Archive for July, 2011|Monthly archive page

Chinese Culinary Options . . .

In Uncategorized on July 31, 2011 at 6:19 am

If you visit China and happen to get hungry, there are a variety of nutritional options available.  By no means is this list complete, but it does include most of the important food groups in that pyramid thing.

1.  Pizza

2.  Street food

3.  Hooters

Surprisingly, the street food in China is reasonably safe to eat.  In Cambodia we were warned by numerous folks not even to consider thinking about considering the street food.  Maybe that was true, maybe not, we didn’t take the chance after our issue with the big little Stockdale.  In China, I rolled the dice and came up a winner. 

Almost every street is filled with food stands and tiny restaurants.  I would never refer to any of these establishments as clean, hygienic, or sanitary.  However, don’t let this deter you.  If the air hasn’t killed you before you get hungry, the food won’t do anything worse to your body.

Ordering on the street is not what I would call simple, easy, or predictable, but pointing and smiling will get you most of the way.  If there are no prices listed, you will probably get charged more than a local, but not by much, so don’t worry about it.  My only recommendation would be to keep an open mind and frequent places that seem to have lines.  The more the food turns over, the better.

However confusing the ordering of street food may seem, ordering off a menu with pictures won’t necessarily simplify the process.

If the big little Stockdale and the middle little Stockdale can survive two weeks in China, pretty much anyone can.

Shanghai . . .

In Uncategorized on July 29, 2011 at 4:06 am

The big little Stockdale and the middle little Stockdale and I are currently in Shanghai for a couple of weeks so the two of them can attend ‘Mandarin Camp.’  More on that later, but for now here’s something to consider.  Which of the following best explains China’s rise:

A.   Their ability to have a washing machine play ‘Jingle Bells’

B.  Their ability to stack fifty styrofoam coolers on a tricycle

C.  Their amazing ability to stack wicker chairs on a cart

D.    Their ability to harness the international popularity of ‘tug of war’ to teach kids mandarin

I have no clue what the answer is.  I do know the washing machine cleans clothes about as well as it plays Christmas carols.  More on camp later, including our trip to Hooters!

Nut update . . .

In Uncategorized on July 23, 2011 at 4:24 am

If you ever want to send the big little Stockdale a present, please make sure it doesn’t include cashews.  That could require us to take her back to Cambodia to see the doctor at the hotel, which would require Mrs. Stockdale to go to the ATM again.  Just to be safe, probably don’t send any tree nuts.  Other than that, she is fine.

Nuts about Cambodia . . .

In Uncategorized on July 10, 2011 at 7:41 am

First, the Stockdales would like to wish everyone a belated ‘Happy 4th of July’.  We didn’t forget the most important holiday celebrated in the entire world, we were just in Cambodia.  Sorry.

Specifically, we went to Siem Reap, Cambodia.  This the place with all the temple ruins that you may or may not have seen on television.  Parts of the movie ‘Tomb Raider’ were filmed at one of the temples we visited.  Or, if you have ever seen the Mayan ruins, these are just an Asian version of that.  The best way to sum up Siem Reap in a standard American vacation context would be visiting the Grand Canyon.

So, what is the first thing you get to do when you get to Cambodia?  If you guessed ‘discover the big little Stockdale has a nut allergy’ grab yourself a tote bag!  After we got to our hotel the little Stockdales wanted to walk around downtown Siem Reap, so we did.  They also requested ice cream and since they had been reasonably well-behaved on the plane, Mrs. Stockdale and I acquiesced.  For obvious reasons we chose an establishment that served both ice cream and alcohol.  The big little Stockdale’s sundae came with a fancy cookie/biscuit thing.  A few minutes after her first bite of the fancy cookie/biscuit thing these dots started appearing on her chin, then she complained about a tingling in her throat, then the dots got bigger, then I took her back to the hotel, then I gave her half a Benadryl, then we went back to the restaurant to get the others, then on the way back to the hotel she threw-up on the sidewalk in front of a street vendor, then I carried her back to our room, then she started getting itchy all over, then she wanted a bath to get rid of the itchiness, then she stood up and her pupils dilated and she said she couldn’t see, then Mrs. Stockdale went to the front desk to get a doctor, then she threw up all over the floor of the hotel room, then the doctor arrived and did all the standard tests, then the doctor gave her some Zyrtec and a steroid and said she was fine and that we should have her tested when we get back to Singapore, then Mrs. Stockdale had to go to the ATM because even in Cambodia calling a doctor to a hotel room is expensive, then the big little Stockdale was fine and our vacation continued.

 ( We’ll take her to the doctor this week and we’ll probably need to be careful from here on out, but she is 100% fine.  She’s never been a big nut eater, although we know she has had peanut butter and various other nuts at various other times in her life.  Again, she is fine and it wouldn’t be a proper Stockdale vacation without some type of medical emergency. )

The first temple we saw was Angkor Wat.  This is the most famous of all the temples and is pictured on the Cambodian flag.

The thing is just absolutely ginormous and was built about a thousand years ago ( that’s metric for a long time ).

Imagine that if instead of the Colorado river having created the Grand Canyon over millions of years, King Somebody XII gave 50,000 people each a teaspoon and told them to start digging.  That’s the scale of this thing and the surrounding temples.  But, just as amazing as the temple, it was just as cool to see a monk with a cell phone.  ( If you look really close, its pink! )

Or, how easy it is to move a mattress with a moped.

The entire temple is at least a kilometer ( metric for almost a mile ) by a kilometer ( metric for almost a mile ) and is filled with halls and statues and pits and rocks.  It also has a hundred meter ( metric for a yard ) wide moat dug by hand around the entire perimeter ( metric for outside ).

Almost every wall had some kind of picture carved into it that depicted something historically significant.

And, did I mention all the statues?

Luckily we had our guide Rin Nom to tell us all the important historical facts.

The little Stockdales had a great time climbing on all the rocks and posing for pictures.

It was hot, even by Singapore standards.  Thankfully, Rin Nom had brought umbrellas and nothing is as fun for a group of girls than running around unstable ruble with umbrellas, constantly opening and closing them, and never watching where they are going and bumping into folks from various countries.

It didn’t take long for the middle little Stockdale to fully absorb the Zen.

Soon, the other little Stockdales were in touch with their inner Buddhas.

After the first temple, we saw another . . .

And another . . .

And another  . . .

And another . . .

And another . . .

And another . . .

And another . . .

And then we saw some wildlife . . .

And some more wildlife . . .

And another temple . . .

And, I’m pretty sure there were some more temples.  Probably.  Maybe.  But, just as much fun as the temples were for us to see, the Stockdales were just as much of a hit with the Asian tourists.  For every picture I took of a temple, somebody wanted a picture of the little Stockdales.

After a couple long hard days staring at one easily identifiable and different pile of rocks and understanding the historical significance of that crumbling pile of rocks when compared with a completely separate and discernible pile of rocks, Mrs. Stockdale and the little Stockdales demanded a reward.

As did I.

Even though we really didn’t require a break from seeing giant crumbling pile of rocks after giant crumbling pile of rocks, we decided to take a boat ride late one afternoon.  In all seriousness, this was my favorite part of the trip.  It was a chance to see the real Cambodia.  To see how people really live in a place that isn’t cluttered with Best Buys or Starbucks or roads.  Although, it’s easy to look at these pictures and see folks living on dilapidated old boats where you aren’t quite sure how they stay afloat, of all the folks we saw in Cambodia, these people were without a doubt the happiest.  They ignored us as we went by.  The Stockdales were one of thousands of tourists that paid to take a boat through the center of their floating village.  Instead, they just went about their daily business as we got to watch.

Overall, this was a great trip.  We had done the beach thing for a couple of vacations and it was nice to have something different.  Yes, each hugmongous crumbling temple looked the same as all the others, but they were fascinating and beautiful.  Even with cranes and bulldozers and computers and lasers and robots and swiss army knives it would take us a decade, if not more, to build one of these things today.  To imagine that folks a thousand years ago did this by hand with simple tools is simply awe-inspiring.

More ? ! ?

In Uncategorized on July 2, 2011 at 6:46 am

In addition to a bunch of blisters and black toenails ( Mrs. Stockdale said no pictures for some odd reason ), guess what you get if you run the other Singapore night race?

Yep, another tote bag and a special needs bag/backpack that they conveniently lose and don’t deliver till a few hours after you actually needed it.  Homer Simpson was in charge on that day.