I just had to share with you about this. I look back on those years and I have to laugh at how we often got around and how it changed from year to year. They all had their stresses and their convenient parts too. I'm sure it's quite different than it would have been here in the US had I had car seats and a car to transport them. It was certainly an adventure and a challenge every time we went out that door!
Now at the time we became pregnant with twins we lived in a village house which is a three story building with typically an apartment or flat on every level. They are all 700 sq usually and mostly 2-3 bedrooms. No closets and tiny kitchens. The top level has a "rooftop" which meant a patio of sorts on top of the roof. That was a lot of stairs to climb so when our lease was up we decided to look for a flat with a ramp and an elevator. Village houses are typically a bit cheaper and not right on the train line. But we managed to find a flat in a new complex not far from the school campuses we worked at. We were on the 7th floor which was really the third level up with a ramp and an elevator right to our door. It was called Oceanaire or in Chinese it was pronounced "Teen You Hoy." It was perfect!
You must understand that Hong Kong is a very densely populated place and as such the public transportation is the primary way to go and is usually very efficient. It's very expensive to have a car in Hong Kong (I'll get to that) and so we mostly all took public transportation. When our twins were born our friend (who did have a car) took us home from the hospital with our newborns in our arms (gasp! but when in Rome...)
In the beginning they both lay flat in a single stroller someone had given us. It was summer and hot but I still wanted them covered so we did the fan and light blanket thing.
We didn't go out much then as I was healing and super tired. But as we emerged out of that phase and they were too big for being in one stroller we progressed to the first of our double strollers.
It was a Phil and Teds Vibe. I loved it because the wheels when over everything, it was thin enough to fit through all the doors and such, it turned really easily and I could hang my groceries off the hooks on the handle easily. I would pack up the twins, have my rain cover in the bottom (it rains a lot and like torrential downpours in Hong Kong) and I'd put my backpack with supplies on (always my backpack - bottles, diapers, toys you name it) and off we'd go for an outing. We'd wheel down the ramp, walk the short walk to the train station, wheel onto the train and then off the train, into the elevator (or lift as they called it) and into the mall. All shopping centers and "malls" if you will are located at train stations. It really was convenient. I could stop and feed them a bottle without taking them out. We'd meet up with another friend at Starbucks and then shop and then go home. That was usually enough for me but it got us out at least.
One time I had to meet my husband at the school and we were going to dinner at a friend's house. I couldn't take the stroller because it was too big for the trunk of their car and for convenience sake we never folded it anyway. I didn't have car seats because we didn't have a car and there are no car seat laws since most people take public transportation. I couldn't put one baby in the carrier and just hold the other to walk all the way to the train and ride the train with probably no seat and then walk to the school so I devised a sling to carry the second baby. I'd seen a lot of the Philippino helpers carrying their charges that way so I figured I could rig something and it worked fantastically! They say necessity is the mother of invention and hey! Both girls had a great nap on the way.
Then they started to get bigger and the one sitting in the back of the Vibe stroller would get fussy because they couldn't see. So I sold the Vibe and bought a Baby Jogger City Select double stroller. It was a bit heaver and harder to turn and a bit longer but it worked well. You have to know everything is so tight and cramped in Hong Kong - it's a space thing. Grocery stores are much smaller and getting around corners and down aisles could be a challenge. Still it worked well. I could adjust the seats to different positions and that helped. One time my twin in the top seat fell asleep on the walk home so I wheeled the stroller in the apartment (where we parked it) and tipped the seat back and she had a great nap.
Then things took a turn for the - well I don't want to say worst because it wasn't awful - but life became a lot more challenging. When the twins were about 17 months our landlord (every flat in a complex is owned by a different landlord - so frustrating) said he had sold the flat and so we had to move at the end of our lease. Housing prices are sky high in Hong Kong and even though we got a housing allowance as part of our benefits we were on one salary and prices had gone up. So we started scrambling to look for a place and we weren't finding anything suitable. Finally we found a nice village house flat in a pretty village but it was quite a ways away from where we were living far enough from the train line to not be able to easily walk there. We'd have to take a mini bus or public light bus.
These things are pretty terrifying or exciting I guess - it depends on your personality. Most of the drivers thought they were Mario Andretti, race car driver extraordinaire. They set about 16 passengers and they come (depending on location) every 10, 20 or 30 minutes. Our village had it's own minibus that picked up villagers and brought them to the station. It came about every 20-30 minutes.
Now friend, imagine this. I have two toddlers. Not quite 2 years old. They like to roam, they are heavier and I have to get out. At first I just didn't really go anywhere with them. We had a rooftop so we set up a pool and every day of that hot summer we went up there and played. That was our outing.
and as we lived on the third floor I couldn't get that City Select and all it's parts AND the girls up and down the stairs so we sold it. But ahhh, again, necessity is the mother of invention! I couldn't take them out to the bus stop to wait loose. No way could I handle that. So here is what I did. I had an ergo carrier that my one twin loved to ride on me in. She was snuggly and content in it. But she was almost two so she was heavy. Then I had a lightweight umbrella stroller from Toys R Us. I taped the latch and the handle with red tape so I'd know what to do and this is what I did. I had one twin in the carrier and one twin in the umbrella stroller (strapped in) and would stand in line (remember the bus only seats so many and if you don't get on you have to wait another 20 or more minutes for the next one while dealing with cranky toddlers and being eaten by mosquitos. So, I'd wait in line and you could always hear the bus coming into the village. I'd unbuckle the other twin, who stood nicely while I did this, I'd use my foot where the red tape was to kick the stroller closed and latch it quickly. Then I'd make sure I had my Octopus card out (which you used for all train and bus fair in Hong Kong - the girls later nicknamed it a beep card because it beeps when you pay), then I'd hike my other win on my hip and grab the stroller with my other hand and in one fell swoop I'd climb onto the bus, lay my stroller down in the front, beep my card and find a seat. I'd make sure my twin in the carrier was situated and get the other one facing foward on my lap so we only took up one seat space. It sounds a bit complicated but I got really good at it. It was a scary rush every time but we did it. Then I'd pray the whole crazy ride to the station and usually a kind person would grab my stroller for me and help me off the bus. Then I'd pop it open while holding the loose twin's hand and get her buckled in. Then we'd go into the station and get on the train. We would take the train down into the city at least once a week to go to a playgroup. We'd meet up with a friend a few stops down and we'd make the trek with our littles. I always make sure I had snacks and books, my phone, toys, and stuff to keep them entertained. The trains were generally quiet and you don't want a screaming kid for a half an hour on a crowded train.
Right after the twins turned two we took a trip back to the states. It was our second overseas trip with them - the first when they were 6 months. They did so great that trip. This trip went well on the way there however on the way back...read my blog post Taking Twins on a Plane.
While we were in the US I ordered the most lightweight double umbrella stroller I could find. I figured maybe I could do the same routine but not wear one as she was getting bigger and heavier. So we took that back with us.
The maiden voyage didn't go so well. It was still too heavy to lift with one hand so I had to hoist my twins loose on the bus ahead of me. It was harder to fold. Getting off the bus was a nightmare. And it didn't fit on the tiny elevator at that particular train station so I had to get them out and fold it and then unfold it and buckle them back in. It was tricky going over the gap between the train and the platform. But all was not lost - I used it to take them to the grocery store that was within walking distance.
Then, our landlord said he wanted the building back because family needed it. So we had to move again...story of our life in Hong Kong! This turned out to be the best thing though because for the next year and a half we lived in a village right near the school campuses, not far from the train and the best part was many of our friends lived in the same village. It was very hard to find a flat there as they got scooped up immediately. Our flat wasn't great but it was ok for us and it was so fun to be able to be near everyone and everything again. At first we used that umbrella stroller to go everywhere. It was perfect! It fit everywhere on that part of the train line and it worked so well. I had a rain cover for it and so we were fully mobile. Once we got to our village they had to get out but they were almost 3 by then and could walk safely through the village while I carried the stroller. One time they fell asleep and so I stopped for a Starbucks while they napped. It was great.
Then the twins turned 3 and began preschool at our international school. So they went from 12:20-3:20 every day Mon-Friday. None of the other kids went to school in a stroller and so began the training of walking to the train station, using their own "beep" cards, proper train station behavior and proper on the train behavior. Sitting and staying with me and not running around and listening. It was super stressful for me in the beginning but we finally figured it out and it was liberating!
The bottom line is you can do this! Get out and meet a friend or go shopping WITH your babies. It makes all the difference in the day. Get involved in a mom's group that is contained in a room so you don't need to stress about losing one. I had the most phenomenal mom's group in Hong Kong - when they girls were babies and small toddlers they stayed with me and the other mom's held one or helped. Then when they were about 2 they stayed in the playroom with the helpers while we mom's had time to discuss whatever was on the agenda for that day. That was a sanity saver. I urge you to reach out to your community and find what you can. I loved that routine and knowing that we had things to get out for during the week. It's not always easy but you can do it!! Now my girls are 5.5 and we walk to school so easily and ride everywhere in the car. But I wouldn't trade my experiences for anything because it taught me that I am stronger than I think!
Hi! I'm a mom of 5 year-old fraternal twin girls. While I'm by no means an expert - I do have stories to tell and ideas to share.