Monday, November 7, 2011

Our kids abroad: Part I (Macau, HK, Shanghai and Beijing)

We had our first family trip out of the country in 2006 when Vito was 3 years old and Manu was 2 years old. We planned to go to Hong Kong via Macau so Gina and I decided that we might as well try to visit some notable places there that we thought would be interesting to kids, such as the Macau Tower, Macau Grand Prix Museum, St. Paul’s ruins and a nearby museum (that used to be a fort with its old cannons still intact and overlooking Macau), and also such other places beyond the regular tourists’ radar (e.g., a park with huge rocks dotted with literary verses; a fireman’s museum). We varied our meals by eating/buying food among Western restaurants and fast food joints, convenience stores, and local eateries.

On top of the Macau Tower

After 2 nights in Macau, we took a hydrofoil to HK. Carrying 2 toddlers who would fight for a stroller (that I picked up in a store in Macau) owing to long walks, we took the usual “safe” and kid-friendly itineraries, like Disneyland, Ocean Park, Victoria Peak, Aberdeen Harbour, and HK Space Museum; watched the Symphony of Lights, strolled at the Avenue of Stars, and shopped a bit at Harbour City; and simply enjoyed the nippy weather of HK in December.
Inside the HK Space Museum

When we went out of the country in 2008, again during another Christmas break, we traveled to Shanghai and Beijing. While in Shanghai, we toured both sides of the Bund, the French Concession/Xintiandi, went to the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, rode the Maglev train, watched acrobatic shows, among others. After the first day with a free tour, we went around the city by ourselves, either by walking or taking the subway/taxi.

Waking up early in the morning, after celebrating a very silent New Year's eve in Shanghai (not a single fireworks/firecracker was heard), we took a shuttle to the Pudong International Airport for our trip to Beijing.

Onboard the Maglev train hurtling at a maximum speed of 431 km/hr

Again, as we considered these early forays as mere exploratory trips in preparation for, hopefully, more in depth and longer travels in the future, and with due consideration of our modest budget, we had a whirlwind tour of the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, the Olympics stadiums, and Beihai Park. We skated on the frozen Beihai Lake, had the famous roast duck for a late dinner in a restaurant off Wangfujing St. (a street well known for exotic dishes), and bought unusually succulent, sweet boiled corn on the cob sold by an elderly lady in front of Day’s Inn Hotel. We were lucky that Vito’s Ninong (Godfather) Lester, who was then finishing his master of laws at Tsinghua University, gladly served as our guide.

At the Juyongguan section of the Great Wall

In 2009, we were fortunate to visit Singapore (on a whim). There, I met 2 classmates from UP Law, JT and Hazel, who were doing extremely well as expat lawyers. And in March this year, we went back to HK with Nanay and the 2 kids (who have sprung up in heights) in tow -- they both received excellent academic awards during their school’s moving up ceremonies. Allow me to share the details next posting.

Meanwhile, our itinerant feet are getting itchy again...

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