April 2020 Real Traveler Stories: A Family Surf Trip in Southeast Asia

Real Traveler Stories: A Family Surf Trip in Southeast Asia

Virtuoso travel advisor Amiel Lindenbaum with his three sons.
Virtuoso travel advisor Amiel Lindenbaum with his three sons.
Photo by Amiel Lindenbaum
Virtuoso travel advisor Amiel Lindenbaum and his wife, Jessica, have raised their three sons to be global citizens, taking culturally immersive trips that often go beyond their comfort zone
Now that the boys – AJ, Jonah, and Samuel – are all teenagers, Lindenbaum wanted to plan his own dream vacay: surfing with the family in Indonesia.

“I needed to get everyone ‘on board,’’’ quips the self-professed surf fanatic. “But they all embraced the idea.” Each member offered input on the three-week adventure: Jessica advocated for Bali, while the kids added Singapore “because of the movie Crazy Rich Asians,” says Lindenbaum. Ultimately, their experiences forged greater cultural awareness and deeper family bonds.
Thumbs-up on Nusa Penida.
Thumbs-up on Nusa Penida.
Photo by Amiel Lindenbaum

Singapore Slays 

The Lion City “was a huge hit,” says the advisor. Everyone was wowed by Gardens by the Bay (“a marvel of imagination”) and a tour of Toa Payoh, a planned community where multicultural Singaporeans live together in harmony. Peeking inside some apartments, he adds, the boys got to see that “not everyone is crazy rich!”

From their base at Andaz Singapore, the family also explored the city’s famous botanic gardens and street-food stalls, and took a night safari at the Singapore Zoo. Back at the hotel, the boys raided the complimentary minibar and admired the skyline from the rooftop pool. Jonah and Samuel, who are contemplating careers in architecture, were particularly inspired by the use of natural urban spaces in the building designs. “Singapore is the epitome of a twenty-first-century destination,” Lindenbaum says.
Catching waves in the Mentawai Islands.
Catching waves in the Mentawai Islands.
Photo by Cavan Images/Getty Images

Surf’s Up in Indonesia

Lindenbaum picked an area of the Mentawai Islands – located roughly 100 miles west of Sumatra – where the waves are favorable to expert and novice alike. The boys took lessons to gain confidence, while also getting a chance to see their dad live his passion. “They were proud of me,” he says, “and ultimately became proud of their own accomplishments.”

Working with Asia World Indonesia, Virtuoso’s on-site connection on Bali, they were able to visit a typical family complex and meet local kids their same age. Jonah, who had learned about Nusa Penida (Bali’s “Black Magic Island”) on social media, shared his excitement with the on-site, who planned a day there with a private driver. The family easily made friends wherever they went, thanks to some basic Bahasa Indonesia they’d practiced using flash cards. “It enriched our experience immeasurably,” says Lindenbaum.

Bali’s eco-forward Potato Head Beach Club was a real eye-opener: “They checked our bags, but not for weapons – for plastic!” Seeing firsthand how overconsumption affects our oceans inspired the family to reduce their plastic use at home, while the boys have helped organize beach cleanups around Hollywood.

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