Thursday, June 07, 2012

European Adventure: Honolulu to Dublin


As many of you know, I am on a European Adventure with my boyfriend, Kekoa, and some close friends, Reid and Lace, and Lace's sister, Marisa. The Adventure has been in the planning for over a year and has gone through approximately 3.8 billion^10 iterations, with our finalized plan being nothing like our original -- except for the fact that we made it to Dublin, Ireland. This entry covers the Plan to arrival in Dublin.


The Final Plan
We are here for Reid's sister's wedding. She's marrying an Irish-man here in Dublin. So, aside from the typical touristy stuff, we also have some "familial" obligations -- family drinking meet and greets, and the like. Our friends have a different itinerary than we do, since they're only here in Ireland, but Kekoa and I, however, have decided to take the Adventure to the next level. After a 9-ish day stint in Dublin, we'll be making a 1-week stop in Spain.


It took us more than 25 hours to get to Dublin. Thanks to Expedia, we had some kind of crazy route: Honolulu to Los Angeles to London to Dublin, with a 5 hour layover at LAX and a 3 hour layover at Heathrow. For the most part, travels went smoothly. 

Honolulu to Los Angeles 
Kekoa's sister, Lahi, was kind enough to drop us off at HNL at 5 am for our 7:20 am flight to LAX. The self check-in at American Airlines failed us. My middle name pulled up incorrectly and Kekoa's 4 middle names exceeded the character limit available to us on the check-in kiosk.   Security Check went okay, without much mishap. It was my first time going through a full-body scan and my hair clip showed up on the screen, indicating too much metal, so the officer checked if I had a metal plate in my head by just touching my hair and scalp lightly. No biggie. A quick breakfast at the airport food court, then we boarded and were on our way. 
Breakfast at LAX


The flight was crazy crowded. I was unable to select seats prior to the flight, so we were in that weird middle section of the plane that's not against any windows. It's been years since I sat in that section. On the one hand, I was lucky I had the aisle seat. Not only did we have more leg space in general, but having the aisle seat made up for the fact that our seats basically did not recline at all. 


We had an awesome flight attendant who made conversation, gave me ginger peach tea to help soothe my throat, and randomly gave Kekoa a free beer (this would not be shocking if it were already an international trip -- but domestic trips generally do not equal free booze). No food included, though. Thankfully, we had some chiliritos from home (chili in a tortilla). 


Los Angeles to Heathrow
We had a ridiculously long layover at LAX. We were hoping to meet up with friends, Kristel or Sumichu, but unfortunately, we couldn't make that happen. Instead, we spent most of the time camping the Recharge Station at the International Terminal. For those who've never been to the Tom Bradley Terminal -- you have to leave the main terminal and take a walk outside to get there. Food options are extremely limited -- we settled on Panda Express. When we finally went through the Security Check, I was full-body scanned for the second time in the same day. The woman i dealt with was rude and ended up patting me down. 
Recharging Station at LAX

We ended up spent the rest of our time at The Samuel Adams bar near our gate. Strangely enough, they were out of Sam Adams on tap, so we had Blue Moon and Kekoa had some celebratory Jameson Whiskey. We were shocked by the tinyness of the shot glass! We're certain it didn't even hold a full once unless you poured to the brim... and even then, maybe not.
Tiny shot of Jamesons


We made temporary friends with a Mike, from Utah, an ethnic mix of Japanese and Peruvian who spoke Mexican-Spanish. While making conversation with Mike and the mustachioed Mexican bartender, Jesus, we asked if there were any smoking areas nearby. Jesus had a hilarious response:
No, no smoking area inside the terminal. (in hushed tones) But! I have a Mexican idea. There's this spot downstairs that I know some Mexicans and a few Chinese guys smoke. It's indoors, there's no cameras, but you can't smoke a whole cigarette. Just 3 puffs and finish.
Kekoa and I thought this idea was awesome simply because it was posed to us as a "Mexican idea," although we didn't end up taking advantage of his insider information. Instead we boarded the plane and were on our way.


Twas our first time flying British Airways. Overall consensus: seats too narrow, good headrests, some nice extra amenities (toothbrushes and snacks and such), but crappy, unhelpful service from the flight attendants. We asked 3 different attendants to bring us a Landing Card for UK Customs and never got one at any point during our 10+ hour flight!


Heathrow to Dublin
The Heathrow Airport is a strange maze of criss-crossing pathways both in and outside the terminals. To get to the terminal that hosts flights to Ireland, you have to catch a tram to another section of the airport, leave the building, then catch a bus to a completely different area of the world, it seems! Pamphlets for the airport claim that the shortest recommended time for flight transfers if 90 minutes! They had a very interesting transfer, customs and security process that surely helped to expedite everything -- but the amount of traveling needed to get to your gate was insane and unnecessary. 
A $4 drink at Heathrow


We spent some time wandering the various terminals -- purchased some UK version of "passion orange drink," and shelled out $4 US for a teeny-tiny bottle! It should've just cost 1.49, but we were only carrying Euro and USD, so we took the hit.  We also spent some time watching live BBC news coverage of The Diamond Jubilee -- England's celebration of the Queen's ascension to the throne. 


Strange pathways at Heathrow
The next thing we knew, we were on the plane to Dublin. It was a short, uneventful flight -- just a bit over an hour -- and needless to say, we were both excited and exhausted, knowing that our travel to get to our destination was nearing an end. 


Coming Soon:
In my next post, I'll write about our arrival in Dublin and our arrival in Dublin and our first full day. This is certainly "to be continued."


/me.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Back in Hawaii - 2012's Best Kept Secret

I was pretty sure, by now, most people who care to know would know that I am back in Hawaii. After all, it's been nearly 6 months since my return, and while I have not had fanfare triumphantly announcing my presence, I have not sequestered myself away into a hobbit hole and hidden from the world.

Apparently, my lack of official announcement over the digital space still has people baffled when they see me out and about. Even now, I run into friends and acquaintances, who immediately follow their greeting hugs with the question: "Wait... weren't you in Japan? Are you... back?!" A friend, Byron, after having witnessed this exchange a few times, jokingly began calling my return, "2012's Best Kept Secret."

So, to clear up all the confusion, here is my official announcement. Yes, Hawaii, I am back. For good? Well, for good... for now. Family reasons brought me home to the islands are for now, family reasons will keep me here.

It's been a mixed return, honestly. I do miss a lot about Japan -- although more than anything, I miss a few choice individuals who made my experience there an amazing one.

It has been great seeing the people here that I missed when I was gone... and it's become apparent that my ever-growing belly has been doing its fair share of meet-and-greet with the local fare. I've gained 20 lbs since my return and find myself disgusted by that fact.

Other than consuming ridiculous amounts of food, I also have two jobs and the occasional stint of Grandma-duty. Those of you who have been long-time readers of my blog may remember that there was a year's time where I moved in with my grandmother to aid in her care, since she had become bed-ridden. Well, she's onto year four of that lifestyle and still going strong!

The two jobs? Marketing and translating and marketing and...

I am currently working with Anthology Marketing Group in Hawaii and Oceans Inc. in Japan.

At Anthology Marketing Group, I am a Digital Marketer who specializes in social media and digital marketing strategy.

At Oceans, Inc., I am the Global Branding & Marketing Manager, specifically for a mobile application called Eyeland. [Warning: Shameless Plug] Version 2.0 is supposed to launch today for both the Android and iOS markets, so we've been translating and localizing and redesigning like crazy for the past 6 months, in preparation. Eyeland is a location-based, real-time communication app that I like to describe as my private mix of Twitter, Yelp and Facebook. It lets you zoom-in and zoom-out on anywhere in the world and listen to or join the conversations happening in whatever area you select. Heading into Waikiki or ... Shinjuku in an hour? Zoom-in to those areas and see what the people who are actually in that area are talking about. Traffic accidents or sales or cute puppies. I've only used the old version of it (which apparently was uber popular in Japan) and have only test-driven the version I was working on, but I am actually excited for its release. I feel like it has fantastic potential to grow in the US, and maybe the world, if all goes well. So... uh... download it today? [/Shameless Plug] 

Okay, enough of that.

Anyway, I'm back in Hawaii. No more confusion. No more secrets. No more mystery. I'm back and I'm staying for a while, so I'm sure I'll see you all around at some point.

/me.