My photo
Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States

Oct 29, 2010

San Mun Tsai second time around

We visited San Mun Tsai again, but this time taking the path we had planned for the first trip. We took the 20K minibus that terminates there.

We stopped and visited the historical gallery. It had a unicorn head, we just had read on the Internet about the unicorn dance, not as popular or widely used as the traditional dragon and lion dances.

When we arrived at the beach we walked around and explored the protected area. Ma Shi Chau

The kids liked these mini glasses dad found and there was an argument over who would get to play with them first. I am always amazed at the things kids choose to fight about.

It was part of our plan this time to take the boat to Tai Mei Tuk. We approached the Sampan lady and began to discuss cost. We would give her a number in Mandarin and she would reply in Cantonese. I say all the time I need to learn the numbers in Cantonese and have yet to do it. The bartering required hand gestures and her at least acknowledging our Mandarin figure for us to final settle. We had paid 20HKD per person for the boat when we went to Sai Kung, and we felt we should pay no more this. Locals if they even bother taking the boat, maybe get a better deal then we did, but we were comfortable paying that amount and boarded.
It was a fast paced ride, we noticed the lack of life jackets as we were zig zagging through the other boats. We arrived to find what seemed to be an even busier than usual Saturday in TMT. It wasn't until we were standing in a long bus line to return home that it occurred to me it was a public holiday. Chung Yeung Festival part of the tradition is the colorful papers placed at graves as seen in the top photo.
Thankfully we ate earlier than everyone else did and got into a restaurant no problem.

It was good food. I had a beef dish with a black pepper sauce and Nathan got a curry dish.

Oct 20, 2010

Sam Mun Tsai -The First Trip

Sam Mun Tsai is an old fishing village located here in the New Territories. Our first excursion was eventful to say the least. Nathan had not explored this area yet but believed it to be straightforward from the information he received and the map he had. We were accompanied by our friends the Annis family. We took the 74K with no problem, but that was about the only event that went without any problems. Once we arrived it was not clear which path to take. We asked a local man, who spoke a Little English and told us we had to walk along the beach to reach the island we wanted and he warned us it was going to be difficult.
Nathan was sure this was not what the map indicated or what he had read. It was later in the afternoon already and we were racing against the sun and a tide coming in. We didn't see a better option, aside from quitting the whole thing altogether, so we ventured down to the beach.
Originally the plan was to take a well traveled trail and end up at a beach as a result most of us were wearing sandals. The crabs were fun to watch and some interesting shells were discovered, but the bloodied feet by a few of the kids were proof that overall it was not an enjoyable hike. Once we reached the island and walked around we saw immediately the path that we should have taken. Sandals would have been OK on that trail. The shore was not a nice sandy beach, but made up of countless sea shells broken into pieces. I have never seen anything like it and found it fascinating. A village woman approached us and pointed to a boat offering us a ride. We understood it would take us to Tai Mei Tuk. After discussing the cost for the lot of us primarily using a calculator, hand gestures and Mandarin Chinese numbers,we decided we would pass this time on the boat ride. We thought we should take the trail we were originally to come down, to see what it was like and where it ended up.

The view in Hong Kong can make almost anything worth the trouble.

The beach with it's mine field of broken glass and barnacles.

Taking a snack break I think it was maybe 15 minutes into the walk when feet began to get cut. The kids here in this photo keeping things light, the eldest child was having her wound tended to. A discussion of move ahead or turn back was had and we decided to keep going on.

The crabs offered a welcome distraction for the kids along the arduous journey.

The snake we believe to be not poisonous

Our trek back did have a few inclines but it seemed relatively easy after the shoreline walk. The reward for the kids making it was a little play ground right next to the village.

Oct 12, 2010

For Jane- a Belated Post

On September 29 2003 Jane Autumn Sweeney was welcomed into the world.

It is exciting and humbling to watch a child grow and change under your care and direction. We are blessed with a sweet and tender hearted daughter that proves on daily basis she is getting smarter than her parents.

Facts about Jane

Human compass!- She has a great sense of direction she can often recall which way to go after only one visit to a place. She amazes us all the time with this gift- inherited from dad.

She likes to draw, her art often reflects real life places and people - I often prefer that kind over abstract.

A loyal friend, fast at making friends, and tries to show her kindness with notes and little gifts when ever she can.

likes listening to Adventures in Odyssey, eating olives, the color blue, singing, coloring.

7 years has gone by too fast as it always does when watching kids grow. We are thankful and honored to be her parents.
Love you Janie!









Oct 11, 2010

Singapore #3 All the rest

singapore slide from outypants on Vimeo.

The Jurong Bird park had fun shows. The bird that sang songs in three languages was impressive.

Mom had to go to the Philatelic museum to see the first postage stamp ever and dragged the whole family along.
It turned out to be a great time. There were lots of interactive displays and the kids enjoyed it, Jane at the time said it was more fun than the zoo. She changed her mind on that but really a kid friendly museum.

No Wendys in Hong Kong- excited to see one in SP

Singapore has a Train system -The MRT- easy to use clean and safe just like Hong Kong, we used it a couple of times but found that taxis were more convenient and the best choice for us on our short trip. While using the MRT I was impressed that people did stay out of the way to let others alight first before getting on themselves. I think the mascot that encourages everyone to be nice must have done a good job.

Little India

The barefoot restaurant was a place Nathan had ate at during his first visit to Singapore( this was his second) No shoes when you ate upstairs, sit on the floor and get your own water. He had tried on his first visit a hot dish, that got his name put on a clothespin along a wall of fame. He was level 3, I believe there were about 9 levels of hotness. We took note this was the 3rd restaurant the kids ate at that required you removed your shoes. They provided slippers for the bathroom.

It was easy to get around as English is the main language spoken. I think I could live in Singapore for a little while, very western friendly yet a melting pot of cultures. I do prefer Hong Kong.

Elliot's Favorite memory of Singapore- The King Cobra
Jane said she too enjoyed the zoo. Feeding Elephants can be a hard experience to compete with when talking about highlights.
Favorite places we ate Elliot says- Wendy's
Jane says- the Zoo cafe we ate at. It did have great iced tea.
Mom says- the Mexican food was excellent in quality and taste, the service was off a bit, but we got a free dessert and even that was delicious.

Oct 7, 2010

Singapore Botanical Garden

The Botanical Garden in Singapore is free. Not only does it have great flowers and trees but a Children's area that could be a full day of fun for the kids. We did visit the National Orchid Garden the only part that comes with a fee. Orchids are my favorite flowers and I was very excited to get this opportunity to see a large display of them.

We learned about Epiphytes- a plant that grows above the ground, supported nonparasitically by another plant or object, and deriving its nutrients and water from rain, the air, dust, etc.; air plant; aerophyte.

The Children's Garden was great it reminded us of FMG in Grand rapids. Tree house, sand box, a place for kids to get wet, some educational displays about soils, and music. All that was missing were the sculptures.

singapore slide from outypants on Vimeo.

Oct 4, 2010

Singapore #1- The Zoo

Singapore is a small island country with about 5 million people on it. A little over 3 hours via air from Hong Kong. . Known for its strict rules on keeping the place clean, some may remember a few years ago when a foreigner was caned for graffiti, I appreciated the high standards as a visitor.
We could chew gum but could not find it for sale in the convenience stores. Malays, Indians and Chinese make their home here but English is considered the main language.

We left for Singapore on Jane's Birthday September 29th. 
 We stayed at the ( cue music)

The Zoo highlights:
Jane got to feed the elephants ( brother chose not too)
Elliot and Dad liked the Rhinos
Mom liked the "free" roaming lemurs

Singapore from outypants on Vimeo.