Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Koko Head Climb

We're in Hawaii again, and this time determined to return slimmer, not like last time. Our resolve was pretty strong when we woke at 5:45 this morning. I went on a run at 6 a.m. through the neighborhoods of Hawaii Kai, which was difficult because every passing retiree wanted to stop and chat. They may have all the time in the world while on their early morning constitutional, but I had plans. I had thunder thighs to subdue. Move over, sweet little old ladies!

Kate Moss says "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels", and I say to her "bah!". Lau Laus and fresh sesame poke taste way better than skinny! The Spouse feels the same way, which is why, after gorging ourselves at the beach yesterday with fish and 40s of beer in brown paper bags, we determined that we should climb to the summit of Koko Head so we could feel good about ourselves. 

The summit is reached via the old railway, which resembles a steampunk carnival ride of terror, covered in red dust and wilting hikers in brightly colored and expensive exercise gear. The track runs straight up the side of the crater, swerving neither to the right or the left. The top is quite breathtaking, with views of the windward side, Hawaii Kai, and the tail end of the Ko'olau Mountains, which are somewhat dry this time of year. Rusty metal detritus litters the top, but makes lovely places to perch and take in the view.

For other haoles interested in hiking up Koko Head, leave the backpack behind and just bring a water bottle, sunglasses, and wear lots of sunscreen (the Spouse, wearing a sloppy goatee of white sunscreen on his face and stylishly impractical clothing, began to reflect the sun immediately, blinding those were were trying to ascend with his blue-white skin). We started on the trail at 9:30, and I woulnd't recommend anyone who is not used to the heat start much later than that, as there is no shelter from the sun to speak of along the trail.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas is in full swing in Ho Chi Minh City...

I have been out of China for less than 18 hours, and I am so excited to finally have access to my blog again! The Spouse and I landed in Ho Chi Minh city shortly before midnight and had a panicked tussle with the visa authorities. By the time we found our bags (flung off the baggage claim conveyor belt into the floor) and got a taxi, it was well after the middle of the night. Our driver dropped us off in what appears to be a white backpackers ghetto. With no sleeping rooms available, except in what appears to be a brothel with a really thin veneer of "hotel and restaurant" to gloss things over. Our room has high, pink, peeling walls, filthy cigarette burned carpet, and a large bronze statue of a naked woman, bold breast pointing towards the ceiling, on the side table.

Ahhh...Southeast Asia again! It's been three years, and this is a different city and a different language. It feels familiar and foreign at the same time. I miss not being able to speak the language, and my clumsy attempts to practice saying thank you are only met with eye rolls, but it's good to be back in the sticky mess of motorbikes, streetside food, haphazard construction sites, and friendly smiles from strangers.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Over a year since I have posted to this blog, and we are about to leave again, this time for China and Vietnam. We have a house sitter for the cat, notified the bank, bought hand-powered toothbrushes in lieu of our Sonicares, and secured visas. Asia calls - we've been away for too long (well, I have, at least. The Spouse was there last year, just long enough to spend a few weeks waiting out a riot in a steaming, stinking apartment in Bangkok).

We will go first to Shanghai, spend a few days there, and thn travel to Shaoxing, which was described to me by my fried Wendy Song as a small, historical village with few foreigners. This "village" has nearly a million residents and no central heating. After that we head to Saigon, and from there we have no plans. Perhaps Mui Ne, perhaps Hoi Anh...perhaps both...

Sunday, July 06, 2008

This morning I discovered Google Street View. It' 8:07 a.m. and for the last 30 minutes I've been sitting at the computer, jaw slack and amazed while I cruise through the streets of downtown Juneau, Alaska. I've already snooped around Miami, and I am about to head to Alabama, because I've never seen it before and don't even have any pre-conceived notions about what Alabama looks like.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

It happened a few days ago. In the morning, while I was tearing through my closet, pulling out fistfuls of T-shirts and trying ton pair after pair of jeans, flinging scarves, shoes, belts all over my bedroom the thought entered my brain: I have nothing to wear! I should buy something new.

Now comes the part where I have to start practicing self-restraint. Up until now this Challenge has been easy, but suddenly, as if I were a light bulb happily turned off, I have been very much switched on...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Notes on a Shopping Mall at 8 a.m. on a Wednesday

I have just been to the twilight zone and back, and it is called the mall at 8 a.m. on a Wednesday.

A coworker and I were sent to the Apple store in the local mall so we could begin some training on our shiny new MacBook Pros, and our class began at 8 a.m. There is a surprising amount of activity in a shopping mall at 8 a.m., and it is an especially curious sight for a girl who is committed to not shopping. I think it strengthened my resolve while I do this Challenge (although so far the Challenge as been quite easy for me since all my time is taken up with work, Spouse and friends).

At 8 a.m. the light coming through the mall skylights is pale blue and reflects off of the shiny white marble floors. Construction workers (who have already been up and working for hours) trot back and forth with tools and clatter around while installing up a new facade on the Williams-Sonoma store. Two teenage boys in hard hats clean windows with squeegees. Senior Citizens, wearing sweats, Keds, and "walk for life" name tags stroll in small groups around the halls. Puffy-eyed young mothers with strollers and toddlers and coffee cups in hand sit on benches, staring bleakly into space. Teenagers hang out in front of the coffee stand, jittery and casting longing, hormone-filled glances at each other. This is all at 8 a.m.!

The Apple store was bustling with adults sitting on tall barstools, watching their instructors. It was cozy and quiet, and I was happy to sit and concentrate on learning the many-faces of Keynote for an hour and a half. After our class was over, we walked out at about 9:45 a.m. Shops were open, people were shopping. The halls had now filled with more mothers pushing strollers and dragging toddlers, looking sleepy, looking bored. My coworker and I discussed the strangeness of the mall at 8 a.m. on a Wednesday in June. He was even more baffled than me...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


So far the Challenge is going well. I've been at it for a few days and I have had fewer shopping urges than I thought I would, probably due to the fact that I have kept busy and not become bored. My best buddy Katie is joining me, and her enthusiastic support has been an enormous help, although I must say, I think she is completely insane. Amongst her Challenges she included quitting beer. QUITTING BEER! I think that's taking it a little too far. Since this will undoubtedly reduce her quality of life and I feel bad for her I told her I would...cut back on beer. For emotional support.

I had a Red Hook summer ale with dinner last night. Delicious. Fortunately, I don't think she reads my blog very often.

I have made my own lunch and taken it to work every so far this week. The experience is not rewarding, especially at 7 a.m. when I had trying to rub sleep out of my eyes and spoon stinky tuna fish on my sandwich before showering, but at least it's inexpensive and I can carry the Spouse's tin spaceship lunch box to work.

I have also made a good effort to cook dinner, and in fact, since I won't be shopping while the Spouse is working late tomorrow I will be having friends over for some comfort food and conversation.

So far it's working out quite well!