Saturday, November 23, 2013


Our last trip in China was to Xi'an to see the Terracotta Warriors. This was an amazing archeological site that dates back to around the third century BC. The Emperor Qin had this constructed for his burial. Each warrior is unique and it is estimated that there are over 8000 soldiers. We had a wonderful tour guide who gave us a historical account of Emperor Qin. We also saw the farmer who discovered the site while digging a well in 1974. He currently sits in the gift shop and signs books for the hundreds of tourists who visit the site on a daily basis.

Xi'an is an ancient city which is credited as the most Eastern point of the Silk Road. We were able to walk and bike around the ancient city walls. It was a great experience to get out and see the blend of the modern city and many of the century old buildings within the walls.

There is a small Muslim culture that is present in Xi'an and we enjoyed the remainder of our short visit walking and sampling the foods in the Muslim corridor.

This was a short weekend trip that we were thankful that we were able to squeeze in before we left China.
A small sampling of the Tarracotta Warriors.

This picture gives you an idea as to the size of the excavation site.

Notice that each soldier is unique.

Each warrior was originally painted in bright colors. Once the air hits these ancient pieces, the paint quickly fades away.

One of the bronze chariots.

On top of the ancient city wall.

Cycling around the city on top of the wall.

Walking through the Muslim corridor.

Winter Break Pt II

Christmas Eve was enjoyed by all where we had Turkey with all of the fixings with several QSI families in Shekou. Thank you to Grant and Paula for hosting! Good times were had by all.

Christmas Day arrived and we had to travel to Cebu in the Philippines. It was supposed to be a nice beach vacation on Bohol Island. Unfortunately, with Nicholas in a cast, we had to find other options.

We arrived late in Cebu on the 25th and spent one night at a hotel close to the airport. The next day we were to catch a ferry to Bohol. Well, Mother Nature had other plans. A typhoon kept all ferries from traveling and we were left stranded on the dock. We found a nice hotel close to the ferry terminal and we decided to hire a driver and toured Cebu for the day.

Fort San Pedro
(A lot of history since 1565. The Japanese occupied the fort during WW II)

Magellan's Cross
(This preserved cross is the original cross Magellan used to symbolize the colonization of Cebu.)

Bantayan Church (Cebu)
(construction started in 1591 and was completed in 1909)

Chief Lapu Lapu
(liberated Cebu from the Spaniards and is credited with killing Magellan)
We were able to take a ferry to Bohol and enjoyed several days touring the island. Our intention was to use the island of Bohol as a beach destination where we could enjoy the sun, the surf, and the sand. With Nicholas in a cast, we had to get creative. In reality, we ended up doing a lot of amazing tours on the island. We went on a river tour of the Loboc River. On the tour, we heard a choir of children singing to us from a local school. We realize that this was a tourist attraction, however, we were happy to help support the local economy.

We went to a tarsier monkey conservatory on the interior of the island. These are the smallest primates. They are nocturnal which explains their enormous eyes. We wonder if Steven Spielberg used these tiny creatures to inspire his movie "Gremlins."

We toured Hinagdanan Cave. The cave was accidentally discovered by the landowner after working the land. Bohol has around 1400 caves. It was pretty amazing with all of the stalactites and stalagmites and the lagoon in the interior.

The Chocolate Hills was a favorite by all. We enjoyed the views of the countryside from atop one of the hills.

We toured the Bohol Bee Farm. This is a favorite destination by many of the teachers in Shekou. The food is all natural and is grown exclusively on this working farm. We toured the site and enjoyed a nice meal and ate their homemade ice-cream.

We did manage to do a snorkeling trip despite Nicholas' broken arm. We did manage to see some amazing wildlife. Kristie did see a sea turtle as well. Mike's exploration was cut short. Nicholas was staying on the boat and he started to get a little upset being left with the Philippine tour guides. He started to cry and the men kept saying, "Don't cry, baby." Nicholas misinterpreted what they were saying and heard them calling him a cry-baby. This got him more upset and caused him to cry even harder. The guide told me that my baby was crying and I got back to the boat and calmed him down. The good news is all is forgiven and we all had a good laugh.

After Bohol, we went to a resort on Cebu. We were thankful that we were only there for a few days. The beach was washed out from a previous typhoon and there was not much to do on the resort other than swim at the pool. We made the best of it. The staff hosted a New Years Eve party and invited us to eat with them. The hospitality that was offered by the local Filipinos was very kind. A lot of local dishes were presented and was enjoyed by all.

Loboc River
Local children entertaining us on the Loboc River tour. 
Our Lady of Assumption in Bohol
One of the many fresco paintings on the inside of the cathedral. 

Suspension bridge in Bohol

Tarsier Monkey

Exploring the beach in Bohol

Inside a cave in Bohol 

Chocolate Hills

Nicholas and Mom enjoying the pool in Cebu

Sunset in Cebu

Friday, February 15, 2013

Winter Break Pt I

A lot has happened since October. We have had a lot happen to us in the past several months. We believe we will put several posts to keep events separated.

We started our Winter Break in Hong Kong. We have a few more things to see in our backyard that everyone tells us we must see. Plus, we wanted to stay home for Christmas this year instead of trying to figure out when to squeeze the holiday in while we travel.

We spent a day hiking at Lantau Island. It was great to get out and about. It was a rigorous hike up and down a mountain. The kids enjoyed the hike despite the occasional gripes along the way up. Some amazing views of Hong Kong during our hike.

Walking up the mountain...are we ever going to get to the top?
From there, we went to Hong Kong Disneyland. We spent the day with the Carpenter's (friends of ours in Shenzhen). We believe that Disney is one of America's great exports. Mickey is enjoyed by everyone!

Disney knows how to do an American Christmas.
Our final day was spent at the museums in Hong Kong. The Space Museum was a favorite. Thomas enjoyed the moon walk simulator. Jonathan and Nicholas were too short and Mike was too big and Krisite had no desire to try it. We all tried the space walk simulator. It was designed to have a laser light hit 3 objects on a wall while simulating how a space suit that is used during NASA space walks reacts. We couldn't believe that Kristie was able to meet the objective with no difficulties. All the males in the household could not believe our years of training on the Nintendo Wii did not transfer over to the simulator. 

Our pictures did not do the show justice.
We completed our Hong Kong journey with the Symphony of Lights over Victoria Harbor. It is the longest running permanent light and sound show. It is worth seeing if you are spending time in Hong Kong. It was a great way to end a day of touring with a latte and hot chocolate.

Our family returned to Shenzhen hoping to wait for Santa Claus to arrive. Unfortunately, fate had a different plan. Nicholas had the misfortune to fall from a zip line at the playground by our house and managed to break two bones in his forearm. Dad and Nicholas made a trip back to Hong Kong where Nicholas had to have surgery to put pins in his arm in order to hold his bones in place for six long weeks. This of course was Kristie's biggest nightmares about moving overseas. What if one of the kids gets hurt? Fortunately, Hong Kong has several fantastic hospitals. The doctors and nurses at Adventist Hospital took very good care of Nicholas.

What a Trooper!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

October Break in Yangshuo, China!

We spent the Chinese holiday in rural China, outside the town of Yangshuo.  We stayed at a place recommended to us by some friends, the Yangshuo Outside Inn.  It is owned and operated by a European who decided 11 years ago to transform some simple, traditional mud dwellings into a hotel.  It is a really fun place to stay.  He has a pool table, ping pong table, and toys for the kids.  He has bikes to rent cheaply for the day.  There is a good restaurant on site which is where we ate most of the time.  We did venture into town for an evening and at a really good Indian restaurant.  Yumm!  Most of the week we spent outside.  We hiked up to a plateau in the Karst Mountains. We kayaked down the Li River.  We biked in the countryside for hours to local destinations and through small rural villages.  We took our time and stopped at anything that looked worthy of exploring.  We found a bee keeper asleep in his tent next to  his hives.  We woke him up and shared some hot honey water and bought honey right out of the hive.  We had tea in a 100 year old home from the Qing Dynasty that is now for rent for vacationers.  We went out on a bamboo raft to watch fishermen fish with cormorants.  And then got to have one perch on our arms!  It was a very fun week.  Nice to be outside in nature, away from the smog of the big city.  It was really interesting to see a different side of China.  Rural verses the Big City life with which we have grown accustomed.

The Outside Inn

Kayaking on the Yi River

Biking around the Karst Mountains

Buying honey from a local bee keeper

 Honey Tea is delicious

Cormorant Fisherman with his bird 

Passion Fruit is so good!

Local boy playing good guy vs bad guy. I think we are the bad guys.

Is there rice in China? Absolutely!

A fish hatchery

Local farm

We got lost a few times

Hiking to the plateau 

We got lost...again

We made it out of the wilderness alive!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Back to Shekou, China!

We arrived back to Shekou two weeks ago to begin our second year living here.  It was actually really nice to come back.  Such a more pleasant experience.  We really felt like we were "coming home".  No one is homesick.  No one has cried or said they hated it here.  Including Mom!  :)  I wasn't sure that we'd feel this way since they sold our apartment the last week of school and moved all of our things into a new place.  We did get to see it before we left, however, so we knew where we would be living. We like it so much better than where we were, that it has helped make the transition back even better.  We are now living in a small house.  It has a tiny yard, including a tiny swing set in front of the house, that the boys love.  We are living so close to school, which is one of the best parts.  It takes the boys and I 5 minutes to walk to school.  Mike is still farther away at the High School, but he just goes by himself, so that is ok.  I no longer have to try to get the boys safely to school through all the traffic and construction mess.

Here are some pictures of our new place!

 The boys love swinging under the Banana Trees!

 Our TINY kitchen and my "Pantry".

 Jonathan and Nicholas were excited to get bunk beds for their room this year!

 The boys have a playroom upstairs in a very small room.  But big enough for Wii and Legos!

 Thomas, Jonathan, and Nicholas on their first day of school on our front porch.

Can't wait until the bananas are ripe!  Yumm....  We also have papaya trees.