M’sian photographer brings his S’porean toddlers on solo travels for bonding & life lessons
Some people may find travelling with young kids a hassle.
Not for Stefen Chow, a Malaysian photographer and filmmaker who is based in Beijing, China.
Solo travelling with his children since 2015
Since 2015, Chow has been taking turns to take his two children — a six-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son — on solo trips with him around the world.
While Chow was born in Malaysia, he was raised in Singapore.
His wife and children, on the other hand, are Singaporeans.
Speaking to Mothership, Chow revealed that he got the idea for this when his daughter turned two, and he started having more coherent conversations with her.
He yearned to have a stronger connection with her and felt that he wasn’t getting it at home because his daughter was closer to his wife and even the nanny.
Chow, who used to do backpacking, has always liked the impromptu, casual way of travelling.
The photographer thought that it might work for him to bond with his daughter.
Since his first trip with her when she was two and a half years old in 2015, Chow has never looked back.
Fifth solo trip with daughter to Vietnam
From Dec. 24 to Dec. 30, 2019 Chow posted a series of photographs on Facebook, documenting his fifth solo trip with his daughter to Vietnam.
His posts recount snippets of conversation, which are both adorable and heartwarming.
In one post, Chow humorously photographs his daughter eating a bowl of what she claims to be “the best pho ever” at the airport:
In another post, Chow photographs his daughter trying her hand at milling corn, with him pointing out the hardships village women in Vietnam had to go through in the past.
Chow also made it a point to teach his daughter about the Vietnam war and the sacrifices of Vietnamese mothers during the reunification of the country:
After the trip, Chow also wrote a reflection on how his daughter has grown, and how the adventure has brought them closer.
Fourth solo trip with son to Japan from Dec. 16 – 23, 2019
Before his solo trip with his daughter to Vietnam, Chow had also taken his son on a solo trip to Japan from Dec. 16 to 23, 2019.
According to Chow, his son had “become the rather chirpy, positive companion,” which was “very different from the first two trips when he was two and three years old”.
Chow had also made it a point to travel simple, with “no big sights, cheap stays, public transport and standard local fare.”
Though “physically and mentally demanding”, Chow says that travelling solo with his young son is extremely rewarding as he gets to “tend to his needs 24/7… talk, play, laugh and bicker for an intensive period.”
Chow says that he especially enjoys getting to observe his son’s character and behaviour at a much closer range, just as his son has also gotten used to his idiosyncrasies and imperfections as a father.
Wife supportive of solo trips with children
Chow usually schedules his trips with his children towards the end of the year as his work winds down during that period.
According to him, his wife is extremely supportive of his solo travels as she understands that he needs time to be alone with the children, and sees how their relationship would improve after each trip.
He also states that he is still surprised that people find it amazing that he brings his toddlers out for solo travel.
If possible, Chow states that travelling solo with children is one of the most natural things to do, to spend quality time with them.
You can view his more of Chow’s travel albums with his children here.
Top image via Stefen Chow on Facebook