The Barbalas family may have a Greek surname and be American nationals, but they are China veterans, having lived in Suzhou, Shanghai and Hong Kong (where sons Jonathan, 15, and David, 12, were born) for more than 15 years combined. Mike is the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing, Lorina has a background in chemistry, and their boys attend ISB. The family has been in Beijing since January of 2006 and has already sourced some solid family favorites.
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Place for Weekend Fun
The boys love Startrooper Laser Tag at Wangjing.
We love to travel to Swtizerland to go skiing at Christmas time. We go to Saas Grund or Saas Fee in the south, and meet up with friends from Hong Kong.
Way to Burn Off Steam
The boys play tennis and pingpong or ride their bikes. Or they play balloon volleyball. They made up this game – basically, they play volleyball with a balloon inside the house.
Pancakes on Saturdays. We make them at home. We have a recipe we make up overnight, so we can just put them in the pan in the morning ñ perfect if you are not a morning person!
Hong Qiao Market. This is Game Boy and PSP paradise.
Good Report Card Award
A hongbao (red envelope) from Grandma!
Restaurant for a School Night
Michael’s Place in Shunyi. The kids love the pizza and calzone.
Beijing Snack Food
We love jianbing, jiaozi, dabing. There’s a jianbing guy who comes with a cart around Pinnacle Plaza sometimes!