Sunday, January 30, 2011

How New Zealand Is Not Canada

This blog is not about the landscape and the weather. It's about living among the Kiwis.

The most obvious difference to me was the driving. Kiwis drive on the left side of the road. I've already driven on the "wrong side" before in England and Scotland but that was in the early 90s. All I remember is that regardless of what country I'm driving in, the driver always has to be closest to the center of the road. It took only about 48 hours to get used to that.

Thank goodness the gas and brake peddles are the same.

I'm still not completely confident where the left side of the car is. I put a pretty serious scrape into the left front hubcap of our rental car in Auckland - oops! "It was there when we rented it."

When reversing, I still tend to look over my right shoulder towards the driver-side window instead of over my left shoulder.

One thing I haven't gotten used to is that the indicator handle is on the right side of the steering wheel instead of the left side. It would be easy to spot our car in Palmerston North as we cruise this city that we barely know and suddenly careen across lanes with our windshield wipers going on double speed instead of our indicator lights .

There is one other aspect of driving on the opposite side of the road that occurs off the road. Walking around the hospital, I've startled a few people and split a few coffees as they steer around me in the corridors until I realized that like Canadians, people tend to walk on the same side of the corridor that they drive on. In Canada, everyone tends to walk on the right side of the corridor. In NZ, the Kiwis walk on the left.

Personal Hygiene
If any of you come visit, please PLEASE bring me antiperspirant sticks. In NZ, deodorants and antiperspirants come only in roll-ons! Ewwww!

It seems acceptable for Kiwi kids and even some adults (more frequently in young adults) to walk around everywhere in bare feet - on the street, in the grocery store, in restaurants! A sizable proportion of the student body at the kid's school go barefoot rain or shine! Wierd!

Kiwi Sense of Humor
One of the things I most like about living here in New Zealand is their ... it's hard to be politically correct here ... broadened sense of what's appropriate. They're more relaxed, more laid back. We noticed this most in advertisements, most of which would never ever see the light of day in North America for fear of offending people (and being sued). Canadians and Americans definitely lose out. When the advertisements are funny, they're REALLY funny. When they're serious, they are often truly brutal. Here are a few samples.

I'm sure you've noticed how staid and boring the pre-flight safety videos are. Sure airline security is no joke bla bla bla bla. Check out how Air New Zealand briefs it's patrons.

Did you catch it? The BARE essentials of safety? Did you notice that the women were never visible below the shoulders? Were the men's nipples a little more visible than usual?

This next ad is famous among Kiwi's even though it's a few years old.

This is pretty standard fare for a beer company. Tui beer, whose slogan is "Distracting The Boys From The Task At Hand Since 1889" ran this commercial recently.

We haven't had too much difficulty understanding the Kiwi's, but there are a few differences in our expressions.

Flip-flops  =  Jandals
Spite/7-Up = Lemonade
Lemonade = Lemonade (but doesn't really exist)
Windbreaker = Windcheater
Cash = Do Ray Mi
Hike = Tramp

Pace of Life
Coming from a caffeine-fueled aggressive pace of life where I always drive over the speed limit and where every waking moment feels rushed, the Kiwi pace of life took some getting used to but is a hugely welcome change.

Like most of you back home, our lifestyle was to rise before dawn, guzzle caffeine-enriched coffee, speed to work/school, multi-task all day long, walk around checking our iPhones/Crackberries every 60 seconds, grumble loudly if plans go awry, speed back home again, take kids to hockey/football/soccer/figure skating 6 nights out of 7 and then collapse for less than the recommended amount of sleep.

Perhaps the most welcome change in New Zealand is that the pace of life is so much more relaxed. Starbucks is going out of business in New Zealand because people find it too strong. Almost everyone has a cell phone, but they are phones, not Blackberries or iPhones. And they are not glued to them. People drive below the speed limit. The kids start school at 9:00am with three snack breaks and finish by 3:00pm. Their school has a pool that they use at least three times per week. Their favorite part: NO HOMEWORK! Mom & Dad's favorite part: Trish and I can hang up our chauffeur caps - all the activities are part of after-school time: rugby, swimming, cricket, art, computers, music .... When we're all home, it's pure family time.

Our kids had no idea what these were for
At home, we have a TV but there are only three channels unless you get SkyTV which only 1/3 of Kiwis have. When we watch TV, it's those 3 channels or we rent or buy something off iTunes.

Before leaving Canada, we had heard how wonderful the Kiwis were. Part of this is that everyone is keen to chat with you. Cashiers, barristas, waitresses, etc. all seem keen to engage you in conversation. I don't think they are particularly interested in foreigners, although the topic soon turns around their detection that my accent isn't Kiwi. However, they are equally courteous with each other and I've realized that they were not simply friendly with visitors. It's just the way they are. In my surly urban Canadian-ness, despite being on vacation, I treated the grocery store clerk's chit-chat with the customer in front of me with mild annoyance. "Helloooo? Waiting in line here! Time is precious!" [in my head thank god, but with pronounced eye-rolling]. But then I had my turn too and it's all good. No one seems rushed. There's time to chat. I've got a lot to learn.

All of you must have some guilty pleasure that you would love to do if the house was empty and all the chores were done, but months or years go by without you ever getting to indulge yourself. New Zealand has been good for that. I've made a significant dent into the National Geographics that I brought with me and we go out on walks as a family. I feel better about sleeping 7 hours a night instead of my usual 4-5.

No worries, mate.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

We made it to NZ! Auckland.

After an excellent experience in Hong Kong and an 8 hour sleep aboard Air New Zealand, we landed in Auckland at 11:30am on a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon in the middle of summer.

We didn't have much trouble clearing customs or "biosecurity". New Zealand is ultra-strict about entry of any sort of biological material into their country. I had heard stories about people being fined $400 for forgetting an apple in their bag, so we declared everything - the sand dollar Christmas decoration we picked up in Hawaii, our snorkeling gear, even our hiking shoes. But they really weren't all that interested, so it didn't take very long. Only the sniffer dog was unconvinced of my backpack's cleanliness, but his handler couldn't find anything to back up his suspicions. Lucky us!

View of the City of Sails from our hotel balcony
I was excited to explore Auckland, the City of Sails, where it is estimated that there are over 250,000 boat owners among the 1.3 million people that live here. Auckland residents repeatedly vote that their quality of life is among the best among city dwellers anywhere in the world.

We had an excellent harbor view from the balcony of our apartment and I could see no fewer than 4 yacht clubs. So I was so psyched to go out and stroll along Quay Street, the road along Auckland's waterfront. We caught a late lunch along the lower section of Queen St., downtown Auckland's main street.

Before I go on, I want to tell a story about traveling around Europe many years ago. We (me and some people I can no longer remember except that they were fun) were in Berlin. I had read about how Berlin was supposed to have this crazy club scene and I was imagining a city core like Montreal's ... X 10 at least ... during Grand Prix. It was Friday night in the spring, so we went to one of the areas of Berlin that the Let's Go recommended as being one of "the" areas to go to to party in Berlin. And it was dead. We asked the barmaid and she said that we were in the right area. So we tried another bar. Crickets. So we caught a cab to another "it" neighborhood. More crickets. Finally, out of frustration, we decided to walk over to one of the areas that the book had recommended to stay away from because it was dangerous and we might get mugged. There was a little bit more activity and we sulked in a bar for the rest of the night wondering if we had just chosen the wrong areas or the wrong bars or the wrong night or if Berlin was really like this. After all, not every city can have a nightlife like Montreal's - Toronto, for example ;).

Auckland was like that - BORING! Sort of scenic by the standard of most cities, but a disgrace from NZ standards. Better than Detroit or Cleveland, but ...

Beautiful Saturday afternoon in the middle of summer, nobody around the waterfront or downtown sector except other tourists. It's virtually deserted. I even asked our waitress if there was some huge sporting event where everyone was in front of a TV somewhere. She replied that this really was downtown Auckland. Maybe everyone was out on their boats.

Parnell pub "The Bog" at 4:30pm. Why are the benches all empty?
The next day (Sunday), we went to Parnell, a hillier version of Montreal's Sherbrooke Street as it runs through lower Westmount or Toronto's Bayview as it runs through Leaside. Two Ferrari's parked along the street. Lots of preppy boutiques. Looking more promising. But all the stores are CLOSED!! Whatever stores were open are empty. It was almost eerie. You could have shot some post-apocalyptic deserted scene in a movie here without any problem.

 Same thing for Ponsonbury and Remuera.

Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World, Auckland
 We also checked out Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World -  a pretty cool aquarium but overpriced for the 45 minutes it takes to get to the generously sized gift shop. It was priced like an amusement park. We were sort of expecting to spend a significant part of the afternoon there. Anywho, the kids had a good time, but I'll label it Tourist Trap.

People did seem to come out to play in the evening and we had a fantastic Indian meal at Oh Calcutta! on Parnell St. Trish and I are pretty big fans of Indian cuisine and Trish went so far as to say that this was the best Indian she had ever had. The kids had never really tried Indian before and even they got into it.

Monday, January 10, 2011 was a business day. We had already managed to get hooked up with mobile numbers through Vodafone. That was pretty straight forward - we removed the Roger's SIM cards and put the Vodfone ones in. I'd already opened a bank account with ASB (voted best customer service of any business in NZ!) before I left home and had gotten the hospital to deposit part of my relocation allowance (to pay for the flights) there, so there was a good heap of change waiting for us when we arrived in NZ. All it took was a 30 min meeting at the bank on Monday morning and our banking was all set up. Kiwi customer service is awesome!

Then we were off to buy a car. I'd found a couple of used car dealers on the Internet before leaving Canada and we headed to the first one on the list who had also offered to buy our car back again at the end of our stay in New Zealand. We visited Real Wholesale Cars right near the fish market. This was a huge parking lot of imported cars previously driven in Japan all with around 100K on them. No hustling salesmen. The owner, who was busy passing a kidney stone ("Not as bad as the last one!") told us "Alright, toddle off and find one you like. Grab the sticker and then come back so we can talk turkey." The kids settled on one and it was among the cheapest on the lot so Trish and I were OK with it. For the test drive, the owner essentially handed me over the keys and told me to take'er for a spin. He didn't feel he had to come with me and had no interest in seeing any ID. I signed a bunch of papers, forked over the cash and within 90 minutes had bought a new car.

Let the derision begin!
Yes, I really hate mini vans. They make me feel like there's a banner flying behind the car that says "Check me out - I'm in my forties and live in the suburbs!" But for this trip, it was the clear choice. I don't want to screw around with maintenance and repairs, so a Honda Odyssey makes it simple. We've got tons of luggage, so it's got to be big. We're going to be spending a lot of time in this thing, so it's got to be comfortable. Anyways, it's only for 7 months and it runs well.

We had slotted a whole day to get these things done, but we were done everything by noon. They were going to prep the car for us and we had to pick it up by 5:00pm. So we had some lunch and decided to head to one of Auckland's more famous beaches, Karekare beach where the movie "The Piano" was filmed.

Karekare Beach
Unfortunately, we got hopelessly lost and got some really bad directions from the locals and had to turn back before we could have a proper visit to the beach.

That night we had dinner at Auckland's Sky Center, which was only a few minutes walk from our hotel, and with not much else going on, decided to go see Tangled in 3D.

We had originally planned on staying 4 nights in Auckland, but although it was well kept and had obvious affluence, we felt that we had seen everything we were interested in seeing in 2 days and were anxious to get to our new home.

If you ever plan to visit New Zealand, you can think of Auckland a little like Athens. It's nice and has some cool things going for it, but there is so much other truly fantastic stuff outside of the big city that you shouldn't be tempted to waste your time there.

For instance, Palmerston North is only 550km from Auckland, but the drive took us 8 hours. Ask yourselves when was the last time any of you were so enthralled with the scenery while driving that you felt that you had no other choice but to pull over and take pictures. I shot over 80 photos during that trip. I could have shot more, much more. I'll post some of them next post.

Friday, January 28, 2011

New Zealand Contact Information

Our internet connection is finally up and running, so blog updates should come more freely now and you can call us for FREE!

New Zealand is 16 hours ahead of Montreal, but it's probably easier if you subtract 8 hours from Montreal time to get our time the next day.

This should give you the correct NZ time:

Time in New Zealand

Here are our new specs:

411A Featherston St.
Palmerston North 4414
New Zealand

Trish's Mobile: 011-64-21-0821-8070
Craig's Mobile: 011-64-21-0821-8071

VoIP Number (Toll-Free for you and us): 514-472-0408

Skype Name: baldry.canada

Our e-mail addresses are unchanged:


The kids all have e-mail addresses. Harrison monitors his account, but the girls ... not so much.
However, they all have recent iPods that support FaceTime for anyone that has either an iPhone 4 or an iPod touch with iOS4 ... or even a Mac.


So far, New Zealand is all that it is cracked up to be, but we still get homesick!

So call us and call often. Read and comment on the blog or just drop us an e-mail from time to time!

Thanks in advance!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hong Kong Part 2

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

As part of the pre-trip negotiations, I guaranteed Harrison that we would do something fun every day. The implicit understanding was that this would be kid-fun. Day 1 of Hong Kong barely met this agreement, so Hong Kong Day 2 was ...

... Ocean Park, Hong Kong's amusement park. Ahhh ... it was fine ... the kid's had fun ... the food was gourmet quality ... the rides were awesome .... we saw live pandas. We took a double-decker bus back and forth. The only notable difference between North American and Chinese amusement parks is that it was possible to eat either McDonald's OR a Madras curry before braving the next roller coaster.  Not much more to say ...

At the best of times, amusement parks are exhausting for parents, so mid-afternoon when we were done with Ocean Park, we decided again to head back to the hotel to rest prior to heading to the Happy Valley Racecourse for the Wednesday Night Extravaganza. We picked up some Husband and Wife cakes from a Chinese bakery at the corner of the street next to our hotel. Guess which one was better? Everyone's favorite including mine was the Wife cake.

Having slept through Tuesday night, we ... again slept through the whole thing. I woke up at 9:30pm, way too late to head to the races. Apart from Harrison, everyone else was too sleepy to move.

Temple Street Night Market
Harrison and I decided to head out to get something to eat and then to explore the Temple Street night market. Lots of sex toys and lighters and t-shirts and sex toys. We haggled for some splat toys with a vendor who wouldn't budge, so we bought from the lady right opposite him.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hong Kong Day 3 was all about altitude. We decided to hit some of the sights even though it was winter in Hong Kong - cold and wet!

In the morning, we headed off to the Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island at the end of one of Hong Kong's subway lines.

Cassandra (with purple sparkly shoes) on Hong Kong's immaculate MTR
Part of the trip was the Ngong Ping cable car, a 25 minute gondola ride through the clouds up to the top of the mountain where the temple and giant Buddha were located. We opted for the "crystal cabin" with a see-through bottom. Because it was so foggy, we could hardly see anything, but Trish (who's afraid of heights) could see enough to be freaked out.

We got up to the top to a (probably recreated for tourists) remote alpine Chinese village. It was freezing and foggy, so we headed directly to the Starbucks to get warm.

Gigantic Buddha sitting on his lotus leaf plinth
 The fog started to lift as we headed up to the awesome Po Lin Monastery.

Trish and the kids on the steps up to the Po Lin Monastery
The interior of the monastery was an impressive combination of red satin, MANY orchids of every color and large gold Buddha's. I didn't take any photos as there were alot of people praying and lighting incense, but it was beautiful.

Do we look cold? Harrison took this shot.
Next, we climbed the 268 steps up to the gigantic iron buddha sitting on top of the mountain. The view from there was awesome now that the fog had lifted. We finished off our visit with a bit of retail therapy in the little village at the end of the gondola. There was a lot of cool, although vastly overpriced stuff, but we all ended up picking something up anyways. My favorite was the chop stick store featuring over 600 different sets of chop sticks!

After going back down the gondola, we headed back into central Hong Kong. We had lunch just off Statue Square and then walked to the base of the Peak tram. Throughout all of our travels in Hong Kong, this was the only time we ever had to wait in a queue and even at that it was only for about 20 minutes.

Going up the Peak Tram
By the time we got up to the top, the weather had turned into a warm clear afternoon and we could see for miles! It was worth the wait. The views over Hong Kong Island and Kowloon and over the South China Sea on the other side were amazing!

We inexplicably spent $300 HKD ($40 Can) on about 2kg of candy to keep us company on the ride down. We thought about doing some shopping at the Landmark and the Prince's building, two of the malls around Statue Square, but it was WAY too bling for our budget.

Friday, January 7, 2011

On our last day in Hong Kong, we decided to walk around some of the Kowloon markets. We only had the morning and afternoon as our flight to Auckland was leaving at 19:15. While Hong Kong Island is a noticeable mixture of Chinese, white, Indian and other faces, as we headed deeper and deeper into Kowloon, there were less and less white faces mixed among the Chinese.

We followed Nathan Road through Mong Kok and Prince Edward districts. The first market we came to was the Goldfish Market on Tung Choi Street.

A whole street of aquariums and fish in bags hung on racks
Next, we walked through the flower market along Flower Market Road. I loved all the orchids, although the miniature clementine trees were cool as well.

Tons of Orchids
Miniature Clementine Trees
At the end of Flower Market Road is a stairway up to the Bird Market along Yuen Po Street. There wasn't much to see, but the sounds of 1000s of birds in tiny cages was almost deafening. 

Finally, we headed back to our hotel through the Ladies Market along a lower section of Tung Choi Street.

As I mentioned last post, we loved Hong Kong. It is an interesting unique city and we had the persistent observation that Hong Kong is very well run. I could have easily spent another week combing through the New Territories. From the amazing transit system to the helpful bilingual staff everywhere to the efficient on-time airport, the Chinese do a very enviable job at running this amazing city. We had expected more of a Chinese Manhattan. We were wrong.

We were.

The next leg of our journey was about to begin. We flew to Auckland on Air New Zealand, a stretch limousine of an airline compared to Continental.

When we landed, the weather was beautiful and we had to contend with exiting tourist mode and setting up our new life in New Zealand.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hong Kong Part 1

Hong Kong was a dream! We all loved it.

Hong Kong skyline from the Peak
We arrived late at night on Monday, January 3 and left in the evening on Friday, Janaury 7, so we had more or less 4 complete days in Hong Kong. We were all pretty exhausted and getting over a gastro & jet lag; our only regret is that we all badly needed to rest. But we did manage to get a lot out of a fantastic city.

We stayed at the CityView on the Kowloon side. Although most people that have visited mainland China would argue that any part of greater Hong Kong is far removed from the real China, staying in Kowloon was definitely more China than Hong Kong island and a nice introduction to the sights, sounds and smells of Asia.

Our hotel was great. We rented two rooms. They upgraded us to a suite free of charge and the staff were excellent. I wouldn't call it luxurious, but at $90 a night per room, it was excellent value. The location was superb. We were a 15 sec walk to the Yau Ma Tei subway station and right around the corner from the Night Market. Having said that, all of us would probably stay on Hong Kong island the next time for a variety of reasons; the largest reason would be to be a little closer to the bright lights and night life of Hong Kong.

We started our first day with a stroll through the Reclamation Street market - lots of stuff I wouldn't be able to name and would think twice about tasting - no that's a lie; I'll taste anything twice. But it was cool to walk through a huge market with lots of new foods.

Reclamation Street Market
Next, Harrison took on a Chinese octagenarian at the jade market and haggled her down to $2.50 for three jade figurines representing their Chinese zodiac animals. When she wouldn't budge anymore, he threw up his hands and walked away - good move! She handed over the calculator for him to punch in the magic number. I think she got a kick out of it as well.

Unfortunately we got there right after closing ...
We kept going down Nathan Road and across Kowloon Park to the Harbor City mall, the largest mall in Hong Kong. Now, the thought of traveling across the world to spend a few hours in a mall is slightly less appealing to me than an extended colonoscopy, but this mall is crazy! I couldn't help but chuckle at Trish; she reminded me of my kids on Christmas day. "Oh my god! There's Prada! And Louis Vuitton and Jimmy Choo! And they've got Dior for Kids, but look at these designer cupcakes!" Seriously, it was a solid 3 hours of exclamation marks.

 If any of you are inclined to shopping, this is a must see if you visit Hong Kong. I even enjoyed it. They could use a few more electronic stores and a pub would be nice but I digress. I can't think of any high-end brand name that is not represented here. It was pretty cool. Trish added to her collection of sandals and the girls picked up some sparkly shoes. Harrison settled on some toys and I was happy to get out of there for under $400.

Aboard the Star Ferry
In the afternoon, it was lunch overlooking Hong Kong harbor, a trip over the harbor in the famous Star Ferry and then a walk along Queen's Road. The kids were excited to "ride the really long escalator", so we took the 30 or so escalators from Queen's Road West to Conduit Road ... only to realize that there's nothing to do up there. It's wholly residential. So we walked back down again which wasn't as bad as it sounds.

Man Mo Temple: The incense coils take several weeks to burn down

Although it was only 3:00pm, everyone's energy was beginning to wane so we took a brief detour along Hollywood Road to Man Mo temple. Then there was some trinket shopping in Soho, a quick subway trip back to the hotel  (Hong Kong's subway is amazing!) with the intention of putting our feet up for a few hours and then catching an evening Cantonese meal and a trip to the Night Market.

Everybody but me slept a solid 14 hours - right the way through to the next morning.

As a footnote, I got up around 8:30pm and ducked out for a taste of China. One of the porters at the hotel directed me to a "very famous Hong Kong restaurant". Not so sure about that, but it was a tiny hole in the wall with good food. It was a soup kitchen where I sat with 5 other locals, only two of which decided to move rather than have to watch me eat noodle soup with chop sticks and a spoon. The menu was all in Cantonese so I choose one of the 6 items translated into "Beef with Noodles" which the waitress signaled to me was the incorrect choice, so I'm not really sure what I ate. But it was boiling hot and pretty tasty and I knew I'd stolen an experience that was neither Trish nor kid-friendly.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Lucky Number 13

So, yes, the travels are glamorous, but exhausting and we all started to second guess things when a few strikes of bad luck came up against us.

There was the Newark debacle that was heart-breaking. The problems in NJ made us miss our flight on Dec 28th. Thankfully I was able to rebook our Honolulu to Kaua'i flight for 24 hours later without a penalty and the rental car company didn't seem to care. Our boat tour around the Na'Pali coast was also easily rescheduled to January 1st without problems.

But Continental or Newark or both, despite perfect flying conditions and above 0 temperatures, got us out 2 hours late from Newark - enough that we missed our connecting flight in Honolulu.

Hello Best Western Honolulu Airport!

This time the Hawaiian airline was less understanding and it cost us $400 to get on the first flight out in the morning.

So overall, we lost 1 day and 2 nights in our beautiful condo by the ocean and were out close to $1000. And there was the toll on us - waiting around airports, calling all sorts of 1-800 numbers, lugging our stuff all over the place. Thank you, Consuela, you Biatch!

Cassandra is usually our "canary in a coal mine". She started to throw up at 1:45am in Newark. I lost count at 6. Thankfully she rebounded quickly and other than some false alarms, it was over by morning.

Harrison continued to eat everything in sight. Trish and I managed to keep everything down or in or whatever, but were queasy after meals for a few days. Despite the external beauty of the Na'Pali coast, I was very quiet during the trip and the seas were apparently quite calm for January.

On takeoff from Kaua'i back to Honolulu, as Trish tried to remind Mackenzie that her tray had to be stowed and her seatback in the fully upright position, she sat bolt upright and said "But my belly is very sore ..." Well, the last word was kind of muffled by the chocolate cheerios and curdled milk flying out of her mouth. She threw up all over herself and Trish ... and - no joke - every 30-40 minutes for the entire 8 hour flight to Guam (our stopover on the way to Hong Kong). We must have used half the plane's supply of Continental little blue barf bags.

To boot, I grew to really hate Dylan, the toddler in seat 37A, who screeched "WASSER" for the entire 8 hour flight. Dylan's Dad and Dylan had some kind of communication issue. Dad's repetitive threats of "10 minutes of stroller time tomorrow" were misinterpreted by Dylan as encouragement to escalate the volume, pitch and repetitions of the "WASSER"s.

As we deplaned in Guam, we were all really exhausted and glum. I started to wonder if it was too late to rejoin Harrison's hockey team. Dylan and his family started to follow us to the gate of the flight to Hong Kong. Shit! Maybe if we ran to the gate, we would lose them. No such luck. They were on the same flight as us again! Another f***** 5 hours of "WASSER"s. Guess where they were sitting? I'm sure you all got it right - in the row directly in front of us!!!

And then our luck changed.

Mackenzie's gastro got better. She never vomited again and ... well nothing else either. Dylan (and all the rest of us) slept the entire flight to Hong Kong. We landed at 10:30pm in Hong Kong's beautiful clean efficient airport.

Our hotel van driver was right on time and the transport to the hotel and check-in were seamless. Harrison and I ventured out into Kowloon to find some comfort food for the ladies.

Nathan Road, Kowloon - 1:00 am
It couldn't have been the air (in Kowloon???), but as we walked back to our hotel with chicken McNuggets for the fairer members of our family, Harrison and I both felt that things had changed and that now the real trip had started. Hong Kong would not disappoint.

Rooms 1315 and 1316 at the CityView

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Finally in Paradise: Kaua'i

Salvation! Our plane to Honolulu finally arrives. Note the clear blue skies that explain why the flight is 2 hours late.

Where's my Mai Tai?

There it is!

The view from our lanai:

Some shots from the kids' surfing lessons:
Harrison catching a wave
Cassandra catching a wave
The surfers with their instructor Sparky
Some other Kaua'i shots:

Mackenzie & Dad on the beach
All dressed up for our New Year's Eve Luau

Dawn of 2011

Going snorkeling off Na'Pali
Na'Pali Coast
Trouble in Paradise
Yeah ... all of us except Harrison went down in some form of another on Kaua'i or on the 13 hour trek to Hong Kong, but more on that later.