The sunset from Leo Palace in Guam.

leo-palace

If you have anything good to say about Guam, it would either be their food or sunset. I’ve watched the sunset from many areas of the world and there’s nothing like seeing it from Guam or Saipan. The colors, cloud textures, and calm ocean fill me with such comfort and peace. The sunset from Tumon is very different from this one. Tumon’s sunset is pink, purple, lavender, and gold. Sinajana’s sunset…well up the mountain and from Leo Palace, is royal blue, gold, and gray. Mangilao’s sunset, seen from my parents’ house, is red, orange, and gold.

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.

Processed with Moldiv

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.

AUS
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.

Australia, here I come!

AUSTRALIA

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

Brentt Makana Salas in Liverpool, England

BRENTT13 copyBrentt Makana Salas has a drive of 270 yards. Here he hits from the white tees on the back nine at the West Lancashire Golf Club.

Hard work never goes unnoticed, especially when it comes to the humbling game of golf. My 14-year-old brother, Brentt, has worked for years on his swing, technique and his mental game, but he still has a long way to go. This summer, he qualified for the British Junior Open in Liverpool, England. Naturally, my parents and I accompanied him on his journey (the farthest he’s ever been from home). The British Junior Open was a big tournament for this kid because he competed with some of the best junior golfers in the world.

BRENTT15 copyBrentt practices every day at Starts Guam Golf Resort after school and enters in multiple golf tournaments on the weekends.

The West Lancashire Golf Club was one of the most difficult courses Brentt has come across. The tall, thick grass could easily swallow your ball. Brentt joked that he’d rather play on a course with lots of trees, he’d lose less balls that way.

BRENTT7 copyBrentt liked the challenging elements at the West Lancashire Golf Course. It was unlike any course he’s ever played.

The junior golfers started the tournament with a practice round, Brentt was able to familiarize himself with the brutal elements of the course: the precarious terrain, unexpected changes in wind and the cold weather. This would test his patience and his confidence during the tournament.

BRENTT18 copyMy parents and I were not only Brentt’s only cheerleaders. He had his golf teammate Nalathai (also representing Guam in the girls’ category) and a new friend from Cyprus, Nicholas.

BRENTT16 copyThis photo was taken around 6 p.m. in Liverpool – the sun does not go down until 9:30 or 10 p.m. at night.

The first day of the tournament was Brentt’s best day. He was paired with two girls, one from Qatar and the other from Uruguay. He broke 80 and shot a 79. His confidence was soaring and he had that little smirk on his face after every putt. On the second day, the weather was extremely cold and Brentt’s tee time was around 3 p.m. Brentt ran into some very challenging situations with the tall grass and it may have broke his confidence. Although he tried his best, he shot an 82.

BRENTT12 copyThe course was so difficult that many golfers ahead of Brentt and his group were busy looking for their lost balls. There was a lot of waiting between holes.

The last day of the tournament was much better. Although he shot an 80, Brentt was happy with his performance. He considered the experience very valuable in a sense where he knows how to handle his mental game as well as the actual game of golf. There were no words to describe his experience at West Lancs. He saw, he came and…well…maybe he will conquer one day.

BRENTT9 copyThe golfers had the chance to take a photo with the coveted British Junior Open trophy.

Enjoy more photos in the gallery!

 

Travel essentials

IB Travel essentials

I’m getting ready to leave for Saipan and Guam tomorrow. Here are my travel essentials: lots of black clothes, tons of necklaces, headbands (because it’s maipe – hot), my passport, a journal for ideas/poetry/inspiration and a little purse. Of course I’ll be taking my DSLR along for the trip. 🙂 One of my goals is to learn at least five new phrases in Chamorro. My friends and I have this thing where we jokingly try to one-up each other on Chamorro phrases and vocabulary. I always lose, so I’ve really got to step my game this time. ¡Biba Marianas!

¡Feliz Navidad to my family & friends in Saipan & Guam!

-4

Today is Christmas day  in Saipan and Guam! Merry Christmas to my family and friends back home. I miss and love you guys so much! Here’s a silly photo of my best friend Abbey and I fooling around at Walmart. After the tenth take, people started to stare at our sudden fascination with this one Christmas ornament, but we were actually posing…we’re just awesome at awkward moments.

Going back soon…

IB TUMON

I’m flying out to Guam and then to Saipan on the 4th. I’m kind of excited about it because I need a change of scenery, people, life, etc. The thing is, my main reason for going back is to visit and spend time with my grandmother. She’s a strong Chamorro/German lady who’s having a few health problems and I’ve missed her terribly.

It’s going to be interesting to see what Saipan is like right now. It’s been almost a year since I’ve visited. From what I hear, the island is becoming scarce. Resources are not as fresh and abundant as they used to be. Traffic lights are out and some locals can’t afford to pay their electric bills.

Everyone tells me that it’s depressing to go back but I’m anxious to see what my old home looks like. I plan to rent a car and drive around. I want to see my old home in Kagman, my best friend Annabelle, who teaches elementary school, and visit my grandfather’s grave. The only thing I know I won’t enjoy would be attending mass. Haha! But I’ll do it for my grandma. You can always count on her to wake you up at six in the morning to pray.