Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Honolulu once more and reminiscing ...

Posted by Hippobean at 2:30 PM 0 comments
What I was hoping for had turned out to be what I was fearing. J was busy and couldnt meet with me, so I flew solo. My carefully selected hotel turned out to be exactly what I've wanted. Just across the street from the beach, with ABC store on the first floor, McDonalds across the other side, and Starbucks in 2 blocks, the room was big and not outdated. The lanai on the 31st floor (I've asked for a higher floor) offered spectacular views of Honolulu and partial ocean view. Except for the pigeons who werent afraid of humans, who came to rest on the lanai's edge, the hotel was all I desired. Oh, the cable signal went out on the last day but the TV was 40in flatscreen.

First order of business was to walk the Ala Wai canal. Many times I've been to Honolulu but never paid much attention to this area, behind Waikiki. This time I promised myself to check it out. The peaceful quietness of the place was a world apart from the busy, noisy Waikiki. And it's only 3 blocks away. The view of the north hills were gorgeous, and walking west, I turned my head a few times to check out Diamond Head behind me, basked in the late afternoon sun. Joggers and rollerbladers passed me from time to time. A Japanese woman pointed out to me a red crested cardinal. Multi colored with a brilliant cardinal red crown, a shy bird that didnt allow me enough time to whip out my camera to capture its beauty. And nowadays, who would have enough time to pause and admire such a tiny creature?

Last time I was in Honolulu I was with T and T in 2000. We stayed at the Ohana, top floor with views of the city highrises, hills on the north side and partial ocean view, just as spectacular, and I remember T taking night pictures with his camera set on long exposure. And of course McDonalds next door. I remember having McDonalds Portuguese Sausage and Egg breakfast, complementary from T, sitting on the lanai. This time I repeated the same except I was alone.

Waikiki hasnt changed much except for new hotels, same buildings but new names and owners. This time I walked all the way to the zoo and the other way to near Ala Moana shopping ctr. Swam every day. The water was warm but not clear and the sand irritating. This part of waikiki, the water was shallow and the waves gentle. Craving noodles I searched the yellow pages in the hotel room and discovered Ezogiku noodles, about 5 blocks from the hotel, but luckily the Royal Hawaiian Shopping center had a food court and Ezo was just right there. Their signature ramen and gyoza were so good, I had them for dinner 2 nights in a row. The food court saved me because being alone, I didnt feel like eating in a restaurant. Vaguely remember eating by myself at noodle houses back in the 80's. Now that I think of it, dont really remember how many times I've been to Honolulu. Without counting the first time in 1970 with the family, I think I went there alone twice. I remember staying in a hotel a few blocks from the beach and J stayed over 1 night with me. The room was big and with a lanai that overlooked a side street. Went there to escape. Not sure if that was the time or another time when I signed up on island hopping (pineapple farm in Maui, Lovers grotto in Kauai but dont remember if we stopped at the big island) and then spent 1 day in Mauai with a van tour driving to Hana. Later in 92 spent 2 days with M on a hotel on waikiki with no windows. The hotel was small but luxurious with only a small continental breakfast and no restaurnat. Made a fuzz, much to M's dislike, but got an ocean front room on the top floor. Met up with J and her boyfriend at that time, a baker, and had a nice drive (to the north shore?). It was a good trip. Probably my best in Honolulu. So all together, 5 times to the capital of Paradise!

And with 1 full day without plans, I rented a car and drove up the Pali highway and stopped at the lookout which had breathtaking views of Kaneohe Bay, and then after getting lost a few times, to the Byodo temple in the Valley of Temples near Kaneohe. The temple was almost an exact replica of Kasugaji in Nara, Japan. Then got lost again before finding the right way to Kailua and stopped by the Kailua beach, a gorgeous white sand beach that went on and on. Should have brought my bathing suit to test out that clear blue water. S had stayed there earlier in the summer and raved about Kailua. Nice busy town. Took the east route back and what do you know, should have gone all the way to the north shore instead, because the whole trip took only 4 hours, including time getting lost. All along I thought the route that J took me all those times was the east but boy was I ever so dead wrong. I remember the hills on the left and nice beaches on the right, with stop areas along the way. And I've always thought we went east. And do I miss those drives. Ah well, there'll be more times to Honolulu.

This time Hawaiian airlines went smooth. No delay, no birds sucked in the engine. But I was so sick on the way back. First I thought it was because I went out for a walk in the sun in the morning and thus precipitated my headache. But it got worse and worse, so I just tried to sleep on the plane. Then nasea and stomach pain took over the splitting headache. And I totally missed the meal and drinks onboard (the whole point of taking Hawaiian). I wondered if I caught a bug or because the airport shuttle AC was turned too high. Was freezing in the bus.

Like every single time I've been to the islands, I reluctantly left and promised to return soon. The islands have that effect on you. Even Oahu!


Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009

Another year, another AD offsite

Posted by Hippobean at 9:00 PM 0 comments
AD third offsite. Endless variety. Different fun. Going from an all day boring, unproductive meeting in some local exotic place, to activity filled afternoon and dinner in famous but expensive landmark, and now a different venue altogether. Well, at least HR and admin are creative. This time, we went to the Long Branch farm in Half Moon Bay. The weather could cooperate a little, but no, it was foggy and cold, and the activities were outdoors. We were given clues to find ingredients for a chili cookout. We found eggs and banana, got some onions but no garlic, so we traded. With a piece of garlic left, we traded for some tabasco sauce and I think that was what made our chili the best tasting, and won us a wooden spoon. R and L spent a good afternoon inventing a story and out came Clint Chiliwood. I contributed 'the good, the bad and the tasty, go ahead and make your day, try our chili'. I quite like out story of Eastwood actor, director and now cook. Learned how to do archery. The feathers had to point a certain way for the arrow to fly straight. Later on, after a so-so BBQ (yes, there was more chili), I opened the poker table by winning the first hand. Hard to say from 3 offsites, which was the best. Last year games at Golden Gate park was more fun. But this year chili cooking wasnt bad. Out in the rural area with hills around and green pastures (although weather was not good), was not bad to spend an afternoon away from the office. Gosh, with 3 offsites, I've been at AD for three and a half years. But I still like it.



Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

vegas 2009

Posted by Hippobean at 10:21 PM 0 comments
He was rather short and looked quite modest. I didnt know how he looked like. M told me it was him when I returned from the bathroom, which has a most funky chandelier. We were having A's 21st bathday dinner at the Daniel Boulud French Brasserie at Wynn when the owner himself walked in to dine with his family. A rather young looking blonde attired in white, went around the double table and greeted everyone. The girlfriend who caused his divorce? Quite lucky to be there to see S. Wynn himself in Vegas dining in his restaurant in his signature casino resort. Then the show started with different color lighting on the waterfall and this huge frog jumped up behind it, and started singing. Cute!

We had wanted to stay at either the Wynn or the Encore but the rooms were too pricey. By accident I stumbled on Trump and found their rooms were quite affordable. So we booked there, not on the strip but just across from Wynn and across the street from Nordstrom, from the Fashion Show mall. The Trump hotel is gorgeous! The studio room we stayed on the 49th floor, although not facing the strip, we could catch the view of the Stratosphere, Circus Circus, M's timeshare, and distant mountains. The studio is big, with double closets, lots of drawers and storage, and a fully stocked kitchenette (mini-fridge, microwave, toaster, small electric stovetop, coffeemaker, a small sink, utensils, mugs and plates), 42" flat screen TV, a bed to die for and a huge bathroom complete with a huge jacuzzi tub, flat screen TV right on the mirror, separate shower and private toilet with a glass door. We loved that bathroom. We loved our room. Except the train tracks were right below us and the 1:30AM never failed to wake me up just when I fell asleep. The pool is good size and the so is the gym. In the souvenir shop, Adrienne found the east coast Birch Beer and it had become our drink of the trip. The Trump hotel was excellent. Only thing is, we had to walk to the strip and there's really no sidewalk. And next to the Trump, there's the empty lot, and it's dark at night. Having a car would solve this problem, but we flew in this time.

After A's sumptuous dinner, we saw the show Le Rêve and I was totally blown away. First I puked because I was so drunk before the show, then got splashed by the Le Rêve. It was an amazing show! The entire stage was a pool and all the choreography was done to showcase the water. All dances, aerial and aquatic acrobatics took full advantage of the water. I've never seen anything so beautifully choreographed. We got the cheapy $99 tickets which was for the first 2 rows but A and A got the most expensive and sat on the very back, equipped with a monitor that showed the back stage and chocolate covered strawberries and a bottle of champagne. The pool was round and so was the theater, so there was no bad seat. The props were very original and unique. The round stage came up from under the water, then water would pour from the ceiling like a gigantic waterfall. Dancers popped in and out of the water, from the sides, from the ceiling. At the end of the show, huge flowers popped down from the ceiling and opened up revealing marvelous colors and designs. I loved this show and dont mind seeing it again.

In the afternoon, I bought A his first legal drink at Mon Ami Gabi. He chose a concoction of amaretto, pineapple and i dont know what else but it sure beat my watered down frangria.

This time we've discovered the Fashion Show mall. It used to be very shabby and now we know it's huuuuuuuuuge with lots and lots of shops. Three Starbucks where we got our morning drinks and scones. And even an ABC store where we got our cheap water, macademia nuts and snacks (love ABC stores!). We walked to the Hilton and rode the monorail to MGM. I had wanted to do it for as long as the rail was built.

They're building a massive complex of condos, pools and parks right on the strip. Every time we come to Vegas, there's something new. I remember the days when only cheesy casinos existed and only Caesers Palace had the forum shops, and Circus Circus the circus show with the arcade. Then came the Mirage with the erupting volcano, and Treasure Island with the pirate show. Then came Luxor, the huge pyramid with the laser on top, and Excalibur that looked like a medieval castle, and the 1500-room MGM. Then the Bellagio for 1 billion dollars and a watershow that is still popular today, and the Venetian for 2 billion, complete with gondola rides, and Paris Paris with the Eiffel tower, and New York New York with the statue of liberty and rollercoaster. Finally the Wynn, and if it wasnt enough, do it again with the Encore. I still think the Wynn and Encore have the most elegant design. I'm never tired of looking at these 2 structures, with opposite designs, reflecting each other's images. When you walking on the strip going north, both building edges appear sharply in your view. Marnell Corrao did a great job with this design. Gosh, i love this hotel! And i love Vegas!


french brasserie

Monday, June 08, 2009

Monday, June 08, 2009

they must have done something right

Posted by Hippobean at 9:45 PM 0 comments
The Hippo felt really bad for Safina. I understand her frustration at herself because I'm like her. I put up too many barriers for myself and the more I want something, the more I cant get it. She really deserves the French Open title, but like me, she still has a long hard up road to go. First she needs to believe in herself.

The Hippo was in tears when Roger won. I dont know if I was happier to see him win or to see Solderling lose. You know, Roger is really the best tennis player. Not only is he a fantastic player with super physical skills and strong mental toughness, he is the most modest athlete I know. So many others, though good players, are so darn arrogant like Hingis, the William sisters, Lendal, etc, they just dont deserve to be good. But Roger is not only graceful in court, but totally and throughly a good person. During an interview with John McEnroe, he said "no, I dont wish for anyone to lose, because I think it's mean.", "you know, no one wins all 4 majors". Well, he, among the very few, did. Although he's not my favorite, he's a very nice person. Someone so skillful but modest, his parents must have done a good job raising him. And the commentators said his family was very graceful and respectful to Nadal's family when Nadal won Wimbledon last year. Now that's something. It's almost as good as when Nadal, after receiving Wimbledon's trophy, allowed Roger to speak first. This is what every athlete should be. Not like that Serina, who every time she lost, said "she didnt beat me, I beat myself" or "do you want to go to the semis coz I dont". Why cant you just admit you got beaten fair and square? What do you got to hide? Poor athlete.

Thinking about how Roger's family can produce such a son, I look at other parents and my own, and I wonder how some parents can bring forth a human being without teaching them how a human being should be. Is it genes or simply education?


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