Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Good-Bye Seoul, Hello United States!

Eri and Leo wearing the traditional Korean hanbok given to them by as a goodbye gift by our Korean friends.

The Steeves family has left wonderful Seoul, South Korea. We start 2017 in another country: the United States. We are living at Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Noster, Missouri, where Geoff will be flying the B-2 again; I will continue contract writing and editing with three wonderful organizations; Eri will continue the first grade and Leo will continue preschool, and making their mom and dad proud.

We have been away for 5 years, living first in Brazil and then in Korea. 

There's something about coming 'home,' even though we are returning to a real shit show (I'm paraphrasing The New York Times as well as factual observation). It is particularly poignant after traveling in more than a dozen countries where we were welcomed and respected because we were foreigners there.

We return with a new perspective of our country, one that is formed from being on the outside looking in. We have learned so much about how the United States is viewed by others around the world, and, in particular by its benevolence and its democracy. America has always been great and it's sad to see that compromised. But, this is not meant to be a political statement, but rather a snapshot of our return. And to give you hope. The last two aforementioned countries the Steeves family has lived in have impeached their presidents about two years or so after our arrival. I am looking forward to 2019.

For now, we are adjusting to living in the United States again and that our adventure abroad is over. We were surprised to have two overseas assignments, back to back, no less, and, well, it made us want a third stint abroad. We are thankful and appreciative of these two adventures. We recognize the impact it had on us and that we are better people because of all the experiences we had. And, we did it together.

Eri, 7, has lived nearly all her life abroad. She is fluent in Portuguese and can speak some Korean. She has been to 14 foreign countries. Leo, 3, has lived his entire life abroad. He was born in Brazil and has traveled around all South America and Asia, though he has only been to three U.S. states.

A smart man once told me that life only becomes routine if you let it. I was smart enough to marry him and life has been one new experience after another. He'll make sure our next adventure is just around the corner. I'm ready to go. 


Frequent flyer.

Hiking in South Korea.


Geoff's goodbye at work.

Time to board the airplane. 17 suitcases, two car seats, a stroller and a lot of snacks. USA, here we come.

Goodbye, Dyl. Best. Friends. FOREVER.

Eri's last day of school in Seoul. One big group hug goodbye!

Later Skaters. Leo Steeves is out.

The Steeves; Seoul, S. Korea; 2016

Monday, December 26, 2016

Hong Kong

Our week in Hong Kong was our last trip in Asia (for now) and a fantastic finale to our two wonderful years living in this part of the world.
Hong Kong is a former British colony. It is now a “special administrative region" of China. In 1997, London handed over Hong Kong to Beijing with some provisions in place for 50 years, at which point the integration of Hong Kong and China is supposed to be complete. So, under China's "one country, two systems," Hong Kong's economic and social systems have autonomy until 2047. China already has control of Hong Kong's foreign affairs and defense. 

From our perspective, this makes Hong Kong a cleaner, friendlier and more urban-beautiful city than those we visited in mainland China. Plus, English is widely spoken, with a lovely British accent, no less. The people call themselves Cantonese, which is also the name of the Chinese dialect they speak. The traditional foods are rice- and noodle-based dishes, and of course tea. 
Also noteworthy: Hong Kong is one of the most densely-populated areas of the world with almost 7.2 million people in just 430 square miles.

Hong Kong, here we come.

Our first order of business was to take a tram up to the top of the famed Victoria Peak, Hong Kong's tallest mountain.

The tram's glass bottom freaked out no one. Except me.
At the top of Victoria Peak.

Sight seeing around an old Chinese village.

Kung Fu master.


The city had a lot of green space and was remarkably free from litter and yuk in general.

Clear skies in Hong Kong. There doesn't seem to be the severe air pollution that most of mainland China has.

We don't pass a fountain without striping down and playing in it.

We took a sunset cruise on a traditional "junk boat" around the city's Victoria Harbor.     
Our boat trolled around the harbor as the city lit up at night.
We took a two-day side trip to Macau, which a small island across the Pearl River Delta from Hong Kong. It is another autonomous region of China, but Macau was a Portuguese territory until 1999. As such, a lot of its architecture, art, food and, much to our delight, language is Portuguese. We really wanted to talk with Chinese people in our favorite second language (as a reminder, it's Portuguese), but really only immigrants from Portugal living there spoke it. We stayed at a Portuguese hotel, ate traditional Portuguese food and read/understood all the Portuguese street signs. An interesting side note: Macau is also known as the Las Vegas of Asia. Its "strip" is much smaller, but has big name hotel-casinos, like The Paris and The Hard Rock.

At our Portuguese-style hotel in Macau.

Exploring Macau.

Portuguese and Chinese was an interesting mix.

Eri took our picture on Bem Casados street, or Happily Married street. Awwweee.

The Strip.

It's the Year of the Rabbit here, too.

Portugal? Nope, China.

Cheers! Another wonderful trip and lots of memories together.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Grandma Margy and Grandpa Greg Visit Seoul

Much to Eri and Leo's delight, Grandma Margy and Grandpa Greg recently came for a visit. Highlights for the babies included story time, playing cards, playing superheros, eating bunny-shaped pancakes, spa time, and showing off on the playground, at swim lessons and at ballet class. We all enjoyed taking the grandparents around wonderful Seoul, especially the markets, Seoul Tower, the ancient palace and changing of the guard, to the border with the North, and to our favorite restaurants.

Seeing the sights!

At the the base of the Seoul Tower, it's a tradition to write a message on a padlock and chain it to the fence.

Eri is using her best penmanship to immortalize Grandma and Grandpa's visit.

At the top of Seoul Tower.

Grandpa Greg learned the night-time routine fast: bath, play naked, pjs, stall, brush teeth, play clothed, finally get in bed, see how many stories you can talk your reader into.

Grandma Margy checking out the city.

Leo proudly showing Grandma and Grandpa his preschool classroom.

Touring through the National Museum.

Being silly.
Grandma Margy and Eri showing off their fresh manis and pedis.

Ridin' the subway like a couple of locals.

Sampling Korean foods at one the indoor markets.

Back home after a trip to the seafood market.

Clams, scallops, shrimp and mussels prepared by Grandma and Grandpa. (I made the salad and poured the water.)

Thanks for making us dinner!

Eri and Leo with their first mate.

Grandma Margy and Eri at the Korean War Museum.


Street food!
More stories and more ice cream.

Thanks for visiting us in Asia!