Tag Archives: travel

October 22, 2012

Beijing to Shanghai: Part I Mid-Autumn Festival

To help everyone at Tea “go there,” we make a yearly contribution to each employee for international travel and exploration. Upon their return, our Tea travelers write blog posts to share their adventures with all of us (and the world).

Cindy Young, the manager of technical design at Tea, recently traveled to China. Read on about her adventures!

On my recent trip to Beijing and Shanghai, it was the week before the Mid-Autumn festival and National Day holiday. Both cities were in the midst of preparing for the festivities; displaying good luck lanterns everywhere and selling an abundance of moon cakes and a vast variety of treats and gifting merchandise.

The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is a popular lunar harvest festival celebrated by Chinese and Vietnamese people. The festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, which is in September or early October in the Gregorian calendar.  The Chinese government listed the festival as an “intangible cultural heritage” in 2006, and it was made a Chinese public holiday in 2008.  It is also a public holiday in Taiwan.  This year it was on Sunday September 30th, and National Day occurs on October 1st every year.  The double holiday is one of the Golden Weeks in China where seven consecutive holidays can be taken to allow long distance family visits and promote travel activities (although only 3 days is Paid).

Historically, the festival was strongly associated with the legend of Houyi, an archer and his wife Chang’e. Upon completion of an important task to Emperor Yao (2200 BCE), Houyi was rewarded a pill to eternal life but he was to wait a year to be able to take it.  However Chang’e discovered the pill one day and took it herself, therefore she became immortal.  As a result, the couple became estranged and Chang’e escaped to the Moon while Houyi stayed on Earth.  Houyi built a palace near the Sun where he visits his wife once a year on the 15th of the eight month, hence the reason why the moon is so full and beautiful that night.

Traditional Mooncake

Traditional Mooncake

Traditionally, family and friends gather in the evening to celebrate, eat festive food and moon cakes.  After dinner, a visit to a public space, such as a park or shoreline, may follow for, literally, “appreciating the moon”.  Importantly, lanterns and candles are lit, to enhance the ambiance and festivities.  They come in different shapes and sizes with unique details but most often in red and gold colors as they symbolize good luck.

Non-Traditional Mooncakes

Traditional practices are given a modern twist, most often for marketing purposes. For example, the traditional moon cake with lotus seed or red bean paste and egg yolk is now available in alternative fillings, such as green tea or chocolate or even in the form of characters from the popular Angry Birds game.  My favorite is the mixed nuts filling without egg yolk but also love the green tea and taro fillings.  The salty egg yolk provides an interesting mix of flavors, as the sweet and savory flavors complement each other. Those with the double yolks are considered as more generous gifts with double the luck J.

Since my family immigrated to San Francisco three decades ago, much of the Chinese traditions have diminished as we have assimilated to the American culture, but my father still preserves the tradition of making moon cakes every year, especially now to share the experience with the grandchildren.

 

October 17, 2012

Culture Shock in “Asia-Lite” Singapore

Today we’re featuring guest blogger Linh Tran, who recently moved to Singapore with her two kids, daughter age 3, son age 6.

Travel with Kids

Our family lived in the San Francisco Inner Sunset neighborhood where numerous Asian-Americans live.   Stroll down Irving Street, pass 20th Ave and see store fronts with names and banners in both Chinese and English.  You’ll hear people speak in different languages intermingled with English.  It’s much the same here in Singapore compared to the Sunset.  Perhaps that is why some people refer to Singapore was ‘Asia-Lite’.

travel with kids to singapore

Early in my career, I conducted cross-cultural training programs for families who were about to move abroad on an international assignment.  The night before each training, I would take a glass bowl and put a few large ice cubes in it.  “Culture is like an iceberg,” I used to say, “On top the surface of the water are all the things we can easily identify that are different between the U.S. and your new home.  What might be different could be food, language, buildings, clothing, transportation, and people.”  I warned them at some point during their stay in X country, they’ll experience culture shock- that’s the larger piece of the iceberg that is below the surface that is not so obvious and will make you ask the question, Why.

Travel with Kids

Some claim that children adapt quicker and easily to new environments compared to adults.  My children don’t seem to shocked by many things so far here in Asia-lite, but they have certainly asked a lot of why questions:

Why do have I have to take my shoes off (at a public play structure)?

Why do they sell small packets of tissue (at a hawker stall)?

Why did you call him (the taxi driver) uncle?

Why is there no mac-n-cheese?

Why do they have Christmas lights up? Is it Christmas?

Why is do they look in my mouth with a flashlight?

Why are there octopuses with hats on the taxi?

Why is that leaf so ginormous?

travel to singapore with kids

To foster their curiosity whilst helping them through their temporary states of culture shock, we encourage them to be news reporters and ‘interview’ locals to get the answer to their why questions before using the internet.  Being only 6 and 3 years old, they usually get me to doing the questioning and do the internet search themselves  but I don’t mind because we do it together they are learning how to satiate their curiosity.   Hopefully, when we move back to San Francisco the signs in Mandarin will be less foreign to the kids and their experience living abroad fosters their global citizenship.

Travel with Kids

September 6, 2012

Win a Nordic getaway with Tea Collection + Jetsetter

Sweepstakes with Tea Collection + Jetsetter

Has our Nordic Collection tickled your interest?  Did you want to see our inspiration for the Copenhagen tee in person?  Or did you just need a vacation?  Now is your chance to win our grand prize of a $500 Tea gift certificate to pack your bags and $1000 in Jetsetter credit.

Entering is as easy 1, 2, 3 and will only take a moment from your busy day.  Submissions must be received by September 24, 2012.

Click here to win!

August 7, 2012

Guatemala in Color

Guest Blogger Laura shares her experience of traveling to Guatemala with her children.

With summer at its height, many of us find ourselves heading out of town. For some, the beach beckons with its warm and lazy days. Or perhaps a trip to the mountains is the draw, with pristine vistas and fresh air. Wherever we end up, we usually return refreshed and with new memories. This summer, my husband and I chose a different break. After 5 years on American soil caring for our girls, now 2 and 4, I was ready to dust off my passport and hop a plane to somewhere new. The two of us volunteered to help take 25 teenagers to Chichicastenango, a small town in the western highlands of Guatemala. Mainly a service trip, we would be working alongside the indigenous K’iche’ Mayan people there, helping them build homes, make improvements to current structures, and hold a camp for school children. We would also have the opportunity to visit the town market.

Chichicastenango, or “Chichi” as the locals call it, has been one of the main trading centers in the Mayan region since pre-Hispanic times. The market today is the largest of it’s kind in the Western Hemisphere. Known as the most colorful market in all of the Americas, it’s not hard to see why. The traje, or traditional native costumes of Guatemala, are bursting with color and together with their patterns connect locals to specific villages or groups. The vendors dress to sell their wares, which include ceramics, wooden masks, religious items and of course the fabrics. Oh, the fabrics. In the form of clothing, blankets, and so much more, they make the market a true feast for the eyes.

There was so much to see, from the Mayan priests on the church steps burning sacrifices to the women in their traje selling flowers. I took in the sights, the smells, the feel of it all. And of course I shopped. I was tempted to bring back an entire wardrobe for my girls, from the huipils (traditional Mayan blouses) to the wrap around skirts.  I settled for dolls and headbands while they are still so small.

The market was a treat, and I thoroughly enjoyed taking teenaged girls on a shopping trip like no other. A far cry from the local mall, they tried their hand at bargaining and came away with some fabulous finds and great memories.

I could go on, but a picture is worth a thousand words. And for this experience, pictures tell it all. They tell the story of a people who showed us a glimpse of their lives through what they bring to market each week. Their stories are woven in fabrics every color of the rainbow.

 

July 31, 2012

Discovering Ireland

To help everyone at Tea “go there,” we make a yearly contribution to each employee for international travel and exploration. Upon their return, our Tea travelers write blog posts to share their adventures with all of us (and the world).

Margaret, who works in planning & operations, recently returned from a trip to Ireland. Check out her adventures!

Kylemore Abbey, in the Connemara region near Galway.

Kylemore Abbey, in the Connemara region near Galway.

Earlier this month,  I traveled with my friends to Ireland for a wedding.  The wedding took place near Drogheda, a small town about an hour north of Dublin.  I had never been to an Irish wedding before, and it was quite the experience! The wedding itself was fairly short – but then the festivities continued all day.  Later in the evening, the “afters” arrived (additional guests who were not invited to the ceremony and dinner, but show up later in the evening ). Finally, at 2am the party broke up – but then there was a wedding brunch the next day as well!  The Irish certainly know how to celebrate!

Racing Boats in Galway

Racing boats in Galway. We just happened to be in Galway for the dramatic finish of the Volvo Ocean Race – an around-the-world regatta that had begun in October 2011 in Alicante, Spain.

After the wedding, we took some time to drive around the countryside. The first challenge was driving on the right-hand side of the road, with the steering wheel on the right-hand side, as well as shifting with the left hand. We managed not to crash, but we did have a tire blow out in the windy narrow roads of Connemara.  We were amazed at how many people stopped to help and make sure we were okay, and we were able to get the tire fixed and get back to our hotel in Galway.

Burial Mount at Newgrange (Brú na Bóinne).

Brú na Bóinne, a 5000-year-old burial mound in County Meath. The inner chamber aligns with the sunrise on Winter Solstice.

My favorite site in Ireland was the burial mound at Newgrange (Brú na Bóinne).  It’s one of a series of ancient burial mounds that were recently discovered in Ireland, and is over 5000 years old. Although the Neolithic people are not considered especially advanced, they were able to build this mound in such a way that the sun shines directly into the chamber on the Winter Solstice.

Cliffs of Moher

With my friend Sue at the Cliffs of Moher

Ireland was beautiful (I’ve included photos of my favorite places below!), but it was rather cold and rainy. It was actually quite reminiscent of summer in San Francisco, in fact! So after Ireland, we did hop over to Munich for a few days to enjoy the sun for a few days.

Rathaus in the Marienplatz, Munich.

In front of the Rathaus in the Marienplatz, Munich.

July 6, 2012

Embarking on an African Safari

Pam Geller, a freelance marketing consultant, traveled to Nairobi, Kenya with her three kids, Kayla | 7 yrs, Drew | 6 yrs, and Jenna | 3 yrs, who just happened to be wearing Tea on their trip.

When we were planning our trip to Nairobi, Kenya, to visit by brother and sister in-law, everyone wanted to “do” an African Safari in the Masai Mara.  I was thinking, okay…I guess I am okay with sleeping in a tent in the Savannah with guards who carry guns, with somewhat “pampered” kids who have never gone camping.   But, where would we shower and clean up?  Do we have to mark our territory?  I had also heard various scary stories – for example, a friend of mine said that an elephant, who was “protecting” her baby elephant, charged their vehicle.  Hmmmm…I am okay with this…right?  You see my sister-in-law who is a very intelligent, had been putting together this amazing 2-week tour of Nairobi.  So when my sister-in-law suggested an African Safari in the Masai Mara, I said “okay, that sounds good.”

But as it turned out, what I imagined an African Safari would entail was a WHOLE LOT different than what I thought.

African Safari with Children

It took less than 60 minutes from the Nairobi Wilson Airport. The “jumper plane” made a handful of stops along the way to drop off other passengers at other landing stripes in the Savannah.

 

African Safari with Kids

The landing stripe at the Maasai Mara, meeting up with our guide having a tasty drink of tomato tree juice. Not like our tomato juice! This was more like punch.

African Safari with Kids

Accommodations – my expectation were far exceeded! The safari was more like a five star resort!

Savannah – The “prime time” to visit the African Savannah is during Migration season (July and September).  Apparently the Savannah is packed with thousands, even millions of herbivores: “some 1,300,000 wildebeest, 360,000 Thomson’s gazelle, and 191,000 zebra.”  We did not visit during the Migration, but we were still able to see a lot of wild animals!

African Safari with KidsAfrica’s “Big 5” – The “Big 5″ includes the African: lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and Cape buffalo. Why not the hippo or giraffe? Are they not large as well?  Apparently, game hunters came up with the term “Big 5″ (not safari tour operators). The African lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and Cape buffalo are labeled as the “Big 5” not because of how large or dangerous they are; but for how difficult it is for hunters to bag them up, mostly due to their ferocity when cornered and shot at. Who knew??!!

Lions sleep 20 hours a day. That means a lion is only awake for about 3 years. Isn’t that crazy?
This was my favorite animal! They are so graceful and beautiful. “Leopards are strong tree climbers—they can even climb a tree while carrying a prey their own weight. Leopards often carry their prey up trees to prevent other animals, such as hyenas, from sharing their kill. They also store their food in trees (though sometimes they store their food on ground under leaves or brush)”. They are solitary animals (not like lions that are pack animals).
African elephants are the largest land mammals on the planet, and the females of this species undergo the longest pregnancy—22 months.
Buffalo are reported to kill more hunters in Africa than any other animal.

Personally, I find a running Giraffe much more interesting that a Cape buffalo. A giraffe is one of the few animals that use mostly its front legs when it runs.   They only sleep for a few minutes at a time (in comparison to Lions who sleep all day!). Of course, the giraffes’ biggest enemy is the lion.  Giraffe have 4 stomachs just like cows (their cud needs to travel all the way up their neck!). Watch the video below to see the giraffe we spotted during the safari.

 

June 29, 2012

The Maasai Jumping Celebration

We’re introducing guest blogger Pam Geller, a freelance marketing consultant, who traveled to Nairobi, Kenya with her three kids, Kayla | 7 yrs, Drew | 6 yrs, and Jenna | 3 yrs, who just happened to be wearing Tea on their trip.

Travel with Kids to Maasai Kraal

When we visited our tour guide Daniel’s Kraal (Maasai rural village, visible in the background of the photos above), we were invited to witness their lion dance which includes jumping.

Travel with kids Jumping Tradition with Maasai

Maasai jumping is a tradition done at celebrations like a wedding.  The highest jumper gets the most ladies (of course)! They were kind enough to invite us to try. Check out of the video of us taking part in the Maasai jumping tradition.

 


 

June 28, 2012

A Visit to the Maasai Kraal

We’re introducing guest blogger Pam Geller, a freelance marketing consultant, who traveled to Nairobi, Kenya with her three kids, Kayla | 7 yrs, Drew | 6 yrs, and Jenna | 3 yrs, who just happened to be wearing Tea on their trip.

 

Travel with kids to Maasai Village in Nairobi, Kenya

It was incredible to visit a Maasai “village” located in Nairobi, Kenya.  A “Kraal”(“Kraal” — krôl, kräl) is a rural village, where a Maasai family lives, their huts in a circular area, to protect their livestock at night. Our Safari guide, Daniel,  took us to see his family’s Kraal. Daniel’s family consists of one dad, seven moms, and 70 brothers and sisters.  WOW!  Yes- 70 brothers and sisters.  Only Daniel and Daniel’s brothers with their respective wives and children live in the village we visited.  After the brothers showed us their lion dance and how high they can jump, we were invited to go inside their village and see how they live.

Water…no aquifer; they get their water from nearby lakes and streams.

Food…no grocery stores; they crop their own food by hand, in dessert conditions…(mind you…)

Eating utensils…no forks; they gather around a large bowl of food set on the ground and scoop up the food with their fingers or with pieces of bread.

Fire…no matches; they make fire the old fashion way with sticks and elephant poo!

Homes…no brick and mortar; they build their home with mud, sticks, cow dung and cow urine!

Wealth…no money; they measure wealth in terms of cattle and children.

Medicine…no hospitals; they use the urine of animals.  It is thought that the urine of animals is holy and that if used in the right way it can cure sickness.

American Girl with Massi villager

To see how they live in comparison to us, well, was inspiring and humbling.  Amazingly our oldest daughter, Kayla, who is 7, got it.  Here is a passage from her journal that she kept on our trip, “People are poor in Africa.  Okay, when we were driving in the Maasai Mara, we stopped at a village, we saw how the Maasai people live, and their house is made of cow poop and sticks. The girls have to make their houses and it takes three months and they don’t have shoes they are barefoot. “

 

May 30, 2012

Eating in Hong Kong

To help everyone at Tea “go there,” we make a yearly contribution to each employee for international travel and exploration. Upon their return, our Tea travelers write blog posts to share their adventures with all of us (and the world).

Michelle, a graphic designer at Tea, recently returned from a trip to Hong Kong. She is a foodie at heart and couldn’t wait to share her favorite Asian fish dishes on our Studio T blog.

Coming to Hong Kong feels like coming home. Being able to see my family and come back to the place that I grew up in is both exciting and comforting. Luckily I make a trip there every 5 years, but it never ceases to amaze me how much Hong Kong changes every single time I come back.

Traveling in Hong Kong

Michelle outside of Hung Kee Seafood Restaurant

I travel to Hong Kong to visit family, eat delicious local foods, and to shop. The one place that is a must for me to visit is Hung Kee Seafood Restaurant in Sai Kung. It is where you can get the freshest seafood possible. It is located along the water, and the fisherman sell the seafood right off the boat.

Traveling in Hong Kong

If you want it cooked, you can step into one of the many restaurants located along the edge of the water. The fish tanks are huge, and have such an exotic variety. You pick the seafood that you want from the tanks and they bag it for you right away and ask you how you want it served.

Traveling in Hong KongTraveling in Hong Kong

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can fry it, sauté it, steam it, or have it sashimi style. Here are my recommendations below:

I highly recommend the Geoduck sashimi style. The meat is sweet yet slightly briny. It’s so fresh, you can really taste the difference.

Geoduck sashimi style

Geoduck Sashimi Style

The Pissing Shrimp is another must. It is native to this region and the meat is a cross between shrimp and lobster. We had it fried with
garlic and peppers.

Pissing Shrimp

Pissing Shrimp

The Razor Clams were another crowd pleaser. We had ours sauteed in a black bean sauce. Sweet and crunchy, it is a heartier than the average clam, but possess a clean flavor.

Razor Clams

Razor Clams

Steamed prawns are always a must. The soy sauce with jalapenos compliment the sweetness of the shrimp perfectly.

 

Steamed Prawns

Steamed Prawns

Miniature abalone sauteed in oyster sauce provided a very meaty and satisfying flavor and had a sweet finish.

 

Miniature Abalone
Miniature Abalone

Gigantic Tiger Prawns baked in garlic butter. Do I really need to say more?

 

Gigantic Tiger Prawns

Gigantic Tiger Prawns

 

ENJOY!

May 21, 2012

Discovering Fashion in Paris

To help everyone at Tea “go there,” we make a yearly contribution to each employee for international travel and exploration. Upon their return, our Tea travelers write blog posts to share their adventures with all of us (and the world).

Ana, who works in Tea’s creative department, recently returned from a trip to Paris. Check out her adventures!

When I’m in Paris to visit my family, I make it a habit to take one afternoon to go by myself to explore a museum exhibit. More often than not, I end up at the museum of Les Arts Decoratifs – Mode et Textile. The two floors dedicated to fashion seem pretty small at first but never let down.

This time the exhibit was on Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs. Marc Jacobs has been the creative director at Louis Vuitton since 1997 and is head designer for Marc Jacobs as well as Marc by Marc Jacobs. In 2010, he made Time’s list for the 100 most influential people in the world.

I had never looked at these brands’ beginnings so the exploration through the world of Vuitton the malletier was a treat. From the perfect wardrobe display to the development of the trademark print, it caught me by surprise that his creations have been around since 1854.

Louis Vuitton Exhibit at the Museum of Les Arts Decoratifs – Mode et Textile.

On my way up to the Marc Jacobs’ part of the exhibit, the mood changed from classic to black and loud. The displays had all the Marc Jacobs’ design aesthetic but still held on to the Vuitton tradition in a special way. Even the Spring dresses that were all about pastels fashioned in candy store ads, looked right at home in the black environment.

Pastel Dress at Museum Exhibit

Just for fun I ended my visit to the museum stopping by the special exhibit: The History of Babar. I noticed that I was the only adult that wasn’t toting children through this exhibit.  However, I believe spending a little bit of time in the children’s world was just what I needed to start sketching again and looking at life with different eyes for the rest of the trip.