A lot has happened. My dreams of keeping this blog up to date are fading, but not completely gone. I love this blog. I just wish I wasn’t overwhelmed by marking and planning. Let me never forget again the busyness of the first year at a new school.
So, what have you missed?
Well, at Christmas time GRANDMA JANNIE CAME!
And we celebrated with some not-too-ugly sweaters with our buddies the Porters!
And we went with Grandma to Vietnam! Which was AMAZING! It wasn’t warm, but the people were. And the company was. We were in Da Nang. Da Nang is on the central coast of Vietnam at the half way point between the capital Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in the south. It has lovely beaches and gorgeous geography.
And the coffee is out of this world.
Da Nang was a beautiful city.
We visited the Marble Mountains on a misty day which has served as sanctuary to monks, citizens, and troops through out its history. Today you can find both Buddhist and Hindu shrines tucked in the many caves with in the mountain sides.
Another highlight was the UNESCO heritage site called My Son, which is a valley tucked in the mountains outside of Da Nang filled with shrines and temples. This area was dedicated to the worship of the Hindu God, Shiva. Within the valley, there was once 72 shrines and temples built over the course of 1000 years (between AD 400 and 1400) by the many kings of the Champa kingdom. Sadly, all but about 12 of these were destroyed in one week of bombing during the Vietnam war. But to walk through those that stand, and the various ruins was a special day for me. I felt walking through the art and architecture that spanned a millennia was like a treasure in the misty tropical forest valley.
We took another day trip to a town called Hoi An, another UNESCO World Heritage site. This time to walk through the shopping district along the canals. It felt like stepping back in time as we weaved our way through alley ways from shopping street to shopping street. I was charmed by the Vietnamese people who are so warm and welcoming, a fairly stark contrast to the people of China. Chinese people on the streets would not be described as warm and welcoming, they aren’t mean, but they definitely keep to themselves and push themselves through life in this crowded city.
The food was amazing, and the company even better. We loved traveling with Jannie.
The kids are becoming such great travelers and good Uno players, too.
When we returned from Vietnam we were lucky to still have some time with Jan, here in Shanghai. We took her down to the Bund (downtown Shanghai with all the cool skyscrapers on the river), and up to the observation deck of the second tallest building in the world, the Shanghai Tower. We accomplished a few record breakers that day with our trip up to the highest observation deck in the world (121 floors up) and the world’s fastest elevator (46 miles/hour). Luckily for us, the air quality was decent and it was a sunny, brisk day to look out over the Huang Pu River (offshoot of the Yangtze) and the sprawling city below.
Under the Christmas tree on our return from Vietnam we found a note for each of the kids from Grandma.
We were going to DISNEYLAND! Well, Shanghai Disney anyway…
Again, it was a cold, gorgeous day. And the rest of Shanghai was still in school! The kids were in Disney dream land all day.
We all had a really wonderful time. Thanks, Grandma.
And when it was all said and done, we even got a snow day! Pretty unusual to have a few inches of snow in Shanghai. We were lucky to experience it. I enjoyed watching the kids at school, some of which had never been in snow before, go nuts on the field before school one morning.
It was a different holiday season for us this year, but we celebrated in style with family and friends. It felt a little more like Christmas usually does to have Grandma Jan with us, and for that we are extremely thankful.
We are surely blessed in this life.
We hate to think of all that we have missed with so many of you, but as the latest “Happy Holidays” ever, we hope your holidays were bright and the year ahead is full of love and peace.