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Hawaii Trip (12/23-12/31/2006) January 2, 2007

Posted by MM in Travel.
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12/23
Park at Bart and go to each airport individually (poor us)
Taking off from Bay Area to Honolulu
11:20pm arrived at Marianne’ B&B

12/24
checked out Kailua Beach and ate breakfast at Kalapawai Market (306 S Kalaheo Ave, Kailua, HI 96734) and bought carry-out lunch
Kayaked to Moku Islands (stopped by Popoia Island first) – We saw a turtle closely and we both swam in the sea! (M’s first time swimming in the sea in 6 years!)
Then we kayaked to Lanikai beach to eat our sandwiches – boy, I fall in love with Lanikai beach. I dream that I could own a house and live there.
In the afternoon, we drove to Sarento’s top of I’s in Waikiki area for X’mas eve dinner.
The view was really awesome and it was romantic. However I felt bad that J’s pork is like Chinese BBQ pork. So the food is only so so. We tried Mai Tai and really liked this local cocktail.

12/25
We woke up really early, driving along the coast to the famous Hanauma Bay for snorkeling only to find out that it was closed on 12/25! Darn! Bloody ~~! J was so disappointed and pissed and upset that we almost tried to break in.
Then we went to Waikiki and tried to find a decent snorkeling place there. Unfortunately, J was not fond of the world famous Waikiki beach at all – full of tourists and weirdos (note: we don’t mind weirdos for we are two of them). But J said that if we like shoulder rubbing, we’d have gong back to China. Waikiki is just like Vegas with beaches instead of casinos. The beaches are not impressing either – somewhat polluted and the sand quality is just so so – remember, by then we were used to the wonderful tranquil white-sand beach in the east side. It just dawned on me that since J disliked it so much we didn’t even bother to take a photo there. We should’ve done that to show the comparison between Waikiki and wonderful windward side.
Anyway, we went back to Kailua beach and got bagel breakfast at Kalapawai Market. Then we went to snorkel at Lanikai beach. It was awesome! REALLY FANTASTIC! At the first try, I didn’t like it. I couldn’t walk in those stupid fins and wasn’t used to breathing through my mouth and closing my mouth around the tube. I drank a little sea salty bitter water and backed up on the beach for sun bathing. J was having fun and came back half an hour later and persuaded me trying again. I got rid of the fins and had a blast! Those fishes are amazing!
When we were both tired and hungry, we ordered sushi from Kozo Sushi (at windward city shopping center) and ate at our B&B backyard – it was cheap (Unagi 6 pieces for $4.80) and delicious! (Genki Sushi in Waikiki is supposed to be good too)
We drove to Waikiki in the evening hoping the Rainbow drive-in or Lernord’s Bakery (try Malasada, the portugese donut at 933 Kapahulu Ave., Honolulu, HI 96816) would open but ended up trying loco moco and teri chicken at Zippy’s. It is not bad but J is not very fond of the greasiness of the food.
Now it is the time to talk about the food. It is really a pity that during X’mas, the two famous Hawaiian food places were both closed. We didn’t get a chance to try it. I did some research before our trip and came across an article online that talks about food in Oahu. So next time I would like to try
Ono Hawaiian Foods (726 Kapahulu Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816) (808) 737-2275
Helena’s Hawaiian Food (1240 North School Street Telephone: 808.845.8044)
Halekulani buffet (at Orchid)
Fukuya Deli – it is the Okazuya style for take out
(Note: for all the local stores, they usually open very early and close very early, like 2pm or 4pm.)

12/26
A full day event at Polynesian Cultural Center. Since they only open at 11, we wondered around on North side, going one beach after another. We really learned a lot at the Polynesian center. It is also nice that they partly sponsored those students from different islands. Here is a list of our cultural encounters:
Samoan – coconut tree climbing, lighting fires, fire knife dancing

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Dust settles, and lessons are learned. September 24, 2006

Posted by J.P. in Travel.
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After several evenings of frantic internet searching, every detail of our hawaii itinerary is finally planned out. We have tried our best to get the best bang for our buck, and learned our lessons and tricks.

Lesson 1:

Do not go to Hawaii in the winter. You would think summer is the peak season for beach resorts. Wrong! The peak season of Hawaii is the time when everywhere else is bitterly cold. Not until we booked our flight and started looking for lodging, did we realize how expensive this trip will be.

Lesson 2:

Do not count on your airline mileage, unless you know there is no blackout date or any other kind of restriction what so ever. We have planned to have two free flight tickets using the 70,000 mile Delta SkyMiles that we have diligently saved. It turned out the 25,000-point SkySaver tickets were so scarce and well booked out a year ago. To have unrestricted SkyChoice tickets, we need to use 50,000 points for each ticket. We end up having only one free ticket and flying separately.

Nevertheless, we also discovered a couple of tricks to squeeze a couple of nichles out of our pockets.

First, it is relatively cheaper to stay in B&B or rental apartment in stead of hotel. Of course it probably be right on the Waikiki beach. But you got to spend the whole day on it, why not have a nicer place to rest during the night. The apartments are usually bigger than hotel rooms and have kichen, which you don’t have to spend money eating out everyday. Plus, you will have a better taste of local flavor. This website is a good place to look for apartment vacation rental around the world. We also use it plan for our Europe trip in next year.

For our stay in Oahu, we really like Paradise Palm B&B ($85/night). Unfortunately it is all booked out. But the hosts kindly recommended several other places: ALI’I BLUFFS , BEACH LANE B&B , J & B’S HAVEN, THE MANOA VALLEY INN, MANU MELE B&B, MARIANNE’S B&B, and PILLOWS IN PARADISE. We eventually booked at MARIANNE’S B&B, which costs $75 per night. On the Big Island, we will stay in a cozy cottage at Garden Villa in Hilo ($80/night).

We stumble on the second trick when we are looking for rental car. For some reason, if you go to Avis website via the link on Island Air, you may be able score a deep discount. Our 5-day rental on a compact car only cost about $120, while all other websites ask for at least $200. It seems, when you use that particular link, a Avis worldwide discount code “D802300” and a travel agent only ARC/ATIA number “0182383G” are automatically filled into the reservation form. I suspect this is rather a bug on their website, and they probably will fix it once more people know about this secret. So you milage might vary. Use it while it lasts.

Now all we need to do is waiting … September 10, 2006

Posted by J.P. in Travel.
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Hawaii Map

Flight booked, hotel reserved, car rented, the only thing left is waiting, endless …

We will take off from San Francisco in Dec. 23rd afternoon, and be back home in Jan. 1st morning. Yes, by the time we are home, it will be next year. For the first three days, we will stay in Oahu, like other millions of tourists there, working on our tan. 🙂 I guess, we will spend most of our time on the beach or in the water. Then we will fly to Hawai’i, the Big Island, spend the rest of our vacation in the relatively quite Hilo district, where we will immerse ourselves in the tropic fishing town atmosphere, farmer’s market, afternoon shower, and trade wind. Of course, the volcano national park is a must see.

Yes, we are going to Hawaii! September 9, 2006

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Hibiscus Pattern

We have dreamed about going ever

since we came to this country. This time, it is for real.

We will go there during Christmas. We know, it is peak season. But with 10 days holiday, we can’t resist anymore.

Aloha! Here we come.

South Lake Tahoe Lodges December 22, 2005

Posted by MM in Travel.
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ince we go to Heavenly, some good places to consider in South Lake Tahoe

Tahoe Beach and Ski Clubs
http://www.tahoebeachandski.com/rates.html
Jet Tubs in all units except Studios
It is about $155/night at the ski season

Avalon Lodge
Some rooms with private hot tub
http://www.avalonlodge.com/avalonlodgerooms_winter.htm
1-800-659-4185
1-530-544-2285
info@avalonlodge.com
Their online reservation link is not listed correctly – need to manually delete the ‘ at the end of the url in order to book online
It is cheaper to book on their own website than from expedia

Forest Suites Resort
Steps from the Gondola at Heavenly
Pros: Last time we booked a regular room about $99 and got upgraded to a suite for free. The suite is pretty nice.  It is very close to Heavenly. So no need to pay for parking at Heavenly staying there.
Cons:  Bad service when I couldn’t connenct our mac to the internet though. And the bed – gush, it killed my back the first night.
Lessons: it is really dry staying inside the hotel, should’ve brought the humidifier

Heavenly’s website has some other suggestions:
http://www.skiheavenly.com/reservations/accommodations/

San Francisco December 15, 2005

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It is the most beautiful city in USA? Well, San Diego is still my No. 1 so far. Probably it is because even though staying here for more than a month, I still hardly get any chance to do any sight seeing around. I am not saying I don’t like SF. I totally enjoy working in a metro city’s downtown (or busy area). After all I am a metropolitan girl/woman. However, since it is a historic city, the downtown area does look dirty somehow.

The air is much cleaner compared with LA… Gush, LA? Not even in top ten. But the food in LA is good… I bet the bays look pretty. So I might change my mind in the future. However, it is cold… so darn cold compared with the sunny southern California. I was so spoiled by the weather in S. Cal already. It is so hard to get used to the cold. My hands and ears go numb when I walk in the morning… Chilly winds too. Although it is not as dry as the S. Cal., it is pretty dry inside the rooms for the heaters. Therefore, humidifiers are necessary. 😛

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park – July 4th Trip of 2005 July 4, 2005

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It is a July 4th long weekend trip.

As PP plans for it:
Plan A:
**July 1st**
Arrive Lodgepole camping ground.

**July 2nd**
Find a nearby first-come-first-server camping ground. Spend the day in Giant Forest area.

**July 3rd**
Go to Mineral King area. Camp at Cold Springs.

**July 4th**
Visit Crystal Cave and come back home.

===================

Plan B:

**July 1st**
Arrive Lodgepole camping ground.

**July 2nd**
Spend the day in Giant Forest area.

Go to Cold Springs camping ground before sunset.

**July 3rd**
Stay at Mineral King area. Camp at Cold Springs for another night.

**July 4th**
Visit Crystal Cave and come back home.

===================

Plan C:

**July 1st**
Arrive Lodgepole camping ground.

**July 2nd**
Visit Crystal Cave and see some big trees.

Go to Cold Springs camping ground before sunset.

**July 3rd**
Stay at Mineral King area. Camp at backcountry, maybe by a lake.

**July 4th**
come back home.

===================

Plan D:

**July 1st**
Arrive Lodgepole camping ground.

**July 2nd**
Find a camping ground at Grant Grove area. And spend the day there.

**July 3rd**
Find a camping ground at Cedar Grove area and spend the day there.

**July 4th**
Visit Crystal Cave and come back home.

We booked Copper Canyon Trail for 2 nights and the confirmation number is 40040.

Channel Island National Park June 4, 2005

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It is nice to go to Channel Island (official site: http://www.nps.gov/chis/). But it is not a National Park like Yosimeti, where multi-generation family members can enjoy a vacation together. Four out of 5 islands require more than one day staying and you can only camp there. There is no entrance fee. Camping is about $7.35/day. But the main cost is how to get there. In 2004, Island PackerCruises is the park’s conly concessionaire for boat travel departing from Ventura and Channel Islands Harbors to all of the islands (www.islandpackers.com/). Truth Aquatics (http://www.truthaquatics.com) is the park’s concessionaire for boat travel departing from Santa Barbara Harbor to all of the islands.

Camarillo airport, is the park’s concessionaire for air travel to Santa Rosa Island. PP and I saw the airport in the island but at that time we didn’t know it was the only aviation that you can reach the Channel Island National Park.

If you plan for only one day visit, Santa Cruz is your only choice. Check out the boat schedule first and schedule your trip. We chose Santa Rosa for I read that there are rats in Santa Cruz since it is the most popular island and has drinkable water available for campers. For Santa Rosa, we need to bring our own water and food. It is more like an adventure trip to me. But actually Santa Cruz is pretty cool too according to some people on the boat.

The park opens year round and the climate is mild. It says “be prepared for high winds, fog, and sea spray at any time” and when we arrive there, we understand the winds part immediately. Since we hadn’t learn to suba diving yet, the activity we planned was kayaking and hiking. It was about 2 – 3 hours ride on the boat. There are beautiful dolphin packs that accompany the whole trip. It is pretty pleasant trip except that it is very very windy. The boat to Santa Rosa will stop by Santa Cruz first so you need to mark your belongings well. It was about 12pm when we arrived at Santa Rosa and all the travellors seemed to be very kind, for everyone try to help the crew to unload the backpacks and gears and move them in a truck. It takes a while to walk from the harbor to the camp ground site. So it was great that the facility staff helped to drive the truck there with all the gears. Well, they helped to move back from the camp site to the harbor too but we missed the time. Therefore, when we walked all the way back with my backpack (remember at that time, we already consume all the food and water), I was tired to death.

After we set up our camp and ate a little bit, we went out back to the harbor and kayaked. We felt that we went really fast and pp figured out that because the wind is so strong, we better try to go against the wind and see whether we will be strong. Hell no, going against the wind is the worst thing you want to do in Santa Rosa. So we kayaked a while and stopped by a beach. Oh, the sand is so nice and white. It is the nicest one I have seen in Southern California. It is the perfect beach like a small deserted island in the tropical area except for the wind and the cold water.

Europe Backpacking Trip Planning May 12, 2005

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We both have dreamed about backpacking for at least half a year since a long long time ago.

To plan for a long trip, first of all, we need to have time. Second of all, we need to have money.  We never have got either of them.

Howeve, without hoping and planning, it is hard to achieve anything. I would like to keep the hope up, and continue planning and gathering information.

Big Bear Snowshoeing Trip January 24, 2005

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Snowshoeing? Yes, it is snowshoeing… the newest sport we have tried. (Jan 22nd 2005 Sat.) We didn’t try snowshoeing in Lake Tahoe and decided that we need to try to drive JP’s new used car for a longer trip – unfortunately we don’t have a lot of budget for a weekend getaway. Therefore, we just had a one day trip!!

It was fun!! It was the first time we two actually hike on snow trail. The only drawback is that Southern Calf. is too warm for snow, even at the 7,000ft level. The snow at the bottom of the mountain was kind of dirty and mixed with mud. The upper part was really snowy white and pretty.

However, after 2 and a half hours hiking (extremely exhausting for lack of oxygen), we still couldn’t reach a peak to have some good view. We did manage to climb up to a small hill to get a peek of the downhills. But I have to admit that I was kind of frightened when coming down from the steep slope. Of course he laughed at me – what so ever – it was my idea to climb up the hill. If we had seen more good views, the trip would have been more rewarding.

PP drew a conclusion from the trip – he likes hiking and snowboarding better than snow shoeing – for he likes to walk faster and slide down faster. He is a speeder! Well, I like to try anything new. So it is quite an experience. I would like to go some places with fascinating views and snowshoeing!

Just for the record, we went to the discovery center first and then went to 38 east.