The 12-episode reality series showcases only fathers spending the entire holiday with children with specific tasks to do throughout the travel. The mothers are a few steps ahead, usually to arrange some of the activities. Throughout the travel, which also involves moving from city to city, limited money is given and personal phones are confiscated.
- Paul Wong (drummer of Beyond fame) with daughter Debbie/Ying Ying ~ 6 years, with wife Athena Chu Yan
- Timmy Hung (Sammo Hung’s son) with sons TJ ~ 5 years & JT ~ 3 years, with wife Janet Chow
- Chao Shuai with son Xiao Jiu ~ 3 years, with wife Huang Ying
- Nathan Lee aka Lee Cheng Xuan (American/ Korean singer) with daughter Lucky ~ 4 years old, with wife Qi Wei.
- Arthur Chen Fei Yu (Chen Kai Ge’s son and our Ever Night S1 star Ning Chue) who was 18 then and had to “babysit” twins John and Victor
The travel takes ~ 23 days, across various locations. Each location does have many highlights on relationships (father-child, amongst the fathers, the children) and the communication. The various interactions & reactions of the participants are very interesting, and gives glimpses of the individuality of the fathers and even the children. The reality show is actually very similar to Dad, Where Are We Going which had 5 seasons (the last in 2018) before China started the censor on reality series with children. Although the reality series is filmed in 2018, it is only broadcasted in 2020.
Starting @ Beijing
It was very sweet of Chao Shuai to offer his Beijing home for the rest to stay overnight (considering they have limited money on hand). It was sweeter still for him to ensure his guests are well-taken at his humble abode, especially when he is rushing to get transport for his guests to get to airport. It showcases his very responsible character in taking care of others.
At the airport, the fathers learned a new “trick” by using others as examples to coax the children. Originally, Lucky wants her father to feed her but when Nathan praises Xiao Jiu for eating on his own, she immediately gave the stare (must have learnt from the mom) and voluntarily eat on her own. Peer pressure, and more likely jealousy!
Baotou (Inner Mongolia)
This section of the travel is actually very beautiful with really nice scenery at the desert (plenty of travel ideas), but presumably extremely hard for the fathers and children. The differences in rural livelihood at the desert & grassland may be too shocking for the city dwellers. Think
- stopping for toilet break, only to be faced with a dugged big hole to do your “business” :D.
- When Paul finds out the cost of dinner is only RMB130 for the whole group, he is totally amazed.
- Having been in grassland and desert, driving late at night is dangerous and very tiring as livestocks may be crossing the roads and so dark!
When the children are tasked to get breakfast for their fathers, Debbie does a wonderful job and is such an angel! She gets all the food that she thinks the father will love and puts them on a food tray, and helping both TJ and JT on their tasks too. In many scenes, Debbie is a very thoughtful child, always thinking of her parents. She is very close to Athena Chu, as she is very distraught at the idea of separating from her at the beginning of the show and starts crying very pitifully.
When Athena Chu disguised as an old lady, Paul immediately recognized her. Really very sweet of him, showing another side of Paul and representing a strong relationship. When Paul nudges Debbie to hug Athena Chu, who is disguising as the old lady, Debbie is initially reluctant. Their subsequent conversation is reflecting the kind of parenting that both Paul and Athena instill in Debbie. Debbie observes that the “old lady” does not have money. Paul reminds Debbie that the old lady is very generous, and she should be grateful and shows her love.
One activity that I really like is the children going out on their own in 2 groups, taking pictures & looking for food on their own. Debbie takes very good care of Lucky, whom she treats as her best friend, and always nudges little Xiao Jiu along. I love the way both Debbie buys coffee for Paul (his favourite) and Xiao Jiu remembering to buy the noodle for Chao Shuai.
Upon completing one of the tasks, Paul Wong brings Debbie out to just escape the rest! He spends some time to eat at a nice restaurant with Debbie and buying his art materials. Didn’t know that he is an artist!
TJ has a tough time during the picture-taking activity, as he loses his brother and frantically start to look for him, with great help from both twins John and Victor. He cries when he still cannot find the brother, probably distressed from losing his brother, guilt-stricken and worried. When he finds the brother, he tries to hug the brother who is alarmed with his continuous crying. You can feel the child’s volatility in mood throughout, and really empathise with him. Poor boy, with such great responsibility at such young age.
In the flower market, Nathan Lee becomes very angry at Lucky for not listening. Lucky is given timeout at the side, but she starts crying. From the scenes, it does look like Lucky has not been listening for a while throughout the day, and the father has given a lot of reminders. The final straw that broke the camel must have been that incident when she goes up the moving cart and endangering herself in the process. Nathan Lee looks very angry, but upon calming down, his parenting style is very firm. He repeatedly tries to get in control and ensuring Lucky listens, explaining to her why she is punished and why is he angry. I thought it is very well-done, great parenting!
Thailand @ Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Erawan, Hua Hin
There are many great travel destination, interesting activities, beautiful sceneries throughout their travel in Thailand. Amazing Thailand!
During the introduction to Muaythai boxing, it is very interesting to see how TJ gets extremely upset & reacted strongly when Timmy Hung falls down during his match with his opponent. It shows his deep love and concern for his father. Only upon Timmy assuring him that he is all right, TJ calms down slightly.
And Paul actually practices muaythai!
During the Kanchanaburi train ride, when the fathers & children see their wives & mother, such disappointment when they could not meet up after coming down from the train. Timmy is extremely affected, almost crying. Paul & Debbie are full of excitement, and looks really disappointed when they could not find them.
At the Erawan National Park, the hike up and down is very beautiful, but not an easy hike for the fathers and children. Great travel ideas, loving the waterfall scenes & hike, and definitely will want to go soon.
At the elephant sanctuary, it is a very nice gesture for the kids to be attending to elephant’s wound. It is very sweet of TJ to ask how did the elephant got the wound, he looks very concerned.
Another funny incident is at the Hua Hin Hotel where the children are assisting to clean the rooms. When Xiao Jiu dirties the bed with cake crumbs, Lucky admonishes him, in exactly the same way Nathan uses on her! Lucky uses his father’s method to drive through the message to Xiao Jiu – Do you understand? We cleaned the room and now you have made it dirty! However, it is great that the children cooperate to clean the room together.
For the celebrities to participate in the series, it takes a lot of courage as they are filmed almost 24/7 and subjecting themselves to criticism throughout. Comments from websites are sometimes very nasty, extremely judgmental on the parenting styles. Some of these comments are really uncalled for. I believe each individual has their own learning journey in parenting. Their personalities are different, hence reacting differently and it is truly their rights.
I love Paul, Athena & Debbie’s family the most. Paul comes across as a mature & cool father, who is a little detached but always loving & encouraging. It is also quite telling that the family is well-off as they do not care much on how much things cost. Their priority is really to take things easy & enjoy life. Paul seems to enjoy trying new things, while Athena comes across as a great mom, always thinking of her husband and daughter. Their significant morale support for Debbie is great as she looks like a little introverted and shy, but flourishes under her parents’ tonnes of love and encouragement. Their parenting style is to show great support, and it shapes Debbie into a very thoughtful & responsible child, always thinking of others. Debbie is the angel daughter for this lovely couple.
Nathan Lee & Qi Wei are a very outgoing couple. Nathan Lee is surprisingly very responsible, loving and sweet towards his daughter and wife. So many tid-bits on Nathan Lee:
- He has been a stay-at-home dad, hence is a little more natural compared to other fathers in managing his daughter on his own. But even his confidence is chipped during their travel in Baotou, whereby the activities and environment are very difficult.
- He is also surprisingly very conscious of money, almost always bargaining with vendors! I am not sure where does he pick up this trait as he is born and bred in America.
- He admits that his relationship with his own father is very open, with hugs and even kisses all the way to secondary school.
- He is also surprisingly risk-adverse, taking into consideration of many things to ensure a safe environment for all the children. One example – catching the duck running wildly in the bus! He is so concerned. Haha…
- His accent is so pronounced, although he thinks of himself sounding like any Chinese. And he reads pinyin (without the tone symbols!), very fluently 😀
Wife Qi Wei is also very confident of Nathan taking care of the daughter, not even a little worried. They have such a healthy relationship. And Lucky – such a pretty cute little girl. Brought up in an environment with such open communication, she is responsible & knows how to differentiate between right and wrong. One good example is when she made Xiao Jiu cry, but naturally takes the tissue to dab the tears away and even voluntarily apologises to him. So sweet, even an adult may not have done better!
She is a natural when it comes to camera, with her extroverted character and love for attention. She can move to be a child star immediately. My hope for her, to stay innocent & happy-go-lucky!
Timmy Hung and his relationship with his 2 sons is a little more complicated. Timmy and Janet seem to share a very close relationship but with 2 active boys, it is usually difficult to manage the situations. The criticism on Timmy Hung on his parenting style is uncalled for.
TJ’s character is quite typical of boys that age, seeking attention from the adults and the curiosity to explore. Unfortunately for TJ, he is the eldest and the expectations are almost always similar especially for Asian parents for the elder one to assist in taking care of the younger one(s), taking on a lot more responsibility and giving in to the whims of the younger one(s). TJ has done very well as a big brother, and Timmy is actually very encouraging for him to be the leader and heaping TJ with constant open praises such as good job, you can do it, very good. The boys are on a journey of discovery of their own, and at times can be a handful, BUT… these experiences will shape them into who they are in the future.
I believe Timmy is also on a journey to understand his own parenting style, and how he can even help improve his relationship and mold the 2 boys into reliable men. Timmy and Janet are also very openly loving with the two boys. Great family.
Chao Shuai comes across as the typical Chinese guy, responsible for his family and friends. He takes a lot more lead in managing through difficult situations during travel while handling Xiao Jiu, who can be a little clingy. Xiao Jiu seems to need constant reassurance, and perhaps not surprising as the family also welcomes a new baby girl (who is not shown in the show). Being the only child to-date before the sister comes along, he is probably insecure about a lot of things. However, he has blended well with the other children and seems to be attached to Lucky, always calling for her. I love how Chao Shuai also gets used to handling Xiao Jiu, and at the same time missing the wife, whom I suspect is the main caregiver.
Arthur Chen is a little miscast, as he is really too young to participate in such reality show. He is a little mischievous to the twins, often making fun of them the way a teenager does (well, he is still a teen in 2018) 😀
I found this gem of a series by chance while browsing for Nathan Lee, arising from his feature in another reality show Call Me By Fire S1. I have enjoyed children-themed reality shows such as Dad, Where Are We Going series, especially the 5th season featuring Jordan Chan and his son, Jasper.
This is a great series, and I love it. Mainly because the series give sincere vibes without much pretenses. With children, things can be unpredictable so how much can you script in for the reality show.
Along with their hardships & activities, you laugh and cry with the fathers and the children. You feel the fathers’ exasperation when things are difficult to manage with the children. You feel the children’s delight when having fun, you equally share their tears in sadness when they do not get what they want and do not understand the reason.
What works for this series is really the choices of the fathers and the children, making it really an enjoyable journey with the participants.
As Athena Chu describes – she hopes the series is able to provide the experiences of a lifetime for father & daughter. And I truly believe for each of these family, the benefits from participating in this series are not just in monetary terms but more from the experiences & key personal take-aways. Athena’s reward after 23 days of separation from husband and wife – Paul specifically told her not to do this again, and he would like to spend time together as a family and not separately. What a sweet thing to tell your wife!