Nepal 8-12 August 2013

We went to Nepal back in the early part of August.  Some friends of ours had gone in April, and we thought it was a cool idea.  We had to look on a map just to see where the heck Nepal was again and just how “far” away it was.  Turns out, it’s not far at all.  Gate to gate was about 3:15.  I mean how many times in your life will you be this close to Nepal and want to take a family vacation there without breaking the bank!  So we asked our nanny, if she wanted to come with us, and she of course said “yes” and jumped on the chance to see something pretty cool.

The flight was uneventful,  Reed slept for part of the way, but was awake and squirmy for the rest of it.  It solidified the fact that not coming back to the US with an 18 month old sitting in your lap was a good idea!  It will be a long stretch between US visits but by the time we come back again, Reed will get his own seat and will hopefully like TV.  Can’t believe I just said that, but I really need him to like TV when we head back to the US!  But back to Nepal…..

Thai Airways has a direct flight which was great.  One flight a day.  It’s crazy if you look at some of the travel websites, they will actually suggest and think it’s a good idea to travel to India, and then have a layover of 18 hours just to save $100.  We decided to not take their best price and determined the direct non-stop route was the best.  When we were in Bali I had some USD with me, and so I decided to bring some on this trip too….  Turns out everyone loves US money, and will gladly accept it.  You have to watch your exchange rate, but its a good thing to have on you.  I don’t think I will travel again without carrying some US money with us… just in case.  And it turns out that as soon as we landed, I needed some of it!

The airport is full of people who are willing to help you with you bags.  And when they see a western family with a couple of kids, they know they have a prime tourist!  But a couple of dollars later we had our bags in a cart and loaded into the hotel van.  overall, a good investment.  Straight out of the airport we knew we were not in Kansas anymore.  Actually, as soon as we landed and saw the airport, we knew we were in for adventure.  The plane towered over the airport.  The runway had old dilapidated planes sitting just off the concrete, burnt out helicopters sat idly by, planes with no engines just hanging out, etc.   We were definitely not in a major country anymore.  But we got in the van to take us to the airport, and it was a sight to see.  Some cows in the street, pots holes everywhere, people all over the place, I am not sure how many miles it was from airport to hotel, but it took us well over 30 minutes.  The van was hot and stuffy.  Not too many people use the AC because it costs too much.  But if you had the window open, the breeze was nice, but the smell and the horn honking was incessant.  Our hotel was cool.  Right in the middle of the touristy area of Thamel.  We got a 2 bedroom 2 bath suite that worked out great.  Except for the club on the roof, which was loud when the kids were going to bed…  but you can’t have everything.

The front desk was really nice.  We asked where a grocery store was so we could get some milk and other food for the kids.  And instead of pointing us in the right direction, one of the front desk people walked us to the place and showed us around just a little.  very nice.  So after the food run, we needed to eat dinner.  The Thamel area has tons of places to eat.  Just not too many Western places.  We decided to keep things safe and simple for the kids.  We found the Northfield cafe and Jesse James bar.  It took me a little bit, but I finally realized and then confirmed with the waiters that the owner went to St. Olaf college in Northfield MN.  Which is also where Jesse James was shot, and of course my older brother and other friends went to school.  They were very helpful with the kids and have a great assortment of Western friendly food.  We actually went back there another night as well!

I had worked out with the hotel to get us a car / driver.  As we had heard and then later confirmed that the taxis are very tiny.  And we wanted AC.  You have to pay extra for these kinds of things, but I figured my family was worth the extra $2 a day for the AC!  So the next morning we had breakfast on the roof of the hotel (the same place as the noisy club from the night before) but the views were great and the food was ok  (at best!)  But that didn’t matter as we were up for adventure and we were in sight seeing mode.  First on the list the Great Stupa of Boudhanath.  A Buddist temple that is on the UNESCO World Heritage site lists and means “Lord of Wisdom”  It’s pretty cool to see and it’s nice as there are no cars to watch out for.

Next on the list was the Pashupatinath…  A Hindu temple that is only the World Heritage lists.  We picked up a guide for this part of the trip as again, a bunch of Westerners with kids in tow, we were the obvious tourists.  Plus, honestly, we were a little lost….  so it was all good.  We could not actually go into the main temple as we are not Hindu, but we saw everything else and it was also pretty cool.  The tour started out by showing us where they cremate the bodies, not sure if anyone was being cremated while we were there, but they had the fires going.  And then they dump you into the river.  The Hindu temple also has a bunch of guys that have given up on all earthly possessions and family and have devoted themselves to the faith.  And of course they love taking their picture taken with the tourists, because then they ask for a donation.  And me not thinking gives them what they asked for, which was like $10…  that’s a lot over here!  But oh well, live and learn.  The temple was pretty cool and it was fun to see.  A couple of monkeys were here and there so Douglas liked it too!  Then we went to the Kathmandu – Durbar Square.  We didn’t have that much time as the kids and the rest of us where getting beat down.  But we saw some cool buildings and determined we needed to come back another day.  That night we ate a New Orleans Cafe!  I did try my hand at some local food, but again it was nice to have some safe food for Douglas and Reed.

The next morning I went on a pretty neat ride of your life.  I jumped on a turbo prop plane and went out to visit Mt. Everest.  We’re talking bucket list kind of stuff here.  We were visiting Nepal in the rainy season, so there were lots of clouds, but we could still see it and it was awesome.  I had a window seat (everyone has a window seat on this airplane!)  but I also had the freaking engine in my window… grr…  one more row forward would have been prime.  But they did let us into the cockpit to take photos… so it all worked out.  I took both my camera and Robin’s camera with me on the airplane.  But the photos from her camera are like 24MB…  so I couldn’t upload those to the blog.  The photo’s I’ve included are from my camera and taken from my seat versus from the cockpit.  Still pretty amazing.  I can only imagine what the view would be like without the clouds.  The plane was at 24,000 ft.  Everest is around 29,000 ft, which is higher than the plane…  which is really crazy.  In the photo with the wing, you have Everest int he middle and then Lhotse just to the right.  Everyone on the plane was super excited to be there.  There were at least 3 different airlines flying and probably 8-9 flights going all at the same time.  And they do this everyday… weather permitting.

After I got back from that we went to Swayambhu, another Buddist stupa and also on the UNESCO list.  This is more commonly known as the Monkey temple.  As once again, lots and lots of monkeys.  We were warned the monkeys have become quite brazen and will take food out of your hand or your backpack… so be careful and watch your kids.  Turns out there is a front entrance with lots and lots of steep steps, or a back entrance… with only some steep steps.  We went for the back entrance!  The top had a great view of the city below and the surrounding mountains.  It was pretty neat to see as well.  As some point on the tour I decided that ice cream was in order.  I got a bar of some sort and Douglas wanted a scoop of chocolate on a cone.  No problem, everyone is happy…  and then the monkey’s come.  It was clear the monkey’s have done this before and are carefully orchestrated.  While one monkey in front of Douglas kept him distracted a second monkey came up from behind and snatched the whole ice cream scoop / cone right out of his hand!  I couldn’t believe it, but I guess we were warned.  Douglas went into total meltdown mode and yelled that he did not like money’s anymore!  So of course I had to get him some more ice cream.  This time it was in a cup and we went inside to eat it.  So maybe the monkeys are in cohorts with the ice cream guy!  And as usual we found the typical Asian loves the chubby white kid.  Men and women love Reed.  It’s pretty amazing how Reed is perfectly ok with complete strangers holding him.  I guess the whole “stranger danger” lesson will have to come at another time.

From there it was back to Kathmandu –  Durbar Square.  A little more time to walk around this time.  It’s a collection of both Hindu and Buddhist temples and shrines built between 12th and 18th centuries.  No guide for this trip, but it was neat to look at the architecture and the buildings.  Dinner that night was at the Fire and Ice Pizzeria.  We were warned we may need reservations…  but I figured we were early, so no worries.  Turns out, I was lucky.  The place was packed, but had one more table, just for us.  Pizza was pretty good too.

The next day we took a different car / driver out to Bhaktapur, to go see it’s Durbar square.  Part of the adventure sometime is just in getting there.  The car parked and the driver said “ok you’re here…” but it did not look right at all.  I started to question the guy, but then saw some sign.  Super unclear directions, I’ve got the whole family in tow, and just not sure which way to go.  Luckily, we stuck out as tourists and someone volunteered to be our guide.  and it was a good think too.  I would have gone down the street on the left, when what we wanted to see was down the street on the right!  Some of the old kings used to live in this area and so they had some cool looking buildings and architecture.  Although some of these architects lost their site after they were done, so they could never build something so beautiful again!  We had our most expensive and worst tasting lunch just outside this Durbar square.  I think it was around $20 for lunch and that was very expensive.  The price of living in Nepal was very reasonable!  at least we thought it was.  On the way home I asked the driver to turn on the AC.  He immediately said it was going to cost more.  I gave him some grief about the hotel booking the right car and it was dropped.  And then the car got a flat tire.  The traffic was crazy, but the driver very quickly changed the tire…  I’m going to say, he’s done that before.  And that night it was back to the Northfield cafe.  It finally rained on us.  We did come during the rainy season, and of course all of us forgot our umbrellas.

There was a Northface store about every 3 shops in the area we stayed.  So I had to pick up a shirt and a small backpack.  I figure it will give me instant street cred.  Because I not only have the brand name but the fact that I bought it in Nepal as well.  I feel more manly and more outdoorsy already.

The next day we just kind of hung out in the morning and then it was back to the airport.  Lots and lots of lines there, Line to get into airport.  line to check in…  line to get through customs.  This is once again where having small children is great.  We get to go to more front’s of the line with kids then we ever thought possible.  It’s really quite nice, but I do feel  a little bad for all the others we just cut off!

Nepal was clearly the craziest place we have been in my opinion.  The most fascinating, the most interesting, the most everything!  Not sure I see the need to go back again, unless we’re going trekking, but it was great.  Not sure where our next adventure will be, i’m sure it will be great, but I am not sure it will be as much of an adventure as this one was….

Hope you enjoy the pictures….

Kyle

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Outside our Hotel in Thamel Area

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Breakfast at the hotel

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Boudhanath – Buddhist stupa

Cremations by the River - Pashupatinath

Cremations by the River – Pashupatinath

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Reed with the Clergy – Pushupatinath

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The whole family in front of Hindu temple – Pashupatinath

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The Airplane for the Everest trip

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Mt Everest out the window

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Mt Everest and Mt. Lhotse

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A Taxi! — Quite small

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At the Monkey Temple

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Swayambhu – Monkey Temple

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Everyone Loves Reed. At the Monkey Temple.

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Durbar Square – Kathmandu

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Durbar Square – Bhaktapur

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Durbar Square – Bhaktapur

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Durbar Square – Bhaktapur

from Bangkok to Bali

We’ve now been here for over a year and it’s crazy how the time is flying by. Reed is now 17 months (came over here at 4 months!) and Douglas will be 4 in October…  The kids are saying the funniest things these days… Well Douglas is, Reed mostly grunts and points.

As an example…  Douglas loves to talk about poop.  “I poop on your ear”, “I’m eating a poop muffin”. etc…  well we have tried very hard to stop this.  So one day Douglas said he was eating some poop when Robin just kind of glared at him…  and without missing a beat he says something like…  “Mom, stop talking about poop.  You talk about poop all the time!”  Best timing ever, right on cue.  Robin had the hardest time not laughing and just cracking up right then and there.

We went to Safari World back in June, which is just outside of BKK.  you can definitely get a lot closer to the animals here than you can in the US.

Safari World.  16 June 2013

Safari World. 16 June 2013

Safari World, 16 June 2013

Safari World, 16 June 2013

Safari World.  16 June 2013

Safari World. 16 June 2013

Bali - room view

Bali – room view

Bali - Kyle Windsurfing

Bali – Kyle Windsurfing

Bali - Lunch in Ubud area

Bali – Lunch in Ubud area

Bali - Lunch in Ubud area

Bali – Lunch in Ubud area

Bali - Beach Resort

Bali – Beach Resort

We were able to drive through this huge area where you are not allowed to open windows or get out of the car.  Cause the animals could decide to eat you.  Saw the tigers and lions and some other large cats.  Inside the zoo we fed the giraffes, saw the dolphin show (if you look closely you can see the two dolphins jumping through the hoops) and then saw the elephant show.  Douglas loved it, so that’s what counts!

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This is Robin’s birthday month, and as part of the agreement to marry her, I had to make sure to celebrate the whole month, not just the one day!  So we finally went out and had Thai massages together.  Somewhat painful, somewhat of a pretzel, but overall it makes you feel pretty good.

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And then Robin and i went to Bali this past weekend.  We left both kids at home, so it was a nice and relaxing long weekend…  sort of.  We left on Saturday and Douglas was a little sick, but no big deal.  On Monday, we got the call from our friend that our nanny had called her, concerned about Douglas and they decided to take him to the hospital.  He was not feeling well, had a fever, didn’t look good and they had trouble waking him up from huge nap in the afternoon.  The Doc said he had tonsillitis, gave him some drugs and sent him on his way.  (I am not sure you could do that in the US.  I mean have a friend take your kid to the doctor and get prescription drugs!  But you can here and we were happy about it!)  So it was a little stressful for us being somewhat far away, about a 4 hour flight, and not really being able to do anything…   but all was good about 24 hours later.

So, back to Bali.  Bali is a part of Indonesia and is pretty much south of Thailand.  the entire country sits on the equator and we were staying on the southern side of the world.  It was great. Very nice beach, very nice resort.  It was actually very kid friendly and it would have been easy to bring them along.

One of the days we went into the Ubud area which is where the arts and crafts of the country reside.  Rock artists, paintings, wood carvings, batik fabric designs, etc.. Pretty fun stuff.  But for me the best part was lunch.  We went to this restaurant that was the most idyllic place I’ve ever been.  Very green, very lush, just an amazing view.  They are growing rice in the fields.

Back on the beach, I tried some windsurfing.  It was pretty fun and just an accomplishment to stand on the board for more than 10 seconds!  They didn’t really offer lessons, but what I did pick up was fun and the next time I am on the beach, watch out!

We also got a massage…  someday I may have to write a book about the different massages we are getting in the different countries and rate them!  So far we have Thai, Cambodian, Vietnamese and Balinese!

And for her actual birthday we had dinner last night with the whole family and tonight it is just us.

Next up is Nepal… in about 2 weeks and brining the whole family with us!  I think the plane ride with Reed will be brutal.  He’s into everything and even the TV doesn’t really get him to stay still for that long.  We’re there for 5 days and 4 nights.

Should be fun….

The Kids

Well like any good parent, I have to show off my kids a little bit….  First is of Douglas and Reed from 30 March.  Douglas loves being a superhero.  Actually if he stops listening or

Douglas and Reed today

Douglas and Reed today

isn’t being a good boy, we’ll take his superhero shirt off…  we’ve actually found this to be the best deterrent or reminder to be a good listener!

next up is Reed at 13 months.  I try to take picture of the boys every month with my football. so for comparison I am also posting Douglas at 13 months with the same

Reed 13 months

Reed 13 months

football!  Reed is quite the chunk.  When we were in Vietnam, and we get it here to, random people just love coming up to Reed and pinching is leg or arm or face.  It’s good to have a chubby white baby with you!

One other item that was interesting in vietnam was the number of people that would speak Vietnamese to Som.  Apparently Thai people and Vietnamese people look similar to most people!

Wow though, looking at the photo of Douglas is pretty amazing, he looks like he has lost some weight!  Reed and he almost weigh the same now!

Hope everyone enjoyed and now it is time for bed!

Kyle

Douglas 13 Months

Douglas 13 Months

Cambodia

Back in late January or so, my friend Scotty and his wife, Andrea, came out to visit us.  After a couple of days in BKK we trekked over to Cambodia.  The adventure pretty much started as soon as we got started.  Around 3.5 hours in the car and we couldn’t find the boarder.  The guidebooks warn of “false” boarders and people just taking your money and putting a silly stamp in your passport…  so we wanted to be sure.  We eventually found it and about 10 seconds later Scott was almost pick pocketed!  Luckily they were unsuccessful.  After we made it across, 2 hours, total to leave Thailand, walk about 15 minutes to Cambodia and enter the Country… we got in with another group of tourists and took the 2 hours van ride to Siem Reap.  Which is where we started our adventure to visit Angkor Wat and some of the other sites of Cambodia…

Angkor Wat 1

Angkor Wat 1

When the van dropped us off at the “bus terminal” there were a bunch of tuk tuk drivers just waiting for us.  And so we hired a couple of them to take us to our hotel.  He just happen to have a “friend” who could be our driver for the next couple of days.  It actually worked out very well and he was great.  Not much of a guide, but he got us from point a to point b without an issue.  Our first stop was Angkor Wat.  By far the biggest and the most

Angkor Wat 2

Angkor Wat 2

popular.  1st photo from the front and the one with all four of us is looking at the back side.

Our boat

Our boa

Rural fishing village

Rural fishing village

Our taxi driver convinced us to get off the beaten path a little and to take a boat ride.  Which we decided to go for it.  This was our boat.  It took at least an hour or more in the tuk tuk to get here and it was very fascinating again.  we went through some of the poorest areas I have ever seen.  It was a fishing village that was clearly ready for the floods.

At one point we had to get out, because he needed “gas” and it was conveniently at his buddies store in the fishing village. This was after we had to stop for lunch at some floating restaurant.  But anyways, we were approached

by someone selling notepads and pencils for the poor school kids.  Somehow or other we got roped into buying some for the children…. I was pretty much convinced it was a scam, but then they invited us to actually give the pencils to the children.  So we walked a little more and sure enough, class was in session and they were learning English.  The kids were all very appreciative of the supplies we gave them.  I’m sure the middle woman still made a profit, but it was kind of cool to do something like that!

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One of the other interesting part of the temples are the trees that have grown over, around, above and under them!

Fish Massage and beer for $3

Fish Massage and beer for $3

The pigs were alive!

The pigs were alive!

Finally, you just never know what you are going to see in town….  So I had to get a fish massage.  All of the fish in the tank are eating the dead skin off of my feet.  Very ticklish, so I couldn’t really enjoy it too much, but the beer was nice.

It’s been awhile!

According to the big website we haven’t posted a think since November!  We are a little late.  But we have some good excuses.  We were in the US for about 2 weeks around Christmas, my buddy Scott and his wife Andrea visited and we went to Cambodia and took a canal tour of BKK, Bryant and his family visited and we went to the beach in Phuket, along with some Wats (Temples) and most recently we returned from Vietnam. Where we took in some history on the “American War” and of course went to the beach.  And Reed turned 1 as well in there.

For now I will talk about Vietnam and will try to post some other fun photos of the other things we saw….

We left for Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) a couple of Saturdays ago. HCMC is in the South part of the country.  We brought Som with us so Robin and I could do some sight seeing and the kids could stay with Som.  We first went to the War Museum, where until about 10 years ago it was called the American War Crimes Museum.  Pretty biased reporting, but the photos don’t really lie and it was very interesting and pretty graphic as well, not a place to take kids or even some adults.  Very interesting the consequences of what using agent orange did on the people.  And well, war is not pretty.

War Museum

War Museum

After that visit, Robin and I had lunch at the Hotel Caravelle.  Many foreign journalists and some embassies were located there during the war because of it’s bullet proof glass, A/C system and a generator.  For you history buffs, pretty neat stuff.  The original hotel was only the lower building on the right.

And then we did something totally crazy which was visit the Cu Chi Tunnels.  ABout a 1.5 hour drive outside of HCMC are these massive tunnel systems.  Totally crazy.  They go 3 levels deep,  1st level about 3-5m underground, 2nd level around 8-10 m underground and the 3rd level is about 12m underground.  People would live in the tunnels for months if need be while

Hotel Caravelle in HCMC

Hotel Caravelle in HCMC

the war went on over head.  There were class rooms, places to sleep, dining area, hospital, everything you might need.  Not exactly sure how they did #2.    #1 is easy, but #2 is a little more tricky!  The tunnels were super small in size and the openings were ridiculous.  I climbed into one opening and it got a little claustrophobic…

The tour was quite interesting and we watched some video which was very old and quite the opposite of what we had heard from the previous days  At the museum, they make it sound like the locals were all peace loving people and we came in with our big guns and just killed people.

Climbing In

Climbing In

I'm going in

I’m going in

and we would kill innocent little girls and women, and children etc…   Here, however, they talked about and bragged about how many Americans someone had killed and they bragged about how the kids, boys and girls, all helped out and would do the killing as well.  A very opposite story

Gone!

Gone!

Macho Man - with an AK-47

Macho Man – with an AK-47

about half way through the tour, they let you shoot some rifles using the weapons of the day and age.  So I shot an AK-47.  You could also shoot some of the American rifles and it was also kind of fun.  I am a lousy shoot.

Well after our history lessons it was time for the beach.  We hoped on a flight and went north and east to Nha Trang.  Two nights at one hotel, just across from the beach and two more nights on an island called Vinpearl.  The traffic in Vietnam is the craziest I have ever seen.  very little lights and pedestrians have zero rights, even on the sidewalks.  Plus they honk their horns constantly.  Not asking you to get out of the way, but telling you I am here. WOW, annoying as all get out.  it made the traffic of bangkok seem nice.

Beach on the main land

Beach on the main land

This was on the beach on the mainland from our first couple of nights.  The Island in the photo is were we spent a couple of more nights.

and Later we went and flew some kites.  Douglas was at first very afraid and nervous to fly, then he became quite good and then finally when it crash landed and broke he was very upset!

Kite Flying

Kite Flying

Riding the Cable Car

Riding the Cable Car

The island had two ways of getting there.  Taking a boat of ride the cable car.  So one of the afternoons we rode the car to the mainland and back again.  I rather enjoyed it but it was rather shaky for the rest of the group.  The island also had a small aquarium and amusement park.  Robin and I both had fond memories as a kid going on a ride that looks like a giant swing.  Quite fun as I recall, but we could not convince Douglas to go on it.  So we decided to go anyways.  This ride had a little bit more movement to it then we both

Beach on the Island

Beach on the Island

remembered and as a result were both feeling ill afterwards.  But the good news is that we saw 3 other people lose their lunch after the ride was over, so we didn’t feel so bad!

The beach on the Island was absolutely ideal.  Nice waves, super clear water, beautiful surroundings, absolutely gorgeous.  We could have stayed there a few more days!  But alas we finally had to come home.

Beach on the island 2

Beach on the island 2

We flew home through Hanoi (in the North) and it is a dump of an airpot.  I would skip the airport if you are traveling that direction!

And then it was back to reality.  😦

Douglas started school again this week, Swimming classes are back in action, and I get to go to work

Not sure where our next adventure will take us, but we’re thinking about Myanmar, Macau, or Laos!

Hope all is well for you and your family

Kyle

To Hong Kong… and Beyond!

Last year before all the craziness happened we had decided to go to Disney for Douglas’ third birthday.  At 3yrs old you have to start to pay for everything.  Therefore we decided to go the weekend before his birthday!  And then after we found out we were coming here, we decided to go to Disney anyways as they have one in Hong Kong (HK.)  It’s the smallest Disney they have, but it’s still Disney!

JW view – living room

So on Saturday 20 October we were bound for HK.  Just one little problem, about 30 minutes before we were supposed to leave the apartment, Douglas got sick.  He acted fine; he looked fine, but lost his cookies…  everywhere.  Got that all cleaned up on and on the road. . .  Where he got sick again, all over his clothes, the car seat, everything!  He warned us this time, but we were unprepared.  Not a good Boy Scout, I know!  At the airport, we checked in, a little bit of difficulty with Reed, as he is a lap child, but you still have to pay for them.  Grr.  But anyways, we made it through security.  I have to say this, because this doesn’t happen very often, it was great traveling with the kids when you go through security and customs.  We got in the super preferred and super short lines.  Very nice of the airport!  Once on the other side, we needed some breakfast.  After walking for a little bit we found a Burger King, which looked great.  So I stayed in line and Robin took the kids to find a table.  When I finally got the food and came to find them, this group of like 5 Indians (I think Indian) were all smiling, laughing and taking pictures of Robin and Reed.  Calling themselves “Uncle,” kissing his cheeks, pinching his arms, quite the

Hong Kong Park

scene!  At this point Douglas was very hungry, but we decided to not feed him, which makes for a very crabby, whiny, boy on an airplane.  On the plane he got sick 4 times, therefore Robin and I were quite pleased with our decision to not feed him breakfast!

On the ground in HK, we waited until the plane was empty as we did

Welcome to Disney

not want to be walking down the aisle and all of sudden have him get sick again.  But the airplane people were very friendly (We flew Cathay Pacific, if you ever get the chance, I highly recommend them!) and so we finally picked up our luggage, got into a cab and headed into the city.  Neither one of us had ever been to HK before and we both thought it was going to be wall-to-

The Magic Begins

wall city.  Turns out, it’s not!  There are lots of mountains, hills and trees.  HK is a collection of islands and is very beautiful.  And then after some more driving, we finally saw what we had expected.  High-rise after high-rise after high-rise.  The density of the people living there has to be huge.  Just crazy driving around in the cab and seeing all of the apartment buildings.  We finally made it to our hotel, the JW Marriott, which we used points to get and I am still a super star in terms of status.  They gave us some huge suite, near the top floor.  Just huge windows, great bathroom, and huge living area.  Love the Marriott!  We went for a walk in Hong Kong Park and it was pretty cool too.  Lots of fish and turtles to look at, so

Say Cheese!

Douglas was very happy!  I will never take for granted again all of the ramps that are required in parks in the US.  Stairs and a stroller, do not work well together, and there were stairs everywhere!  We were going to take the tram up to the Peak, however the line looked super long.  So we called it good for the day.

Tomorrow Land and the UFO’s

On Sunday we took a cab, to the train station to go to Disney.  After some negotiation with the elevator and then having correct change for the ticket machine we finally made it on the train.  Which took us almost back to the airport!  But then we finally got on the Disney train.  Complete with Mickey Mouse shaped windows.  Once at the resort, we were still carrying all of our luggage, so we needed to find our hotel.  That meant getting on a bus.  (at this point in the story we had been on a plane, a cab, a train, and now a bus…  Douglas was very happy!)  Found the bus and away we go.  Get to the hotel, and it’s nice, but it’s not over the top nice.  The staff wasn’t all that helpful, they didn’t all have smiles on their faces, and we had to lug our own luggage!  Which, I am

It’s a Small World After all

told would never happen at the Disney in the US!  Finally, finally, checked in, and the room wasn’t ready.  Which was no big deal as we wanted to get to the park anyways.  So we dropped our stuff off with the bellmen and we were back on the bus!  The whole trip to this point Douglas has been talking about going to Mickey’s house and how he can’t wait to meet Mickey!

At the Parade

We finally arrive at the park and he is super excited.  Lines were minimal, so we were happy about that.  We found some lunch and then it was off to the rides.  At this point we hadn’t seen a sick Douglas in 4 hours, so we thought we were over with it!  We immediately got our Mickey Mouse ears for the boys.  There names are embroided on them!  Off in

Woody!

Tomorrow Land we rode the UFO’s, which Douglas enjoyed driving, and a Stitch (from Lilo and Stitch) interactive show.  The Stitch character talks to the audience, so it was pretty fun.  And then we went to the ride for It’s a Small World.   From there it was parade time and then the Whinnie the Pooh ride.  Then Safari Jungle ride was pretty cool and finally made it to Toy Story land.  He met Woody which was really fun for him and then we went on the Slink the Dog ride.  And by that time it was dinner time and then another parade!  It was Halloween themed and pretty cool to watch.

When we finally made it to our room, it was a smoking room. After we got a new room, we

High Five’s with Woody

realized the crib they gave us had the sleeping area as high as it could be, meaning that Reed tried he would fall out of bed.  Again, we called, and they came up to fix the issue.  I was most happy with their customer service response time, but looking back the bigger question is why did we have the problem in the first place!

Halloween Parade

In the morning, Reed got up super early, so he and I went for a walk… And found the hedge maze!  It was pretty fun.  We walked around the maze for just a minute and then headed out to pier.  The hotel is right on the South China Sea.  From there we went the character Breakfast.  We didn’t see any characters (expect for Woody) the day before and Douglas was very disappointed.  At breakfast we have Mickey Mouse pancakes and waffles!  And then Douglas got sick again, at the table!  And right after that charcters came!  When Goofy finally, to our table, Douglas wasn’t doing so well, and pretty much between him and Reed, they were both crying.  But then the magic happened… and Mickey came to the table.  Douglas loved it.  He finally met Mickey Mouse!

Mickey Mouse – Pancakes and Waffles

After breakfast Reed and Robin went back to the room for a nap, so then Douglas and I could explore the maze a little more and the hotel grounds.

We decided to walk to the Park this morning, and it turned out to be a great decision.  About a 15-minute walk, and we didn’t have to deal with the stupid bus!  It was much busier on this day.  But we

Breakfast

got in and went straight for the Tea Cups.  Douglas rode this about 4 times with me and another 3 times with Robin, I think he would have kept going if we let him!  And from there we went to the Merry Go Round.  Finally, Robin and Douglas took a train trip around the park …  And then we had to go.  So it was back on the train with the Mickey Mouse windows and back to the JW.  We were hoping and the JW

Happy to see Mickey

came through…  they upgraded us again and we had the same room again.  Very nice of them.

The next day we were off to Ocean park.  An Aquarium of sorts with rides, and everything else.  It was super crowded, as it was a Holiday of some sort.  The pushing and the shoving while waiting in line is apparently very normal, and having your own personal space is not really expected, but wow getting use to it could take some time!  By this day, Douglas was a wreck.  Not sleeping well at night, no naps, not eating much, etc.… so he was terrible!  And Reed wasn’t doing too much better as his nap schedule was off as well.  But we managed to see the main aquarium, and then after

The Hotel Maze

some hard fought time outs, it was time for the gondola ride.  Which turned out to be really neat.  Finally, we had dinner at the top of the resort again, overlooking the Sea.  Super hot that day as well, which didn’t help anyone’s patience!  After lunch we tried to see some shows, but it just didn’t happen, and so after walking around a bunch it was time to head back

More aMAZing things to come

down.  From there it was Panda Bears and then back to the hotel.  I forgot to mention, to get here we took the bus.  It worked out great, as we could buy the bus ticket and park ticket at the same booth downtown.  Which was very nice because the lines to buy tickets at the park were massive.  What we didn’t count on was the melt down when we got off the bus because

Tea Cups

Douglas loved sitting on the 2nd floor of the double decker soooooooo much!  Luckily we convinced him we had a bus ride home.  This should have been our clue the day was going to be difficult.

On our last day in HK, Wednesday 24 October, we were determined to take the tram ride up to the Peak.  And it was worth it!  Just fun riding the tram.  It was so steep at one point that a woman tour guide, got up from here seat and “stood” up.  It looked like she was on a 45 or more degree angle.  Almost a parlor trick of sorts, but then she got another person to stand up with her.  I’m probably not explaining it well, but we were all sitting and when she stood it appeared she was defying gravity!  Anyways the views were great.  Douglas was only in time out once while on the observatory, so we thought that was pretty good!

The hotel had asked us what time our flight time was that day and they suggested a late check out of 2pm…  which we gladly accepted.  So back at

Going back to the JW

the hotel it was nap-time for both Douglas and Reed.  At one point we hadn’t heard from Douglas in a bit so we went to check on him.  And found him like this!!!!  He accidently got the hotel pen and wrote all over his tummy, legs, feet, arms, face, and bed!  Accidently!  But then it was off to the airport…  Until Baby Reed started getting sick.

Before the meltdowns

At least with Douglas we had a warning system, with Reed, there was no warning, just puke and lots of it….  How in the world does his little belly hold all of this puke?  He got sick again in the hotel room, and once while we were waiting in line to get train tickets to the airport.  Crazy.

And then we made it home!  I would have to say I enjoyed Disney, but didn’t find it anything too special.  A big Six Flags in my opinion, but the character breakfast was really nice and the parades were fun as well.  Robin swears up and down that this wasn’t a “real” Disney and that we still have to go to the one in FLA.

 

Going to the Top!

And finally we celebrated Halloween last weekend in the building.  Everyone met at the pool so we could show off our costumes.  Douglas as Jake from Jake and the Pirates and Reed as our little Scottish golfer.

And now my parents are coming for two weeks starting on Tuesday night!  We’re looking forward to the visit.

Lunch with a View – Ocean Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the Peak

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tram going up to the Peak

At the Top!

 

 

 

 

 

Accidentally, penning himself

 

 

Future Photographer, Douglas at the airport

 

 

 

 

Halloween

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kyle’s Birthday Week!

Last week was my birthday and Robin and the family helped me celebrate in lots of fun ways.  For starters Robin and I went to a Mexican restaurant that we had ordered delivery from before but never actually visited.  It was over on Soi 11.  It’s called Charley Brown’s and it was pretty good.  What I also enjoyed was after we were done, we walked around on the street.  Lots of vendors, restaurants with outdoor sitting, a jazz band playing and a couple of VW buses that were converted into bars.  A very fun atmosphere and some place I will be taking my parents when they visit here in about a month!

Douglas and the Sharks!

Then on the weekend I went swimming…  which is not totally unusually, but this time it was at our local aquarium with full Scuba gear and there were sharks in the tank!  It’s been about 10 years since I was last diving, so it felt great getting back in the water.  I was very awkward in the water and not graceful at all!  One of the nice things about diving in a tank is that you can hit the bottom with no

Going Over the Spectator Tunnel

worry.  When diving near coral reefs, you try very hard not to touch it as you can damage it.  So it was nice to be able sink to the bottom and not worry about the vegetation!  I can imagine however, with a little practice I could be as graceful as a butterfly again! This time down I was just sucking down the air.  Usually, I do a decent job in controlling my breathing, and being comfortable underwater and use

Scuba Diving!

little air…  but this time around I was going through it fast!  Clearly, I was making some rookie errors….

It wasn’t like you see on TV or National Geographic or anything and we had to keep our hands to ourselves.  But seeing the sharks go by you, about 3 feet away, and seeing their teeth…  I was ok to keep my fingers to myself!

Close to the Sharks

We had a quick dive lesson and then spent about 30 minutes in the water.  It was also really fun to see the people looking into the aquarium and seeing us.  Quite fun to wave to the kids and have them all wave back at you!  Douglas was running around telling everyone that his dad is “scuba driver”  I could just see the excitement on his face.  I was able to touch the glass a couple of times and he would put

Bring on the Sharks…

his hand up to meet mine…  which was pretty cool.

In the tank were also some very very big fish, and some little fishy too.  Really amazing to be that close.  The sharks definitely stole the show however.  And when we were done, Robin, Douglas, and I took a ride on the Glass Bottom Boat around the main tank.  You can buy some shrimp to feed the

Close Encounters!

fish and Douglas thought it was awesome.  You’d would throw  the shrimp in and it was mad frenzy to get it.  Douglas tried to throw one shrimp at the glass bottom as he thought it was the water…  so that was cute too.

After the aquarium we dropped Douglas back at home.  Som was there with Reed, so Robin and I could walk over and get a foot

Going back over the Tunnel

massage together.  My first Thai massage.  For 60 minutes and 300 baht ($10) we got a foot massage.  And for those of you like myself who have never had a foot massage, let me tell you about it.  First they quick clean your feet, roll up your shorts, and then start massaging your feet, your calfs, and your knees.  Very nice, maybe even a little painful at times.  But overall it felt great.  You sit in these nice big lazy boy chairs

Scuba Superstar?

and they go to work.  The final 15 minutes, they move you to a new chair where they then stretch out your neck, your arms, and a quick back rub.  The neck part was actually a little painful for me, but that’s probably because I was all in knots!  The 300 baht included tip, so not a bad deal!

And then that night we ate at the pool with some of our friends while

About to feed the Fish from the Glass Bottom Boat

the kids played in the pool.

Not a bad way to spend a birthday!   Thanks to Robin!!!   Love you.

This weekend we are off to Hong Kong to go and visit Mickey and the gang.  Before we knew about this adventure we had told ourselves in October we’ll go to Disney… right before Douglas turns 3, so he is still free!  And so just being in Asia, shouldn’t stop us from seeing Walt.  Next week Douglas has off of school, so we are leaving Saturday morning and going to Disney on Sun and Monday.  I’ve never been, so I am looking forward to understanding what it is all about!  More to come about that!

With Dive Master “Popeye”