How to do a Mall Scavenger Hunt in a foreign country

I never thought this day would come but it’s official my oldest child is now a teenager.  Happy Birthday Mckaela!  She wants to celebrate her birthday the same way all teenage girls do by shopping with her friends at the mall.  I told her she can invite as many girls as will fit in the car since transportation is a big deal in a big city like Chengdu.

Here they are standing in front of Mckaela’s favorite restaurant in the mall.

First stop is the nail salon…

Now their nails are done they are ready for the Scavenger Hunt.  I had fun coming up with things to hunt for in the mall.  I know teenagers like to take pictures so I knew I needed to give them the opportunity to take a bunch of pictures.  They had a list of things to search and find like a red shoe and a wedding dress…


They also had to look for a good looking boy to take a picture with…

He’s a little young don’t you think?

They also had to take some glamour shots.  Here’s the dresses the girls picked out…


(BTW Trish…Olivia really wants you to buy this dress for her.)

The girls had no problems finding everything on the list.  They even found something the same to try on.

I found in the end that doing a scavenger hunt in a foreign country is no different than doing one back home.

Mckaela’s restaurant even made a yummy chocolate cake and these fun girls all sang “Happy Birthday” to her in Chinese, Swedish, and English.

I think this is a birthday Mckaela will always remember.


A Weekend in Xian

Xian is home of the famous Terracotta Soldiers and a short flight from Chengdu.  (if you don’t mind riding a bus from the airport terminal to get on the airplane way off in left field and then sitting on the tarmac for another hour)

A stinky taxi cab ride to the Shangri-la only to find out it’s the wrong location and then another stinky taxi cab ride and we finally make it to the other Shangri-la that must be the knock-off brand of the hotel chain because this Shangri-la isn’t in a great location and we had quite a few problems but here we are and we are more than ready to see these Terracotta Warriors.

This is my interpretation of the most famous tourist site in Xian.  The first emperor in Chinese history, Emperor QinShihuang spent almost forty years having these Terracotta warriors built because it was believed that the artifacts in one’s Tomb would follow one to the afterlife and this army would protect him there. (even though they are made of clay)  Well in 1974 (the year I was born) some local farmers discovered these sculptures while digging for a well.  The kneeling archer was the only warrior still intact…

The site now has three pits and a musuem open to the public. Pit 1 is the largest pit with over 6000 life-size warriors and horses though only about 2000 have been restored and are on display, the others still lie fractured in the pit.

Pit 2 has over a thousand warriors.  The reason they don’t have any heads is because the emperior died before that mold was done so the workers weren’t required to finish the job.  (I’m not sure how they are going to protect him in the afterlife without their heads?)

Pit 3 has seventy two high ranking warriors and horses and is therefore believed to be the army headquarters.  The kneeling archer, the standing archer, the cavalryman and his horse, the mid ranking officer, and the general can all be purchased as a souvenier in about any size you want.

Day 2

There is an ancient city wall in Xian that is said to be the oldest and best preserved wall in existance.  I was reading in my hotel guide that you can ride 5 bikes side by side on the wall easily so I thought we should put this theory to the test.


On our bicycles built for two we traveled 8.5 miles around the wall together as a family.  How fun is that?  The views were great and we even heard music playing along most of the wall.


As cool as these places are that we get to see we continue to struggle with the culture in China.  I haul my own toilet paper, food, and hand sanitizer with us everywhere we go.  Pizza Hut, McDonalds, and KFC are the only western options for food most of the time and there are very few local restaurants we like.  Last time we tried a local chinese restaurant Ethan claimed we were all turning Chinese on him.  (He doesn’t like any of the Chinese food)  I think this struggle we have is extremely hard to tackle while on vacation since we run out of Mom’s snacks the first day.  In Xian we tried to have a pizza delivered to the hotel one night and ended up overpaying for a cold pizza, a taxi cab ride to deliver the pizza, and everyone is still hungry.  We tried the KFC but we could only choke down the fries and a soda.  We also tried eating at the McDonalds and I can safely say I don’t care if I ever eat at a McDonalds again in my life.