Saturday, December 10, 2011

Our Trip to Hong Kong

Last month, as you may remember, we went to Hong Kong.  Well, I'm finally posting about it!  I've also updated the entry from our first day there with a few photos.

On our first full day in Hong Kong, we decided to visit Hong Kong Disneyland.  We had heard from a lot of people that the park was pretty small, and that's true, but it was just the right size for us with Sophie in tow.  We took the subway out to the park and got there around 10:30.  The subway has its own special Disney line, complete with Disney-themed trains.

Mickey everywhere on the train to Disneyland.
We spent the day exploring the different themed areas of the park and enjoying a lot of classic Disney rides like "It's a Small World" and the spinning teacups.  I think Sophie's favorite was the carousel, which we rode twice.  She kept signing "horse" and saying "neee!  neee!"

On the carousel with Dada
She also enjoyed the Small World ride but was scared of the Winnie the Pooh ride, which had a really creepy dream sequence in which Pooh bear encounters all kinds of garish smirking toys.  Eeek.  Still, at the end of the ride, as she unburied her face from my chest, she signed "again! again!"

After lunch, we put Sophie in her rented stroller and walked her around until she fell asleep for about an hour.

All this fun is exhausting!
During that time, Keegan and I each got to ride Space Mountain, and I tried out the Buzz Lightyear Astroblasters.  Sophie woke up just in time for the afternoon parade, which I thought was a pretty good spectacle.  Sophie loved watching the floats and the dancers and clapped and bounced in my lap the whole time.

Sophie meets the dancers from the Lilo and Stitch float.
I have to admit that I was a bit wary of introducing Sophie to the hyper-commercialized world of Disney characters, but once we got to the park and especially during the parade I found myself super nostalgic and sentimental about my own childhood and all of the classic Disney songs and movies that I enjoyed as a kid (and an adult).  Even the jarring sight of four white Disney princesses waving from a sea of lesser Asian performers to the mostly Asian crowd during the parade barely dampened my enthusiasm.  We even considered buying Disneyland t-shirts but refrained in favor of buying Sophie a Pooh bear doll, which is now a treasured possession who sleeps in her crib every night.  Overall, I would definitely recommend Hong Kong Disney if you have toddlers, and I think it will be great for older kids too in the next few years when they open three new areas in the park.

Sophie loved Donald and quacked whenever she saw him.
No one is happier than a kid at Disneyland.

We barely had the energy to get back to the hotel and get down a conveyor-belt sushi meal before we tumbled into bed, ready for day 3.

On day 3, we spent the morning on Hong Kong island, taking the famous Peak Tram up to the Peak for great views of the city.  Sophie enjoyed all the escalators leading up to the viewing platform.

The family on The Peak

Hong Kong?  Yeah, been there, done that.

Back at the bottom, we swung through gorgeous Hong Kong Park for a session on the fantastic playground and a brief walk through the aviary.

Back at the hotel, I took Sophie to the hotel restaurant for a disastrous lunch (not much was eaten, a great deal ended up on the floor, and there were tears), while Keegan headed to the spa for a massage and soak in the hot tub.  I'm not sure who enjoyed their afternoon the most, as Sophie and I both got three-hour naps in.

In the evening, we tried went to the Temple Street Night Market, which we had heard was a must-see attraction.  Well, I'm not sure what we missed because it was terrible!  Stall after stall was filled with cheap plastic junk and tourist knick-knacks.  Most of the people shopping there were clearly tourists.  None of the food stalls looked remotely appetizing or toddler friendly, so we gave up pretty quickly and went back to the hotel area.  We found a Chinese restaurant for dinner, but it was a bit late to eat, and we spent most of our energy trying to keep Sophie happy while we scarfed our food.  We'll have to try authentic Chinese food again another time!

Sophie had her own special bamboo booster seat at the Chinese restaurant.
On our last day in Hong Kong, we decided to go to the Hong Kong Zoo and Botanical Garden.  We were definitely impressed with the gorgeous parks in Hong Kong.  The zoo was even nicer than Hong Kong park!

Keegan and Sophie at the zoo
The cages are a bit old-fashioned with bars and mesh grating, but the enclosures were clean and stocked with plenty for the animals to sit on/hide in/play with, so it wasn't a depressing experience.  There are a lot of birds, a few reptiles, and many kinds of monkeys.  Everyone's favorite was definitely the monkeys, who were swinging around like crazy in their cages.  I told Sophie that the monkeys were playing, and she said over and over "pay! pay!"  We had a great time watching them.

Then we found the zoo playground and had our own fun playing.

On our way back from the zoo, we took the famous Star Ferry from Hong Kong island back to Kowloon and saw the super-fancy center of Hong Kong with all its jewelry stores and high-fashion boutiques.  Then it was back to the hotel for my spa treatment.  I had a fabulous 45-minute massage and 45-minute facial and almost fell asleep.  Ahhh.  Then I met Keegan and Sophie for their post-nap trip to the pool.

In the evening we made a cardinal mistake in traveling with a toddler:  we left waaay too late for dinner.  We also seriously underestimated the crowds in the Mongkok area.  The restaurant we were aiming for, a vegetarian dim sum place, was closed, and every other place we tried had a long wait to be seated.

The bright lights and bustling streets of Hong Kong
So we trudged back to the hotel and ordered room service, which was a good recovery.

On Sunday morning, we headed back to the airport.  The early afternoon flight was a good time for us to travel because Sophie fell asleep fairly quickly and slept for most of the trip.  All in all, we were really happy with our relaxing vacation, and we felt pretty good about our first real tourist trip with a toddler.  Now we have to plan the next one!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Greatest Hits from Sophie's Sixteenth Month

Still trying to catch up!  Here are some videos from October:

This silly laugh was all we heard for a few days.  I kind of miss it.

This is Sophie's absolute favorite video ever.

Sophie and Eloise are two peas in a pod.

Here is Sophie reciting many of her earliest words and signs.  Too bad Mommy had her hand over the microphone for the first half of the video!  Sorry all!

Proud and Not-so-Proud

Sorry I've been so absent.  Things have not gotten less interesting around here, but they have gotten hectic as we prepare for our trip to Hawaii for the holidays and Sophie decides not to nap well in the afternoons. Poor thing has a nasty cold and is getting her canine teeth.

I was very proud of Sophie earlier this week when we were playing at the toy library with Sophie's friend Daniel.  Sophie was playing with a toy bus that Daniel had abandoned, and Daniel, in true toddler fashion, decided that he desperately needed it back.  Sophie looked on in bewilderment, still holding onto the bus, as Daniel started to cry.  She looked at me and said and signed "cry! cry!"  I told her that he was crying because he wanted to play with the bus.  And she immediately picked it up and gave it to him!  I was so proud of her!  I'm sure this generosity will not survive the inevitable terrible twos, but I hope it will make occasional appearances from now on.

I am not so proud that we have inadvertently taught Sophie to say "gross!" every time she coughs.  She has a horrible raspy cough with this cold, and it is indeed gross.  So now she goes "hack, hack, GROSS" and grins like crazy.  If you're going to be sick it's good to have a sense of humor.