Guyi Garden Park

Yes, it’s ok to wonder why the title of the post refers to a park and the featured picture is a giant pile of dumplings, there’s a perfectly good explanation.

Ten stops north of Jiangsu Station on Line 11, where the Shanghai Metro first surfaces above ground, you will find Nanxiang Station. From the mall surrounding the metro you are just a short ten minute walk from a hidden treasure, Guyi Garden Park. It’s a bit of a trek from most neighborhoods in Shanghai but well worth the trip. Suggestion, go on an empty stomach.

The park is enclosed by nature and some man made cement walls preventing outsiders from really appreciating the beauty inside, but once you enter it is quite a spectacle.

Unable to read Mandarin we couldn’t quite figure out the significance of this first sight, but upon entering Guyi Garden the first display was an old car covered in flowers, parked in front of a traditional Chinese stone wall.



This was the first, and last, thing out of place in the park. 

Once we rounded the corner the park opened up to a series of attractions from ponds, Bonsai trees, little waterfalls, zig zag bridges, stairs, caves, rock structures and plenty of ancient architecture.


T taking in the sites of Guyi Park, he fell asleep before we arrived.







As is common in most Shanghai parks, people were there to relax, eat, dance, exercise and take in the sites and sounds of the park. Of course, no trip to the park these days is complete without the chance to finish on a playground.


However, this particular park had one special attraction. Being so far out from the city center it was impressive to see how many people ventured to Guyi Garden. Though the little secret is out, people travel out here for the food. At the far end of the park is the Guyi Garden Restaurant. They serve a famous version of the Shanghai specialty, xiaolongbao, Chinese soup dumplings. Following our stroll through the park we stopped for lunch and conquered numerous pork dumplings before returning home.


Patrons sit at family style seating arrangements in the dining hall at Guyi Garden Restaurant.


Additional seating is available out back. 30 RMB gets you 16 pork dumplings. 

The Adventure Continues

Life itself is a never-ending adventure. As much as we plan we never really know what will come next or how our lives will change. Every once in a while though, we actively decide to change things up and try something new. Three years ago we took the chance and accepted jobs in Shanghai. The past three years have been filled with many challenges, unbelievable joy and more small precious moments than we can count. We experienced so many firsts, traveled to seven new countries (taking multiple trips to a few and revisiting others we had been to before living abroad), and learned a lot about ourselves. Beyond all that, the size of our family grew too, with an addition last June.


Down on the Bund during our first October in Shanghai

In June we will be saying goodbye to a city we have come to love. We will miss many things about Shanghai. It is a vibrant city that continues to surprise us with its combination of older traditions and international glitz.


Little man pointing out at his favorite skyscraper in Shanghai, the Pearl Tower

Our next stop will be. . .



A visit to the Temple of Heaven in Beijing during Christmas 2014

We are excited to extend our stay in China and move to a new city. T will get the opportunity to learn Mandarin in another place where it is used every day, and we will get to deeper our understanding of Chinese culture and improve our language skills. We are looking forward to all the new challenges and joys that are ahead of us. It will be hard to say goodbye to Shanghai, but luckily we will be just a short plane or high speed train ride away. Oh, and in other good news if you haven’t had the chance to visit us in China there is still time!


Climbing a forbidden section of the Great Wall outside of Beijing


Langkawi (Part II)

In addition to sitting on the beach at Cenang and playing in the pool, we also took a couple of excursions during our stay on Langkawi Island, Malaysia.

We took an afternoon to visit the island’s largest tourist attraction, Sky Bridge. A short taxi ride from our resort was the base of Sky Bridge. After two thrilling cable car rides to the top you can access the single suspension bridge and walk across. It includes a couple of glass panels that you can look down through. We went late afternoon so it wasn’t too busy, but it was plenty hot. Even on a somewhat hazy day the view is still breathtaking.


A view from atop the Sky Bridge in Langkawi. This angle doesn’t do justice to the distance below the bridge but does offer a good look at the single suspension walking bridge.


Family fun on a hot afternoon of sightseeing.


Walking the bridge. He’s screaming to be funny but looks like he’s crying.


A the top of the cable car ride to Langkawi’s Sky Bridge.

Separately we spent a day at both Tengkorak and Tanjung Rhu beaches. These two beaches were located on the other side of the island from our resort but only about 30 minutes away. We went during the morning on a week day and both beaches were relatively vacant, leaving blue water and soft sand to ourselves.


A perfect example of being left alone on what has become the standard looking cloudy day during our last two vacations.


T and the tire swing at Tengkorak Beach.


The crowd (T and A) at Tanjung Rhu Beach.


Nap time.


Destroying castles while getting in some exercise at Tanjung Rhu Beach.

After contemplating the idea most of the week we decided to rent a jet ski on our last day. We were not sure how well T would do for a three hour tour so we elected to just rent it for an hour and cruise around freely at our own discretion. Turns out, we should have done it earlier. T called the jet ski a “boat”, loved wearing his “jacket” (life vest), watching for bubbles and though his face didn’t project the same level of enjoyment every time we paused he would shout out, “one more!”


Riding three man on the jet ski.


Why have we stopped? One more!



We also visited Kuah, the port city of Longkawi. While it didn’t have too much to do, it did have one giant statue that welcomed all ferries and boats to the island. T came to enjoy this attraction, a large and colorful eagle.


Eagle! T spreading his wings.



Langkawi, Malaysia (Part I)

Last week we celebrated spring break, which for us in Shanghai actually surrounds the Chinese national holiday, Tomb Sweeping. Our last chance to take in some R&R before the summer we elected to travel to the small Malaysian island of Langkawi. We were fortunate enough to stay at a great resort right on the beach in Cenang. Turns out it was low season for tourism so we often had plenty of space at the pool and a beach seemingly to ourselves. T enjoyed the slides, the kiddie pool and playing in the sand.


Close proximity to the airport allowed for entertaining flights to captivate T’s attention


T and A watching the sunset from our beach


Dinner at the beach


White sand, blue water, blue skies and a cap =)


Playing in the sand as the sunsets


Family selfie


Finding seashells


Making friends at the pool with a local Monitor Lizard 


Just checking the status of the bubbles


T first to the beach


Family shot


A swimming in the Andaman Sea


Playing ball in the sea and gaining confidence about playing in the water


The smile you make after convincing your parents to stay at the pool


Confident and comfortable 


Racing on the dual slides


Preparing for the big splash


Enjoying the water zone component of the resort


Final sunset of our vacation


Easter Sunday

Like so many other events since last summer, Easter 2016 was a first for our family. It was T’s first Easter and our first as a family of three. We decided to spend the day with some friends of ours and their daughter. The morning began with an Easter Egg Hunt. The event was supposed to be held outdoors but the AQI was too high, so it was moved indoors. This turned out to be the deal of year, completely worth the admission price for the Egg Hunt including playing inside an amazing indoor place space following the hunt. T and his friend, E, each grabbed a small bags worth of eggs and then proceeded to play on various slides, rope swings, bridges, nettings, ball pits, mock towns and of course slides. We followed up a playful morning with a delicious brunch. It was a great day spent with family and friends.


Family photo in the sunny lobby of KP


Found one! He didn’t seem to care that it was an egg, to him it was a, “Ball!”


Hunt, hunt, hunt!


E and T reflecting on their hard work


A picture with the Easter Kangaroo


Our courageous little man ignoring the advice and doing flips on the stairs, now he’s stuck


Post Easter Egg Hunt brunch, delicious


All smiles


Krabi, Thailand

One of the perks of living abroad is that you have a number of opportunities to travel during various holidays throughout the year. This year for Chinese New Year we decided to venture south to Thailand. Accompanied by A’s sister, K, we spent a week in the province of Krabi. Specifically we stayed in Ao Nang Beach but traveled via longboat to a number of other islands and beaches within the province. It was a relaxing vacation from all aspects, we enjoyed various pools (including pool side bar), activities (trampoline, ball room, water slides and more) for T  at the resort, magnificent beaches, warm and clear turquoise water perfect for swimming, gorgeous weather, delicious food, massages, boating around and even a little (emphasis on little) snorkeling throughout the duration of our stay.

We booked private longboat tours to take us to various beaches and islands. It turns out they are essentially the same cost as purchasing a ticket to ride with many other people. The biggest advantage, in addition to all the space, was the freedom to choose when the boat departed and how long the duration of each stay would be (key when traveling with a toddler).

Andaman Sea, a spectacular balance of land, water and sky that is consistently observed from the many longboats cruising the waters.


The bow.


A, T and K riding under the canopy.

Phranang Beach, a picturesque beach location not too far from Ao Nang. This location is known for the rock formation where we swam in front of (pictured below).


Showing our respect for CNY by wearing red and displaying a lot of the lucky number 8. Yes, we’re Blackhawks fans too.


T getting some swimming lessons from a couple of talented swimmers.


We arrived early before the crowd but as we left, there were many longboats tied and anchored to the shore.

Chicken Island, a rocky island that has a unique formation shaped like a chickens neck and head (not pictured here but check fb or google). It is a popular spot for snorkeling.


Team snorkeling. Thanks to K we were able to take some pictures in, and under, the water. Lot’s of Nemo’s friends below the surface. Lifejackets were not required but B put one on to free up his arms while holding T, since they didn’t have any super small lifejackets.

Tup Island, this is a very small island but when the tide is low you can walk across the white sand to another nearby rock formation. You can also swim from the island to another nearby. A unique aspect of this island is that its small strip of white sand allows you to go swimming in the same warm and gorgeous water to either side (left or right) of the beach.


B enjoying some of the waves around Tup Island.

Poda Island, not to be confused with Phranang. While they look similar at a quick glance you will notice a difference in the appearance of the rock formations at each beach. Poda was busy by the lunch hour but large enough to accommodate our visit. We purchased some cold drinks, watermelon and corn on the cob to go along with the snacks we brought for lunch. This is a beautiful beach worth visiting.


A longboat anchored and tied to the shore at Poda Island.


Group shot while swimming in the warm and clear waters off of Poda Island.


The water might be clear but, as T found out, it’s still salty.


T enjoying an opportunity to play in the sand while the waves crash into him at Poda Island.

Railay Beach is located a short boat ride away from Ao Nang. It has a number of resorts (only accessible by boat), a nice walking street full of shops and restaurants and is a huge beach. When you disembark from your boat you can walk a good distance in either direction. The beach is surrounded by natural beauty and boasts the same warm and turquoise waters we became familiar with in the Andaman Sea.


Spending a morning relaxing and swimming at Railay Beach.


T playing in the soft white sand at Railay Beach.

Hong Island, a beautiful location roughly 40 minutes cruise from Ao Nang. It’s not as close as some of the other locations and the beach is smaller but it’s worth the trip. The coolest feature of this island is a giant lagoon which could be mistaken for a lake. The lagoon (nicknamed “the room”) only becomes completely full of water after the tide rolls in. However, during high tide you can swim in the warm water, snorkel, kayak or just enjoy the 360 degrees of nature surrounding you in “the room” as you relax on your boat.


A and T enjoying the ride to Hong Island (pictured in the background).


We arrived earlier in the day and were rewarded with a very peaceful morning on Pelay Beach at Hong Island.


Early morning at Pelay Beach on Hong Island.


Pano of T standing in the sand of Pelay Beach on Hong Island. The sun just starting to come over the top of the cliffs and beginning to illuminate the blue waters.


T playing in the soft white sand of Hong Island.


Exiting the lagoon, or “the room” as it’s known, on Hong Island. This is the only way in and out of the lagoon.

Ao Nang, where our resort was located also had it’s own amazing beach. Literally across the street from our hotel was this gorgeous spot (pictured below). During high tide the water seemed to approach the street and at low tide it was as if the tide pulled out to the horizon.


T running on the beach of Ao Nang as the sun sets in the background.

Andaman Sea, the body of water surrounding Krabi and the various islands we visited. Along our multiple boating expeditions we were drawn to numerous views of the sea.


Some people kayaking near a rock formation and just around the corner there was a rope ladder, which was used to climb the face of the rocks and jump back into the water (so cool too bad T is too young for this).


Beautiful sight from our boat ride in the Andaman Sea.


Two kissing rocks out in the Andaman Sea of Thailand.

Celebrating with the lions head


新年快乐, pronounced xin nian kuai le (shin-yen-kwahy-lah) or maybe you know it as Happy New Year! Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year) is celebrated over fifteen days in China. 2016 is the year of the monkey. Fortunately for us, we are provided the opportunity to travel during about half of the holiday. This year we went to Thailand (those posts to follow) but we were able to celebrate CNY with T both in 上海 and in Krabi. T’s class celebrated CNY before the break and we had already arrived at the beach by the time the lunar year began. Included below is a slideshow from our celebrations in both locations.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


A Feast for Festival

Chinese New Year began last week, the lunar year officially started on Monday, February 8th. There are 15 days of celebration for the Chinese holiday, we took some time to vacation in Thailand (future post to come).

However, before departing, B went to lunch with local coworkers to celebrate the holiday over some traditional Cantonese cuisine. The meal included multiple greens and protein along with some dessert. The highlights of the family style feast are included below.


Tomatoes with plum juice, absolutely delicious. 


On the left, duck egg custard dumplings and on the right shrimp dumplings.


Sticky rice with coconut juice, quite tasty.


Beef roll in a rice wrap, great taste. 


Always a favorite of B, BBQ pork buns.


Asked for a specific and never got one, so here is “greens” and pork in broth.


Crab with glass noodles, wonderful flavor. 


A member of the lunch group asked to order the most expensive dish, so here it is. Scallops accompanied by hard boiled eggs inside of deep fried shrimp. All around absolutely scrumptious, this was Bs favorite part of the meal.


Green beans with minced meat and peanuts, good taste but not as spicy as the Sichuan style green beans. 


Lobster congee, this was amazing. 

Sadly dessert, milk pudding, was not pictured. A filling and delicious meal to kickoff the holiday.

Timo's first ever school photo, Nursery 2016, arrived just in time for this post.

First Day of School

Much earlier than we would have preferred to send him but later than originally planned, T started school in January. He began school on the first day of the second semester. It was a sudden and difficult adjustment but Timo handled it very well.

After a few weeks we’re able to report that he has adapted quite well. He initially had a bit of difficulty with the departing bus each morning but is doing better and T seems to enjoy Library, the ball-pit, the tricycles and recess. He has started to eat better and nap regularly. Additionally, it seems he is learning the norms and routines of the class. Most importantly T likes his teacher and the assistants in the room and he has started to make some friends.

1. IMG_0455

Taking a picture with Mama before she leaves for work.

2. IMG_0465

Anxiously waiting to go to school, T’s dressed early and wearing his backpack in the house.

3. IMG_0470

Selfie at the bus stop.

4. IMG_0484

Posing like a big boy on a cold day at the bus stop before his first day of school.

5. IMG_0485

Off and running, excitement and envy come over T as the bus pulls up and other children begin to board.


Seated, buckled in and waving goodbye before he realizes Baba is not getting on the bus.

7. IMG_0472

Talking with a teacher upon his arrival at school.

8. IMG_0487

Saying hello to teachers and administrators as he enters the building.

9. IMG_0480

He’s certainly a modern child, after a long first day of school it’s time to relax with a snack and some screen time.


T’s first ever school photo, Nursery 2016, arrived just in time for this post.

Christmas Eve.

Christmas in Connecticut

We departed Shanghai a week before Christmas. It gave us just enough time to play in New York City while adjusting to the time change and then head out to visit family in Connecticut. Going home is always a whirlwind of a trip, so much to do in such a short time. We often stock up on six months worth of items that are hard to obtain in China, run errands that we haven’t done in half a year and of course visit both sides of the family and a variety of friends. Adding T to the mix has only doubled the challenge of accomplishing everything but somehow we always seem to get everything done. Below is a series of pictures capturing our Christmas in Connecticut.

1. Chicago

First stop on our trip home a layover in Chicago (here’s a view of downtown).


Ornaments in Manhattan.


Saturday, here in the park (Central Park, NYC).


Mama and T sitting on the rocks in CP.

5. NYC 5

The big Christmas Tree at the Rock.

6. NYC 6

T waiting in Grand Central Station for our train to Connecticut.

7. Family XE

Christmas Eve.

8. Kirsten XE

T hanging in his aunt, KBPSS.

9. Dad XE

T and Yeye, making their respective “Santa Faces.”

10. Tim XE

T with uncle T.

11. X

Excitement on Christmas morning.

12. X santa face

Buttons, check, noise, check, lights up, check.

13. X umbrella

A happy boy with a few essentials; shoes, backpack and umbrella.

14. X cubs

Sporting his new Cubs jacket, illusive World Series we are coming for you.

15. Family X

Christmas Day.

16. Cathy XE

T with Aunt C.

17. Meghan XE

T with Aunt M.

18. X IU

Sporting his new t-shirt over the dress shirt.

19. Spencer XE

Cousins and apparently colleagues once a year on Santa’s sleigh.

20. Sam XE

T with Aunt S.

21. spencer

Cousins with Yeye.

22. Spencer 2

Cousins hanging out.

23. Spencer Snack

Cousins eating snack.

24. Baba hoops

Baba and T watching the Hoosiers.

25. Tim

T and T.

26. Sam

Departing smiles.

27. Dad Walking

Walking with Yeye.

28. cleaning

No free stay, T is helping move furniture.

29. Jim

Showing Papa how to use the iPad.

30. Mom

Smiles with Nainai.

31. Buckets

Birthday party in LI. Buckets!

32. Pullup

Showing off the upper body strength. Pullups!

33. hoops

Playing some defense in the gym.


Dribbling down court.

35. Mom Hoops

Pass, catch and throw (but also shoot happy).

36. Meghan-Brad

Aunt M and Uncle B. (Cousin B not yet born but kind of pictured).

37. Cathy-Brian

Aunt C and Uncle B.

38. Mom-Jim

Papa and Nainai

39. Dad Catch

Playing catch.

40. Mor Mor-Seeya

Mor Mor and Seeya

41. Seeya Paper

Reading the paper with Seeya.

42. Seeya

Playing with Seeya.

43. Sleeping Car

Sleeping in the car after a long vacation.

44. North Pole

Sunrise over the North Pole.

45. Sleeping Plane

In flight nap after a long vacation.

46. Scootcase

Back in Shanghai, riding his new Christmas gift; the Scootcase.