Sunday, February 12, 2017

Taiwan 2017

Tuesday January 31
We purposely kept Brooklyn out of afternoon peuterspeelzaal (preschool) so she could take a good afternoon nap before our long plane ride to Taiwan. Of course she took 2 hours to finally settle down to sleep. She could have gone to school and still had time to fall asleep for a nap before she finally did go down. We had to arose her early to get on the road for the airport in Amsterdam. We had a 20:50 flight.
Ready for our flight to Taiwan! from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
Jackie bought Brooklyn her own suitcase (or "sook-case" as she calls it) a few weeks before. She was mainly looking for a nice school backpack for her but loved that this had a dual use as a rolling suitcase which will come in handy for all our travels. She loves that it's Nijnte (Miffy or "Jac-ye" as she pronounces it). She wanted to pull it around everywhere at the store, on a sidewalk home for the store, and at the house to show daddy. We had to hide it to keep its new appeal for travel day. It's mainly loaded with a toys, her baby doll and lovey to help her sleep on the airplane.
Thankfully Joe's Delta Gold status didn't expire until February 1 so we were able to use the KLM Sky Lounge for dinner and to change to the kids into pajamas before we left Schiphol.
Daddy and Brooklyn ready for takeoff 
Jackie nursed Caleb to sleep at takeoff. Joe struggled to get Brooklyn to settle down for bed on the plane. The TV screen, the bustle of passengers and flight attendants, and then drink and dinner service really made it difficult. After constant adjustments of positions, blankets, pillow, "lovey", Joe finally called in the backups. She crawled over to Mommy and had her sing her to sleep in her arms. It was probably midnight before she was down. Jackie made the move to put Brooklyn down in her seat so her lap was free to breastfeed Caleb when he woke up again. Brooklyn probably slept 5-6 hours. Once awake she waked the TV screen (Frozen, Finding Dory, etc) and videos we downloaded onto the iPad (mainly Peppa Pig, Sesame Street which we had from our October US trip, some Thomas the Train, Daniel Tiger, Minions and other weird videos of people playing with toys that she seems to love to watch). 
For our US flight in October, we couldn't do 4 seats across together since it was 2 side, 3 middle and 2 side windows so we sat 2 and 2 behind each other. Brooklyn was very attached to Mom doing everything so Joe was on Caleb duty feeding him hand pumped bottled breastmilk throughout the flight. He was 3 months so easy to fall asleep anywhere. For this 

Wednesday February 1
We landed at 15:45. We met up with Joe's mom and uncle at the airport. Joe's uncle drove us to dinner. They first planned to head to Ximen, but couldn't find parking with all the Chinese New Years activities so we went to Yonghe for dinner. We had a wait for a table and did a little shopping in the meantime. The kids did amazingly well with the lengthy night just to get dinner before we could go to bed with the jetlag.

Thursday February 2
We went to lunch at Soy Bean Milk Magnate. Then we went to get groceries at the market. We all took afternoon naps together. 
爷爷  Yéye (Grandpa) and Caleb 
While the kids were still jetlaged and able to stay out later at night we took them to the Lehua Night Market in Yonghe. 
Joe & Jackie at Lehua Night Market in Yonghe 
Caleb's first trip to the night market & mama with a bubble tea of course 😛 
Chance seems to be having a good vacation too 

Friday February 3
We went to Soybean Milk Magnate for breakfast again with Joe's mom. We took Caleb's first metro ride to spend some time at the Taipei Zoo. 
Brooklyn smiling for a picture with Panda 
Brooklyn playing with a water pump that daddy loved playing with as a kid
Brooklyn petting the donkey

2 for the coati
We had to look up what a coati was. It is South America's version of a raccoon. 
Sumo wrestler stance Brooklyn by the train at the zoo 
Brooklyn riding the tortoise 
Brooklyn conversing with the big Panda 
Brooklyn riding the Panda
Quickly ushered through viewing the panda 
Brooklyn watching the monkeys hang at Taipei Zoo 

At the zoo, Brooklyn was clearly exhausted so we attempted to get her to nap in the stroller. Daddy promised her ice cream if she closed her eyes. Before Jackie could even finish breastfeeding Caleb, she was asleep.
Daddy falling asleep on the metro with Caleb 
Daan Park MRT metro station 

Built in 2013 by Che Fu Chang Architects + Sinotech Engineering Consultant Inc.
Here are a few more professional photographs shown on ArchDaily:
Daan Forest Park for Caleb to play (while Brooklyn napped) 
Caleb scooting all over the blanket in the park into the grass

奶奶 Nǎinai (Grandma) and Caleb

Mom and Jackie with our sleeping children in Xindian 
We walked along the waterfront as we waited for Joe's uncle (舅公 jiù gōng) and aunt for dinner.
The reason we were meeting in Xindian was for a Colorful Lights Festival going on. Each night after dusk, they set off a light and water fountain show on the riverfront. The river was full of paddle boats near the bridge. 

By 5:30pm, we decided it was time to wake Brooklyn up for her nap so she would sleep at night. 
Brooklyn enjoyed watching the water and light show in Xindian on Daddy's shoulders 
She liked dancing to the music too
The Xindian bridge lit up after dark 
We sat down at a fried seafood restaurant with a visual laminate menu on the middle of the table. There was a large picture of ice cream. There was no way we could say no to her, so Brooklyn got to have ice cream for dinner (we all get spoiled on vacation). 

Saturday February 4
Caleb was up every 45 minutes while in bed with his parents because he always woke up during transfer to the crib. Jackie finally had enough and had Joe move the packnplay to the small dining room across the hall where it is darker & has less street noise. He cried it out for 25 minutes but he was still close enough to wake Brooklyn. She decided she up for the day. 
What do you do when your child won't sleep at 4AM because of jet lag? Joe pretended to sleep, hoping she would follow his lead. He watched her as she tossed and turned for an eternity. She tucked and re-tucked her "lovey" until she was finally satisfied with the arrangement. She tracedhis entire face with her little finger enticing him to wake. Just when he thought she was asleep, he opened his eyes only to find that she's inches away from his face, staring at him and laughing when she noticed he's awake. When he pretended to go back to sleep, she showered him with kisses to prevent him from resting. Finally, he gave up at 6AM. On this morning, Joe was all too happy that she didn't sleep. Our baby girl is growing up so fast that moments like these will be gone too soon. Unknowingly, she gave him a wonderful and surprising gift to start his day.
We went to Bapao Breakfast. They had run out of our favorite kind of bun by the time we got there so we will definitely be back there again soon. 
We had chinese spaghetti for lunch at home. We ran some errands and some of us napped.
We had dinner with family at home.
These kids love visiting during Chinese New Year! Family and many family friends gave our kids red envelopes in celebration of the Lunar New Year. The red packets are called hongbao. It bestows more happiness and blessings on the receivers.
These two are loving Chinese New Year #redpocketmoney #chinesenewyear #fireroosteryear

Yéye and Caleb

Sunday February 5
We went back to Bapao Breakfast for the good green leak roll with Mom. 
After breakfast, Mom showed us a grand newly constructed temple in Yonghe. 

We took the MRT to Taipei Main Station. Caleb was due to feed upon arrival. The fabulous thing about Taiwan are the breastfeeding rooms. At all metro stops and many public places, there are private rooms for breastfeeding mothers. You have to use the intercom to call the information/ticket desk attendent to unlock to door for you. Thank goodness my husband speaks Mandarin, otherwise I'd have to go over to the desk each time and act it out in front of them. The room always has a water machine, changing table, tissues, and a comfortable chair to nurse in. 
We walked through toward the Zhongshan Metro underground mall. We visited the underground bookstreet to try and find a few books for us to read to the kids to teach them Mandarin. All are Chinese characters so we can't read them. Jackie was hoping for some electronic music-style books that says things in Mandarin. Normally we're not fans of noisy toys, but for minority language learning we agree it is okay. We ended up buying a Peppa Pig sticker book as a new toy for the plane ride home.
We exited at the Shuanglian MRT Station. We let Brooklyn walk along the green space over the metro. We ate T.K.K. Fried Chicken for lunch which was pretty disappointing. Next we took the metro over to Ximen. 
This is Joe's year (the year of the rooster) at 西門町 Ximenting
One more family shot without needing to scrunch down by Brooklyn in the stroller 
Rooster, chicks and other Chinese New Year decorations in Ximenting 

Brooklyn was losing it, so we promised her some sips of our bubble milk tea to get her to nap. 
After we got Brooklyn asleep in the stroller, we walked by some lanterns mostly created by students. 

We returned home for chinese burritos for dinner with family. After dinner Brooklyn was being crazy because she was overtired.
Here she is munching on fruit while jiù gōng (great uncle) and jiù po (great aunt) played with Caleb.

Jiù po dancing with Caleb on her shoulders
Brooklyn giving everyone massages
At 8/9pm, we put the kiddos down to bed.

Monday February 6
Caleb woke up with big bug bites on his ear. Poor guy was getting eaten up in the back bedroom. Maybe that was why he was up every 2 hours between 9pm and 4am.
We had hamburgers for breakfast while Brooklyn ate two 萝卜糕 Luóbo gāo (daikon radish cake) on her own.
We took the MRT to Taipei 101 station.
We went to visit 44 South Village or Sisinancun ( 四四南村 ), a 1940s/50s military village where Nationalist soldiers relocated from Mainland China, now preserved as a cultural site. It is located only a few blocks from Taipei 101.  
44 South Village ( 四四南村 ) in the shadows of Taipei 101 

Family photo at 44 South Village ( 四四南村 ) in the shadows of Taipei 101 
Funny family photo at 44 South Village ( 四四南村 ) in the shadows of Taipei 101 
Peace or 2 doors says Brooklyn at 44 South Village 

Historic Taiwan sightseeing with these 2 cuties at 44 South Village

These two will always have my heart 
Jackie, Caleb & Brooklyn at 44 South Village 

Bright colored doors pop against the faded concrete walls of the old 1950s military village of 44 South Village in Taipei 

With how close the buildings are to one another, it is clear how close knit the military families were when they relocated to Taiwan. 
Brooklyn at 44 South Village in Taipei 

Brooklyn's sumo wrestling stance at 44 South Village in Taipei
Brooklyn checking the doors to see if anyone was home at 44 South Village in Taipei 

Beautiful old tree at 44 South Village in the shadows of Taipei 101
Brooklyn by a beautiful old tree at 44 South Village in Taipei
New skyscraper going up by Taipei 101 
Taipei 101 
Brooklyn cheesing by Taipei 101 
We went to the big Eslite bookstore where we bought one Chinese learning book and a surprise Princess Peppa Pig and Sir George figurine toy for entertainment on the long flight home. 
We stopped for coffee and a pastry snack while Jackie nursed Caleb.
We detoured over to see Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut's DNA double helix-shaped Agora Garden Tower which is still under construction. 
Jackie thought that she had seen recent google pictures of them starting to clad it in glass but must have been duped by the awesome renderings.
We next took the City Hall MRT to Dingman MRT, to visit the Din Tai Fung original location. It once was a cafeteria style restaurant with tables and plastic stools. Today it is as fancy as the other locations, but it was still nice to visit the originial location. 
Brooklyn being silly with Daddy at the originial Din Tai Fung
Brooklyn loves xiao long bao (delicate soup dumplings) 

Lunch at the original Din Tai Fung where Brooklyn ate 5 xiao long bao all on her own! #dutchbrooklyn #dintaifung #xiaolongbao at 鼎泰豐本店 Din Tai Fung Restaurant
Happy mommy and Caleb at the original Din Tai Fung
We walked to Daan Park and by the Flower Market that was not open. After Brooklyn fell asleep in the stroller, we used the WiFi at the Daan MRT station to research where we wanted Joe's uncle to take us. 
Brooklyn watching Peppa Pig on the iPad by Nǎinai
Caleb playing with nǎinai and yéye

Tuesday February 7
We went back to Bapao Breakfast for some more buns and soybean milk.
Today Joe's uncle took the 4 of us and Joe's mom down to Taichung.
Our first stop was to 921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan. The museum opened on the 5th anniversary of the 7.3 magnitude of the September 21, 1999 Chi-Chi earthquake. This was the former site of Kuang-Fu Junior High School which shows fault movements, collapse of the school building and uplifted riverbed. 
Deficiencies of columns in old Taiwan school construction (not enough rebar stirrups, too large gravel aggregate in the concrete, insufficient bond between rebar and concrete) 
Current Taiwan construction technique of concrete pedestals with lead rubber bearing 
I wish we could have had more time in the Earthquake Engineering Hall. There were lots of construction simulators and interactive displays to visually show why certain building designs were superior. Caleb was not happy so Jackie went to find somewhere to change his diaper. The bathroom she was directed to had nowhere to do it so she opted to lean back the stroller and do it right there. Bad call. Mid-diaper change, he peed on her pants and shoes. 
The collapsed north classroom building of Kuang-Fu Junior High School at 921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan 

You could also see the oval outdoor track kicked up sharply at the locations of the fault line. 
Brooklyn playing whack a mole with jiù gōng (uncle) 
Wufeng Lin Family Mansion and Garden (霧峰林家宅園 Wùfēng Lín Jiāzhái Yuán) is the former residence and grounds of the Wufeng Lin family at its ancestral home in Wufeng District, Taichung, Taiwan. It was the first Fujianese-style residence in Taiwan. 
We waited around for the next guided Mandarin tour. Brooklyn protested napping in the stroller. 
There is an Upper House, Lower House, and Laiyuan (Lin Family Gardens). The 2 houses are for different branches of the family. We were only able to see 2 portions of the Lower House. There was damage from the 921 Earthquake and members of the Lin Family still live in the ancestral residence.
Gong-Bao-Di (Residence of the Palace Guard) from 1858 with beautiful carvings, paintings and calligraphy on the outer and inner vestibules 

Lanterns hanging in Gong-Bao-Di (Residence of the Palace Guard) at Wufeng Lin Mansion

Gong-Bao-Di (Residence of the Palace Guard) at Wufeng Lin Mansion 

We finally gave up on getting Brooklyn to nap in the stroller. She was disrupting the tour too much by being loud. 
Brooklyn enjoyed running all over the Gong-Bao-Di (Residence of the Palace Guard) courtyard at Wufeng Lin Mansion 

Beautifully decorated plant pot in Gong-Bao-Di at Wufeng Lin Mansion
The tour group took a break for tea in the Gong-Bao-Di (Residence of the Palace Guard) at Wufeng Lin Mansion 
Details in the passageway between Gong-Bao-Di and Great Flower Hall at Wufeng Lin Mansion 

Great Flower Hall at Wufeng Lin Mansion

Brooklyn made a friend with this young girl who chased her around. Brooklyn would call her jiejie (older sister) as she ran. It was cute. Crazy overtired behavior, but cute. 
Brooklyn running around the Great Flower Hall covered in lanterns 
Brooklyn running around the Great Flower Hall of Wufeng Lin Mansion with her friend "jiejie" 

Great Flower Hall lanterns in Wufeng Lin Mansion

This portion of the residence was used for banquets and performances. 
The Fujianese Great Flower Hall stage with intricate wood carving built in 1890 at Wufeng Lin Mansion (rebuilt after the 921 earthquake) 

The upper viewing areas around the stage at the Great Flower Hall at the Wufeng Lin Mansion 

The formal living room at the front of the stage in the Great Flower Hall at the Wufeng Lin Mansion 

Detail by the formal living room in the Great Flower Hall at the Wufeng Lin Mansion

Caleb was really fussy so Jackie quickly started breastfeeding him in the performance area before the tour ended. 
Next we drove to Geomei Wetland on the coast near Taichung. Brooklyn finally fell asleep for a bit in the car.
Jackie and Brooklyn in her sunglasses at Geomei Wetland
Jackie, Brooklyn & Nǎinai at Geomei Wetland

The many windmills at sunset at Geomei Wetland

Geomei Wetland with a boardwalk out into the sea 

It was very windy out on the boardwalk. Brooklyn wanted to walk but we had to hold her due to no railings and lots of people. Nǎinai kept Caleb back on shore in the stroller to keep him warm. 
Jackie and Brooklyn on the boardwalk at Geomei Wetland 
Windmills and reflected setting sun at Geomei Wetland

While walking back on boardwalk, Brooklyn informs mom she needs to go potty. She starts wiggling on mom's hip. Mom books it back to shore where there are no restrooms. She quickly whisks her out of the wind, behind the bushes in the grass to pee. She does it like a champ. No protests like mom was expecting. She must really had to go. She makes sure to tell daddy she peed on the grass.
Brooklyn and Jackie watching the sunset at Geomei Wetland 
Brooklyn watching the sunset at Geomei Wetland 

Jackie, Brooklyn, Caleb, Nǎinai and jiù gōng at Geomei Wetland
Next we drove into Taichung to go to the Feng Chia Night Market. We were on a mission to find the burgers we ate with Matt the first time we visited Taichung. Joe was feeling very sad when we couldn't find it. We stopped at a place with seating behind to get Brooklyn some potstickers and so Jackie could nurse Caleb. In the end, we finally found the pepper-meat delicate juicy burgers and it was as delicious as we remembered. Hot, juicy goodness. 

Wednesday Febraury 8
We went this morning to the neighbor place for burgers. 
Uncle took Brooklyn outside to play while we finished getting ready to leave for the day. It slipped both our minds to ask her or take her to go potty before we were in the car for a 45 minutes to 1 hour long drive. Thankfully she held it for a bit until we were off the highway and on side roads where dad could whisk her to a potty.
Today's first stop on our drive was Pingxi. 
Pingxi train 
Pingxi train station
Pingxi train tracks

At the Pingxi Lantern Sky Festival, the lanterns are lit like small hot air balloons and released into the sky. 
Brooklyn and mama painting our Pingxi lantern

Pingxi lantern red side symbolizing health, wellness and good fortune

Pingxi lantern yellow side symbolizing wealth
Pingxi lantern green side symbolizing growth, next steps
Pingxi lantern blue side symbolizing wishes and dreams
Pingxi lantern is lit 
Pingxi lantern is off

Family at Pingxi train station for lantern lighting

Caleb is a happy boy with rocks on the Pingxi train tracks

Caleb and Brooklyn on the Pingxi train tracks

Brooklyn having ice cream in Pingxi 
They gave Caleb a cone to eat in Pingxi 
Happy kids with their ice cream
Next we drove a few towns down to see the Shifen waterfall.
Suspension bridge near Shifen waterfall 
Joe, Brooklyn and Nǎinai walking to the Shifen waterfall with Brooklyn pointing to every lantern in the sky along the way saying "ours, ours, get it, ours, get it"

Shifen waterfall

Nǎinai, Brooklyn & Jackie at Shifen Waterfall
Joe and Jackie at Shifen Waterfall
Fruit pouch snack for Brooklyn with Nǎinai

Brooklyn riding an elephant statue at Shifen waterfall

Brooklyn riding a horse statue, just her size at Shifen waterfall

Brooklyn riding another horse statue

Brooklyn riding yet another horse statue. She may have tried them all if we let her 
Brooklyn riding the 4 person swing with Nǎinai
Dad and Brooklyn walking across the swaying suspension bridge at Shifen waterfall 
Next destination was Yehliu Geological Park. The cape is full of hoodoo stones, many with distinctive shapes. 
The northern coast of Taiwan, near Keelung

Brooklyn rode in the stroller as we attempted to get her to nap, which limited which areas of rocks we could walk around.
Yehliu Cape 

Mushroom rocks at Yehliu Geopark with honeycombed holes from weathering. 

Queen's Head ( 女王頭) at Yehliu Geopark.  

Of course as we are leaving the park, Brooklyn falls asleep in the stroller. The family continues to walk around while Jackie nurses Caleb. We managed to transfer Brooklyn into the car and continue her nap longer as we drove back into Taipei.
We had told Joe's uncle how we want to have a print made of the 4 animals each of our family members represent on the Lunar calendar by someone who can properly do that and write the calligraphy. He knew of a person in the Longshan Temple Night Market. Brooklyn needed to pee as soon as we parked, so she went true asian and peed in the parking lot. 
As we walked through the Longshan Temple Night Market area known for being a red light district (aka massage shops and prostitutes down dark alleyways), we were more keenly aware of the sex toy shops than on our last visit through here to our friend Sunny's mom's apartment. 
We stayed here to eat some seafood for dinner. We got Brooklyn some potsticker dumplings again, but much to our amazement, she enjoyed slurping clams from their shells! She was sad when we ran out! Then she ate a lot of fish. This kid sure loves to eat Chinese food!
Chinese New Year lights in Mengxia Park by Longshan Temple 
Longshan Temple entrance at night 
We put the kids to bed and Joe and Jackie watched the movie "Self/less"with Ryan Reynolds.

Thursday February 9
Today was rainy & cold. We had hamburgers for breakfast. Jackie got a haircut at Mom's friends. She went for chin length bob because she was sick of Caleb tugging at her long hair. We tried to convince Brooklyn to get her hair cut, but she was not interested. We picked up groceries at the market. For lunch we had squid ball soup for Joe and his mom, bapao for Brooklyn, and a sandwich for Jackie. We went back home for afternoon naps. 
Brooklyn napping like a true Asian, on the floor 
Joe ran errands.
Caleb had his first true time crawling tonight. He has been good about slowly scouting around but this is the first time he has done a sequence of hand, knee, hand, knee, foot movements. 
Caleb crawling 

Friday February 10
We went to Soybean Milk Magnate for breakfast. We had lost a few of Brooklyn's hairbows throughout the trip, so she agreed to pigtails today. 
Jiù gōng had brought a rooster LED stick over for Brooklyn 

We took the metro to 228 Park and let Brooklyn play on the playground. Although we live in the Netherlands and Brooklyn doesn't speak the native language, this was the first time Joe saw her try to communicate nicely with other kids and not realizing why they couldn't understand her. She was asking 'please' to a little Chinese girl who had no idea. Most kids in the Netherlands do not start learning English under 10/11 years old so our interactions on the playground are often similar. We are part of a few English-focused playgroups with many other nationalities so she has friends that understand and communicate with her, but that's more the minority for kids her age.
We walked to the Taipei Artist Village, which ended up being not what we thought.
We instead visited nearby Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial House. 

Next we did a little shopping at Taipei Main Station underground mall.
Then we went to Ximen to see all the Chinese New Year action at night.
Jackie and Brooklyn selfies by the rooster chicks in Ximen

Rooster chicks in Ximen

We had Korean for dinner along with bubble tea. We took a breastfeeding break in Red House. The crowds were really starting to build now, making it hard to maneuver the stroller. 
Lanterns near Ximen

Rooster near Ximen
On the walk home, we stopped for shaved ice
Brooklyn got to ride on the mechanical train ride out front

Saturday February 11
We once again went to the famous YongHe Soybean Milk Magnate for breakfast. We stopped by the bakery for a few snacks for the plane ride. We went to Renai Park playground so Brooklyn could burn off some energy before tonight's plane ride 

We had rolls and fruit for a light lunch. We took naps and finished up packing.
For dinner we had hot pot. We finished dinner early. We needed to leave around 9pm for the airport. We gave the kids baths. Still more time to kill. That midnight flight home to Amsterdam seemed a long ways away. 

Sunday February 12
We had a 5:50am landing (12:50pm in Taiwan) in Amsterdam. We retrieved all our baggage and departed the airport to get our car. There was snow on the ground! It was a good thing it had been cool the last few days in Taiwan or this weather would have been a rude awakening to come home to. The kids and Jackie fell asleep in the car. Once home, Joe napped while Jackie dealt with the awake kids. 6 more days and we should be back on the right timezone again. We all went to bed early that night. It was a wonderful trip but it was sure nice to bed home sleeping in our own rooms and in our own beds. 
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