Skiing

April9

Our girls were enrolled in the local ski club; skiing with a coach and their peers every Sunday. They are both little rippers now, Emily easily skiing as fast as an average adult, with grace and fluidity not shared by many. Her sister, a more aggressive style of skier, is hot on her tail.

Maddie and her friend Nicola at the local race.

Maddie was awarded ‘Most Improved Skier’ in her group by her coach this year.

The older kids finish off the season with an overnight campout. With the help of a few dads, the kids build their own snow caves, learning some essential survival skills along the way. They play some search and rescue type games, then have a wiener roast and a giant bonfire. It’s a great experience and the kids love it.

Click both photos below for larger photos:

Madeline’s new look

February4

We have a wonderful friend that is a professional hair stylist who does housecalls. Without any previous mention of her intentions, Madeline requested a short hair cut. I’m always game for change so she got what she requested.

pony

She loves her new look, especially with the curls…
look

Shanghai Attractions

June22

After a day of rest following our long flight, we managed to take in some of the attractions of Shanghai. To us small city folk, the city itself was quite an attraction, especially at night. It seems that every available surface is lit up at night. Xuhui district at night
We saw scooters with rope lights covering them, trees with lights that fell like shooting stars and every imaginable colour of lights on almost all commercial buildings. Many of the lights on the buildings were not static, but changing colours and patterns. Even the many elevated highways had lights (and flower boxes) lining the sides of them. Emily and Madeline really enjoyed any rainbow lights they saw.

We took an hour long river cruise at dusk, where you sit on the upper level of the boat and viewed the lights on the buildings along the river’s edge. On the west side of the river is old Shanghai, with beautiful colonial architecture, all lit up in yellow. The opposite side of the river houses the many ultra-modern skyscrapers and the Oriental Pearl tower.
Oriental Pearl and buildingsRiver boats and lightsAmazingly enough, all these buildings have gone up in the last ten years. As I asked a police office for directions to the nearest ‘chuan’ (boat) I was overheard by a friendly Chinese woman. Immediately she grabbed my arm and started speaking rapid fire Chinese indicating that they were going to same place. The group of 4 Chinese women, all wearing hot pink polo shirts, became our fast friends. They accompanied us the entire evening and helped us get the best seats on the boat. Emily sat on one of their laps for much of the boat ride.

The next day we visited Expo.Canadian pavillion The theme this year was “better city, better life”. We visited the pavillions for Canada, Hungary, Malta, the Caribbean, and Australia. It was quite a huge venue so we did a lot of walking around looking at the pavillions from the outside. As with everything else in Shanghai, it was really impressive at night. We enjoyed the Australian pavillion the most, it had a great multimedia show on a revolving stage that lasted about 10 minutes. We lucked out with our timing because we got to see a performance of a group of young people playing violins and cellos, accompanied by a drummer and keyboardist. We recognized some Rolling Stones and Supertramp and also played some classical Chinese music. All this just when we stopped for a few Aussie meat pies and a VB for Simon and a Crown Lager for me. I’m realising that, with Western-style food, the price may look quite cheap, but the portion is tiny. I might have called them Aussie meat tarts instead of pies.

The Canadian pavillion had a cool plasma screen type thing under a few inches of water. When you splashed the water or touched the screen it caused a different picture to show up underneath. There also was a wall with blocks that came in and out in different shapes like an inukshuk or a totem pole or just a collage of photos. I tried out the bike that you could pedal and cause the screen ahead of you to move and show an animated movie of travelling through different parts of Canada. The feature movie was a little uninspiring, since it featured only cities, which, in my opinion, is not the most picturesque parts of Canada. We enjoyed some Chinese-style poutine and a few Carlsberg beers while chatting with the Quebecois restaurant manager. He’s been travelling in Asia since 2003 and gave us a few pointers of where to go.Poutine, Chinese-styleMountie at Candian pavillion

The UK pavillion is made up of a bunch of stiff fibre optics of some sort, Emily thought it looked like a giant porcupine. I think her description pretty much covers it. I thought it was really cool. UK PavillionAlso neat looking was the Luxembourg pavillion, which reminded Emily of the crooked house from the nursery rhyme.
Luxembourg pavillion
The Norwegian pavillion offered odd-looking monoframe bikes to ride down the spiral pathway, the lineup was too long for us.

The following day we were planning on going to the wild animal park to see some pandas, but we didn’t get moving early enough and it was quite far from where we were staying. Instead we went to the Ocean Aquarium. It was definitely set up for kids with all the exhibits down low and several aquarium tunnels. We really liked the tunnel under all the sharks.
Shark tunnelPenguinsPolar bear
Hmmmm, wonder if anyone is listening to this advice…?
Don't eat sharks After the aquarium we went to a tunnel of a different sort. It’s called the Shanghai Tourist Tunnel, and you ride a small pod-like car on a track under the river. It’s only a 5 minute trip but the tunnel is covered with really cool psychedelic lights! Kinda touristy but we really liked it.
Psychedelic tunnelTomorrow we head to Huaihua (pronounced wai-wa) on the train.

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