Monday, April 30, 2007

Zaijian Rock, Elvis Style!


This past Monday evening (yes, I know Monday is not exactly a party night, but it was the day before a big holiday in China) we celebrated Chinese Labor Day and the departure of our friend Rock Hardgrove who will be moving to Dalian, China in about a week. The Shamrock threw a farewell party with an Elvis theme and as you can see Jonny was a willing participant.


Probably the most humorous part of the evening was when we left our house and tried to find a taxi or rickshaw to take us to the Shamrock. The looks that Jonny got were priceless! We were able to flag down a rickshaw and we headed to the party. Here is Jonny with our driver.

The costumes actually have dual purposes. Both the men's and women's rugby teams have tournaments coming up in the next few weeks, so the teams like to pick a theme and dress up for the plane ride or for the evening out following the match.

Here are some snapshots of the Elvi from the evening.


Our guest of honor, the King of "Rock" 'n Roll!


English Chris looking a bit more like Elton John than the King!


Our beautiful female Elvis and hostess Isabel Deng!


Jonny with our friend Leslie, who looked a little bit more like "Goldmember" than Elvis.


Penny looking very hot in her costume!


Jussi, the tallest Elvis in the house standing a little over 2 meters!


The two winners from the evening. Pedro, who one the best lip-sync contest and Andy who won the best costume contest.


Mike in the very best colored costume of the evening. I might have to borrow this....


Is it a bird or a plane? No, No, it's, it's............Elvis Kneviel!!!!


Lily, Jonny and me in my outfit. The girls had Poodle skirts made, but with a panda on them. Unfortunately mine is more of a teddy bear, but it turned out very cute!


The guys!

We're off to the Mountains!

Gemma and I are about to embark on our first girl's trip. Instead of lots of shopping and girly things we (or Mommy) has opted to rough it for a few days up in Jiuzhaigou. We are going to be seeing our friend Andrew, who is from Ireland and also works in Jiuzhaigou National Park and World Heritage Site. Jonny went up to the park this past summer and really enjoyed himself. He said it was absolutely beautiful! The first day we are staying in the lodge where journalists and researchers stay while they are visiting the park, the second and third days we will be staying with a Tibetan families inside and outside of the park. I am really excited to have this experience. The Tibetan culture seems to be quite different than the Chinese culture and they speak a totally different language. I am also really happy to give Gemma the opportunity to see how different cultures live within China. I will report more when we return on Friday!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Enormous Carrot!


Little Miss Sunshine!

Last Wednesday Gemma's 3-4 year old class gave their class assembly for the year. They had been studying a unit on the earth, farm animals and working together. The name of their play was "The Enormous Carrot". The funny thing was that Gemma came home the day before and asked me who I thought was the Enormous Carrot. I thought about her class and thinking it had to be her because she was the only red head in a sea of black headed children she would be the best choice. I guessed wrong and realized that it was her teacher Miss Berry, who had identical red to Miss Gemma. Here are some pictures and videos of the play.


The sunshine helping the carrot grow...


and the rain.


The carrot had grown enormous, so the farmers and their wives had to try and pull the carrot out of the ground.


It actually took the farmers, their wives, the sheep, the pigs and the cats to get the carrot out of the ground. They all worked together!

The working together song!

They also sang us a Chinese song.

We have been so pleased with Gemma's school the past two years. We are really looking forward to another year at QSI. As you can see their is a diverse group of children from all over the world. Gemma has learned such a great deal about other cultures and quite a bit about geography. We are so grateful to have had our experience in China.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Our Vegetable Market

Last Sunday we packed up the family for a trip to my favorite vegetable market. Jonny doesn't usually get to go to the market, so this was a special treat for him. He took quite a few pictures or our shopping trip. I think this will give everyone an idea of what my produce shopping is like.


Here is the fruit stall I visit. The boxes of orange fruit that look similar to a apricot are called pipa. I think they are called kumquats in English.


Here is my fruit lady. She calls me friend in Chinese every time I see her!


She is always really great and gives the kids lots of free fruit to eat while I am shopping.


Here we are inside where it is mostly vegetables, fish, seafood, and meat. You can also buy homemade noodles, tofu, rice and all sorts of spices.


Outside the vegetable part of the market there are fish and turtles for sale. Here are the kids checking out the turtles.


Angus playing with the turtles.

This is really a great place and I love to buy fresh fruits and veggies here. The only downside is it is quite dirty, but this is probably the cleanest market I have seen in Chengdu. The prices are so cheap you probably wouldn't believe me. I bought lots of strawberries, spinach, lettuce, onions, potatoes, bananas, apples, oranges, and noodles and it set us back around $10.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Golden Sands

After our trip to the beach on Wednesday we decided that we would change hotels for the week-end. The hotel we were staying at was really for business travelers and there was no fun to be had by the kiddos (or for the Mom for that matter). We decided to go stay on the beach at the Shangri-la Golden Sands. We wanted a place where we could stay the entire week-end and not leave and this was the perfect haven for a family with two kids.

The hotel was really great, they let us check in at 10 am on Friday, so the kids and I spent the entire day at the pool. Here the kids are being silly at lunch.


The other great thing about this place is that they had a Kid's Club free of charge for kids 4-12. Gemma really wanted to go to the Kid's Club and Angus was in dire need of a nap. After Angus woke up we headed out to the pool until about 7 pm in the evening. Jonny returned to the hotel shortly after that and we went to dinner at one of the hotel's restaurants called Sigi's by the Sea. The food was really great and there was a great representation from all over the world.

The next day it was pool time again, but this time with Daddy! We all were in for the first couple hours, but Jonny gave me a break and went swimming with the kids and let me read my book. (I read "Three Junes" by Julia Glass and I absolutely love it!) We had lunch by the pool and then Gemma insisted on going back to the Kid's Club. Jonny and Angus went up for a nap and I kept reading. After nap time we swam some more and headed out for a walk on the beach.


Here I am with the kids.


Jonny with the kids.

We had a nice time away from Chengdu and it was nice to get a bit of color. We are looking forward to quite a bit of traveling the month of May! Stay tuned!

Touring Penang

On our third day in Penang we were fortunate to have our friend HJ Ong in town from Chengdu. HJ works at the same company as my husband and is doing an expat assignment, but he is from the Penang site. He grew up in Penang, so he knew it like the back of his hand. He generously picked us up from our hotel and drove us to one of the hawker eating haunts for breakfast. It is basically an outside food stall very similar to the kind you would see at the State Fair or a festival. There were a bunch of hawker places together and you could have whatever you wanted to eat. He ordered for us and it was delicious! HJ and I had curry noodles while the kids had banana pancakes and crepes.

After breakfast he took us to a Buddhist temple while he ran a few errands. Here are some snapshots from the temple.


Sleeping Buddha, one of the longest in the world.



After our temple trip HJ took us to Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi. You can click on the link to read the history. It was an area of clan houses where Chinese immigrants lived until they got themselves settled in Penang. So if your last name was Ong, you would go and stay in the Ong house. This particular house housed 5 different families. It was really beautiful, but unfortunately I forgot my camera and the kids were hot and grumpy by this time!

Anyway, one more post about Malaysia coming up!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Penang, Malaysia

After our trip to Bangkok we headed to the airport to get on our flight to Penang, Malaysia where we were to meet Jonny. When we were going through security much to our pleasant surprise Jonny showed up in line behind us. Since he was flying directly to Penang from Hong Kong we didn't think we would see him, but he missed his flight.

Jonny had a week of work to do while we were in Penang, so the kids and I were on our own for the week. We did a little shopping, toured around a bit, but the highlight of our week was the beach. We spent a whole day at the beach swimming, playing in the sand and relaxing. The kids are at such a good age and love to play together so Mommy rented a beach chair and grabbed a book and just watched them play.


Here part of the beach. Notice all of the jet skis and boats. There were tons of people trying to get you to rent jet skis, parasail, have beach side massages, go on 4-wheelers, and horseback riding. It was a bit annoying because you were trying to relax, but I guess a massage wouldn't be that bad.


Angus and Gemma soaking up the sun!


Angus and Gemma building a sand castle.


Angus and Gemma with their creation!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

3 Nights in Bangkok!


The kids and I headed to Bangkok for my first trip solo trip with them. I really wanted to prove to myself I could handle this experience. We stayed at the Intercontinental Bangkok which is in the heart of the shopping district and very convenient to most everything we needed. We arrived on Friday evening and the kids were very excited to be back in Thailand. We checked into our hotel and headed out for quick snack before bed time.

For the next 3 days we pretty much repeated the same routine of breakfast at the hotel, swimming, shopping, and lots of eating in between. The kids had an absolute ball in the pool, which was on the roof with an excellent view of the city. I was able to scout out my shopping trip as I could see all of the big shopping center from the view. Unfortunately traveling by yourself makes it really hard to take any pictures. I only have the above picture of the kids getting ready to go swimming.

I was able to get a little shopping done. The mall we were shopping at the first day had an aquarium in the bottom floor, so after a little shopping and lunch I took the kids there to have some fun. It was really incredible as there were all sorts of sea creatures, lots of different shows going on, and a children's play area. I also attempted to take the kids to the Chatuchak Market a.k.a. Week-end Market, but after 1/2 hour in 100 degree, 100% humidity we decided that it really wasn't worth it.

Probably the highlight of our week-end for both me and the kids was the food in Bangkok. There are so many choices, but of course my choice for us on most every occasion was Thai food. The Thai food there is just incredible and full of amazing flavor! I decided I have a new favorite dessert, Mango and Sticky Rice! The mangos in Thailand are like no other I have ever had. By the end of the vacation Gemma was saying "Mango and Sticky Rice makes Mommy happy!" Indeed it does!

I would have to say our week-end in Bangkok was a success!