Monday, 24 October 2016

Phuket, Thailand

Lyndon and I had a little get away over the weekend to Phuket, Thailand. It was for a for retreat for all the Asia offices, so Lyndon did not get to relax as much as I did. We still squeezed in some pool time, and swinging by the beach time. It was a fun trip with just the two of us. I loved every minute of it.

Lyndon has been busy with work and not around a lot. I have missed him so much. It was absolute bliss to spend some one on one time with him. Several people asked us if we were on our honey moon, haha. We might have been a little to public with our affection. Insert wink face emoji.

Thailand is incredible. My jaw kept dropping from seeing all the islands and gorgeous blue ocean from the airplane. I was in love before I even landed. Have you ever been to a new place and felt like you were coming home, or just so familiar with it? That is how I felt when we arrived in Thailand. I immediately felt like I belonged there. I've had that feeling with NYC, and Paris, like I was coming home and my heart was so full with joy. And I was just at peace and relaxed. Such a nice way to start any trip.

View coming down into Phuket. INCREDIBLE!
Just stunning. I could not believe how insanely beautiful it is. 
Funny thing about getting there. Lyndon and I were supposed to leave together, but that didn't happen. I was on my way to the airport with his bag and passport when he called me and said he was not going to make the flight. We figured out how to get his stuff to him, and I hopped on the plane and started the trip off by myself. He made it in time for dinner that night, seven hours later than planned, but hey, we are flexible. Doesn't matter as long as we end up together.

I got to spend the afternoon checking out the resort. I walked down to the beach. It's rainy season here in South East Asia which means the beaches are not the best to go swimming at sometimes. I did not even get in the water, but just from standing on shore I could tell that the current was really strong. It was still beautiful. My body has been longing to go to the beach, and I completely relaxed when I got down to the shore. 

I could have spent a lot more time lounging in our room. Wish the trip had been longer.

 The resort was fabulous. Our room had an American toilet init, which did make my top favorite things about the trip list, haha. We enjoyed authentic Thai cuisine, and I am now obsessed. So fresh, flavorful, and delicious! I skipped out on the events that Lyndon had to attend. I instead took a cooking class where I learned how to make , and then got a much needed (for the health of my feet) pedicure. Oh man, I needed one so so so bad. I felt bad for the lady taking care of my ugly feet, but she did a wonderful job and now I am not embarrassed when I wear sandals, which is everyday here. And we got to sing Karaoke! After our trip to Bintan we are obsessed. It was really fun. So fun, we stayed past midnight singing with friends. 

Our last day there we went to a Gibbon rehabilitation center about half an hour from our resort. It was awesome! I love Gibbons and have since they came to the Zoo Knoxville, however many years ago. Gibbons are native to Thailand, and are endangered, which breaks my heart. I learned that they are not monkeys, but apes which I did not know. The White Handed Gibbon is the one that is native to Phuket. The center takes any breed of Gibbon and ones that are not native to Phuket spend their life at the center and the White Handed Gibbons they try to rehabilitate and release them into the wild. The center is located in a national park that has park rangers patrolling for poachers, and making sure the wild life is kept safe. We learned a lot. Gibbons are very similar to us. They have emotions and depending on how they react to the therapy it is decided if they can be released or not. Although, one White Handed Gibbon name Bo, was released six times but kept coming back so the center decided to keep him there because he would not leave. All the Gibbons there are brought to the center from people who have been keeping them as pets, some of the stories are heart breaking. Never have a wild animal for a pet. We left with a greater respect for these animals.

We then hiked to a water fall not much further from the center. It was a fun hike. I was not dressed for a hike at all. We had initially planned on going to a Tao Temple, but when we looked at the map in the taxi and saw there was a Gibbon sanctuary we changed plans. So I was in a dress and sandals. Not my first time hiking like that, but it worked. It did not hinder my hiking in anyway. The waterfall was beautiful. It was the highlight of the trip for me. And then it was time to go back to Singapore. 

Probably why people kept asking us if we were on our honey moon. 

Super quick trip, but so much fun. Video of the trip below.

Thailand we will see you again. You are incredible!

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Cosette's Class Chinese Concert

Cosette has been attending a local school this past school year. She is in K1 which is the equivalent to pre-k, I think. More like first grade from all that she has been learning this year. She can read, write, and has Chinese lessons every day. She has learned and grown so much this year, I can't help but be proud of her. She is a rock star!

This performance was a big deal, well for me it was. I was so excited to see her perform. Chinese lessons has been the hardest part of school for her. They speak in Mandarin the whole time, and if you ask a question or need help you have to do it in Mandarin. Most of the time if she has anything negative to say about school, which is hardly ever, she will say that she did not like Chinese lessons because it was hard. I don't blame her. I took Japanese at University and it was hard. With this being a hard thing for her, I was excited to see the performance and how she would do. She speaks in Mandarin at home sometimes when she plays, and sings the Mandarin songs from school too. I love hearing it. And I know she is learning it because, she was rambling in what I thought was a made up language on the elevator and someone said "oh she is saying this". I don't remember what she was saying all I remember is is that a local could understand her. My baby is learning Mandarin!

I am so grateful for her to have this experience learning a language from native speakers. It's an incredible opportunity, one that I hope she will continue to pursue. I will be nudging her all the way, hinting at it ever so slightly, haha. I was born in Japan and my first language was Japanese, but once we moved back to the states we did not continue to speak it at home. At least not to us kids. I wish that I did not have to wait till University to essentially re-learn it, but that's the way it was, and I hope Cosette continues with her Chinese even after we leave Singapore. Knowing a second language is extremely useful and when you have opportunities like she has right now, it is a blessing.

Enough with my spiel about all this, and watch this video of clips I collected from all the other parents of the concert.

I am going to miss her class when the school year is over. They are a fantastic group of kids. And her teachers. You can see Chen Lao Shi, which means Teacher Chen (aka Ms. Chen as we would say in America) in Chinese. I am learning a little bit too.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Baby Steps

Raphael is walking! And has been doing so for about a month now. He was taking steps now and then, but really took off since we go back from Australia. Watching him toddle around is the cutest. He has moved quickly from walking to climbing and he is getting faster and faster, so I am sure running is right around the corner.

We go to the playground after school a lot. He has learned how to climb up the stairs and go down the big slides all by himself. It's a bit scary, but nice that he is becoming more independent. I still have to keep eyes on him at all times, and will for the rest of his life, but at least we have no more dirty knees. The crawling phase at the playground is harder than the walking one, in my opinion.

Here is a little film I made with some clips when we have been out lately and I have had the sense of mind to grab my phone and film him walking!

He is growing so quickly, he will be in nursery at the end of January! That is how crazy fast he is growing up. Grateful I get to spend everyday with this guy and witness all these changes. I take it for granted, and I need to remind myself how blessed/lucky I am to be a mom. 

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Date Night on the Quay

A couple of weeks ago we made it out for a date night. This one had been on the calendar for a while. Failed efforts to get a baby sitter for a few weeks, but finally found someone brave enough to handle our kids, just kidding. Our kids our great and they love having company over. They are at the age where they love to perform for anyone and everyone when they come over.

It was a much anticipated evening. Since coming back from Oz, Lyndon has been super busy with work. I did not see him in the light of day for a few weeks there. It was nice to get out and spend some time together.

I listen to a lot of podcasts, and I love discussing the topics with Lyndon. Our conversations usually start out like this "so I was listening to this podcast....". Luckily we are birds of a feather and he finds it all interesting. I fell in love with this guy while listening to him in class discuss all the material. He was is so smart, and articulate at getting his point across. He is everything I want to be.

We went to Clarke Quay to check it out. It's another place that has been on my list for a long time, but I did not want to take the kids and it not be kid friendly and them crying like it was the end of the world. Toddlers, man. Tons of restaurants and party places there. It has a really fun atmosphere. It is kid friendly and I am going to have to take the kids back and ride along the Quay with our scooters. They take them everywhere we go now.

Paella! Love this dish. One of our first dates after we were married living in Cambridge, we went to a Spanish restaurant and had vegetable paella like this. We are nostalgic, and paella is so so good. 

Singapore is colorful and I love it!

I love this pic, because it reminds of when we were dating/first married and Lyndon doing all these great poses. We were so young and carefree then.

We made it to the Merlion! I have been dying to go and see it ever since we have moved here and we finally, finally made it.

Of course, I am closing my eyes in this one.

Couldn't resist taking this shot. 

On our way back to the MRT, we caught a free show by the Esplanade Theatre. It's part of a series, Rhythm Nation, that has been going on this past month. We have been getting educated on all different cultures living here. Fun performance, and great way to end our evening. 

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Wallabies, Kangaroos, Koalas, Oh Yeah!

When in Australia, you cannot see to many Australian creatures. At least that is what we think. We spent our last full day at the Featherdale Wildlife Park. Brooke suggested we check it out and it was the best. It only animals native to Australia, and there was a lot of areas where you could pet them! It was an animal lovers heaven, and so much fun.

This place is the bomb because from the moment you walk in you are immediately in a free range wallaby exhibit. They were hopping around hanging out. We got to pet several and there was a momma with a baby in her pouch! We got to pet her and even her baby, but only with one finger. It was the cutest thing and another amazing thing we got to witness on this trip. This trip was full of the amazing experiences. 

He was so excited to see the wallabies and be able to touch them. He would hold his little hard up and start babbling. It was adorable. I know some people may not like zoos or animals parks like this, but I love them. They give us the opportunity to have experiences with animals and have a greater appreciation for them. So grateful for parks and zoos like this. My children have benefited so much from these experiences. 
Cassowary, living proof that birds are living dinosaurs. 
Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree, merry merry king of the bushes he. My Dad would sing this song with us all the time when we were kids. Loved seeing the bird in real life. 
And after the day before seeing so many dead wombats, we were so happy to see this live one even if it was asleep.
So many colorful birds! I did not expect Australian birds to look like something you would find in the Amazon. 
Great White Pelican. Just as ferocious as a Great White Shark.

The Park had so many Koalas. So many! They were in enclosures all over the Park. Incredible to see what twenty, thirty, forty Koalas in one place. 
And we got to meet one! Loved getting our picture with this guy. We got to pet him and hang out with him for a little bit. I loved it. And Koalas are just as soft as they look. Cuddly I don't know, but looks like it would be from him hanging on that tree.

Trying to stop him from eating the cone we are supposed to be feeding the wallaby. 
This face. 
And then this face!

These two brothers. They are going to be really good buddies. They already are. 

Momma and baby wallaby! The cutest and coolest thing to see.

You can't really see it, but this is Cosette and one of her favorite animals, the Peregrine Falcon. She was very excited to see one, regardless of what her face looks like. She loves them. 
The gang.

Last stop was to try the GIANT Aussie milk shakes at XS Expresso. Totally outrageous milkshakes that were sky high with decadent toppings. 

This was the kids one. 
Milkshake topped with cotton candy (aka fairy floss in Oz), waffle cone, and a Kinder surprise egg. That is a milkshake.

The perfect way to end our trip to Australia. I am already scheming to go back. Next stop Gold Coast. That is what I want for Christmas.
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