A Family Hike in Fenghuangling Nature Park, Beijing

Hiking in Fenghuangling

Fenghuangling is huge. Really. We could go back for several days and still not explore all the trails, at least not if we’re hiking with kids.

There are three major trail loops in Fenghuangling Nature Park (also known as Phoenix Mountain) that visitors can explore—the North Route, the Middle Route, and the South Route. At the entrance of the park there are signs that describe each loop and list the attractions that visitors can see on each one.

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Tanzhe Temple (and a Trip to Sam’s Club, Beijing)

Tanzhe Temple

It was not an easy task to convince Hubby that doing a half-day trip to a Buddhist Temple would be an exciting use of our time. He’s normally a great sport about everything—I come up with crazy lists of family adventures I want to try, and he plays along and agrees to fight the congested Beijing traffic and play the navigator as we figure out how to make our way to the different places on my list. Tanzhe Temple was like that. This particular temple, the oldest in Beijing, was on my list because I love spring . . . and all the blossoms . . . especially magnolias. And Tanzhe Temple is a great place to see them.

Hubby, however, isn’t quite as into the blossoms like I am, and we’ve lived in Asia for thirteen years now and, well, we’ve seen a lot of Buddhist temples. The drive to Tanzhe would be about an hour-and-a-half (but unpredictable because of Beijing traffic). In his eyes, it was a long drive for . . . another Buddhist Temple.

So how did I get him excited to go?

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Mutianyu Great Wall with the Kids

Mutianyu Great Wall

During the first week of April, my children were off from school for spring break. I had recently made my Beijing Bucket List for spring and was eager to start checking things off that list, especially because I wanted to see those places while the spring flowers were in bloom.

Beijing air quality has been dramatically improving in the last three years, and this year, the air has been phenomenal . . . that is, it was until spring break rolled around. It was pretty frustrating to have my kids with the week off of school, the temperatures perfect, the flowers in bloom, but have air so bad that I didn’t want to leave the house, let alone take my kids hiking.

As luck would have it, though, the cold air started blowing from the north and cleared out the smog. Yes, it was really cold, but I’d take cold clean air over polluted warm air any day. My family took advantage of the clean air and day off school to go to the Great Wall. Finally. After almost three years of living here and listening to my son ask questions and spout facts about this famous landmark, he finally got to walk on it himself.

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Christmas Eve on the Saigon River

The Bonsai Boat at Dock

Since we were traveling during the Christmas holiday, the kids didn’t get the typical Christmas morning when they wake up and find presents under the tree. The presents for everybody this year was the trip itself, but we did want to do something special to recognize the holiday.

We were in Ho Chi Minh City on Christmas Eve and our “something special” was dinner on the Saigon River. We booked a Christmas Eve Dinner Cruise through Bonsai Cruises.

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My Beijing Bucket List (Spring 2018)

The Great WallDespite the snow and hale this week, spring has definitely sprung here in Beijing. I love Beijing in the springtime. Flowers (magnolias, cherry blossoms, forsythia, and so many more), cleaner air, warmer temperatures . . . there is so much to love about springtime in Beijing.

I’m not a fan of cold weather, so my family usually enjoys indoor activities during the winter, and by the time springtime rolls around, we’re busting to go out and do some hiking or bike riding.

When I read this article from ThatsBeijing which gives suggestions for where to enjoy the spring blossoms, I started making my Beijing Bucket List for spring—things I want to do with my family in the next few months. It’s hard to say how much longer we’ll be privileged enough to live in Beijing, and I want to do better with enjoying the city and all it has to offer while we’re here.

What’s on my bucket list? Here. Take a look . . .

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The Best Place for Families to Stay in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) City

Saigon Street. Featured Image.

Okay . . . So there are thousands of places to stay in Ho Chi Minh City, so I can’t say the best . . . but this place was pretty darn spectacular for my family. I’d give Riverside Apartments a full recommendation to any other family traveling to Ho Chi Minh City.

I’m a writer. I’m accustomed to spending quiet days at home, staring at my computer, dreaming up imaginary people and writing their stories. When I go out and about anywhere (even the shopping mall . . . or the grocery story . . . or, well, any crowded social gathering), I usually find myself on sensory overload. Now, putting myself onto the extremely chaotic streets of Southeast Asia . . . especially Vietnam . . . let’s just say I was thankful for the oasis that Riverside Apartments was for us.

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Island Tours, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

Temple Grounds

During our stay in Phu Quoc, we tried a couple of tours around the island. Our hotel (Famiana) used a company called John’s Tours which offered a menu of land and boat/snorkeling tours. Another company called Red River offered similar tours.

My kids weren’t big enough (nor could they swim well enough) to go snorkeling, but even if they had been old enough, I had read (and heard) too many poor reviews of the snorkeling around Phu Quoc island. Based on what I had read, Phu Quoc is not the best place to go snorkeling.

But we still decided to give a couple other tours a try. We went on a Night Squid Fishing Tour and a South and East Island Land Tour.

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Vinpearl Amusement Park, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

Vinpearl Amusement Park

In my last post I talked about Vinpearl Safari and Conservation Park and what a great time my family had there during our trip to Phu Quoc Island. Vinpearl Land (an amusement park and water park) is located right next to the Safari Park. You can find their official website here.

We had such an unexpectedly good time at Safari Land that we had high hopes for the amusement park as well. Unfortunately, I didn’t think this park was worth all the hype it had received.

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