Vietnam and Cambodia, Part 2

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This picture isn’t from our trip but I like it so told dad to post it.

One thing we forgot to mention from Part 1, was about the boat trip to the beach. We spent 2 nights and three days on boat. On the third day, we climbed off the main boat onto a much smaller boat. This small boat drove us to a really nice beach, on a distant island.

Bunches of other people on this island but I still liked it because I got to play in the sand building a sand fortress. Dad went swimming and mom read a book. Wish we could have stayed there longer.

Sadly, we soon boarded the big boat and headed back to the boat dock. A van drove us from the bay back to Hanoi.

In Hanoi, we booked a very inexpensive hotel. I forget the name but we arrived very late at night and we were so tired. While checking in, the dining area was just around the corner, in the dark with lights out. While waiting at the front desk, dad wondered over to the darkened dining room and something in a shadowed corner, about the size of a cat, caught his eye. This was no cat, he said the tail told him what animal it was. Too tired to deal with it, the next morning we skipped breakfast and checked out. The next hotel was more expensive and no ‘cats’ seen.

While in Hanoi, we decided to check out a water puppet show. The theater had live musicians playing on the side of big pool on the stage. The music was good, with live singers. Bunch of fancy, traditional Vietnamese dressed puppets running around on the top of the water. Couldn’t really follow the story but I think it had a happy ending.

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Best of all, the food of Hanoi. Mom was thrilled with a French/Vietnamese restaurant and also the more basic street food was so tasty and so cheap. The French place had a super view of the city:

Several meals of noodles/broth on the street, I never tired of. So many families came out to eat on the streets, usually sitting in little plastic chairs put out by the food vendors. Few sights from the streets near our hotel:

 

Oh, one thing about the streets of Hanoi is that they are narrow, crowded and full of people walking, cars and worst of all, electric scooters. Walking down the street is no picnic, watch out.

Most of our time was spent in the Hoàn Kiếm District – center of the city, with its core in the Hoan Kiem Lake (Sword Lake). People as old as my parents may know that US Senator, John McCain, aka “the maverick”, after being shot down, crashed his plane in Hoan Kiem during the Vietnam war.

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McCain pulled from his plane after being shot down and crashing into Sword Lake.

My dad wanted to visit the prison where McCain was held, Hoa Lo Prison (The Hanoi Hilton):

Our trip over lapped the end of Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. Lots of flags, decorations on display.

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The next day we flew to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Siem Reap is the closet town to Angkor Wat, a HUGE temple of something.  Vietnam had been warm but we were warned Cambodia might be really warm. We love the heat. Especially, coming from the dry, bone cold Beijing.

In Siem Reap, we stayed in a hotel with a pool. Dad used it the most, mostly after his early morning jogs. He said it was way too hot during the day to run later.

Dad mentioned something about being chanced by a street dog once but I don’t remember seeing any blood so the dog must not have caught him. When he needs to be, Dad can be fast, for someone as old as 50 years old.

A popular way to get around in Cambodia is riding in a tuk-tuk. They are an open carriage usually pulled by a motorbike. We rode them to/from the airport and around town.

Dad looked for seat belts but no luck. We call dad ‘Capt’n Safety.’

Here is a good picture of a tuk-tuk and the driver taking a nap, inside:

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Our first day in Siem Reap, we walked around, found some tasty noodles to eat. Also, walked by a gem shop and I had to go in. I bought about 10 stones….

The second best thing that day was getting a fish pedicure- letting tiny fish eat dead skin off our feet. This is very popular and very cheap. I enjoyed it, thought the fish tickled. Dad didn’t agree and didn’t keep his feet in very long.

He kept saying, “piranha!”

I liked it so much, after dinner, I returned for a second ‘treatment.’ Dad was happy because with this night pedicure, they gave Dad a free beer. What a deal.

The next day a tuk-tuk took us about 30 minutes out to Angor Wat, where we hired a tour guide to show us around.

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This place is big, really big. Next stop, Angkor Wat…

 

 

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Vietnam and Cambodia, Part 1

The other day, we were talking about Vietnam and Dad realized we never posted anything about the trip to Vietnam and Cambodia.

Chinese New Year or Spring Festival takes place in late January/early February. My school is closed for a whole week. And I really like this holiday because it is just one month after the Christmas holiday. Many Chinese travel during this time, so we were warned to watch out for large crowds at the airport and especially the train stations. Millions (no joke) of Chinese will travel during this holiday. Most go home to visit family. Mom said this is the largest human migration in the history of the world.

How many people are traveling? Dad pulled this from another website. (“not fake news” he said):

“In 2014, it was estimated that for this holiday, 3.6 Billion journeys (air, sea, car, train, etc) took place in China. For comparison, in the USA just 93.3 million peopled traveled during the 2012 holiday season.

This year (2017) for the Chinese New Year we decided to visit Vietnam and Cambodia. We started in Hanoi, then two nights on boat cruising in Ha Long Bay, the few more days in Ankor Wat, Cambodia.

Ha Long Bay was my favorite.

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The Bay is just east of Hanoi, maybe two hour drive. The area is a World Heritage Site and popular travel destination. And it is really known for the thousands of limestone mountains or karsts. I bet you have seen a picture of them before.

Our boat was big but not too big. Think it had about 8 bedrooms, so several other families and people were on the boat with us. The weather was so sunny and warm, clean air (opposite of Beijing) nice staff and other passengers (other kids) and best of all, the FOOD. We ate so much, then ate some more. We all love Vietnam food. Mom was excited because in Vietnam, noodles are usually rice, not wheat (like in Beijing) so she could eat them too.

There were other cruise boats nearby but didn’t seem crowded after the day trip boats all headed home in the late afternoon. Oh yeah, one of my favorite things was fishing for squid. The first night, after dinner, they put a light into the water to attract the squid then gave us fishing poles to catch them. We didn’t hook any but was fun, until too cold. The days were so warm but cold at night.

Here are few more pics of this part of our trip:

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Fishing for squid

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our tour guide giving a cooking class

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our boat

 

 

I am a Scout

I am a Cub Scout, that is.

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Recently, I joined Cub Scout Pack 3944, and Den 2. My dad found out about the Scouts through Ben. Ben went to YCIS last year and rode my school bus. Dad said Ben really like scouts so we should try it.

“Ok,” I said.

Our Pack is divided into two parts; the group who live near the airport and the group that live “downtown.” We are the downtown group. We’ve already attended several meetings. Twice with my mom, when my dad was in Idaho and several more with my dad. There are about 8 boys in my den and several other dens, under the “Pack.” The Pack is both groups, together.

My dad was in Boy Scouts, not Cub Scouts and he still gets the lingo mixed up. He keeps calling the ‘Pack’ a “Troop.” Not the same thing dad. All the boys in our den are 8 or 9 years old and two go to my school. Den #2, meets most Tuesday nights then once a month the entire Pack get together for a fun activity. Two weeks ago, the Pack went hiking on the Great Wall.

This is the crew (my den) who went on the hike to Gubeikou Great Wall. And beside my dad, we had a special guest- a visiting Uncle John.

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We took a bus ride of about two hours to the NW of Beijing then started to hike near the wall, up toward the wall. Climbing up was kinda steep but not so bad. My parents have taken me on much harder hikes.

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You may have noticed Cub Scouts is not just a Dad and son thing. They allow mom’s too. Don’t think we have any girls in our den but I think there are a few girls in other dens.

A few upcoming activities include:

  • Raingutter Regatta Nov 17(not sure what this is,….)
  • Scout Olympics- Jan18
  • Blue and Gold Banquet- March18
  • Pinewood Derby- April18
  • Spring Campout- May18

We’ve been warmed that some kids (aka Parents) take the Pinewood Derby very seriously so watch out for some VERY fancy and fast cars. I’m looking forward to carving my car.

Above that is me leading the den repeating the Scout Oath. And last, me and my mom after our Pack leader gave me my first Badge, the BobCat.

Draw Off

Our latest Draw off. You may recall a ‘draw off’ can be called at any time. And one participant picks the subject, we draw, then a judge declares the winner.

Will picked the topic- aliens.

Naturally, I thought of ‘space’ aliens and therefore loosely based my creation on this guy, Marvin the Martian. (sadly, forgot about his scrub brush on top of the helmet)

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Will’s focus was more land creatures. A combo dragon, fox, fish and a I think a French dude with a long bicycle mustache.

Ok, we need a judge, who won?

 

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Nearly Summer, now June

What has been happening……?

My class and school held their final school year music concert last week. There are 3 maybe 4 concerts per year. My grade (3 classes) played two songs on these GIANT red Chinese drums. I really liked it but don’t tell my parents. We practiced for weeks or maybe months. Mom said we sounded really good.

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Can you find me, I’m right in the middle. Wearing a white shirt under my read Chinese shirt.

That same day, my grade (year3) held an open house and parents were allowed in to watch our collaborative space and group work in action. Next year, another group of YCIS classes will follow our (year 3) lead and build similar open work spaces.

Here are some random pictures from biking in the city, dad took recently. I forget where we were going but dad wanted to take a picture of these dogs in a wagon. This is at the 3rd ring road, very close to mom’s office. The nice wide bike lane is in Sanlutin, a neighborhood close to ours. Dad misses trees like this. Most of the city streets don’t look anything like this.

 

As I tell dad what to write, there is less than two weeks left in the school year. Am I really excited? Actually, I told mom that I want to keep going to school. She looked at me kinda funny.

Last Sunday was father’s day. Dad wanted pancakes, bacon and lots of syrup for his special breakfast so mom cooked up a big stack. Using a gluten free mix, so she could eat some too. Very tasty.

After our (late) breakfast, we walked to the Liangmaqiao metro station. Dad had wanted to go to the Olympic Forest Park for a long time and today we decided to go.

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Metro stop near the Olympic Forest Park. The train arrives behind this cool glass.

This is the largest park in the city, build for the 2008 Olympics. HUGE place, with walking trails, a giant lake and lots of green grass and trees. So much water and green, for a minute, you forget Beijing is a desert. It was hot, really hot today but a cool wind picked up, unfortunately, as soon as we rented a paddle boat at the big lake.

Soon after we started peddling, the sky turned a bit darker and wind picked up. Mom and Dad needed my help peddling so I helped out. Our boat didn’t go so fast, next time we’ll rent a fancy electronic boat, no peddling required.

The park was nice, Dad was impressed with all the running trails around the lake. We’ll be back.

And 10 feet from the heading down into the metro, to head home, the rain arrived.

 

Amazing April

Wow, April sure when by fast. Kinda like every month here. Summer is almost here!

Since this is ‘my’ blog, I decided to let my dad include the first picture for April. He is kinda a college basketball fan and wanted me to post this so, ok…..He says we don’t need to discuss it since the picture will explain itself.

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Kennedy Meeks, West Charlotte High school grad. Go Lions!

Early in the month, the three of us walked over to a friend’s house. My mom likes wine and since Dad is mostly a beer guy, if she gets an invite to drink some wine, we go. Our friends live near the US Embassy, it’s a quick five minute bike ride. Jon is older than my dad but exercises. Not a runner like my dad but he said he is very good at pushups. Since my training includes daily pushups we gave a demonstration:

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This month my dad signed me up for some tennis lessons. Another girl in our neighborhood also signed up. I didn’t want to do it but I think my dad really wanted me to. I’ve had 2 maybe three lessons. Our compound has two tennis courts so very quick walk. One court is new and nice and the other really old and worn out. We practice on the old one. The teacher is nice but speaks no English. I can understand some of what he says. For other words, I just pretend to understand him.

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Speaking of sports, my dad ran another marathon last month. Or maybe this was March….anyway, we flew to Seoul, Korea for his race. It was kinda cold but we ate good food and the hotel roll away bed I slept on was really soft and had three pillows.

 

The big trip of April was to the BIG Island of Hawaii, over my school spring break. We met my cousin Kate and her parents and boyfriend. I played a lot in the pool and we rode in a helicopter over active volcanoes. Wow. The food was really good and my dad said he gained five pounds, even after running almost every morning.

 

The last trip of April was hiking and camping on the Great Wall. We hiked nearly straight up a mountain. Dad said he was really ‘spent’ after getting to our campsite. Luckily, we didn’t have to carry our tent and sleeping bags and food. A donkey carried all the heavy stuff. Or was it a mule….? Dad was impressed with the pictures mom took with her fancy camera. I think some of these are really great too.

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Not sure why this picture makes my parents laugh. I was hot and wanted to sleep on the floor. What’s the big deal?

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Old friends

Way back in the day, ISL and I went to the same pre-school in Seattle. This was the school with mostly Chinese teachers and students. We learned Chinese. I went for one, maybe two years… ISL was my best friend at this school.

ISL’s mom is Chinese and his dad is American. ISL and I had several play dates, back in the day. Then we went to different kindergartens. I went to Adams in Ballard and ISL went to a fancy private school near the UW. I forget the name but dad called it something like “paying for college in kindergarten.

Before we moved to Beijing, ISL and I saw each other several more times. ISL and his family visit Beijing once a year, since his mom still has family here. So, we knew they would visit. Then came to China last summer but we missed them, we were in the states.

ISL and his mom came to town the other day and we made plans to see them. I was nervous. Hadn’t seen ISL in about a year. Would he like the same things as I do?

  • Does he read HP (harry potter)?
  • Has he read ALL the HP books?
  • Has he seen all the HP movies?
  • Does he still play with legos?
  • Does he still listen to the Beatles? (my dad asked this question)
  • Does he have a science lab in his house, like me?

What would happen if he didn’t like these things? Would we not get along, no longer be friends?

I told my mom I was nervous before he arrived. She said she was very sure he still liked many of the things I like. But if he didn’t like something, that is ok. If he had new hobbies or interests maybe I’d like those things.

After ISL and his mom walked into our house, he ran up to me and said, “show me your room.” So, we walked upstairs and in about 30 seconds we were laughing and playing with my air hockey table.  We had fun and then the next day he came over and we spent the day together. Just like old friends.

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Moving day finished

(just found this in the ‘draft’ folder. Time to bring into the light)

We left Seattle, way back in January. I forget the day, maybe the 25th…Bet mom knows the date. Today is April 18th (2016)  and our moving is now complete. Our “stuff” arrived today.

When we left our house, some stuff went into storage in Seattle, some stuff went with us on the airplane, some stuff went in a separate airplane shipment and the last stuff went by boat.

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Arrival in Beijing. Who brings this much stuff? Little did we know we’d wait 12 weeks for our other stuff to arrive. Btw, I’m really tired, can I sleep on this?

Talking to dad we tried to remember what stuff went where…

  • Storge- the furniture we didn’t bring. Some clothes and other stuff
  • In duffel bags-mostly winter clothes, some shoes, just a few legos
  • Air shipment- the MAC, my and dads guitar and….
  • Boat shipment- sofa, books, love seat, my bed, summer clothes, dishes.

All of us are very excited. Mom is happy to get her books, more clothes and dishes. Dad can’t remember what he packed, versus put into storage, so it feels like Christmas to him. And me, I get more LEGOS!!

The property manager provided some furniture that we had removed before our stuff arrived.

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Out with the old…

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In with the new

Now Beijing feels more like home. Well, “home” with a bunch of loud air filtration machines running.

 

February time

Wow, it is February, now almost the end of February. Busy time in Beijing.

This is my friend. She was my best friend. We both read HP (Harry Potter) and have seen all the HP movies. I finished all the books and she is just on book 5. We both like science and drawing. She was at YCIS last year but I never talked to her. This year we were both in Mr. Cole’s class. She sat at my table. Her dad biked her around town, like my dad does. And we had the same bike helmets.

(from dad- one day last fall I was at school, during their lunch recess. I approached them but they had not seen me yet. They were outside on the blacktop, together, facing each other and holding hands. Cutest thing ever. )

Her mom got sick and they had to move to Australia at Christmas so her mom could have surgery. We write to each other and my mom says maybe we’ll go to Australia next year and visit her.

Last Saturday or maybe two or three saturdays ago we took a bus to somewhere in the mountains to see a small town full of ice sculptures. It was a long bus ride to see ice and I fell asleep on the return bus trip home. There were some cool ice sculptures with lights inside. It wasn’t really super cold but it was cold when me and my mom walked through the ice.

 

Dad decided to bake some cookies the other day. He said he has been craving ‘real’ cookies since he has been running a lot to get ready for his mountain race. Can’t remember the last time he baked cookies…..Said mom can eat them since no wheat. He mentioned coconut and gluten free flour. May not look so good but they are pretty darn tasty. Peanut butter cookies.

Below, if you look at the gaps in the rows, you can tell someone was eating a lot of them, as he baked. Not me!

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Not sure where dad got this photo but it is a Beijing sunset during February so he said we should include it:

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Winter time

It is now January and cold and too often we need to wear masks. But they say the “weather” is the worst around late December and early January. Funny, the Chinese call bad air pollution, bad “weather.” I don’t think it is the same thing.

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This is not ‘fog’

The other Sunday, our friend Roman and his daughter Becky picked up me and dad and drove us to a nearby frozen lake. (mom was in Seattle) Traffic was nuts but I think that is normal for this town. We were supposed to be able to play on the frozen lake but didn’t work out. Houhai Lake is big, you can walk around it. It is just north of the Forbidden city so not too far. Lots of shops, restaurants ring it. Some people were out walking and riding ice bikes but because the temperature was rising they stopped letting people get out on the ice. Funny, they stopped people from getting on the ice because of thinning ice but they didn’t remove the people already on the ice… Strange. Dad said, ‘that’s how the Chinese do it.’

We found some cotton candy. Oh, and this crazy old man jumped into the lake, right beside us.

Even in the cold, my dad and I still ride his bike. I don’t get cold but my dad does. The other day, we went to buy a plant. Lots of expats are always leaving and moving to town so lots of stuff to buy cheap. Dad decided the house needs some plants so we biked over to the Kingston Apartments and the family leaving turned out to a boy from my class. Small world. So, we pick up the plant and dad said it will fit on the bike. I tried to tell dad it’s too big….. Think the long bamboo branches hit about 6 people and several cars as we biked home.

Here is a picture of me and my friend Noah walking out on another frozen lake. This is Chaoyang Park, very close to our place. My dad jogs here all the time. And the other picture is us eating Cheeseburgers at our favorite burger place, Great Leap Brewery. My parents ate a cheeseburger but I had the Sunday brunch egg burrito, pretty good.