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.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Sunday Adventure

On Sunday we went on a tour with a local tour company.  The tour included a family hike up a mountain outside of the special economic zone of Shenzhen.  We hiked up this overgrown rock path to a deserted village.  The village was deserted in the 70's when Shenzhen opened up many factories and people went to live in the city to work.  This entire village just up and left!  They left in a hurry, too.  There were baskets and pottery, dishes, even shoes left everywhere.  We saw their school, temple, several homes.  It was very interesting.  Unfortunately, we had a torrential downpour while we were there!  We were caught  out hiking when it started raining really hard.  As you can see from the pictures, Nicholas loved it!  It was a warm rain, so we were ok.  Just soaked.
Ironically, after we were done sliding back down the mountain path, which had become virtually a little river, the rain stopped and the sun came out.  We changed out of our wet clothing into our swimming suits and went to a beach!  The beach we went to is called "White Horse Beach" because brides come there to take their picture with a white horse and then also several other posed shots on the beach.  While we were there we saw many couples getting their pictures taken.  At one point I counted 8 brides lined up in the various photo spots.  There are a lot of people in China, hence a lot of weddings!  It is common to see couples getting their pictures taken whenever we go sight-seeing.
The boys had fun playing in the water, but it was actually quite a dirty beach.  There was lots of trash strewn around.  Don't come to China for the beaches.  You will be disappointed.  We did find some nice shells, though.

 Hiking to the abandoned village.

 Big Toad!
 Interesting mushroom.
 An insect we thought was unusual.
 Thomas, Jonathan, and Nicholas in the village school.  Jonathan playing teacher!
 The village temple.  It still has items on the altar.
 Painting above the door in the temple.
 Picture on the temple door.
 Nicholas enjoying the hard rain!
 The jungle is overtaking the village buildings.

 White Horse Beach
 Many brides getting their pictures taken.
 REALLY fake palm trees!

 Chinese characters painted on a rock.