It’s only taken us almost two years (one month shy of it!) to get out of Asia and Australia. But we’ve made it – we’re in the UK!!! You’ll have to excuse me while I do an excited happy dance. I was really starting to think we’d never leave Asia.
Travel tip: starting in one the of cheapest regions on earth makes it really hard to justify the budgetary costs of exploring the rest of the world!
The kids were amazing on the flight. Fourteen hours with only a short sleep and barely a grumble. Noah had the iPad, Hayley her colouring books and a mountain of snacks. Most of the snacks of course were gone within 5 minutes and Colin’s laptop was devoted to recharging the iPad rather than to him catching up on work.
Considering we arrived in the early hours of the morning by Malaysian time they handled the slow cue at immigration, a train ride and a walk in the cold and rain to our hotel surprisingly well. Minor meltdowns (only a few from me!), teasing to make your little sister cry and hitting your brother to make him cry … nothing you wouldn’t expect from two kids who were awake for almost 24 hours.
We’ve had some great adventures in London. It’s been a good chance to remember what travel is really like when you first hit a new destination – some adventures go to plan, some go horribly wrong and sometimes the misadventure turns out better than the original plan.
Trying to navigate a foreign public transport system in a city the size of London is an adventure in itself after the known of KL and Penang! We chose to stay out in Croydon at a Travelodge as they had a special for 35 pounds per night for a family room. Croydon is 13 miles out of central London but the trains run express from there into the city – only one or two stops. It turned out to be a great location – two shopping centres, lots of restaurants and two supermarkets within a 2 minute walk.
First stop – Museums!
A good night sleep, everyone woke up at 7.30am UK time and we it was time to head to the Natural History Museum and Science Museum. They were top of our sightseeing list for our time in London. Big Ben, the tower and palace came in tied at third but the museums were a must!
How different our sightseeing list is now compared to ten years ago when we were last here. Although admitedly we went to both pre-kids and loved them too!
Both museums are free and fantastic with kids. They’re right next to each other and you could probably spend a full day in each, but you can do them both in one day if you’re happy to skip a few of the sections and focus just on the things that really interest you.
Natural History Museum
We spent the bulk of our time at the Natural History Museum in the dinosaur section. Of course!
It’s the most popular part of the Natural History Museum so it was packed with school groups and families.
A lot of exhibits was ‘look and don’t touch’ (it’s a museum so no surprise!) but there were a few hands on exhibits like buttons to press, giant teeth and claws you could touch and games. Definitely one of the better dinosaur exhibits we’ve seen.
Noah loved it!
We also loved the bug section, the marine wildlife section, space and the geology exhibits. The kids actually stopped long enough at exhibits to read some of the exhibits … well occasionally a few things caught their eye and they stopped long enough to ask us to read the signs. And occasionally they stuck around long enough to actually hear us read them.
We ended up spending a lot of time in the geology section where the kids learned a lot about tectonics, volcanoes, the formation of rocks and earthquakes.
Possibly their favourite part of the entire museum was the earthquake simulation. They went on it at least 4 times, giggling and cowering on the floor pretending to cover their heads in case of falling buildings.
Finally we dragged ourselves away for lunch and the Science Museum.
If the kids thought the Natural History Museum was great, the Science Museum blew them away. The kids exhibits on the basement level were so fantastic we ended up spending 2 hours alone in the hands on play area.
We caught the Bubble Show were the kids learnt all about … bubbles. No surprise there! It was a lot more educational and entertaining than it sounds. Even the adults enjoyed themselves and learned a few things!
The presenter had an amazing way with kids, making even the simplest thing sound magic. Noah got in trouble a few times … OK a lot … for not staying on his bottom, but eventually managed it and got rewarded with being picked to participate. His first request – for his sister to join him up on stage!
The Science Museum is a whole day in itself. We only saw the kids area and we’ll need to go back another time. I’d recommend going to the Science Museum first, then fitting in the Natural History Museum in the afternoon.
We ended up spending 6 hours at the two museums and could have spent longer if it wasn’t for the fact that it was dark at 4pm and jet lag was starting to catch up with us.