Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Beijing | Our Itinerary

Now that are Shanghai portion of our vacation is wrapped up, let's move on to Beijing! We took the high speed train from Shanghai to Beijing and we were pretty pleased with our decision (flights from Shanghai to Beijing are notoriously delayed).  We bought the first class seats (I would recommend this to all foreigners), had plenty of room to spread out, Ev's slept for more than half of the 5 hour train ride! and we were there before we knew it! We got in fairly late (for traveling with toddlers) a little after 9pm and by the time we got to our hotel room it was after 10pm! The very best thing we did was hire a private tour guide for three days to show us around Beijing.  Before we left, he came up with the following itinerary which sounded pretty good to us so bright and early Saturday morning he met us at our hotel and we were off :).

08:00: Depart hotel for Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall
08:30---10:00: Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall
(In this place you will see a huge layout model of Beijing city. It has more details, even you can find your hotel and window of your room.   We can watch a short movie about history of old Beijing, it's about 15 minutes. People rebuilt old Beijing in computer.  It's the best way to know history of Beijing.)
10:10---10:40: Tian'anmen Square
10:50---12:50: National Museum of China
13:10---14:00:  Lunch
14:00---16:00: Forbidden City
16:10---16:40: Coal Hill Park (There is a big hill right behind the Forbidden City. If you climb up the hill, you will have a great bird's eye view of the whole imperial palace.)
17:00---18:00: visit Wangfujing Street (the most famous walking street in China)

08:00: Depart hotel for Temple of Heaven
08:30---10:00: Temple of Heaven
10:50: Olympic Park
12:00---13:00: Lunch at a Chinese restaurant
13:40---16:00: Summer Palace
17:00 Back to Hotel

07:00:  Depart hotel for the Great Wall
09:00---12:00: To climb the Great Wall at Mutianyu Section Great Wall
12:00---13:00: Lunch at a Chinese restaurant
13:00---15:00: If you like we can visit a local orchard and get some fruits and nuts
16:00: Check in at Beijing Capital International Airport

Whew! I am tired just looking at this itinerary again!! Ready or not, here we go - first stop, Beijing Exhibition Hall.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Thanksgiving in Thailand

According to my iPhone, because let's be honest - it is much easier/faster for me to get you these pictures this way and you are dying to see pictures of my kiddo's at the beach ;).

We spent the last four days in Thailand.  The only direct flights were overnight and we almost talked ourselves out of going, but we are both so so glad we went.  This was maybe our favorite family vacation to date(?). We would eat breakfast every day between 6 and 7 which consisted of as much watermelon as the girls wanted as well as unlimited cappuccino's for Wes and I.  We took long walks on the beach each morning pausing for the girls to collect seashells to their heart's content.  We watched them (mostly Emma) jump for glee when their feet hit the ocean water.  We soaked up the bright blue skies (minus the ginormous rainstorm on the first day).  We walked far enough to discover a secret light house.  We watched the girls squeal with glee as they slid down the slide and splashed in the pool for hours on end.  One day we left the resort to ride elephants, feed elephants and even got to take a bath with the elephants :).  We ate delicious Thai food, and even though there was no turkey in sight, we were stuffed on Thanksgiving evening.  We drank mojito's (for me), Phuket island tea's (for Wes) and watermelon shakes (for the girls) each evening as either the afternoon storm rolled in or as we watched the sun set.  One day during the girls nap time, I snuck away to have a Thai massage on the beach (bonus, it costs $13!, if I would have discovered this earlier there would have been a massage every afternoon ;)).  We found hermit crabs, a frog and a ginormous lizard/iguana that delighted the girls. In short, we had the very best time!

Here are a few (66 ;)) pictures if you would like to take a peek. I will come back with more pictures from my 'real' camera, but we will recap Beijing first!

^^ walking around to check out the resort ^^

^^ first ones in the pool ^^

^^ the perfect stream that led out to the ocean - it doubled as the girls favorite part to clean their shells ^^

^^ the perfect caboose to our family train ^^

^^ baby feet that are getting noticeably larger each Thanksgiving ^^

^^ seashell hunting buddies ^^

^^ sand everywhere - our girlie was so brave, this is right after she was swept out into the ocean by a big wave; Wes was holding her hand and everything! ^^

^^ tiny explorers ^^

^^ gin fizz (my first drink on vacation!) ^^

^^ sister secrets ^^

^^ my two favorite girls ^^

^^ watermelon shakes as the storm rolled in ^^

^^ yum! ^^

^^ Emma's happy place ^^

^^ their seashell hunting continued ^^

^^ can I take an expat assignment here?? ^^

^^ me and my youngest ^^

^^ after the previous day, she held on pretty tightly, but I still got some big Everly Gracie grins out of her ^^

^^ her love for the beach makes my heart happy - i just love to see her run and jump without a care in the world ^^

^^ a daddy and his girls - is there anything better? ^^

^^ chillaxing ^^

^^ there are so many of these pictures that I can see these two recreating in 20 years and I hope this is one of them ^^

^^ lizard sighting/chasing ^^

^^ every afternoon when we got back to the hotel room for lunch, they would spend their time before nap organizing/analyzing/discussing their seashell collection ^^

^^ because I realized I hadn't been in a single picture at this point ^^

^^ watermelon shakes and a mojito as the sun set and we grabbed one last swim ^^

^^ we got to see everything she has been learning in swimming lessons and we were impressed - she has improved so much since her first set of swimming lessons at 16 months old ^^

^^ love this guy and that we totally agree that beach vacations are the best vacations ^^

^^ family selfie before breakfast ^^

^^ elephants!! ^^

^^ Everly and I were obsessed with our elephant's ears ^^

^^ loved watching the back of them as they walked through the jungle ^^

^^ me and my girl on a 'lollie ^^

^^ stunning view ^^

^^ our last morning at the beach ^^

^^ sisters holding hands is my favorite ^^

^^ Everly got a bit more brave on the last day ^^

^^ how is she getting so big ^^

^^ how did I get this lucky?? ^^

^^ new favorite picture ^^

^^ lighthouse in the distance ^^

^^ loved this little lighthouse ^^

^^ soaking up the last moments at the ocean ^^

^^ she was meticulous about cleaning her seashell's and bringing me to 'oooohhhh' and 'ahhhhhh' over ^^

^^ they didn't discover that the resort had ice cream until the last day ^^

We really had the best time.  However, I wanted to mention that this is one of the first, 'big' holiday's we have spent away from our families and we definitely could feel it, me especially.  I just wanted to take a minute to share what helped me during the holiday.  In the past, I have always spent a lot of energy being bummed that I am missing out on family time, etc. even when I lived 'in town' and just couldn't make it to something.  This particular holiday I tried to focus my energy on being so happy for my family that was in Port Aransas together rather than on being sad that I was not there with them.  I encouraged them to send/post lots of pictures so I could be genuinely happy for them.  Changing my perspective really helped me and I was so excited to look at their pictures and hear their stories.

And when all else fails, book yourself a trip to Thailand - you will fall in love ;).