Adventures in Singapore – March/April 2016

Happy May!  Is it May?  It can’t be May already!!!  That means it’s been two months since I’ve posted a blog entry.  What a slacker I am!  🙁  In my defense, it’s been a crazy couple of months!  Hopefully I can get everyone at least “semi” caught up on what’s been going on with the Wright family.  Here we go…

My big, exciting adventure in March was a girls’ trip to Hong Kong!  Oh…my…gosh!!!  I had sooooo much fun!  The main reason for the visit (besides just having fun with friends) was the Associated Sisters in Asia 2016 Women’s Conference.  For those who aren’t familiar with a women’s conference – think “Time out for Women” – Mormon style 🙂 It was basically 3 days of incredibly uplifting talks, amazingly inspirational workshops and the opportunity to participate in an extraordinary worldwide service project.  (In fact, anyone looking for an awesome way to help girls and women around the world, go to daysforgirls.org) The conference truly was exactly what I needed.  All those who presented at the conference were intelligent, accomplished, motivational women who are truly making the world a better place to live.  They definitely inspired all who were fortunate enough to attend.  SOOOOO AWESOME!!!  Of course, while in Hong Kong, we were also able to do and see a lot of cool things.  Here are a few highlights:  The first night we had just enough time to make it to Stanley Market – a quaint little street market with a kind of “soho” vibe.  This beautiful little marketplace is also very scenic, with stunning views of the South China Sea and nearby islands. And the food was superb!  The next day we were privileged to visit the LDS temple in Hong Kong (bright and early).  It was so cool to see how the church was able to make use of very limited city space in Hong Kong and still create a beautiful building with peaceful gardens.  After the temple, we went to the Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Gardens.  The Chi Lin Nunnery is a large Buddhist temple complex founded in 1934 as a retreat for Buddhist nuns.  It was rebuilt in the 1990s following the traditional Tang Dynasty architecture.  It was so beautiful and seemed so peaceful, especially considering we were in the middle of a busy, bustling city.  Right next to the Nunnery we walked through the stunning Nan Lian Gardens.  Nan Lian is more than 8 1/2 acres of meticulously landscaped gardens.  Again, in the style of the Tang dynasty, every hill, rock, body of water, plant and structure has been placed according to specific rules and methods.  The yellow pagoda in the middle of the garden quite literally took my breath away (especially considering my favorite color is yellow).  There are also permanent exhibitions of Chinese timber architecture, rocks and bonsai trees to experience as well.  It was such a fun place to visit and a must see for anyone traveling to Hong Kong.  That evening we took an awesome (COLD but awesome) junk boat ride around Hong Kong Harbor.  The Hong Kong junk boats are so unique and beautiful.  It was fun to cruise around the harbor with the city all lit up in the background (not to mention the opportunity to watch some of my crazy friends doing Zumba – just to stay warm).  After the conference on Friday, we made our way to dinner by traversing the Central-Mid-Levels escalators and walkway system.  It is the longest outdoor, covered escalator system in the world.  It stretches over 2,600 feet in length and rises over 440 feet high through the streets of a steep hillside linking certain districts of Hong Kong Island.  It’s not a single continuous escalator, but a series of 20 escalators and 3 inclined moving walkways.  To ride the complete length of this escalator system, it takes about 20 minutes.  After dinner, we took a boat down alongside the waterfront to see the laser light show and, of course, TO SHOP!!!  You can’t visit Hong Kong without doing some shopping!  It was quite an experience. Designer knock offs of every brand, shape, kind, style and color.  And the vendors were quite pushy – which is not hard to believe 😉  Like I said…quite an experience.  On our last day in Hong Kong, we took the spectacular Ngong Ping Cable Car ride up to see the Tian Tan Buddha (more affectionately known as Big Buddha).  Even though it was cold and foggy during the 20 minute ride up, we were still able to see some beautiful views of Lantau Island.  In fact, I think the fog gave it a “feels like Tibet” vibe.  Once up the mountain, we found ourselves in the “culturally themed” Ngong Ping Village, sitting just below Big Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery.  Of course, you can’t help but notice Big Buddha peering down over the village – he’s HUGE!  112 feet high, to be exact.  And the statue weighs over 250 metric tons.  In fact, Big Buddha is one of the largest seated Buddha statues in the world – so he’s definitely impossible to miss.  The Big Buddha statue is just a few minutes walk from the village…but then it’s a grueling 268 steps to climb up to the foot of the statue.  Yes, there was heavy breathing involved.  But…totally worth it!  Absolutely spectacular!  OK…so here’s a short bio on Big Buddha – The statue is named Tian Tan Buddha because its base is a model of the Altar of Heaven or Earthly Mount of Tian Tan, the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.  He is enthroned on a lotus flower, on top of a three-platform altar and was constructed from 202 broze pieces. Surrounding the statue are six smaller bronze statues known as “The Offering of the Six Devas” that are posed offering flowers, incense, lamp, ointment, fruit, and music to the Buddha.  These symbolize the Six Perfections of generosity, morality, patience, zeal, meditation, and wisdom, all of which are necessary for enlightenment.  The Buddha’s right hand is raised, representing the removal of affliction, while the left rests open on his lap in a gesture of generosity.  He faces north (to look over the Chinese people), which is unique among the great Buddha statues, as all others face south.  Of course, the views from the top were spectacular as well! We didn’t have time to visit it, but we got a great view of the Po Lin Monestary which is nestled in the beautiful mountain forest below.  Po Lin is one of Hong Kong’s most important Buddhist sanctums and has been dubbed “the Buddhist World in the South.”  It is home to many devout monks and draws pilgrims from all over Asia.  Truly an amazing trip to Hong Kong.  One I will never forget!

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Cute little apartments at Stanley

Cute little apartments at Stanley

Right by Stanley Market

Right by Stanley Market

Just love the scenery at Stanley

Just love the scenery at Stanley

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Beautiful Hong Kong Temple

Beautiful Hong Kong Temple

Going to the temple makes us smile :)

Going to the temple makes us smile 🙂

Beautiful temple gardens

Beautiful temple gardens

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Chi Lin Nunnery

Chi Lin Nunnery

The gardens of the nunnery

The gardens of the nunnery

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So beautiful and peaceful

So beautiful and peaceful

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Nan Lian Gardens

Nan Lian Gardens

Ancient vs. Modern

Ancient vs. Modern

One of the exhibit halls at Nan Lian Gardens

One of the exhibit halls at Nan Lian Gardens

If you feed them, they will come

If you feed them, they will come

There's a cafe under that waterfall

There’s a cafe under that waterfall

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The detail was amazing

The detail was amazing

Some of the wooden models

Some of the wooden models

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Beautiful bonsai trees

Beautiful bonsai trees

Huge slab of petrified wood

Huge slab of petrified wood

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Can't keep my eyes off the yellow pagoda!

Can’t keep my eyes off the yellow pagoda!

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The view from above

The view from above

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Love the rock placement as well

Love the rock placement as well

Waterfront carousel

Waterfront carousel

Start of the junk boat ride

Start of the junk boat ride

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Love, love, love the junk boats!

Love, love, love the junk boats!

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Beautiful Hong Kong Harbor

Beautiful Hong Kong Harbor

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Doing Zumba keeps us warm

Doing Zumba keeps us warm

Going up, up, and up the escalators

Going up, up, and up the escalators

About half way up the escalators

About half way up the escalators

Such a fun group of ladies!

Such a fun group of ladies!

Laser light show at Hong Kong Harbor

Laser light show at Hong Kong Harbor

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Hong Kong Shopping trip

Hong Kong Shopping trip

Such a cool way to travel

Such a cool way to travel

A view from above

A view from above

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First glimpse from the village

First glimpse from the village

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Ngong Ping Village

Ngong Ping Village

Getting closer...

Getting closer…

Just 268 steps to go :/

Just 268 steps to go :/

Hello handsome!

Hello handsome!

Soooooo big!

Soooooo big!

Some of the Six Devas

Some of the Six Devas

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Po Lin Monastery

Po Lin Monastery

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A group of worshipers when we came down

A group of worshipers when we came down

I was FREEZING!!!

I was FREEZING!!!

 

Of course, the boys had fun while I was away.  You can read about that on Dylan’s Top Ten.

In April, Dylan and I finally made it to Adventure Cove Water Park, here in Singapore, with some friends.  Now, normally I DO NOT like water parks very much – but I must say, Adventure Cove was really a lot of fun.  It is super clean (not a big surprise), really well-planned, and not even crowded (we went on a weekday).  Their lazy river was definitely a highlight.  It was not only huge, but you passed by tanks full of tropical fish and sting rays.  Of course there were lots of fun slides to go on, a “wet maze” to work your way through, as well as an outstanding wave pool.  But my favorite part of the day was snorkeling.  Yes, snorkeling! I’ve never seen such an amazing feature at a water park.  They have a huge snorkeling tank (gear included) with coral reefs and thousands of brightly colored tropical fish to swim with.  It was seriously cool!!! Definitely a fun day!

Ready...set...

Ready…set…

...go!!!

…go!!!

Walking the plank

Walking the plank

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At the end of the month, we went back to the ArtScience Museum to see an incredible display called “Future World.”  Here’s how the website describes it:  “Inspire your imagination at Future World, the new permanent exhibition at ArtScience Museum. Explore a fully immersive 1500-square-metre digital universe, where 15 spectacular art installations are brought to life and evolve in real-time through visitor presence and participation. Be amazed as this stunning interactive world responds to your behavior, and changes according to your creative input!”  For the exhibition, they collaborated with teamLab, an award-winning Tokyo-based art collective of “ultra-technologists” that includes artists, programmers, engineers, CG animators, mathematicians, architects and designers. They’re dubbing it “Singapore’s largest interactive digital playground.”  We went with some friends, and the kids had such an amazing day.  It’s kind of hard to explain, but hopefully the pictures (with captions) will give you an idea of how cool it was.  And, to top off the day, we went to Super Hero Cafe!  The milkshakes were to die for!

The kids colored pictures and then uploaded them to a huge animated screen

The kids colored pictures and then uploaded them to a huge animated screen

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There's Dylan's triangular building

There’s Dylan’s triangular building

Dylan's seahorse on the big screen

Dylan’s seahorse on the big screen

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Digital waterfall

Digital waterfall

Super cool light display

Super cool light display

More fun with friends

More fun with friends

The flowers are attacking me!

The flowers are attacking me!

So awesome!

So awesome!

3 happy campers

3 happy campers

And that, folks, sums up our busy Spring adventure.  To end this blog, I have a HUGE surprise!  The Wright family is moving back to Austin!!!  I know, right?  I can’t believe it either!  I don’t want to bore you with all of the details…so let’s just say, we had been really feeling the need to move back closer to family, and an amazing opportunity came up that we just couldn’t pass up (those of you who’d like more details can message me).  We will be touching down in Austin on June 18th.  But stay tuned – the Wright Family Adventures are about to go into over-drive as we try and fit as many trips in as we can before we leave Southeast Asia.  It’s going to be exciting!!!

 

 

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