San Diego, Seattle, Honolulu
After a quick month at home, I'm off again. This time I'll be traveling for 20 days to San Diego, Honolulu, Beijing, Shanghai, and back to San Diego.
The reason I'm going is my dad is throwing a fancy birthday party in Beijing. My luck with the timing on this trip has been really good. I haven't been to my sister's house in San Diego in 20 months -- we usually go at least once a year. My friend Tan will be on business in Honolulu, and my friend Adair just moved there to go to law school. Also, my friend Jeff just moved to Seattle where I have a layover. The world expo is being held in Shanghai. And my dad's birthday, the whole reason for this trip in the first place, just happens to come at a time when I decided to quit my job and move on to the next part of my life.
September 8 - San Diego
Any excuse to see my niece is worth a visit. I haven't seen her in several months, and she's getting smarter and smarter each time I see her. I only had a few hours to visit before having to go to sleep and go to the airport early the next morning. But on my way back from China, I will get to spend a few days here with her.
The next morning, Cecelia was still asleep. Kendrick, my brother in law, suggested I say goodbye to her so she would know I was leaving as opposed to waking up looking for me and being disappointed. She woke up for a few seconds. She saw me, giggled, put her hand on my face, and went back to sleep.
September 9 - Seattle, Honolulu
I had a 3.5 hour layover in Seattle. My friend Jeff who I used to work with just moved here. I hadn't seen him in a few years. He picked me up and showed me around his neighborhood. It was a strange feeling because it felt like I was at my destination, not a layover. I almost threw away my boarding pass.
I arrived in Honolulu after a long flight. It was only 5.5 hours, but it felt a lot longer than the 8-9 hour flights to Africa. Adair met me at the airport and we took the bus back to her apartment. We went out to eat with her husband Christiaan at a nabe (Japanese hot pot) restaurant. For some reason, they had a DVD of The Supremes playing loudly on their TVs. I haven't been able to get "my baby love" out of my head. But it was nice to have a restaurant open at 10pm on a Thursday.
While Adair was at school and Tan was at work, Christiaan took me and Nguyen, Tan's little brother visiting from Seattle, around the University of Hawaii campus. The Japanese influence is unmistakable, and the lush plant-life makes it distinctly Hawaiian. It's a pretty place to go to school.
We went to the palace where the royal family lived. It was a history I had no idea about. To sum it up, it was along the same lines of America's habit of taking over natives' territories. President Clinton even gave a formal apology in the 90s.
We took the bus back to Tan's hotel room at the Hyatt Regency Spa and Resort in Waikiki and walked along the posh Kalakaua Ave. We could only afford to window shop at Prada, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Ferarri, Coach, and the like. We ate at a Thai restaurant and went to the apparently world famous Mai tai bar at the Royal Hawaiian where drinks are $15 and really tasty. If I weren't so cheap, I'd probably be a broke alcoholic now.
OU played Florida State at 2:30 central time which is 9:30am Hawaiian time. I clumsily commuted on the bus system to meet Tan and Nguyen at Round Table Pizza for football, wings, and $27 pizza. By the end of the first half, it was shaping up to be a blowout, so we switched to Giovanni Pastrami to watch the second half along side the other fantastic match ups that afternoon.
Later that afternoon, we picked up Adair and Christiaan to go to Germaine's luau. There was a lot of food, drinks, and Hawaiian performances. Dinner and a show in the sand.
We woke up early to go face my fear of sharks. It was a caged shark dive where we drop into a cage about the size of a bathroom, and with snorkel masks, we go down and watch galapagos sharks swim around us. The guides warned us not to stick our arms out because "if you cop a feel, they cop a meal." I didn't bring my camera because I don't have an underwater case, but we did purchase the homemade DVD of the camera they brought and dunked into the water recording us watching the sharks.
I had a hard time breathing with the snorkel mask, so I stopped using it and just dove down with the mask and came up when I needed air. It was a little scary going to the bottom of the cage, because if you don't step on the bars, your feet can dangle through the cage without you knowing it.
There were about 6 sharks that were about 6 feet long and had those cold eyes that stare at you. But I wasn't as scared as I should've been for someone who has nightmares about sharks. It was just cool to be so close to them. For a few seconds, I didn't see a cage, just beautiful animals gliding through an infinite, dreamy blue background.
I had taken a motion sickness pill just before getting on the boat. After a while, the current got stronger, especially when we were in the cage, so the motion was pretty rocky. I took another pill afterwards. These pills make me drowsy too. You can see where this is going.
Tan took us to Waimea bay, a small, but very clean beach. We spent some time swimming in clear water, and then laid out on the sand. It was still pretty early in the morning, so there weren't many people. By this time, my drugs had been weakening my eyelids for quite a while. I fell asleep for a few minutes. We got up and went to lunch: a big plate of nachos, margaritas, fish tacos, and shrimp tacos. We were stuffed, but that didn't stop us from going to Matsumoto's famous shaved ice. Drugs, too much food, and top it off with sugary ice. I slept the way home, and took a 2.5 hour nap when we got back.
For dinner we went to a modern Japanese restaurant called Shokudo where they have creative dishes like sushi pizza and teriyaki chicken quesadillas. The mojito I had was good, but the sushi was average.
I woke up at 7 after Tan left for work and Nguyen was still asleep. I wanted to walk around the beach and see the shops again. I went from hotel to hotel, beach to beach, shop to shop. I explored for 3.5 hours. It was nice though. It was early so there weren't so many people, and the air was cool. For lunch Nguyen suggested Teddy's Bigger Burger. I had the smallest burger, which was 7 oz., plus mushrooms, grilled onions, and blue cheese. and fries. It was $11.50. Nguyen had the 14 oz. I'm sure I walked it all off earlier.
We got back to our room by noon, rested, and watched Monday night football at 1pm.