Sunday, January 30, 2011

I Love China Town Festival - Honolulu, Hawaii

On Saturday, I spent time with some friends at the I Love China Town Festival.  The event is held in China Town in celebration of Chinese New Year.  

The festival began on Friday and ended Saturday night.  There was entertainment, food, a parade, and more to ring in 2011 -The Year of the Rabbit.  It was my first time at the festival and I'm so glad I went.  It was a great opportunity to experience a Chinese New Year celebration in the heart of China Town. 

One of the best parts of the festival was the food.  I over indulged.  It was hard not to with all of the delicious fried food around.  The price of each item was also very reasonable.  I have been to many other festivals and the food booths at the I Love China Town Festival were unbelievable. 

I had a chance to try many new foods too.  I now know exactly what I want to eat the next time I visit China Town, which will be very soon.

Although the food was good, I can't say I loved the drink I purchased.  It was $3.00 and tasted like a seaweed syrup concoction.  I had to carry it around the entire time since my friend said she would drink it later, although it is currently sitting in my fridge. 

I got a lot of questions about the drink as I walked around.  People wanted to know what type of drink it was since it looked like an aquarium inside.  It is a drink I would not recommend (for most people at least).

The crowds were insane at the festival. I  love people, but not when we are smashed together like sardines and everyone becomes pushy.

The parade was beautiful to watch, although it was challenging to see anything from behind the crowds.  There were people everywhere! Fortunately, a nice police officer let me take photos in front of the crowds, in one of the most perfect spots.

Isn't this cute?  These girls were watching the lion dancers perform at the festival.

Happy New Year!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Sophie by Mem Fox

In need of a good children's book?

Recently, my teacher shared a book called Sophie by Mem Fox with us.  It inspired me to want to collect children's books, so that I can use them in the future since i'm studying to be an ESL/EFL teacher.

The book is about a girl named Sophie who is not born yet.  But once she is born, her grandfather takes care of her.  They love each other very much.  But as he begins to age, she begins to take care of grandpa just as he had done for her, until he passes away.  Although sad, the cycle of life continues once Sophie has a child of her own and the story continues ...

As my teacher read the text and showed us the illustrations, I thought to myself, "I don't like where this story is going..." because it made me want to cry.  I can't deny not having a tear in my eye.  But it is a powerful story that may be useful for many children, especially if they are dealing with a similar situation in their own lives.

If you ever see this book, please read it!  Then, you will know exactly what I am talking about.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Graduate School - Semester 2

I cannot believe that I am already in my second semester of graduate school!  Today, classes officially began, which means 4 more months of intensive studying!  It also means that I will have less personal time. 

I attended my first class today and it was tough.  I know I have a lot to learn about syntax and English grammar.  But I do look forward to a wonderful semester.

I will try my best to continue writing as much as I can too!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Bee Drink

When I was a child, I remember being curious about bees.  I had never been stung by one yet, so I did not realize how painful it would be to be attacked by one. 

While I was walking home one day, I noticed a bee hive near my friend's house.  I decided to take a peek at the hive.  Soon, the bees started angrily swarming around me.  There were bees in my hair and on my clothes.  I had also been stung.

I started to run and scream towards my house, trying to quickly get the bees off of me.  My mom tried to get the rest of the bees out of my hair and off of my clothes.  It was terrifying and I vowed to never look into a bee hive again.  However, it was not my last bee sting.  I somehow ended up stepping on a bee while playing in the grass.

Bee stings are extremely painful - a constant, throbbing pain.  I continue to fear bees, although I believe I can handle the pain much more these days.  But I am still afraid.

While in Indonesia, my host mom wanted to stop and get a drink on the side of the road.  She asked me if I wanted one and I thought, "Sure, why not?" We got out of the car and sat down on over turned buckets when I noticed bees everywhere!  I wondered, "Why are there bees everywhere!?"  I learned they were for our drinks.

No bees were used in the actual drinks.  But from what it seemed, the bees are used to keep a certain ingredient within the drink, fresh.  Too bad I did not understand what was being said at the time.  All I know is that I enjoyed a drink that bees were responsible for making delicious.

Anyone know the name of this drink?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Whale Watching at Makapu'u

Although my goal is to hike 10 unique trails in Hawaii for my 101 in 1001 list, I somehow always end up returning to Makapu'u.  Yes, I know, I know.  I said I would hike other trails, but Makapu'u somehow calls my name and I end up returning, over and over again.

During the week, I went back to Makapu'u - again.  It has been the third time I have returned since the semester.  The last time, I jogged up Makapu'u to increase my running stamina, but this time I only strolled since I had a backpack with me.  My two friends, K and V went on the hike with me.  V is from Indonesia and it was her first time hiking Makapu'u, so we stopped to take many photos.

 I thought Makapu'u would be great for her because it is not a tough hike.  It is like walking on a road with an incline. 
Of course, this hike can be made more challenging, if you go up the ridge of the mountain like I did several years ago.  But I would not recommend it.  The road path is just fine!

At Makapu'u, I always encounter something new and unexpected.  I guess that is one reason I also love to be outdoors.  You never know what you will encounter.  You might be wondering, "What was so different about this hike?"  Well, I had a chance to see whales!  Not just one whale, but several! 

It was amazing and beautiful to see the whales.  I only wish I could have captured it on film.  But those whales are far too fast, or should I say too slow? It takes forever for whales to appear, but when you finally see one, they quickly disappear. 
Although I did not get a chance to capture whales on film (yet), I still saw an incredible view!  It is the main reason why I continue to return to the area.  If I lived closer, I would be here all the time.

I also saw several men on gliders while at Makapu'u.  I do not know if I would ever try gliding, but it was amazing how close they were to the ridge and how they could glide perfectly into the sky without anything other than the wind.

Makapu'u is a great hike, especially for beginners.  It is easy and does not take much effort.  If you are trying to get into shape and want to include more hiking into your fitness regime, why not start with Makapu'u?

Vegetable Mochi Soup

Want a simple, yet healthy meal?  Yesterday, I put together some fresh vegetables and added pieces of plain mochi to make an incredibly healthy, yet quick and easy soup.

Vegetable Mochi Soup

4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 bunch broccoli
1 zucchini
1/2 cup sliced carrot
Pinch of Rosemary
3 Tbsp of fresh herbs, such as parsley, cilantro, and basil. The more herbs, the better!
2 or 3 slivers of ginger (to your taste)
3-4 mochi (see note below)
1 Tbsp green onions (garnish)

1.  Boil chicken broth
2. Add sliced ginger, sliced carrots, rosemary, and mochi.  Boil only 3-4 minutes until soft.
3. Toss in broccoli, zucchini, and fresh herbs and cook for only 1-2 minutes in broth.
4.  The mochi should be soft, while the vegetables bright green and still slightly crisp to avoid depleting nutrients. 

Note:  For those of you confused about where to get plain, instant mochi, try any local Asian grocery store or places such as Don Quijote, Marukai, or Pacific Market to name a few for those of you in Hawaii.  I like the round, instant mochi because it is easy to cook and to eat, while I also prefer a certain brand.  However, you may have other preferences, so take a look and choose the one that fits you best.

Any questions? I hope you enjoy this simple, healthy recipe.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Microwave Coconut Mochi

Mochi, a traditional Japanese dessert, is a rice treat I have enjoyed since childhood.  The traditional method of making mochi can be tedious, but nowadays there are other options such as baked, steamed, or microwaveable mochi.

Tonight, I made Coconut Mochi using my Hawaii's Best Mochi Recipes by Jean Watanabe Hee.  By far, this is one of the easiest recipes for mochi, while it is also tasty, especially when eaten warm.  For those of you who want a quick, coconut mochi treat, I would highly recommend this recipe. 

Coconut Mochi

2 Cups Mochiko Flour
1 Can Coconut Milk (13.5-oz)
3/4 Cup granulated sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla
Katakuriko (Potato Starch) for sprinkling

So how do you make Coconut Mochi? Easy!

1. Mix all the ingredients together, except for the katakuriko (potato starch).  Stir until smooth.

2. Pour mixture into a greased, glass dish.  I used butter to grease the dish and an 8x8 glass dish.

3. Microwave on medium-high for 10 minutes.  I used 70% to bake my mochi and it turned out great.

4. Let it sit for a few minutes in the glass dish.  Then, dust cutting board with katakuriko. 

5. Place mochi on cutting board with katakurko.  Lightly dust all over mochi.

6. Cut into pieces.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 14, 2011

An Indonesian Batik Museum - Solo City

From a distance, I could see a luxurious building from inside the bus.  I had wondered what was inside, as we slowly started to approach the museum.  When I stepped inside, I was blown away.   The museum looked like a royal palace inside with its lavish batik designs and stunning decorations.

Throughout the museum, there are numerous types of batik, some which have also been influenced by Europe and China.  There are different types of batik, some used for specific purposes, while others are timeless traditional pieces that reveal a unique form of art particular to Indonesia.

I had no idea that one could tell the difference between batik from Solo City versus Yogyakarta, depending on if the pattern flows from the left or the right.  These simple differences in pattern can reveal a history or a regional influence.

As I walked throughout the gallery, I was in awe of all of the batik and the beauty of the museum.  Suddenly, however, we were taken into the back to see the process of how batik is created.  My mouth nearly dropped.

I thought it was hot in the museum with air conditioning, but the smoldering heat within the processing rooms nearly made me faint.   I started to see groups of people, huddled on the floor, quietly working without looking up.  It was awkward and I could slowly see the rage building in my teachers eyes, as she questioned our guide about the condition of their employees.

I was speechless. 

I understand that there are people who work in tough conditions, but could these people at least get some clean, cool air?  I could barely stand 15 minutes in there without burning eyes and dizziness. 

It was interesting to see the batik in the museum, but I think I learned more by viewing the workers.  I truly hope they will not suffer from health conditions.


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