31 October 2014

Happy Halloween at Navarik

It was wear costume to work day today.  Thanks to Paula for lending me this pharaoh costume!  We also had a pumpkin carving contest.  My teammates were Harry and Tommy and we chose to do Shredder from the Ninja Turtles.  Harry draws really well and I was glad to be on his team.  We got second place. Yay!

26 October 2014


After our very relaxing and chill week in Maui, we headed over to Honolulu.  It was quite a shock to be back in a bustling and busy city.  I found Honolulu to be over the top.  The main shopping area along Kalakaua Ave was lined with high end shops, most of which I can't afford to buy anything from.  That made shopping not very attractive for me, plus, I never really envisioned "Hawaii" and "shopping" to go together.  It all just felt so contrived.

Oahu did redeem itself once we left Honolulu and explored the northern part of the island.  We visited the Polynesian Cultural Centre and there is so much to see that one could spend the entire day there.  I found it very interesting and I wish we had spent more time there.  The presentations at the different Polynesian villages were very entertaining.  We also went to the luau at the Center but I was not very impressed with the food, except for the roast pork, the purple bread, and guava tart.  The show after the luau, though, was excellent.  It was titled "Ha Breath of Life" and it showcased the dances from the different Polynesian islands, like Hawaii, Tahiti, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, and Aotearoa.  The fire dance at the end was fantastic.  Sophia, Ed, and I really enjoyed the show.

All of us also learned a little more about Hawaii's history.  We visited Iolani Palace and learned about the Kingdom of Hawaii, and monarchs like King Kamehameha, King Kalakaua, and Queen Lili'uokalani. We learned more about how Hawaii was annexed by the US.  The highlight for me was seeing Sophia use and listen to the audio guide all by herself.  After the tour, she asked us where the kings and queens were now and why they were not around anymore.  It's amazing how much information children can absorb.

We spent a day hanging out at Waikiki beach with our friends Yvette, Josh, and Aves.  It is an excellent beach and we had a great time playing in the water.  That was one of my favourite days during our trip.

By the end of our stay, I grew to like Oahu more and more, aside from the over-the-top commercialism of Honolulu.  The North Shore felt much more authentic and I would like to return someday and spend more time in that part of Oahu.

Both Maui and Oahu did not disappoint.  I understand now why people go back to these islands time and time again.  

Here are pics from our Oahu visit:

23 October 2014


I was not sure how I would like Hawaii. Ed and I have tended to travel off the beaten track. Hawaii is definitely a beaten track. But Maui was a pleasant surprise. It was naturally beautiful, laid back, and had an authenticity that really appealed to me. We rented a condo via vrbo, at a resort in Kaanapali. Having a condo also gave our stay a “homey” feel to it.

Sophia fared quite well during the journey to Maui. We had a transfer at LAX and the journey from our door to the Maui airport took 14 hours. Then we had to stop for groceries and dinner, so by the time we got to the condo, it was close to 18 hours after leaving our house in Vancouver. Thankfully, Sophia napped during both flights and the car ride from the airport to the condo. She was quite the trooper.

We travelled with our good friends, Yvette, Brian, Josh, and Aves, plus Yvette’s brother and sister-in-law. It’s not the first time that we gone out of town with the Van Dops but Maui has, to date, been the farthest and most tropical. We had a great time with them. Traveling with friends definitely adds to the fun factor.

We went to a beach in Lahaina that is called Baby Beach because the sand is fine, the waves are quite gentle and the water stays shallow for a good distance from the shore. Sophia was initially afraid to go into the ocean. We didn’t force her and just let her play with her beach toys on shore. She stayed on the beach all morning but after lunch, I was carrying her and I suggested we take a quick dip in the water. She clung on pretty tight for the first few minutes but then started to relax. Eventually, she stood on her own and started playing. It helped that Aves had also gotten over her fear and was hopping around and playing in the water. We played in the water for the rest of the afternoon and had a great time. We went back to Baby Beach a couple of days later, this time with some boogie boards. The highlight for me was seeing Sophia “surfing” a wave. She was playing, holding on to the bogey board and kicking her legs. But a wave came and basically took the boogie board along. Sophia happened to be hanging on so she ended up riding the wave. It was pretty cool to watch but once she reach the shore, she got off, marched out of the water, and refused to go back in. Good thing it was late in the day and was soon time to go.

Another highlight was the shave ice from Ululani’s in Lahaina. I got the calamansi flavour (that is a Filipino lime) and it was delicious. We went to Ululani’s a couple of times during our stay in Maui. Wish we went back a third time.

The pools at our resort also provided hours of fun for all of us. Sophia’s swimming skills improved so much after a couple of days in the pool.

I also rented a stand-up paddle board and went paddling for an hour or so. I actually spent more time paddling while kneeling because I found it more relaxing and enjoyable. I could just paddle and enjoy the sights around me, instead of worrying about my balance while standing up. I paddled into the wind first, for the first 40-45 mins, then I turned around and just coasted in. It was awesome! When I was halfway back from where I started, I stopped paddling, sat down and put my feet in the water to relax and enjoy the ocean. But my imagination kicked in and I had visions of sharks biting my feet off, so I put my feet on the board. I was far from shore and I thought that if a shark attacked me, nobody would likely notice. Even though the guide at the Ocean Centre assured us the previous day that the sharks around Maui do not eat people, I still scared myself. Silly! When I got close enough back to our hotel, I managed to shut off my imagination and slipped into the water to cool down. I floated there for a few minutes. So wonderful! Alas, my paddling time was done and it was time to give the board back.

On our last day, on our way to the airport, we had an impromptu lunch picnic and it was one of the highlights of my trip. We were on our way to Kihei to check it out before heading to the airport when Ed spotted Huli Huli Chicken & Ribs by the road side. He pulled over and we bought our lunch. They told us that there was a park by the ocean down the street. We found the park, I laid out my beach wrap in the shade of a tree, and we had a picnic. The chicken and ribs were amazing and the ocean breeze was so relaxing. I think when I am feeling stressed, I will close my eyes, bring back the memory of sitting in that park by the ocean, and I will surely relax. It is these unplanned, wonderful moments that make travel so rewarding for me.

And just like that, our 7-day stay was over, too. Ed and I agreed that Maui is a place we would like to visit again. Hopefully, soon!

Photos from our trip:

18 October 2014


I never tire of getting kisses from my baby girl...

Oct 2014, Waikiki Beach, HI

Kiss mommy
Jan 2013, Maracas Bay, Trinidad