importantly, one lesson (re)learned: always listen to my sagacious wife.
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