Got small children? Your boarding pass is ready! Read about my experiences as a diplomatic wife and a mum to two little live wires as we move around the globe. I hope you enjoy it and find it useful too.
I'm not sure who enjoyed it more - on the one hand, the little man had a blast building foam brick walls in Bob The Builder Land, but on the other, it was definitely Daddy pushing for one more go on the Harold The Helicopter ride. Regardless, we had a wonderful trip to the new Little Big Club at Puteri Harbour in Johor, the southernmost Malaysian state, a stone's thrown from Singapore.
We planned the trip as a third birthday treat for Master and I'd highly recommend it to anyone with children of a similar age. The indoor entertainment complex features a number of themed play zones (Bob The Builder, Barney, Angelina Ballerina, Pingu) and a Thomas-themed amusement park, perfect for little train lovers and thrill seekers. It also has a schedule of performances and appearances by much-loved characters. There is a Hello Kitty World on the floor below, though since our little boy shows minimal interest in fluffy pink cats we decided to give this a miss.
We spent a happy two or so hours in the various play zones before heading up to the Thomas amusement park. We were thankful that the little one had just had his birthday - a week earlier and he would not have been allowed on any of the rides. It's worth bearing this in mind as I'm not sure how many under-threes would nod understandingly at being told they weren't quite big enough to have a go on the exciting revolving bus!
The only disappointment was the lack of good food at The Little Big Club. This is easily dealt with though - there are some reasonable restaurants just outside along the harbour, and it's no problem to nip out for a refuel before returning to the bright lights of The Little Big Club.
We stayed at Le Grandeur Palm Resort, an easy drive from Puteri Harbour. Whilst it is perhaps not as majestic as the name would suggest, it was a reasonable base, with friendly staff and large (if somewhat dated) rooms. The resort is huge, with a golf course and an adjoining sports complex. I can't vouch for the golf course, but we definitely enjoyed pottering over to the eerily-deserted sports complex - eighties fans in particular will enjoy the video arcade.
We also stopped in at the Johor Premium Outlets. It's a very attractive mall and boasts a great, casual Thai restaurant (Absolute Thai) with slick service and a varied menu. In terms of shopping, dedicated bargain hunters might find a steal or two, though the little I saw seemed to, well, be on sale for a reason.
All in all it was a weekend well spent. Of course it's inevitable that your toddler will nod off two minutes after leaving the building, but then again, is there anything more indulgent in these heady parenting days than room service for two?