Tag Archives: travel with kids

Why I Love Travelling, And Why Kids Should Travel Too.

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WP_20140626_039 (2)There are many reasons why I love travelling. One of the most important ones is that travelling allows me to feel connected with the world, in a very personal way.

I realized this last night after I became instantly intrigued by a video post on National Geographic called ‘The Human Cost Of Sugar Harvesting’ that I probably would have just ignored a year ago. Why? Because the report is about what happens in Nicaragua, and I was there for a few weeks last year! I vividly remember the sugar cane farms – among banana farms, papaya trees, mango trees, pineapple farms – in that beautiful country, amid one volcanic mountain after another volcanic mountain.

WP_20140620_101 (2)WP_20140626_044Without having been actually in Nicaragua, I would have never been able to appreciate this video/topic in a way that now feels so familiar. Of course I will never be able to know keenly the day-to-day reality, a very sad and seemingly unescapable one, that surrounds these people. But at least I know where it’s happening. Where on earth Nicaragua is. To what kind of people it’s happening. What kind of social, geographic, political environment that these people live in. The language they speak. The dress they put on. The food they eat. The weather in which they carry out their daily lives. How much they pay for their daily grocery. Whether or not there is a cinema or a supermarket nearby. All these trivial knowledge were gained through travelling, seeing, living in the country.

Thanks to the travelling, I could feel so connected to a part of the world that’s so far away from me. I feel engaged. I become more eager to learn more about the place. I appreciate what they are going through. I feel for them. And I think it is an important issue as well as intimate, because it’s impacting the people that I feel I know a bit of.

I can learn as much as I want from a map or a geography lesson, but I will never really learn until I travel. I’m lucky I have a husband who understands and supports. I wish we would pass this contagious passion to my daughter too, so she becomes a real world citizen who feels connected thus cares.

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[D64] National Library of Argentina – Another Architectural Masterpiece

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[D64, Feb 19, Buenos Aires/Argentina]

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National library. Oh what a unique building. It reminded me of the slaughter house in Shanghai. Love the chairs, lounges etc – a series of classic design of mid century.

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Weirdly they destroyed an old building – used to be presidential residence so quite significant – to make the way for this industrial looking structure built in the 50′s. Hea

Visited a few floors but couldn’t go inside the library to read some books.

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Had lunch in cafe, again the purpose designed chairs just for the cafe probably.

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Then fine art museum, just on the opposite side of the big avenue. On the lawn, two young dancers rehearsing their dance, with horse head. So powerful even Nina became a fan, watched for quite a while.

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P.S: to follow our RTW experience: Trilingual Family blog, or join Trilingual Family facebook group

 

[D77] Casa Pueblo – The Gaudi House in Uruguay

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[D77, March 4, La Barra/Uruguay]

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Casa Pueblo is a castle/house/workshop/studio (now a public house and a hotel part) by the Uruguay’s national artist Carlos Páez Vilaró.

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At 91, he just passed away a few days ago, and his funeral was almost one of a national hero, which created heated debate in the media. The house was a complex of imaginary and fairy-like rooms, forms, and curving lines. Huge, but we only got to visit a small section, the rest was hotel and private housing. It reminds me of Gaudi and some of Picasso’s painting. An interesting man with footprint in four corners of the world, in painting, film, ceramics, and, interestingly, revolutionary. There was a very well done documentary (autobiography style) to watch in the in-house theatre (another room of genius).

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Nina bit her lower lip while playing on a bench. Another small accident that fortunately didn’t last long.

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Jose, our Airbnb host in La Barra, dropped us off near the house in the morning around the cliff (great view with ferocious wind). To get out, we had to take a taxi or to get a lift as there was no public transportation back to the city center. We took the only taxi that was dropping off a client, and got another couple to share the fare back to Punta. It started to rain once taxi set off.

 

P.S: to follow our RTW experience: Trilingual Family blog, or join Trilingual Family facebook group

[D110] Salar de Uyuni – A Surreal Existence

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[D110, April 6, Uyuni/Bolivia]

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Salar de Uyuni!! While choosing the photos for this post, I realized it’s an almost impossible task, as there are so many photos that even I like myself 🙂 All these photos you see here are straight out from my mobile phone (I love my Nokia 920) with no retouching at all. We have many in our Nikon but I leave the task of selecting those photos to later ..

We took a day tour with other 4 tourists (one Korean guy, 3 Japanese girls) with an agency whose main customers were Japanese with a bit of Chinese/Asian. The only reason I chose this agency amid other numerous agencies was that they offer additionally the sunset on the wet part of the salt lake(while others all came back well before sunset). In retrospect it was such a wise decision as the wet part was easily the highlight of the day.
At 6:30am I woke up to find an amazing sun rising cloud from our window. After all there was positive climbing extra 3 floors.
At a leisurely 10:30am start, we left the dusty town of Uyuni,,with all other jeeps tours … Funny that they unified the departure time. Before the actual Salar, there were 2 other stops: train cemetery (fun to climb on trains, met two guys biking their way down from Alaska to BsAs, quite an adventure!), Colchani (so called salt factory, where the only thing open were a so called museum which was actually nothing more than a shop with a few sculptures made from salt, and many shops selling souvenirs).
Then off we went, into the immense Salar de Uyuni!

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Such a surreal experience! It’s a more than 12,000 km2 of solid salt, sitting at 3,600+ m above sea level, with depth ranging from a few meters to more than 100metres. Our jeep – an old land cruiser – cruised through, salt after salt after salt, nothing else, for almost an hour.

Then a hill showed up in the horizon almost out of nowhere, with giant cactus all over it. Incahiasi Island was its name. There on its foot we had out lunch (salad, fried chicken, coke, banana). Then we set out to climb. It’s worth every bit of breathless steps. Nina was not well ( we later realized she perhaps had diarrhea after 3 dirty nappies) so we couldn’t all climb up to the top together. Nicolas and I took turns to the summit – oh what an eerie feeling – 360 degrees around, all that you could see was just white salt, with very very faraway on the horizon a few gentle hills. Then on the island, the only island In the entire salt lake, there were so many giant cactus that I wonder where and how they showed up and survived. I wish I could stay longer on the top to take in the view and really feeling the strange feeling.

Then we set off again to the seemingly endless salt lake. After some time our driver France(!!) stopped in the middle of nowhere n a perfectly unspoiled patch of salt, he said it’s time for some fun photo. And he meant it! He’s apparently mastered this. He took out some props (a few toy dinosaurs, a water bottle, a long sock etc). The three Japanese ladies were the models, letting France orchestra poses/actions/moves for some incredible photos using perspectives. We joined a bit but most of time took photos on our own.
The geometric pattern of the salt lake was naturally amazing. Nina had fun walking along the pattern, and also broke the small patches of salt off. I was sleeping on my tummy sometimes for fun or photo, oh the untreated salt mas very coarse for sure.

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Then the sun started to go down, we jumped on the jeep towards our last destination to watch sunset, with a very brief 10min stop in the salt hotel (a hotel made entirely out of salt. I wish we could have stopped a little long so that I could visit a bit inside, but well sun wouldn’t wait). We also changed into the boots that were provided as part of the tour, they even had size for Nina.

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The jeep slowed down when there started to be a shallow layer of water on the salt. This was the water not yet evaporated after the raining season (supposedly ended just in March). France really knew what he was doing. He looked around, trying to find a suitable patch to stop where there would be good reflection of sunset in the water. It was not a perfect sunset because there was just enough clouds at the horizon covering the setting set. But what an extraordinary view to see every colour and form reflected on the water, and the sky and the earth seemed to merge seamlessly. And we were all just tiny part of this grandeur unity.

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With the boots, we could walk around, but every one seemed to slow down, mesmerized by what we saw. Cameras worked hard – every single angle and moment looked too nice to miss.

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An hour or so passed by quickly. Sun set magestically. Moon was already high in the sky. Time to head back to Uyuni. Nina unfortunately was very grumpy, crying constantly, not able to sleep although she was visibly tired. At moments like this i asked myself if it’s too much for Nina and we as parents were too selfish.

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Nina went straight to bed after we came back. Nina co claimed he wasn’t hungry for dinner. I decided to go out food hunting myself. Crossed the street to the local restaurant as recommended by the lovely travel agency lady. They were all offering similar things – with parrillada grilling outside the resto and basic seats insides. I randomly walked into one and ordered what seemed to be the most popular – cotillas (griiled ribs) with rice and salad. I was astonished that the big meal costed only 8bol (1USD = 6.9bol)! No wonder she called the type of resto we normally went to and paid at least 50 for a similar plate the tourist resto.

 

P.S: to follow our RTW experience: Trilingual Family blog, or join Trilingual Family facebook group

[D66 – 70] Buenos Aires

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D66, Feb 21, 2014, BsAs

Got the news from my sister that a niang (our paternal grandmother) passed away yesterday 😞 now she would unite with a ya. And I couldn’t even be there … It’s too much emotion to write inside this blog so I will just say this much.

Tren de la costa to Tigre. A little cute train going to the delta, only 30 min. Although it took us 1hr almost to get to the train station. We had to wait for next train for 25min as we just missed the previous. There was a quite nice antique market adjoining the train station.

The train went along the coast. Nina excited about La Mer as she saw the water and cried.

Not knowing exactly what to do once I arrived at Tigre, we followed the crowd and took a cruise of one hour. Oh I was so glad I did. Only later I learnt there were so many rivers(Rio) running around this delta area. I saw some most charming houses along the rivers, with diverse architecture and style. What they all had in common was there was no road access and they all relied on boat (or kayak as I saw a few) for supplies and getting around. The ferry we took also took on some sort of delivery job. At the dock leaving Tigre, grocery/water/packs were loaded, then along the way, the ferry stopped numerous times at private jetty to unload the delivery – sometimes someone was waiting and sometimes goods were just thrown off to the jetty and left there. I guess it was pretty safe as no one could easily access the jetty anyway.

Tigre itself was quite crowded though and nothing much made us fancy without walking a lot. So after helado stop, we decide to take the train back but stopped midway at St Isda as LP said very good things about this place. It was a much quieter place to start with, then a nice cathedral. A tree lined square. A tourist info office that didn’t open.  It seems many wealthy locals choose to live around this area. We walked around the cathedral, dealing with a child who just woke up from insufficient nap and threw a tantrum. It would have been nice to visit the various museum and old villas. Oh well.

D67, Feb 22, 2014, BsAs.

Today was a rest day. No visiting nor much walking. Fetch laundry. Went to our cafe around the corner for a late lunch for 2 hrs. We are becoming local. Then went to the playground for 2 hrs. It’s almost like we were living here, although we had still to refer to LP from time to time.

D68, Feb 23, 2014, BsAs

Another leisure day, back to Chinatown for a meal at Taiwanese resto. Long wait. Full. At 2pm, we were yet to order. Fortunately we had enough crepe in the morning.

The lady sitting at next table started a chat with us asking where we live, in Chinese, as she recognized us speaking 2 languages. As it turned out, she grew up in Vietnam, studied in Germany, married a porteno and moved to BsAs. She was quite interested that we spoke 2 languages with Nina, and complained the slow service of the restaurant, which apparently changed the owner recently from a Taiwanese to a non-Taiwanese.

Then the helado stop, part of daily routine now.

Walked to plaza belgramo. Oh a lovely market, craft, creative, mostly sold by the artists themselves. In a nice surrounding, park, trees, next to the big (quite beautiful) church with round dome, and next to one of the best playgrounds we’ve come across in this city.

It’s almost like a local resident’s weekend, rather a visitor. Isn’t it what we were after?

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I said I wanted to go back to La Boca for some photos, and off we went. The one hour bus became a bit boring, esp in a non-aircon’ed bus in a hot summer day. Nina wasn’t the only one who wanted to get off the bus asap.

Unfortunately the museum was closed, ah it’s a Monday!! Why didn’t I learn my lesson? But the streets were a little less crowded, although definitely still busy. Still tango dancers pose for the photos with tourists – some were actually nice poses. We chose a restaurant to watch their tango shoe, but it was their senior men’s band and live song that won our heart.

On the way back we decided to take bus only to the plaza de mayo and then take metro to get home faster.

Noticed people buying full trolley load of grocery and had someone packing their shopping, and very likely doing the delivery. That’s quite handy.

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Went to change some cash with xiao Liao our money changer on my own so they two got some down time with no fuss of bus. The bus became unbearably long: almost 1h30min just to get to his place. Should have taken metro.

The inflation in the country was so real, because Xiao Liao was told by a merchant walking in during our chat their selling price of something increased again … Liao was selling a bottle of detergent for 18peso last week and now his buying price become almost 25.

I walked along Defensa, for the last time, north bound to plaza de mayo. It’s such a quick walk, without Nina. I made sure to say hello to a statue of Mafalda, and asked to be taken a photo with her. She was sitting on the bench, easily to be missed if not knowing she was there.

There was a group of people protesting next to plaza de Mayo, but I didn’t understand what for. A quick metro ride (10 min) home, but they were out. Text, phone didn’t work, was anxious. Then Nico called me, I joined them in playground. Lunch at nearby cafe/confiteria. Good value for money of set at $62, the bread was in an edible biscuit basket, cute. Tea was in a nice tea pot. The vuelta (mixed fried potato, cheese, ham) nice.

Ran a few errands (last load of laundry, bought a small duck for Nina from the Chinese shop), pack. Time to leave tomorrow. Already.