Hong Kong – Day 4

12/25  

Merry Christmas!

 

I took the kids to Ocean Park on Hong Kong Island (sort of like Sea World) so B could stay at the hotel and get some reading and dissertation work done. 

We had to catch a double decker bus outside our hotel, across the street by the race track. We got on, got seats on top deck in the front row, waved to B up in our hotel room, went through a tunnel, and then were there. None of us had any idea the bus ride was going to be so short. This was a huge disappointment for Squidgems. Once off the bus, we followed the little crowd that was with us and the signs indicating where to go for Ocean Park. We’d bought our tickets from the hotel concierge the day before, so no lines, just entering.

Ocean Park is two levels connected by cable cars. We started below where there are mostly animals and some kiddie carnival/theme park rides.

 

 

 

 

 I think we spent too long on the lower level, not really knowing how much there was to do once we took the cable cars up. 

 

 Once we got to the upper level, we wandered all over trying to find the promised McDonald’s. The other options for food we’d passed had been strange Chinese food that isn’t  something we’re eager to eat, let alone pay amusement park prices for. When we found McDonald’s, they had normal prices AND served breakfast all day. Win. Win.  Then we explored. Penguins, more string rays and sharks. Buddy liked spotting cargo ships in the Pacific.

 

 Squidgems and I waited for an hour (and used the bathroom several times, giving up our seat on a bench each time) while the three big kids waited in line for a roller coaster. The upper level of Ocean Park was were all the big roller coasters were, but there were long lines and we were supposed to meet B at Stanley Market in the later afternoon. 

 

Stanley Market is on the southern part of Hong Kong Island, sort of near Ocean Park. By the time the kids got off the roller coaster, we waited in line to take the cable car down, exited the park, found the right bus, rode the windy bus ride to Stanley Market it was almost dark and the market was closing. We looked around quickly, bought some Hong Kong magnets for our fridge and ate dinner at a yummy Thai restaurant. Then we took the bus back to our hotel.
 

 

The bus back to our hotel didn’t stop where we thought it did and took us all the way back to the northern harbor side of HK Island. When we exited, we found ourselves at an LDS church just starting to clean up the nativity display they’d had for Christmas. We went in for a few minutes and chatted with the missionaries there and looked at the nativities. It was a nice end to our not typical Christmas day.

Random Pictures

Picture 1: Escalator warning pictures inside an elevator on B’s campus.
Picture 2: the Christmas tree in B’s building.
Picture 3: Apparently, the students didn’t really get dressing-up for Halloween but it turns out they dress-up for New Year’s. And the majority of the costumes are military with realistic guns.
Picture 4: The group of students B mentors were supposed to pick out a costume for him.  He showed up at work the day of the carnival and his costume was this pink wig.  Visitors from other Chinese schools lined up to have their pictures taken with him.  The teachers/staff of the other schools.
Picture 5: The school had a carnival for their New Year’s celebration.  There were some fun rides set up on the field but it was super frigid that day and each ride had a long long line so we skipped it.
Picture 6: For some reason, a lot of shrubs/bushes had these wooden frames built around them for the winter and then were covered with tarp.
Picture 7: B and I took Buddy with us on a trip to Sam’s Club so he can be my GPS/navigator on future trips.  We found this giant stuffed dog.

Bangkok, Thailand- Day 3, Dec. 25

The first morning in our hotel we opted to sleep in (having arrived from the airport very late the night before).  The second morning we figured out how to take advantage of the free breakfast.  After breakfast we went one floor above our own to the roof to check out the pet garden and to take pictures of the cool buildings we could see from our hotel room. I also added some picture of Thai money (baht, divide by 30 to get a US dollar amount) and some pictures of the apartment/hotel room.

Fun signs we’ve seen around Thailand:

1st, on an escalator

2nd, a “give up your seat for monks” sign, on trains and buses

3rd, on the door of a bathroom stall

Back at the Snoopy mall, inside this time, trying to capture a Snoopy #selfie in her new Snoopy #selfie tshirt she got for Christmas.

Exploring the mall, we found a store with an adorable whale for Buddy, Little Guy’s favorite How to Train Your Dragon dragon and a minion and some other fun statues for Squirt. We also found a Mexican restaurant and fed Squirt ice cubes (he is his Grandma L’s grandson) while we waited for our food.

We bought Princess Sparkley this little Santa hat hair clip to commemorate that it was Christmas Day and so we’d always remember that when we saw these pictures.  Our first stop after the mall was The Golden Mount or Wat Saket.

And for the awkwardest picture of the trip (at least that we captured):

 

In a tuk tuk, waiting to leave The Golden Mount.

No photographs were allowed inside where the Emerald Buddha was, but this is outside, a very jewel encrusted building.

After taking the above picture of B and I, Buddy said, “It looks like we’re at Disneyland.”

After finishing up at The Grand Palace, we took a tuk tuk and went in search of Pad Thai.  We ended up wondering around a mall, eating yummy mango smoothies, mango pudding, mango and sticky rice and mango ice cream at a place called Mango Tango and finally finding some Pad Thai for dinner.

Bangkok, Thailand- Day 2, Dec. 24

Our hotel was a bit out of the way, but just a short walk from a Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) stop that took us into town and near both the subway line and the Skytrain line.  Our first stop was a mall for an ATM to get some BAHT (divide by 30 to get a price in USD) and some food.  Thailand was great as far as people speaking English and there being more western foods and stores (including a 7-Eleven every block).  We ate delicious pasta, scrumptious sandwiches and Aunty Ann’s pretzels. Then we just sort of walked around to get a feel for Bangkok eventually ending up at the Chao Phraya River for a river cruise.

 

Our river cruise took us up the river, down and canal, back to the river and dropped us off at Wat Arun.  On the canal, I spotted these giant, alligator lizard things sunning on the bank.  We looked them up when we got back to the hotel and they are monitor lizards. The river water was gross and full of trash so I feel bad for those lizards. We also pulled up next to some boats selling stuff (floating market) and spent some time waiting in the canal lock with other river cruise boats waiting for the water to raise/lower to the right height. Squirt fell asleep.

Wat Arun – The Temple of Dawn

We’d been told ahead of time that a lot of the temples don’t allow women to wear shorts, short skirts, tank tops, flip-flops, etc.  I wasn’t sure if this included men and children or not so to play it safe, we wore pants and closed-toe shoes for the entire trip.  It was hot.  BUT, there were signs at most of the temples, women had to put on provided kimonos (and who knows how often they are cleaned), and I even saw men wearing borrowed pants.  I’m not sure about the flip flop thing because most temples make you take off your shoes. If we do this again, I’d pack a sari for PS and I to tie around our waist like a long skirt and make the boys wear zipper pant/shorts.

We took a ferry back across the river to the other side, and visited Wat Pho aka Reclining Buddha (with wild cats/kittens everywhere).

We had a tuk tuk drive us to a neighborhood where all the fancy hotels are because they are supposed to have nice lights for Christmas (it was Christmas Eve after all).

We accidentally wandered into a mall with the outdoor courtyard taken over by Santa Snoopy statues.

  

 We took this picture on the subway (or maybe SkyTrain) home because Little Guy was concerned about all the pick pocket warning signs everywhere.  We kept telling him he didn’t need to worry because he didn’t actually have anything in his pockets.  He was still concerned.

 

Our hotel was three bedrooms and for some reason, the twin beds in each room were pushed together.  I kept them like they were to prevent Squirt from rolling out.  Here’s how I found them when I went to check on how they were doing.

Christmas Day, observed

No Aebleskivers on Christmas morning for the first time in my life. 😦  I’ll have to make up for it when we return home to the States.

Saturday (Dec. 20) morning the kids woke us and Santa had visited.

Thank night, since it wasn’t really Christmas, and because we’re in China anyway, we reversed our tradition and went out for Chinese food on Christmas Day rather than Christmas Eve.  We think this place is called Jianjiang Yipin on the corner of Yongding Rd. and Fuxing Rd. a few blocks from us.

Christmas Eve, observed

Knowing we were traveling over Christmas, we picked new days to celebrate our Christmas at home. Dec. 19 was our Christmas Eve observed and Dec. 20 was our Christmas observed.

B worked Friday, came home and did Christmas Eve with us before we had a nice, turkey dinner at his school Christmas party.

Our Christmas was small this year.  1) Due to the cost of going to Thailand and Cambodia and doing lots of fun stuff there.  2) The boys only want Legos, which are expensive in China.  3) I don’t want to spend money on stuff here that we won’t be able to fit in our suitcases when we return to the States.

Normally we open our ornaments on Christmas Eve Eve but this year we opened them on our Christmas Eve observed.  They are from ChineseNativity.com. Before we move home to the States, I’d like to buy a full-sized nativity scene.

Quick pictures so we know to whom each ornament belongs.

School Christmas Party

For the first year, B’s school had a Christmas party for the international department teachers (and their families).  It was really nice.  We all got dressed up, everyone complimented the kids on how nice they looked and how well behaved they were.  The kids stuck around for the appetizers, dinner and some of the Christmas caroling before they declared boredom and requested we let them go home.  And since we were traveling over Christmas, this Friday night (Dec. 19) was our Christmas Eve (we’d done all our Christmas Eve stuff before the party) so they wanted to go home, leave Oreos out for Santa, put Squirt in bed and watch movies.

Picture coming.