GYA13: A Taiwanese Haircut Experience

In researching organic milk again the last week, I learned that one possible reason for no organic milk is that Taiwan is a small island and it’s very easy to cross contaminate your crops.  So the farmer cannot guarantee the food they’re feeding the animal is organic (non GMO).

However, I also learned that Organic Valley milk is now sold in Taiwan!

Itinerary: Chinese breakfast, stationary for Thumper, haircut

Our biggest accomplishment today was getting our hair cut. Astroboy got up at 4am and Thumper 7am. I took him out to 7-11 for coffee and breakfast, and then we walked to 四海豆漿大王 which is a 5 minute walk from the Technology Building Metro station.  At 5am, Taipei is dark, quiet, and calm.

There was a table of people already there when we arrived. The store is located on a street that has many porridge shops. It’s kind of like your midnight (or early morning) run restaurant, good for people who’s been out pub’ing all night or what night.

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GYA13: Checking out of Hotel and a Day of Doing Nothing

Even though we stayed with relatives the whole time we were in Taiwan, I’m glad I made the decision to spend the first 2 nights at a little teeny tiny hotel to deal with our jet lag.  When we have no agenda and I’m the sole parent, I do very well with the kids .  It’s why I love traveling with them.  I get to boss them around all by myself!

Itinerary: check out of hotel.

Wow, this is a day where we truly did nothing.  In the morning the children woke up way too early.  First we wasted time by taking showers.  Have I mentioned the hotel has a rain shower?  I need to get one of those for my house.  It’s much easier for the kids when they take showers.   Then it was bright enough to walk to a local 7-11 to get breakfast at 6am.

We walked to a traditional market where everyone was just starting to set up shop, sat down on the sidewalk and ate our breakfast there.  I asked a vendor where to find a traditional Chinese breakfast (soymilk, Chinese churro etc)and was shocked to be told that I’d have to walk really far away for that.  Thinking back, I don’t see too many of those storefronts anymore walking around.

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GYA13: We’re Home, Taipei!

I really liked flying this way, first to Hawaii then Taipei.  It allowed me to adjust my mindset to “vacation” mode as I slowly unwound myself in Hawaii.  With my bad back, it was also nice to break up the flights into 5 hour, 8 hour, 5 hour flights, as we stopped over in Japan.  

My least favorite thing about flying is the kids sleep.  I tend to over stress about sleep and get very overwhelmed when they get into that crazy lack of sleep state.  Thankfully this time around the children are older!

Itinerary: Flying to Taiwan

We kind of skipped quite a few hours between the 8th and 9th due to time change.  The China Air flight itself was great. The plane was less then 1/3 full.  I wonder if it’s always like this from Oahu.  Makes me want to do it again despite the overall long traveling time.  We had two 4-seat rows to ourselves and sat near the front of the cabin. . If only this was a night flight so the kids could take advantage of the lovely seats to sleep! As it was it took awhile to get Astroboy down and Thumper refused to nap (though she needed it).

The only bad thing was that the armrest didn’t come all the way up.  They watched A LOT of TV, including ChiaoHu, Up, and Charlotte’s Web.  There wasn’t that many really age appropriate shows for their age on the flight.

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GYA13: Last Half Day at Oahu

Traveling with children really slows you down.  It’s why, this year, I’m limiting our sight seeing activities to just 1 a day instead of multiple sights.  

Itinerary: Hakone for breakfast, Honolulu Marathon, ABC store for souvenir, flight to Taiwan

GYA13Our flight was at 1pm today so we didn’t so much in the morning.

I found out yesterday that Ramada Inn is the designated hotel for China Air, China Eastern, and JAL.  Given that this whole trip is half about picking up Chinese, I thought it was really great. A lot of the hotel stuff spoke Chinese, we keep meeting pilots and stewardess who spoke Chinese in the elevator. It’s as if we haven’t really left the bilingual environment back home.

Anyways, I got woken up at 6 with the roar of a motorcycle out our 15th floor window. Astroboy got up at 6:30 am AGAIN and woke Thumper up with his request to go to Berkeley Bowl. Knowing that Astroboy would not go back to sleep and hearing the cheering down below, I decided we should all get up and watch the Honolulu Marathon.

Though the race started at 5am there were still stragglers on Ala Moana Blvd. We sat down and watched them for awhile. There were quite a few Santas in flannel red shorts and shirt. And many Japanese mothers pushing strollers or wearing yukata.
GYA13
After awhile we made our way to a Prince Court again for breakfst. Again.  They were closed till 10am for brunch. But luckily they just moved breakfast to Hakone, the other restaurant on the same floor. We had the same breakfast as yesterday.

The waitress remembered us and said the kids were cute and well behaved. I was surprised to hear that since I was quite aware yesterday how Astroboy got unruly when he got bored yesterday. But I will take any compliment about them!

After going up and down the elevator a few times, we meandered home and Baba entertained the children on Skype while I finish packing. By then it was 10 m and we rushed out the door to the ABC store around the corner for some souvenir and ice cream. It was so hot and all of us were in long sleeves for the flight.

We barely made it back in time to checkout and get into our reserved taxi at 11. There was no traffic today and it only took up 20 min to get to the airport. But even though we were early somehow by the time we checked in, went through security, found a cart for the carseat, stopped to look at airplanes, they were calling for everyone to board.

Maybe it’s because I couldn’t resist and stopped by the gift shop to buy matching Hawaiian dress and shirt for the children. It’ll come in handy in Taiwan and I wanted something to remember the lovely relaxing vacation we just had.

The Hawaii leg of the trip was too short. It was also more of a vacation than a trip. I can’t say that I saw much nature or greenery while I was here; which is a first amongst my numerous trips here. it’s probably because we had no car and stayed in Waikiki. So we were limited to where we can take the bus. Next time, I definitely want to stay in a B&b and rent a car.

Overall though I think it’s a good transition stop before we jump back into city life in Taipei.

GYA13: A Lazy Day at Waikiki

Several people have expressed surprise to me that I took (2013), and am planning to take (2016), the kids traveling while they’re so young.  By myself.  That first time was a bit hard, being with them 24×7 after always working.  But, as I’m discovering this time, it’s so great to travel with young kids because kids under 6 often get free meals or lodging!  It totally keeps the costs down.  

This Hawaii trip always has a special place in my heart because it was so relaxing, after running around for several years working, caring for the kids, and over-volunteering at school. I didn’t realize how everything was so 緊繃 in our lives till we enjoyed the simple things in life like going to the beach and having some maitai. 

Itinerary: Prince Court breakfast, Waikiki, Surfeiswe Moana lunch, Willows dinner
I can’t believe today is the last day for us in Oahu. This has been a much needed vacation, one I did not realize that I needed.

This morning, Astroboy woke me up at 6:30am, seeing that I’m not there (I woke up at 5:30 after 8 hours of sleep), he asked for me. Of course, this meant he really wasn’t going back to sleep. He then woke Thumper up with his “Mama, I’m huuungry, I want to go to Berkeley Bowl.” This is what happens when your son eats ice cream and smoothies for dinner.

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GYA13: A Whole Day at Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay is the reason why the children hanker to go back to Hawaii.  It was memorable for me because I mindfully played with the children for once and the fun time we had stuck in my brain.  In 2013, I had herniated discs and basically couldn’t lift anything heavy.  How bad?  If I didn’t take things easy, eventually my right foot would start tingling, signaling compression of a nerve.  Not good.

Itinerary: Hanauma Bay, Ala Moana Shopping Mall

1.1386363784.eggs-spm-and-ricrThis morning, after some fitful sleep by both kids, they woke up at 7 and 8am. We walked to the corner Micky D’s for some breakfast. Other than the breakfast sandwich we got, I couldn’t resist the Eggs, Spam Rice combo. Astroboy liked it. Thumper wouldn’t try it.

I couldn’t decide if we should rent a car for the day to go see the island, check out the luau show at Polynesia Cultural Center, or just go to Hanauma Bay. I wanted to do an easy day where we don’t walk much so my back can rest. So we came back to the hotel to do some research. Unfortunately, same day car rental is way too expensive and time was running out, so we rushed out the door again and walked to the bus stop to go to the beach.

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GYA13: Hello, I’ve Missed You Honolulu

I’ve been discussing packing lately with Fleur.  This post reminds me to not bring carseat if you travel alone with kids!  I’m also reminded of how much I obsess with sleep (because well rested children means less whiny children, my pet peeve) and my posts tend to be peppered with how much sleep the kids get or don’t get.

Itinarary today:  8am flight, 1:30pm checkin at Ramada Plaza Waikiki Honolulu, Sangkee lunch, ABC store run, failed nap, beach!, Ala Moana dinner, THUD.

Short Version:
Woke kids up at 6am, good flight, they won’t take naps, had a lot of fun at beach, LONG walk to dinner, SO tired.

Long Version:
The lesson of the day when traveling with two children by yourself is, check in your two solidly packed carryons.  Don’t try to save that $25 baggage fee. 

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GYA13: T minus 3

Wow, re-reading these entries remind me how organized I used to be!  Yes, in hindsight, definitely bring the towels, Advil, Mac & Cheese, and cereals.  Really, any “American” food.  The one thing I did not pack was a thermometer,  which is going on my packing list this time.  Both kids came down with multi-day high fever within the second week we were there.  When you’re used to reading degrees in F, it’s hard to use a Celsius thermometer.  Not fun to deal with while your kid is sick.

I would also like to note, we did NO homeschooling while we were there.  Those notebooks went untouched for 3 months.

It took me all Thanksgiving weekend to pack 1 carry on and 1 suitcase. I think the lack of sleep the last 7 years has done me in. I just cannot concentrate and work longer than in 10 min increments. And there are so many little things to pack! I’m really surprised we managed to fit our 4 day side trip into one carry on and everything else in just 1 suitcase.

gap year 1

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GYA13: T Minus 5

Three years ago, I blogged about our trip to Taiwan for 3 months.  Since we’re doing a Gap Year Adventure 2016, I thought I’d move these posts over now that I have my own website and backdate them.  It’s kind of nice re-reading these posts.  I’d forgotten all about our trip already and what I did to prepare and where we went during our stay!

Five more days and I’M NOT READY!  I finally sat down and made my packing list yesterday.  Have been busy shopping the last few weeks.  Trader Joes souvenirs, check; iPad mini for long flight, check; new bank accountnew Eagle Creek luggagenew clothes for everyone, school supplies for homeschooling, check check check; madly ripping DVDs for said iPad, not even close to being done, trips to the Taiwan Culture and Economic Center, triple check.

The great thing is that we’re preparing during Thanksgiving so we’ve been able to get good deals.  I’ve decided I’m only shopping once a year, during Thanksgiving.  It’s amazing the deals if you’re willing to brave the crowd or stay up till 12am shopping on Turkey Day.

Baba says that I’ve been making progress, but I keep feeling like I’m missing something super important.  I know we can buy things there but, as I discovered the last time Thumper got sick in Taiwan, sometimes it’s better to pack it than buy locally during an emergency. (more…)