This Page

has been moved to new address

Vagabond Kids

Sorry for inconvenience...

Redirection provided by Blogger to WordPress Migration Service
Vagabond Kids: August 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mom Traveling Alone-Tokyo Plans

Kamukura Kamakura

One of the best things about my 9-5 job is that I get to travel around Asia for work. One of the perks are those days that I can take the family. One of the disadvantages is though, those times when I can't take the family due to either my time constraints or school schedules and the like. I am off tomorrow on a plane to Tokyo and this trip is one that the Vagabondkids will be staying in Singapore while I attend 3 days of meetings. I arrive Tuesday evening and plan to head towards Memory Alley (or Piss Alley depending on who you are talking to) and an early morning stop at Tsukiji for some super fresh Sushi right off the boat before a thrilling session of export control laws and compliance seminars.

Tokyo Boys Tokyo Boys

It has been 8 years since my last visit to Japan (not counting Narita International) and I look forward to doing parts of the city on my own. But I wish I was able to take the family, I love I love looking back at these pictures of our trip 8 years ago (even more so that my son just celebrated his 9th birthday!) and think of all of the adventures we could have as a family. Tokyo itself is pretty fun, if not a bit challenging, but the Japanese people are friendly and easygoing and always willing to help a stranded tourist. Declan, of course doesn't recall any of the trip and Kiera was just a peanut (no morning sickness made travel while pregnant with her a breeze).

After my meetings end on Friday afternoon I have a day and a half to explore more of Tokyo tand the surrounds. I will have some work collegues with me so I am not sure where we will go. Maybe up to Nikko for some hikes but I don't think I will make it to Kamakura nor will I hit the Tokyo Disney resort this trip (normally when traveling with the family these would be required stops!). I would like to stay in Tokyo proper for Sunday morning and hit the Cosplay and Harajuku scene in the Morning and maybe a hike around Aoyama to check out some amazing modern architecture. I am not sure this itenerary is much different than it would be with the kids, but I will definatly be doing more in my 2 days off than I would with the kids. I may treat this trip as "planning" trip as our plans continue to morph for next summer a trip and going to Tokyo family is in the works.

Labels: , ,

Friday, August 27, 2010

Photo of the Day: Leal Senado Steps

Leal Senado Steps Macau

I have been looking over snaps I took in Tokyo in September/October 2002 and on the same disk were pictures from our trip to Hong Kong and Macau. This is Declan in 2002 checking out the steps of the Leal Senado. Looking back this year of Declan's life was pretty amazing, at the age of 18 months he had been all around Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong and Macau, Phuket, Guam and the US. Pretty amazing!

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Travel in Malaysia During Ramadan

Malaysian Style Mosque in Malacca

I started writing this post while in Malaysia an Islamic country and it is Ramadan, (which is the holy month when Muslims around the world fast and abstain from physical needs during the daylight hours) I can’t help but recall the first time I traveled to Malaysia during this month. I was a bit nervous, a bit scared of what I could eat and when, I was also a bit on the clueless side as to proper manners and expected behavior during the fast. Today, I thought I would write a quick post about traveling during Ramadan, at least as it applies to the parts of Malaysia where I have traveled. I by no means am an expert on the subject, but I figure if I travel to Malaysia and bring my kids, what's stopping you?

First, the question I hear from friends and family are: is it safe, can I find food, can I eat and drink during the daylight hours ,and more importantly should I travel during the month of Ramadan? The answer to all of these questions is yes. There is no reason to postpone your travel during the month of Ramadan to a country like Malaysia. Food and drink are readily available in all stores, Indian, Chinese and Western restaurants. While if you are in a small town rather than some of the bigger cities you may find a bit more difficulty, there should also be places to find water or snacks.

Kuala Lumpur

I often wondered what polite behavior is during the fasting month, so I asked one of my friends. Simply put, use polite table manners and you probably won’t offend. While most modern Muslim’s would not take offence if you drank a glass of water in front of them, I try to avoid it. I will not eat in front of a fasting person, it seems to me that we have all gotten too casual in this regards anyway, but especially so this month. There are exceptions for Children, however, which something that this Vagabondmom cares about and if your kid has to eat, let them eat. Eating in restaurants or café’s not frequented by Muslims is also totally acceptable. And breaking of the fast, well, there is a whole set of rules for those who are fasting, but for the traveler a few common sense guidelines should be enough to get you on your way!

Buka Puasa at the JW Marriott Hotel

Each day there are specific times for the start and end of the fast. These times are established and then published by the local press and monitored by the local mosques. The call to prayer at sundown is a big deal as hungry people are ready to eat after a day of fasting! During the month it is very popular for many of the Malaysian’s to eat at big buffets (called Buka Puasa) and fancy restaurants. If you intend to eat out, I suggest you either eat early (before 7pm) or make reservations long in advance. Also be prepared to either eat the buffet if offered or understand that some of your favorite dishes may be sold out or only served on the buffet. When breaking fast with your friends and colleagues, you should not eat prior to the call to prayer which happens around 7:30 (again each day is different) and don’t be surprised if your dining mates go off to pray before they eat. I usually take my time and wait until after they have returned from prayer and eaten or have taken a drink before I do the same, again in many cases this is simple table manners.

Otherwise, the only advice I would give is to avoid the week of Hari Raya. Hari Raya is the end of the fasting month and is also called Eid and is the equivalent of December holiday season for those who come from “western” cultures. Be prepared to wait in long lines, travel with 100, 000 of your closest friends and generally suffer all of the inconveniences that we find when trying to travel the 2 weeks between Christmas and New Years. Travel during Ramadan is a great way of learning more about the Islamic religion. Many of the Malays are willing to discuss religion with you and are happy to do during this festive period. And, frankly the buffets are pretty darn good too~!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Travel Quotes: Anne Morrow Lindbergh

One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can collect only a few, and they are more beautiful if they are few. Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Labels: , ,

Monday, August 16, 2010

Going Native: Travel Like the Locals Do

One of the best evenings we had this trip back to the US was an evening being local. There were no amusement parks, no hotels, no fancy restaurants or reservations of any sort. We didn't really plan it out, there was not a tourist map in sight. No guidebooks or pre-scheduled activities. It was just a group of great people, a field, fresh fruit and good music and one amazing night.

Summer in the Pacific Northwest is magical. Long days with evenings that cool off, twilight lingers until 10pm and you have the amazing sense of peace and wonderment around you. What a tourist might do in Portland is to head downtown and check out one of the amazing clubs. Kids with families will hit the zoo, Omsi and walk down waterfront park. Tourists might escape to the beach, or drive up to the mountains. They might hit Oaks Park or do a fair, but there is lots-lots-more. Those hidden gems that every city has and the locals know them all.

Tourists and locals alike will stroll the aisles late into the night of the best independent bookstore in the world (Powell’s). Tourists and locals hit the farmers markets and Saturday Market. Tourists marvel at the late evening sun, but locals, those smart locals know that summer is fleeting. Summer passes far too fast, summer is something to be savored, sucked dry for every single second wasting none of it, summer is to be enjoyed now!

Listening to the tunes

Locals in Portland have a secret. One of the best ways to enjoy one of those summer nights is the Thursday evening concerts at Kruger’s farm on Sauvies’ Island. I first read about Kruger’s concerts long after I left Oregon by following Alicia Paulson’s Blog Pozy Gets Cozy. Alicia, a new Oregonian (which by my definition is someone not born there) had found what natives knew all along, it is about the company you keep, the local food and the local music scene that make Portland special. Her posts about Kruger's make me hunger for that local scene.

Having tried to go to Kruger’s on our last trip home, but unable to find the time, this summer I was determined to go. I had never heard of the singer, but when you tell the kids it is time for a concert and oh yeah you can pick blueberries…they were in. We set off, picnic foods in hand, met my sister and her family as well as our “Taiwan friends” Peter and Blythe and their family for an evening of music food and fun.

Sadie and her watermelon

What makes travel exciting is the unexpected finds, the spots that you see and know are special, these spots are often those loved more by the locals than the tourist. The local bakery down a side street that no tour bus has ever traveled. The local brewpub, up far in the hills that is filled with regulars who know the name of the barkeep as well as the tavern cat. The local scene is filled with a comfortable feeling of "I have been here, this is good and I will return". A tourist is often more interested in capturing the shot for the photo album (yes I am guilty of this) but slowing down and seeing things with a native gives such a deeper appreciation.

I still consider myself a native Oregonian (although I have taken a 12 year vacation from my home state) and I also consider myself a local Singaporean. My goal is to impress upon my children the joys of seeing things from a local perspective, speaking with and connecting with the citizens of those places we travel rather than simply taking a picture. Exploring deeper, stepping down the side alley, being native and when we stop traveling we can say we went native.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How I spent my summer vacation aka back in the USA

So how did you spend your summer?

Ours was jammed into a three week trip back to the States...

family goofballs

Visits in California included Disney, American Girl, Legoland, La Brea Tar Pits and the Page Museum, Hollywood and the Santa Monica Pier, and then stops at the Mission San Juan Capistrano, getting lost in the Rancho Santa Margarita in hot tubs and visits with the OC family.

Visits in Oregon, including McMinnville and the Evergreen Air and Space Museum, a drive through Salem to see the State Capital and Willamette University, the Enchanted Forest in Turner (South Salem), OMSI in Portland, Thursday Music @ Kruegers Farm in Sauvie's Island, Fort Clatsop, Fort Stevens, and Seaside with a stop at Tillamook Creamery for Ice Cream. Kids running through sprinklers and enjoying summer evenings in the twilight.

Washington State visits included Mt. St. Helens (the long way) Fort Vancouver and ice cream in old town Vancouver.

Summer Fun!

Add in visits with family and friends, a family reunion in Oregon, too much food and wine and great conviviality. Great people great summer. No time to blog. But, come back to Singapore and this is what happened.

Kiera's broken arm.

She is recovering well but will be attending second grade with a new cast on her right arm. I am back on the road in Kuala Lumpur and will be back on Flickr, Twitter and blogging regularly now that things are slowly returning to normal.

I hope your summer is perhaps less eventful than ours :-)

Labels: , , , ,