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Tag Archives: Travel

Great Bump Pics from The Great Wall

25 Jan
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Morgan and Brett Hutchinson

From the day we found out we were expecting little Olive Bee, we joked about how one day she would reach an age when telling people that she was born in Beijing, China would seem like bragging rights. Well…since we stripped her of that joy – we thought the least we could do was take photos of her in utero on The Great Wall of China. A big thank you to photographer Diego Ferrini and to make-up artist Meili Autumn.

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Brett and Morgan Hutchinson

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Morgan and Brett Hutchinson
Photography by Diego Ferrini. Make-up by Meili Autumn.

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Please stayed tuned for A Blonde in Beijing’s big blog move….coming soon!

All images courtesy of Diego Ferrini.

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Better Late Than Never: Hutchinson Visit

27 Jul
Better Late Than Never, Right?  Here is a very tardy post of our wonderful visit with the Hutchinsons last November.

What a treat it was to be able to spend time with Brett’s parents, his brother Cory, and beautiful Kara here in Beijing.  There are just some things that cannot be expressed through words or photos – which is why we love visitors.  It actually enables us to really show what our life is like in this crazy, polluted, overcrowded…but still pretty fascinating foreign land.

Unfortunately, their visit fell on an extremely busy week for Brett (which I think the majority of you, through deductive reasoning, will be able to tell by the absence of him in the photos below) which left us all missing him and forced the Hutchinsons to see China through the eyes of a Blonde in Beijing.  I am hopeful that a good time was still had by all!

In addition to celebrating Brett’s Big 4-0 at Maison Boulud, we were able to show them quite a few of the sites  – The Olympic Village, The Great Wall, Temple of Heaven, Wangfujing Snack Street, Tea Street, and The Forbidden City.  And of course – we made sure that they tried all the top foods – Beijing Duck, Din Tai Fung dumplings, and don’t forget the street meat.  (Okay – I don’t think Donna actually tried this…but Cory & Kara braved a variety of interesting delicacies – i.e. scorpions, silk worms, etc.)

As their tour guide for the week, I did my best to document the trip for them (a service I only provide for true VIP visitors!)  Here are some of my favorites…

This would be a fantastic Christmas card if Cory was their only son! The Great Wall Mutianyu – November 2011

Tom & Donna Hutchinson. The Great Wall – November 2011

How cute are they? Seriously. The Great Wall – November 2011

Tom with his D-in-L’s. The Great Wall – November 2011

Kara & Cory – The Great Wall.

Perhaps I got a little camera happy with the happy couple….

Up, up, and away! Riding the chair lift to the top of the wall.

Kara cruising down the slide. The best part of visiting the wall at Mutianyu!

Quite possibly my favorite picture of the trip. Clearly, Cory is not pleased with Tom’s choice of speed. His face is the physical definition of boredom.

Tom and Donna in front of The Bird’s Nest. Olympic Village – Beijing.

Brett finally makes it! Family dinner at Mao’s Red Capital Club. This restaurant, hidden in an ancient hutong alleyway, serves tasty food – but the main reason to visit is to step back in time and soak in a bit of “Mao’s China”.

Walking into the gardens surrounding the Temple of Heaven. We were so lucky to have such a beautiful Beijing day. A rarity to say the least.

Donna, Cory & Tom at the Temple of Heaven. Beijing – November 2011

Temple of Heaven – Beijing

I would say I was trying to be artistic…but perhaps Cory is just too tall! I still like it though. Temple of Heaven – Beijing, China.

A tiny Donna at the Temple of Heaven. It is terribly difficult to capture an image with no other tourists. I didn’t crop the original for this very reason. I love the emptiness of it. Temple of Heaven – Beijing, China

The beautiful and extremely old Cypress trees in the grounds that surround the temple. Temple of Heaven – Beijing, China

Tree Gazing. Temple of Heaven Grounds – Beijing, China

Another potentially great Christmas card if Tom and Donna only had one son and also decided to adopt a random blonde from Murray, Kentucky… Temple of Heaven Grounds – Beijing, China

Old school online dating?? We stumbled upon a mass of middle-aged, local Chinese men and women in the gardens surrounding the Temple of Heaven with dozens of papers like these taped to the ground. After chatting with a few of them, who were actually willing to talk with me in Chinese – I was able to learn that they were all there to find mates for their children. These “papers” are actually dating profiles including personal details such as height, age, and occupation. Some even go so far as to say if they are home or car owners. Amazing!

Okay…so this is obviously Cory, not Brett. But for those of you who truly know Brett…you know that this is an impersonation of his “intense face”. Complete with the drumming of the fingers. Nice tribute, Cory.

The Forbidden City – Beijing, China

Kara & Cory – Forbidden City, November 2011

The Forbidden City – Roof Tile Detail.

The Forbidden City – Beijing, China

Tea Tasting on Tea Street. Somehow I didn’t snap a picture when they put Kara to work separating proper tea leaves from the bad ones…what a missed opportunity. I have a feeling that her daily wage might be more than they are used to paying.

This is the coup de gras of photos from the trip. Apparently, my harassing comments to Tom about the fact that of all things to bring to Beijing, he packed his “Turkey Trot 1997” t-shirt hit a nerve. His response to my torment was to jokingly wear it under his sport coat for Brett’s birthday dinner and party at Maison Boulud. Loved it. He did change – although I think I would have preferred him like this.

Beach Babymoon

20 Jul

While the word itself…”babymoon” seemed to turn my husband’s stomach – he had absolutely no problem with the concept of actually taking a fabulous trip before our little munchkin arrives.  Personally – I don’t care what you call it.  I will take a romantic get-away with my husband any chance I get!  So off to the Maldives we went to celebrate the upcoming arrival of Baby Hutch.

After rave reviews from my sweet friend and newlywed, Brandace Wilson, (who just returned from her honeymoon) we knew we must take advantage of the direct flight from Beijing to Malé while we still had the chance.  And while it was difficult to choose a resort (because they are all quite amazing) – in the end we went with the W Resort & Spa on Fesdu Island…just 1 of the 1,200 that make up this beautiful island nation situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

On the W Jetty waiting for our seaplane take-off. The W has its own lounge full of cool drinks and tasty treats while you wait for “fins up”.

The sign of a good trip…the seaplane had my monogram.

The vast majority of our time in the Maldives was spent in our own little ocean oasis.  When your “hut” has everything you need including direct ocean access, a plunge pool, a well stocked snack station and minibar, and the best in-room service…why leave?  So – we basically didn’t.  Except for breakfast.  This preggers couldn’t resist the delicious spread of the buffet and the “fruit man” who created custom fruit plate masterpieces to suit one’s individual tastes.

Outdoor space on our Ocean Oasis. The W also offers beautiful beach bungalows – but I think the over-the-water option (with glass bottom floors inside) is the more interesting and fun of the two.

Brett’s backflip into the ocean off the deck. Reminding me that I was truly not cut out to be a “boy-mom”!

In-Water Dining! Even if it is a bit warm outside…the W makes sure that your feet are cool by allowing you to give them a dip while enjoying your morning meal.

One of many “bump” pictures…

One perk of traveling to a Muslim country while pregnant…the “mocktail” list is almost as long as the “cocktail” list!

The bird and the bump!

We decided to do a little photo shoot after breakfast one morning (mainly because I had finally washed my hair for real in a legitimate shower…as opposed to an ocean one!)

One night we decided to take advantage of the W’s In-Room BBQ Service.  They provide all the “fixings”  and you can choose between American or Asian style.  Clearly, with the current lack of American BBQ in our lives …we opted for the potato salad and grilled corn-on-the-cob option.  All that was left for us to do (after they delivered the spread and set-up the grill for us) was to actually throw the meat (ribs, burgers, and wings) on the grill and eat it!

My Grill Master!

Great food. Great view. Extra great company.

The proximity to China and the lack of visa issues for mainland Chinese makes the Maldives a great destination for Chinese honeymooners.  Here were some of our favorites…

This couple wore matching outfits everyday. Not your typical “trousseau” to say the least!

Although we only caught a quick glimpse of their husbands, these ladies went all out for a not-so-impromptu photo shoot around the tiny island wearing formal gowns. We see this constantly in the Mainland!

On our last day at the resort, before heading back to Malé for a quick tour of the world’s smallest capital city and then back to Beijing, we decided to allow ourselves the ultimate cliché in destination drinking…Pina Coladas!  (A virgin one for me of course!)  But who could resist this packaging??

Puckering up for his Pineapple! His was much better than mine…I did have a tiny sip!

Until next time beautiful blue water and soft silky sand!

A parting message in honor of our little beach-bun-in-the-oven!

 

True Resort

10 Jul

Originally resort wear (as indicated by its name) was created by high-end designer labels for their customers that were expected to “holiday” in warmer climates after the cooler Christmas and New Year’s Holidays.  Fast forward many moons and the resort collections have adapted to reach a broader audience and provide year-round looks to accommodate a variety of lifestyles.  As I type – Brett and I are T minus 15 hours away from our departure from Beijing to the Maldives.  So naturally…with thoughts of the crystal clear Indian Ocean on the brain,  I would like to focus on the “True Resort” looks that graced the runways during Resort 2013.  While they are not available yet – I did find inspiration in every look as I packed this morning.  (And to answer any questions…YES  – being almost 6 months pregnant created quite a few “packing challenges”.)   Only time and pictures will tell…

Collette Dinnigan Resort 2013

Collette Dinnigan Resort 2013

Issa Resort 2013

This looks is just begging for a giant sun hat! Rachel Roy Resort 2013

Where else can you wear a turquoise sequined jumpsuit other than a tropical holiday? Chado Ralph Rucci Resort 2013

Bibhu Mohapatra Resort 2013

Gucci Resort 2013

Naeem Kahn Resort 2013

BCBG by Max Azria Resort 2013

Giambattista Valli Resort 2013

So this is goodbye to you until next week and hello to the W Retreat & Spa Maldives!   再见我的朋友! (See you soon my friends!)

Look at Us in Lowveld Living Magazine!

28 Jun

As a small town girl from Murray, Kentucky (population = tiny) marrying a mid-western boy – I never dreamed that my wedding might one day be featured in a South African magazine.  But “Lowveld” and behold…here we are!

Below is a link to the entire magazine, although you can only view a few pages for free.  We are on page 87.

Morgan & Brett in Lowveld Magazine Winter 2012

Lowveld Magazine Cover Winter 2012

Lowveld Living | Winter 2012 | Inside | Zinio Digital Magazines

Sunny Singapore

3 May

On a whim, Brett and I decided to take a last-minute trip to Singapore during the Chinese May Day Holiday.  After almost 3 years of hearing numerous friends tell us of its greatness, we thought we should see it for ourselves.  I am so pleased that we did.  It truly is a great little country.

Several airlines offer non-stop flights from Beijing, but Jet Star (a division of Qantas) offered the best red-eye option, and as an additional bonus – they were running an online special for business class fares.  It’s no Emirates – but the flights were on time, the service was friendly, and we arrived safely.

We landed in Singapore at 8:30 AM with an entire sunshine filled day ahead of us.  So – our natural first stop (while waiting for our noon check-in) was the hotel pool.  Beijing hasn’t quite grasped the concept of an outdoor hotel pool – so we are starved for the smell of chlorine, cucumber infused water, and cool hand towels smelling of eucalyptus.  A morning of vitamin D (not from a bottle) and lunch al fresco was just what the doctor ordered.

There are many lovely hotel pools in Singapore that offer beautiful views of the city and the bay including classics like The Fullerton, as well as stunning newcomers like the Sands, but after doing a bit of research – the rooms at the Mandarin Oriental pushed me over the edge. Also – The Fullerton Hotel and The Sands are tourist attractions in and of themselves. Fun to visit for a cocktail or afternoon tea, but the crowds could be a bit much at times if you were staying there.

Mandarin Oriental Pool in Singapore

The picture below shows our view of The Sands Hotel from our room. The entire 57th floor is an outdoor observation deck complete with 2 restaurants, a lounge, and a magnificent pool surrounded by palms. The ground floor and basement levels house the casino which now also houses some of our money! While lucky in love…not so lucky at the blackjack table.

The Sands Singapore. The white structure in front, resembling the bottom part of an artichoke is the Art & Science Museum of Singapore. To its immediate right (unfortunately not in this picture) is the floating Louis Vuitton store – that’s right, it is on the water.  That soccer field is floating too!

For first time visitors (like us), I strongly suggest staying around the harbor. The views are spectacular and taxis can easily and quickly take you to other parts of the city…like Orchard Street for shopping! That said, you will find plenty to do around the bay – all within walking distance. Or, you can take a water taxi, which is fun.

Morgan & Brett Hutchinson Singapore May 2012

We decided to take a little cruise on the water to see the Singapore sights.  It really is a charming city with colorful outdoor cafés lining the banks of the river.  Beautiful and intricate foot and motor bridges are found at each turn and old, deep south looking trees with roots the size of humans flank either side.  Along our journey we saw many historic buildings and heard the brief history of the city’s development.  There are a couple different companies that offer these hour-long trips (around $20USD per person).  We chose the Singapore River Cruise Company – but they all appear to be about the same.  It was a great, easy way to learn about the city.  But be sure to apply sunscreen before setting sail…my pearly white, hadn’t seen the sun in months skin (thanks to BJ’s not so friendly skies) was fried by the end of our short cruise.

Brett on the river cruise boat

This set of bronze sculptures captures the joy of little children, who years before Singapore’s commercialization escaped the heat by leaping into the cool river.

On the river cruise admiring Singapore’s famous MerLion (half-fish, half-lion). Over 1 million tourists come to see her and her cub (which is currently under renovation) every year.

Brett taking in the sights…

While there seems to be an endless amount of things to see and do in Singapore – theater, music, breathtaking golf courses, lush parks filled with colorful blooms, etc. – we opted for a more leisurely stay with loads of pool time and delicious cuisine.  In the picture below – we are winding down on our last night with very happy (and VERY full) bellies after having eaten at Cut, Wolfgang’s amazing steak house. Excuse my ignorance  – but I had no idea that Guy Savoy, Mario Batali, Wolfgang Puck, Daniel Boulud, and countless other top chefs all have outposts here!  Well played Singapore.

Nighttime view of the Singapore Bay from our hotel room

Thank you Singapore for such a rejuvenating long weekend.  I am very much looking forward to our return!

NYC BOUND!

6 Apr

Cue the music because — We are COMING TO AMERICA!  The city that never sleeps to be specific.  Farewell Beijing (well…for 10 days or so).

I am so excited to SEE, EAT, BUY or DO the following:

1. Blue Sky (sans loads of smog)

2. Cafe Habana Corn

3. Visiting with old friends & family

4. Pink Berry (there is just something a little funky about Chinese frozen yoghurt…Although, I can’t put my finger on it)

5. Buy smalls and mediums (trying to fit my non-chinese caboose usually involves buying XL over here)

6.  Easter Brunch in a land that celebrates the true meaning of Easter!  (That would be our risen Lord, not bottomless bubbly – although there is no harm in that.)

7.  Magnolia Cupcakes, any legitimate NY cheesecake, and Crumbs Black & White cookies  (a pretty even tie…and the reason that I may have to buy XLs after all)

8.  Chop’t salads

9.  Window shopping (the concept really doesn’t exist over here – unless you consider getting mobbed every 5 seconds with relentless offers such as, “Hey lady, I give you good price!” to be the same as cruising in Nolita or up Madison Ave).  Personally – I do not.  Although…don’t get me wrong, I do love to bargain at the markets…but you just can’t beat strolling the city streets in the fresh spring air.

10. Happy Hour at the Carlyle – Bemelmans Bar to be exact. Our special spot!

11. Duane Reade…I am allotting at least a 2-hour window to peruse their glorious shelves.  The Easter candy and card aisles alone will keep me entertained for quite a while.

12. Weekend get-away to the Hampton’s – it will still be chilly…but seeing the ocean and snuggling by the fire with my husband is a MUST!

13.  Being on the same time zone with my mom and the twins

14.  Uncensored news (although I must admit, I have enjoyed not being bombarded with campaign nonsense!)

15.  Zero calorie, orange flavored vitamin water (it’s the small things in life…)

16. Toothpaste that doesn’t taste like lavender

17.  High speed internet

18.  MAGAZINES!!!!

19.  Yankees game!

20.  Vintage Shopping (though the Chinese have a far older and more intricate history than the USA…they have nothing on our vintage fashion)

AND…too many other wonderful things to mention!

My big Beijing blues – they are melting away….
I’m gonna make a brand new start of it  – in old New York
If I can make it there – I’ll make it anywhere
It’s up to you – New York…New York!

Best Laid Beach Plans…

22 Mar

Just as I sit here in our apartment, looking out onto the pollution filled Beijing skyline – I am supposed to be sitting next to my marvelous man with a glass of something sparkling in hand, aboard a plane bound for Sanya.  Specifically, Haitang Bay.  Specifically, see below.

But as it has a way of doing from time to time…life got in our way.  So, I decided to distract myself (from the cold…the smog…and our annoying neighbors’ cigarette smoke that permeates the hallway and seeps under our door – sorry for the bitterness of this beach deprived blonde) by writing about glory days of beaches past.

So onto to something much more marvelous…like Mozambique!

The Bazaruto Archipelago of Mozambique was the perfect way to end our 3 week stay in Africa.  It was all sand, sailing, seafood, and fun in the sun.  Even my third degree burns (see: A Burnt Bride) couldn’t put a damper on this to-die-for island.

Brett enjoying a local brew while taking in the sites of the island via an open air jeep.

Our home for the week in Mozambique was one of the 16  lovely villas at Azura on Benguerra.  From the service to the activities to the natural beauty of these undiscovered beaches, Azura lived up to all of our expectations.  Which – as my husband (I am sure will agree) are quite high…

TRAVEL TIP:  For other South Africa bound honeymooners…there are many travel companies that will push the Seychelles for “end of the trip beach time” – BUT the islands of Mozambique will provide all the luxury with half the cost.  Although…that will probably change as their popularity grows – so book fast!

Our Villa

Sailing around the archipelago.

Footloose and Fancy Free

Deep Sea Fishing Success!

Our Catch of the Day!

Enjoying our catch of the day by candlelight at a romantic table for two on the private beach. Perfection.

On a positive note…we are in the process of rescheduling our beach time trip.  For now – the departure date is set for two weeks with an alternative destination: The Maldives (thanks to the recent non-stop flight offered by Mega Maldives Airlines).  Fingers crossed.

 

Blyde River Canyon…A Bit Belated

19 Mar

The Beautiful Blyde River Canyon

As it always does…time has slipped through my fingers once again.  Not only have I not posted anything in regards to China lately, I haven’t posted  – well…anything at all!  So, I thought I would step back in time for a moment and finish sharing the tales our adventures in Africa this past October.  It was brought to my attention that I never wrote about the Blyde River Canyon or Mozambique.  Two places that definitely deserve recognition (and high praise…Nick Cage style).

Stealing a kiss at the top of God's Window on top of the Blyde River Canyon

From Camp Jabulani (where I left off…see the following link for details:  https://ablondeinbeijing.com/2011/12/27/its-all-about-the-elephants/) we traveled to the Cybele Forest Lodge and Spa – a Relais & Chateaux property nestled in the woods of northern South Africa.  The lodge is perched 3,000-feet above sea level amidst Mpumalanga’s forests, mountains and meadows between White River and Hazyview. Owners Rupert and Barbara Jeffries have transformed the original hunting lodge they bought in 1979 to a cosy, yet stylish retreat. There are twelve quaint cottages and ours had  the added advantage of our own heated swimming pool!  It was divine!

Brett standing in God's Window at Blyde River Canyon

During our two nights stay, we took all of our meals in our room at the dining table or poolside on the patio.  It was the ultimate in privacy.  We did leave the room…twice.  Once for a couple’s massage and once for a helicopter ride through the canyon, complete with a stop at God’s Window for a champagne picnic.  Needless to say, it was a very strenuous 48 hours.

Champagne picnic at the top of God's Window

Heli Silhouette

I honestly had never heard of the Blyde River Canyon (the 3rd largest in the world – not to mention that it is a GREEN canyon) until we began our research for the trip.  I am so glad that we made the decision to venture off the beat and path to see this side of South Africa.  It was completely unexpected, and is mostly highly recommended.  I don’t think it is possible to truly capture the beauty of this magical place with unprofessional photographer hands (like ours), but I  hope that our pictures capture enough of its essence to encourage you to visit.

One of many waterfalls falling through the Blyde River Canyon

Our fantastic pool. We did have to watch out for the monkeys though! Little thieves that they are...

Thank you Cybele Forest Lodge & Spa for such a rejuvenating stay!  Just writing and remembering has relaxed me…and well, distracted me from the hazardous pollution of Beijing.  Literally.  The “pollution-o-meter” recommends staying in today.  So – Blyde Blogging it is!

Ice Fishing???

24 Feb

Only in China can you find two men “ice fishing”, on a Wednesday afternoon in below freezing temperatures from a shallow, trash-filled stream in the middle of Beijing.  With cold fingers and a red nose, I watched them for quite some time.  Unfortunately – but not surprising at all…there was no catch of the day!  Love the dedication, Zhong Guo Nan Ren!

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