Thursday, February 19, 2015

Tourist Attractions: Noah's Ark and Hong Kong Cable Car Ride

Noah's Ark 

Noah's Ark was our first tourist stop on our trip. It was quite cloudy this day so we weren't able to take in the Solar Tower and we spent most of our visit eating lunch at the buffet and viewing the amphibians inside. Declan loved the Chameleon.

This tourist area offers a hotel and buffet as well as the venue itself and shopping. The walk from the transportation stop to the Ark is nice as well with a lot of little shops and food venues.

Hong Kong Ngong Ping Cable Car Ride 

This was an awesome ride. We rode public transportation to get to Ngong Ping and then waited in line (a long line so make sure you have something to keep any little ones happy). We ended up buying the round trip tickets along with the boat ride in the fishing village. We opted for the round trip tickets over the glass bottom cars (I was very happy about this since I am fearful of heights).

The cable car ride up to the Buddha was a long one. But, Declan loved it. He stood on the seat the whole time and looked out of the window. It was very cloudy (granted this was February, but the humidity was high) the day we went so we didn't see a lot on the way up, but by the time we left the sun was out full force and we had an awesome view!

From the cable car, we could see the Hong Kong Airport, the landscape, and the new bridge from Hong Kong Island to Macau.

Trip Up

Not Fearful Of Heights At all

Clear Afternoon Skies Beautiful

We Could See Everything From Up Here on the Way Back 

After getting off of the cable car, we walked around the village shops and hiked to the top of the hill to see the brass Big Buddha and Lon Po Monestary. To the top of the Buddha is 268 steps. The hike is well worth it when you arrive at the top and look down to see the hills and ocean views. Incense was burning everywhere. There are also cows roaming free on the road and dogs everywhere off leash. They are safe, but petting or feeding them is not something you should do. We were also able to walk through the temple and see the kneeling spots of the monks. The monks weren't that happy that all of the tourist areas were added, but they do receive monies from people there.

The Village

Declan and Sook Sook (Chinese term for Uncle)

Buddhist Tree 

Dogs Were Everywhere (They had inner peace as well!)


New Year's Incense 

Lon Po Monastery

View From the Top

Gary's dad also wears Buddhist beads around his wrists which he was able to "recharge" while we were there. He wears them as a sort of protection. He paid his respects to the Buddha and believes he receives more protection from this process. Inside of the beads are 6 strands. One time, his dad says, that all 6 strings broke and he knew something bad was going to happen. Someone was robbing taxis. Gary's dad is a taxi driver.

After seeing the Buddha and the Monastery, we traveled by taxi (you could take a bus) down the hill to the fishing village. We walked around the little village and then rode a speed boat out into the water where we were able to see the famous Pink Chinese Dolphins. You can also see the historic Tai O Heritage Hotel which resides in the restored Tai O Police Station.

Barely Make Out the Pink Chinese Dolphins

Our little man was kept busy while we climbed up to the Buddha by his YeYe and bubbles. Having someone at the base to watch any small children is a must. The boat ride was his favorite and he finally fell asleep at this point on his YeYe's lap to the bouncing of the waves.

Hong Kong: Highlights Daily Life

Traveling to Hong Kong, in my opinion, gets a little easier each time you visit. For one thing, you get used to being the minority, you get used to using public transportation, you get accustomed to packing a bag before you leave the house and you learn to LOVE the food and convenience of shopping.

Daily Life:

Because you are using public transportation to get everywhere, a BAG is a must when you leave home. You won't have a car to run back to if you need something. Any bag will work, but a great bag will be able to hold a good bit without being too heavy to carry. A great bag will also have an outside pocket to put your OCTOPUS card inside so you can just slide your bag (or wallet) over the NFC (Near Field Communication) sensor at the many public transportation stations. You can also load money on your card and use it for purchasing at most stores (people in Hong Kong really don't use ATM cards or credit - mainly cash or OCTOPUS).

What to pack in your bag:

  • Mini Umbrella
  • Snack
  • Water (most restaurants serve tea or soft drinks only)
  • Packs of tissue (you won't receive a ton of napkins at restaurants)
  • Hand sanitizer (we carried wipes)
  • Scarf that can be used for a wrap or wear a jacket (even on the most humid days, the air conditioning in malls and public transportation is cold - the wind between the buildings can also be cold)
  • Cell Phone/earbuds
  • OCTOPUS card 
Traveling with baby or toddler:

Since we were traveling with a toddler (2 years 4 months), I often used his small backpack as a diaper bag and my bag. You don't know when you might return home or how long a trip might take so plenty of diapers, wipes, a bag to put dirty diapers inside and a change of clothes. There aren't always changing table either!!! We practiced changing his diaper standing up for a couple of weeks before we visited. You can always put the toilet seat down and have him or her stand up for changing (of course if it isn't a messy diaper). Of course, there are stores everywhere so forgetting something isn't an issue. 

Stroller Access:

If you have a busy toddler who doesn't like to sit still (as we do), a stroller is a huge plus. Friends gave us a Maclaren stroller to use on our trip. It was a lifesaver!! Navigating the streets is sometimes difficult at rush hour, but the MTR stations have stroller access, there are lifts everywhere and balancing a stroller up or down the escalator is achievable. Also, a lot of restaurants do not have high chairs so the stroller is used there.

Whatever stroller you choose, it should be one that takes up limited space and can fold really quickly. Our little man spent most of his transportation rides in the stroller until he discovered how cool it was to hold onto the bar and spread his legs for balance on the MTR.

At home, the basket at the bottom of the stroller is used a lot to store items, but Hong Kong streets are quite dusty. Bringing a plastic bag to store an extra jacket or bought items is a plus if you use the basket on the stroller. Our Mommy Hook came in handy as well.


"American Food" is scarce in Hong Kong, but there are usually options. If you are a picky eater, buns, Congee, rice and noodles are on every menu. There are always little shops along the way to get items you may want to snack on between meals if you know you are not going to try different foods.

Our families' building had a Starbucks, Spaghetti 360 , Cafe De Coral and California Pizza Kitchen. There are also Japanese and Vietnamese restaurants.  McDonalds isn't hard to find at all as well as KFC and Wendys.

Dim Sum: What to Try Serious Eats

Dim Sum is a must if you visit Hong Kong and the restaurants are everywhere. Dim Sum is a great way to try different foods as it is served family style. You have your own bowl and chopsticks and everyone orders. The food is in the center of the table on a Lazy Susan and you can try everything.

My Favorites:

  • Congee (great for a toddler)
  • Lo Baak Gou
  • Cha Sui Bao
  • Lo Mai Gai
  • Har Gau

Stay tuned for updates on these posts when we return to the states. Pictures will be added then. I can't wait for everyone to see the photos of the foods and of our little man holding his own on the MTR and escalators. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Let's Get Cozy ~ Parachute Home

Disclaimer: This is a post featuring Parachute Home. All opinions are 100% my own.

As someone who sees snow as a beautiful sight - from indoors that is- I was excited when I was approached by Parachute Home to write a blog post on what it means for me to get cozy during the winter months.

Growing up in the south, Mississippi to be exact, there wasn't ever really a need to celebrate the seasons - all four of them I mean. We had two seasons, “Boiling Hot”  where you developed that little sweat mustache as soon as you cracked your front door in the morning, if you even dared.

Our second season was what you might refer to as “A Little Cooler” which meant we needed a light jacket- maybe a sweatshirt in football season or a heavier coat. On the off chance that we had an ice storm or a little dusting of snow, you know the times that the entire state shuts down in panic and school is cancelled for weeks (insert Northern snicker here), we did bundle up a little more. 

So, all of that being said, it wasn't until my husband and I made the move to Georgia that we even knew what it meant to have more than two seasons per year. I know, I know still in the south, but we actually do get a few of the seasons here. 

The first winter here we realized we didn't have the proper wardrobe. We ended up buying gloves, scarves, sweaters, boots and good coats. We also bought a home with a fireplace which is AWESOME!

But, all of these things were not enough for me to become a lover of all things winter. Can I say irritation at having to try to layer a shirt with a sweater (that might just be me, I don’t know) and dry itchy skin, dry hair and static electricity. Throw two hairy dogs in that ball of yarn and you've got enough electricity to power a small light fixture.

There are some people who love the snow and colder climates. I will say that I do love some aspects of the colder weather a few months out of the year. The clothes really are cute in winter. Who doesn't love wearing tall boots, boot socks, chunky infinity scarves and gloves all to match? Having short hair, I have to say I also really learned to love hats.

But, it isn't the clothes that make me the most comfy in winter. 

As soon as the weather begins to get cooler, I begin not to dream of boots and sweaters (although they do look so super cute for a run to the Starbucks drive through), but of hibernation.  That is a human thing right? Oh well, the bears can have their caves, I will take the sofa!

So here it is—what is my idea of comfort on a cold winter’s day? I love to stay indoors. Since we have a fireplace, that is a must on super cold days. To truly appeal to the ultimate level of comfort (in my opinion that is), one must appeal to all of the senses at once.

The sound of the fireplace crackling and the warmth it provides. There is something soothing about it and relaxing.

Along with the crackling fire, a nice cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream and cinnamon on top warms the tongue and reminds us of bonfires and s'mores.  Sitting on the floor in front of the fireplace is not very comfortable, but in our house, we like to pile pillows and blankets on the floor in front of the fireplace and curl up together. Down filled pillows and cashmere blankets are perfect for this cold weather cuddling.

It is at times like these we skip all of the fluff of the winter wardrobe and just settle for our most comfy PJs and warm socks. No need for a scarf and hat here. Unless of course you want to wear your mittens as a barrier from your hot cocoa mug!

Here are a few items from Parachute Home that could find there way into our home on a cold winter's day. Parachute Home is a newer bedding company that offers quality cozy products for a really affordable price.

Striped Cashmere Throw in Pearl and Desert Sand

Scented Candle Fireside 

 Linen Decorative Pillow in Agate