After nine months of smutzing around Asia, we have decided to return to the US, in time to get house and kids settled before the new school year begins. But first, one more trip to Beijing.
Pardon the silly title. We’re wrapping up our month in Vietnam and it’s been a while since I posted anything. Most of our time has gone to home-schooling efforts and the beach, but we’ve had plenty of good experiences to remember Vietnam by. Many notable differences between Vietnam and Thailand too.
I wake at 2:58AM and turn off the 3:00AM alarm. The kids are pros now and only a few words are spoken to get everyone up and out of our bungalow. We wait outside under the coconut trees to see if the taxi we arranged for last night will show. Headlights appear and we are off. At the airline ticket counter we are told that we must have a visa for Vietnam BEFORE arrival and not upon arrival as I had thought. I am permitted to crawl behind the counter and use one of the airline computers to find a fast visa service online. $850 later we wait for email from the visa bureau while the clock ticks away towards boarding time. The email arrives and I climb back over the baggage conveyer belt to rejoin the line with waiting customers – many of whom have wide eyes and mouths agape at what they’ve witnessed.
As our stay in China requires exits every few months, we’ve now relocated to Phuket Thailand for a month. Staying a five minute shuttle away from Nai Harn Beach, a beautiful little cove on the most Southwestern coast of Thailand. Regular vigilance required for a family of four to avoid sunburn when going to a beach every day for a month, but so far so good! We do our regular Chinese studies in the morning and English in the afternoon.
Yesterday we traveled to the magnificent mountain of Yulong, near Lijiang China. The sun was at its worst position for photographs, but it was a gorgeous day for us travelers. We hiked past Tibetan outposts and down to cascading pools of aqua green water. A tramway helped get us start out the day. Sign on the car said “Please do not enter the lawn. Be careful of leeches. Yak and livestock will hurt you. Please don't close to.” You really have to enjoy all the helpful signs around China. (Later we ate at a restaurant named “Once the Native Goat O”.
Not much in the way of photography this week, but I scraped together a few. We finally made the cable car trip up into the Dali mountains. Quite a long run broken into two separate “lifts”, reaching snow capped mountain top in the end. We witnessed what appeared to be a brown weasel standing out against the white snow. Very out of place.
There are few hints it's Christmas, but we turned our hutong into a festive place. Santa tried the windows but favored leaving presents on the front porch instead. After some chocolate pancakes (for Heidi), we ventured to the nearby town of Zoucheng to try our hand at the traditional art of tie dye.
More street photos from this neck of the woods. We have enjoyed the daily walks in Dali. Gearing up for Christmas season with letters to Santa “does he know how to find us here?” (Kai asks), and a bit of planning for folks overseas. Don't worry about sending things to us this year… we're on the move!
We've made it to our next post, closer to the mountains, in the ancient town of Dali. It has been revived as a touristy place, but I plan to make the most of street photography, good weather and hopefully some excursions to the mountains. Our new home is a beautifully renovated section of a traditional hutong – two bedrooms and bath sectioned off with its own entrance to the courtyard. Lily is excited to be able to borrow the common kitchen finally to do a bit of our own cooking.
The weather is beautiful here in Dongchuan, but unfortunately that doesn't make for the best pictures. Whereas the rice terraces of Laohuzui were constantly changing and sun was hard to find, here things are static and each morning the sun consistently unfolds in a straight line across everything the eye can see.