Vietnam: Sandy Beaches, Hot Bike Rides, and Weasel Poop

by Alexander

Lovely bike ride through Hoi An, Vietnam

Lovely bike ride through Hoi An, Vietnam

We were just pulling out of Hong Kong, when Mark Ferne, the Dean of Students, called a ship-wide meeting.  This was a first, so we all went to the Kaisersaal (auditorium) for the meeting.  He said there were high winds in the South China Sea, and that we could not leave Hong Kong until tomorrow morning.  This meant that we were going to lose a day in Vietnam.  Just 24 hours later, we learned that our planned side-trip to Cambodia would be impossible on the new schedule and we would not get to go to Angkor Wat, a famous archeological and religious site. I was really looking forward to seeing the amazing temples and ruins of Angkor Wat… so our journey in Vietnam would have a lot of expectations to live up to… Continue reading

Twins talk China: We Ate Chicken Feet!

Note from Dad:   The twins decided that for their next blog post, they’d interview each other on the topic of “foods in Asia”.   The interview below is Sydney asking the questions and Piper providing the tasty answers…

S: Which city did you like more Hong Kong or Shanghai?
P: Shanghai because we got to visit a Microsoft factory in a city nearby.  I also got to buy these things that are wheels that you attach to your shoes and roll around and they light up.  We also went to an acrobatics show where 7 people rode motorcycles in a round cage.

S: What is your favorite thing that you did, saw or ate?
P: My favorite thing I did in China was see the Microsoft factory.  I liked it because I got to see how my Surface was made. Continue reading

China! Suzhou Factories, Shanghai Skyline, Hong Kong Lights

Six days in China can really blow your mind.

From the power and scale of 150,000 people at one factory campus who are building most of the world’s PCs … to the amazing skylines of Shanghai and Hong Kong …  to sea cucumber + chicken feet … to the warmth and hospitality of co-workers and guides who looked out for us everywhere we went…  our minds were blown.   China showed us how focus and energy can transform a land and people.  And we never made it to Beijing or Xian or anywhere in the west.  Future trips beckon!

Welcome to Shanghai!

Welcome to Shanghai!

Suzhou and the Microsoft/Pegatron Factory Continue reading

Kyoto & Hiroshima (Goodbye, Japan)

by Alexander

Just like in Tokyo, we did lots of touring in Kyoto.  We experienced a tea ceremony, visited a golden temple, and learned Taiko drumming.  We had a guide in Kyoto unlike in Tokyo to show us around the city.  Her name was Miho and we’d highly recommend her, if any of you are travelling to Kyoto.  There is so much history and beauty in the city of Kyoto that even the U.S. government didn’t want to use the atomic bomb on Kyoto! Continue reading

Susono with friends

After eight packed days in Japan, we were fortunate to be able to spend a couple nights with my college roommate, Beth, her husband Hiro and 14 yr old daughter Emily. They have a beautiful, new house in Susono where her husband, Hiro, is a Japanese healer. Hiro also coaches the #4 Sumo wrestler in the world, Kisenosato Yutaka, who beat the #1 Sumo wrestler in the world while we were staying with them — Hiro was very excited.

Staying at Beth’s was a welcome, relaxing break for all of us. We were able to sleep in, eat where the locals eat, watch movies together in the evenings and enjoy some western food (the kids loved the pizza, cold cereal and hashbrowns). We also had fun at a local karaoke place – Elena and Alexander sang some great duets.

It was so nice to not have a schedule! Joe and I enjoyed 2 days which we didn’t have to plan or figure out how to get our family anywhere. We both received treatments from Hiro, who helped Joe and me with our alignment and me with my kidneys which he says will help strengthen my immune system (I have a terrible sinus virus/infection). Finally, I was awakened by a very small earthquake one morning at 5:30 (we’re on the 4th floor of a building) which was exciting.

And now, we’re off to Kyoto! We had a lovely ride here on the Shinkansen, including a great view of Mt Fuji!

Japan Alps: Shirakawa-Go

As a day-trip from Kanazawa, we boarded a bus and drove 1.5 hours up into the mountains to Shirakawa-Go. At the heart of the area, the village of Ogimachi was built hundreds of years ago in (literally) one of the world’s snowiest climates. It’s famous for the gasshō (合掌) style of houses whose architecture and construction have endured against-all-odds– as they are built entirely of wood with thick grass roofing. Continue reading