Tokyo – Vancouver flight

So, we chose the cheapest tickets which were obviously not the fastest or most direct.
We booked with Xiamen air and for the 3 of us to fly Tokyo – Vancouver it was $1300, you can’t really beat that price so we didn’t mind the transfer in Xiamen (just across the bay from Taiwan where we were the week before).

Xiamen air – 4/5 stars

Cost – 5 stars! It was a margin
Punctuality – 4 stars. Any delays were minor.
Check in – 2 stars. The line to check in at Narita airport were incredibly long.
Food – 4 stars. But then again we are not particularly fussy.
Comfort – 4 stars. Pretty comfortable seats and the staff worked hard to seat us so we had an extra seat for Buddy. Very useful for tired aching arms!
Friendliness – 5 stars! Although I think it was buddy’s smile that won them over.
Route – 2 stars. We flew Tokyo – Xiamen (4hours) then flew Xiamen – Vancouver (12 hours) which involves flying over Tokyo….

Special mentions

Xiamen airport is a nightmare. Firstly you need an arrivals card even if you are just transferring flights. Fine, except are only given out to people staying in China. Which meant lining up twice for immigration.
Next, you have to collect your own bags from baggage claim and take them to the international check in desk. Fine, except for them being located on totally different floors to each other and the maps having changing symbols and staircases that move and change Harry Potter style.
To leave the arrivals area you must scan your own bags. Which means taking bags off the trolly, putting them on the conveyer belt and running to the other side to collect them, repeat this for all bags including hand luggage.
Important – Do not forget the baby…

Next, take the meandering elevators to the international departures lounge. To enter the international departures lounge you need to scan you bags, by yourself. Which means, taking bags off the trolly, putting them on the convert belt and running….well, you get the gist. This is all made more fun by,
A. people queue jumping and adding their luggage to yours
B. suitcases getting jammed and piling up inside of the X-ray machine while the operator looks on in mild amusement….

Once checked in you need to go through security to get to the departures area. When entering security you must put all of your hand luggage on a conveyer belt to be X-rayed….insert eye roll here.

So, just a short walk through the airport to your gate before you can get on your plane, right? Yes, but with TWO MORE security check points!!! Twice more you have to remove shoes, take laptops out of bags and have your baby drink from their sippy cup to prove you are not smuggling poison. TWICE.
Xiamen…chill out.

 

 

 

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TBT – That time we had a baby in Japan

Throw Back Thursday

That time we had a baby in Japan….

So, as many of you know Buddy was born in Japan, in a town not far outside Tokyo. Having a baby and being pregnant in Japan was a very difference experience to having a baby in Canada or the UK (we imagine, I have never had a baby anywhere else other than Japan so I’m just guessing…).
Here are some of the biggest differences:

  • As soon as you find out you are pregnant you must announce it to 40 strangers in city hall. They will use this opportunity to have you write your name in Japanese 16 times and they will talk to you about the colour of baby poop.
  • You will visit the doctor approximately 483 times during the pregnancy. In the first trimester and second trimester you will go every 4 weeks, and the third trimester every 2 weeks. If you are overdue (thanks Buddy…), the doctor will try to convince you to go everyday, but you can plead ‘foreign’ and make it every 3rd day.
  • You get super cool 4D scans every visit and the doctor will save these onto a USB for you to keep.
  • You will be called fat. Many times. The doctor will tell you weird things like, “Don’t eat too much fruit,” then will call you fat. You are obliged to go to McDonalds and Baskin Robbins on the way home from these appointments.
  • The doctor will try to convince you that your baby is a giant. They will say “big baby” to you multiple times every visit until you become convinced you are carrying Hagrid’s baby.
  • Postpartum care includes luxury meals and ‘celebratory sushi’. Honestly, the best sushi I ever ate was given to me the day after I gave birth. I was almost tempted to get pregnant again then and there….almost.
  • Newborn babies are dressed in teeny tiny baby kimono’s and it really is too cute to deal with.
  • At some point a nurse will come into your room excitedly saying your name and hand you a tissue. On opening the tissue you will discover YOUR BABIES UMBILICAL CORD!!! The nurse will smile at you and leave the room while you try to figure out what the heck to do with an umbilical cord.
  • If your baby has no hair a nurse will sympathetically move the box reserved for ‘baby’s first curl’.
  • If your partner happens to be a man, and decides to stay at the clinic, change diapers and not leave the babies side in a proud new daddy haze, he will be the talk of the nurses station and everyone will gossip about why the heck he is with the new Mama & baby and why is he not at work…
  • If you are aforementioned male partner and you stay with the baby while they take him/her for their newborn check you may or may not see another woman and her baby crowning….

Made in Taiwan

This was supposed to be an epic Taiwan post with an awesome vacation movie & edited photos & awesome links…however. We’ve just moved countries & it just ain’t happening right now. So, I figured I’d do a mini Taiwan blog instead.

Cory and I did what most sane, responsible people do. Less than a month before we were due to not only move house but leave the country, we decided to take a mini vacation to Taipei….

Taiwan was amazing, so amazing that we stayed 3 extra nights (ok, the typhoon might have had something to do with that…) & so amazing that we have already started researching international school jobs in Taipei City! (Watch this space…).

Quick Taipei review:

– People are super friendly & they love babies!

– Giving babies gifts in Taiwan is the thing to do. Buddy was gifted black tea, crisps, bananas, rice porridge, fried chicken in a cup and some weird baby candies which Cory & I enjoyed immensely.

– Typhoons hit Taiwan, including super Typhoons. We know this through experience.

– Everything closes during Typhoons. Including the museum you traveled 45 minutes by bus to get to.

– Websites will not inform you of aforementioned closures.

– Bus drivers can be grumpy & drive off as you climb on with a sleeping baby attached to your back (not cool Mr. Bus driver, not cool.)

– Night markets in Taipei are the place to be (do NOT miss out on the bubble tea!).

– Fooooooood eat all of the fooooood!

– Massages. Just yes to all of the massages.

Taipei highlights:

Jifuen

Some of you might know the movie ‘Spirited Away.’ The actual real life tea house is here & is beautiful!

– Food (We really liked the food >< )

– National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

We went here 3 times just because it was just so beautiful.

– Massages (I came away feeling very relaxed)

 Longshan Temple & night market

A beautiful temple in the heart of a night market with a fantastic atmosphereM.

– Maokong Gondola & mountain

A 4.3km series of Gondola’s with 4 stations taking you from the zoo to the Maokong Mountain Temple with stunning views. Be aware, if taking the Gondola in hot weather take lots of water or consider postponing until it cools down! There is little to no ventilation in the Gondola leading to a sweaty and uncomfortable ride!

Taipei with a baby TIPS

– Do it!

– You don’t need a stroller. We found everything within walking distance of metro stations & when we did have our (tiny) stroller, it just got in the way.

– Kids pay by height on the metro. Get taller kids to slouch.
– You can buy single tickets (or token’s) for the metro or an EASYCARD which you can top up and use much like an oyster card. But, if you are doing lots of travelling it it worth buying the 24h or 5day pass. These can be bought at most stations at the information desks by the ticket gates.

– Drug stores do NOT sell diapers! Supermarkets yes, drug stores no. Extra hint, do not discover this after the supermarkets have closed.

– Supermarkets also sell an abundance of formula. Buddy is a boob conisure so I don’t know much about them, but formula is easily available.
– Breastfeeding in Taipei is a pleasure! There are feeding rooms absolutely everywhere especially in train stations. They are clean and very comfortable to use. Be aware that they might be locked and you may have to locate a key. In Taipei main station you head to the information desk and will have to leave a deposit. As Cory had gone back to the hotel to collect the luggage when Buddy needed feeding and taken my wallet with him (oops) the staff allowed me to leave the stroller as a deposit!
Some feeding rooms do not have a key but instead have a buzzer system. I found that pressing the button and saying clearly ‘Baby, hungry, drink milk’ got through the language barrier and the door open for me!

 

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Taipei is a very breastfeeding friendly city.

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