Japan

As one of our last adventures here in SE Asia, we decided we wanted to go and visit Japan.  You see a lot of neon on the TV, but we had also heard that the country side was beautiful and the temples were pretty amazing, so we thought about week should be good.  We also wanted to take the bullet train, so we ended up getting flights to Osaka, train to Tokyo and then flying home.

On the train to Kyoto

Due to time zones and cost we decided to take the Red eye…  leaving BKK late at night, and arriving into Osaka around 7am…  We figured we would either be geniuses with the kids, or we would not be….  we’re not geniuses!  We flew on an A380 and it was really just like a normal plane.

At Kiyomizu-dera 17 Oct 2014

At Kiyomizu-dera 17 Oct 2014

It was fed by 3 jet bridges, so it was massive, but we were sitting on the ground floor and it looked like a normal plane.  It’s cool though that we got to fly on one.  We had flown on the 787 earlier in the year, so now we have checked on the box on all the big planes!

We landed in Osaka on 17 October and immediately got on the train to Kyoto.  D and R did ok.  The red eye wasn’t so red eye.  They kept the lights on for about 1 hour after take off and then turned them back on about 1.5 hours before we landed.  So that leaves only 4 hours of lights out.  Not quite enough.

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Kyoto in the background at Kiyomizu-dera; 17 Oct

We found our hotel and then went sight seeing…  first on the list was Kiyomizu-dera, just a little east of town.  A pretty amazing place and we were a little above Kyoto so we could see quite far.  It was built somewhere around 1633.  It was fun, there were a bunch of Japanese school children there who wanted to ask us questions, and take photos with the tourists.  They especially loved Reed.  After one tourist sight, we were done for the day!  The next challenge and it continued to be a challenge was food.  We finally found some Italian place and dinner it was.

Kiyomizu-dera

Kiyomizu-dera- 17 Oct

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Arashiyama Bamboo Grove 18 Oct

The  following day (18 October) we took the longest bus ride… the guide book suggested the bus, so we tried it… luckily Reed slept or it would have been brutal.  I actually wanted to

Golden Palace; 18 Oct

Golden Palace; 18 Oct

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Fushimi-Inari Taisha; 19 Oct

take the train, but couldn’t figure out where it stopped… so we took the bus.  The taxi’s were very nice but a little pricey.  We did take a taxi home!  My recommendation is to ask someone on the trains!  But back to the temples…  we saw the Tenryu-ji tepmple first.  Then zen garden is truly zen and one of the originals.  From there it was on to the Bamboo forest.  Very cool as well, and finally it was the Golden Palace.  It’s been fun, since we got home I have seen a bunch of commercials for Japan and all of the places they flash up, I can say, been there and done that!

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Reed at the top of Fushimi-Inari Taisha; 19 Oct

 

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Walking through the Inari Shrines – 19 Oct

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Japanese Tourists in traditional dress at Inari Shirines; 19 Oct

On the 19th we went to the Fushimi-Inari Taisha…  this was by far my favorite.  Very cool.  They have these orange and black torii.  There are thousands of the them.  Robin, Som and the kids were absolute troopers as we made it up the whole 4km to the top.  And the view at the top, was nothing less than disappointing.  There was no look-out. Just another ho hum shrine, but it was still my favorite and very cool!  The hike was all we could handle that day, so we were done.  We had some ice cream on the way down and all was well!  The path was fairly smooth, but lots of steps.  So we ended up carrying the stroller and carrying Reed on and off for the whole thing.  For whatever reason many Japanese will come into Kyoto and dress in kimonos.  and some were even hiking up the trail.

The next day we took the high speed train from Kyoto to Tokyo.  it was pretty neat.  3-2 seating, lots of leg room and very smooth.  We traveled through some very pretty parts of Japan, parts you would never guess were there.  Mountains, valleys, etc…  very pretty.  We travelled on the Nozomi train which is currently the fastest of the fast bullet trains, and fewer stops.  Japan has an amazing train system.  complicated and large at times, but very amazing and efficient.  And then we got into the big city!  We just spent the first night close to the train station because the next day was all about Disney!

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Our high speed Nozomi train to Toky0; 20 Oct

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Loving Life in Disney

 

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Big smile, hanging out with the bad guys!

Disney in Japan was pretty fun… I’ve been to Disney now in Hong Kong and in Japan, so I feel like I have “checked” the box.  However, Robin tells me I am mistaken!  So I am sure we will head to Disney Europe at some point… I mean who DSCN0866needs to go to Disney in the US?

It was kind of raining when we got to Disney world, but we were tough!   Well not really, but we told ourselves that.  At some point we bought everyone rain jackets…  Reed had a great time on the Tea Cups and we did get to see a bunch of characters…  Even the Star Wars Storm Troopers were there, so that was quite fun.  And of course we went and saw the Disney castle there….  Douglas and Reed were playing pretty well together and so they shared an elephant ride too.  And at night we saw the lit up castle and then the parade.  One frustrating part however was the character signatures.  Douglas went up to two characters in a row, looking for their autographs, we had bought him a little book, and two in a row said sorry they had to go.  I have never seen a child so crushed before.  It rips your heart out for the little guy.  Just super deflated and didn’t understand why the person in front of him got a signature buy not him.  (The next day was better, but the system or just mobbing the character was no good!)

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The Disney Castle!!

 

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Douglas and Reed having fun

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Cold and Rainy at Disney Sea – 22 Oct

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Douglas by the World! 22 Oct

DSCN0894The next day we went to Disney Sea….  basically right next to Disney Land, but with some different rides.  Had a good time there as well, but it got super rainy and cold.  We even bought a rain cover for the stroller so Reed could hang out in it and stay dry and warm.  Douglas had a great time with the characters and got just a bunch of autographs.  I think that was the highlight for him…  We put some stickers in the book later on and when we got back from break he took the book to school for show and tell.  Definitely a highlight when you get the autographs.  We wanted to stay longer, but it was just too cold and rainy…  so I got one last photo of Douglas near the world and then it was off to Tokyo.

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Mt Fuji – 5th Station 23 Oct

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Mt. Fuji — just imagine no clouds!

The next day we took a day trip to Mt. Fuji and Lake Hakone.  and it was really neat.  we were quite concerned as the first leg of the trip was a bus trip.  And since both kids were under 5, they did not get seat assignments, (meaning they were lap children) but we lucked out and we had two open seats in front of us. The bus ride out of town was very pretty, and we saw parts of Tokyo and then the Japan country side that we would not have seen otherwise.  Unfortunately for us however, the storm that had brought all the rain the day before was still lingering around and so the top of Mt. Fuji was all blocked in.  So if you can use your imagination, you can see how awesome my photos are.  The first two photos are at the 5th station… this is the place where all the hikers set off to the top.  It’s apparently a hike most able body people can make…  so if you are in somewhat decent shape and are prepared for the weather, you should go for it.

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Lake Hakone — about 2 hours drive outside of Tokyo 23 Oct

After Mt. Fuji we took a boat ride on Lake Hakone, again, it was really pretty and not what I expected at all.  And to go home we boarded another bullet train…  The train is the only way to travel in Japan.  so convenient, and so on time.

The next day we set out just to wander around Tokyo, we found ourselves getting a really cool chef’s knife for Robin and then we found some authentic Japanese Sushi for Som and I.  I actually couldn’t eat everything, but I tried most and put on a brave face for the kids!

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Lunch! Yummy

That night we went to Shibuya Crossing.  It is the world famous crossing you see in lots of movies…  tons and tons of people and lots of neon.  We were there early and it was already a crazy pedestrian area.

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Shibuya Crossing

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Flying home, Mt. Fuji in the back ground (the little white fuzz)

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Shibuya Crossing — lots and lots of people

The next day we had to come back home.  In the bad news category, our flight was cancelled and Thai airways conveniently forgot to tell us, but the good news was is that there is a flight 1 hour earlier, good thing mr super planner got us to the airport 2 hours ahead of departure time.  So we made it no problem.  And we got to see Mt. Fuji!  It was crazy clear out and the little white fuzz just beyond the wing is Mf. Fuji.  How cool would that have been to have been there when it was that clear.  I guess we will have to come back!

Japan was great, food was tough for us with the kids, and it was definitely expensive, but well worth the effort.  We stayed for 8 days or so.  I would love to see more of southern Japan and i’d have to try and see Mt. Fuji again!

 

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The Malvides…

I had decided some time last year, that I wanted to go to the Maldives before we left this part of the world.  It is the quintessential vacation spot in my mind, once in a life time type of deal…  and if you believe in Global Warming, it may not be there in 100 years… so we needed to go!  We found a direct flight with Bangkok Airways and we were all set.  Then we had to find a resort.  Looking on Agoda.com, it really seemed that all the resort were the same…. PERFECT!  Sand, beach, island, the little huts over the water, they had everything.  And so we finally picked one with a jacuzzi and was built on stilts over the water.  Found out we had to take a sea plane to get from the airport to the resort.  And Robin, who is typically not a good flyer, was thinking she would have no problem with a sea plane…  the sea plane can land just about anywhere and there is a runway every where you look, so really, it can’t crash…  can it?  The sea plane ride was supposed to be 25 minutes and was 75% the cost of the 4 hour flight from Bangkok, not sure how they do their math, but they are making a killing!  You don’t really have a choice, because that is the only way for a tourist to get to the island.  And even some of the locals use the planes to get from Male (the capital) to the island.

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The City of Male. 1.77 sq km, around 100,000 people

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Our 15 passenger plane

So after determining that Reed was ok in head, we could head out the next morning with ease. Got to the airport on Wednesday morning with no issues and we headed out west.  After four hours of flying we were landing on the smallest runway ever, on a beautiful little island.  The airport actually used the runway as the taxi way as well for the planes.  We then went through customs and immigration with a breeze (on a side note I think our friends in ORD should take note on how to do immigration, when we were home for the summer, the lines in ORD were the worst we have ever had, but that is another story)  Then we caught a bus and went over to the sea plane airport, about a 5 minute bus ride.

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On our way….

From there it was off to the island.  We flew over a couple of different atolls and some gorgeous islands.  Effectively the whole country is built on some reefs.  And whatever is exposed gets turned into the island / resort.  And there are clear groupings of reefs, that as a collection are called an “Atoll”  After we landed, 25 minutes later, we hopped on a boat that would take us into the resort.  And it was just idyllic…  super serene, and basically paradise.  Actually it was overcast that first day, but we didn’t really care!

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The reception area — all sand

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Black tipped reef shark, about 18″  but we saw some others, that were much bigger…  crazy!

The check in area, the bar, the restaurant, etc… all did not have floors…. all they had was sand.  Pretty much everyone of the workers there did not wear shoes, a very few had flip flops, but most didn’t.  And actually the pilot, the co-pilot and the worker bee on the airplane didn’t wear shoes either.  Pretty crazy.  So we got all checked in and went to our little hut.  And it was super cool….  we were way out on the reef, and it was just awesome looking over the side and seeing all the sea creatures.  Fish, sting ray, black tipped reef shark, just freaking cool!  We quickly grabbed some lunch and then it was off to relax.  Well, it was still raining out a little, so we sat on our patio and looked at the beautiful sea.

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Sting ray… you can see the shadow of the walk way

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Our little slice of heaven

The next day we signed up for a whale shark excursion and a Maldivan Spa treatment.  I was apparently going to get a coconut body rub down…  no idea, at the time, what that means, but I was going for it anyways… when in Rome!  After that  we sat on the beach and didn’t really do much.  We were so comfortable that we actually missed lunch… and lunch is served from 12:30 – 2:30, and it is like 2 hours behind Bangkok…  so what I mean is that we just basically got so lost in doing nothing and sitting on the beach, that we completely lost track of time.  While being hungry was not fun, it was pretty amazing what happens when you don’t wear a watch or have a care in the world.  We finally found some ok bar type food, and from then on we took a watch.  We did not want to miss lunch again!

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At the “house” reef. About 25 feet from shore

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Crazy the number of fish and the colors, all right there….

I need to divert to another story and then come back to this one….  my camera that I had since we got married, so over 5 years, was on it’s last leg, so while in America this summer I asked Robin to buy me another one.  I was looking for an exact duplicate, replicate, same same, the same thing.  And I was pretty specific on my request.  So Robin, of course being the smart girl she is, got me something a little different.  I was quite concerned at first and well, not very happy.  It is a little bigger, and has this underwater feature on it, that to me means it will break sooner.  And I was not happy.  But then after playing with it in the pool at the apartment, and then realizing we can take it to the Ocean, I discovered just how smart I was for asking Robin to get a new underwater camera… boy am I smart!  I have had to apologize many times, and am pretty happy we have it…  so on a vacation like this I get to take lots of underwater photos.

The next day we took our cruise and excursion to go see the whale sharks.  We were told we had a 50-50 chance of seeing one.  The guides told us they saw 2 the day before and 1 the day before that, so statistically, that is not good for us….  but we were quite excited. We cruised for about an hour to the southern end DSCN0424of our Atoll.  And then all the crewmen were looking overboard, trying to spot the shark…  and then all of a sudden it was like “ok – everyone jump it!”  that’s it.  no warning, no instructions, no body check, just everybody jump in… and it was great.  The whale shark was right there…  massive, the biggest shark there is (hence the name “whale shark”) and there we were swimming right next to it.  I don’t think he cared less if we were there or not.  He just kept doing his DSCN0426own thing.  We’re thinking about 6m long.  You can see the person above the shark swimming away.  So we followed the shark for about 15-20 minutes before it got into deeper water.  then it was back on the boat to look for some more.  and like 10 minutes later the crew are all crazy like again, the boat is turning around, everyone is getting ready to jump in… but alas… false alarm… and that was it!  We kept looking for another hour, and then headed back north to our island.  We felt quite fortunate to see what we did.  It’s like living above the aquarium.  pretty neat.DSCN0380DSCN0538

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We had to leave 😦 This is our island, we stayed in the huts on the left

The next day was all about more relaxing and just hanging out.  We did a bunch of more snorkeling right along the beach.

 

and then the following day we had to leave.  so it was back on the boat to get to the sea plane, to get on a bus to go to the big plane.

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we circled around our island, now the huts we stayed in are on the right

portrait

 

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At the Male airport, you just walk right on out and to your plane… trying not to get hit by the luggage truck

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Definitely a vacation of a life time for us and we will always remember it.  We have joked that we may have ruined all future vacations, because wherever we go, it will just never be quite as nice, as it was in the Maldives!

 

 

The vacation that almost never was… part 0

It was a normal Monday night…. kids were going to bed, we sang songs, read books and all was well…  I was their hero, a regular Monday night….  and after I had turned off the lights and said my goodnights and closed the door we heard a huge crash….  I ran into the kids room and found Reed standing at the foot of the bunk beds and crying like mad.  He had clearly fallen off the top.  Douglas sleeps on top, about 5 feet from the floor, but many times Reed will climb up to join him.  This time however, he “fell” off.  We’re not exactly sure what happened, but he was crying… loudly.  We checked for bumps and bruises and couldn’t find anything… about 45 minutes later he is sleeping soundly with Robin in our bed and the flood gates open.  He vomited more food than he weighed!  It just kept coming and it smelled bad.  I started cleaning the bed, and the floor and everything else, while Robin had Reed in the shower.  No crying, but the occasional more vomit.  talking talking talking, and then vomit…  play some more, more playing and then vomit!  Meanwhile, I was trying to clean and it was everywhere.  Well after about 45 minutes of this we decided it was time to go to the doctor.  So we went to the hospital… left about 8:30pm…  at the hospital around 8:50pm or so (which is pretty good by Bangkok standards) and we sat around waiting for the Doc.  When we finally saw the doctor he was very nonchalant and was convinced it was nothing and probably just a coincidence because he probably has a bug or something… Robin and I were not impressed.  He finally said if he vomits 2 more times that night to come on back and we’ll admit him for observation….  so we are thinking, great, we’ll get back to the car and turn right around???  that’s not right… and then in office, almost on cue, Reed vomits some more.  and so the doctor said we ok we are going to admit you now!  Which was fine by us.

We got to the room a little while later, and were trying to decide what to do next.  I went

It doesn't hurt!

It doesn’t hurt!

home quick to get some supplies so Robin could spend the night and some more pi’s, diapers, etc for Reed.  and while I was gone they put the IV in him.  Which was great… Reed didn’t cry, didn’t flinch, nothing when they put the needle in…  but he just wanted it out.  He told us it hurt, and he wanted it out… but alas it had to stay.

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Reed wants to go home

The next morning, my little champ was good to go and ready to get out of the hospital….  There was a mix up with breakfast, so we didn’t get any food until 10am, but Reed had his IV, so he wasn’t all that hungry.  and we finally saw our pediatrician around 10:45am… she immediately said we need a CT scan.  all of the vomiting had her concerned.  But of course you need an empty stomach… so the earliest we could do a scan was 4pm  (on a side note, we are not sure why you need an empty stomach for a head scan!)  That means the whole day of sitting around the hospital, with a little one that is ready to go and play and not be connected to a machine.

After a somewhat long day, we finally got to the scan.  They had given him some drugs toIMG_1864 IMG_1863 fall asleep so the could get a good scan.  And I had the biggest feeling of helplessness ever.  Even though he was just getting a scan, not going under or anything, it’s my little guy and I want to be there to fix him and make it better.  During the day we talked about well if we find anything then we cannot go on vacation.  I mean, no question….  we need to get Reed better first.  So that brings up the question on trip insurance, we have never bought it and have never needed it, but man, just this once, it might be handy….  anyways after the scan we were told 2 hours to get the results.

2    v e r y   l o n g   h o u r s ….  luckily it only took 30 minutes!  and we go the all clear sign.  Yeah!  So as soon as Reed woke up, we checked out and went home….  which meant that Robin and I could go on vacation to the Maldives the following morning and leaving both kids behind!

Singapore II

IMG_7046OK…  the long awaited and highly anticipated sequel….  the week after we got back from Singapore, I got a note from Brother D, that he was going to be in Singapore in 2 weeks.  At first, we didn’t really think about going to see him and then we later decided that we were going to go back anyways at some point to take Douglas to Universal Studios, so why not go now?  And so we did!

We decided to go in Friday night, and then on Saturday we would go to Universal studios, meet up with Darek later and then on Sunday head to the Art and Science museum to see the dinosaur exhibit.  We tried to get to Universal at a decent IMG_7032hour and I think we did a pretty good job. Even though we went to bed around 12 or 1, Douglas was still wide awake at 7.  We took a cab to a mall, then got on a train, which Douglas thought was cool, before getting to Sentosa island where we had to sell our soul for tickets. OK, it maybe wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t cheap either!  First on the agenda was Transformers.  it was a pretty good ride.  Douglas did great, and it was a IMG_7034little scary at times.  They had you wear these 3D glasses and at times it really seemed like you were falling…  my stomach does not do well with that!  The lines were pretty interesting for the ride.  We kept walking and walking, from one room to the next, thinking for sure we must be getting close now… but like 3 rooms later there were still more and more places to line up.  Luckily for us there was no line and we just walked right through.  IMG_7039I could not imagine having to wait through that long of a line for the ride.  The pictures are of us waiting to get to the ride…  “The Nest” is the Autobots headquarters on Earth and the other picture is of us about ready to get on the ride.  After this ride we went off to find more adventure.  so from there we found the Lost World and had to ride the pterodactyls.  Douglas liked it soooo much he had to ride twice, once with Robin and IMG_7042IMG_7044once with me!  He liked having the controls to make the ride go up or down….  To get there we had to walk through Ancient Egypt, and the Space: The Final Frontier…  I think there were like 7 different kingdoms to visit.  We had lunch in New York City…  also known as Sesame Street.  And we saw a great show in Far Far Away, which is from the Shrek Movies.  Before we went home we made sure to check the schedule for when you could meet the Transformers…  Luckily we still had time to go and meet Optimus Prime and Bumble Bee.  Their costumes were pretty cool and Douglas really enjoyed, so that was fun.  And then it was time to go home as Douglas was one tired little guy.  And his parents were beat as well. Plus that night I had big plans with Brother D… going to paint the town….

Singapore-20140517-00219 IMG-20140517-00218After getting back to the hotel, Darek came over from his hotel to say hi and see how everyone was doing.  I don’t think we’ve seen Brother D for about 17 months, since x-mas 2012.  Darek and i went out to this nice restaurant / tourist area across from the Marina Bay Sands and the the Merlion.  We had some spicy crab (or something like that!)  and they highly recommend bibs….  Darek actually needed a full IMG-20140517-00220size bib because he still got his shirt dirty…  We had met up with an old friend of his and another work colleague who showed us around a little.  Dinner was great and then after that is off to play some pool and drink some more beer!

IMG_7053On Sunday we went to the dinosaur exhibit.  Which was pretty neat…  but it didn’t quite take as long as were thinking it might, so we now had a problem of what to do before heading to the airport.  So we decided I would take Douglas ice skating at the mall…  I went and checked on the price and it was reasonable so I said sure…  and then they tell you, after you little boy is all excited, and how can you say no at this point… that it really isn’t ice!  it’s some sort of plastic.  But you wear real skates.  it was bad news bears.  Very difficult to skate on, and IMG_7056Doulglas wanted to go after about 4 minutes.  I said “no way” and we played around for another 20 minutes or so… we had a good time, but it definitely wasn’t ice skating.  And then it was time to head to the airport….

in other fun news, Robin and her friend Megan had their first gig as caterers.  I’m super proud of her and they had a great time.  Who knows, maybe it will turn into a business!  There was also a coup here, but honestly, it has hardly affected us.  I still have to go to work everyday, and the military presence is pretty minimal if at all.  if you didn’t know, you could never tell.  odd, very odd.  And now we are preparing for our trip to the US…  3 weeks and counting…  But just to make sure we don’t get too stressed out, we are heading down to the beach on Saturday and Sunday.  it’s a tough life, I know!

I hope everyone is enjoying summer!

Kyle

 

Singapore I

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on the water taxi

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Marina Bay Sands and the Art and Science Museum in the back ground

Singapore… part I….   it turns out Robin and I both really like Singapore!  Very clean, very modern, great infrastructure, it’s nice to see your tax dollars at work… and if we ever find ourselves out this way again, we could see ourselves living here.  Our first trip was back in the beginning of May… Just Robin and I.  3 nights and effectively 3 days.  We got in late on Friday night and in the cab ride back to the hotel, we noticed it immediately… the cab driver spoke english and there was no haggling if we were going to use the meter or not.  the roads were smooth, no power lines all over the place, and in general, a nice modern city.  We stayed in the Orchard area, for those of you familiar with Spore (oh yes, we learned all the locals call it Spore, can’t be bothered to say the whole word “Singapore”!)  On Saturday morning we set off to do some great shopping!  There must be more Louis Vitton stores per capita than anywhere in the world!  But lots of fun was had, again, clean streets, sidewalks that were big and flat and smooth, saw kids riding their scooters around, civilized traffic..  it was very nice!  In the afternoon we met up with some friends of ours who live there.  Robin met Tien during her Culinary Classes.  So Tien and her husband took us all around the city…  Started out with some desert in China town, went for nice walk on the board walk, and then a water taxi over to the Marina Bay.  Had some great Chinese for dinner, I have no idea what i ate, but it was good!  From there they took us to some really neat park and then to the Barrage where they have a desalination area…  the water in the photos is fresh water.  But it was neat to be able to see the whole city and the ocean / port as well.IMG_6964

S1 - on top of Marina Bay Sands #1

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Marina Bay Sands #2

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Bar bill for 2 drinks! Gulp

The next day, Sunday, Robin and I were on our own, and we went to Universal Studios…  we had a nice time just walking around Sentosa Island.  the whole island is filled with fun and games…  a zoo, that kind of thing.  We just walked around a little and enjoyed the area…  for lunch we went to Chili’s. and it was great.  it may seem strange to travel all this way to go a Chili’s, but we haven’t seen a Chili’s in 18 months, so it was nice to see and the food was wonderful… albeit very expensive.  After that we hit the gambling floor.  it costs S$100 for a Singaporean to get into the Casino (thats about $90 USD) but if you are a foreigner, it’s free!  Robin did awesome on the penny slots….  and then I found a Craps table…  love the Craps.  It was definitely not Vegas…  no celebrating when the point was hit, no high fives, nothing…  very disappointing.  I also did ok.  they have a ton of games I’ve never heard of before and would be quite nervous about losing all of my  money if I played.  so after Robin lost all of her winnings and more on the Wheel of Fortune slots, we headed to the roof.…  the ride up was expensive again, but the views were worth it.  after walking around the top for a little we decided a drink was in order….  so we went to the bar and ordered 2 gin and tonics…  I had no idea what the price was going to be, but I pulled out a S$50 and thought for sure that would be enough… and I would be wrong…  it was S$52…  we pretty much sucked the ice cubes dry to ensure we go the whole drink!  the views were amazing!   Somewhere in there we decided that Robin and Douglas should come back and go Universal Studios, go on the rides and see the Transformers.  It would be a great trip for the two of them.  That night we walked around an area called the Clark Quay (pronounced “Key”)  Another fun bar / restaurant area by the river… had some pretty good mexican food and again had a really large bill!  We were warned that Singapore was expensive… and boy they were right!  hotels are normal price, taxis are normal price, flights are normal….  but the food is out of this world expensive!  and we were told cars are expensive as well, but they real kicker is the registration tag…  affectively it’s 100% the price of the car.  I am sure the homes / apartments are just as small as well!  On Monday we slept in and did more shopping before heading back to the airport.  And even the airport is modern and impressive.  great trip and would recommend it to anyone!     In fact we liked it soooo much, we went back 2 weeks later….  (but that’s the teaser for the next post, and we had a special guest for that trip!)

KL to Bali to a Cooking fair — for real this time

Ok… so for today, I promise I will actually talk about my trip to KL and then some of the other fun stuff we have been up to…

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Qualifying 29 March

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Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes Winning

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My first Selfie.. on the finish line

I have some some English friends who love F1 racing.  And this year they invited me to KL to watch the race there.  I had been to some Indy Car races in Dallas before and it was pretty fun…  absolutely amazing machines.  This season was apparently going to be interesting because the league was calling for all sorts of engine changes…  they now run on a super charged V6, and can only use some much fuel for the whole race and fuel at a certain rate as well.  Effectively the league is pushing the sponsors to develop new technology that I am sure will one day trickle down to you and I.  In the mean time, these cars just feel like crazy machines and are really loud.  We got there on a crack of dawn flight on Saturday morning.  And went straight to the track from the airport.  The airport and track are really close to one another and about an hour from the city.  At the track we started to watch qualifying and then also some smaller races in between.  What makes F1 interesting is that they have left turns and right turns, and hair pin turns etc…  while in Indy Car and Nascar, they pretty much only have left turns.  We sat on the start / finish line, front row, right near the pits.  So it had some

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After the Race, the track is called Sepang, you can kind of see it in the back ground

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Petronas Towers in KL

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Dinner

major pros and cons….  we saw the start / finish and the fanfare that went along with it, and we saw the finish…  Lewis Hamilton won by like 12 seconds, so not much of a contest and he had the pole as well, and we saw the pits, so that was interesting….  however on the con side of life we only saw what was directly in front of us, no big screen, and since the track is not an oval, you have no idea what is going on on the back side of the track.    After the race, they let the fans jump the fence and get onto the Track…  which I am sure they would never do in the US!  So I jumped down and got on the track and took my first “selfie”  a photo of myself for those of you not sure what that is!  you can see the Start / Finish line in the background and I am wearing my brand new Red Bull shirt.  It reads like a billboard.  The Red Bull team won last year.  But Mercedes has been dominating the sport this year.  Of the 4 races so far this year Hamilton has 3 poles and 3 victories, while his team mate has the other pole and other victory.  It really shows that Mercedes knows how to make the engines for F1.

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View from the window

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Another view from window

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Douglas’s Foot

One of the nights for dinner we went to this place that served baby pigs…  and I mean the whole pig.  You can see the feet, the ears, the tail, everything…  it was so soft and supple you could cut it with a plate.  there was some ritual or ceremony that we did, by cutting it with a plate, then you break the plate, and then give you new ones to eat on.  Very good little pig.

And on the day we left we headed over to the Petronas Towers.  They are the tallest Twin buildings in the world…  have to be known for something, I guess.  Anyways they are in lots of movies and was fun to see.

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Swimming with the fish

Well after that trip the next adventure was to Bali.  Robin and I had gone last year without the kids, but this year we decided tom bring them along….  Sharon (Robin’s mom) also joined us, and we brought Som with us as well to ensure everyone had a nice, relaxing time.  It was definitely a different vacation with the kids, compared to the last time we were there!  The beach was just as nice as I remembered it and the food was the same old same old, and the weather was fantastic, but in all honesty, the service wasn’t quite what we remembered.  So that was a little bit of a let down.  When the tide goes out, it goes way way out.  So Som and I took the kids out to the reef.  It was a little more difficult than the last time we did it and it was until the next day did I realize that we went when the tide was coming back in and we had missed the low tide… oops!  It was still pretty neat.  When were almost back, Douglas let out a yelp!  We looked down at this foot and saw the four black spots….  not really sure what it was or if it could major issues we rushed back to the room

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Yummy! Desert

and to the hotel to find out the story.  Turns out it was a sea urchin.  It’s a black spiny thing with about 100 spines!  Luckily some love and some Chocolate milk later, and some drugs, he was all better!  The next day Robin, Sharon, and Douglas went snorkeling and I don’t think his foot bothered him in the least!

That night we went to a local restaurant and on the way home we found a fish tank with the kind of fish that eat the dead skin off of your feet.  Needless to say they were very happy to see me!  Mostly they just tickle a whole bunch.  Once I stepped into the tank, both of the boys just had to get in there as well.  it was pretty cute to see the little fish nibbling on their legs!

 

 

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Kids picture – before the hunt

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Family photo before the hunt

After Bali it was time for Easter and the big Easter egg hunt.  Robin did a great job in organizing the hunt, getting the eggs and coordinating with some of the other ladies in the building.  We think there were over 50 kids running around trying to find the eggs.  They hid the eggs all over the backyard of the building.  It was great to see the kids running and screaming and looking for eggs.

After the Hunt we had a nice pot luck and pool party.  It was great to see everyone there and again the kids loved all the candy.

 

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Robin and Megan in the booth

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Yummy Popsicles

-Finally, at least for this blog…  Robin and a friend of her’s in the building have twice now put on a booth a local food artisan market.  Lots of local foods from a variety of people…  it was nicely shaded in the morning so we all went to see them and support the local economy.  Lots of great food and a ton of people from the building showed up, so it was neat to see the support.  Robin is hoping that working the booth a couple of times with some different foods could lead to more ideas and potentially something she could do back in the US.

The kids thought it was great that all these other kids were there and they all got grape popsicles.  And once again we had random strangers taking pictures of Reed…  he just made an absolute mess of his treat and he was having a blast!

Well that’s all for now… this weekend Robin and I are heading to Singapore, just to hangout and in two months we come back to the US for a visit.

Hope all is well with you and your families…

Kyle

 

KL to Bali to a cooking fair

So it turns out it’s been awhile since I have posted anything….  that of course is not to say our life has been dull and boring!  Looks like my last post was in August of last year…  clearly, i’m a little behind.  Well, somewhere in there we’ve had grand parents visit, Friends from Dallas visit, Halloween, Thanksgiving, An airplane museum, x-mas concert (wearing shorts of course, it was hot that day)  X-mas in our apartment, followed by a beach trip, saw our old driver’s son turning into a Monk ceremony, Robin graduated from culinary school and then my trip to the F1 races in Kuala Lumpor (KL!)

My intention of this post was to write about KL and Bali…  but looking back, I’m seeing a lot of events I need to catch up on….  so I think this post will be about everything since the last post.

Loy Kratong 15 Nov

Loy Kratong 15 Nov

Halloween 31 Oct

Halloween 31 Oct

In October we celebrated halloween in the building.  It was quite fun.  The kids were dressed as Spiderman and a cowboy and trick or treating was never easier….  you knock on a door, and then go down a floor, and do the same thing all over again…  quick walk and you get to see all the kids from the building.  It’s pretty fun and the kids really enjoy it.  Later in November is the Loy Kratong Festival (a Water festival)  for school the kids will dress up in native Thai clothing and then build little boats.  The boats are supposed to represents your worries, your concerns, your pains and your sufferings…  and then you cast them down the river or in the pond and you watch your problems just go away!

Klong Toey mkt 14 Nov

Klong Toey mkt 14 Nov

Klong Toey Mkt 14 Nov

Klong Toey Mkt 14 Nov (frogs in a bag!)

Also, during that time my parents were in town.  This time around they went to a Thai cooking class called “Cooking with Poo”   “Poo” of course is the name of the chef.  as part of the class they go to the Klong Toey Market to buy their food before they cook it and eat it.  This market has everything you see in the TV shows and movies… Snacks, bags of frogs, ants, bugs, etc, etc…  There is no way I am eating any food from that place!

Sleeping with Dad

Sleeping with Dad

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and hereof course is my favorite position on the weekends.  Not sure when this photos was taken, but really i was taking one for the team as we have hard time getting Reed to take naps, and I was just doing what I could to help!

Airplanes!  1 Dec

Airplanes! 1 Dec

X-mas concert  11 Dec

X-mas concert 11 Dec

In early Douglas and I and another friend of ours went to the airplane museum near the 2nd airport.  Pretty interesting stuff and they really let you get into the airplanes and see what is going on.  Kind of hard to see, but Douglas is wearing a red shirt in the Captain’s chair of this plane.  You can tell it’s not America as one of the helicopters still had some oil leaking from it and they just put a bucket under it!  They let the kids climb anywhere they wanted to.  Douglas really enjoyed it.

The X-mas concert was the following week and D took to the microphone.  Fun to see all the parents and everyone else all dressed up.  But still weird, as I recall it was pretty hot that day, so not much snow to go sledding in!

X-mas day

X-mas day

X-mas day

X-mas day

We celebrated Christmas as a family this year, and had rain deer pancakes!  We got a nice tree… fake of course as the real deal was crazy expensive.  But no one seemed to notice.  It was different not celebrating back in the US, but we had a great time with everyone…  and the next day we went for a couple of days on the beach and at a resort.

X-mas day

X-mas day

Apparently at this moment in time I was on watch and failed miserably!  Reed is jumping on the little trampoline we got for them, you can also see his kitchen in the background and the tree.  Robin and the kids did a great job in decorating.  But also for Christmas we got the kids some markers…  and you can see they make great lines on faces…  oops

Protests 24 Feb

Protests 24 Feb

Becoming  a monk 1 Mar

Becoming a monk 1 Mar

Graduation 28 Mar

Graduation 28 Mar

The protests started in early January and all of the ex-pats that were not here for the protests back a few years ago were pretty nervous about what was going to happen.  Some of the locals were concerned as well, but most were like “whatever”   and it turns out they were like “whatever!”  They had 7 sites where people were camping, and there were big stages.  One stage was near our house, about a 5-10 minute walk.  It was in a major intersection and it totally messed up traffic.  and in the end that was our biggest issue.  The protesters wanted the Prime Minister to resign.  So far she has not resigned, but the government has been pretty ineffective as of late.  For us it was just normal life…  you had to pay attention to when they were going to have a rally or march, but for the most part, it was just another day.  It did get a little scary when we would hear of random violence and some people did lose their life.  So we definitely didn’t attend any of the rallies, but we would walk through them on the way to the train station. To me it was more of rock concert…  food vendors, camping out, street merchants selling t-shirts and what not, etc… and a big rock stage!

Later on in the month our old driver, Khun Jah asked us to attend the ceremony for her son to become a monk.  That was very interesting.  It was almost like a 2nd line dance around the temple, music, dancing, kids running around, etc…  and then we went inside and the monks prayed and chanted for him.  Very neat to see.

All during this time Robin had been going to Culinary School for Bakery.  She did great and I am very proud of her.  She was bringing bread home every day, practicing on the weekends, and we got to taste and eat everything she did. She makes some great cinnamon rolls, buns, for hamburgers or a pulled pork sandwich, croissants (some are even chocolate filled) some awesome cookies, and some great pizza crust.  She graduated from school on 28 March. She is now working with another friend here in the building at once a month fair where they are selling their yummy treats.  It’s been a lot of fun for her and hopefully this will turn into something back in the US as well.

Well, it’s officially late here….  so the main reason for my post, will have to wait for another day.

Enjoy, Kyle