Monday, April 28, 2014

Hong Kong: Tai Tong Lychee Valley

A fun little outing for our Spring Break- one that wasn't too far away- a little adventure you could say. It was only about a 30 minute drive from us as it's in the New Territories. Little Steps Asia did a good spread on all the necessary information that you can find HERE - including the number and address.

I was glad that we showed up early because there isn't a whole lot of shade for when the sun does come out. I think we arrived about 10:30ish- and after spraying our legs with bug spray and making sure we had our picnic lunch together, etc., we went in. It's a short drive (you know when you're getting close because there are signs everywhere and a nice bumpy dirt road!) from the town centre and highway- really easy to get to.

We bought our tickets at the front office- I think it was $80HK for 3 passes (you have to have a ticket to do each activity)- and there are activities from feeding the horses to picking strawberries to net fishing. Quite a lot of activities to do without tickets as well- and even though the lady at the office didn't speak a lot of English, they have handouts and maps that makes it easy enough.

Our first stop was to the horses (I think they are on break from 12-2 FYI)- where the boys went on a little ride (little yes, one lap was all they got for their "pony ride"). It was quite hysterical. Jack went first and was quite the little baby. He kept yelling at me that he wanted to get down, but I told him to hold tight and he would be fine. (We obviously haven't had much exposure around horses- imagine that!). Henry was a trooper though- even after Jack's fit on the horse, he still hopped up on there and took the ride. Then it was on to feed the horses- and that was quite funny as well because the boys have never done that either. I forget how big their heads are- gorgeous creatures though!

Then on to lunch (because of course the boys are hungry every 2 hours)- and thankfully I had packed a picnic lunch. They do have BBQ buffets and set meals you can eat there but I think we were better off with our meal. They have a few covered picnic tables by the Lotus Pond so it was nice. We fed the fish and looked at all the swimming turtles and had a nice lunch. Thankfully there were not that many people around so it was nice.

After lunch we journeyed down the path to the children's playground. I actually think the boys loved that the most- they have a HUGE climbing net course and the boys went round and round on that for at least 30 minutes. (They would have stayed longer I"m sure but the sun came out and I was boiling). Jack was a little hesitant at first (my cautious one) but Henry went right in- though I had to pull Henry out of one part, and then climb in myself (big no no I'm sure for a 35 week prego lady) to rescue him. He tends to get ahead of himself sometimes. But the boys loved it- what's more perfect for boys than a big climbing net to scamper all over!?! :)

Next down the path to feed the other animals. They did have some "ecological and educational" rooms on the way but they weren't really much of anything I'd say. The boys loved feeding the goats and bunnies- but I wasn't that impressed. There wasn't anyone actually back there so I left a ticket and got our cup of carrots anyway. The goats were tied up so I'm sure that made it easier for the boys to approach them- there was one that kept sneezing when Jack came near- made for some good laughs!

They do have quite a few trails to go down along the way (nature trails, waterfall, etc.,) but by that point I was beyond tired (yes the sun and humidity here just sucks the life out of you when your pregnant) so we wrapped it up with that.

We were there a good 2 1/2 hours so it was fun for the time we were there ( I wouldn't spend much more time there honestly) but it was a fun little outing and the boys loved it. Another fun outing to mark down in our journey here in Hong Kong! :)

Here are some pictures from our outing:

Going up! 

Little bit of a nervous face but he was a trooper! 

This is how big it was- fantastic for boys! 

Please Mom...get me down! 

The entrance to the park

The black goat at the end was the sneezer- it was too funny! 
At the lake pavilion- feeding the many coy fish that were there. 

And feeding the horses- Jack finally got the hang of it. 

And the lotus pond and lake pavillion- really quite pretty and serene. :) 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Hong Kong: Shek O Beach

So who'd have thought (especially coming from Australia) that there were nice beaches in Hong Kong! Yes, we have been quite spoiled by our last home country, but we were quite pleasantly surprised by Shek O Beach.

In fact, we've been here over a year without actually visiting one of the beaches...yes, again...snob mentality. But a friend recently put a picture up on Facebook of her boys at Shek O Beach and I thought, well that looks pretty nice. AND seeing as how much the boys absolutely LOVE and ADORE the beach, we thought we would take a journey out there.

We are in Tai Po, so we are a good 45 minutes away, but I will say once we got close (about 15 minutes away) the drive alone is worth it. You have to travel up the mountain before you go back down again to the beach area and the view is absolutely breathtaking. Mind you it's a slim road and a bit crazy with bikers, hikers and buses, but gorgeous views of Hong Kong.

It was funny when we actually got there the boys said they didn't feel like they were in Hong Kong anymore....and anyone that has lived in China knows it's nice to "get away" sometimes. HERE is a link from the tourism board- even though it's not much information.

We did arrive early (about 10 a.m.) so we managed to get a parking. And if you have kids- it's fantastic because the walk from the parking lot to the beach is just a short walk (few minutes tops). But you do have to arrive early because by the time we left at 3 it was pure madness in the parking lot.

SO here is the beach:

This is on one side of the beach- it's not a huge beach but plenty big for a fun day

On one side of the beach there were a few restaurants (we didn't try any) but they were packed with birthday parties and all sorts of people- and some of them did smell amazing! 

View from the water- you can see the pavilion in the background- complete with changing rooms and First Aid room /Life Guard Headquarters

View of the other side of the beach- the rocks are fun for the kids to play in (they waves aren't too big)- don't those houses have one amazing view! :)

We arrived and were quickly chastised (yes bugged!) by a little Chinese women that wanted to know if we wanted to rent an umbrella and chairs. Jason was so funny- he just wanted to pick a spot and look around but she kept following us around. (We were pretty early and there weren't many people there yet, so maybe that was why). However, we did get them- I think it was about $120 HK for an umbrella and two chairs, and even though they looked as if they might fall apart, they were surprisingly comfortable and I was so happy we had them...because it got HOT! 

The boys, of course, jumped right in the water- they were quickly called out because they didn't have sunscreen on yet....boys. We had a fantastic time though- the water was still a bit cool but felt wonderfully refreshing after sitting in the sun for a bit. And there were tons of families around so the boys quickly found little "mates" to play with. 

We packed a picnic lunch so had lunch on the beach (one of our favorite things to do), but there is tons of food options around if you don't have any. Jason and Jan also quickly found alcoholic drinks from the nearby restaurants to sip on- (I stayed with water!). 

I told a friend that if you just showed up in Shek O, you could absolutely be fine with not bringing a single item. Out by the parking lots there are LOADS of little shops that sell everything from bathing suits, swim toys, flip flops, sunscreen, food items, etc., ...anything you would need to spend a day at the beach. And most of them spoke excellent English so it was great. 

Lil' Henry playing in the water- at first his lips were a bit purple- but he didn't care one bit! 

Then there are the floating docks - a bit far for me to swim at the moment- that you can go out too- there's my man taking in the scenery! 

 And here are my boys- I'm hiding my pregnant belly here- although we saw about 6 or 7 other pregnant women there. :) 

This one cracks me up- like father like son is all you can say- and a look at our comfy chairs (okay I actually dozed off in one for about 20 minutes when everyone went exploring!)

We will definitely be going back- especially now that we know how to get there- and I would encourage it as a must do if you are a beach goer and come to Hong Kong. :) 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hiking in Sai Kung- Sheung Yiu Family Walk

This is the first of many posts that have included my Mother in law's trip here with us- and we have done ALOT! I actually think we've done more in the last 3 weeks than we have in 6 months. It's funny though because we like going out and exploring around Hong Kong but we also like living a normal life- hanging out on the weekend, going to the club, sports activities, etc., So it is nice when we have visitors and we can get out and do new things. :) A little motivation...

Even though it's not ideal as I was about 7 1/2 months pregnant, I thought we needed to do a Hong Kong hike. Hiking in and around Honkers is HUGE! There are trails everywhere- and books that give the low down on all the great spots. Granted we haven't done too much because Henry is really just at the age that he can tolerate a good hike.

So I found one in Sai Kung (near the water in the New Territories- only about 20 minutes from us). However, I'll say that the information we got online wasn't really exact. I wanted to go on the Mackelhose trail (that starts in the Sai Kung Country Park), but we didn't make it that far. Online I read that it was a 5 minute walk from the carpark. FALSE! We started on our walk and 15 minutes later we are still not there- and there was another HUGE hill to tackle- so because our team was already slowing down and whining we chose a trail off to the side. It read "Sheung Yiu Family Walk" so I thought that seemed reasonable and doable.

Just down from the carpark- not even on the trail yet

The end of our trail- (though this was at the beginning)

Well, I'll say once it was over we were all glad we did it but it was a LONG walk. A good hour and 15 minutes (maybe longer) and it had quite a few uphill battles for us- so you can imagine how tough it was with a 7 1/2 month pregnant woman, a 4 year old and my mother in law- but we made it!

On a positive side, it was a pretty walk and was good for the boys. Although about 30 minutes from the end, Henry stops, waves up his little arms and says, "Dad, I need a carry". It was also hilarious (not then though) because we kept seeing signs leading us down and EVERY ONE read "1/2 hour" left to go. It was like we were in some type of big joke.

Jack and I led the pack most of the way and Jack said at one point (about an hour in) that he couldn't see "they must have died". Such a dramatic child.

We did make it through and were more than happy to get back in the cool air conditioned car- to follow up with a great lunch at Steamers in Sai Kung!

And here's our slow team! 

The boys always like to find their walking sticks! 

Our visitor that came through as we were having a snack break! 

The group! 

Can you see the tiredness in Jack's face? 

Lots of trails to explore in Sai Kung Country Park! 

Finally we got to the water and a flat trail

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Catching Up: March Madness

It only seems an appropriate title for our month- needless to say it's been a bit crazy and busy (this masked with being in your 3rd trimester) doesn't make for time for blogging.

Even though I have full time help, my days are full on and at the end of the day my body gives out. Sitting on the couch and watching TV, reading a book or flipping through the iPad is good for me. :) Although sadly I do have more time in the morning since I can't sleep now and have been waking quite early- 4:30 some mornings. But this "quiet time" I get is wonderful! :)

Anyway, we have had a busy month. I've got the boys in activities Monday through Wednesday- gymnastics, ArtSmart, tennis, and swimming. Then our weekends have been busy with preparing for little one- organizing the house, getting rid of things and you know, "nesting".

We've had rugby tournaments, sports day at schools, Henry's last day at his old preschool (he starts at Hong Lok the end of April), dog training sessions for Bosco and I've taken on a new job! Only part time- but still worth mentioning.

I serve on the Fundraising Committee at Jack's school and through this and that applied a few weeks ago for the Fair Coordinator position. The fair is not until November but there is ALOT of preparation - it's their biggest fundraiser of the year- so quite a big deal.

SO- that being said- I have now officially worked in all 3 countries that I have lived in. I did interior decorating/design in Shanghai, photography in Sydney (short lived) and now Event Coordination. This is one of the things I love about living abroad- you can explore and dive into all of your passions. It doesn't just have to be the same thing- you can venture out and try new things. It's a world of new experiences waiting just to be tapped into.

With all of that being said- I'm now at 34 weeks- yes, only 6 weeks to go! And yes- I'm ready! :) My mother in law, Jan, did arrive last week so that's been fun and a huge help. Henry the last month has been wanting Mommy 24/7 (as with most kids he senses he's not going to be the baby much longer) so it's been a little taxing. But having "Nana" here has taken the load off a little bit. She will be here through Easter, and then we have just 3 more weeks til little one arrives.

Here are a few pics catching up from our month of March!

Fun with our friend's the Cases- dinner at our place one Saturday night

Jack and some of his buddies at Sports Day

Jack's last rugby tournament/festival! :) 

Swimming started at Japanese International School! 

Pizza lunch followed by our 1st venture in ice skating! 

Jack & Nea at Disco Night @ Hong Lok Yuen! 

Jack @ Sports Day! 

More rugby @ King's Park!