Thursday, April 26, 2018

Skateboarding in Beijing: Burning Ice

Last weekend, August and I went to Beijing to find the skateboard park (directions at the bottom). We went to Burning Ice and it was great. Here's August to tell you all about it:

This is me at the skatepark

We took the bullet train from Tianjin to Beijing. We found the place easily and when we walked in, I was really surprised because the skatepark was bigger than I expected. If you're not that good at skateboarding there are some people there who can help you out, one guy really helped me with ollies. I don't think these people worked there, but everyone there was really nice.

This is me with my helmet and pads on

this is some guy dropping in

The bowl was huge I didn't even try dropping in

This part was my favorite part of the park.

this is me going back to try something out again

This is me bailing on a drop in

There's also a place for people to hang out:

To get there by taxi, show this address to your taxi driver:

This will pull up information in Chinese.
This site will give you directions in English on how to get there by subway.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Grandma Kam comes to China!

My mom came all the way from the USA to visit us in China for spring break!

We spent the week exploring Tianjin and Beijing and she was really a good sport about all of it. She tried driving a scooter, she ate jianbing, and she climbed the Great Wall.

She arrived just before Easter, which means she got to participate in our annual Farley tradition of playing egg roulette.
this year, we also painted eggs


The day after Easter, we headed to Beijing. We went out and got the best Peking Duck in Beijing (by deductive reasoning, I think we can say that it's the best in the world). Tuesday, which was the day we had scheduled to visit the Great Wall, a predicted cold front had moved in. We did not anticipate just how cold it was going to be-it was so cold we bought overpriced hats at a tourist shop. Totally worth it, wish we'd bought more.

 Right after this picture, it started snowing. We finished our time in Beijing by shopping at the Pearl Market and swimming in the hotel pool.

For the rest of the week, we hung out around Tianjin, did more shopping, eating, playing games and the kids got some quality time with grandma.

Jim was blinking, so I drew these sunglasses on him
We all had a great time and were so sad to see her go but, we'll see her again in just a couple months.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Father-son trip to climb Tai Shan

It's spring break here and Irish's mom is in town. They made plans to go up to Beijing to go shopping and visit the Great Wall. Since I have been to the Great Wall a lot, and I really do not enjoy shopping I decided to take Augustine with me on a different trip to another iconic Chinese place - Tai Shan. 

It's not as famous as the Great Wall, but almost nothing is. This is one of the five great mountains of China, and a UNESCO World Heritage site. For more than 2000 years if you were the emperor you would go to Tai Shan and climb to the top to perform rituals. Confucius is supposed to have been to the top as well.

The mountain is in Shandong province, two hours south of Tianjin on the fast train. We had thought about hiking up through the night to get to the top for the sunrise, it's a thing people do, but upon reflection that seemed like a terrible idea with an 8 year old. Our next plan was to go to the hotel, use the pool, sleep and then get up very early. When the alarm went off at 4:30 am August was not at all ready to get up, so we slept a little longer, got the breakfast buffet, and finally got started a little after 7:00.

the look of someone second guessing their decision to go hike up a mountain

The Red Gate, start of our long walk.

The hike starts with a pretty simple walk through the woods, some flat parts and then short flights of stairs. There are several temples along the way, lots of people selling things like water and snacks which was helpful since we didn't have to carry everything, and toy swords and crossbows, which was not helpful  as they kept distracting August. We did not see any other foreigners for most of the day, and lots of people were very excited to see August with his red hair. He is "very beautiful" and "very pretty". Handsome seems like the better choice of words, but their intentions were good.   

the stairs got  longer. 

After two hours of walking through the woods up increasingly long and increasingly steep stairs we came out to the mid-point.  If you are really lazy you could actually take a bus up to this part and start here. If you are incredibly lazy or on crutches, you could  also take a cable car from there to the very top. August and I are not lazy, or injured- so after he ate a Snicker's bar we continued walking up much much steeper, longer stairs.

looking ahead from the halfway point. real clouds, not air pollution, hanging over the mountains.

Lots of people wanted to take their picture with Augustine, some wanted me in the picture too. We were willing to oblige as long as I could take pictures of them as they took theirs of us: 

After a little over three hours the map on my phone showed we were getting pretty close, but the last push was straight up a series of very long stairs. Despite his worries at the start of the day August was doing great, running up ahead and then coming back to me. I was taking it a few steps at a time. Lots of people were saying "hello", some would ask where we were from. One woman had a little more English and she said "it is good you are you must persist in getting to the top, persistence is the most important thing"  Watching the porters who were all older than me carry bundles of water and food up to the vendors I realized I could manage with just my small backpack weighing me down. 

August in the foreground, an incredibly hard working man in the background. 

so many steps. just past that red building is one more set to the top. 

Almost there. Green fence is there to protect against rock slides.
Finally, with legs a little shaky,  we got to the top at around noon after four and a half hours of walking. There was what looked like a small town up there with several temples and lots of places selling lunch. For some reason August had been asking about Ramen noodles the whole morning, so he got some Ramen while I got some actual delicious Chinese noodles. 

Looking back down 

restaurants on the left

Cute kid. He did such a great job.
We looked through the temples. August asked if he could pray there, I told him we weren't Taoists, so no.  And then we decided since we had done the hard part in hiking up, we would take the cable car and bus back down to the bottom.  

We finished the day with another swim in the pool, dinner at the hotel's buffet, and an early bedtime for both of us. 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Typical Week for us in Tianjin 2018

For the last three years (201520162017), we've done a snapshot of what life is like at that time in a little video. We initially did it at the end of January because there's nothing going on then, so it was something to do. So here's this year's video!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Snow and Ice Festival in Harbin, China

This weekend we went with some friends to Harbin, China to see the annual snow ice festival. It was as cold as it was beautiful. The high on Saturday, which was the day we were exploring was 0F (that's -18C for the rest of the world). That was the high temperature. Taking pictures was a challenge and there were a few times I thought my toes were in imminent danger. I wasn't sure I'd make it back with all of them, but I did.

Charolette and me. I really had to get my smize game down this weekend

reindeer in a forest

snow sculpture competition

The caption for this one is that this is a woman who is ready to get married

After a few hours at the snow festival, we returned to the hotel to warm up and eat. In the evening, we went back out to see the ice festival. Jim took most of the pictures because I was too cold to take my hands out of my gloves. These buildings and bridges and slides are all made with ice bricks that are made from water from the river in Harbin.

There were places around where you could warm up and get snacks or hot drinks
waiting in the line for the ice slide
ice slide

Our group, minus Jim who took this picture

It was a very quick trip, but honestly I could not have gone outside another day. I'm a big baby. It was something that we'll never forget and I think I can say with confidence that it was really a once in a lifetime experience.