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Summer 2015

August 17th, 2015 No comments

We basically stayed in Manila for the whole summer. There were a few days spent in Thailand as a family, and Matt and I had a get-away to Indonesia. I tried to take the kids out to play with friends and do something active at least once a week (besides swimming at our place). I think that they had a pretty fun summer; and they didn’t kill each other. They were definitely ready to go back to school when it resumed.

First activity of the summer was to go to a 3D art gallery called Art In Island

First activity of the summer was to go to a 3D art gallery called Art In Island

Art in Island is claimed to be the largest 3D museum in Asia in terms of the number of 3D paintings available, around 200 masterpieces. The kids had a great time running around the whole building since it wasn't crowded and taking silly photos.

Art in Island is claimed to be the largest 3D museum in Asia in terms of the number of 3D paintings available, around 200 incredible pieces. The kids had a great time running around the whole building since it wasn’t crowded and taking silly photos.

We spent a morning at Active Fun where Blake loved being around the big kids who joined him in the ball pit.

We spent a morning at Active Fun where Blake loved being around the big kids who joined him in the ball pit.

At the mall we went ice skating and the kids with friends had the whole rink to themselves for nearly an hour.

At the mall we went ice skating and the kids with their friends had the whole rink to themselves for nearly an hour.

Spent a couple of hours at Kidzoona where the kids were able to dress-up, make believe and play in the ball pit.

Spent a couple of hours at Kidzoona where the kids were able to dress-up, make believe and play in the ball pit.

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Kalani got to go to a hair salon and get her hair ombre colored.

Kalani got to go to a hair salon and get her hair dyed ombre.

We had beautiful weather and lots of friends to be with while enjoying a morning at The Fun Farm.

We had beautiful weather and lots of friends to be with while enjoying a morning at The Fun Farm.

We celebrated a mom's birthday at a restaurant before going bowling. The boys were all very well behaved once the iPad was pulled out!

We celebrated a mom’s birthday at a restaurant before going bowling. The boys were all very well behaved once the iPad was pulled out!

The kids survived the summer and they have completed a full week of school already.

The kids survived the summer and they have completed a full week of school already.

Vacation – El Nido, Philippines

July 16th, 2015 1 comment

A fellow Chevron expat family booked a vacation to El Nido, Palawan in the Philippines the first weekend in May. They invited others to join them for the three-day weekend get-away. El Nido has been on our list of places to visit, so we quickly agreed to join and booked our tickets.  We stayed at Apulit Island in El Nido and had our own bungalow over the coral reef, with private stairs in the back leading right to the water. We had to take an hour plane ride to get to El Nido. Then a two hour car ride to the boat port. And then another hour or so on a boat to get to Apulit island. It was a lot of traveling before we got to enjoy the island.

For the El Nido resorts there is a private airport terminal. We are ready to go relax and play with friends.

For the El Nido resorts there is a private airport terminal. We are ready to go relax and play with friends.

Palawan island as seen from the plane...El Nido is there somewhere.

Part of the Palawan island chain as seen from the plane…El Nido is there somewhere.

The middle cottage is where we stayed at Apulit.

The middle cottage is where we stayed at Apulit.

The kids are ready for an adventure. We decided to have a private island hopping tour.

The kids are ready for an adventure. We did all enjoyed a private island hopping tour.

Snorkeling with fish was fun, but the kids really liked jumping off the boat while it was anchored.

Snorkeling with fish was fun, but the kids really liked jumping off the boat while it was anchored.

We hired a nanny to help watch Blake so Tia could snorkel and play. The nanny was not going to let Blake get sunburn!

We hired a nanny to help watch Blake so Tia could snorkel and play. The nanny was not going to let Blake get sunburned!

During our private island hopping tour, we also had our own private lunch on a deserted island. They brought the resort accommodations and food to us!

During our private island hopping tour, we also had our own private picnic lunch on a deserted island. They brought the resort accommodations and food to us!

The second day we spent time at the resort. We had fun at the beach.

The second day we spent time at the resort. We had fun at the beach.

Many hours were spent in the pool playing all sorts of swimming games.

Many hours were spent in the pool playing all sorts of swimming games.

We did some paddle boarding and kayaking as well.

We did some paddle boarding and kayaking as well.

We saw some local wildlife. This monitor lizard was very near our table during breakfast...and Matt may have tried to capture it.

We saw some local wildlife. This monitor lizard was very near our table during breakfast…and Matt may have tried to capture it (on several occasions).

Below one of the cottages we saw a stingray hanging out in the morning.

Below one of the cottages we saw a stingray hanging out in the morning.

Walking back from breakfast, we saw a baby black tip reef shark in the shallow waters near the cottages.

Walking back from breakfast, we saw a baby black tip reef shark in the shallow waters near the cottage.

While traveling to return to Manila,  to remind us that we are in the Philippines, we had to walk through two boats in order to get to the dock where our van was waiting for us. Luckily no one fell in the water.

While traveling to return to Manila, to remind us that we are in the Philippines, we had to walk through three boats in order to get to the dock where our van was waiting for us. Luckily no one fell in the water.

More photo of El Nido here.

Vacation – Kyoto, Japan

July 15th, 2015 No comments

After spending three full days in Tokyo, we took the bullet train to Kyoto and spent two full days there with another tour guide. (Our fabulous tour guide in Tokyo helped us purchase the correct train tickets) The tour guide we wanted couldn’t show us around for both days we were in Kyoto. But, Matt was able to book a private van and have the driver be our tour guide. It all worked out well and the driver then drove us the next day with our tour guide too. While in Kyoto we stayed at Ikumatsu Ryoken which is a 200 year old famous traditional Shogun home that has been turned into a traditional hotel.

Ready to leave Tokyo with our luggage and go by train to Kyoto.

Ready to leave Tokyo with our luggage and go by train to Kyoto.

We rode the Bullet Train for 2 hours and had a pleasant time napping, reading and watching the countryside zoom by.

We rode the Bullet Train for nearly three hours and had a pleasant time napping, reading and watching the countryside zoom by.

And since we took the train, we got to see all of the stores that are underground near the subway and train stations. Japanese bakery is very tasty with a wide variety.

And since we took the train, we got to see all of the stores that are underground near the subway and train stations. This Japanese bakery was very tasty with a wide variety.

Day 1

Our driver and the van that we rode around in Kyoto.

Our driver and the van that we rode around in Kyoto.

We found a Japanese anime store. Now we need to figure out what/who all the characters are that we saw.

This is the Miyazaki Anime store. Now we need to figure out what/who all the characters are that we saw.

We saw a bunch of ladies dressed in kimonos and got a photo with them. Come to find out that you can pay to wear a kimono and visit tourist places and get a discount for wearing a kimono. Plus many people ask to take a photo of you dressed up!

We saw a bunch of ladies dressed in kimonos and got a photo with them. Come to find out that you can pay to wear a kimono and visit tourist places and get a discount for wearing a kimono. Plus many people ask to take a photo of you dressed up!

We saw various school students at the tourist places we were visiting. Matt decided to make them all smile and take a photo with a group of school girls.

We saw various school students at the tourist places we were visiting. Matt decided to make them all smile and take a photo with a group of school girls.

It was rainy while we visited Heian Shrine, but the gardens were so lovely.

It was rainy while we visited Heian Shrine, but the gardens were so lovely.

Ryoanji Temple Rock Garden has 15 big rocks, but you can't see all 15 at the same time from any one location.

Ryoanji Temple Rock Garden has 15 big rocks, but you can’t see all 15 at the same time from any one location.

The Golden Pavilion

The Golden Pavilion. The bottom part is not made out of gold because nothing is perfect in life, only God. And there is always room to improve.

 

Day 2

Lovely Kyoto.

Lovely Kyoto.

Cherry blossoms in full bloom here at the cherry blossom tunnel.

Cherry blossoms in full bloom here at the cherry blossom tunnel.

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is pretty amazing with hundred of bamboos all around.

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is pretty amazing with hundred of bamboos all around.

Fushimi Inari Shrine has hundreds of these orange pagodas in a line.

Fushimi Inari Shrine has hundreds of these orange shrines in a line.

Tenryu-ji Temple is so peachful

Tenryu-ji Temple is so peachful

Even Mason can sit and and meditate in Kyoto.

Even Mason can sit still and meditate in Kyoto.

We all got really good at taking off our shoes before entering museums and other buildings in Japan.

We all got really good at taking off our shoes before entering museums and other buildings in Japan.

All of the strange and yummy treats that we brought home from Japan.

All of the strange and yummy treats that we brought home from Japan.

If we are ever asked to live in Japan, we would be okay with that! We loved the people, the food and the beauty of the land. More photos of Kyoto here.

Vacation – Tokyo, Japan

July 14th, 2015 No comments

After spending two full days in South Korea, we took a two hour flight to Tokyo during our Easter break. Last year we wanted to go see the Cherry Blossoms in Japan, but we decided too late in the year and all hotels and flights were full. This year Matt made our reservations early and we were able to travel to Tokyo and also Kyoto. While in Tokyo we stayed at the Hyatt in Shinjuku and had a superb tour guide that we found through Viator.com. Yuka was fantastic with the kids and had everything lined up for us. She even made changes last minute to our itinerary since the weather was bad. We highly recommend her to anyone wanting to visit Tokyo. She use to work for an Australian tour company, so she has an Australian accent when she speaks English!

Day 1

Our first stop was to Tsukiji fish market.  This market has been open since 1935, but will be moving to the other side of the river soon.

Our first stop was to Tsukiji fish market. This market has been open since 1935, but will be moving to the other side of the river soon since the building is so old.

With over 60,000 employee at Tsukiji fish market, not many people get to ride on these trucks that they use to take the fish order from vendor to customer. But, we got lucky and a nice man let the kids jump on for a photo.

With over 60,000 employees at Tsukiji fish market, not many people get to ride on these trucks that they use to take the fish orders from vendor to customer. But, we got lucky and a nice man invited the kids to jump on for a photo.

We were able to have beautiful weather while exploring Hama-Rikyu Garden

We were blessed with beautiful weather while exploring Hama-Rikyu Garden.

We saw a couple of different bride/grooms while walking the garden. This bride/groom where nice enough to let us take a picture with them during this photo shoot.

We saw a couple of different bride/grooms while walking the Hama-Rikyu Garden. This couple were nice enough to let us take a picture with them during their photo shoot.

We came to Japan to see the Cherry Blossom Trees and we had beautiful weather for a family photo.

We came to Japan to see the Cherry Blossom Trees and we had beautiful weather for a family photo.

We took advantage of the nice weather and had bento box lunch outside with locals.

We took advantage of the nice weather and had bento box lunch outside with locals.

Sesoji Temple

Sensoji Temple is the oldest Buddha Temple in Tokyo. It is home to a small gold Goddess of Mercy statue.

Just outside the gate of Sensoji Temple is a large souninir shopping area.

Just outside the gate of Sensoji Temple is Nakamise Shopping street which is a large souvenir shopping area.

Day 2

(can’t remember everything we did on this day)

We went to the Honda showroom and got to see ASIMO.

We went to the Honda showroom and got to see the famous Honda robot: ASIMO.

Mason really liked the motorcycles at the Honda showroom and wants this one.

Mason really liked the motorcycles at the Honda showroom.

We got to experience the Shibuya Scramble at this crazy intersection.

We got to experience the Shibuya Scramble at this crazy intersection.

Day 3

We got to have a private Aikido class for about an hour.

Our tour guide arranged a private Aikido class, which we all loved.

Blake even got in on the action of learning the proper way to fall in the Aikido class.

Blake even got in on the action of learning the proper way to fall in the Aikido class.

It is rainy and cold, but we made it to see The Great Buddha "Kamakura" which is 13.4 meters high including pedestal.

It was rainy and cold, but we made it to see The Great Buddha “Kamakura” which is 13.4 meters high including pedestal.

A big hit for us was making our own "Cup of Noodles". We designed the cup, decided the seasoning and ingredients. And then got it packaged and ready to take home.

A big hit for us was making our own “Cup of Noodles”. We designed the cup, picked the seasoning and ingredients. And then got it packaged and ready to take home.

We walked around the Cup Noodles museum and learned about the history of Cup Noodles and also played at the interactive displays.

We walked around the Cup Noodles museum and learned about the history of Cup Noodles and also played at the interactive displays.

We went to the Science Center where TeamLab had a special exhibit. Mason colored a character on paper and then it got scanned and placed on the screen behind him. The character then interacts with other characters on the screen.

We went to the Yokohama Science Center where TeamLab had a special exhibit. Mason colored a character on paper and then had it scanned into an interactive simulation where it animates and interacts with other characters on the screen.

Last place to visit was Meiji Shrine. It is a really large area that the city has been cultivating to make it a beautiful garden/forest for decades.

Last place to visit was Meiji Shrine. It is a really large forested garden area that the city has been cultivating for decades.

We had a great time in Tokyo. Especially since we had such a wonderful tour guide. She made our time there great even though it was rainy and cold two out of the three days we were there.

We had a great time in Tokyo. Especially since we had such a wonderful tour guide. Yuka made our time there great, even though it was rainy and cold two out of the three days we were there.

Mason left his jacket in the van our first day in Tokyo. Our tour guide helped us contact the van company so we could get it back. On our last day (and after paying $8 USD) we got a package that had his jacket in it. But, it was this black jacket that fits Tia, rather than his silver hooded jacket that fits him!

Mason left his jacket in the van our first day in Tokyo. Our tour guide helped us contact the van company so we could get it back. On our last day (and after paying $10 USD) we got a package that had his jacket in it. But, it was this black jacket that fits Tia, rather than his silver hooded jacket that fits him!

More photos of Tokyo here.

Vacation – Korea

July 11th, 2015 No comments

For Easter break we visited Korea and had 2 full days to explore. The flight from the Philippines to Korea was only four hours which is fantastic, especially since we were traveling with nine month old Blake. We stayed at The Classic 500 which was large and spacious, like a serviced apartment. And as always, we hired a tour guide to show us around. Our first impression of Korea wasn’t fantastic. We were stuck in traffic for over two hours trying to get to our hotel. And we had the misconception that Korea would be very clean and orderly, like how we imagined Japan to be. Our tour guide said, “Korea is in the middle of many things with China and Japan…China is dirty/poor and Japan is clean, orderly, and well-off. And Korea falls somewhere between the two.”

Day 1

Us with our tour guide and his van.

Us with our tour guide and his van.

Our first stop was to try to find a painting and we looked at this Korean Flea Market. This was like the Filipino Greenhills and a thrift store's baby.

Our first stop was to try to find a painting and we looked at this Korean Flea Market. This place was like a cross between Greenhills (in Manila) and a U.S. thrift store.

The USA has the White House, but Korea has the Blue House for their President.

Royal Guards with tourists at Gwanghwanum gate at Gyeongbokgung Palace

Royal Guards with tourists at Gwanghwanum gate at Gyeongbokgung Palace

While waiting to purchase this painting, some people wanted to know if Matt was a Hollywood actor!

While purchasing this painting from the pictured artist, some locals walking by asked our tour guide if Matt was a Hollywood actor!

After lunch we saw these street performers doing the "Farmers Dance"

After lunch we saw these street performers doing the “Farmer’s Dance”

We went inside the Samsung showroom and had fun playing with the different interactive things on displayed.

We went inside the Samsung showroom and had fun playing with the different interactive things on display.

We walked around the street of Gangnam.

We walked around the streets of Gangnam.

Gangnam Style

Gangnam Style

We walked the streets of Bukchon-ro where people live in the old style Korean homes.

We walked the streets of Bukchon Hanok Village where people live in the old style Korean homes.

To end the day we went to the Seoul Tower and looked out over the city.

To end the day we went to the North Seoul Tower and looked out over the city.

 

Day 2

We drove an hour to a Korean Folk Village where people were in costume and you could see homes to how things use to be.

We drove an hour to a Korean Folk Village where people were in costume and you could see homes to how things use to be.

Kalani crossing one of the three different kinds of bridges at the Korean Folk Village.

Kalani crossing one of the three different kinds of bridges at the Korean Folk Village.

For lunch we stopped at a Korean BBQ restaurant and it was so good.

For lunch we stopped at a Korean BBQ restaurant and it was so good.

In Korea there are so many side dishes during meal time.

In Korea there are so many side dishes during meal time.

Matt wanted to hold Blake in the Moby Wrap while we walked around the South Gate Market.

Matt wanted to hold Blake in the Moby Wrap while we walked around the South Gate Market.

A highlight of our time in Korea was visiting Baskin Robbins everyday. It took Mason a few trips before he realized that “BR” is Baskin Robbins.

Photos of our Korean Vacation here.

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