Archive for June, 2009

31052009(002)Last Saturday, when the rain stopped and the weather cooled, we decided to head to Pui O for our first family camping trip. Within an hour, E had two back packs packed, I had the girls fed and dressed, and we caught the 1:15 pm ferry to Mui O. Our friend Annie picked us up and drove us up and over the hill to Pui O beach, where she, her husband and 3 daughters put up their massive family-sized tent for us that took up nearly the entire sandy plot.

Pui O is a long beach that is set deep within a bay so the water is extremely shallow and calm. Our one extravagance was an LL Bean bag stuffed with sleeping pillows and stuffed animals–it was an official sign that we, in effect, were car camping. Pui O is a tiny mountain village. The beach is quiet and scenic with steep, jagged ridges in the background and giant gray water buffaloes roaming the nearby rice paddies.

The girls were fascinated with the tent–they spent the first 30 minutes running around inside. We told the girls to wipe their feet to keep the sand out. After the third warning within the first five minutes we stopped enforcing it. Annie, Ben and their kids came by with a bucket of beers and some cook out stuff. We chatted, gave them some cookies, and then they left for the weekend.  After a few hours of roaming the beach and rice paddies, it was time to cook supper in our fire pit.

Getting the fire going took a long, long time. The charcoal was more wood flake than bricket. I tried arranging them in an ingenious, flame inducing pattern but the fire wouldn’t catch. We didn’t have newspaper so I tried toilet paper. None of it worked. I went to the beach store and grabbed a Chinese newspaper and bought a tiny little cylinder that promised to get my fire going. From the box came a flaky charcoal sphere the size and width of my index finger with a bit of string spooled at the top of each half. Damned if this thingy, along with the news print, didn’t finally get some gray burning into the charcoal.

F helped cook some of the hot dogs that we slid onto our long barbecue prongs, a few of which she rested on top of the coals to cook faster. I ate those ones. E had everything organized so that when the dogs did finally started cooking we could quickly serve them up. Despite our efforts, T skipped this meal. All she at were buns and graham crackers.

F devoured her hot dog, perhaps because she was starving, perhaps because she knew it was a means to an end: Smores. Nobody out here has heard of Smores. But F has, and it’s one of her most favorite things. “Dad, can I do it now? Can I do it?” At this point, the sun had set and T was muttering “I cold. I cold” (she wasn’t) and “I wanna go home. Wanna go home. Wanna go see Ya Ya.” We were prepared for the worst in terms of getting her to sleep in a tent. The only way to make this happen was to separate the girls. So after some fidgeting and flopping, both kids fell asleep for the night.

The only noise was a group of young men and women, probably in their early 20s, camping next to us. They didn’t have a speck of beer or wine or anything else at their site that may have led to things getting rowdy. But they were giggly and a big group, and through most of the night they huddled in one tent, laughing, telling stories, laughing. But they were fine.

E and I took some cookies to the beach and a little bit of red wine we brought and chatted amidst a starless night.

Without a sleeping pad and with an antsy 3.5 year old,  I was up at around 3:30 a.m. E came in at one point to get warmer clothes for T. It did get a bit chilly, and all I had was a t-shirt, shorts and part of F’s blanket. Even though the waves that rolled onto Pui O beach were tiny, their crashes were loud. I fell asleep an hour or so later.

F and I were up at 6. I made a desperate attempt at a coffee run. We walked into Pui O village, only to find a handful of Chinese restaurants, that not only most definitely didn’t have coffee, but were closed. The beach restaurant was closed until 1030. T was awake when we came back, so the 3 of us walked up to where the river enters the ocean and went shell collecting.  Every time I scolded T for throwing sand she laughed harder. F played the game we play every day now.

“I’m the mommy, your the daddy, and T is the baby. No, wait. Her name is Sophia.” E was walking down the beach now. “Mommy will be Granny.”

“No. I Emma,” T replies.

“No. You’re Sophia and I’m, ahm…, I’m Kulah (she makes up names).”

“Oh yeah,” T says. She says this a lot.

Five minutes later, F.

“Keelah. Dad, she is Keelah. Her name is Keelah and she’s the Mommy and your the Daddy and I’m the baby. “

“No. I Sophia,” replies her sister.

“No T. You’re Kay…No…Kees. Wait. Dad, what’s her name again?”


“Oh, right. Keelah.”

“No I Emma. I not Keelah.” And so on.

30052009(021)At around 10, the four of us did an ocean kayak trip, just along the shallow shore. F sat in front looking for treasures, T sat on E’s lap and I paddled from the back. A strapping, old Aussie swam way out from shore with his two dogs. The water was dirty in some spots. We paddled over to the rocks along the far end of the beach and floated up next to the shark net that arcs along the beach (there haven’t been any shark incidents. Most beaches here have these).

After 30 minutes or so, T started to get tired and asked to “go home.” (Her new thing is:  “I wanna git goin’.” “Git goin’ mommy. Git goin’”)

So I paddled in, trying to ride a mini wave. On the walk back, we asked F if she liked the kayak trip and she said No.

“It was too rough. The waves were bouncing me around.” They weren’t. The biggest wave we encountered would have been knee high on the beach. Oh well. It was a good and safe family excursion.

The rest of the morning was spent goofing around on the beach. F and T adore the water. F wore floaties and did back strokes and “Starfish floats.” T got tired of the water and dug holes in the sand.

On a breakfast of 2 granola bars, juice boxes and stale buns between all of us, we welcomed the restaurant’s opening, and treated ourselves to a kebab lunch–chicken fingers for the girls. We caught the 2:20 p.m. ferry back to Central, just as the heat was picking up. All of us fell asleep on the way home.


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