Airport Runs

Despite the convenience of online check-ins, I still make it a point to be at the airport early for my flights.  Even when I wasn’t completely ready for my vacation to end, we got to Kahului Airport in Maui early enough for a short inter-island flight to Honolulu.  These flights arrive in a smaller Terminal 1 and since this short leg was a totally separate flight from my flight to Manila, I needed to wait for my luggage and check in again at the bigger Terminal 2.  There were a few people in my Maui flight who did the same.

When we exited the small terminal, there’s a choice to wait for an airport shuttle or just walk.  It’s an easy walk, the airport attendant said.  Armed with our luggage and carryons, five of us decided to walk instead of waiting for the shuttle.  How far could it be?

img_2990It wasn’t far but, hey, it was very humid.  I didn’t remember the walk being this far, I said to myself, referring to my experience a week ago.  Then it dawned on me that I came then from the Arrivals area which was definitely closer to Terminal 1.  And not only the Departures gates were farther, United gates were situated at the very last part of the departures area.  What luck.  We were walking from gate to gate, not ready to admit that ooops, we could have waited for the shuttle right?  It really felt like a long walk and for some strange reason we were rushing; I didn’t know their flight time but I definitely wasn’t late.

When we got to the check in gate, that’s when we smiled at each other and commented on the length of that walk. It was a good workout of sorts.  No one also said anything about why we didn’t enter the first check-in gate and just walked inside the airport for a cooler, more leisurely walk.

The connecting flight to Guam left 50 minutes late.  I already napped and watched the latest episode of Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj and we still weren’t moving.  The announcement kept repeating how our safety was their first priority and they haven’t gotten the final clearance to take off.  When we were finally taxiing, I checked and confirmed I was seated behind an exit row.  A middle-aged couple were occupying the seats.  They certainly looked like they can open the door and pave the way for evacuation.  Unless the plane explodes mid-air.  You take your chances every damn day.

When we got to Guam, my connecting flight to Manila only had five minutes left for boarding.  The plane I was on was a Boeing 777 with more or less 360 passengers so going out from the economy seats took forever (I meant longer).  I asked a flight crew if the ground crew was advised that we’re arriving late.  She checked a paper and told me there were around 60 of us connecting to Manila so they will wait for us for sure.

Even with this assurance, I still sprinted the hell out of there.  See, Guam’s airport is small.  And I only ran from Gate 8 to Gate 14.  It wasn’t long but given my poor fitness level, it felt like running from a fast zombie out to kill me.  Walkators were of little help.  I kept hearing names from my flight including mine advising us that the plane was ready to depart.  I arrived at the boarding gate panting, dizzy even.  I got to my seat, disoriented.  I was still catching my breath when someone asked me if I was at the correct seat.  I wasn’t.  I moved to the correct one and settled in.

We got to Manila 30 minutes later than scheduled.  When people started unbuckling their seatbelts and getting bags in overhead bins, I remained in my seat.  I was still tired.  I was home.  There’s no need to hurry this time.

 

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My Shopping Time is Your Me Time

You would think I will adjust my shopping habits when on vacation but turns out it’s hard. Not really about spending though; lately I learned the value of putting things on my cart and making an elimination process before falling in line to pay. It’s mostly about the length of time spent when I go shopping. The Y had a taste of it on our second to the last day in Maui and it was a tough lesson learned.

img_3040 I saw one of my favorite shops in the world (hahaha), Ross, on our second day on the island. I asked – more like told – The Y that he should drive me there before the vacation ends for my bargain shopping fix. Sneer all you like but Ross has great finds for great prices, and most of all they have sizes for people like me. And boy, their sizes 10-14 racks are plentiful to say the least.

When we got to Ross in Piilani Village I started trying to send him away because I knew he’d be bored. He insisted to come, so okay, go with me, boo! Five minutes into it, I saw him sitting by the shoes section. About 15 minutes later, I went to him again, and he looked really bored. I haven’t even covered ¼ of the small shop by then. I appreciated the desire to try but good call bringing the first volume of Umbrella Academy so he had something to spend time with. I successfully convinced him to go outside or wherever he wanted to go. I heard him talk about getting a Jamba Juice because it was super warm that day, so I knew he’d be there.

I went ahead with my sloth-like shopping pace. After deliberation and many exchange rate conversions in my head, I was done shopping for the day. I was in line at the cashier when I got a text message. “So…you done?” It had been an hour and 45 minutes. I saw him reading the comic book, and when he saw me he had his I CANNOT BELIEVE IT TOOK YOU THAT LONG face. It was funny and heartwarming and a little guilt-inducing at the same time.

“It’s not even that big!” Yes, it wasn’t. It’s barely a third the size of regular Ross shops. Think of the meme of the Math lady, and that’s how his face looked. I was cackling the whole time. “Be thankful there isn’t a bookstore beside it,” I said. And a Sephora, I forgot to add. That’s basically what happened to me in Honolulu when I was in Ala Moana Center but it worked for me because I was alone. The truth was I was just biting my tongue when I thought of sending him back to the condo to nap or whatever, and just pick me up when I was done. I didn’t want him to feel I didn’t want him tagging along. You can only send people away too many times! Turned out he was thinking of the same exact thing. “Now I know,” he said. It’s true. When I shop, it’s a good time to get your me time.

Coffee Nut M&Ms Exist, You Guys

Coffee Nut M&Ms exist and it is my favorite flavor as of late.

The Y and I were doing our grocery run in Target when I checked the chocolates aisle and didn’t find my favorite variant. He won’t believe it exists. I insisted harder. A Target staff heard me and commented, “That’s a good one.” See? I motioned to The Y.

A few steps later Target guy went back and offered to find if they have it on stock. Type type type on his console thingy. Nope, there wasn’t any.

“You can call M&M and ask to make them. I overheard you guys and thought that sounds really good.”

It turned out he wasn’t convinced either and just had to look it up. Hmm, does it not exist? What was I hoarding and eating a lot of all along?

We swung by the nearby Walmart for more items and ha, there it was, found it, a medium bag of coffee nut M&Ms!!!

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I felt so vindicated! But argh there’s no one to be smug with! The Y had his, “Hmm, wow so it does exist. Buy it then” unimpressed face. My victory face was spoiled.

Anyway, the contents of this bag kept me company for the whole week. I even brought some home. Give it a try when you can. Back home they have it in Rustan’s and Shopwise and lots of them at the PX goods section at the mezzanine of Cash & Carry.

Nalu’s and the Lucky Charm Chicken Poop

As I expected, I woke up late on my first day in Maui. Take it as if it’s the weekend where I begin my day past 9 am, I told myself.

The Y and I were starving so we did what many people do to decide where to go and get food — check other people’s opinions on the internet.

After back and forths and deliberations (we took the task very seriously), we agreed to hit Nalu’s which was a short drive from the condo we rented for the week.

Nalu’s was a good choice for brunch. Filling and tasty. Their Portuguese sausage was so good without the nauseating feeling which I normally get when stuffing pork in my mouth.

The restaurant’s in a commercial center but chickens were freely roaming the parking lot . A Nalu’s staff, armed with a bottle sprayer, chased them away which I thought was harsh. Later we learned why they did it — because the chickens walk inside the restaurant, people feed them, and often they poop on the floor, and awful for you unsuspecting diner or waitstaff who’d step on it and drag it mercilessly across the restaurant floor.

The pseudo-superstitious in me liked knowing the presence of poop. It symbolizes good luck. And it was my first full day on the island and I took that as further confirmation that it’s gonna be an amazing week.

Here We Go Again, Hawaii

img_2992Last February, I decided to book a flight to Hawaii. Oahu was fab and fun in 2018 but it’s interesting to try another island, yes? It was not a solo trip so with the other person’s concurrence, Maui it is. Let us talk about that other person later.

I like taking red-eye flights because I can make the most out of vacation days by doing it. With bags packed, I trooped to the airport on a busy Friday night armed with anxiety, excitement, and that tiny nagging fear that I left something that could blow up in my face again. Or maybe it’s still the anxiety of, as the title goes, here we go again, Hawaii.

The best flight time and cost I found was United Airlines with a short stopover in Guam. If you know me enough then you know that notwithstanding that island’s beauty, its mere mention will be a punchline directed at me because, well, reasons.

The first leg of the trip was uneventful, and stepping foot in Antonio Won Pat Airport made me smile, remembering how one can get crazy until you get over it.

The seven-hour flight to Honolulu was the same. Well, save for my ticket having meals for purchase. I had crackers and coco mango bars with me but I was convinced to buy a chorizo burger (I am tempted to use quote marks) which was blah and bland. I should have just asked for more of the maple cookies they handed out for free. That one tasted so so soooo good.

Upon arrival in Honolulu, I checked out my bag, and it was a short walk to Terminal 1 for my last short inter-island flight to Maui. Almost there! my mind and heart said, but my feet said change your footwear, please! so thank heavens for luxury of time, I got to do it and more.

I arrived in Maui a little before 10pm, was picked up to enjoy a quick dinner at Zippy’s, one of very few establishments still open at that time.

The other person was the one who picked me up. In between bites of my rice and meat (closest to a silog, sure) the anxiety wore off.  I knew it’s gonna be a great week. Let’s call that other person The Y. But let’s not tell him that yet.

Here we go again, Hawaii. Let’s make it a better one.

Truth Thursday: The SF Commuter Experience

truth thursdayTruth Thursday is a weekly feature here in my blog that talks about something that happened to me in the past or very recently that I would have otherwise kept but decided to share to you without hesitation and regrets (whaaaat).  Happy reading!

In the tradition of keeping up with my shenanigans, I was reminded by a recent conversation about my commuter experience three years ago in San Francisco.

Shortly after arriving in San Francisco, my bff and I took a bus to downtown SF to eat and meet with my niece. It’s not that I didn’t know about it, that you’re supposed to pay as soon as you get in, but since the bus was moving already, I decided to sit down and figured I’ll pay when we’re about to alight. Plus I had an experience a good two years prior but in Washington DC where people paid when they’re about to get off at their stop so I assumed it’s the same.

Assumption almost got me a ticket.

A couple of stops later, a police was in the bus and specifically asked us if we already paid. I said I haven’t and showed him two dollar bills I was clutching in my hand the whole time. He then lectured me about not paying bus fares, asked if I drive, and asked about my purpose why I was in the States. At one point he asked for my passport. I was honestly half-scared and half-embarrassed and kept thinking, This is such a hilariously horrible way to have a hit in the system. Not paying the bus fare. This is gonna show up when I apply for entry the next time and when I renew my visa. When he learned we were tourists, I began to apologize about assuming I can pay anytime during the ride. After a few minutes, he said something in Tagalog, gave me my passport back, and began telling us about his family in Manila. When we reached the stop I profusely said thank you and said sorry to the driver while I was putting the money in the machine.

We had a good laugh when we were walking to the mall. My bestfriend was silent the whole time and said she was nervous already. I knew it’s something very minor but even then I couldn’t help but shake my head at how something so little can give me the biggest of panic attacks. The next few days during that trip I made sure we didn’t ride the bus anymore.

The One with the Guy I Met on Tinder a Year Ago

This is neither a romance nor an original story.

Despite saying I will stay away from dating apps and dating sites (“with finality”, ugh), I revived some accounts and met men thru there – the most interesting of which was the biggest meltdown of 2018, but that’s not what this story is about.

A year ago, I thought that in order to move on from someone, it could help meeting other men so I did a swiping spree. This guy and I, we matched because I had not changed my location from my island vacation and he set it on the same island because he’d be assigned there in a few months. It’s an easy one to ignore if you’re into someone in the same location. We kept talking because it turned out we needed a person patient enough to listen to our attempts justifying what we feel.

Not to say we didn’t try seeing if we will click in a romantic sense; we did try but I guess we both reeked of, “I am not over someone” even when we’re in opposite sides of the world.

On my end, he was a welcome respite because God knows I have exhausted my bestfriends’ patience. He somehow understood me in the aspect of holding on despite not fully getting the one you want, even just a sliver of time, which I thought then was acceptable (hell it wasn’t and I have a different story to tell proving to myself it doesn’t, ffs). His story was more intense, complicated, and at times, toxic. But even then I saw how he’s not giving up chasing and wanting her but not in a creepy, forcible way – I had urges to tell him he’s a different kind of lovestruck stupid because there wasn’t any force on his end to begin with. He was always on the waiting end, he was always the understanding one, always putting rational explanations as to why they are good for each in many sense of the word (some examples of which are TMI but trust me on this) but why can’t they be together? When we started talking it had been Groundhog Day for them, and yet he’s still there. And it’s not as if he was given a no. He wasn’t. He still chased because he was given hope, and I read lengthy emails and messages to prove this. I know the setup can be off-putting but you know what, sometimes, talking to a stranger could help you more. It’s always a risk but blame my naivete, I also believe in people coming into your life for a reason.

I was flattered by the level of confidence he had in me. It could be because he saw through me – that I certainly don’t judge at all and that I know how it felt to wait, to painfully crawl your way in just for that little space of affection. Without saying anything more, his was the story to root for in terms of wanting to see a good future.

There was a very big development on his end by the end of the year. His assignment went on schedule and his personal life was like pieces putting themselves together. He finally got his wish: to have the woman agree to be with him. Moreover, she moved out of state and stayed with him on the island. I am so happy for him.

At one point he told me the woman knew about me. He wanted to come clean to her so my name came up as one of those he talked to while they’re not officially back together. Photos were sent and I was informally introduced to her. I assured her that her guy has been a supportive friend and I’m very happy for them. She’s okay. I even got an invite to travel back to the island and stay with them. We’re good.

Then just last week, he sent me this.

img_1980What a lovely couple they make! I keep thinking how much it took for both of them to get there. I was privy to the struggle almost at the end of the saga, and I am happy I can share this resolution.

Ever since I started talking to him I realized the universe was showing me what I deserve. He was not another “wrong” person or a rebound guy to mess with. Through him I saw that there are men who can and who will; that they exist, darnit. It took me months to finally figure it out. And once I did, I knew how to make sense of things.

We met while we were both hurting. A year later, we are both happy, although unlike him, I did not end up with whom I (thought I) wanted to be with – I forgot about about him instead.

See, good things do begin on Tinder.

Two Weeks

It’s been two weeks and nothing significant has happened;
In a way, I see it as slow,
Then I realized it is because I subscribed to the validity of an experience
By how fast it is unfolding.

On the other hand, each day a part of me is getting afraid
That something this good will lose its steam
So please, let us not get all excited and worked up.

Two weeks.
When I look at it as a slow progression, a daily ping-pong of
Good mornings, good nights, and
A hearty debate on comics universes and pop culture references,
I just think, and I consider it hard
That the last one started, escalated, then fizzled in just two weeks.
So, this one is different, and perhaps good. Better.

Then when I think how it’s starting to get too good
I  calm down and step back.
I engage very consistently but shield more of me.
That is possible.

Because frankly, sometimes I still associate a face
And that this, all of this, is the engagement I have long wanted to get
Now I am getting it, and more.
But the only thing is
It’s a different face.

Two weeks.
In a few days it will be three. Then it will be a month.
Then two. Hopefully three and more.
I always say ride it out, don’t fight it.
It applies not just to things I wanted to get over with.
It applies to experiences where I have to give opportunities
For its legs to develop and its roots to grow.

It’s been two weeks.

2018

This year, 2018, has been all kinds of interesting, eventful, hurtful, shocking, and surprising to me. In many aspects of my life, not just in one. Major shakeups and new feelings I didn’t know I can possibly feel. I don’t want to say I cannot wait for the year to be over. I want to claim this year will end on a much better note, full of redemption and new chances and open doors. Whew. Kumakapit pa ako. Andito pa. Check on your strong, funny, noisy friends when you get a chance. Baka kailangan nila ng crutch or kahit estribo lang na pwedeng hawakan in the meantime. 😦

The Big Holiday Catch Up

It’s that time of the year when we find ourselves cramping our schedule with get-togethers. In a way I view it as a blessing having friends from different sets of interests and from different times in my life. The bonds forged is still there and in some groups, new people were added to the mix to nourish the relationship. It is funny that we have 11 months in one year to do this yet we all find the necessity and push to finally do it when December comes. It doesn’t matter that it’s a hectic month to begin with – less workdays therefore more work to squeeze within business days, horrendous holiday traffic jam, gift-shopping – yet we still do it on an annual basis: furiously find common dates and mutually convenient locations to finally hangout even just for a short time. I wonder if friends ever said to each other, “Next year, let us not do it this way! Let us plan way ahead!” and actually went with that plan. Maybe it did happen to others but certainly not in my groups. I still love all of them so I really don’t mind at all. Regardless if my sleep has shortened to less than six hours a night which the mid-thirties in me really struggles with already.

img_9634One other thing I noticed is how delayed Christmas gift shopping for friends and godchildren was, not just with me but with many of my close friends. Is it the schedule? Finances? Both? Much like shopping for back to school supplies, we cannot entirely presume that people do last –minute shopping because they don’t plan well or they like to procrastinate. Sometimes – or in this economy, most times – it could be because the capacity to buy comes around the same time as well. As Miss Universe said, teach yourself the silver lining in this situation; the desire to give is still alive!

However, we really cannot discount the convenience of planning for it months ahead. I know someone who takes advantage of mall sales to buy gifts in toy stores, way before December. A toy or two, and before you know it, you have your godchildren covered, gifts-wise. It may also help to do the same when you travel. Last year we went to Guam for a long weekend and found great items at reasonable prices in Macy’s and GPO mostly for kids aka godchildren and young nieces and nephews. That was November; so by the time December came we only had to buy for a few adult friends. So yeah, planning and timing are key.

When you find yourself minding the same kind of “happy dilemma”, that is good! Sharing your presence and your affection through gifts are sufficient manifestations of generosity. You may not be able to meet everyone or give everyone gifts because you have limitations (and frankly you really do not have to) but when you are in the midst of this December holiday craziness, then perhaps that is good enough. Happy holidays, everyone!

Nice to Meat You: Adobo Sunrise, Stir-Fried Beef and Charsiew

I love meat. Fried, grilled (charred even), steamed, wrapped in pretentious edible paper, drowned in sour soup…you name it. I lean towards pork than beef most of the time. When presented with a choice, I’m getting both though.

This year I came across these dishes and I found myself coming back to them when cravings hit.

First is Early Bird Breakfast Club‘s Adobo Sunrise (P295). I’m glad it’s not called adobo flakes because when I see it I expect crunchy and flaky then when served, it’s not only not dry but chewy…it’s disappointing. This Adobo Sunrise dish has shreds of very tasty pork adobo. I like my adobo sour so this one endeared itself to me immediately. If you don’t like sour adobo, then this may not be for you. It’s one cup of meat with runny sunny side up egg and a generous serving of garlic rice. I was overwhelmed when I saw the amount of rice the first time I ordered it but by the end of the meal, they disappeared with the adobo anyway. This is always my go-to order when I visit Early Bird.

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Adobo Sunrise!

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with better color

Next is Lugang Cafe‘s Stir-Fried Beef with Chili Peppers (P320). My bestfried and I first tried it November of last year when Lugang opened in Rob Place Manila, and it has been a staple each time we visited. The contrast of the taste — salty, spicy, sweet — and the tenderness of the beef strips make me crave for rice. My only beef though (hahaha) is that the serving size is too small. That small pot right there is shallow. It’s the cheapskate in me, I guess. Plus I think beef is generally pricier?

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This next dish I only tried once but I didn’t forget it. I visited the new Podium and found their food hall The Corner Market to eat with my book club. I was looking for an ulam to pair with my organic rice (yeahhh) and found Char Express. This char siew is so good for its price tag (P138)! The meat was soft and so was the fat. The sweet glaze was just amazing. I’d gladly move closer to the Podium to have this more regularly.

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Browsing my phone for more meaty goodness. Will share some more later.

For now, nice to meat you all. (Pinipilit talaga. LOL)

Wakey Wakey Pancakey: Peanut Butter Banana and Ricotta Cheese Pancakes!

I am one of those who eat pancakes not just for breakfast so I consider it a treat each time I go to a place that serves all-day breakfast in the menu. Of the ones I tried this year, these two are the standouts:

I first tried The Kismet Cafe and Wellness Market‘s peanut butter banana pancakes last Holy Week and I instantly liked it. This small vegan restaurant in Kalayaan Avenue in Poblacion may have limited offerings in the menu but the serving size and taste definitely do not disappoint. 

This stack of pancake (P195) was so filling that it took me a long time to finish them. There’s generous peanut butter in between. I didn’t know much about vegan butter which was slathered generously on top but it made a difference, too. The syrup wasn’t too chokingly sweet. It paired well with their brewed coffee. 

The Kismet Cafe and Wellness Market is located at the ground floor of MBA Building, 5022 P. Burgos Street Corner Kalayaan Avenue, Poblacion, Makati City. They are open from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday to Sunday. 

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This stack of ricotta cheese pancakes (P420) from Little Flour blew me away when I tasted it, and my only regret that time was that it wasn’t my order. It’s very fluffy and melt-in-your-mouth great; the berry compote and mango bits on top added to the flair. I have always been partial to anything with cheese and this one really delivered.

Little Flour is Wildflour Cafe + Bakery‘s kinda little sibling in BGC and I assume this pancake is also available in Wildflour locations. 

Little Flour is located at the ground floor of World Plaza Building, 4th Avenue corner 31st Street, Bonifacio Global City. They are open from 6 a.m. to around 2 a.m. They serve all-day breakfast!

Do you like pancakes, too? What pancakes could you recommend?

Neurotic

The man I currently like so much just told me I am the most neurotic person he has ever known. It may have been in jest, I don’t know. We were in the middle of what I consider a light and chill conversation so I didn’t think he meant it in a pejorative manner. I should be offended, and I was, but only for a bit. I took it to mean I was overanxious and oversensitive (he also told me this, remember?). If he meant it differently than that, I really don’t care because really, what can I do? Disagree and throw back something equally offensive? Fifteen years ago I may have fired back immediately. But nah.

It is hard enough to encapsulate the feelings I contend with on a daily basis, so I refrain (sometimes, unsuccessfully) from reacting defensively whenever words like that get thrown in my face. Sometimes when I have processed it fully, a part of me questions the level of self-respect I have. Do I really just allow people to trample me like that? I mean not just in the instance above; there were incidents in the past where friends have nudged me to stand up for myself and have the dignity to say something or walk away. To be honest, unless it’s blatantly a gross violation, I can be dense and…meh. I just hope it really isn’t reflective of how much I value myself as a person. I would like to think I value myself highly, sometimes a lot that I have this innate ability to make everything about me (one of my guy bestfriends can attest to this!), but it may be healthy to reevaluate this stance once in a while.

More Honolulu Goodness – Part 3

Halfway through my short trip and I can say I already got the hang of it — I was waking up on island time, my body and the weather already reached an understanding, and I was raring to tick off items in my to-do and to-visit list.

DAY ONE-5

Woke up early on a Monday to go to Diamond Head! The experience is detailed here.

When I returned to Waikiki, I bought lunch at Steak Shack.

28ccba2f-b1a4-43ef-9a32-137a640315f3Steak Shack is a small food stand facing the beach at the Fort DeRussy Beach Park. They serve all-day steak plates — as low as $8 for a hefty meal. I bought a 10-oz steak plate to go which came with a generous serving of rice and salad. Didn’t manage to take a photo because I demolished it as soon as I went back to the room. I was so hungry after the trail hike and remembered I barely had anything for breakfast. I liked the steak plate moreso because I excessively put ranch dressing in it. I paid $14 I think for the entire thing. You can view photos contributed by tourists on TripAdvisor if you want to see how they look like.

I rested almost the whole afternoon and booked my tour ticket for Pearl Harbor that I planned to take on my last full day on the island. A little after sunset I took a short bus ride to Ward Village to check it out.

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When I got there I was surprised by how freakishly quiet it was. It was a Monday and I was expecting there would at least be people from work seeing that there were office spaces within the complex. It’s almost empty. But seeing that two shops (!!!) were right by the pedestrian lane across Ala Moana Boulevard, I spent more than hour in both shops, officially breaking my self-imposed rule to not go shopping in discount stores on this trip. #noregrets

I rode the wrong bus going back and I found myself in Ala Moana Center again. Decided to just grab dinner there and walk around a few minutes more before heading back. I had lots of steps per my pedometer and been to a Hawaii tourist spot so it was a good day.

DAY ONE-6

It was the chillest of all my days with practically nothing planned. I went out of the room a little after 9 am to get breakfast. I was in the mood for laksa but since I got there I haven’t seen (or probably I managed to stay away from) any restaurant possibly serving such so I was open to eating anything. On my way to Royal Hawaiian Center to participate in a free outdoor hula class, I found one soup kiosk in its food hall.

I decided not to join the hula class after breakfast. I walked around the center and proceeded to the beachfront of Hilton Hawaiian Village for a mid-morning soak.

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This is a bronze statue of Princess Bernice Pauahi, the great-granddaughter of Kamehameha I, Hawaii’s first monarch.

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Not a fan of rubber in general (let’s not start LOL) but hey these stuff…interesting.

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Pinoy sorbetes represent!

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This was an unplanned shot while I was getting a tan and I flipped my huge body with my phone in hand.

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Since I liked Funko Pops, it’s not weird for me to travel with one so I can shoot it instead of myself.

As I am doing this update I realize how lousy my photos were. Totally not representative at all of how amazing each nook and corner of Waikiki are. You know what that tells me? There’s always another time to go back and make up for it. But let us reserve that plan in another blog post.

I was still full from the big bowl of laksa I had so after staying at the beach for almost two hours, I went to Target and Ross in Ala Moana Center to finally buy bilins and pasalubong for the people back home. I scored quite a few freebies that added to my pasalubong list thanks to Fil-Am aunties manning many stores, particularly in Honolulu Cookie Company!

DAY ONE-7

That’s my tweet when I woke up that day! My big to-do then was Pearl Harbor then cocktails at sunset. That’s it. So after a quick breakfast I took a bus from Hobron Lane going to Pearl Harbor.

The entire Pearl Harbor tour including my travel time to and back took me almost five hours. I left the stuff from the tour, freshened up a bit, and rushed to the other end of Waikiki Beach to catch my last sunset on that trip.

I settled in Royal Hawaiian Hotel and ordered their classic mai tai with taro chips and hummus. The price was steep for me but considering the location and #treatyoself nga di ba, it’s worth it. It was only one drink but I was tipsy kaagad so I walked it off back to the apartment.

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Will always carry a torch for Manila’s sunset but this one was pretty amazing, too.

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After last-minute packing, I made sure that my last night in Honolulu, at least for this first time, was fun and crazy interesting. And it was. The next day it was mostly about the straight flight back to Manila.

Overall, ahhh, it will take me a while to get over Hawaii. When you get a chance, please do visit the island. Make memories, make ’em darn good ones. The island is worth it.

Mahalo, Hawaii!!! Until next time!

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Diamond Head Day Hike!

On my fifth day in Honolulu, on a Monday morning no less, I started the day hiking the crater of Diamond Head. It is a very common must-do for tourists because of its proximity to Waikiki and that it’s a short trek for such an amazing view.

From Waikiki I took Bus #23 plying the Hawaii Kai – Sea Life Park route. I went down at the 18th Avenue + Diamond Head Road stop after about 20 minutes and right there at the opposite end of the crosswalk was the Diamond Head entrance.

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This is not yet the official entrance to Diamond Head. The concrete trail has a very clear path that even if you arrive by foot, you won’t be lost. It is common for cars or shuttles/buses to pass you by. After a semi-steep walk of about 5 minutes, you will reach the Kahala lookout.

The next two photos are views from the Kahala Lookout. You can continue walking but for me who did not have any warmup before this, the lookout was a perfect excuse to catch my breath (tipong 5 minutes semi-uphill pa lang yun ha; way to go, Juday).

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When you are ready to begin your Diamond Head trek, you’ll see this tunnel leading further to the main entrance. Corregidor feels!

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After the tunnel, there’s the small ticket station where you can pay the entrance fee of $1. It’s also where a few foods stalls, souvenir shops, restrooms, and visitor’s center are.

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Beautiful. This is at the foot of the trail. If you look closely you can make out the ridges at the top. That’s the actual trail. It’s not that high.

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One more shot about 10 minutes into hiking. You can see more clearly the trail at the top.

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Now this is something very noticeable when you reach a certain altitude in Diamond Head: STAIRS! Lots of them!

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Yup, more stairs! But this is just one way, there’s a separate way going down.

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Did I mention stairs??? This one is the last one to reach the “summit”. There’s an alternate trail at the side which was what I took going up. I took this stairs going down.

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Almost there!

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Hello, Waikiki!

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A famous landscape shot from the crater.

My verdict of Diamond Head? It is relatively easy and if you have time to spare, give it a try! The bus ride from Waikiki took 20 minutes, the entire trek from the entry point to the summit/top of the crater took me 45 minutes, photo/video-taking included. Take note that I was not fast. As I said I barely had physical preparation and was really walking slowly on my way up. Gee, there were kids and elderly people (mostly Japanese) who were overtaking me!

At the visitor’s center, you can avail the audio tour if you wish. I saw there were docents, too. But the hike’s relatively easy to follow and can be absolutely explored alone.

Aside from the view, there’s a structure which used to be the fire control station where you can explore for free. It involved crouching to fit and walk inside so I passed on it. There’s also an option to have a personalized certificate made stating you made it on top of Diamond Head. I heard it was $12 each.

For the essentials, as common short dayhikes require, have your sunblock and hydration ready. Wear comfortable shoes. It can be windy at the top so hold on to articles of clothing that could be easily swept away like caps/hats and shawls. It may be best to go there when it opens at 6 a.m. so it won’t be too harsh on the skin. I got there a little after 11 a.m. so it’s really very hot already. Or maybe go in the afternoon? Although the park accepts visitors until 6 p.m., permission to hike ends at 4:30 p.m. so plan your visit accordingly.

It took me a shorter time going down mainly because I wasn’t taking photos anymore. Overall, I enjoyed that morning, and if ever I would travel with someone who has not been there, I’d be glad to accompany him or her. After Diamond Head though, I wish to visit other volcanic craters in Oahu like Koko Head and the Punchbowl Crater, and of course the infamous Ha’iku Stairs or Stairway to Heaven!

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That Honolulu Trip – Part 2

Aaaand my island adventures continue. Note that I am writing this nine months after they happened. The nostalgia and the longing bite me hard. I really should have finished writing this sooner, as in as soon as I was flying back home.

DAY ONE-3

Still not waking up early, and a part of me kind of regretted a huge chunk of the morning wasted. But what can I do, I was on vacation, so forcing myself’s way below my list talaga.

After breakfast I felt like going to the beach again for a mid-morning soak, so I took the bus (yay, finally) and stepped off the stop nearest to the Duke Kahanamoku Statue. It was a bit on the other end of the shore where I baked myself burnt the previous day. Maiba naman. Not sure if it’s because it’s a Saturday but more people were on the beach. It was surreal seeing different people enjoying themselves under the sun. No drama intended but the feeling na you’re traveling solo but you’re not alone…that kind of feels.

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From Target the previous day: Quaker rice crispies (flavored ampao, in short LOL), some pretzels, and blueberries. Then cranberry juice! This is something I would not spend time buying and putting together back home but as they say, necessity is the mother of all inventions.

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Told you, nice view.

After an hour at the beach I walked to Food Pantry in Kuhio Avenue to buy more essentials, and oddly enough unti-unting pasalubong, and also grabbed lunch from HI-Steaks.

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HI-Steaks ranks high on Yelp and compared to similar restaurants in the area, they serve very affordable yet hefty meals. After buying groceries, I bought my lunch to-go.

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This is their original steak and BBQ chicken combo ($11 more or less). I opted for the chimichurri sauce which I was given generously. Look at that brown rice and greens to complete the ensemble! If I wasn’t in a hurry to make it to my next stop, I would have taken my time with it.

In the afternoon it surprisingly rained, lakas makasira ng sleeveless romper outfit because of the lamigin me. However I still went ahead to Leonard’s Bakery to try their malasadas.

From the nearest bus station from my apartment I took Bus #13 and got off in front of Leonard’s. Other buses like #1 and #9 also have dropoffs near Leonard’s but not as near as #13’s, so that’s something to consider. Other people, such as the guy I met while there (aka who chuckled while I was hilariously Boomerang-ing my malasadas), actually walked to the bakery from Waikiki Beach! Going back to Waikiki, take the same bus number at the station in front of Safeway in Kapahulu which was a block away from Leonard’s.

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Anyway, malasadas. It is basically deep-fried dough sprinkled with granulated sugar. Think bicho-bicho back home. Leonard’s offers other varieties like the cinnamon-sprinkled ones, and some coated with li hing or Chinese dried plum. They have malasada puffs with filling, too. I tried their original and cinnamon-sprinkled bread. They’re okay. I mean, it’s soft on the inside and it was still warm when I got my order so it’s good. I ordered a lot for one so I ended up eating it for breakfast and merienda the next day.

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I accidentally deleted the photos of my Leonard’s trip save for my IG stories so all I got now our screenshots. See, parang tinapay lang na may asukal di ba?

It started raining again on my way back to Waikiki so I just hit the mall and went to B&N again. Still didn’t do a lot but I was happy with my day.

DAY ONE-4

Finally, I was able to wake up early enough to enjoy the first half of the day. I spent it inside the room to enjoy my breakfast with a view. Cannot complain.

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Leftover malasadas, cranberry juice, and a banana. If you know me well enough, you can tell this was very new to me.

I walked a few blocks around the area and began to feel feverish. I knew it was days of wonky sleeping and getting rained on. I rested until late afternoon and walked to find a place to eat rice. You know that very Pinoy feeling na you need to eat something before taking your meds and “eat something” means kanin and ulam? So off I went walking along the shore. It was a very good afternoon. 

I made a premature left turn going to the Royal Hawaiian Center and found Pau Hana Market. It’s a small lot with food trucks. I heard it’s closed now. I hope they just moved elsewhere. I planned on getting the famous garlic shrimp but they weren’t ready and I was hungry. I chose Hoaloha’s fried chicken meal of the day.

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Chicken, lots of carbs, fruits. For a hungry stomach it was quite a feast. The beer-battered taste of the chicken was ordinary. The fresh pineapple juice was a delight. I shelled about $30 for this late meal. I devoured it while i placed a quick video call to my mom and watched about half an episode of Hawaii Five-O. Hihihi, “for the feels”.

I walked a lot to make up for the heavy meal. Before I knew it it’s dark outside so i just went back to the room to rest some more. I was reviewing my photos and I was convinced I didn’t take plenty of shots for a tourist. But you know what, I still remember them all in my head. I don’t know how much longer I can retain them in but right now they’re all vivid. The place really made a mark in me.

Three more days to go!

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Hawaii, Why, Why (Why Not) – Part 1

That’s got to be one of the most forced titles ever. But hey, let us still talk about it. Because why not?

One of my bestfriends is traveling to Honolulu in a few weeks and I cannot help but envy that she’s going, so I am pushing her way all suggestions that I possibly can so I can live vicariously through her in the meantime.

At this point I would like to write about a few things I did while on the amazing island. Granted, part of what made it amazing were a few experiences that are too personal, but man, taking that away, the trip was still many levels of awesome.

What did I do while in Honolulu?

DAY ONE

As I mentioned in my first round-up, I got to Honolulu mid-morning of Thursday, after 10 hours of a smooth and uneventful flight (the best kind) from Manila.

I rented an Airbnb room and my host allowed me to check in as soon as I arrived in the building before lunch. I wasn’t jetlagged, wasn’t sleepy, but suddenly very hungry and the creature of habit in me walked to Ala Moana Center to eat.

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Taken at the Ala Wai Canal on the way to Ala Moana Center. There were buses from my airbnb to the mall but I chose to walk because per the map it was a simple inverted L route ergo very easy to follow. Took me longer but it was worth it. I was there barely an hour pa lang but I felt that I was gonna like it and boy, I was right.

Ala Moana Center is said to be largest open-air shopping center in the world (not too clear on the ‘largest’ and ‘open-air’ bits because from a Pinoy window shopper’s point of view. . .using MOA or SM North or SM Cebu as references. . .anyway, irrelevant). I could have taken the bus but I opted to walk so I can familiarize myself with the area. If you have traveled with me to any U.S. location you will know that my default first food is always orange chicken-honey walnut shrimp-white rice from Panda Express.

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Tourist comfort food, for the win. I have had this same combo each time I touched down any U.S. city. When not very hungry days later, I take away the shrimp, but really, when all else doesn’t cut it, my palate always goes back to Panda Express. Tignan natin when they open here in Manila if it’s gonna be the same.

As this mall is huge I went around, shopped a few, and settled at, well, you guessed it…Barnes & Noble. Alam mo yun, I knew I just arrived and had seven days to go but #priorities and #addiction, so yeah. Two hours went by too fast and with a plan to catch my first sunset in Waikiki, I left B&N with quite a few loot, then I headed to Target for my essentials.

As a solo traveler who has ‘starvation’ among her top fears in life, I always troop to the nearest supermarket or grocery because you’re surely saving money on food this way. Grocery shopping is fun for me, too, and one more cheap thrill which we don’t have yet: self-checkout.

The island of Oahu in general is survivable for non-drivers like me because they have an efficient transport system. With plenty of bus routes it could get confusing though, so one tip I have is to download the transportation app (if available), bus map, or anything related to it, and of course connect to Maps to know how to get to your destination without losing time.

With my bookish time and grocery time — both times well-spent — I missed the sunset. I still walked (and walked and I mean walked) both in the dim light by the shore (only those with restaurants fronting the beach were well-lit) with muni-muni in between, to the people-filled Kalakaua Avenue.

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This was around 8 pm already. I missed the sunset and the fireworks display by Hilton Hawaiian Village every Friday. It wasn’t as crowded for a Friday. I took a leisurely walk para sulit ang mga pinaplano ko nang kainin that night.

I walked back to the apartment which was a good 15-minute walk along Kalakaua Avenue. It was ok, felt safe, there were people from work, tourists, and joggers sharing the sidewalk with me so it was good. I ordered food to-go from Tony Roma’s because it was conveniently in the way. I cannot feel my feet when I got back to my apartment but it was really fun for a first day!

DAY ONE-2

I woke up at 11 am because my body clock was still adjusting. I had breakfast in the room and walked the strip of Ala Moana Boulevard to reach Olive and Oliver.

Olive & Oliver is a small coffee bar and boutique that serves coffee to-go. Their coffee drinks are classic and no-frills; they come in artsy cups like the ones above. If you search for recommended coffee places in Waikiki, they usually made the list so I was glad it was on my walking route when going to the beach.

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Ah, Waikiki. There’s also the Diamond Head crater making this canvas more beautiful. The waves were a bit rough the afternoon I came but it was also warm and sunny so it wasn’t as scary. I failed to capture a panoramic video. I did it without a camera though and until now I feel it as if I was still there. Ang drama ano, but really, that’s how it affected me when I was there. Dahil yata mahal pamasahe kaya ninamnam ko ng bongga. Chos.

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The other side. You can see the Ala Moana area and Hilton Hawaiian Village. This photo remains my wallpaper until today. Didn’t capture the beauty of Waikiki Beach, I swear.

It was a bright and sunny day so I took lots of photos para sa obligatory IG na ganyan, then I sprawled in front of Fort deRussy for my first taste of Waikiki beach.

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I stayed until I was able to witness the sunset.

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On the way back to my apartment, the classic black and white stripes lured me in. This was a very busy street and the shop was easy to miss but I didn’t. Bought a few essentials (essentials daw o). Meron pala sila sa Ala Moana Center which I missed the day before.

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On my way back to my apartment (ang tibay di ba, hindi pa ako nag-bubus ulit), I went to Maguro Brothers, a popular hole in the wall that serves delicious poke bowls. They open from 5 pm to until after midnight. They are situated unassumingly along Lewers Street, so much so that I passed it the first time. In my tired and nervous English I managed to throw in the “It’s my birthday!” card (though it was a day after, what a hustler) so the guy at the counter smiled and added more spicy mayonnaise, which if you also know me enough, something that I like my food to be swimming in. It was a big win for me.

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So yeah, back in the room, with amazing view of Manoa, was my happy dinner. You can see my leftover chips and artichoke dip from the night before. My room doesn’t have a TV which wasn’t a big deal to me. The wifi was strong so I just watched Def Comedy Jam 25 on iFlix and some Parks and Recreation episodes. Simple forms of happiness, I tell you.

A day and a half, done! See the next post for days three to seven!

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Shoestring Adventures (A Teaser)

I am off to a different continent with one of my bestfriends in a few days. To say that I have prepared for this well won’t be true. I may write about the trip upon our return, and I’m sure highlights will be in my Instagram stories, but at this point  I’m practically not ready in many aspects. The only thing good to go is myself; as in the body and the willingness to explore.  Maybe for now that would suffice.

I may feel that it’s really happening when I’m almost there. One of the first phrases I need to learn and will probably use particularly when dining is “No onions, please” but in Spanish. I’ll then take it from there.

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