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Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States

Feb 27, 2012

Kadoorie Farm

Residing in the New Territories sometimes feels like living in the small town with one stoplight on the outskirts of the happening big city of Kowloon and the island.
 We commonly travel anywhere from 45 minutes up to 2 hours, just to sight see and eat western food. There is quite a bit to do and see way up here, close to the mainland. It is less crowded and we are told the air quality is better.  On the occasions, we get to do something touristy that is close by, it is a nice change.
Kadoorie Farm is one of those places that to us, feels like it is in our backyard.

Parc Versailles, which is our estate, is a stop along the 64K route, that begins at Tai Po Market station. Kadoorie also has it's own stop along the route and is 15 stops away from us.

I have made four visits to the Kadoorie Farm and Botnical Gardens and only once did I get to ride the free shuttle bus.  We decided to go on a late Saturday afternoon and once again the shuttle tickets were sold out.
The bus gives you a nice ride to the top, that overlooks Lam Tsuen.  When I did go that time,  I only had a video camera and let Elliot have it most of the time. It doesn't show too much but Elliot is a cute 5 year old in it.

Some new experiences on this last trip included:

The Fruit plant area.

"coffee" tree

Nathan and I discussed how we both recently just learned that a pineapple came from a plant on the ground. I am not sure how I had imagined them growing, maybe like a coconut? Living in a cold climate for 30 years, did not give me much opportunity to see a pineapple grow. I talked to my dad shortly after this visit. A man, who has farmed and grown vegetables his whole life in Michigan and he kind of chuckled when I told him about my ignorance of pineapples.

We were able to see the Hong Kong Paradise fish a new species discovered in 2002.

Kadoorie sells organic fruit and vegetables, we bought some sugar cane to munch on.

Some old favorites, the pigs, owls and bugs

Elliot thought it was amusing to sit on these sharp rocks

Here is a video from our first trip with the Krohn's way back in 2009.

Feb 26, 2012

Tycoon or Shark fan? Ice Hockey in HK

Notable sporting events in Hong Kong have names like Cricket 6's and Rugby 7's. What you might not expect to find in the tropical climate of HK, is the Hockey 5's.

We didn't attend the hockey 5 tournament, but along with the Annis family, we did see 4 professional teams play.
They don't play in a stadium, but on the 10th floor of the Megabox mall. A small amount of bleacher seats are placed next to the glass allowing an up close view of the game.

Jane and Zoee were good cheerleaders.

We had the pleasant surprise of running into Craig and Keegan Harvey.

ICS had supplied us with the tickets and we shared the space with several of the ICS kids, faculty and parents. Kowloon Warriors and South China Sharks was the name of some of teams. If you want more details about players, scores and events of the game check out Keegan's post here.

Next time we will bring our own snacks and drinks. We were expecting there to be concessions selling us overpriced popcorn and forbidding us outside food and drink, but to our surprise there was nothing like that readily available. A few trips to the 7-11 on the first floor were made.

The kids loved it when any of the players would be body-checked against the glass. They spent the game with their faces close against the plated glass and it gave them quite a thrill.

Elliot fell backwards once, we got it on video here.

Autographs were given out to the kids by a few of the players that sat with us.

Feb 18, 2012

Chinese New Year 2012

The year of the Dragon has arrived.
Last year we had a warm day for CNY and made a trip to Lai Chi Wo
This year it was cold with rain. Lucky for the Chinese in their tradition but not so much fun for us who want to get outdoors and enjoy the holiday.

The Norwegian International School had a fair. The kids could play traditional games and buy snacks and other items.

The kids with their teachers- Jane- Ms. Chan
Elliot's Mrs. Nadia
Chinese teacher Song Laoshi (laoshi- is teacher in Mandarin and the proper form address for teachers in China)

Song Laoshi invited some girls from her class to come to her house and make traditional Jiaozi (dumplings) siblings and parents were invited to join in the fun.
She handmade the dough and filling and showed us how to make the wrapper and boil dumplings. The correct technique is to bring water to boil add dumplings,bring water to boil again then add just a little cold water you do this two times then the dumplings are done.
Angela is from the province of Liaoning- near Korea.
Elliot and Gabriel probably ate the most dumplings and kept asking for more.

Elliot took a turn at spinning the cloth. A traditional game from Song laoshi's hometown. The idea is to spin it and get it flat, he did quite well with it.
It was a great time and the dumplings were delicious! We are thankful for the kind teaching staff at NIS.

Buying flowers is also a traditional Chinese custom. Last year Nathan went out at midnight, like a lot of locals do and bought the flowers at half price. This year we attended the Tai Po fair and walked around with kids, let them spend some of their money and came home well before midnight.

Feb 8, 2012


After spending 4 pleasantly warm days in Siem Reap, Hanoi greeted us with cold and rain.
The day before we arrived and the day after we left, the temperature was at least 10 degrees warmer. It would be nice to visit again and see what Vietnam is like when the sun shines.

Our hotel "The Hanoi Ruby Elegance" was tucked away in an alley. We arrived at 10:30PM. Our welcome drinks were mango smoothies. Unfortunately, Jane who does not like Mango, was wide awake and Elliot, who loves Mango was asleep. The Ruby Elegance, provided a warm comfortable refuge from the wet and cold during our stay. We played the card version of "Clue" (referred to here as Cluedo) and Uno. The kids enjoyed the cartoon network and the Disney channel too. Quite possibly the most memorable experience from Vietnam for Elliot will be the Aglet Song. from Phineas and Ferb, He sang it yesterday.
We use trip advisor when searching for a hotel and have yet to be disappointed by our references.

Crossing the street was an adventure. Even with a green light at a crosswalk, scooters would buzz by and sometimes cars. We read in our tour book that we were to walk slowly and the traffic would move around us. Our application of this, was to move in front of a scooter that would swerve around us and stop in front of a car because it is bigger and would hurt more. The key was not to dart across, if you can remember the Atari game Frogger, it was a bit like that.

Water puppets were traditionally performed by farmers during the rainy season. This theater performs multiple times during the day and sells out frequently. I enjoyed the live music and singing of the performers that accompanied the show. It was presented entirely in Vietnamese but the scenes moved quickly and an English program was offered to let us know what was happening during each scene.

We saw a video about candy street. Vietnam, like China, would often have the same shops clumped together. There are a few candy makers and shops remaining in Hanoi. I was excited to try the traditional O-Mai ginger candy. I love ginger and expected to like it. We tasted about 4 different types of candies, I found them all too strong in flavor for my liking.

Ho Chi Minh's body is actually on display in Hanoi. I find that stuff too creepy and we didn't attempt to visit.

We certainly had to try Pho. The hotel recommend a little place around the corner and for about 80cents we could get a hot bowl of chicken pho. I think even if it had not been cold and rainy, the pho would have tasted just as good, and really, 80 cents? you can't beat that price.

Vietnam for a majority of my life, was just the name of a war that my father fought in. I was glad to have the opportunity to visit the country and learn more about its people and history.