December 27, 2014

I had never been on the ocean. I had never been on the Caribbean sea. The mention of Caribbean only brings up Johny Deep and his movie Pirates of Caribbeans.

I had never been on a cruise. Though it seemed to have become one of the default vacation choices of people around me. Ah, the leisure, the fun, the food, the utter state of offline ...

I had never been to New Orleans. Voodoo, Mardi Gras, Cajun food, swamps, crocodiles, giddy and crazy musicians ...

Then for Thanksgiving, our family of five plus my mom who is visiting heading south to New Orleans.

It was 2 days on the road.

In the beginning, it was just never ending stretches of unremarkable rural scenes, barren trees. It was just grey and cold. Then it became warmer and warmer, sky got bluer, tress got greener, very green. Lush trees grew out of big swath of water. Then we were greeted by lots of exotic palm trees.

New Orleans

We were at New Orleans.


We stayed at a very Christmas-y hotel (was it Hampton?), overlooking a large yard fenced by Palm trees. The hotel partly felt like a luxurious wooden hut in a rain forest with giant indoor plants and gorgeous flowers. There were free cookies that made Yung happy. We were of course very happy that we finally could stretch out after hours of cramming in a car (even though we stayed the previous night at a different hotel). Hotels somehow always make the kids feel so very privileged and pampered. They started jumped around and squealing with delight.



The hotel was also about 10 minutes walking distance to the very famous French Quarter. We decided to check out in our CAR, All of us. That sure was a foolish mistake. First, it was impossible to drive in French Quarter; Second, French Quarter are not for Kids or my mom who was deeply entrenched in Chinese communism culture and who was aghast at such craziness and decadence.

French Quarter was lovely, fun and completely crazy. There were so many people, so many tourists, so many musicians, peddlers, human statues (as a sun, a football player, a  ghost, whatever), happily homeless people. There are so many bars, casinos, little shops selling shirts such as Bitch #1 or fancy, voodoo-ish masks, garish long scarfs. I bought a Trouble #1 shirt for Yung, a long pink feathered scarf for Annya which dropped pink feathers wherever she went. There were music bombing from every corner, tap dancing kids, kids drumming on a bucket, karate performers who were eager to let you take pictures with for Free with 1 dollar ... Beers or alcohols are sold everywhere. Prostitutes or plump girls who stripped down to almost nothing ...




Wow ... Knowing this is not a good place for kids, we had to escape quickly to our safe confines of hotel with a TV.

Welcome to almost abroad

The next day, we spent the morning shopped for a few things, including an expensive swimming suite for myself (well, walmart, for once, did not have a swimming suite in winter. Winter? Really? It felt like Spring or early summer. Does New Orleans have winter? And there is water, lakes, sea everywhere around. Does Walmart lose its senses?)

Buoyed by New Orleans' free spirit, I tried to get Louis to buy some wines. He did not listen to me.

In the afternoon, after some impatient waiting, we boarded on our cruise ship: Elation. The harbor has signs everywhere that says something like: You want fun, we have fun. And the check-in place says: Welcome to almost abroad. Cute!



So bye, coding. Bye, work. Bye, cell phones, emails.

Immediately after we boarded the ship, descended to our cabins (Louis, Yung and I shared one, my mom and Emma and Annya took the other), we dropped our suitcases and backpacks, then headed to the food place.

When you went on cruise, you know American people are spoiled. We are spoiled. There was so much food, so many people too. A lot of sun. I was sort of shocked to think that so many people in America can afford to go on cruise, year around.

On the cruise, there is lunch available to you 24 hours a day. Though we soon got tired of the hamburgers, hot dogs, lemonade fountains. Coffee tasted bland and powerless. And I was disgusted by the long line of waiting.

Dinner was more fun. Very formal. You get your own table, designated head waiter, fancy menus, fancy deserts, group of well-dressed waiters. Though you need to pay for things like Cappuccino (why?). They even had dress code for dinner. Midway during dinner, they would play music, and suddenly our waiters stared lining up, throwing their napkins in the air and dancing.





So what was there not to be happy about?

Unfortunately, we, the spoiled bunch, have hungry hearts that are impossible satisfied by food.

The first days we could not find much to do other than eating.

The boat has kids camp for all ages, which means, Yung, Annya and Emma had to be in their separate camps. Not sure what to expect, the kids refused to go to camp the first couple of days. Then what was there to do? We soon exhausted the few things available on the boat. We tried swimming, under the hot burning sun, the pool was really small, the sea water stung my eyes when I went down the water; We played ping-pong; We went to the top of the boat and played miniature golf; then we wondered around, went up and down the complicated structure, getting mad at the elevators that often than not did not work.  The little kids' feet soon got tired, mood went a little sour, and my mom obviously could not stand all that walk. There were a variety of things to do,  though they were scheduled activities and scattered in the many locations with fancy names all over the boat.

Schedule was sent to every cabin every morning. Yet, we found none too exciting.

  4:30  Country Dance at Meccado (front of the boat)
           Karoake at Romeo and Juliet (???)
  5:00  Chest-hair contest
  6:00  Early Dinner
  8:00  Kids comedy / Towel puppet theatre
...

So we retrieved into our cabin, Yung and Annay watched Scooby-Doo or whatever they could find on the TV with 5 channels, Emma and Grandma did their origami, I was just lying on my bed, feeling the gentle sway of the boat, or read my book on kindle.

Then we got a bit used to the rhythm of the cruise. We managed to drop Annya at her camp, she liked it. Yung was the second to go to his camp, he liked it a lot too. From there, cruise became something that was actually fun instead of soul-crushing binge eating.

The third and forth day we got off the boat and toured a bit of Mexico. We stopped at two cities off the shore: Cozumel and Progreso.

The minute we stopped at Cozumel, we were swept away to a private car that drove us to a site Mayan ruins, then we continued to visit a local beach, then back to the boat. The Mayan ruins turned out to be one of the many Mayan ruins across Mexico and we learned the main site of Mayan civilization was at Guatemala. And it basically consisted a few stone structures here and there. We were not impressed, and the old Mexican tour guide was obviously just as happy to get rid of us. Within 20 minutes, after ridiculed that: Mayans, they are short, he solemnly told us: Thank You. This is the end of my tour.

We spent quite some time at the local beach. Undeterred by cold or wet, the kids just dipped themselves in the coming waves, running, playing. I loved the waves and the sea and the gentle breeze.




Cozumel is supposedly the best city in Mexico. Still it looks just like a little undeveloped local town. Most of the buildings are small, most of them  have bright bold murals (or are they graffiti?). Beautiful palm trees loaded with coconuts are everywhere.




At Progreso, we took a bus and went to a gorgeous resort. The view was breath-taking, and there was food and drinks free for taking. American pop songs were played throughout the time. Local Mexican band serenaded each table, each person sunning in the beach. I felt totally privileged and corrupted, I also felt immensely sorry for the local people who were robed of the opportunities we have and who had to work and struggle so hard.




The fifth day we explored more of the boat, we sat at the breakfast table overlooking the ocean. It was grey, still, vast.  Yung had became a darling boy who addressed every waiter, Thank you, sir! Goodbye, sir. Hello, sir. All of the kids spent the fifth day at their respective camps.

Then we collected all of our things, souvenirs we bought on the boat and Mexico, and drove straight home.







On the ocean

Posted by Xun  |  No comments

I had never been on the ocean. I had never been on the Caribbean sea. The mention of Caribbean only brings up Johny Deep and his movie Pirates of Caribbeans.

I had never been on a cruise. Though it seemed to have become one of the default vacation choices of people around me. Ah, the leisure, the fun, the food, the utter state of offline ...

I had never been to New Orleans. Voodoo, Mardi Gras, Cajun food, swamps, crocodiles, giddy and crazy musicians ...

Then for Thanksgiving, our family of five plus my mom who is visiting heading south to New Orleans.

It was 2 days on the road.

In the beginning, it was just never ending stretches of unremarkable rural scenes, barren trees. It was just grey and cold. Then it became warmer and warmer, sky got bluer, tress got greener, very green. Lush trees grew out of big swath of water. Then we were greeted by lots of exotic palm trees.

New Orleans

We were at New Orleans.


We stayed at a very Christmas-y hotel (was it Hampton?), overlooking a large yard fenced by Palm trees. The hotel partly felt like a luxurious wooden hut in a rain forest with giant indoor plants and gorgeous flowers. There were free cookies that made Yung happy. We were of course very happy that we finally could stretch out after hours of cramming in a car (even though we stayed the previous night at a different hotel). Hotels somehow always make the kids feel so very privileged and pampered. They started jumped around and squealing with delight.



The hotel was also about 10 minutes walking distance to the very famous French Quarter. We decided to check out in our CAR, All of us. That sure was a foolish mistake. First, it was impossible to drive in French Quarter; Second, French Quarter are not for Kids or my mom who was deeply entrenched in Chinese communism culture and who was aghast at such craziness and decadence.

French Quarter was lovely, fun and completely crazy. There were so many people, so many tourists, so many musicians, peddlers, human statues (as a sun, a football player, a  ghost, whatever), happily homeless people. There are so many bars, casinos, little shops selling shirts such as Bitch #1 or fancy, voodoo-ish masks, garish long scarfs. I bought a Trouble #1 shirt for Yung, a long pink feathered scarf for Annya which dropped pink feathers wherever she went. There were music bombing from every corner, tap dancing kids, kids drumming on a bucket, karate performers who were eager to let you take pictures with for Free with 1 dollar ... Beers or alcohols are sold everywhere. Prostitutes or plump girls who stripped down to almost nothing ...




Wow ... Knowing this is not a good place for kids, we had to escape quickly to our safe confines of hotel with a TV.

Welcome to almost abroad

The next day, we spent the morning shopped for a few things, including an expensive swimming suite for myself (well, walmart, for once, did not have a swimming suite in winter. Winter? Really? It felt like Spring or early summer. Does New Orleans have winter? And there is water, lakes, sea everywhere around. Does Walmart lose its senses?)

Buoyed by New Orleans' free spirit, I tried to get Louis to buy some wines. He did not listen to me.

In the afternoon, after some impatient waiting, we boarded on our cruise ship: Elation. The harbor has signs everywhere that says something like: You want fun, we have fun. And the check-in place says: Welcome to almost abroad. Cute!



So bye, coding. Bye, work. Bye, cell phones, emails.

Immediately after we boarded the ship, descended to our cabins (Louis, Yung and I shared one, my mom and Emma and Annya took the other), we dropped our suitcases and backpacks, then headed to the food place.

When you went on cruise, you know American people are spoiled. We are spoiled. There was so much food, so many people too. A lot of sun. I was sort of shocked to think that so many people in America can afford to go on cruise, year around.

On the cruise, there is lunch available to you 24 hours a day. Though we soon got tired of the hamburgers, hot dogs, lemonade fountains. Coffee tasted bland and powerless. And I was disgusted by the long line of waiting.

Dinner was more fun. Very formal. You get your own table, designated head waiter, fancy menus, fancy deserts, group of well-dressed waiters. Though you need to pay for things like Cappuccino (why?). They even had dress code for dinner. Midway during dinner, they would play music, and suddenly our waiters stared lining up, throwing their napkins in the air and dancing.





So what was there not to be happy about?

Unfortunately, we, the spoiled bunch, have hungry hearts that are impossible satisfied by food.

The first days we could not find much to do other than eating.

The boat has kids camp for all ages, which means, Yung, Annya and Emma had to be in their separate camps. Not sure what to expect, the kids refused to go to camp the first couple of days. Then what was there to do? We soon exhausted the few things available on the boat. We tried swimming, under the hot burning sun, the pool was really small, the sea water stung my eyes when I went down the water; We played ping-pong; We went to the top of the boat and played miniature golf; then we wondered around, went up and down the complicated structure, getting mad at the elevators that often than not did not work.  The little kids' feet soon got tired, mood went a little sour, and my mom obviously could not stand all that walk. There were a variety of things to do,  though they were scheduled activities and scattered in the many locations with fancy names all over the boat.

Schedule was sent to every cabin every morning. Yet, we found none too exciting.

  4:30  Country Dance at Meccado (front of the boat)
           Karoake at Romeo and Juliet (???)
  5:00  Chest-hair contest
  6:00  Early Dinner
  8:00  Kids comedy / Towel puppet theatre
...

So we retrieved into our cabin, Yung and Annay watched Scooby-Doo or whatever they could find on the TV with 5 channels, Emma and Grandma did their origami, I was just lying on my bed, feeling the gentle sway of the boat, or read my book on kindle.

Then we got a bit used to the rhythm of the cruise. We managed to drop Annya at her camp, she liked it. Yung was the second to go to his camp, he liked it a lot too. From there, cruise became something that was actually fun instead of soul-crushing binge eating.

The third and forth day we got off the boat and toured a bit of Mexico. We stopped at two cities off the shore: Cozumel and Progreso.

The minute we stopped at Cozumel, we were swept away to a private car that drove us to a site Mayan ruins, then we continued to visit a local beach, then back to the boat. The Mayan ruins turned out to be one of the many Mayan ruins across Mexico and we learned the main site of Mayan civilization was at Guatemala. And it basically consisted a few stone structures here and there. We were not impressed, and the old Mexican tour guide was obviously just as happy to get rid of us. Within 20 minutes, after ridiculed that: Mayans, they are short, he solemnly told us: Thank You. This is the end of my tour.

We spent quite some time at the local beach. Undeterred by cold or wet, the kids just dipped themselves in the coming waves, running, playing. I loved the waves and the sea and the gentle breeze.




Cozumel is supposedly the best city in Mexico. Still it looks just like a little undeveloped local town. Most of the buildings are small, most of them  have bright bold murals (or are they graffiti?). Beautiful palm trees loaded with coconuts are everywhere.




At Progreso, we took a bus and went to a gorgeous resort. The view was breath-taking, and there was food and drinks free for taking. American pop songs were played throughout the time. Local Mexican band serenaded each table, each person sunning in the beach. I felt totally privileged and corrupted, I also felt immensely sorry for the local people who were robed of the opportunities we have and who had to work and struggle so hard.




The fifth day we explored more of the boat, we sat at the breakfast table overlooking the ocean. It was grey, still, vast.  Yung had became a darling boy who addressed every waiter, Thank you, sir! Goodbye, sir. Hello, sir. All of the kids spent the fifth day at their respective camps.

Then we collected all of our things, souvenirs we bought on the boat and Mexico, and drove straight home.







Saturday, December 27, 2014
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December 14, 2014

We decided to take our first boat cruise.  So we, or I, drove the family to New Orleans.  We arrived Sunday afternoon.  The boat cruise was scheduled for Monday afternoon.  We then decided to visit the French Quarters.  There was a mixture of people from out of town to the locals. Vendors, slot machines in bars, restaurants and people trying to make a quick dollar.   We then tried cajun food for dinner.  Around 9 pm, the crowd had turned into an adult crowd only.  It was time to take the kids back to the Hotel.

Cruise Day.  Daddy done a great job with the pre boarding registration.  We had no issues getting on the boat.  The eating began.  We had lunch around 2 and had dinner scheduled for 6.  Our last meal was a brunch at 8 am and we were off the boat by 9 am.  After 5 days of eating anything and every thing your body tells you enough is enough.

It took two days on the boat,  before the kids finally warmed up to go to the boat camp.  At the camp, the kids had enjoyed many different activities. Annya and Yung couldn't wait to go back the next day.  Emma only went because we asked or forced her to go.  We had around 7 hours to visit Cozumel and Progreso Mexico.  In Cozumel we took a little tour and played at one of the back beaches were locals like to visit.  At Progreso we visited a hotel resort that had food and alcohol.  Had a few SOL beers.  Funny how people in Mexico don't drink Corona beer. 







Cruise 2014

Posted by Louis  |  No comments

We decided to take our first boat cruise.  So we, or I, drove the family to New Orleans.  We arrived Sunday afternoon.  The boat cruise was scheduled for Monday afternoon.  We then decided to visit the French Quarters.  There was a mixture of people from out of town to the locals. Vendors, slot machines in bars, restaurants and people trying to make a quick dollar.   We then tried cajun food for dinner.  Around 9 pm, the crowd had turned into an adult crowd only.  It was time to take the kids back to the Hotel.

Cruise Day.  Daddy done a great job with the pre boarding registration.  We had no issues getting on the boat.  The eating began.  We had lunch around 2 and had dinner scheduled for 6.  Our last meal was a brunch at 8 am and we were off the boat by 9 am.  After 5 days of eating anything and every thing your body tells you enough is enough.

It took two days on the boat,  before the kids finally warmed up to go to the boat camp.  At the camp, the kids had enjoyed many different activities. Annya and Yung couldn't wait to go back the next day.  Emma only went because we asked or forced her to go.  We had around 7 hours to visit Cozumel and Progreso Mexico.  In Cozumel we took a little tour and played at one of the back beaches were locals like to visit.  At Progreso we visited a hotel resort that had food and alcohol.  Had a few SOL beers.  Funny how people in Mexico don't drink Corona beer. 







Sunday, December 14, 2014
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It is winter, Christmas is coming. There had some snow, some cold, then the weather is mild, even nice. It is nice anyway. Always the comfortable 70 degree in-doors. (We, the pampered Americans, or people anywhere that is not Syria, or rural China.)

Still time is the most precious commodity. Because only now, I get to sort through the videos and pictures that have been accumulating for the last few months. Some summer pictures, some autumn pictures and videos.

Oh, the long-gone and forgotten Halloween. The Halloween we opted out trick-or-treating because of the violent wind and cold rain on that day, instead of the kids just eating some treats from the school, and sitting down for a movie.




Autumn and Hallowen

Posted by Xun  |  No comments

It is winter, Christmas is coming. There had some snow, some cold, then the weather is mild, even nice. It is nice anyway. Always the comfortable 70 degree in-doors. (We, the pampered Americans, or people anywhere that is not Syria, or rural China.)

Still time is the most precious commodity. Because only now, I get to sort through the videos and pictures that have been accumulating for the last few months. Some summer pictures, some autumn pictures and videos.

Oh, the long-gone and forgotten Halloween. The Halloween we opted out trick-or-treating because of the violent wind and cold rain on that day, instead of the kids just eating some treats from the school, and sitting down for a movie.




Sunday, December 14, 2014
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September 27, 2014

Look what kind of crazily gigantic ghostly twisty loopy bubbles we are capable of making.







Want to see more? Here you go.

  Crazy Bubbles

 Want to make some yourself? Checkout the book Maker Dad.

Crazy Giant Bubbles

Posted by Xun  |  No comments

Look what kind of crazily gigantic ghostly twisty loopy bubbles we are capable of making.







Want to see more? Here you go.

  Crazy Bubbles

 Want to make some yourself? Checkout the book Maker Dad.

Saturday, September 27, 2014
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September 26, 2014

Emma, Annya, and Yung set their individual goals at the beginning of the summer.

Goals for Yung

Emma and Annya also built their very fancy summer reading log

Now summer has long passed, the kids have already set new goals for the fall.
How did they do on their goals? Not too good, not too bad. I hope they do better fro the fall

Summer Goals

Posted by Xun  |  No comments

Emma, Annya, and Yung set their individual goals at the beginning of the summer.

Goals for Yung

Emma and Annya also built their very fancy summer reading log

Now summer has long passed, the kids have already set new goals for the fall.
How did they do on their goals? Not too good, not too bad. I hope they do better fro the fall

Friday, September 26, 2014
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September 22, 2014

Daddy I need batteries, my flashlight doesn't turn on.  It is probably broken, you have only had it for one hour.  No Daddy, it only needs batteries. Look Mijo, the flashlight has a crack by the switch.

That isn't a crack Daddy, can you look at it again?  Ok, it still looks like a crack to me Yungy.  Did you drop the flashlight on the floor?  Daddy, I dropped the flashlight on the floor a lot of times. Maybe it is the batteries, we can check it tomorrow.  Thank you Daddy!

Batteries Needed

Posted by Louis  |  No comments

Daddy I need batteries, my flashlight doesn't turn on.  It is probably broken, you have only had it for one hour.  No Daddy, it only needs batteries. Look Mijo, the flashlight has a crack by the switch.

That isn't a crack Daddy, can you look at it again?  Ok, it still looks like a crack to me Yungy.  Did you drop the flashlight on the floor?  Daddy, I dropped the flashlight on the floor a lot of times. Maybe it is the batteries, we can check it tomorrow.  Thank you Daddy!

Monday, September 22, 2014
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September 12, 2014

Truth be hold, for travel, China is not my favorite destination. One, I have been to China. As a matter of fact, I grew up in China. The vast, deep and intricate inter-personally relationship in China endears, also repels me; Two, I have made America my home, happily raising three kids and building my nest; Three, it is simply too far, too operationally, logistically complicated. It is simply too expensive.

Still, home is home.

The flight

So this summer, our family of five boarded on the plane and flew to China.  Hainan airline, seems to have a knack of dividing (our) families and seating us randomly away from each other, even though the air policy states kids need to be with a adult. Yet, being a People's nation, after a few round of talking (by the air hostesses), we managed to swap some seats and managed to stay close (not next) to each other. We had exactly the same problem and solution on the returning flights.

The flight was long, seats were small, sleep was not quite an option. However, Yung loved his "own" TV set, Emma took good care of Annya, they loved the thrill of taking off and soaring above the clouds and landing. With regular meals/snacks, the kids managed to fly through the whole journey without much trouble.

It actually took us 2 flights to to reach our final destination. Chicago to Beijing, 13 hours? Beijing to Chengdu, 4 hours?

All was good.

The stay

Three years ago, when we were in China. We did a swirl of fun travels. My sisters reached out to their network of underlings and took us to every reachable destinations around Chengdu.

This time, I halfheartedly planned our stay with my sister and brother-in-law, yet none of the plan got materialized. Tibet? Eh, Louis is an American/foreigner, so he would not be allowed into the territory, for fear of instigating terrorism or separatism (or something like that); XiAn, yes, it is nice, but kids probably would get bored 10 minutes after looking at those terracotta warriors buried underground thousands years ago; also it might be too late to book train tickets; Of all of the obstacles, the most insurmountable was that there was only one who can legally And competently drive.

Talking about driving. Traffic in China was obviously a daily thriller, traffic lights just do not seem to work much, every driver was an acrobat somehow always magically knew when to stop at the exact moment (right before the guy on the other lane swerved and raced past you). They always knew to honk at any one any time through any local lanes. I just saw walking elders look warily back at the cars and went aside quietly.

Oh, boy, there were/are always a lot of people on any given day, at any given moment. People sit, talk, have a cup of tea, play MaJiang(a popular game), shop. Chengdu is especially famous for its leisurely lifestyle, it is fully present in the throngs of people here, there, everywhere. People also gather in parks, on the corner of street, dancing with boombox playing.

Fun. When I went to a park and saw people dancing, I dragged Louis into the crowd and "danced".

People also happily relax and sleep in the parks. No, they are not homeless, they are just genuinely enjoying a beautiful day and a beautiful park. We have found that in Chengdu you can hardly ever see a homeless.


Chengdu is also famous for its food, so my mom, my sisters took turns taking us out to dinner, hot pot, spicy chicken, dumplings, wantons.


Louis and I were amused by all of the open market selling fruits, meat, eggs, everything.




We visited local parks, checked out a few "ancient"
towns (they are really new "towns" reconstructed in the style of old Chengdu), shopped for Chinese folk styled little things.


JiuZhaiGou

On an impulse, I did manage to get out of the daily ritual of eating, going out, eating again, going out some more, and took my whole family and my nephew (as a helper) to JiuZhaiGou, one of the most beautiful places /nature parks on earth.

The trip took us 10 hours on bus to get there, another 10 hours to get back. We stayed at JiuZhaiGou for a day.

It was all worth it. I loved the myriad of waterfalls, whether running through a terrace of trees or tumbled down over an cliff or flowing over the mountain slope, pearls of water splashing and chasing each other; creeks rushing in and out sight; beautiful lakes of beautiful colors scattered throughout.











JiuZhaiGou

China again

Posted by Xun  |  No comments

Truth be hold, for travel, China is not my favorite destination. One, I have been to China. As a matter of fact, I grew up in China. The vast, deep and intricate inter-personally relationship in China endears, also repels me; Two, I have made America my home, happily raising three kids and building my nest; Three, it is simply too far, too operationally, logistically complicated. It is simply too expensive.

Still, home is home.

The flight

So this summer, our family of five boarded on the plane and flew to China.  Hainan airline, seems to have a knack of dividing (our) families and seating us randomly away from each other, even though the air policy states kids need to be with a adult. Yet, being a People's nation, after a few round of talking (by the air hostesses), we managed to swap some seats and managed to stay close (not next) to each other. We had exactly the same problem and solution on the returning flights.

The flight was long, seats were small, sleep was not quite an option. However, Yung loved his "own" TV set, Emma took good care of Annya, they loved the thrill of taking off and soaring above the clouds and landing. With regular meals/snacks, the kids managed to fly through the whole journey without much trouble.

It actually took us 2 flights to to reach our final destination. Chicago to Beijing, 13 hours? Beijing to Chengdu, 4 hours?

All was good.

The stay

Three years ago, when we were in China. We did a swirl of fun travels. My sisters reached out to their network of underlings and took us to every reachable destinations around Chengdu.

This time, I halfheartedly planned our stay with my sister and brother-in-law, yet none of the plan got materialized. Tibet? Eh, Louis is an American/foreigner, so he would not be allowed into the territory, for fear of instigating terrorism or separatism (or something like that); XiAn, yes, it is nice, but kids probably would get bored 10 minutes after looking at those terracotta warriors buried underground thousands years ago; also it might be too late to book train tickets; Of all of the obstacles, the most insurmountable was that there was only one who can legally And competently drive.

Talking about driving. Traffic in China was obviously a daily thriller, traffic lights just do not seem to work much, every driver was an acrobat somehow always magically knew when to stop at the exact moment (right before the guy on the other lane swerved and raced past you). They always knew to honk at any one any time through any local lanes. I just saw walking elders look warily back at the cars and went aside quietly.

Oh, boy, there were/are always a lot of people on any given day, at any given moment. People sit, talk, have a cup of tea, play MaJiang(a popular game), shop. Chengdu is especially famous for its leisurely lifestyle, it is fully present in the throngs of people here, there, everywhere. People also gather in parks, on the corner of street, dancing with boombox playing.

Fun. When I went to a park and saw people dancing, I dragged Louis into the crowd and "danced".

People also happily relax and sleep in the parks. No, they are not homeless, they are just genuinely enjoying a beautiful day and a beautiful park. We have found that in Chengdu you can hardly ever see a homeless.


Chengdu is also famous for its food, so my mom, my sisters took turns taking us out to dinner, hot pot, spicy chicken, dumplings, wantons.


Louis and I were amused by all of the open market selling fruits, meat, eggs, everything.




We visited local parks, checked out a few "ancient"
towns (they are really new "towns" reconstructed in the style of old Chengdu), shopped for Chinese folk styled little things.


JiuZhaiGou

On an impulse, I did manage to get out of the daily ritual of eating, going out, eating again, going out some more, and took my whole family and my nephew (as a helper) to JiuZhaiGou, one of the most beautiful places /nature parks on earth.

The trip took us 10 hours on bus to get there, another 10 hours to get back. We stayed at JiuZhaiGou for a day.

It was all worth it. I loved the myriad of waterfalls, whether running through a terrace of trees or tumbled down over an cliff or flowing over the mountain slope, pearls of water splashing and chasing each other; creeks rushing in and out sight; beautiful lakes of beautiful colors scattered throughout.











Friday, September 12, 2014
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September 08, 2014

Finally compiled the mini-videos taken at JiuZaiGou

The most beautiful Jiu Zai Gou

Posted by Xun  |  No comments

Finally compiled the mini-videos taken at JiuZaiGou

Monday, September 08, 2014
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September 07, 2014



Yung was too young to remember our first trip to China.  He must have thought we were flying directly to Grandma's house:  Mommy where are these people in the airplane going to?  They are going to China Yung.  Are they all going to Grandma's house too?

We all had a nice time visiting family.  Mommy's family treated us very well and tried not to let us spend any money.  The public toilets, which are basically a whole in the ground, is probably the biggest adjustment for the kids.  Emma had said, Dad, I just saw the biggest poop that I have ever seen.  Yung and Annya would try to hold their pee.  It came to the point where we had to bribe Yung to use the restroom with a treat.  Just make sure you bring your Chinese dollar and your own toilet paper.

I guess a 15 hour one way flight to China wasn't enough for Mommy.  Mommy thought taking a 10 hour bus ride one way into the mountains was a good idea.  So we did go to Jiuzaigou Natinal Park.  The bus ride wasn't too bad.  We had our $1 Chinese Yen ready for the potty breaks along with a couple of bribes here and there.  See some of the attached photos from one of prettiest mountains in China:


It rained most of the day; a little water doesn't hurt anyone.
Background is unbelievable.
This is Yung's favorite Aunt.  Mommy, I love you but your Sister is so beautiful.





Anya's five year old cousin.


Yung's second favorite Aunt.

They call this the rainbow color lake in Jiuzaigou.  Clear, cold and beautiful.

Here are a couple of pictures from the meat and dairy market in Chengdu.  Meat and eggs so fresh that they don't need to be refrigerated.  Don't think the butcher was too happy I took his picture.  Glad he was taking a cigarette break.




Authentic Chinese food.  No American Chinese Rolls.
Our oldest nephew.  Great help with our trip to Jiuzaigou.


Someday we may return to China.  The kids need to know where their history and family is from.  At the very least they can say that they have been in China not once but twice.  We did bring back a very big part of China.  Grandma will be with us until January.  The kids will always remember their Grandma from China.



China 2014

Posted by Louis  |  No comments



Yung was too young to remember our first trip to China.  He must have thought we were flying directly to Grandma's house:  Mommy where are these people in the airplane going to?  They are going to China Yung.  Are they all going to Grandma's house too?

We all had a nice time visiting family.  Mommy's family treated us very well and tried not to let us spend any money.  The public toilets, which are basically a whole in the ground, is probably the biggest adjustment for the kids.  Emma had said, Dad, I just saw the biggest poop that I have ever seen.  Yung and Annya would try to hold their pee.  It came to the point where we had to bribe Yung to use the restroom with a treat.  Just make sure you bring your Chinese dollar and your own toilet paper.

I guess a 15 hour one way flight to China wasn't enough for Mommy.  Mommy thought taking a 10 hour bus ride one way into the mountains was a good idea.  So we did go to Jiuzaigou Natinal Park.  The bus ride wasn't too bad.  We had our $1 Chinese Yen ready for the potty breaks along with a couple of bribes here and there.  See some of the attached photos from one of prettiest mountains in China:


It rained most of the day; a little water doesn't hurt anyone.
Background is unbelievable.
This is Yung's favorite Aunt.  Mommy, I love you but your Sister is so beautiful.





Anya's five year old cousin.


Yung's second favorite Aunt.

They call this the rainbow color lake in Jiuzaigou.  Clear, cold and beautiful.

Here are a couple of pictures from the meat and dairy market in Chengdu.  Meat and eggs so fresh that they don't need to be refrigerated.  Don't think the butcher was too happy I took his picture.  Glad he was taking a cigarette break.




Authentic Chinese food.  No American Chinese Rolls.
Our oldest nephew.  Great help with our trip to Jiuzaigou.


Someday we may return to China.  The kids need to know where their history and family is from.  At the very least they can say that they have been in China not once but twice.  We did bring back a very big part of China.  Grandma will be with us until January.  The kids will always remember their Grandma from China.



Sunday, September 07, 2014
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