Thursday, December 29, 2011

U.S.S. Missouri BB-63 - Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

The USS Missouri BB-63 is a symbol of American freedom.  Now docked at Pearl Harbor (well, technically at Ford Island) tourists can tour the battleship for a small fee. 

For those unfamiliar with the USS Missouri, it was where the Japanese surrendered during WWII.  There are some famous photos of the surrender on the deck of the battleship that have become important iconic images imprinted in the minds of many ...

I went to a commissioning ceremony where I had a chance to take some up close photos for free! Here are some photos of the USS Missouri

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Japan, Here I Come!

One of my toughest semesters of grad school is finally over!  I made it out alive.  It was only a couple of weeks ago, when I was staying up till 4:00 a.m. trying to finish term papers, while I got through the day eating snacks.  I lost 5 pounds!

While I finished one of my toughest semesters, it's not quite over yet.  I have one more semester to go before graduation.  However, I won't be finishing my degree in Hawaii. 

My final semester of grad school will be in Japan!  I was welcomed to teach English at a university in Nagoya, where I will complete my practicum.

I'm so excited!!  I'm so grateful to my teacher for telling me about this opportunity.  I know that I will learn so much.  It will truly enhance my future.

The best part of all is that I'm not going alone.  My friend and roomate will be coming with me! 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My First Acupuncture Treatment

Today, I fulfilled another one of my 101 in 1001 goals.  I experienced my first acupuncture treatment!  I always wanted to try acupuncture and I'm glad I did because it was a unique experience.

For my first treatment, I let the acupuncturist know about my headaches and any other concerns.  He checked my pulse and looked at my tongue, which determines one's general health.  According to the acupuncturist, I was tired and dehydrated based on his observations.  He was right because the night before, I had a miserable headache and didn't eat anything or drink much since the day before.  I could barely sleep too.

Next, I prepared to have needles placed on both of my ears and one on my hand.  I was nervous because I hate pain, but thankfully it didn't hurt.   Once the needles were in, the acupuncturist pressed certain pressure points on my body and let me relax.   

The acupuncturist returned again and started a cupping treatment on my back.  Since it was my first treatment, it was left on for only 8-10 minutes to ensure my skin could handle the pull.  Luckily, my skin could handle it, although I am now wondering how long it will take for these red cup marks to disappear off of my back.

The cupping treatment was a little sore.  I didn't want to talk, move, cough, or anything because I could feel the cups pull.  I merely closed my eyes and tried to relax.  I'm glad I didn't see what cupping looked like before experiencing it. I was already feeling nervous and seeing these gruesome photos might have made me queasy.  Just kidding! However, after experiencing the treatment, I would try it again.  It's supposed to take out toxins from one's body.  It wasn't bad at all ...

At the end of the treatment, I felt extremely relaxed!  It was such a great experience.  I look forward to my next appointment since I have two more treatments to go!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

My First Football Game

I finally went to my first football game.  I never liked watching sports, but I had such a good time at the game between the University of Hawaii and New Mexico that I wanted to return. 

I never imagined I would actually enjoy a football game.  It was so exciting and fun.  I cheered like crazy and stuffed myself silly with junk food.  Who can resist kettle corn and nachos?

I have been to the Aloha Stadium while other football games have played, but I was one of the beer servers, trying to raise money for school.  Now, I've finally experienced what it is like to be a spectator.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Soul - Honolulu, Hawaii

In 2011, Soul received a Hale Aina award for being one of the best restaurants in Hawaii.  After eating there a couple of days ago on a whim, I walked away knowing I would return again. 

Chicken and waffles in Hawaii?  Believe me.  It exists.  I was shocked, but more than happy to indulge in chicken and the most amazing waffles, smothered in a buttery maple syrup.  I would come back to eat the waffles and to try some of the other dishes, but I will be honest.  The chicken was greasy!  You might want to take some extra napkins to blot out the oil unless you get lucky and have the perfect fried chicken.

I also had jambalaya, which was full of seafood with the perfect amount of spice.  And of course, I've been a sweet tea addict since first trying it almost 10 years ago, so I knew I had to have a glass of it with my meal.  It was really great! 

If you are in the mood for southern/soul food or if you want to try something a little different, I would recommend trying Soul.  It's located at 3040 Waialae Avenue across from City Mill.  Parking is tight there and it may be tough to find, so good luck!

I can't say that I know what real southern food tastes like since I have heard that Soul is infused with pacific-rim flavors, but I did enjoy the food.  My first experience there has been positive so far and I would like to try the restaurant again. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Coffee or Tea? Honolulu, Hawaii

Since starting graduate school, I have been obsessed with milk tea, a great late night drink that keeps me energized as I tackle my studies. 

One place I enjoy drinking milk tea is at Coffee or Tea?

Coffee or Tea? is a Taiwanese owned cafe that offers a variety of coffee and tea selections.  One of my favorite drinks is the Jasmine Green Tea Milk Tea, which I was obsessed with for a while.  I especially love to drink milk tea with tapioca pearls (bubbles) or with tea jelly.  There's nothing like tea jelly! 

There's also dessert for those of you with a sweet tooth.  There are some cakes, as well as shaved ice.  I love their shaved ice, especially the one that comes with tea jelly - of course. 

If you want to try a new tea place, I would recommend Coffee or Tea?  The cafe is located at McCully Shopping Center.  However, as a heads-up, it's a cash only kind of place.  Also, one of the cashiers has a strong personality that some may interpret as rude depending on one's culture, but try not to take it personally. 

It is a great place to enjoy coffee, tea, or simple desserts that will put a smile on your face, especially when you need a great drink to keep you relaxed and refreshed.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Teddy Bear World - Waikiki, Hawaii

Teddy Bear World in Waikiki is a kid's dream.  There are teddy bears everywhere from the moment one walks into the shop below and even more upstairs at the museum. 

I wasn't sure what to expect when entering Teddy Bear World, but I thought it would be a lot of fun to explore. 

Of course, Teddy Bear World isn't free.  It's in Waikiki! However, the cost to enter isn't that outrageous.  But if you think it is, you can always take pictures with the free teddy bears in the gift shop.

What do you get to see in Teddy Bear World?  take a glimpse into the museum ...

Teddy Bear World has a musuem upstairs with numerous teddy bear displays.  But what I found most interesting is the numerous displays of teddy bears dating back from the 1920s and 1930s!  I could tell those teddy bears were used a lot because they barely had fur left.  But it was interesting to see how the teddy bear had evolved into what it is today.  Teddy bears today are much cuter!

At the end of the teddy bear musuem tour, there's a teddy bear concert.  The Elvis teddy bear sings to the crowd.  It is really cute and something that any kid would enjoy.

Iolani Palace - Honolulu, Hawaii

The last time I visited Iolani Palace, I was an undergraduate student, taking a required course on Hawaii.  I learned so much from the visit and always planned to return.

During the week, I had an opportunity to visit again for free since I was leading a "tour group."  It was an excting adventure. 

After walking to Iolani Palace, everyone watched a movie on the history of Hawaii's monarchy.  It isn't easy quickly gathering everyone to get their tickets, store their bags, and to meet scheduled times at the palace's theater, but we tried our best.  As quickly as the movie started, it ended rather abruptly because we had to get everyone ready for the next part of the tour - the audio tour in the palace.

Everyone is required to wear shoe coverings to enter the palace.  Then, staff members at the palace help tourists set-up their audio devices.  Afterward, one is free to roam the palace, which is an eye opening experience.  Too bad no pictures are allowed inside the palace, but it is for a good reason. 

According to the audio device, Iolani Palace had electricity before the White House.  Also, royalty from around the world visited Iolani Palace.  It was also interesting to hear how each room had been used to welcome these guests.  Inside the palace, it is amazing, but there is also sadness, as one learns how Queen Liliuokalani was imprisoned in her room for 5 years, where she was only allowed to receive 3 meals a day.  She also knitted an impressive quilt that can still be seen in the palace today. 

It was a great tour and one that I would recommend for tourists who enjoy history. 

After the tour ended, we rounded all of the people in our group.  However, one of them was missing, so I searched the palace with a friend to find her.  She was no where to be found!  She disappeared, most likely to the beach according to other group members.  It was a fun tour, but being "tour guide" for the day can be quite interesting ...  It was a great day and I was ready for a nap.

If you want to see more of the area, walk across the street and there will be more to explore!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ali'i Kai Catamaran - Honolulu, Hawaii

I can now cross off another "to do" on my 101 in 1001 list since I've now watched a sunrise and sunset in two interesting ways.

In Indonesia, I had a chance to watch the sunrise at Mount Bromo.  (Of course, I didn't see much since the clouds covered most of the sun, but it was an amazing experience).   In Hawaii, I saw the sunset on the Ali'i Kai Catamaran cruise in Honolulu, which was also spectacular.  
Although the tickets are as much as $73 dollars per person to have dinner on the Ali'i Kai Catamaran, I was able to take advantage of a great "buy one, get one free" discount.  It was the beginning of a beautiful day and an unforgettable night with friends and family. 

I have been on the Ali'i Kai Catamaran once before when I won free tickets during a work place party.  It was just as good then, as it is now.

From the window of the catamaran, one can see the beautiful view of Aloha Tower.  The view becomes even more incredible as the catamaran breaks away from the harbor and nears Diamond Head.

Before the sun sets, everyone is ushered to the buffet line. The buffet line looks much larger than it actually is and there aren't many selections, but the food is decent.  It's an all you can eat buffet, but be warned that the food is also taken away rather quickly to make room for the dancers who will use the space for the show that follows the dinner. 

There's also a delicious cheesecake for dessert to enjoy as the sun sets.  I loved the cheesecake.

There's also entertainment.  The dancers not only dance the hula, but show off dances from Tahiti and New Zealand.

During the performance, people are encouraged to dance.  It is one of the best parts of the catamaran cruise. One man, a Texan, was made fun of as he tried to dance the Tahitian hula.  Of course, it was all in fun and for great entertainment!

In the end, more than half the people on the catamaran danced.  It was a great night and a lot of fun.  I didn't want to get off the boat.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Koko Head - Revisited

On Thursday, I went for an early morning hike at Koko Head.  I woke up early to hike at 7 a.m. and it was completely worth it!

The first time I went to Koko Head, I nearly died.  It was hot outside with the glaring sun in my face.  I could barely hike and needed to take constant breaks.  I also noticed a ton of people resting on the side of the path because they were out of shape.   I was one of them!

After hiking at Koko Head for the first time, it was much easier to return and hike again though.  I had been working out and it made a difference.  However, my poor friend who came with me to Koko Head nearly died.  She stopped 1/4 of the way because she felt dizzy and wanted to faint. The first time is always the hardest!

This time, however, Koko Head was a worthwhile challenge.  The sun wasn't beaming yet and there was a slight breeze, which helped make the hike that much more enjoyable.  There were hardly any people around too!

I thought the hike was much easier than times before, but I still struggle with one part of the hike. I'm afraid of heights and there is one section of the hike where there is no ground below you.  It isn't too high up, but enough for someone like me to want to crawl with my hands and feet to get through it.  Next time, I'll have to take the alternate path to avoid it, which is supposedly to the right of the trail.

It felt wonderful to finally finish hiking Koko Head.  My legs were shaky afterward because of the strenuous activity, but I felt recharged.

If you plan to go to Koko Head, I would recommend an early morning or late afternoon visit.  Also, do not forget to wear sunscreen.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Wahiawa Pineapple Run 2011

Today I accomplished another goal on my 101 in 1001 list.  I completed the Wahiawa Pineapple Run 2011!  Now, I can cross this event off.

I had such a crazy, yet amazing day.  In the morning, my best friend and I were running late to the Wahiawa Pineapple Run, frantically searching for nearby parking.  Luckily, she was able to squeeze my car past two other cars, so that we could park in an open area. I can only imagine what others may have been thinking, as I tried to direct her, yelling "watch out for the mirror!" and other cautionary notes.  For next time, I will know to show up at the run much earlier because parking is hard to find.

After parking, we began heading towards the starting line with only minutes to spare.  I was surprised by the amount of people at the run.  I thought there would be many more people, but it seemed like a small-scale event.  I was so glad to have participated in it though because the money is for a good cause and you get a free pineapple in the end. 

While running, I thought it was great to run by many of the places I've only driven past for years.  I haven't been in the area for a long time and felt like I would have an opportunity to experience a neighboring town again.  It was even better running in the morning, towards pineapple fields, while heading down hills with a mountain view.  Then, we ran past a waterfall (man-made, yet beautiful none the less!) and lake Wilson, which I've only seen from a distance.

As I was dying to finish after miles of running, I knew the end would soon be near when I was pleasantly surprised by my best friend who came back to look for me, so we could run at the end together (even though she had already finished 10 minutes earlier!).  It helped motivate me to finish the run faster, even though I felt dizzy after not exercising for weeks.  In the end, it was worth every moment though and I'm so glad to have finished sooner than expected.

After crossing the finish line, it was time to cool down, get some water, a banana, and of course, my pineapple! 

For those of you interested in running in the Wahiawa Pineapple Run, it is a lot of fun!  It is a smaller-scale run, but you'll have an opportunity to run in the "country" and explore a new town, quite different than Honolulu.  Also, the money is for a good cause and it is worth waking up early for, especially once you cross the finish line and receive your pineapple.  Where else can you experience such a unique run?

The potential downside for some runners may include not being close enough to pineapple fields.  Also, you have to be careful because although there are cones and police officers on duty, some cars can still be quite aggressive.

I hope that next year, you might consider running in the Wahiawa Pineapple Run.  The experience itself is worth waking up for, so sign-up next May and join in! You'll be sure to enjoy this unique run.


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