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Phuket, Thailand Vacation

April 23rd, 2019 No comments

We knew we were moving to the Philippines in August 2018. Towards the end of that month our friends (living in Indonesia) posted on Facebook that they would be spending Christmas in Phuket, Thailand and asked if anyone wanted to join them. Matt & I saw the post and quickly said, YES! We met Derek & Cathy in the Philippines in 2012 and became fast friends. Our kids got along well with each other and the parents too six years ago and still today. They booked the hotel, Horizon Karon Beach Resort, and once we got to Phuket we came up with an itinerary for our duration there.

We are so excited to travel to Phuket, Thailand to see our friends!

Day 1

We rented a “Party Van” to take us to and from church
Normally this small branch in Phuket has 40 people in attendance. But because of all of the visitors and tourists during the Christmas season, there were nearly 100 people at church. One couple visiting from the states actually knows my uncle!
If we are going to stay walking distance from a beach, you better believe we were going to visit
There is a three year difference between these girls, and they hadn’t seen each other in five years. But, they never ran out of things to say.
Double Date Night for the adults inside another “Party Van”. Using the Grab app in Phuket was fun because you never knew what type of car was going to pick you up!

Day 2

View of Phuket at the start of our Half-Day Island Tour + Elephant Trekking
Mason and Blake got to hold this Sea Eagle…but we liked to call it a “Seagull-Eagle”
We got to visit the Big Buddha. Mason was pouting and didn’t want to be in the photo.
We stopped to visit Chalong Temple
Our “white monkey” getting a photo with another monkey after a show
Elephant rides for everyone
Mason getting some elephant love after our ride with other elephants
The resort had a Christmas Eve party for all of the guests and the kids got their face painted

Day 3

Christmas morning with the gifts we brought from the Philippines
We got to spend Christmas evening at FantaSea together
The evening show at FantaSea was just behind us. They make everyone turn in their phones, so there are no photos from the show
A few more mannequins at this store

Day 4

Bathing an elephant…trying NOT to think about what’s in the water
Matt trying to get the monkey to climb on him outside of Wat Suwan Khuha (Cave Temple)
Inside Wat Suwan Khuha is Buddha laying down. To show respect, all women have to cover their legs
We had a quiet bamboo river raft ride
Cooling off at a small waterfall

Day 5

Island hopping tour to Phi Phi Island and others
The kids enjoyed each other company on the boat ride and did a good job of not getting sunburned
While on a short stay on Rang Yai Island we ran into some good friends of ours. They use to live in the Philippines with us (their daughter was in Mason’s kinder and 1st grade class) and now are in Hong Kong. We had no idea each other was in Phuket for Christmas

Day 6

The “Dab” kids saying good-bye
The oldest two were glad to reconnect in Phuket
The dads that work hard to make these fun vacations possible for us
The moms who had a great time catching up…maybe we will visit them on their next assignment

More photos from Phuket here.

Cebu Vacation – Plantation Bay

April 22nd, 2019 No comments

At the end of November we had plane tickets to fly to Cebu for the long weekend. But Blake started to seem sick and after taking him to the doctors we found out that he had the “mouth” part of Hand-Foot-Mouth virus. So, Matt & the oldest two went to Plantation Bay resort in Cebu, while Blake and Tia stayed in our empty condo resting.

They got to have a private cooking class at the resort
Waiting for the boat to arrive for their island hopping tour
Their dad takes them to the resort’s club
With no one else really in the club the kids could take center stage
Massage while in the jacuzzi
These three had a great time at Plantation Bay. Hopefully Blake and Tia will be able to join them on another stay there.

Philippines Vacation – Subic Bay

April 21st, 2019 No comments

During the three years that we lived in the Philippines the first time (2013-2015) we traveled to a lot of foreign countries. Now that we are back and planning on living here for a couple of decades, we want to explore more of the Philippines! Many people travel to Subic Bay as a get-away from Manila and we finally went to see what it’s all about. November 1 & 2 are holidays here, so we drove up to Subic for a long weekend.

Day 1 – Zoobic Safari

Since our driver had the day off, Matt and I drove our huge 11 passenger Super Grandia up to Subic Bay. Our first stop was at Zoobic Safari.

The drive to Subic is quiet and full of nature
Feeding a baby tiger from a bottle
We got inside a caged jeepney and drove around a secure area where adult tigers came up to the jeepney in search of meat. The guides then threw meat on the roof of the jeepney to entice the tigers to jump on top for a fun ride.
We got to go fishing for crocodiles

Day 2 – Ocean Adventure & Water Park

In the morning we spent time at Ocean Adventure. The best dolphin and sea lion shows we have every experienced were here. They were educational and very funny. Then in the late afternoon we went to the nearby Adventure Beach Water Park. (no photos since we were busy swimming and having fun)

Ready to discover what Ocean Adventure is all about
3-D art if always fun
Kalani getting ready to feed a sea lion
Blake is excited to feed the sea lion some fish
We paid for Mason to have a dolphin encounter (he is the shirtless kid)

Day 3 – Inflatable Island

We played in Subic Bay for an hour during the mid-morning
Our scheduled time to play on this floating island of inflatables was early afternoon

We had a great time being together as a family and exploring more of the Philippines.

2018 Road Trip

July 28th, 2018 No comments

A year ago my sister asked me if I would want to drive to a family reunion together from Texas to Utah and then continue on to California to see more family. My first thought was that it would be a very long drive, but the more I thought about it the more I was wanting to do it. Just my younger sister and I in charge with seven kids. We rented a 12 passenger van which gave us three extra seat belts. On this road trip I just really wanted to go to “The Four Corners”, the Grand Canyon & Alcatraz. I didn’t really care what else we had on our agenda. My sister and I worked really well with each other. We planned most things out in advance and then my sister is good at finding other things to do to fill in time. We also were sure to schedule “down time” as well and to just enjoy our family. Overall, it was a great trip and I would do another road trip with my kids, my sister and her kids. And a bonus to the trip is that we were travelling with a 4th grader and were able to get into all of the National Parks for free by visiting Every Kid in a Park website.

Our road trip plans

Day 1

Everyone is excited to start this road trip. 2 moms and 7 kids in a 12 passenger van

An hour or so after we started driving, we got pulled over for speeding. But, the cop had compassion on us and didn’t give us a ticket.

Day 2

We were able to make it to Four Corners

Day 3

We made it to the Grand Canyon

Horseshoe Bend was free to see and worth the short “hike” to get there

Day 4 & 5

Family Reunion at the Alton Lodge in Southern Utah; where 8 out of the 9 Poulson siblings attended. In total we had about 65 people at this reunion.

Grandkids and great-grandkids that attended the family reunion

Day 6

Bryce Canyon…pictures can’t capture the complete beauty

Day 7

Woke up early to see the Balloon Festival in Provo

Grateful to see this flag wave on the 4th of July

We were able to attend Stadium of Fire where One Republic played and then watched a great firework show

Day 8

I drove up to Logan, Utah to pick up my sister and we stopped at Gossner Diary where we got some delicious long term shelf life milk that all the kids love

About 15 minutes away from Gossner Dairy is theĀ Pepperidge Farm Factory & Thrift Store where we got the “oops” goldfish which are $2 for 2 pounds

Day 9 & 10

I drove up to Heber to see a good friend from Texas and have our kids play together for a day and a half

Day 11

My sisters and I said good-bye to our brother and headed off towards California

Stretching our legs and exploring the Salt Flats on our drive west

Day 12

My sister-in-law and husband invited us to stay the night at their condo in Lake Tahoe and go tubing with their boat. We all had a blast!

Day 13

Movie morning at 8am! The Incredibles and Ant-Man & Wasp were the reason for the early morning since all other times were sold out

Day 14

I went with my mom to take in the recyclables that had been accumulating for a year. We decided to split the profit between ALL the grandkids that were in California. They all got $10 to spend however they wanted (everyone got something at the Dollar Store).

Field Trip to Sutter’s Fort

We drove by the Sacramento capital building

Family night watching the musical play “Newsies” at the Music Circus

Day 15

Another field trip. This time to Alcatraz island

Stopped near the Golden Gate Bridge to get a photo

Day 16

We had a girls morning of pedicures

For the 5 days that we were at my parent’s place, lunch/dinner time looked like this. Cousins all sitting together.

Day 17

As we were leaving California to head back toward Texas, we decided to drive through Yosemite

We did a small hike in Yosemite to see the Giant Sequoia trees

We made it to our aunt & uncle’s home where our other aunt & uncle also came by to see us and hang out. The kids were happy to see their cousins again.

Day 18 & 19

We made it safely home and logged in 5627 miles in 19 days!

More road trip photos here.

Madikwe Safari

January 27th, 2018 No comments

We have done and seen a lot of cool things on our various family vacations; and going on safari in Madikwe, South Africa was definitely one of our favorites. A five hour drive from Johannesburg (where we were staying with friends), Madikwe is a small game reserve on the border of South Africa and Botswana. There, we booked a three night safari at the Tuningi Safari Lodge, which couldn’t have been better in terms of the quality of the staff, accommodations, food, etc. Tuningi was one of the only lodges that allowed children under the age of six. So Blake was able to join us, but had to stay at the lodge with a nanny while we went on our safari drives each morning and evening.

To be out in the bush and see animals in their natural habitat was amazing. Mid-way through each of our twice-a-day sunrise/sunset safari drives, we would stop to have a snack and drink. The kids really liked having hot chocolate in the mornings and soda in the afternoon. The Rangers with us were like like real-life Crocodile Dundees in regards to their knowledge and ability to track down the wild animals.

On our last day we still woke up for our morning safari and then finished packing before we checked out and drove back to Johannesburg. We not only saw the “Big Five” (lion, elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros and leopard), but were able to see cheetah and wild dogs (which, together with the Big Five, are called the “Magnificent Seven”).

We stayed at Tuningi Lodge since they allow babies/toddlers. Other lodges would only take children six years old or older.

Reception center. The chandlers are made with porcupine needles.

Open-air kids center where there were movies, toys, and Wi-Fi.

Our large villa was amazing and very relaxing.

From the bathtub in our master bathroom suite Mason spotted an elephant outside grazing.

One night all of the guests had dinner outside near the watering hole.

The staff at Tuningi sang and danced for us during the BBQ.

Blake and Tia watching an elephant pass by our lodge.

Baboons were seen from our lodge. We were told a couple days before we arrived a bunch of baboons entered a guest’s room and stole some things.

From the lodge swimming pool we found some impalas.

One of the highlights on each safari for the kids was to stop in the bush and have a snack.

Zebras grazing

Giraffes finding some food.

Hyenas sleeping on the airstrip

We were lucky enough to find the most elusive of the big five on our first day: Leopard.

It was sweet to see this baby elephant with its mother.

African Water Buffalo

White Rhinos are pretty massive. We were told that a rhino horn is worth $300,000-$500,000 each.

This male lion didn’t want anyone taking his meal.

Our Rangers tracked paw prints and then came upon this lioness with her cubs.

Cheetah brothers blend in perfectly to their habitat. Only one cheetah wears a tracking collar since these two are always together.

This pack of African Wild Dogs have learned to use the electric fence that separates South Africa and Botswana to their advantage when hunting.

An elephant saying goodbye to another day.

 

More photos of our South African safari here.