Archive for April, 2009

Giant robot spider invades Yokohama

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

Well we watched a giant robot spider invade Yokohama today, together with Nagano-san and families. It was really quite interesting – slowly moving, lots of people operating it and very spider-like. The thing was really very huge – maybe 3 stories high! People seemed to be hanging everywhere from the limbs and it shot water and some sort of chewed-up paper out! Very interesting. Following it was some sort of orchestra, raised in the air as well. Quite interesting art I’d say.

Here’s a photo of it:

お花見 (cherry blossom viewing)

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

We went with Ani and Hideo and family to 子ども自然公園 (children’s nature park) in Futamatagawa for ohanami today and it was great fun! The trees were in fun bloom and it was great hanging out and talking and eating. The kids had a great time looking for sticks and various other earthy things and the time seemed to zip by. Here are some cute pictures.

Evan in front of our house:

Lauren-chan and Julia-chan:

What is that hanging out of your mouth? (Cheese)

Dragging the kids around:

Thailand trip

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

We had an excellent trip to Thailand 2 weeks ago. It was quite remarkable that we got everything together to be able to go, but somehow it all worked out! The trip really was about Nicole’s birthday this May, so I’m happy it all worked out.

We had investigated earlier about going to Bali or somewhere beachy, but we found out that Lauren’s passport would be just 2 days short of the 6 months validity needed to go overseas. So we rushed an application to the NZ passport department and hoped it would come in time. Within 10 days the passport did arrive, so we just had enough time to make arrangements through some travel agents and somehow it all worked out! We bought a flight to Bangkok on Saturday afternoon around 3 and at 7:30am the next morning we were on the flight out. Lauren also got chickenpox just the weekend before, so we weren’t sure if she would be non-contageous, but the doctor checked it out all ok! Nicole was also doing a 書道 (shodou – calligraphy) exhibit at landmark towers, so were a bit busy.
We landed on time in Bangkok and took a taxi to the hotel. It was far fancier than we’re used to, but given the short amount of time to arrange accomodation (1 day!) we were pretty happy to get something.

The Marriott Bangkok was a very swish hotel right on the river. They offered free water shuttles over to the other side, where we went on the first day (Sunday) for dinner and shopping. The hotel is so beautiful and very tropical looking. The kids loved the pool.

Waiting at the dock for the water shuttle.

Unfortunately, Evan didn’t take to the heat very well and he suffered a bit from heat exhaustion or something like that – always very tired and the first night he said he was super cold at dinner and didn’t eat anything. In fact, the whole trip, he didn’t eat a lot. Nicole and I ate on his behalf though!

The first night we had dinner at a restaurant in the shopping centre, only because we were all so very hungry and couldn’t find anything authentic Thai. It was awesome food though and the waiters/waitresses were very bored it seems and they made funny balloon things for the kids – a sword for Evan, a funky hat for Lauren! The kids loved it and got so much attention from people in the mall!

The next day we went into town to see the golden palace and see some of the sights. We met a Tuktuk driver who spoke english and he convinced us to go with him for 50 baht (125 yen!) around for a few hours. Of course he took us to places to buy things, which we did of course (Nicole bought some silver bracelet from a transvestite salesperson in a jewlery store – it was a bit expensive but that’s ok) but he also hooned us around Bangkok to see various things such as the standing buddah. All this around noon, so we were happy to get out of the noon sun.

The kids loved the tuktuk ride of course and we all thought it was quite envigorating!

Finally we made it to the palace and we met an english-speaking tourguide, who showed us around. The palace was terrific and the info on the building etc was great.

I took the kids back to the hotel because Evan was feeling particularly bad, while Nicole did some shopping in town.

The next day we took a taxi to the floating market and bought some little trinket-type things. We also had some great fried bananas, which were so cheap!

After the markets, we went to an elephant ride which I thought the kids would be more excited about, but it was a bit subdued.

We also went to a show place, kinda like the rose garden, where they had an elephant show, a magic show and a crocodile show! The kids were very scared with the crocodiles, but everything else was good.

We saw an elephant who had a 3 month old baby, which was good fun. We took photos with the elephant and when it came to Lauren, the elephant wrapped Lauren in her trunk and lifted her up into the air! Lauren loved it!

We went into town again in the evening to go to the night market, however it turned out that the market was rather seedy and full of nightclubs and girly bars. It felt strange walking around with the kids on our backs trying to get away from that area. Yuck. There was even a street where pretty well only Japanese was used. Strange.

The next morning we took a minivan to Hua Hin, or more precisely 40km south of there. Hua Hin is around 3 hours drive south of Bangkok and a rather bigger city. The place we stayed at was called the dolphin bay resort and was recommended by my brother as a family-type place. It turned out to be perfect for the kids because they had games like chess and ping-pong and 2 great salt-water pools which the kids loved. They spent so much time in the pool. Lauren turned into a fish during those 4 days there and she could do incredible things in the water. We’ve never seen her swim so much at at 4 years old, she did amazing swimming across the pool by herself. She certainly had no fear!

One day we rented scooters from the place (very cheap – 800 yen for the day!) and drove around the area, which included a national park. The scenery was terrific!

We drove to a neat fishing village where they were drying the fish and we bought some water. We then went on to a cave, which was a boat trip, then a walk up the mountain and then into the cave. In the middle of the cave was a temple, or perhaps more of a monument to the discoverers of the cave. The kids didn’t complain at all and we had a great time! We then relaxed at a restaurant over a coconut drink!

During our time there, Evan had his birthday and they gave him a cake for his birthday. Hard to believe Evan is already 7 years old! He’s sure growing quickly. We sang to him, but also all the others in the restaurant sang to him as well! There was another boy there, also 7, Hunter, who was a splitting image of Evan. Here are a few photos:

Because we couldn’t bring any presents for Evan along, we bought a floating matress thing for the pool, which Evan really loved.

We took another trip into the park and saw lots of monkeys and other wildlife (mudskippers were so cool!) and went to a very nice temple and put gold leaves on the buddha! We also went to an island where wild monkeys lived and brought them bananas. They seemed to like the peanuts better though, carefully brushing the salt off the peanuts!

The trip back home was uneventful and we arrived home around 6am ahead of schedule. The rest of the day we relaxed and Evan opened his birthday presents. He particularly liked the inline skates and the star wars light sabre!

We found out the next day that the day after flying out of Narita, all flights were stopped because of a plane crash! Scary! However, lucky that we were able to get away before that happened.

What a terrific trip. It was a bit expensive overall, but a lot of fun!