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The Boston Grandma and Grandpa have returned from their trip Down Under. Read all about it (and then some) in this issue!

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Ryan Yeh
Kevin Bau
Heidi Yeh
David Bau
Rachel Bau
Paul Bau

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  May 10, 2000 - Issue 51 - Philadelphia Edition
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New Zealand & Australia Holiday

Paul and Rachel returned from a 4 week holiday trip to New Zealand and Australia. They traveled with their old friends, Yen and Julia Tan of Rochester and together, they experienced and saw many, many things that they had never encountered first hand before.

A couple of highlights of the trip included:

Geo-Thermal activities of Rotorua on the North Island of New Zealand. In Rotorua, their were the baths, used at the turn of this century as healing centers. Maori villages where the natives of NZ still live today and carry on their traditions. Geysers and boiling mud pools and steaming sulphur waters rising from the earth.

Te Ana Farm Stay

Where the group lived on a NZ farm which raised dairy cows, sheep and deer. It was a working farm and wonderful to experience.


Where we saw the 19 different varieties of sheep raised in NZ....10 million sheep and 3 million people. We watched a champion sheep shearer show off his skills and observed sheep dogs do their work.

Waitomo Glow Worms:

The glow worms in the Waitomo caves are famous and the talk of all tourists who visit NZ. Indeed unique and fun.

New Zealand topography, its clear and clean rivers and lakes, and the mountains are breath-taking. It's one of the most beautiful countries on earth, populated by some of the most friendly folks you will ever encounter.

Australia's highlights include:

Unique animals seen first hand: platypus, koala, walebee, kangaroo, kiwi and many more.

The Sydney Opera House: the symbol of Australia and a magnificent entertainment performing arts center.

Snorkeling on Heron Island: We used Heron Island as our base on the Great Barrier Reef and saw colorful coral fish and other see life... ooh, amazing!

75 mile sand beach drive: On Fraser Island, the worlds largest sand island( made of sand and no rock) is 127km long and 30 km wide and at low tide, one can drive the beach with a 4 Wheel Drive ... it's like drive on snow, but with the wild ocean five feet to your right and colorful dunes or cliffs 20 feet to your left... exciting!

There were truly dozens of other first time experiences for us that made this holday very special. Let us know if you need more details.

Paul lands "Throatie"

Paul decided to try his luck and skills while on Heron Island, so he bought a seat on a small fishing boat to find coral fish. He was given specific instructions by Rachel to bring home a good eating Coral Trout for dinner that evening. Rachel had eaten Coral Trout at an exclusive restaurant in Gladstone the night before and wanted it again.

The Hunter-Killer, tried and tried, but was unable to land the delicious Coral Trout. Another fisherman on the same boat landed two of them! However, the Hunter-Killer of Weston did not come home empty handed. After about 2 hours on the water, the captain yelled, "Throatie" as Paul pulled in a Red Thoated Emperor fish. About an hour later, he landed another Throatie. The captain's assistant, cleaned and scaled the two fish. He offered to bring them to the chef at the resort restaurant to have them prepared for dinner for 4 persons. Paul asked the chef to cook them "rare", that is not to over-cook the fish.

At dinner that evening at the Heron Resort, Rachel, Yen and Julia feasted on the Throaties. Very good eating indeed!

Reef Walking

At low tide around Heron Island along the Great Barrier Reef, one can "reef walk" along the reef flats... a table that stretches about 1/2 mile out to sea and miles wide. One puts on a pair of reef walkers and walks in water that is just below the knee and one can walk all the way to the next wall of coral reef( about 1/2 mile out). On this walk, one observes all types of coral, colorful tropical fish, lots of sea cucumbers, small sharks, flying hair snales, star fish, and lots of other interesting sea life. It's amazing! One might have 2 hours to conduct this walk before the tide turns and the water starts to rise again.

At high tide, one can swim in the water... it's very safe we're told. We put on our snorkel gear and off we swim to observe all sorts of bigger sea life. Rachel and Paul snorkeled several times.

Another say to observe the coral sea life and stay dry is to book a ride on the Adverturer II, a semi-submersibal boad with glass observations windows below the water. The Adverturer II come with a marine biologist to tell you what you are seeing. One of the most exciting finds on our trip was a Queensland Groper... a hige old fish... perhpas 100 years old that was the size of an office desk. So, you can see, there are many ways to enjoy the sea life of the Great Barrier Reef while visiting Heron Island.

Wellington Relatives

While in Wellington, NZ, the capital city, Paul met with four of his relatives who are now permanent resident of New Zealand. Firstly, he met with James Bao, who is the son of Paul's father's brother, Richard. James and his wife immigrated to New Zealand about ten years ago after their daughter Jennie had immigrated there. Jennie also came to the get-together. She's in her early forties, has two daughters and is divorced.

Next, Paul met with Estee Yang who is the daughter of Paul's father's sister, Edna. Estee and her husband still live in Shanghai, but have two daughters living in Wellington. Edna's daughter, Tina, who is married to a New Zealander, came to the get-together. Tina has one son who is about a year and a half old. Tina is a computer programmer and is quite happy with her life in New Zealand.

The get-together was in Paul's motel room at the Apollo Motel. It was a rather third rate accomdation(perhaps the worst we stayed at during our entire holiday) with only one chair, no room service, and poor decor too. This didn't weem to mater much as it was a fun reunion and as always, fun to meet relatives from around the world. If any relatives want more information on this meeting, simply e-mail Paul at one of the mail slots on the left of this newsletter.

Flight from Hell

Over the Easter weekend, Paul left Boston's Logan on his way to Philadelphia aboard, Continental flight 355, bound for Newark. Of course Paul had purchased his ticket on Priceline.com... tickets that are totally inflexible. Paul knew for example that with Priceline.com tickets, a passenger who arrived early at an airport couldn't get on an earlier flight, even if seats were available. Paul knew that the portal to portal travel time using this Continental routing was approximately 8 hours ( longer than driving onsedelf, but at least supposedly more relaxing and restful). With this in mind and an extra toy for Anthony, Paul checked through 2 pieces of luggage to Philadelphia. There was a scheduled 2 1/2 hr. layover in Newark, but what the heck.

The flight from Boston had a 1/2 delay due to "weather", but why worry? There would be plenty of time to make the connecting flight CO#3571. As Paul deplaned, he went to check the arrival/departure postings to see if any changes had occurred for the departing flight 3571. It was now 4:30 pm and #3571 was scheduled for a departure of 6:30 pm. As Paul looked at the postings, he couldn't believe his eyes. Flight #3571 to Philadephia was CANCELLED! Not delayed, but CANCELLED! Why? Being an experienced traveler, and not expecting any help ffrom Continental agents at other gates, Paul headed for Continental's Customer Service Counter. Good move. Bad luck. There were close to 50 passengers qued up at the Customer Service Counter and only one lonely besieged agent behind the counter. It took, 50 minutes for Paul to reach the counter, but when he did, he was told what he already knew. Flight 3571 was cancelled. It was the last flight from Newark to Philadelphia that day. I had a priceline.com ticket which did not have any flexibily to be shifted to another airline or other routings on Continental. There might be a bus, but that was Express and the service counter could not assist me. I'd have to go to Express and see if I could get on the bus. "Where's Express?" asked Paul, " And is Express part of Continental or another company?" The service agent ( and I use this title advisedly) pointed down the corridor and said, Express is Continental Express and the counter is down by baggage.

Well, of course, Continental Express is not down by baggage, but was located not far from the security check station. But, because of construction, they were relocated between gates C-123 1nd C-136. Paul mad his way to the Continental Express Counter and yes, you guessed it.... more than hundred unhappy people were lined up and qued for service. Paul got at the end of this line and saw after fifteen minutes that little move was bing made. Firstly, Paul was not sure if there would be an Express Bus to Philly, secondly, by the time Paul got to the Express Counter, the bus, if there was one, might have already left. What to do? So, Paul decided to make an executive decision ( dangerous no?). If he was to take a bus ( either Continentals or Greyhounds), Paul had better get a hold of his luggage that had to be somewhere in Newark Airport. It couldn't be on its way to Philly as no planes were flying to Philly that day. So off to Baggage Claim shuffled Paul, his shoulder a bit lower that two hour earlier. Continental was wearing him down. Continental Baggage Claim office is right opposite carrousel #5. No, my luggage from flight 335 would not be on a carrousel, at it was not checked through to Newark, it was checked though to Philadelphia. Yes, they'd try and recover it , and Paul should go to carrousel #4 and wait 25 minutes for it. After 25 minutes, Paul returned to the Baggage Claim office empty handded. Go back and wait another 25 minutes he was told. They are making an attempt to recover your luggage for you.

"Besides, if you go to Continental Express, they can "probably" get you on a bus to Philadelphia", the babbage claim agent told him. Yea, right, thought Paul.

While, waiting by carrousel #4, Paul spotted a pay phone. Quickly, he telphone Continental's 800 number. "Hello, I'm at Newark airport and here's my situation, what should I do?" Paul was going to take his luggage ( if it ever came), take a bus to the Port Authority in Manhattan, and from there, get a Greyhound Bus to Philadelphia. "Don't do that" argued the agent,"Even if you are willing to spend your own money to get to Philadelphia, the computer will cancel your return flight on May second to Boston. What you should do is either take the Express Bus tonight to Philadelphia or the first flight in the morning." "Well,can you get me on the bus? asked Paul . "I'd be happy to take the Express Bus, but I and a hundred other folks can't get through your serice lines at Newark" The sympathetic agent on the phone, went to her supervisor who also wanted to help, and then went(after almost thirty more minutes) to the supervisor's manager who authorized a hotel voucher and meal voucher in Newark for Paul if he'd be willing to take the 6;30 am flight out the next morning. ""We'll give you hotel planning, and a meal and a guaranteed seat on Friday's flight #3579 and a seat assignment and proctect you return home in ten days... here's youi confirmation number OHY43L" Paul thought this was great. "How do I get to Hotel Planning?" The agent on the phoned laughed ( it was a kind laugh),"Hotel planning, means you go to a Continental counter at Newark Airport and they will give a a voucher to a hotel. Pick the counter with the shortest line, and go there. If you go to the check-in counter, go to the "Purchase Ticlet line", not the e-Ticket line. The people at the Purchase Ticket counter will have vouchers where as the folks at the regular check-in to do. Please talk softly when you get there, as we don't want other passengers to hear that you are getting a hotel night... they are not and we don't want a riot on our hands"

The wait in the "Purchase Tickets" line was only 30 minutes. Paul's luck was getting a bit better... or so he wrongly thought. The lady at the "Purchase Tickets" counter said, " Why are you here at this counter? You are not buying a ticket. You are not buying anything. You have a priceline.com E-ticket and you should be in that line!" That line over there with 50 people thought Paul. "Why don't you talk to the agent in the E-ticket counter for me and ask him to service me first so I don't have to spend another hour in line?" requested Paul in his softest most polite voice. The man from the E-ticket counter obliged, but then he took Paul confirmation number....OHY43L, looked at his screen and said,"This is impossible, you have an E-ticket from priceline. We can't give you a hotel voucher with this." Paul explained that the head office was making a customer accomodation for him and wouldn't the agent just issue the vouchers. Nope. Off the agent ran, with Paul's confirmation number and disappeared by a set of doors. 30 minutes later he emerged,and he kept shaking his head, "Whoever did this for you is going to get in trouble. Whoever did this for you is going to get fired. But I don't care. My ass is covered and I will now issue the vouchers"

The story gets worse and have a few more terrible incedents before Paul got to bed at the Howard Johnson's Hotel. The last one I'll recount is after an hour more, Paul get onto a Howard Johnson/Holiday Inn Courtesy Shuttle and it's dark as he slips into his from row seat. Along the ride, hsi feet keep slipping on the floor. Hmmm... must be something wet on the floor. Just before arriving at the hotel, Paul notices that his pants seat are also wet. Oh no. Is it possible that he's sitting in some previous passenger's urine? What a nightmare! Really a flight from Hell! Go Continental! Dear readers, it got worse that evening, and the next morning was no picnic either. I pity the travelers who don't know what they are doing.

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In other news
Why Me?
As Paul finished an unsuccessful 2 1/2 hours of pier fishing, Yen and Rachel came by and wanted to go swimming on the beaches of Fraser Island. Paul wanted to swim at the resort pool, but Rachel and Yen wanted the beach. "Why use the pool, when we have such a lovely beach and ocean to swim in? Besides, we have a lovely pool at home and while on vacation, let's take advantage of a great natural beach", they argued.

Everyone knew that you didn't swim on the eastcoast of Fraser Island because of rough waters, man eating sharks and poisonous jellyfish(three pretty persuasive reasons). Paul had checked with resort employee at the pier and been told that it was safe to swim the westcoast. Yen and Paul went into the water and Paul swam deep. Yen stayed shallow and walked about. Rachel also stayed shallow... about knee deep. Julia decided to stay ashore and take a nap under a tree. Paul looked up the beach and down the beach... about a couple of hundred yards in each direction. There was not another sole in the water. Why? With hundreds of visitors on Fraser Island and a lovely sunny day, why was Paul the only swimmer in the ocean? This did not feet secure.

A stranger approached Rachel on the beach. Suddenly, Rachel was jumping up and down and yelling something at Paul. He couldn't tell what she was yelling, but he could make out that she was waving him to come in. Paul made a bee line for shore. "The man said that there are box jelly fish in these waters. If you get stung by one, you have 18 minutes to live", she yelled. Boy, was Paul pissed. He'd been told that these waters were safe. Later, at the resort, they were again told that no box jelleyfish were around. Yes, Tiger Sharks did breed on the westcoast of Fraser, but they normally didn't bother people there. Only on the eastcoast were they dangerous. Still, why was Paul the only person to be swimming in the ocean? Make one kind of suspicious. And kind of scared too.

The Maori greeting in New Zealand is Keyora(I might have the spelling wrong... as you readers know, I am not one to win a spelling bee contest). One normally approaches a friend and gently rubs noses with him/her. Then you draw back, smile and say,"keyora". It's very smiliar to saying Aloha in Hawaii.

Paul would normally find a pretty Maori girl and practice his keyora greeting. Lots of fun! During the Maori native dance demonstration, Paul was volunteed to come on stage and be taught the Moari greeting. Little did they know that Paul had already been practicing all day. By show time, he was an expert.

Te Ana Farm-stay
Thoughout New Zealand, the Baus chose to stay mostly at B&B's and motels. The travel guru of Frommers suggested one of the 10 best things to do in NZ was a farm stay and her #1 choice was te Ana Farm outside of Rotorua. So Te Ana Farm it was, and the hostess was Heather and the host was Bryan. Bryan was recovering from cancer surgery, so he was not very visable during our visit. His illness also meant that we would not experience one of Heather's famous dinners.

The Te Ana farm raises diary cows for milk, sheep for wool and deer for velva(soft deer antlers) and deer meat. Rachel wanted to experience milking a diary cow, so at 6:30 am we awoke(late if you want to milk the herd of cows, but early enough so that we would catch the end of milking) and headed up the hill towards the milking shed. George, the manager of the diary herd was at work with his 130 cows. He was a happy and talkative fellow who wanted to explain what he was doing, some of the idiocyncracies of some of his cows, and the economics of diary farming in NZ today.

To our surprise there was no milking stool and bucket. All of the milking was done at Te Ana by milking machine. The cows line up in a row, ten at a time, George hooks up the milker to each cows utter, and away you go. The milk is pumped into a regrigerated container on the next room. As the milk enters the cooler, it no longer belongs to Te Ana Farm, but to the diary company. Each week or so, the health department inspects the diary farms for bacteria and germs. If the bacteria level is too high, the diary farmer is penalized and the price he receives for his milk is lowered. This practice keeps the farmers on their toes, and things at the farm tend to be extra clean. Rachel did not get to pull on the tits that she was hoping for.

Anthony Talks
It's mid April and it's been a month since Grandpa and Anthony have been together. Boy, can he talk a lot. He knows so many more words that in May. He still speak in single word sentences, but it's really easy to understand him, between his words and his pointing... there's little room for error in misunderstanding.

Anthony Knows Colors
As Anthony approaches his 20 month, his volcabulary is growing rapidly and he even knows colors... blue, red green, yellow, purple. His pronounciation is not all that it should be yet, but he makes it very clear the nouns and names he has in mind.

Mommy is "Ma Ma" and Grandpa is "Pop". Cookie is "Cook-cook" and Daddy is "Da Da" Well, you get the idea.