2014 in review

The year 2014 was a particularly big year for me – even bigger than 2013 and so big that I barely got to write about it! The irony pains me because I absolutely love writing but writing for fun (AKA this blog) takes up time and effort that I could be using to write for my job. Anyway, this just means that I need better time management skills.

What went down in 2014:

I learned how to surf! Well, maybe learned is too strong a word. Maybe tried out is more appropriate. Haha. My friends and I went to San Juan, La Union and I climbed onto a surfboard for the first time. I finally caught my first wave by the morning of the second day and limited my falls by the morning of the third. Thank you so much Lea and team for your energy and patience! This 2015 means more regular trips to legitimately learn how to surf.

04 April 03_small

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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!

My Travel Bucket List (at this point in time)

Everybody needs a goal, right? Goals give you something to aspire to. Goals are even better when they’re in a nice little list because there’s just something so satisfying about ticking off something from a list 😛 So this here little blog post is the short list of where I want to go within the next 5 to 10 years. I say this list is doable within five years because they all have Airbnb listings! I tried out Airbnb in 2011 when we went to Hong Kong and the service did not disappoint. Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 34,000 cities and 192 countries. Anyway, here goes:

Macy’s Travel Bucket List (at this point in time AKA #MyAirbnbBucketList)

1. Petra, Jordan

Why I want to go: Because it’s gorgeous. Because I’m in awe just looking at pictures. Because I fell in love with it when I was 12 and watched “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” for the first time. Because I want to wear a fedora when I visit.

2. Kathmandu, Nepal

Why I want to go: Because I love its architecture. Because I love learning about new cultures. Because I’m pretty sure I’m going to enjoy just walking around the city.

3. Kyoto and Tokyo, Japan

Why I want to go to go back to Kyoto: Because the one day I spent in Kyoto last May felt criminally short. Because there are tons more temples to visit. Because gorramit, I want a photo of the Fushimi Inari Shrine. Because I want to have tea in a legit ochaya. Because I spent high school and college fascinated by Japanese history (all because of Rurouni Kenshin!) and just walking those streets was amazing.

Why I want to go back to Tokyo: Because the one day I spent walking around Tokyo last May felt criminally short. Because I didn’t get my photo taken with Hachiko the first time around. Because I still want to attend an Arashi concert. Because I still want that photo of Tokyo Tower. Because I want to go to the Tsukiji Fish Market when it’s actually busy and to eat the fantastic sushi that people wait in line for hours for. Because there’s still SO MUCH TO SEEEEE!

4. Cairns, Australia

Why I want to go back to Cairns: Because three words: GREAT. BARRIER. REEF.

5. Hawaii, United States

Why I want to go to Hawaii: Because I want to go diving. Because I want to laze on the beach. Because I want to learn about Hawaiian culture. Because I want to go surfing in the land where surfing was born (this is under the assumption that I’d have learned how to surf properly by the time I go. And I WILL have learned how to surf!). Because I want to stalk Grace Park, Daniel Dae Kim, and Alex O’Loughlin. Because I want to nomnom some of those malasadas I’ve heard so much about. Because I want to check out the University of Hawaii at Manoa because for one world-standing-still moment, I considered doing my PhD there (hey, if you’re going to be stuck somewhere studying for five years, might as well be a place with lots of surf and sand).

How about you? Where do you want to go next? 😀