Happy Easter

It’s been a fun but busy Easter this year. Fortunately we found the time to do one of our favorite Easter traditions, cookie decorating. I have also managed to get the pictures from our trip to Thailand up on the blog. The posts have been backdated to November, 2017. The recent posts from our road trip to England have been backdated to April, 2017.

The Wat Pho Temple – Bangkok

There are more than 31,300 Buddhist temples in Thailand and Wat Pho is one of the oldest, largest, and most admired ones. It is also known for being the place where Thai massage was born. The biggest attraction of the Wat Pho temple complex is the Reclining Buddha, a gigantic golden Buddha statue, which is lying down. It was built in 1832 and is 46 meters long and 15 meters high, the largest Buddha in Thailand. Other than the reclining Buddha, the Wat Pho temple complex houses more than 1,000 Buddhas, which is more than any other temple in Thailand.

 

Tuk-tuk riding in Bangkok

Tuk-tuks can be found everywhere in Thailand and it’s estimated that there are around 35,000 of them cruising around the streets. Even though the tuk-tuk drivers are infamous for overcharging and driving like mad, it’s part of the adventure to try riding a tuk-tuk. On our first tuk-tuk ride, the driver squeezed us through countless traffic jams in a steady and comfortable pace with plenty of time to breath in the hazardous fumes from the engines all around us. The next trip was with a bit more of an aggressive driver. He seemed to get a big kick out of the fact that his female passengers had some very nervous facial expressions during most of the ride. After arriving at our end destination, he invited Elliot to sit behind the wheel.

Bangkok Snake Farm

After a week outside of Hua Hin, we drove north back to Bangkok to spend a few days exploring the world’s hottest city. First stop was Bangkok Snake Farm which is a working snake farm where they breed snakes in order to extract venom for anti-venom production. The handlers brought out around 10 different snake species and told us interesting facts about them. We got front row seats, which meant that some of the deadly snakes were dangerously close to us.

The food – Thailand

We made very few visits to McDonalds on this trip, compared to what we normally do when we travel. The selection of food was both very diverse as well as affordable, and for the first couple of days we even managed to convince the kids to try out some new things. Thai food has a lot of texture, colour, and good flavour. Shawn, in particular, was very adventurous when it came to trying out something new. Several of his dishes were served with the eyeballs still attached.

The Khao Takiab mountain – Thailand

As part of an ATV ride/tour we went to the Khao Takiab mountain, also known as ‘Monkey Mountain’. Not named because the hill is shaped like a monkey, but because there are hundreds of rodent-like monkeys roaming freely. The guides had brought a bag of food with to feed the monkeys and they definitely kept after us when they found that out. There was a lot of monkey screeches and scampering going on which at times was overwhelming. While enduring the bacteria soup and the stink from the somewhat aggressive macaque monkeys, we got to enjoy a really nice view over the area. Once the food was gone we headed back down to leave the monkeys for the next set of tourists.

The Hua Hin Sam Phan Nam Floating Market – Thailand

The Hua Hin Sam Phan Nam Floating Market has a lot of bad reviews on Tripadvisor, and rightfully so. It’s not a floating market at all, just a bunch of souvenir shops on a raised platform around a man made lake. Being foreigners, we had to pay an entrance fee to get in to the market and potentially do some shopping. This fee also covered a 5-minute boat ride in a very noisy old boat where we got to rush by all the shops that we had just walked by. It was so bad that it was funny, and the kids had a good time patting some goats and feeding the fish.

The Hutsadin Elephant Foundation – Thailand

One morning we made our way to the Hutsadin Elephant Foundation. This is a place which provides care and support for Elephants who suffer from ill health or have been abandoned by their owners because they are unable to work any longer. We took an elephant for a little walk and the kids each got a bag of bananas, which they fed to the elephant along the way. Upon returning from the walk, the kids hosed down the elephant.

Pran Buri National Park – Thailand

One of our first trips in Thailand went to Pran Buri National Park. Here, we took a stroll on a 1 km long wooden boardwalk that crisscrosses through a dense mangrove forest. The Pranburi River winds through the forest and along the trail you could rent a long-tail boat. We did a tour of the river passing a small fishing village and spotting a lot of colorful fishing boats and a big Monitor Lizard on the way.

 

Thailand

On Thursday the 23rd of November 2017 we boarded a plane heading from Copenhagen to the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand. We arrived in Bangkok the following morning and after a long wait at the rental car agency we finally got our car. We drove 225 km south and shortly after passing through the city of Hua Hin we arrived at Villa Vista, a little “Swedish village” in Thailand. Our villa was conveniently located right next to the pool, so the kids quickly pulled out their swimming gear and jumped in.

 

Happy Birthday Elliot

On Friday this handsome young man turned 9 years old. It was still very dark outside as we all got out of bed to start the day off with pancakes, ice cream, and sprinkles. After that, it was time to go to school. Elliot brought a homemade alligator pull-apart-cupcake-cake with him, which all the kids really liked. Upon his return from school there were more surprises. In his room, mormor was hiding in a giant box. She brought Lego and a cool/cute homemade moose. Elliot was also ecstatic to learn about the Apple gift certificate which Farmor had sent (thank you Farmor), and Sienna had crafted a personal greeting card with two of Elliot’s favorite foods, soy sauce and salmon. Finally, Elliot also found the time to color in the greeting card from great grandma in Canada (thank you great grandma). After a lovely and sunny afternoon, we headed downtown to meet up with Shawn for a game of petanque and some juicy burgers.

Fall break with Farmor

October was once again filled with lots of fun and laughter as Farmor came for her yearly visit to Denmark. Pumpkin carving, shrunken apple heads, cookie decorating, and lots of board games were on the menu. In addition we also did some outings; a nice brunch, a fun game of shuffleboard followed by tasty burgers, a trip to the aquarium, the apple orchid, the beach, and of course, the traditional trip to Tivoli. The kids are already counting the days until Farmor returns next year.

Winsor

After a night in a roadside hotel in Michigan, we finally arrived back in Canada at Karen and Rob’s place. The kids were excited to see their cousins, Tessa and Conner, and get some more pool action in. Rob had some scuba gear so Sienna and Elliot got to try out breathing underwater for the first time. We had some great food, played a lot of games, and ended out with a visit to a very nice mini put golf course.  Final stop was back to farmor’s place for one more night before heading back to Denmark.

Chicago

In Chicago we hit the ground running with a family bike tour along the lakefront trail when we first arrived. We drove down to Navy Pier and then back to Millennium park. After the bike ride we did a walking tour of the park and saw some cool sculptures as well as the mandatory Cloud Gate. It was a pretty hot day again so we were happy to finally rest our feet in a nice hotel and take a break before doing a bit more exploring downtown. We found a nice Thai restaurant that was not too busy and had a great dinner. The next day we packed up and headed to the museum of Science and Industry which had some unique exhibits. The favourite was the mind control game where you had to push a ball using the alpha waves generated by your brain. Theoretically these waves should be generated when you are in a relaxed state so the winner would be the person who could relax the most. After a few rounds the undisputed champion was Elliot who beat all of us with not one loss. After the museum we continued our road trip as we headed back towards Canada.

Wisconsin

Since we had all our camping gear with us we decided to try out another couple nights of camping in a Wisconsin state park. Along the way to the park we took a driving break in Madison (capital city of Wisconsin) to visit the Henry Vilas zoo (which is one of the few free admission zoos in the US). After the zoo we continued to the campsite which was about a 40 minute drive outside of Milwaukee. The next day we took a day trip to Milwaukee to visit a water park and afterwards we went downtown to do a tour of the city. We sampled some of the historic areas by the riverfront, visiting an iconic cheese store and a spice store. After a long day of playing in the water and sightseeing we drove back to the campsite for our last night before our next destination.

Minnesota

After another day of driving, another night at a hotel, and another morning of driving, we arrived at Brooke’s house in White Bear, Minnesota (Brooke is my amazing friend/roommate from NYC, she is married to Joe and they have a 3-year old son named Hawkins). We arrived just in time for the July 4th pool party and I was happy to learn that Zach, another old friend from our time in NYC, was also among the guests. Brooke is an amazing hostess and she made sure that everyone had plenty of great food and drinks throughout the day. Other than taking the time to eat, not a minute on dry land was wasted by the kids.  They were in the pool for the most part of 2 days and Sienna broke a record for being in the pool for 6 hours straight. While we were in Minnesota, we stayed at Brooke’s parents house in Forest Lake. Every morning we woke up to a a feast, as Brooke’s mom was whipping up all kinds of yummy Minnesotan breakfast classics for us (thanks again for having us and for all the delicious food, Debbie and Mike). On our last day in Minnesota, we took a trip to White Bear lake and rented a pontoon boat. The weather was great as we toured around in the boat and had a picnic lunch. The kids were really excited to get some fishing in and they had more than they could ask for catching over 20 fish! After the pontoon boat, there was even more swimming, and then we went to a summer street festival with Brooke, Joe, and Hawkins to get some dinner. After 3 sun- and fun-filled days we were ready to head towards our next destination.