Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Long Way Home: Part Two- New Zealand

J & K in New Zealand
From Australia, we fly 3 hours east and arrive in Auckland, on the North Island of New Zealand.  One in three New Zealanders live in the Auckland region.  We enjoy this city of sails, fresh food, and friendly people.
Auckland, 1.5 million people

Ken consults with Moses in the park
We take a 30 min. ferry from Auckland to a vineyard on Waiheke Island. 
Fantastic vineyard lunch in a beautiful setting

Jeanie and the Maori
We are trying to look fierce,
but we are very friendly!

Ken gives two thumbs up to our view
out our hotel room
We take a 4 hour bus ride to the Bay of Islands and have a wonderful time as we experience the Maori culture,  beautiful waters, islands and scenery.

Maori woodwork outside lodge
We take a catamaran cruise through the Bay of Islands
This glass of savignon blanc is New Zealand's signature wine
Dolphins abound

A group of teenage dolphins follow our boat!
Ken is in heaven in Queenstown, South Island, N.Z.

Picture perfect setting
 We fly to Queenstown in the South Island of New Zealand to experience Lord of the Ring Country and all the active sports this lively area offers.

Ken hikes

Ken bikes

We eagerly await the last portion of our journey:  kayaking the Milford Sound.  We are thrilled to experience a clear day of kayaking in this amazing Fjord-land National Park.
Jeanie enjoys touring N.Z. gardens and can't wait
to get back to the Northwest to work in her own garden!
We leave New Zealand on December 29,  and fly 13 hours to Los Angeles to enjoy time with Jeanie's Mom in Long Beach.  Ken's Mom and Dad also join us from Wisconsin for a sunny California visit.

Ken and his parents in Laguna Beach, CA

Jeanie and Mom in Long Beach
Ken and Parents on the Queen Mary, Long Beach
Ken and Moms at church
Ken's brother and family in Wisconsin

We are blessed beyond belief to have experienced 12 months in China, one month Down Under and one month visiting family in California and Wisconsin.

We are now back in Tacoma, and look forward to where and how God will lead us in 2014.  
"Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not unto your own understanding, acknowledge Him in all your ways and He will direct your paths." 
 Proverbs, 3:4,5

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Long Way Home: Part 1- Australia

Singapore space age architecture
Brilliant night skyline
Our China adventure ends on November 30, 2013.

To start our Long Way Home, we  fly into Singapore, 5 hour flight from Shanghai.  Singapore is a small country island.  Clean, efficient, modern... a spectacular last Asian country to visit. We love the diversity in this tiny country.  Singapore has four official languages:  English, Malay, Chinese, Tamil

We prepare to leave Singapore ready for our Indonesian start-of-sabbatical-chill-out-trip, BUT we have to change our plans.  Jeanie, does not have a full sixth months left on her passport, so we are told that Indonesia will not let us in.  Note to self:  do not ignore the warnings that you need a full 6 months on passports, not all countries strictly enforce this, but Indonesia does.

Famous Bells Beach
 movie Point Break filmed here
 Rip Curl Pro Competitions
Empty beaches, quite a change from China!

We are able to continue our travels to Australia, no passport issues, and we add an extra week to travel down under.  We rent a car;  jet-lag and driving on the left side of the road is a challenge.  Plus, we haven't driven in the past year in China!  We are thrilled to drive the Great Ocean Road, just south of Melbourne.

The usually wet weather provides vibrant green surrounding

 First Koala sighting in the wild

Kangaroo sighting along the Great Ocean Road

The Twelve Apostles, how many of the 12 rock structures do you see?
Ken with a few of the Apostles
White sand, huge rocks
Apollo Bay, along the Great Ocean Road

We enjoy three nights in Melbourne.  Excellent city.  Fantastic coffee.  Beautiful gardens.
Artful alleys of Melbourne
St. Paul's Cathedral
1800 architecture

Botanical Gardens

Finally we fly to Sidney and enjoy five more days down under.  The weather is great because it's the start of the Australian summer which lasts from December-March.

Iconic Sydney Opera House
Sydney skyline
Blue Mountains, west of Sydney

The waterfalls of the Blue Mountains, two hours from Sydney

Australia Highlight:  we attend Hillsong
church and Christmas program
Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty heavens. Praise Him for His acts of power; praise Him for His surpassing greatness... Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Psalm 150

Next Up:  New Zealand:  Middle Earth

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tasty Taiwan

Marvelous Mango Dessert
We travel to Taiwan for business (Ken) and pleasure (Jeanie).  Jeanie went to Taiwan on an educational mission 22 years ago.  Wow, have things changed since then!  Taipei is an accessible city with fast trains, excellent subways, and drivers that actually give pedestrians the right away!
Apple, Jeanie, Ken
at Taiwan's most famous restaurant:
Din Tai Fung

Note:  There's a Din Tai Fung
in Seattle!

Some say that Taiwan is the best of China.  The food, culture, history, and sights are impressive.  Taiwan is clean, orderly, and convenient.
Our flight is under two hours from Shanghai to Taipei.

Apple at her family-owned restaurant
We visit with our friend  Apple, who is is visiting her parents in Taipei when we arrive.  She and her husband, Neil, are friends from Washington.  Neil works with Ken at Intel, Dupont.

Jeanie in front of the original
Din Tai Fung and
its delicious dumpling

We enjoy Japanese style hotpot with new friends:  Lisa, Rick, Andrea

Jeanie enjoys the green tea plantations
In addition to great food, the culture and history of Taiwan are unique.  In 1949, the Kuomintang army (KMT), led by Chiang Kai-Shek, lost control of mainland China and fled to Taiwan.  Before that, Japan had a strong influence in Taiwan.  Taiwan imported rice and green tea to Japan.
The gates into Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
National Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
Jeanie at the Memorial Grounds

The Sights:
Rick,  Lisa,  Andrea  
 Rick, who works at the Intel in Taipei, takes us on a beautiful hike just 45 minutes north of the city to Yang Ming Shan. We are happy to have his wife, Lisa, and his daughter, Andrea, join us.

View of Taipei City from Yang Ming Shan
Hiking at Yang Ming Shan

Andrea enjoys the grass

Mother and daughter;
 the ancient art of calligraphy
Apple takes Jeanie on a great tour
of the Geo-Park along the north
shore of Taiwan
Jeanie stands at the Pacific Ocean on the northeast coast of Taiwan  
Taipei 101, yep,
101 floors!!
Good night, Taiwan

Well, Blog Readers,
we approach the end of our China blog as we leave China in three days, on November 30, 2013.

We aren't quite finished however.  We will embark on  Ken's eight week sabbatical adventure which we will post and entitle:

The Long Way Home  

Finally, we are thankful for God, family and friends.  We wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.     1 Thessalonians 5:18