It has just dawned on me that we didn’t talk much about our cat Daisy and lovebird Lavender in our travel despite this is a journey for the four of us. I guess we were a little carried away by the places we visited and the people we encountered.
Daisy and Lavender play a key role as it is a journey of discovery and growth not just for Kin and myself, but more so for our furry children since we get to see various facets of their personalities and reactions on the road that we have never envisioned before.
When we first had the idea of four of us travelling in a van, I honestly was not overly excited because the immediate question that came to my mind was whether it would be too stressful for Daisy. She is timid by nature and the only “road trips” she had ever taken were the ones to the vet (and of course she was absolutely terrified). I did not worry about Lavender though as it seems nothing fazes her.
We decided to prep Daisy by taking her on short weekend trips to Conghua (從化) which is only a two-hour drive at most each way. On her first trip, she was nervous in the car and I had her nestled on my laps with a towel covering her all the way to calm her.
We arrived at the guesthouse in the evening and after a brief inspection of the surrounding, she hopped into the bed and hid herself. She didn’t eat that night. The next morning, she felt more confident and explored the room. Eventually she ate and did her business. She probably spent most of the time under the duvet as each time we came back after sightseeing or a meal, we always saw a little lump in bed. I was exhausted after the trip as I kept a very close watch on Daisy’s reactions and her each move to see how she fared in her debut trip.
On the second trip, she was still nervous in the car but once she stepped into the room, she was curious and started sniffing and exploring right away. She was definitely making baby steps and got slightly bolder. Her biggest hurdle was travelling in the car as we found out that she did not like the vibration of a moving vehicle. She is very smart and knew that we would leave soon (meaning getting in the vibrating monster again) when she saw us packing. She hid herself in the farthest corner under the bed and it took us almost half an hour to find where she was.
By the third trip, Daisy felt quite at home in the guesthouse and was more or less her usual self as long as she stayed indoor. We took her on a short hike in the space backpack which resembles an astronaut’s headgear as it has a big transparent plastic dome in the middle for her to look at the view and small holes underneath as well as meshed sides for ventilation. She occasionally took a peek at the surrounding. She was ever so curious when we let her out on a leash in the countryside. But as soon as she heard human noise approaching, she would duck back into the backpack and meowed.
Taking Daisy out on a leash may sound rather trivial, but it was a gigantic accomplishment as it had taken us a lot of patience and time to be able to do it. Daisy had been an indoor cat all her life and we never had the need to put a collar on her before. You can imagine how annoyed she was the first time she wore a collar. Given her gentle nature, she did not resist when we put it on. But as soon as we fastened the collar, Daisy just froze instantly, lost her balance and lay on her side on the floor like a doormat. She refused to get out of this position even when we gently poked her or tried moving her off the floor. We could definitely wipe the floor with the lopsided Daisy if we wanted to as she just would not budge.
Each day, we put on the collar briefly to let her get used to it and tried extending the duration. Gradually after two weeks, Daisy could walk with the collar in a rather comical limping manner. These days, Daisy is more comfortable with the collar and can even take a short nap with it. But she still complains and eventually demands us to take it off. We have come a very long way indeed.
By the time we started our van journey, Daisy already had a few road trip experiences under her belt and we were excited about the four of us travelling together. We did not have a concrete itinerary but we make it our top priority that the way we travel will always be determined by what is best for the well-being of our furry children.
Since we began our trip in December, we wanted to go to places where the climate was not too cold and harsh for Daisy and Lavender. Thus, we set off to Guangxi and then Yunnan where the climate was relatively mild. We always try to book guesthouses or apartments with heating and we also bought a small fan heater just in case it gets really cold.
We limit our time on the road to maximum six hours and always break it up with stops, so that we won’t tire them out. We never drive continuously for consecutive days. You probably notice that we tend to stay in one place for at least a few days to allow all of us to rest up before heading to another place. It also gives us more time to explore the place better.
Having Daisy and Lavender on the road certainly makes travelling much livelier. While Daisy likes to play hide and seek in the van, Lavender loves to be the centre of attention. On her debut trip, we kept her in the cage throughout our drive and she of course chirped all the way as she wanted to come out to play.
When we finally got off the highway and reached the small road with little traffic, we opened the cage to let Lavender out. We thought that we would have to get her back in the cage very soon as not to distract Kin from driving. To our amazement, she did not fly all over the places and made havoc. Instead she just stood on Kin’s shoulder for ages and seemed to be taking in the view in her own stride. She quietly sipped water and ate whenever I fed her. She simply loved watching the road and she would tilt her head to listen to the music. Occasionally, she mimicked the sound when she heard a really upbeat part of a song. We simply couldn’t believe how adorable and well behaved she was. It was also a big relief for us to see that she enjoys travelling so much.
Lavender also has her own backpack made of sturdy but lightweight wire mesh so that she can look outside. It has a nylon cover that can be rolled down to protect her from the wind and rain. One time, we went sightseeing with her and we walked along a rather touristy street with many shops and restaurants. One of the shops had kept two budgies at the shopfront, so we put Lavender’s backpack next to the cage for her to see the birds. For the very first time, we witnessed the timid side of Lavender as she dashed to the very back of the backpack to get as far away from the birds as possible. She did not make a sound and just stood there. It was rather amusing to see how docile Lavender was as she is always the rowdiest and boldest at home. Now we know that she only acts bold when she is in her comfort zone but quite timid at heart.
I used to think that Daisy and Lavender are the opposites in terms of their personality. Lavender is fearless, extrovert and loud while Daisy is scared easily, quiet and soft spoken. Our road trip has given us the wonderful chance to see the hidden sides of their true selves.
Daisy is friendly and not shy when she sees strangers at home. But she doesn’t like unfamiliar human noise or people when she is away from home. Lavender is also super friendly (but loud) and flies over to greet people she meets the first time. Now we found out that she will turn into a mute shy self when she meets other birds outside. So, they are not so different after all which is understandable as we all tend to be more confident when we feel safe and secured.
Daisy really surprised us when we were in Kunming. On the first night around 8pm, we heard really close and loud explosive noise outside our apartment. Daisy ran straight to the window and jumped on the chair to look outside. All over the city, people were setting off fireworks to celebrate the Chinese New Year. She stood there for over 15 minutes and was absolutely mesmerized by the noise, the changing shapes and colours of the fireworks.
It is the traditional custom to have “nonstop” fireworks throughout the night and every night during the festive time. Our apartment on the 15th floor turned out to be in the prime location to watch fireworks in the city. The second night, as soon as she heard the fireworks started, Daisy again sped to the window to watch. We piled up two stools to give her a perfect position to enjoy it. The fireworks became our best entertainment as we watched Daisy engrossed in watching the fireworks night after night. Her eyes sparkled as she watched the beautiful explosions and sound which sometimes went on for over 20 minutes. These are precious moments that we will never forget.Daisy and Lavender play a key role as it is a journey of discovery and growth not just for Kin and myself, but more so for our furry children since we get to see various facets of their personalities and reactions on the road that we have never envisioned before.