Flashback: Summer with the besties.

Reunions are hard to come by, especially after college.We made it work this summer.

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Two of our best friends, Annabelle and Janel flew in from Saipan to spend time with us for a few weeks. We all used to live in Honolulu, went to college together, and got our first real jobs together. It was fun to catch up, do everything we used to do when we were younger (beach days, North Shore drives, dinners in town, girls nights in, shopping, and all the fun stuff island girls do).

Sandy Beach

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Sun Yoga on the Beach

I’ve been attending Sun Yoga Hawaii for a month so far. It has been really challenging since I injured my foot a few months ago. Afraid to further damage the muscle in my foot, my doctor recommended that I stick to yoga and avoid high-impact workouts. So I tip-toed into Sun Yoga Hawaii one day and asked if they had a promotion for new members. I signed up for a full month for $44, after my first month, the membership costs $160/month. The cost is a bit much for my budget, but the facilities are much closer to my house than my old yoga studio and I like the feeling I get once we’re done with the hard poses. Sun Yoga Hawaii’s teaching style is very similar to Core Power Yoga but heat-based, which makes for a great workout and post-workout high for those who aren’t heat sensitive. There are some poses that I miss doing that made me feel taller, but I do enjoy how happy my body feels after. I usually go to Michele’s class in the mornings before work. In her instruction, she includes facts about what each pose does to your body (squeezing your thyroid, strengthening your core, twisting your reproductive system, etc.), things that will motivate you to go hard on that posture.

This past weekend, Sun Yoga Hawaii held their monthly free class called “Sun Yoga on the Beach” at Sandy Beach. It was even more challenging to do those poses in the sand! But it was nice because they have a healthy potluck after.

(I got to play with my new GoPro Hero4.)

Mauna Kea and all things that should remain sacred

mauna keaMauna Kea with my best friends. (Circa January 31st)

In January, I surprised my best friend with a trip to beautiful Hilo, where we indulged in the best strawberry and grape mochi at Two Ladies Kitchen, walked through a colorful farmer’s market and hiked along a dead volcano. One of the highlights was going on a private tour of Mauna Kea, commercially known as the tallest mountain on earth, culturally known as a sacred place where the Hawaiian deity Poli’ahu dwells. It is a place where Ali’i would trek its harsh, freezing temperatures to worship and pay tribute to their gods. It was an unreal experience to have with my friends and it was just a perfect moment in my life.

I could explain to you the controversy that surrounds Mauna Kea at this moment, but instead, I will share some of the things that I believe should be kept sacred, just like this mysterious and beautiful mountain that made it into my “epic memories” folder.

1. Indigenous places of worship and untouched lands. 

It is 2015. We should all be educated and culturally aware of indigenous rights, history and effects of colonization. If you live in the islands, somehow your field of study/work will involve some kind of decision or consideration due to preservation of culture or history. There are so many articles, books and other reading materials out there that even the laziest reader will be able to get the gist of the importance of cultural or historical preservation. Even when it comes to untouched lands, like Pagan, ugh I don’t want to start a rant, but does everything have to be used for bomb practice? Look at Kahoolawe, Vieques and the Marshall Islands. #savepagan

2. Our bodies.

We need to eat vegetables, wear sunblock and do yoga. I may not look like it, but I eat my recommended daily amount of veggies (sometimes more), wear at least SPF 35 on my face and forearms and do yoga a few times every week. Doing this makes me feel great and happy.

3. Your relationship with your God. 

This is a touchy one. I’d describe myself as a sporadic non-practicing Catholic who floats between Catholic and Christian churches. Going to a Catholic church makes me feel comforted and grounded. I feel like I return to who I am and who I imagine myself to be when I get older. But damn, have you heard the kind of music they play at Christian churches nowadays? I mean, they make worship feel and sound fun. I go for the live jam sesh, devos and free food, but when it comes to openly sharing my own struggles with the entire congregation and praying out loud…like with my voice…I start to get uncomfortable. Other than that…I pray every day. I ask my God to give me patience to tolerate the obnoxious, love for those who can’t help themselves, determination to extend my leg in half moon pose and gratitude for everything I have. Whoever your God is, rely on him or her to give you that spiritual boost to continue life in a positive way. It’s better than bitching all day. Bitching makes you look ugly. Don’t do it often. Be tight with your God and moisturize daily.

4. Paperbacks

Being a nerd, I am always on top of the latest technology. Although I love iPads and my boyfriend, the iPhone 6 Plus, I still read paperbacks…maybe a hardcover or two if they’re on sale. I own a Nook, but lost the charger. So it’s pretty fair to say that paperbacks (and hardcovers) should remain sacred because they won’t need to be recharged, updated or bought for more than $15. My Nook is now a coaster on the nightstand.

5. Passion

Passion drives you to do your best in everything you do. Working in the non-profit sector doesn’t make me rich, but it keeps me fulfilled in life. I see lives changed and problems solved. My body and mind may be weary but my soul and heart are so full. My best work was inspired by what I’ve seen and experienced by giving to others.

Also, being in a creative field, if I am not passionate about something, it takes me longer to create it, which makes the client or your director impatient. That’s when you have to delve further into the purpose of what you create or produce. For example, I had to create a graphics package for National Donut Day. I did not have the slightest interest in donuts (first of all, they’re not my fave, second, I didn’t get why it was declared National Donut Day). My director recommended that I read a book to draw some inspiration. After that, I got it. I knew exactly what to do for the graphics package and it became a hit. Passion gets you places. It also shows you how to succeed.

There are probably more things that I could add to this list, but there’s no time. Sometimes it is best to keep a short list of things you consider sacred. It helps to remind yourself about where you come from and who you are.

From Cairns to Sydney

 Processed with MoldivMost of our travel adventures happened before and after the tournament in Sydney. Here we are in Cairns visiting art galleries, the Esplanade pool and walking along Grafton and Abbott.

Brentt and I only had a few days to explore Cairns and Sydney before and after the tournament. Cairns was our first stop from Guam. We stayed at the Holiday Inn (now called Double Tree) and it was in the perfect location. We could walk to the main Cairns Esplanade strip in less than five minutes and to the shopping mall in 15 minutes. The good eateries, ranging from Italian to Japanese, were scattered along Abbott and Grafton streets. Along the Esplanade, you’ll run into tourist traps and shops with crappy souvenirs – something we’re already used to in the islands, so we just kept to Abbott and Grafton, where there were more of the Cairns locals walking around.

Processed with MoldivWe stayed in Kurri Kurri, in the outskirts of Sydney. There were wild kangaroos right outside our rooms and witnessed beautiful sunsets. I even got to sample the local wine.

The “beach” at Cairns isn’t that great. It’s brown. You’d have to ride a boat to the Great Barrier Reef to log in some great snorkeling…or you can just settle for the public pee-pool at the Esplanade. Your best bet to get some sun (other than going to the GBR)? Spend the day at the beach down Captain Cook Highway past the airport. The beaches are still brown, but at least it’s shallow, you can walk on sandbars and bbq like the locals.

After Cairns, we headed to Sydney via Virgin Australia. Most of our time was spent on the golf course (see previous post) and the only food available was fried EVERYTHING. French fries, chicken schnitzel, fish and chips, etc. Not the most comforting way to go with two hungry island kids craving anything with some Asian spice and rice or noodles. On our last day, we had a couple hours to visit the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. Our hosts from Hawaii were irritated by the traffic and ready for their flight back to Hawaii so we didn’t have a chance to fully explore the city. But we made the most of it and took lots of photos during our last day in Sydney.

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Our official last day in “Straya” was spent at Hartley’s Crocodile Farm.

We then arrived in Cairns (again), returning from Sydney, we were weary travelers, enduring a rough flight on Virgin Australia and starved after refusing yet another fried meal. After checking into Rydges Esplanade, we took a 20 minute walk to grab some dinner and stumbled upon what looked like a bar from the outside, Rattle & Hum. It happened to have the best pizza in Australia that we had access to at the time.

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This is something we’ll always remember about Australia. Its wildlife, sights, kind people and wonderful weather amazed us everyday.

We also decided to visit Hartley’s Crocodile Farm, which was 45 minutes away from the hotel. We bought a package for two that included the passes to the farm and transportation to and from our hotel for $111 AUD. It was fun! We covered the entire park in about two hours and relaxed with lunch at the restaurant. It was their 80th Anniversary so they had face painting, a free photo booth and complimentary croc sausages. It was the perfect way to see everything we wanted to see in Australia: crocodiles, koalas, cassowaries, wombats, wallabies and kookaburras.

It was a great trip for Brentt and I. We’ve traveled to other places before, but this was our first brother-sister trip to another country. We enjoyed every bit of it. Oh dear Australia, it’s been unreal. It might be a couple years until we return, but until then, we’ll cherish the memories.

My brother wins 2nd place in Australia

IB2Brentt Salas wins 2nd place in Jack Newton Junior Golf’s Srixon International Junior Golf Sub Classic in Australia.

My brother represented Hawaii in the Srixon tournament in Australia last week. He won 2nd place overall in his division. I’m so proud of him!

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Brentt managed to stay out of the trees on the 13th hole at Kurri Kurri Golf Club.

The Australian tournament hosted many international junior golfers from Canada, Korea, Thailand, Japan, New Zealand and the U.S. Brentt qualified through the Pearl Junior Open in Hawaii with two other golfers, Caleb Keohokapu, 17, who played in the Junior Classic division and Ray Kim, 14, who joined Brentt’s division in the Sub Classic. The three boys were amped to play this tournament because it represented another level of competition for them and also provided an opportunity to get more exposure.

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Brentt’s short game was spot on in the last two days of the tourney.

Brentt struggled in the first two days of the tourney. The trees presented the ultimate challenge. There were golfers (Brentt included) that had trouble hitting off the tees and into the fairway. The fairways were curved so much that you’d have to either hit beyond the trees or play it safe and  hit short distances on the fairway…that is, if the wind will let you. The only thing that was within the golfer’s control was the putting green. Brentt mastered the greens by the 3rd day, earning himself 8th place. On the last day, Brentt shot even and ended up taking home the trophy for 1st place Scratch and 2nd place overall in his division.

IB4Brentt won a Srixon golf bag, Srixon balls, a toiletry bag and a trophy.

The rest of the Hawaii team, Caleb and Ray, they also proudly represented Hawaii in the tournament on and off the course. They enjoyed making friends from Australia, Canada and Japan. It was a great experience in “Straya!”

Australia, here I come!

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This is what freedom feels like.

Well, this was unexpected. My brother qualified for the Srixon International Junior Classic in Sydney and when we found out all expenses were paid for, I was the only one in my family that could take him up on the offer! Brentt is definitely my little reason to travel the world. He is so ambitious and committed to his practice that he’s constantly offered to compete in international tournaments. Recently, the Guam Pacific Daily News published an article on his golf journey. I’m pretty proud of my baby bro.

This trip will be just as long as the last one. Honestly, I’m stoked to put two new countries on my list for the year. I’ve never had the freedom to travel so much. Now that I do, I have to enjoy it. After Australia, we’re heading to Saipan for our cousin’s ordination as a priest. We’re so Catholic it’s not even funny.

Anyway, I believe we have two days to explore Sydney in addition to the time we have after the tournament days. If you have any suggestions about what to try or see (on a low budget), please leave them in the comment box! Thank you. – Di

The last photos from our trip to Liverpool

LP2 copyMy mom (right) scans Bold Street for some Asian products and restaurants.

On the last few days of our trip in Liverpool, my dad and brother went to the British Open while my mom and I explored the city. We grew tired of English food, the meat, potatoes, fish and chips were not satisfying our cravings for bold flavors, so my mom spent half the day looking for an Asian grocery store that she heard of from a friend.

LP1 copy“Look,” said my mom, “they have noodles! We can eat here when they’re done with the tournament.”

We ate at Seoul Love the next day with another family that attended the British Junior Open. Korean and Chinese dishes in Liverpool are very different from Asian food in Hawaii, Guam and Saipan. Stan, the owner of our cottage, explained that when the Chinese immigrants arrived in Liverpool, they were so skilled in establishing and maintaining businesses, they heavily contributed to the development of the city. They’ve changed the way they cooked to cater to the British, so their kim chee jigae isn’t as salty (which is good!) and the Chinese fried rice isn’t sticky at all (not good!). Overall, we enjoyed our experience there, it was great to eat something with gochujang and chili garlic sauce after all that fish and chips.

LP5 copyOur mom & daughter exploration day included the famous Walker Gallery.

We then visited the Walker Gallery and viewed many original paintings from local artists, an art contest by children and teens from China and sculptures. The café inside the Walker Gallery is exquisite. You’ll see people from all walks of life walking in there just to grab a latte and a slice of carrot cake. My mother was lucky enough to grab the last slice and I grabbed a fresh, warm oatmeal cookie. It was one of the best grab and go breakfasts we’ve had in Liverpool.

LP6 copyIt was pretty awesome walking into the sculpture room at Walker. I’ve never seen sculptures so detailed up close.

After Walker Gallery, we walked to the Liverpool Central Library, where they had a café and three stories of books. My favorite part was the Picton Reading Room. It’s a circular dome reading room with three stories of shelves. Think Beauty and the Beast type of shelves. I went crazy walking around the room. I found Spanish literature books that I’ve read in graduate school (in ENGLISH!) and the staircases were so beautiful. I loved it so much, I think I could live there.

LP7 copyThe Picton Reading Room was my favorite thing about Liverpool.

LP3 copyAfter the Walker Gallery and the Liverpool Central Library, we headed back down to Bold Street. Each unit had a beautiful storefront.

Bold Street was our favorite street for food and shopping in Liverpool. It was a perfect blend of cultural diversity, good coffee, pastries and shopping. We spent two days in the city and always ended up spending most of our time on Bold Street. Just off of Bold, there is also what they call “Chinatown.” It really isn’t a town but a lineup of five Chinese businesses that sell moon cakes, rice cakes, custard and jin doi (excuse my spelling). I remember we also ate at a Lebanese restaurant for lunch, but we were too hungry to stop and take a photo. So here is the last stop we made that day…

LP4 copyAnd we ended the day with some cake! My mom loves cupcakes.

Can’t go wrong with a little cake. Hehe!