Monday, March 15, 2010

Sapain Zoo

We had to check it out... Little zoo with some exotic and not-so-exotic animals.

Emu and a turkey.

Sweet little Sugar Bat.  Endangered species. They liked to lick our fingers and nibble (gently).

A lion here....and some piglets there.

If this cute monkey likes you, he'll groom you. :)

And the wildest animals of all: Taotaomona (a.k.a. homo sapiens). Shown here grooming Isra.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Here's a quick shot of a tired dad.  When people figure out Norah is a girl, here and the States, they usually say, "Oh, you can try again."  So it was nice to be told that in Korean culture having three daughters is considered to be be extremely lucky. We agree most days.  However, Isra says they can date at 21 and pay for their own weddings. ;-)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

One Fish, Two Fish...

Red fish, blue fish! Some more snorkeling shots for you. Visibility was great at Wing Beach last weekend and we happened to be there at low tide. We saw a lot of bigger than usual fish and fish we've never seen before. Check out the fish in the anemone! Very cute - some sort of Clown Fish playing peek-a-boo. It would peek out, get a little brave and swim out and then swim back in. :-) We also got some good shots this time of an Urchin and one type of Sea Cucumber.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Island Dancers

Here's a few shots Amelia took of the dancers during street market. The dancers and dances vary depending on which group is performing. We think this is a Tahitian dance.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


When we were planning this trip we talked about various worries of traveling with little ones. Some understandable and realistic, some just far-fetched and crazy. Some friends were worried about air travel, some were worried about illness or accidents - as a mom, my fears tend to lean toward the far-fetched and crazy... So for me it was fear of a tsunami! Remember the story of the woman on the beach with her kids when a tsunami hit? I do. Anyway, I asked around once we got here and learned that this island is safe from tsunamis. Each layer of coral reef breaks a large wave off from the bottom so that by the time it reaches shore it's pretty small. That's what they said...and then one morning we found a slip of paper under our door with a tsunami warning! Huh? However it all ended up being pretty anti climatic. The Emergency Management Office had issued a watch the night before and then upgraded it to a warning for a tsunami to hit the island by 1p.m. and then canceled the whole thing by 10:30 in the morning. So, what do you do?  We went to the beach to check it out. I guess it's kind of like going outside to watch the tornado in Iowa.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Managaha Island

Last Saturday we took a trip with a couple of friends to Managaha Island. This is a tiny island off the Western coast of Saipan. Rrreally tiny - easily walked around the entire island in about 15 minutes. Managaha is covered with mango and coconut trees and all edges are covered in white sand. This is an excellent place to snorkel because the water is crystal clear, there are a lot of WWII wreckages still submerged, plus the fish are protected here so they're very abundant and tame.

In the photos you'll see a statue and grave on the island that is a tribute to Chief Aghurubw. This is the Chief that led the Carolinians to Saipan from the Caroline Islands. The Carolinians are known for their navigation skills using the stars, sun, moon, clouds and water to navigate. Some of the photos show shots of wreckage under water - check out the Japanese Zero. The Zero is about half way to the island. This photo shows how clear the water is - the plane sits about 20 - 30 feet under water. We all (exept Norah!) jumped out of the boat to swim around and look at the Zero. Okay, to all the grandparents reading this - don't worry, the water is so salty it's very hard to not float and this is not a shark area! The other shots are us on the way out to the island. Brent and Brian work with Isra and have been a lot of fun for the girls - more good dads. Next time we'll have to get a shot of Isra! He was behind the camera this time.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


"Gong xi fa cái! Hóng bao ná lái"! or in Cantonese style...Gong Hey Fat Choy!
Roughly: "Congratulations and be prosperous, now give me a red envelope!"

It's been a busy week here. The Lunar New Year fell on Valentine's Day for the first time in 77 years so we had to switch locations quickly over last weekend to make room for the many (better paying) visitors ;-) and then move back. We're so glad we're here to see this celebration. Amazing! This is the biggest celebration of the year. Chinese New Year is also called Spring Festival, which is a 15-day celebration that ends with the Lantern Festival and is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. The holiday means new life which brings new hope and new happiness. :-)

In the first photo the girls show their hong bao (red envelopes) they recieved. Typically the kids receive a lot of hong bao filled with at least 5 dollars but hopefully the red hundred bill! We were told that kids could receive around $2000 each Lunar New Year! To celebrate a little more, we peeled and ate mandarin oranges, ate some fish for lunch and left a little on the plate (to signify abundance in the New Year)... however we didn't do much house cleaning or get haircuts.

The next photos show the Lion Dance. There are many different stories about why the Lion Dance is performed but it seems most of the traditions have to do with warding off evil and welcoming good things, including prosperity. In Saipan the Lion Dance Troupe travels from shop to shop for two days. The two lions dance and play fight to reach the lettuce hanging from the ceiling all while loud cymbals and drums are played. Lettuce is used because the Chinese word for lettuce sounds like money. The lion has to shred the lettuce and tucked inside is an envelope with money. The long string of red firecrackers are lit at the end of the dance to ward off evil spirits. Super loud!!! The last photo shows the shredded lettuce and paper from the firecrackers - they look like rose petals scattered on the ground and for more luck they shouldn't be swept up.

At the end of the day we could smell oranges and gunpowder in the air. :-)