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Vacation – Brunei

May 29th, 2014 No comments

The last country we visited during spring break was Brunei. We were excited to visit this country since the only cousins from the Philippines that we had not met yet live in Brunei and we were anxious to meet them. Matt booked us a wonderful tour guide through ViatorEsjay was a great fit for our family and easy to work with, and without her I don’t know how we would have gotten around since there are NO taxis in Brunei. We only had 2.5 days in Brunei and at first the kids were done traveling, but they had a wonderful time meeting our cousins and seeing the sites of Brunei.

Day 1

Our flight arrived in Brunei around midnight from Manila

Our flight arrived in Brunei around midnight from Manila

We spent our first afternoon swimming with our cousins at the Radisson Hotel pool

We spent our first afternoon swimming with our cousins at the Radisson Hotel pool

Royal Regalia Museum you can see things that the Sultan has used like this chariot that is about 50 years old

Royal Regalia Museum, where you can see things that the Sultan has used; like this chariot that is about 50 years old

Brunei has proboscis monkeys in the wild; along with other animals that we were fortunate enough to see

Brunei has proboscis monkeys in the wild; along with other animals that we were fortunate enough to see

We visited a water village that we had to take a "water taxi" to reach. There was a home that was open to tourist and it was interesting to see how people live at this water village

We visited a water village that we had to take a “water taxi” to reach. There was a home that was open to tourists and it was interesting to see how people live at this water village

From the water village we took a boat to try to find some wild animals. Our bout driver spotted this crocodile

From the water village we took a boat to try to find some wild animals. Our boat driver spotted this crocodile.

We also found these monkeys near the water edge. We also found proboscis monkeys and a lizard, but they were too far for a clear photo

We also found these monkeys near the water edge. We also found proboscis monkeys and a lizard, but they were too far for a clear photo.

Esjay, our tour guide, was well prepared and brought along binoculars that Mason loved using

Esjay, our tour guide, was well prepared and brought along binoculars that Mason loved using

 Day 2

We also got to tour around the Mosque that the current Sultan had built. It caught me a bit off guard when the men wouldn't even acknowledge me or the kids while there

We also got to tour around a Mosque that the current Sultan had built. It caught me a bit off guard when the men wouldn’t even acknowledge me or the kids while there.

In order to tour the mosque we had to dress appropriately and remove our shoes

In order to tour the mosque we had to dress appropriately and remove our shoes

Our tour guide drove us around Brunei and told us how the country/government functions. This is a government built home.

Our tour guide drove us around Brunei and told us how the country/government functions. This is a subsidized government home.

At the Marco Polo Club there is an elephant kept there. We were told that the elephant belongs to the Sultan's sister.

At the Polo Club there is an elephant kept there. We were told that the elephant belongs to the Sultan’s sister.

Our last night we stayed at the Empire Resort and it was spectacular. The kids didn't want to leave.

Our last night we stayed at the Empire Resort and it was spectacular. The kids didn’t want to leave.

Matt took Kalani kayaking for the first time in one of the pools of the Empire while Mason and I hung out at the kids pool/playground.

Matt took Kalani kayaking for the first time in one of the pools of the Empire while Mason and I hung out at the kids pool/playground.

Our family in Brunei stayed with us at the airport while we waited to board our plane. We LOVED being with them and getting to know them better...Family is what it is all about

Our family in Brunei stayed with us at the airport while we waited to board our plane. We LOVED being with them and getting to know them better…Family is what it’s all about!

More photos of Brunei here.

Categories: Family, Travel Tags: , , , , , ,

Vacation – Myanmar (Burma)

May 28th, 2014 No comments

Burma, officially the “Republic of the Union of Myanmar” (commonly shortened as Myanmar) was an adventure. We had 4.5 days there and went to 3 different cities via airplane. So basically everyday (except for one) we were on a plane and visiting a new part of the country. The Myanmar government hasn’t been very open to tourism tour in the past and only in the recent years have they made it easier for foreigners to come visit. And because it has had “closed boarders” it is a country fairly untouched and well preserved in its heritage. We booked a tour guide through Tint Tint Travel but were not that impressed with our guide. She spoke French, some Spanish, plus the native language, but her English was very poor. It was easier for us to understand her in French or Spanish than it was in English. I would also eavesdrop on other tour guides in Spanish to figure out what exactly we were looking at and why it was important. So, the tour guide wasn’t awesome, but we still had an enjoyable time in the country.

It’s also worth noting that our vacation happened to fall during “Thingyan” — the Buddhist New Years Water Festival. The entire country celebrates for 3-4 days by engaging in non-stop water fights, concerts, disco dances, parties, etc. It was an unbelievable spectacle, and we had a blast participating!

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We arrived at the Yangon Airport and were greeted by our tour guide, the owner of the company and our driver

We arrived at the Yangon Airport and were greeted by our tour guide, the owner of the company and our driver

Straight from the airport we headed to a family's home to watch a puppet show...this group has traveled to the USA to perform their show

Straight from the airport we headed to a family’s home to watch the famous Htwe Oo Myanmar Puppet show…this group has traveled to the USA to perform their show

We took this type of airplane nearly daily to travel to our next city. At the airport we never once showed our ID since we had our tour guide with us and took care of everything for us

We took this type of airplane nearly daily to travel to our next city. At the airport we never once showed our ID since we had our tour guide with us and took care of everything for us while traveling domestically

We stayed at the "Amazing Bagan Resort" and really enjoyed the pool, especially in the afternoon when it was hot

We stayed at the “Amazing Bagan Resort” and really enjoyed the pool, especially in the afternoon when it was hot

Our first stop in Bagan was at the Nyong U Market. They have produce, meat, souvenirs, etc

Our first stop in Bagan was at the Nyong U Market. They have produce, meat, souvenirs, etc

With our tour guide at the Shwezigone Pagoda, which was one of many that we saw in Bagan.

With our tour guide at the Shwezigone Pagoda, which was one of many that we saw in Bagan.

At the top of a Pagoda during sunset. So many pagodas in Myanmar. It would have been fun to take a hot air balloon and see all of the pagodas from that view point

At the top of a Pagoda during sunset. So many pagodas in Myanmar. It would have been fun to take a hot air balloon and see all of the pagodas from that view point (but the balloons don’t operate in the summer).

We went to a lacquer-ware factory to see how they make things. This shows the different steps to making something from lacquer

We went to a lacquer-ware factory to see how they make things. This shows the different steps to making something from lacquer

In Bagan they have a Golden Palace...this only shows half of the palace

In Bagan they have a Golden Palace…this only shows half of the palace

While in Bagan the "Water Festival" started. The locals are out getting people wet and painting faces

While in Bagan the “Water Festival” started. The locals are out getting people wet and painting faces.

After 2 nights in Bagan, we went to Madalay and stayed at the Mandalay City hotel

After 2 nights in Bagan, we went to Mandalay and stayed at the Mandalay City hotel

We went to U Bein Bridge which was super busy and crowded

We went to U Bein Bridge which was super busy and crowded

We visited a monastery around lunch time and saw the monk procession where they bring in their donations for the day and then get their lunch meal

We visited a monastery around lunch time and saw the monk procession where they bring in their donations for the day and then get their lunch meal

Mason ready to all people to prayer with a prayer gong

Mason ready to call people to prayer with a prayer gong

Ladies could only get so close to a Buddha to worship

Ladies could only get so close to a Buddha to worship

So many people have put gold flakes on this Buddha that he looks like he is getting fat

So many people have put gold flakes on this Buddha that he looks like he is getting fat

We went to the Mandalay Hill Pagoda and had a beautiful view of the city and also saw the beautiful pagoda

We went to the Mandalay Hill Pagoda and had a beautiful view of the city and also saw the beautiful pagoda

The most memorable part of Myanmar was the "country-wide water fight!" We were able to open the sun-roof to our van and have people throw water on us...yes it got the van completely soaked inside

The most memorable part of Myanmar was the “country-wide water fight!” (Thingyan) We were able to open the sun-roof to our van and have people throw water on us…yes it got the van completely soaked inside

The locals here are making a traditional sugar snack that is only eaten during the Water Festival

The locals here are making a traditional sugar snack that is only eaten during the Water Festival

Matt and Kalani got out of the van and started dancing with all of the locals while getting water thrown on them

Matt and Kalani got out of the van and started dancing with all of the locals while getting water thrown on them

Matt and the kids joined in the fun of throwing water on people as they drove by

Matt and the kids joined in the fun of throwing water on people as they drove by

Yangon was first and last city we visited in Myanmar. They had awesome water stations to get wet

Yangon was first and last city we visited in Myanmar. They had awesome water stations to get wet

Getting wet with water wasn't bad since it was mostly warm water. But then there are some people who buy ice and pour ice cold water on you and of course you scream and they laugh

Getting wet with water wasn’t bad since it was mostly warm water. But then there are some people who buy ice and pour ice cold water on you and of course you scream and they laugh

They were done getting wet so they went inside the cab of the truck we had and were so much more happy

The kids were done getting wet so they went inside the cab of the truck we had and were so much more happy

Our very last stop in Myanmar was at Shwedagon Pagoda. It is pretty amazing looking especially at night

Our very last stop in Myanmar was at Shwedagon Pagoda. It is pretty amazing looking especially at night

More photos of Myanmar (Burma) here.

Categories: Family, Travel Tags: , , , , , ,

Mason turns 5

May 26th, 2014 3 comments

We have had Ma$on Man in our family for 5 years now! We love the fun little boy that he is with his sweet personality. He has had a busy year traveling around the world and getting a tooth pulled out due to infection and then losing 2 baby teeth because his adult teeth were already coming in. And this coming year will be another adventure with him starting kindergarten and becoming a big brother.

Australia - May 2013

Australia – May 2013

Singapore - July 2013

Singapore – July 2013

Malaysia - July 2013

Malaysia – July 2013

Vietnam - October 2013

Vietnam – October 2013

California, USA - November 2013

California, USA – November 2013

Indonesia - February 2014

Indonesia – January 2014

Philippines - February 2014

Philippines – February 2014

China - March 2014

China – March 2014

Laos - April 2014

Laos – April 2014

Myanmar - April 2014

Myanmar – April 2014

Brunei - April 2014

Brunei – April 2014

A favorite pose, making muscles and kissing them

A favorite pose, making muscles and kissing them

We love the twinkle in his eyes

We love the twinkle in his eyes

5 facts about Mason:

-Loves babies

-Our “Adventure Boy”

-Good singer & swimmer

-Enjoying doing school with his mom

-Loves Skylanders, Legos, Super Heroes, Dinosaurs, etc.

Categories: Family Tags: ,

Vientiane & Vang Vieng, Laos Vacation

May 22nd, 2014 No comments

After we got back from Vietnam, I was looking at Google maps and noticed that Laos was right next to Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. When I first made the suggestion that we should go visit Laos, it was met with some resistance. But, then it became a reality. We flew into Vientiane and as soon as we got off the plane our tour guide Chansay was there and we were off enjoying the country. Matt found Chansay on Viator, and then on Facebook as well. He was friendly and knowledgeable. His English isn’t perfect, but we were able to communicate and have a wonderful 2.5 days in Laos.

Day 1

Directly from the airport we went to a night market in

Directly from the airport we went to a night market in Vientiane that was next to the Mekong Delta…then we went to Dhavara hotel for a night’s stay

Ho Pra Keo in Vientiane  was originally constructed in 1565 as the Lao royal family’s personal chapel, and as a home for the Emerald Buddha after it was snatched from northern Siam (Thailand). This sacred jade statue was reclaimed by the Siamese in 1778 and now sits in Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok which we saw in 2013.

Ho Pra Keo in Vientiane was originally constructed in 1565 as the Lao royal family’s personal chapel, and as a home for the Emerald Buddha after it was snatched from northern Siam (Thailand). This sacred jade statue was reclaimed by the Siamese in 1778 and now sits in Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok which we saw in 2013.

Cool carvings out of tree trunks at Ho Pra Keo

Cool carvings out of tree trunks at Ho Pra Keo

Wat Si Saket located in Vientiane is famous for its cloister wall housing thousands of tiny Buddha images and rows with hundreds of seated Buddhas. These images mainly date from the 16th and 19th centuries and come in all sizes and are made from wood, stone and bronze – more than 6,800 Buddhas in total.

Wat Si Saket located in Vientiane is famous for its cloister wall housing thousands of tiny Buddha images and rows with hundreds of seated Buddhas. These images mainly date from the 16th and 19th centuries and come in all sizes and are made from wood, stone and bronze – more than 6,800 Buddhas in total.

Laying Buddha at Pha That Luang reminded us of Thailand since they have one of these too.

Laying Buddha at Pha That Luang reminded us of Thailand since they have one of these too.

One form of the local transportation in Laos

One form of the local transportation in Laos

Inside an indoor market/swap meet type place.  Almost every country in Asia has something like this

Inside an indoor market/swap meet type place. Almost every country in Asia has something like this

The Patuxai is dedicated to those who fought in the struggle for independence from France...and is very similar to the Arch de Triomphe in France, although this one in Laos has shops inside.

The Patuxai is dedicated to those who fought in the struggle for independence from France…and is very similar to the Arch de Triomphe in France, although this one in Laos has shops inside.

View of Vientaine from Patuxai

View of Vientiane from the Patuxai

Day 2

We drove 3 hours from Vientiane to Vang Vieng and stayed at the Riverside Boutique Resort

We drove 3 hours from Vientiane to Vang Vieng and stayed at the Riverside Boutique Resort

They day started out cloudy and rainy, but we still had a great time and enjoyed the beautiful scenery.

They day started out cloudy and rainy, but we still had a great time and enjoyed the beautiful scenery

First stop was to Tham Chang Cave and we had to climb a bunch of stairs to get there.

First stop was to Tham Chang Cave and we had to climb a bunch of stairs to get there.

Inside Tham Chang Cave

Inside Tham Chang Cave

Mason praying inside the "Elephant Temple"

Mason praying inside the “Elephant Cave”

A Laoation tractor, also used as a means of transportation on the road for locals

A Laoation tractor, also used as a means of transportation on the road for locals

Outside of the Tham Nam Water cave the kids had a great time playing with the inner tubes...inside the cave was pitch black expect for the headlights that we wore

Outside of the Tham Nam Water cave the kids had a great time playing with the inner tubes…inside the cave was pitch black expect for the headlights that we wore

We had a "Sunset Boat Ride" although we really couldn't see the sunset. Still we all had a good time and saw a lot of foreigners looking like they were enjoying spring break as well.

We had a “Sunset Boat Ride” although we really couldn’t see the sunset. Still we all had a good time and saw a lot of foreigners looking like they were enjoying spring break as well.

All the food that we ate in Laos was DELICIOUS!

All the food that we ate in Laos was DELICIOUS!

We are big fans of family massages when they are cheap

We are big fans of family massages when they are cheap

The Farley Family enjoyed Laos and all that we were able to see and do there

The Farley Family enjoyed Laos and all that we were able to see and do there

And thanks to our wonderful tour guide Chansay...and if he is booked, his fiance is also a tour guide!

And thanks to our wonderful tour guide Chansay…and if he is booked, his fiance is also a tour guide!

More photos of our Laos vacation here.

Categories: Family, Travel Tags: , , , , , ,

Spring Break Vacation 2014

May 22nd, 2014 No comments

Kalani got a week and a half off for spring break this year. So, that meant we were going on vacation! In planning and preparing for our spring break vacation we realized that we were 3 countries shy of visiting all of the 10 ASEAN Countries. So, that meant we were headed to Laos, Myanmar & Brunei. Fitting 3 countries into about 12 days took a lot of planning, bribing and a sense of adventure! We had 2.5 days in Laos, 4.5 days in Myanmar (Burma), 1 day rest back in the Philippines (to wash clothes and re-pack), 2.5 days in Brunei. It was a great vacation and we made some wonderful memories. Blog post on each country to follow.

Our schedule for Spring Break 2014

Our schedule for Spring Break 2014