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Galesburg, Illinois

We saw a notice of some sort of railroad festival going on in a small railroad town called Galesburg, Illinois. It’s about a two hour drive from Iowa City and when we asked Nyan if he was interested, the answer was – of course – a resounding “Yes!” So off we went.

It’s not the most vibrant town ever, though it has a very active railway, a couple of adjacent museums and some old train cars on display. Some scenery from the town:

As it turned out, most of the festival activities were on another day. But the museums had special tours and activities going on. So we checked out the kid’s museum, which wasn’t very train-centric, but was still fun. It was full of dress-up-and-play areas (grocery store, fire house, vet’s office, etc) and various activities, like building ramps to slide balls along. And there was a tractor simulator!

And a little table with jets of air coming out, and you put the ping-pong ball into the jets of air so they seem to be floating. Nyan enjoyed that too.

As mentioned, Galesburg has a very busy railroad running through it, and we happened to catch a really long grain train rolling through.

The train museum was maybe the highlight though – inside was full of memorabiliia from a hundred years of trains. And outside were a Pullman car, a mail car and a steam engine, all of them real, all of them open for walk-throughs, and all of them having special guided tours this day. The steam engine was huge, impressive, and a big hit with our young engineer.

All in all, a very pleasant day. Let’s wrap up with some random pics: Nyan and Daddy being silly, Nyan signing the museum guest book, and all tuckered out on the drive home.

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Up Among the Tall Trees in Northern California 

Nyan had never seen a redwood tree before. We had thought about going to Muir Woods National Monument on previous visits to the Bay Area, but the fear of crowds kept us at bay. (That, and jetlag that always seemed to mean we slept more than sight-saw.)

This time around, we zeroed in on Big Basin Redwoods State Park, about an hour and a bit south of San Mateo, just to the west – along some climbing and winding two-lane roads – of Cupertino. We headed out early one morning (thanks, again, to the jetlag) and got there not long after they opened, around 8ish. It was quite chilly, especially for us equatorial residents who lack much warm clothing, but it was not crowded, the morning sun was glorious, and the trees were superlative.

Let’s just check out some pictures and videos. Words don’t do it justice.

And some videos too.

We were all suitably impressed. Then, while driving on from the park, in the middle of the redwood forest, we suddenly chanced upon…a Burmese monastery! What? How random. We stopped, of course, and checked out the stupa. Didn’t see any people at all; it was peaceful and seemingly deserted. Then we found the monk – yes, there was just one monk – and then we found some other Burmese folks who come up every weekend to cook up a week’s worth of food for the monk to eat. They promptly offered us a huge Burmese spread for lunch, which we gratefully accepted.

Totally random, but totally special.

Our final stop on this busy morning was at a NASA museum, not far from Google headquarters. It was a small affair, but kinda neat. It had some replicas of modules from the International Space Station, displays about various satellites and space missions, and an actual moon rock brought back by one of the moon missions. It actually wasn’t as awe-inspiring as we had hoped – it was just a little rock, encased in a glass display. It was so uninspiring, in fact, that we forgot to take a picture of it. Oops.

Then it was off for a drive through the nearby Google corporate campus before heading back to our rental apartment. Nice day overall.

Let’s end with some more photos of those majestic redwoods.

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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California Dreaming

We spent a few weeks in the U.S. in June, starting with a few days in the lovely Bay Area of lovely California. There was some serious jetlag going on, of course, but we didn’t let that get in the way.

Our first full day, after some multi-hour midday naps, we climbed into our rental car and headed west from Silicon Valley, over the mountains and down to the coast at Half Moon Bay, where we played in the chilly surf and enjoyed the bright late afternoon sunshine. And took goofy pictures.

As mentioned, we had some major jetlag, which involved Nyan waking up at 2 or 3 am (and thoughtfully waking up Daddy too!), then playing or just goofing around inside our rental place. Then, around 5, when the nearby coffeeshops would open up, Nyan and Daddy would go for a pre-dawn stroll and marvel at all the gorgeous flowers. We do love California.

Finally, a few random pics from this leg of our trip. Notice a sleeping theme going on?

Up next: more California fun, with giant redwoods and moon rocks and more. Stay tuned!

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2017 in Photos

 

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Holiday in Cambodia

We’ve said before that one of the great things about living in Singapore is that it’s easy to jet away to all sorts of spectacular places. In late April, we did just that with a weekend trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia, home to the famous Angkor Wat and other thousand-year-old temples deep in the jungle.

Most famous is Angkor Wat itsslef, a UNESCO World Heritage site and, in fact, the largest religious monument in the world. It’s 162 hectares — thanks, Wikipedia! — and comprises a moat and numerous stone buildings, plus lots of open space.

This video gives a hint at the size:

And that’s just one small section of the place, just outside the main temple.

Here are a bunch of photos from in and around Angkor Wat. Click on any photo to enlarge it – and trust us, it’s worth it! A very photogenic place.

Just up the road is Angkor Thom, an ancient walled city with numerous old temples and monuments inside. It was the capital of the Khmer empire and established around 900 years ago.

This was our second stop on the day, and to be honest, we were a little worried that Nyan’s attention would quickly lag. There wasn’t a lot to actually *do* at these places besides walk around and ooh and ahh and be amazed at the sculptures and architecture. But Nyan was a trooper and was really into it! Here we are exploring around Angkor Thom, including a few shots of the moat outside the wall and the wall itself.

As awesome as Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom were, Ta Prohm was definitely Daddy’s favorite temple. Unlike the other two, officials have made a conscious choice not to do much if any restoration work here, so there are tumbled-down stones everywhere and, most stunningly, huge jungle trees and vines crawling all over everything. So beautiful.

The trip wasn’t all temple trekking though. We also spent some time in our hotel’s very nice swimming pool.

And maybe the highlight of the trip, for Nyan at least, was the tuk-tuk rides we took around town.

Finally, random shots from the trip. Including one of Nyan, before the flight, wearing a toy crown he had made at school. He slapped it on and took to calling himself the “King of Cambodia.” Alright then.

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Return to Myanmar

In early March, Nyan and Mommy joined Phwa Phwa and Uncle Nyi-Nyi for a short visit to Yangon, Myanmar. It was definitely a trip they will never forget, since both Mommy and Nyan caught some sort of stomach bug and spent a fair amount of time convalescing in their hotel room!

Still, they managed to see some temples — including the famous Shwedagon Pagoda — and hang out with various aunties and cousins, including Nyan’s favorite Kiki.

Some of the temples:

Nyan was really into the bells:

 

And the incense too:

And just hanging out with his young cousin Htun Htun:

And finally some random shots from around Yangon:

So you can see, they managed to have a good time in spite of the sickness. Next time we will all stay healthy and see more of the country!

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Fun in Phuket – Part Two

In our last post, we looked at our time at the beach and the resort during our trip to Phuket, Thailand in late December 2016. Here, we take a look at some specific things we got up to.

We stayed in the town of Karon, which was a short drive away from the tourist hub of Patong, which is jam-packed and overcrowded, and is also home to a red-light district. We popped over to Patong one evening for some dinner and sightseeing.

First, Nyan and Daddy found an Irish pub – complete with American craft beers on tap – and had some dinner while Mommy had a massage. The pub was quite empty but had a stage area that was set up for a singer later in the evening. Nyan took advantage of it being empty and hopped on the stage.

He also tried his hand at some free dancing on the dance floor.

We also took a family stroll up Bangla Road, the heart of the red light district. It was still early, so not too rowdy. Nyan got some attention from some of the ladies of the night, but it was all innocent. We think.

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We got to drive in an open-air tuk-tuk on the way back to the resort.

One of our favorite activities on Phuket was an afternoon spent at Dino Golf. It’s a miniature golf course with a dinosaur theme. Lots of fiberglass dinos poking their heads out of the jungle foliage, plus holes that went through volcanos or over fallen logs. Pretty fun!

One thing we learned: none of us are very good at mini golf. Oh well.

Another day we went to visit the Big Buddha, which is – you guessed it – a Buddha statue, high on a ridge overlooking the entire island, that is quite big. Impressive.

The views are pretty amazing as well.

Underneath the statue are a lot of shrines you can pray to. Here’s Nyan, trying his hand at it.

It’s still under construction, and to raise money, they let you write your name on a tile that will one day be installed on the site, in exchange for a donation.

Those are the highlights from our trip to Phuket. It’s a fine enough place, though to be honest, not one we’re likely to rush back to. A bit crowded, and nothing really special enough to make it worth a return visit, we felt. Still, a good time, and a nice way to cap off 2016.

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Fun in Phuket – Part One

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During the week between Christmas and New Year’s, we flew a couple hours north to Phuket, the resort island off the mainland of Thailand. It was crowded, packed with tourists from Russia and elsewhere, but we stayed out of the heart of the tourist zone so managed to enjoy ourselves. Here’s a look at what we got up to.

We spent a great deal of time on the beach – specifically Karon Beach, right across the road from our hotel. It was lovely and pretty clean, with great sunset views and sand that was perfect for building things in.

Here are some random shots from around the island, including Nyan riding in the back of a tuk-tuk  and getting some love from one of the Burmese girls working at a seafront restaurant that we frequented

The resort we stayed at had several swimming pools – one with a water slide – plus a kid’s club area, rock paths that a curious five year old liked to examine using his new night-vision goggles, and more. Let’s take a look.

Here’s the young man, bouncing around inside the kid’s club

Finally, some shots from the traveling. Hanging out with Pikachu at the airport, waiting in line for passport control, and passed out on the bed after flights and car rides to the hotel.

Next up: More pictures and videos from around Phuket .

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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