Sunday, September 19, 2010

Happy Mooncake Festival

To celebrate the mooncake festival we had the Phuah family over for a simple Hainanese chicken rice. After dinner, Aunty Ean Na, Uncle Sin Tien, Uncle Sin Chuan and daddy got busy trying to put up the lanterns. But by the time they were finally done... it was late and time to keep the lanterns again, as tomorrow is Monday and everyone has to go to school or work. Aren't the lanterns so pretty, all lined up in a row...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Ah Kong

It's Ah Kong's birthday today. Ah Ma got back from buying some mooncakes and lit a candle to celebrate Ah Kong's birthday with the mooncake. But after all that, you declared that it was not a "real birthday cake" so the mooncake/birthday cake was "not counted"!!
What to do? You insisted that we got a cake, and since there was limited types of cakes which Ah Kong could take, we headed to Queensbay to buy an ice-cream cake. You were all so excited and kept pestering us to quickly sing the birthday song (again). So right after dinner, we took out the cake, lit the candle and sang the birthday song for Ah Kong.

It certainly looks like a birthday celebration. But was it Ah Kong's birthday or yours?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bye Bye Vancouver

After we left the aquarium, we took a slow drive around Stanley Park. It's a very large park with a beautiful scenery. We were hungry so daddy set the GPS to bring us to Chinatown for some Chinese food. We arrived and looked around for a car park and finally found one. Walked around to look for a restaurant and finally settled in a simple shop to have some rice. Wow! It sure felt like it's been a while since we've had rice.. yummy!

After lunch, we walked around Chinatown for a while then went back to the car. We spent the rest of the day driving around Vancouver looking at the sights. We got tired at once stage so we parked the car in Stanley Park and you all took a nap. Later in the afternoon, we took a drive to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. But it was too late as the opening hours was till 6pm. So we took a drive around that area and finally headed towards the airport.

We had dinner in the airport and had to wait a while more before the check in counter finally opened. Daddy asked you to pose with this "Canadian Mountie":

When we finally got to go into the departure hall, it was rather late. But our flight was only at 2am. So we wondered around the airport (which had very little to see.. and many shops were already closed). I wonder where you got your energy from. I was feeling super tired but you had the energy to run around and keep us on our toes! But the moment we boarded the plane you fell asleep even before the plane took off. As the plane was relatively empty we were given separate seats (scattered) so that we could get nearly a whole row of seats to ourselves. Of course there was no way you'd sleep or sit alone, so we both squeezed in the 2 seats beside the window.

We finally arrived in Taipei in the wee hours of the morning and we walked around a little and went back to the playground we discovered on the trip to Alaska which you kept reminding me about. Daddy took this picture of the pretty umbrellas hung on the ceiling.
At last we boarded the flight and very soon (4 hours actually) we were back in Penang.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Vancouver Aquarium

The first stop was Stanley Park where the Vancouver Aquarium is located. After finally being able to get the parking paid for our car, we headed to the entry. We were not issues a ticket to enter. Instead, we were each given this:
Yup, a stamp on our hands. First stop was the fishies... We walked around then it was soon time for the Beluga show. We headed outside and at first you insisted that you didn't want as you thought that it would be hot outside. But when you realised that the weather was really pleasant, you were quite happy to wait for the show to begin. At first I was wondering why there were so many people at the aquarium, then I realised that it was a Saturday (we lose track of the days when we're enjoying the holiday).
Waiting for the show to start in the beautiful weather

And soon the beluga show started. The handlers shared information about the belugas and introduced the 3 adult beluga and 1 baby beluga.

After the show we stopped for a quick snack before heading to watch the dolphin show. There were already lots of people standing around the pool waiting for the show to begin. So we walked around and found this platform which gave us an unobstructed view of the area where the dolphin show was being held. Yay! Daddy had amazing shots of the dolphin's acts:
We went back in for a quick look at another area and I took this picture of you. It's wonderful that the aquarium was built with "little people" like you in mind. See.. they have steps all around the aquarium for you to step on so that you can get a better view of the marine life:
One of daddy's best shots (after many tries..):
We left shortly after that at around 1pm as we were feeling hungry and weren't too keen on the snacks sold in the aquarium.

Bye Bye Diamond Princess

As we were going of disembark the ship with all our luggage, we had to wake up early and finish the last minute packing before heading to the Explorers Lounge and wait for the call to disembark the ship. Here's the final few shots daddy took of the scenery from the ship before we left:

The Lion Gate Bridge early in the morning

As we approached the harbour
The ship has docked

We pulled the bags off the ramp and cleared immigration and we're now in Vancouver, Canada. After finally clearing immigration, we wandered around looking for the car rental. Ah Ma had already pre-booked a car for the day. After making the calls, we found out that we had to take a taxi to the car rental. So we hopped into 2 taxis and off we went. After a rather long wait, we finally got the car. And off we went for the first place on our itinerary.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Second Last Day on Diamond Princess

Today is our last day on the ship. We are at sea the whole day and the first thing daddy saw was this:

The embarking of the British Columbia pilots
We spent the day wondering around the ship, having a yummy lunch by the pool. And while we went to the Kidz Zone for some fun with the other kids (yes WE because you insisted that I had to go with you) daddy got these shots:

There were quite a few children there I guess because it was a day at sea. And it was ice-cream day. So when the time came, the carers did a quick check for allergy and then we were all bundled up and headed to Deck 14 for ice-cream. Soon it was 5pm and we headed back to our room. We spotted them:

Dall's Porpoises swimming with the ship

We had our final dinner and filled up the nomination form for our two wonderful waiters who were just wonderful throughout our dinners in the ship. We tried to get an early night as we had to wake up early the next day for self-disembarkation.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Final Port Day: Ketchikan

The first thing we notice about Ketchikan when we looked out the window was the number of sea planes. And since we did not sign up for any tours at this port of call, we took our time to have breakfast and we were lucky to get a table by the window so you could see many sea planes landing and taking off as we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast.
I wonder if it was a good thing that we did not sign up for any tours. It was raining cats and dogs outside. We put on our ponchos before getting off the ship on deck 4's gangway. They were originally bought for the Tundra Wilderness Tour in Denali. But as it was actually a bus ride all the way we were safe from the rain even when it drizzled during the tour. We could not find a poncho or even a raincoat in child's size, especially for a little kids as small as you. Thank goodness in the end Aunty Joey (Brettany's mummy) said that she's got one raincoat. When I first brought it home, I was thinking it was still too big for you, but it was a good thing it was a little bigger for you. Reasons are: it was long enough to cover most of your legs/jeans and also I forgot to consider the fact that you were all bulked up with the warm clothing. This is rainy Ketchikan from our balcony:

We wanted to take the free shuttle into the little town (not as small as Skagway!) but the queue was so long, so we decided to take a slow walk into town. Then we arrived near the tourist information counter daddy dropped by to take a map of Kethikan. It was drizzling and we wandered around to look at shops selling smoked salmon, look at the totems and we were headed to some bridge when we stopped to look at some salmons which were gathered under a bridge. There was a nice man there who shared some information about Ketchikan and also told us to follow that pathway to a place where we could see salmons heading upstream to spawn. We walked and we walked and we walked along the stream and we wondered if we were going the wrong way when we finally saw them:
The poor salmons had to try so hard to go upstream. And when they've finally made it, they were all so tired, they just stopped. You can actually see lots of them resting on the bottom right of the picture below:
Here we are all in our poncho and rain coat while watching the salmons:

After watching them for a while, we finally left and headed towards the hatchery. But after a while, you grumbled about being tired and wanting to head back to the ship. We all took turns to carry you, but in the end we gave up as you were too heavy and the salmon hatchery looked too far for us to walk, especially with Ah Ma and her bad knee and you refusing to walk! As we were walking we were overwhelmed with the stench. There were dead salmon and there were salmons resting before they headed to spawn further upstream. You cannot see them clearly in this picture, but the whole stream was black (not from pollution) because it was full of fishes!

We headed back and had lunch. Lunch for you was as usual cheesy pizza. We've had pizza so often that before I could open my mouth to order, the guy at the pizzeria already knew what I wanted. He only needed to know how many slices I wanted that day!!
We left you at the Kidz Zone then headed to disembark the shop again because I wanted to buy something from Safeway. Daddy and I walked and walked and finally reached Safeway. After that we all had a short nap before dinner time. Dinner was a bit late so we could not make it on time for the 8pm show.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Our Second Formal Night

When we got back from Juneau, the first thing which greeted us was this:

There was supposed to be a celebration and a balloon drop at midnight. Ok, as if we could last so long. Anyway after lunch we went downstairs to have a look at the balloons again and o go to the library. And I just realised that it was your first time entering a library (except for the one in your school, I have no idea what it looks like as I've not seen it). Somehow, you thought that it was a bookshop! We found a book for you and another for me and headed back to the room. As it as too late for a nap, we headed to the pool to use it for the first time. In between swimming, we even stopped for a while to enjoy the freshly baked cookies with milk. Yummy!

Then we headed back to the room and had a shower to get ready for dinner. For the first time in the trip, we were at the Pacific Moon dining room before 6pm. It's the second and final formal night for the trip so we were dressed in our best again: Where is my milk?

Ah Kong & Ah Ma

A family shot

After dinner (yes no shots of the food we had...) we went around for a walk. And of course took a picture with the balloons:

After that we dropped you off at the Kidz Zone then headed to the Skywalkers Lounge for a drinks and a quiet chat. Here's daddy's Ultimate Muay Thai and and my Strawberry Daiquiri:

We walked around the ship (it was super cold, as we were headed to the next port stop) and took some pictures of the scenery and daddy wanted me to pose in the cold and I didn't have a jacket on so after every shot we'd run inside to see if the picture turned out ok. We did that about 4-5 times until I went on strike and refused to go out after that!

Soon it was 10pm and time to collect you from the Kidz Zone. Here you were all tired out posing with your "Bear bear" which you coloured with the fabric markers.

The day may have ended for you and daddy, but not for me. I had another mission to accomplish. You had requested for a balloon and we could not collect it yet. So I had to stay up until 12midnight then I headed to the bubble lifts and headed downstairs. Even from deck 12 I could hear all the music and festivities as everyone sang and danced to the music on deck 5, 6 and 7 at the atrium. When I finally reached the party, I picked up a blue balloon (as per your request) an walked around until I saw more balloons but they were out of my reach. Luckily the nice man saw me gesturing at him and he passed me a red balloon. Mission accomplished. Next is to see your expression when you see the balloons.

Second Port Day: Alaska's Capital - Juneau

Making the right choice of tour to join was certainly difficult. In the end we decided to pick the whale watching tour, which guarantees whale sighting. We had to wake up early and go upstairs for breakfast before we disembarked the ship to wait for our tour. At last it was time to board the bus. It smelled a little fishy but after a while we got used to it and we were soon on our way to Auke Bay. As we drove into the city of Juneau which is the capital of Alaska, the bus driver shared with us jokes about the happening in Juneau and interesting facts about Juneau. And of course a magnificent view of the Mendenhall Glacier:
After a ride of over 30 minutes, we arrived in Auke Bay. We hopped of the bus and onto the catamaran which had a lower and upper deck. We climbed up and settled ourselves down on the seats which had binoculars for our use. Soon our captain briefed us and introduced us to the naturalist and we were off.
Very soon we were greeted by the first Dall's porpoises. They look like little killer whales and they happily swam next to our boat. They love to ride on the waves of the boat and our naturalist even told us to look out for them when we get back to the cruise ship. It wasn't easy to get a clear shot of them, but here's the best that I could find:

Next we saw Steller sea lions. The captain parked as close to the little island as she could. But hey you couldn't miss them as there are so many of them. We both went to the outside of the boat to have a good look.

As we were driving off, daddy spotted this:

Can you see it? I had already zoomed in so that you can get a clearer view of it.. A bald eagle.

The captain told us that the law forbids them from driving the boat up close to a whale if we spot one. But of course, if the whale decides to take an interest in us (as we are of them..) then it is ok. Well we spotted a whale after driving for quite a while, so she stopped the engine and we watched the whale. It was so far away, daddy was complaining about this telephoto lens as it could not zoom as closely as he had wanted.
Rather far, isn't it? Can you see the fin on the back of the humpback whale?

Well we went off after that in search for more humpback whales. And guess what? We were in luck. There was first one whale then more and more whales swimming in the same area. You could see them on the left and the right. And one even decided to come really close to us:

But best of all we could see them making dives after dives. And they even made deep dives which we knew as the naturalist told us that when you see their tails as they made a dive it means it was a deep dive. Here are 2 getting ready for a dive:

See their tails?

We were treated to smoked salmon on crackers with hot chocolate and the naturalist continued to share with us facts about the whales and sea lions and even showed us the baleen which is the "teeth" of the whale which is a filter for the whales for the food they eat.

We soon arrived back at the dock and hopped on another bus which brought us back to the city. As it was still early, we stopped at the city and walked around to look at the city.
We stopped at a fudge shop and watched the man make fudge. Doesn't it look yummy? Of course we could not resist it and ended up buying a piece of fudge and some popcorn which you insisted on buying.
As we headed towards the dock, we stopped to take pictures of the stairs which we would not have noticed if the first bus driver had not brought it to our attention. They were stairs leading to people's houses. Can you imagine climbing up these stairs just to get home everyday? And what would happen if you realise you forgot something only after you've reached the bottom of the stair!!
Oh yes, we also stopped at a shop which sold everything from the Alaskan Brewing Company. Of course daddy had to take a picture to remind him of the yummy beer he's had throughout this trip. And this was the perfect place, as Juneau was the home to the Alaskan Brewing Company.

At last we headed back to the port to the ship for lunch. And of course the lunch menu was cheezy pizza for you and we had whatever was on the buffet table.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Cute Doggy

Forgot to put this picture in the Skagway post. It was standing outside one of the many jewellery shops in Skagway and looked so friendly. It wanted to sniff us, but when you tried to pet it, it got scared and ran just out of reach. Isn't it cute?