The Five-0 Dream comes true, part 4: hopping around Honolulu

(YES this is a super late post. WHOOO. My Hawaii trip actually happened in June 2016! If you missed my previous posts, I talked about presenting my research at the International Coral Reef Symposium, exploring Diamond Head, the Waikiki Aquarium, and the Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology, eating my way around Hawai’i, and my souvenirs from the trip.)

One last full day, a huge city, and a ton of places to go to.

I organized my Honolulu city tour around three things: the Bishop Museum, food, and Hawaii Five-0. Although I really wanted to dedicate a day to each of these things – the most popular unofficial Five-0 tour takes you to McGarrett’s house AND gives you the opportunity to possibly meet some of the actors if they’re available (past attendees have met Chi McBride (Lou Grover) and Dennis Chun (Sgt. Duke Lukela)) – I didn’t have that luxury 🙁 Next time!

First stop of the day: Wailana Coffee Shop and their macadamia nut pancakes. Wailana was just down the street from the Ilikai Hotel so it was the perfect spot to have breakfast and start the day. McGarrett was right: they do serve the best pancakes. They’re so soft and fluffy!

Second stop of the day: Liliha Bakery. As I mentioned in great detail in a previous post, I mistakenly thought that the Kuakini St. branch would be closed on a Sunday so I ended up at the much-farther-away Nimitz Branch instead. I (somewhat) didn’t mind because hot damn, Liliha Bakery makes amazing coco puffs. Really. These pastry puffs, with their chocolate cream filling and chantilly cream frosting, are my favorite food from Hawaii, which is saying something since I’m picky with pastries and I loved poke too. I bought a box of six pieces (four coco puffs and two cream puffs, about $4 each), ostensibly to share with my friends, but the puffs were so good that I could have eaten them all by myself.

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The Islander Girl in Japan!

As detailed in a previous post, 2014 was a particularly huge year for me in both personal and academic events, not the least of which is the numerous trips out. (Off-topic: what is it with me and travel? I go maybe two to three years without going anywhere then BOOM several trips in one year?) While all my trips out of the country are special and memorable, this one trip is sure to be seared into my memory because I’d been waiting to visit and explore and dive into this country since I was in high school. This year, I went to Japan. JAPAN!!! <3

01 view from the plane

I visited Japan with my family last May 16-24, basing out of Osaka and Tokyo and taking day trips out to Kyoto, Nara, Nikko, and Hakone. When I say “family”, I mean a literal tour bus with about 20 people, ranging from 7 to 60 years old. Yes, my mother’s clan loves to vacation together. It can get overwhelming at times but hey, they’re family.

We took Philippine Airlines late afternoon flight out to Osaka via Kansai International Airport. Combine it with the bus ride from the airport to the actual city, we got to our hotel room near dinner time. Our first challenge: figuring out the ordering machine for the nearby hole-in-the-wall shop:

04 ordering machine

It’s basically a vending machine: you punch the button for your orders, pay the total, get your change, and bring the printed order slip to the chef who then prepares your order. The problem was the buttons had text labels, not photos. Whoo. There were photos above the machine but truth be told, I had a shitty time comparing the labels on the photos with the labels on the buttons. So much for that 1.0 in Elementary Japanese I class. Luckily, a very nice man who spoke English helped us out with the machine and we were able to eat our first dinner in Japan. Of course I ordered ramen 😛 Finally: the real thing!

05 ramen dinner

After satisfying our cravings, we went back to our hotel rooms to rest up. We stayed at the Hilton Osaka because of a discount that a friend of my mom’s was able to get for her. We were also granted access to the Executive Lounge! I guess one advantage of traveling with family is the much nicer hotel room that I couldn’t have afforded had I gone on my own. Hooray for being a recent MS graduate with no money.

02 Hilton Osaka1

Next day’s itinerary: Kyoto!

Note: This is a Back Blog, AKA I Should Have Written This Earlier But Couldn’t For Some Reason. My actual trip to Japan took place on May 16-24, 2014 but I’m dating this entry for July 13, 2014. I’m actually posting this on January 12, 2015 as part of my New Year’s Resolution to actually get some blogging done this year and fight through my backlog. Wish me luck!