Sunday, December 31, 2006

More Koh Lanta Pictures

We have been having an extremely relaxing time in Koh Lanta. I would have to say that this island is definitely set up for just lounging around and catching up on a good book or spending quality time with your family. I think this is probably the most relaxing vacation we have ever been on.

We have also made some new friends and also had the chance to hang out with some of our friends from Chengdu. Asma and Mazher were in Koh Lanta for about 5 days for the Christmas break. Asma volunteers at Gemma's school adn Mazher works with Jonny. Both of them absolutely love kids and Angus had a great time playing in the sand with them.


On Christmas Eve we met a couple with their son visiting Koh Lanta for Christmas. The son is working in Bangkok and the parents live in England. The wife is originally from Ireland and we enjoyed their company on more than one occasion. We were even lucky enough to get an invite to see them in England. Little do they know we may take them up on their offer!


Jonny with John and Angela.

We seemed to get into a routine every day. We would wake up and head to breakfast, the kids went to play on the beach while we finished our breakfast, then we joined them. One of the days Jonny and Gemma pretended she was Dora the Explorer and dug a hole and put a treasure in it. Jonny then made a trail for Gemma to find the buried treasure.


Here is Gemma discovering her treasure!

After our time at the beach we would go back to the room get ready and spend the morning at the pool. Here are some of the photos of the kids at the pool.


Gemma and Angus lounging in the chairs.


Gemma standing at the negative edge of the pool.


Me and the kids goofing around!


Jonny and Gemma playing a little water rugby!


Jonny and Angus doing a bit of acrobatics. Note: Angus doesn't have armbands on!

One of the most exciting things of this holiday was Angus can swim by himself! About 3 days ago we went to the pool in the morning and Angus decided he couldn't wait to get in the water and went in and jumped in. He immediately turned around, started kicking arms and legs and swam to the edge. We were shocked! We couldn't believe he was already able to do this. We are sure it is all the encouragement given to him by his sister. Here is a little clip of his new talent!

Also in the swimming department Gemma's swimming has really improved. She is now diving into the water, swimming at the bottom of the pool, doing acrobatics like somersaults and backward somersauts. It is so great to see her love the water and improve so quickly. It has really done wonders for her confidence!

One of the evenings we decided to walk down the beach for dinner. We found these beachside restaurants with boats in the front of them filled with fresh fish and seafood. We couldn't resist and stopped at this place for some white snapper, jumbo prawns, and king mackerel.


The food was amazing! I have never had such good seafood, but how can you beat stuff right out of the ocean!

Do you scuba?

We tried snorkeling this trip, but I definitely decided that is as far as I would like to go. Of course my dear husband now is bound and determined to learn to scuba dive. They onsite diving company gave you a chance to try it out in the swimming pool. Jonny gave it a try and it just reconfirmed that he was dying to get out in open water.


Here is Jonny in his gear!


He looks like a natural!

Jonny really thought it would be fun if we both took a scuba diving course together and this could be our thing to do on vacation. I thought I might as well try it in the pool to see if I like it.


Me in my gear.

I am very glad I tried it in the pool first before signing up for a class. It definitely reconfirmed to me that scuba is not for me. Honestly, I am a big chicken! I found it very hard to breathe and relax. I am sure with time I would figure it out, but pool is one thing. I can't imagine doing in 8+meters down in the deep dark ocean! So this in one new hobby that Jonny will have to take up on his own.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Snorkeling on Boxing Day

I never thought I would go snorkeling in my life much less on Boxing Day. Actually, I never thought I would celebrate Boxing Day, but since my dear husband celebrates the holiday, who am I to argue with someone who has recognized this holiday their entire life.

We were able to get a babysitter for the day and go on a snorkeling trip to a little island called Koh Haa. We took a 45 minute speedboat trip to Koh Haa which was extremely bumpy. I have to say I was quite sea sick, but only when the boat stopped to drop off the scuba divers.


Here is the boat pulling up to the rock the scuba divers were going to explore.


The beautiful waters of Koh Haa.


Here is the lagoon and small beach where we spent the day.

The only time I had ever tried to snorkel was in a swimming pool during my life guarding course in college. I have to say that snorkeling is quite a bit of work, but it was an amazing adventure. After I got the hang of being able to breathe under water it was like you were in the "Finding Nemo" movie. I saw large Blue Starfish, Blue Tang (Dorey from Nemo), Moorish Idol (Gill from Nemo), Sea Cucumbers, Coral Reefs, Sea Snakes and lots of Jellyfish. There were also lots of other fish, but I didn't know there names. The weather has not been the best for the sea as the water is very bumpy, so visibility under water wasn't as good as it could have been due to the sand being stirred up by the current. The water was otherwise clear and beautifully green. I definitely will try snorkeling again, but I don't think I will take it much further. Jonny on the other hand is gung ho to take up scuba diving.

After we got back we were able to take a quick nap as Angus had just laid down and Gemma was not yet asleep. The kids were ready for the pool as soon as they woke up and we all went out for a swim.


Gemma, Jonny and Angus in the pool.

Angus has been swimming mad. He is normally crazy on land, but in the water he is just nuts! Here is a little snipped of his new swimming style!


We are fortunate to be staying at a resort that faces the west, so every night we have been able to see gorgeous pink sunsets like this one.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Eve

We spent Christmas Eve at the resort swimming with the kids in the swimming has really gotten good and she is doing all sorts of acrobatics underneath the water while Angus has been aided with a new set of arm band floaties. It has given us a little freedom because the last time we had him in the water he was an absolute madman jumping in wherever he felt like it and sinking to the bottom of the pool! This time he has stayed a float and is really starting to kick and us his arms to move around.

The resort had a compulsarary dinner, which means we had no choice but to pay for it whether we eat it or not. The decorated beautifully and it really made it feel like Christmas. There were trees decorated, lights everywhere, ice sculptures and of course fireworks! The food absolutely beautiful food! They had a huge international buffet with favorite Christmas food from all over the world.


Jonny and Angus with the ice reindeer.


Me and the kids with the ice reindeer.

Dinner was at 7 pm, so we were pushing it with the kids. Angus definitely was not going to last. I quickly got the kids a plate as soon as we saw people start eating, but Angus fell asleep shortly after his plate arrived. Jonny was holding him when he fell asleep and we were trying to figure out what we should do about dinner. I asked the restaurant staff if the could put 2 chairs together so we could make a bed for Angus. They agreed and we both were able to enjoy our dinner.


Angus sleeping at dinner.

The hotel also provided entertainment including a Thai school chorus who sang Christmas Carols to us and a visit from Santa Claus! Santa Claus arrived with fireworks. Gemma told us that is how she knew it was the "real" Santa and not the pretend Santa. Unfortunately, Angus slept through all of this and missed his chance on Santa's lap. Santa brought gifts for all the kids and also the adults. It was very thoughtful of the hotel and we really enjoyed our Christmas Eve.


Gemma sitting on the 'real' Santa's lap!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!!!


Here is our Christmas Card for this year. This picture was taken in October in front of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Merry Christmas!!! Wishing all the best for the new year!!!

Bangkok to Krabi to Koh Lanta

We woke up bright and early on Saturday morning and got ready to do 2 hours of power shopping. We wanted to go to Toys r U to pick up the kids a few toys to open on Christmas Day. We found this great mall that was a mix of American and British shops. I wanted to spend the whole day there, but had to make the best of 2 hours. We were able to find shops like Next, Zara, Origins, Toys r Us and an English bookstore.

After a quick shopping trip we had to head to the airport to catch our plane to Krabi. Krabi is in Southern Thailand and about a 1 and 20 minute flight from Bangkok. After we arrived in Krabi we had to take an hour long van ride to a pier to catch a speedboat to the island of Koh Lanta. The speedboat was the highlight of the trip. The kids loved it! Angus kept saying boat, boat, boat!


Me and the kids on the boat.


This was Gemma's favorite part about being on the boat! The wind in her hair!

After a 20 minute boat ride we were greeted by the staff of the resort with beautifully smelling flower necklaces and a welcome drink of lemongrass tea. They took us to our room, which was spacious and tastefully decorated. We got ourselves organized a bit and went to have dinner.

We were all pretty beat so we headed back to the room for a bath. The kids loved the sunken in bath tub and I loved the lime basil soap the hotel had!


Angus was so tired he tried to get his pjs on himself!

We up early and went to breakfast. I am sure we were the first up for breakfast as we were the only ones in the restaurant. After breakfast we took a stroll on the beach. Here are the kids doing their best impression of "snow angels".





We are having a pretty mellow Christmas Eve. We went into the town to buy some snacks for the kids, swim trunks for Jonny, and tons of sunscreen. The kids are napping and then we will hit the pool before a big Christmas Eve dinner at the resort.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

One Night in Bangkok


A group of our Chengdu friends getting ready to go to Thailand for Christmas also!

We arrived safe in sound in Bangkok. We have only flown through before, so this was our first time staying overnight. On the plane were about 6 families we know from Chengdu and that were spending their Christmas holidays in Thailand.


A gorgeous giant Christmas Tree greeted us at the Bangkok Airport.

We stayed at a hotel recommended by our friends Ethan and Catherine from Chengdu who were also staying at the hotel. After we got settled we all went to dinner and had yummy, yummy Thai food. The food in Thailand is alone enough to warrant a visit to Thailand. We had Pad Thai, spring rolls, Tom Kai Gai, and Singha beer! It was a great start to our vacation.

Today we are going to try and get a little shopping done today before heading to the airport for our quick trip to Krabi and then over to the island of Koh Lanta. We are getting very excited for the relaxing days of our holiday.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Our Christmas Trip!


The pool at Layana Resort and Spa.

We are getting ready to leave tomorrow for our trip to Thailand. We all need a break from the hectic life we have led the past few months. We are spending the night in Bangkok tomorrow and doing a little 'Western-style' shopping before heading to Krabi and then hopping a boat to the island of Koh Lanta. Koh Lanta is in southern Thailand very close to Phuket. We know quite a few people who have been there and rave about the place.

I am hoping to have time to do some blogging while we are away. I have really missed blogging and loved catching up the last few days.

Just in case I don't have a chance! Have a safe and happy holiday season! Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

What Christmas Ornament Are You?

Something fun for the holidays!

You Are a Snowman

Friendly and fun, you enjoy bringing holiday cheer to everyone you know!

What Christmas Ornament Are You?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Show Yourselves!

I have had a stat counter on my blog since I began blogging. I rarely look at it, but tonight I decided to check it out. I was checking out the paths of where people came from and I am so interested to see who is reading my blog. I can guess who is reading from some of the paths, but I am just curious on a few. Like for instance, who in Glen Allen, Virginia is reading my blog?? Or Rizal, Muntinlupa, Philippines? And someone in Ft. Worth, Texas read religiously! Please comment and let me know! I find it interesting how people get to different types of blogs and why.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Pirate's Life is for Me!

After the holiday bazaar we had a going away party for our friends Angie and Brad at our favorite watering hole, The Shamrock. It also happened to be The Shamrock's 4th Anniversary Party. It was also a costume party which was a pirate theme. It was fun trying to get costumes and I think our costumes turned out quite well. I found great pictures on the internet and just brought them in for the costume makers to make.

We had a lovely dinner and there were quite a few people at The Shamrock for the Anniversary party as well. Here are a few pictures from the evening.


Me and my pirate! Jonny actually won 3rd place in the costume contest.


Pirate Rock and his wench Flora! I just loved Rock with long hair and facial hair!


Jonny and his pet dolphin!


I think Mike thought it was an Elton John Party! He also played the guitar and sang for us and it was fantastic!


Jonny and his new Scottish friend John. The interesting thing about John is that he was reading my blog before he came to Chengdu and when he met us I was so surprised to hear that he kind of knew us already.


Jamie and Jason


Isabel and Dave the proud parents of The Shamrock.


Our guest of honor, Angie! We will miss you!


The last thing I thought I would be doing at my age...dancing on the bar! Angie was the winner of the costume contest. She kept saying that she looked like she should be at a German bar serving beer, but I thought her costume turned out great and obviously the judges thought so too!

Holiday Bazaar


Gemma and Angus with Santa Rock!

The Chengdu International Women's Club who I am the president of held their first ever International Christmas Bazaar. The Bazaar Benifitted the Minyak Dzogchen School in Tibet. Our friends are friends of the Lama who started this school. We raised 80,000 rmb which is about $10,000 which will send about 50 children to school for one year! (It costs about $230 per student per year to go to send a kid to school). If you are interested in more information about the school or possibly donating, please let me know and I will send you information.

We had all types of arts and crafts, local artists, baked goods, food, games and entertaiment. The best entertainment was however was Gemma's school. Here are a couple of clips for your listening pleasure!

Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer!

My favorite Jingle Bells in English and Chinese!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

How you doin'?


Me and my Zoot Suit Daddy!


Mei and her husband and party host Gavin!

The week-end before last we had the pleasure of being invited to one of our friend's wife's 40th birthday party at The Bookworm. In Chengdu style, it was a fancy dress party and the theme was "20's, 30's or old time" clothing. When I saw this on the invitation I immediately thought roaring 20's! I just thought of all the cool things I could have made. I looked on the Internet for 1920's style and I was surprised to find I couldn't find much. (Little did I know I should have been searching costume sites, but you will hear about that in another post.)

I now had to see if I could find a place to have costumes made. My Chinese teacher gave me the name of a place that had costumes to rent and I went to check it out. They only had a few things to rent and nothing that was really 1920's, so I asked in my broken Chinese if there were other places that rented costumes. The guy wrote down on a piece of paper where to go. I was so excited when we arrived on Shanxi Lu, there were a ton of shops and tailors for either renting or having costumes made. I just picked one and brought in a few pictures for them to go by. They made Jonny a zoot suit including jacket, pants, and hat and made me a a dress with scarf all for the price of around 600 rmb or (75 US$), which I found quite reasonable.

Jonny and I were one fo the first to arrive at the party and I have to admit I was feeling a bit over dressed. Most everyone had dressed up in old time Chinese wear or old time wear, so we were one of the few dressed in Western style 20's wear. Jonny was probably the most dapper dressed of anyone at the party. We had an absolutely fabulous time and everyone who was their had a great time! They had food, wine, a band, dj and lots of dancing. Here are a few photos from the night.


My friend and rugby teammate Emily and Isabel who owns the Shamrock where we are known to be found from time to time.


Rock, Jonny, and Tony from the Chengdu rfc!


Our friend and my rugby teammate Lily!


Rock and Flora


Jonny and his two crazy French girlfriends! The one on the left did wear 1920's wear and the other one was Cleopatra.


Rock checking out CC's hair. This girl has hair down to the back of her knees!


Jamie, Peter (Bookworm) and Emily bustin' a move!


James (Gavin's son) and his harem.


Later in the night things got a bit crazy. Our dear friend Mike just had to wear my fish net stockings!

We ended up dancing the night away! It was a great party! I think maybe next year we will have to do this for my 38th birthday party!!!