our group, singapore

thailand, singapore, shanghai

I guess it’s time to wrap up the trip! I finally finished editing my photos and uploaded them to flickr, made a slideshow to show the family and now I feel like I can move on. Except I need to finish here.

Thailand: Not everything will go as planned when you have a trip of this size, and I guess Thailand was our example of that. The port where our ship was docked was far from Bangkok, where we were to spend 2 days, but driving back to the ship at night. 3+ hours one way… yikes! We made it to Bangkok that morning afternoon, saw one temple; granted, it was a spectacular temple, got caught in a torrential thunderstorm, made it to lunch which was waiting for us (we arrived over an hour late) and then 4+ hours back to the ship due to flooded streets, collapsed buildings, crazy traffic and accidents along the way. And we were drenched to the skin… literally! It took my walking shoes 3 days to dry out!

Enter Plan B! Instead of heading back to Bangkok the next day, we detoured and went to Pattaya, a beach community close to where we were docked. We started our morning at the Sanctuary of Truth, a large wooden structure that is still being constructed. It was amazing! Every square inch of this large sanctuary is hand carved. And it’s huge…about 345 feet high and incorporates images from Buddhism and Hinduism from China, India, Cambodia and Thailand. It really took our breath away.

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Singapore: Everybody says how clean the city is and that is true! When you have laws against littering, spitting (thank goodness), chewing gum, etc… it shows! We arrived as the city was making preparations for the funeral of Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister and the father of modern Singapore. It’s a beautiful city and has changed so much since we were last there in 1981. The only thing that I recognized from that trip was the Merlion.

Shanghai: Our flight home had us connect through Shanghai and we decided to stop over and spend 4 days to see the city. Warren had visited Shanghai before, but this was my first time. We stayed with friends from Canada who live there part time teaching in a local university. It was nice to have a low-key time to really explore the city and eat the food! It wasn’t too low-key though since my fitbit says we walked just over 71,000 steps over 3 days. That’s 32 miles. The 11 hour flight home felt kind of relaxing!

All the photos are divided into albums. Here is the link to the collection if you’re interested. This has been a trip that had been a long time in thinking, dreaming and planning. It’s hard to leave it all, but I’m glad I took the time to get the photos organized.

Our trip was through UBC Alumni Travel Club and facilitated by Worldwide Quest. They did an AMAZING job organizing our trip and making it run as smooth as possible. We would definitely travel with them again. In fact, we hope that our group of 25 can do trips together in the future. We were accommodated in hotels in Hong Kong and Kaiping, China, and then for 2 weeks we were onboard the Celebrity Millennium. It was Warren’s first cruise, my 3rd. While it would have been nice to be able to spend more time in each city, it was a good way to get a flavour of the places and not have to pack and unpack each night. Unfortunately most of the ports were a distance from the cities and towns we visited, but we had very good tour guides that would make the bus rides go as quick as possible, a good group of people that didn’t complain and loved stories about the history, culture and food as much as we did, and gorgeous scenery to watch along the way.

The feature group photo at the top is not mine, but taken from the UBC Alumni Flickr site, album linked here.

Okay, now it’s time to get the yard ready for summer and my sweater finished!

fishing

beautiful vietnam

I’d have to say that this country was number one on my list to visit. And it did not disappoint. I would have loved to spend more time here and hope to do so one day. The people were wonderful, the food was so, so delicious, the countryside and rice paddies were lush and the cities were chaotic and crazy and totally fascinating! And then Halong Bay, oh my! We took a 3-hour boat cruise on a junk around the thousands of limestone rocks coming out of the water. It was magical.

These are just a few of the many photos we took over our 4 days in Vietnam. More are on my Flickr site.

My photo album on Flickr Vietnam is here, and I also have sub-albums for each city we visited. Hope you enjoy it :)

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connecting

When we signed up for this trip over a year ago, we were drawn to it by the itinerary that went to Hong Kong, Kaiping, China, Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore, and the involvement of Dr. Henry Yu. As I said in the last post, Henry and Warren had worked together a few years ago on a series of Chinese Canadian stories, with Warren and his cousin and her children highlighting the story of their grandfather, CD Hoy, his mother’s father, who immigrated to Canada in the early 1900s.

About a month before we were to leave on the trip, Warren got to thinking about where his grandfather was from, and the facts that he had was that CD was from a village called Sui Soon Lee in the county of Hoiping, Guangdong Province. So he did what we all would do, he googled it. Turns out Hoiping is the Cantonese version of Kaiping (Mandarin), one of the places on our itinerary where were scheduled to visit the World Heritage UNESCO Diaolou sites. Emails ensued, Henry pursued it with his contacts, put us in touch with these contacts and voila, it was put proposed that we would possibly try to visit the village while we were there. We didn’t have a long time in Kaiping… only 1 night, so it would be a tight squeeze if we could fit it in.

The morning that we were taking the ferry from Hong Kong to Zhongshan, the port city for Kaiping, we met Wanda Huang, a Chinese educator with local knowledge of the area and diaolous, who grew up not far from Sui Soon Lee and spoke the local dialect; as well, she lived in Canada and spoke perfect English. She would be accompanying us on this 2-day excursion.

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So it wasn’t really until that morning on the ferry that we realized that visiting the village was a real possibility, but we still weren’t positive that we’d find the village and what we would find if we did!

We picked up another local woman along the way who works for the government and was familiar with the village and its connection to CD Hoy. So there is our coach/bus following this woman on her scooter down narrow country lanes and voila, we pull up into the village. This is it!

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We were told that the writing on the gate said it was Sui Soon Lee. And off we go, gathering attention and interesting looks!

Sui Soon Lee, the ancestral village of Warren’s grandfather

The first man we meet, as translated by Wanda, tells us that he had known CD as a little boy. We’re not sure about this since he left the village in 1901 and this man, while elderly, was certainly not 100+ years! We made mental notes to ourselves to check what years CD made trips back to the village. But regardless, he told us the house still stands and would we like to see it?

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As we were following him down a narrow lane, I’m snapping photos along the way and it was starting to hit me what was happening. I’m wiping tears while trying to take pictures and look totally normal. Hard to do. Believe me, I stood out!

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We were shown the house which is now uninhabitable and is used as storage, started to take pictures of it when a few more people showed up and started talking to Wanda.

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Incredibly, Wanda tells us, this little grey-haired woman says she is related to CD Hoy. Her grandfather and Warren’s great-grandfather were brothers. That would make her a great-aunt or great-great aunt, not sure, but it doesn’t matter! It’s a family connection!

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What ensued after was lots of chatting, laughing, photos, more people, a cute baby, more people… Our fellow travellers were incredibly patient and I think were just as touched that this connection was made.

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We stayed a bit longer but then said our goodbyes and we were off for our scheduled itinerary visits. But this was a truly amazing experience!

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This would not have happened without the hard work of many people: Amanda Butler with Worldwide Quest, the UBC Alumni Travel Club, Dr. Henry Lu, Wanda Huang, Dr. Selia Tan. We are so grateful and are very excited to share this with the family and see about making a return visit!

Lastly, as I was getting back to our coach, I saw this woman sewing in an open storefront, a beautiful gold cloth.

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Yes, I think we need to go back so I can investigate this further…

More photos on my Flickr site in this album.

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home again!

We got home last week and I’m still trying to get my body back to the pacific time zone. I’m sleeping a lot, napping a lot and my cat is very happy about that since he likes it when I lay around. We have a lot of catching up to do, he and I!

I have knitting that I have been working on, but before I get back to that, I have started editing and posting photos from our trip. I have a lot… about 1,500 of them and I’ve been trying to get that number down. I’m determined to get this done in the next week, before I begin to forget everything and every place we visited. And there were a lot of places: Hong Kong, Kaiping China, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and Shanghai. My head is still swirling from it all!

So my first two batches of photos are up on flickr. I decided to group them by city and work on each group until I’m happy with what I’ve got. Hong Kong and Kaiping, China are first up.

hong kong skyline

This trip was sponsored by UBC Alumni Travel and hosted by Worldwide Quest. They did an amazing job! We had a study leader join us, Dr. Henry Yu, a professor of History at UBC as well as Principal of St. John’s Graduate College at UBC. Warren had worked with him on a project on Chinese Canadian stories a few years earlier, so when we saw this tour come up and Henry’s name attached, we were one of the first to sign up. We were a small group and very well taken care of. And the subtitle, “Chinese Migrations and Cuisine” had us eating a lot of very delicious food!

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Our small group just outside the Cang Dang Village in Kaiping, China.

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adventuring

I know I haven’t exactly been burning up the internet with posts lately. Things have been quiet but good around here. Quietly working on my sweater which I’m totally in love with. Quietly working on a lace pattern to take on our next adventure. Quietly (ok, maybe not so quiet) working out on my treadmill and getting my walking muscles up to snuff.

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Here is my Kikusui cardigan sweater as of today. I’m ready to bind off the ribbing at the bottom and pick up the sleeves for a big finish.  Modifications so far have been increasing the collar by one pattern repeat, eliminating the waist decreases, and making a wider bottom rib. It’s fitting like a dream and I can’t wait to get back to it and finish it off!

So I’ll be back in April with a few thousand photos and hopefully a pretty lacy thing all finished as well.

The above rice paddy photo is my laptop wallpaper curtesy of Apple. I hope to replace it with one of my own… :)