Monthly Archives: September 2010

Young Man Went West #25: Bucket List

First of all, like in the good ol’ days, I’m writing this entry directly on Facebook and then pasting it on Young Man Went West later.  I’ve found it easier to insert photos in a Facebook book than a WordPress blog.  And there will be plenty of photos.

Some of you may have noticed the Hawaii Bucket List I have on my profile page.  I don’t plan on “kicking the bucket” anytime soon, but I do plan on moving, and there are certain things I’d like to do before I leave.  The degree to which I actually want to do each of these things varies; the common thread here is the need–nay, the feeling of obligation I have to complete each task.  For example, lying in my deathbed many years from now, I’d be content having never swam with dolphins, but I feel obligated to do so because, well, I’m in freakin’ Hawaii and that’s what people do while they’re here.  Seize the opportunity when you can, right?  On the other hand, I want to hike Stairway to Heaven for the sake of hiking Stairway to Heaven.

Let’s get this party started (and by “party” I mean a thorough explanation of each item that helps comprise my Bucket List)!

Visit the Honolulu Zoo

Which one’s wilder?

Status: Completed

When: July 26, 2010

Reason: For nearly a year, I lived no more than a 15-minute walk from the Honolulu Zoo.  And for nearly a year, I never went in.  I had no desire to do so.  Nothing against animals: they’re interesting, entertaining, and usually delicious, but I can see pretty cool animals outside of the zoo.  For free!  Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I lived so close I couldn’t not go in (and yes, the double negative was necessary).

One day, my good friend Amanda expressed an interest to go before she left the island.  If I only kinda wanted to visit the zoo, I might as well do it in great company.  So we went, and you know what I discovered?  It wasn’t that great.

The most interesting picture I took was of a lizard I found on a fence.

I definitely wasn’t the worse zoo I’ve been to (that award goes to the zoo in Morelia, Mexico), but it was nothing compared to the animal wonderlands I grew up with: Marine World Africa USA and the San Diego Zoo.  This one was, quite literally, just a stroll in a park.  Most of the animals were either sleeping or hiding, but the ones you could see were just standing there.  I know, what else are they going to do, right?  I made me put the whole idea of a zoo in perspective: sure, it was a great idea back in the day before mass media, back when people only heard stories of strange creatures from far away lands.  But now, what’s the point?

Despite my critique of the zoo, it was still a completely enjoyable day.  I got to hang out with one of my favorite coworkers before she abandoned us.  And, she was on a Bucket List mission of her own: see the endangered Nene Goose (the Hawaiian State Bird).  Status?  Completed.

Eureka!

Learn to Surf

With Amanda and Benj in Waikiki

Status: Completed

When: Sometime this summer

Reason: Hawaii is the surfing capital of the world!  My cousin Jon once told me of a time he ran into some Europeans who loved to surf, but obviously couldn’t do it often.  When they found out my cousin was from Hawaii, they asked if he surfed a lot.  They were appalled when he answered in the negative.  Therefore, I owed it to stranded surfers everywhere to learn the sport while I’m here.

I’ve only gone out maybe three or four times, but every time I went, it was flat and crowded.  I spent maybe 98% of that time just sitting on the board, waiting.  And burning.  Of course, they weren’t bad experiences.  Like the zoo trip, my surfing sessions were always in good company.  My friends and coworkers Amanda and Kylene were the first ones to take me out.  Harry took me out, too, and Benj joined once.  You know what all those people have in common?  They’ve all left the island!  I haven’t gone surfing since. . .

Learn to Surf Well

Obviously not me
Status: Not yet complete

Reason: Go big or go home, yeah?  I need at least one surf session of which I can be proud.

Skydive

This one IS me!

Status: Completed

When: February 13, 2010 (the day after my 23rd birthday)

Reason: Skydiving has been on my bucket list for life for a long time.  If I was going to do it, I’d at least want a nice view.  So, yes offense to Lodi, I held out for the North Shore.

I went with former roommates and friends Thomas, Young, Mose, and Amy.  It was a fun trip (all trips to North Shore are fun) and a beautiful day, but the activity itself was a little underwhelming.  Because I’ve been aware of the relative safeness of skydiving for many years, I wasn’t nervous at all.  Additionally, it seemed a bit unreal.  While straddling the crowded bench in the plane as it gained altitude, I was actually worrying about not worrying, because that probably meant I wasn’t “in the moment.”  Standing at the door, I saw the endless blue ocean, heard the wind rushing by my face, and felt. . . not much.  Impatience, at least, for the guy to count down to one.  I was getting bored standing there.

This was before the jump. I think I faked this smile, too, since I wasn’t “in the moment.”

Finally, we jumped.  I remember thinking it was kinda cool to see the underside of a flying plane.  I remember how quickly my mouth dried up when I stuck my tongue out at the photographer.  I remember thinking that, with nothing visually rushing past me, I really couldn’t grasp the fact that I was falling.  That’s relativity for you.  The most prominent memory of skydiving I have, though, was how uncomfortable that harness felt between my legs.  When I looked down, I didn’t for a second think, “Oh man, that’s a long fall.”  Instead, I thought, “Oh man, it’s gonna be a while before I can take this harness off.”  On the ground, my instructor and photographer were super psyched, asking me how amazing I thought my first time was.  I gave as convincing a smile as I could, and feigned an excitement that matched the kind they, I imagine, have to muster every time they jump with a new client.

Or maybe they just really, really like wearing those harnesses.

Party at Sandbar in Kaneohe Bay

Didn’t bring my camera with me, so I snatched this from the Internet.

Status: Completed

When: late August 2010

Reason: A sandbar is a trippy place to have a party.  Way out in the middle of a large bay, accessible by boat only, is a sandbar: a stretch of land that rises from the bottom of the bay.  Depending on the tide, the sand is either right below or right above the surface.  In accordance with centuries-old Hawaiian tradition, men and women find a friend with a boat to shuttle their asses out to the sandbar and down as much beer as they can before the sun sets.  Well, I’m only assuming it’s tradition.

Not too long ago, another coworker and good friend of mine, Katie, invited me to her friend’s birthday party at Sandbar.  From the minute I got there to the minute I left, everybody I met was warm and welcoming.  Maybe it was the phenomenally majestic setting of our meeting ground that put everybody in a good mood.  Or maybe it was just the alcohol.   Either way, I talked story with a lot of interesting people.  I didn’t even go back on the same boat I came on, which was a good thing, because that boat sank when it got back to the dock.

Hike Stairway to Heaven

Dangerous and forbidden. Can’t wait!

Status: Not yet complete

Reason: Hiking is one of the top activities to do in Hawaii, and while I don’t do it nearly as much as I’d like to, it’s always a good time.  It’s good physical activity with beautiful scenery and a sense of accomplishment.  Stairway to Heaven is, to me at least, the Holy Grail of hikes on O’ahu.  Nestled in the familiar steep green mountains, it is dangerous, high, and has recently been closed off.  Of course, the closing off of a hiking trail in Hawai’i is as seriously enforced as the prevention of jaywalking, so that’s not stopping me.  (And, by the way, I jaywalk ALL THE TIME!)

Hike Koko Head

I got this from the Internet, but I did take a similar photo. Everybody does.

Status: Completed

When: Today!

Reason:  In addition to my affinity for hiking as described above, the allure of Koko Head comes from it’s tauntingly close vicinity: it can be seen from the route to Sandy Beach.  The first time I saw it from a car I thought, “Pssh!  I can do that!”  But we’d go to Sandy’s a lot, so eventually my thoughts turned from “I can do that,” to “I need to do that,” to “Why haven’t I done it yet?”  It teased me every time I rode past.

Finally, I got the opportunity to go today.  My friend, Ernie, the wedding photographer I mentioned in past blogs, brought me along.  Koko Head is a relatively short hike that gets pretty steep by the end.  Depending on your athletic ability, it takes anywhere from 15 minutes to half an hour.  One follows an out-of-service railroad track straight up, practically using it as a ladder by the end.  At the top are abandoned military bunkers and, on a clear day, a view of some neighboring islands.  Luckily, we went on a clear day.  Stay tuned for the photo album to follow (it should be coming after my zoo album, my skydiving album, and my scuba diving album.  Speaking of which. . . )

Go Scuba Diving

Obviously, I’m not scuba diving, but this was another one of the water activities I did that day (the most fun, IMO).

Status: Completed

When: early September 2010

Reason: Scuba diving is an activity you can only do in select places, and Hawai’i is one of the best.  If you’re going to breathe a limited supply of air through a rented mouthpiece, you might as well do it in a freakin’ pretty ocean.

Thomas, Mose, and I joined Amy for a day of water activities for her birthday.  These kids have taken me to the highest heights and the lowest lows here and I love them for it.  Scuba diving was pretty relaxing, after I learned how to equalize the air pressure in my ears.  If you descend too quickly without “blowing” through your ears, they start to ache really quickly.  I got excited, descending too quickly, and learned the hard way.  It was pretty cool breathing while being completely submerged.  Because I wasn’t holding my breath, I had time to leisurely swim about and explore.  I didn’t realize it’d be a such a different experience.

After the dive, we (and by “we” I mean me and Mose.  Both Amy and Thomas got a little sick from the boat ride.  No, Amy got a little sick; Thomas was nearly dead) rode about Koko Marina on a bumper boat (pictured above) and a banana boat.  Though similar, the bumper boat was definitely the best.  Imagine an air mattress that was completely flat and round.  Now imagine lying on top of it while being pulled by a speeding boat and the only thing to stop you from staying on and crashing into the water at a high speed is the grip you have on a couple nylon handles.  It took some cocking coaxing from the two of us to get the boat driver to hit a high enough speed to throw us off.  Too much fun!  I may have been able to cross “scuba diving” off my list, but that bumper boat was the highlight of my day.

Swim with Dolphins

Took this when we sneaked into Kahala Resort to see the dolphin “lagoon”

Status: Not yet complete

Reason: As mentioned in the introduction, I really only want to do it because everybody else does.  It’s not a peer pressure thing, it’s a carpe diem thing.  Don’t I owe it to dolphin lovers stuck on the mainland to do this while I’m living here?  I think so.  Although, Mose led Thomas and me to the dolphin lagoon at Kahala Resort one day and we got the brochure.  I’m not sure dolphins, as smart and elegant as they are, are worth those crazy high prices.  Why, for a fraction of the lowest price, I could. . .

Swim with Sharks

Maybe I’ll try feeding them poke to make it more interesting.

Status: Not yet complete

Reason: My friend Leslie is visiting next November and she’s dead set on swimming with sharks.  Okay, we won’t be “swimming with” as much as we’ll be “standing in a cage surrounded by,” but still, it’ll be a cool experience.  Maybe.  Hopefully it won’t be as underwhelming as skydiving.  I mean, I could foresee my critical mind liking it to a slightly wetter version of the shark experience observation tanks at a zoo (and you know how excited I get a zoos. . . ).  Maybe I’ll watch the entire Jaws saga before diving in, just to set the mood.

Visit the 5 Other Main Islands

All I need is go! Airlines. . . and a lot more money.

Status: Not yet complete

Reason: The state of Hawai’i is comprised of eight main islands, two of which (Ni’ihau and Kaho’olawe) no one can really visit.  I’d feel like a poser Hawaiian if I left before seeing what else this state has to offer.  O’ahu is definitely the most touristy, the most city-like.  Every time someone makes a comparison between O’ahu and another island, they describe that island as “more laid-back,” “greener,” “prettier,” and in some cases “so boring.”  Having a love for the urban environment, I can see how that last statement might be true, but that won’t stop me.  Sure, I could never live on those other islands, but I can’t wait to visit them.  For those who are familiar with some of the other five (Maui, Moloka’i, Lana’i, Kaua’i, and Big Island), where do you suggest I go?

PS: While researching the other two, I’ve learned that Ni’ihau, while privately owned and usually off-limits, has allowed supervised touring activities for over twenty years.  I’ll see if I can add that to the list.

***

Before I begin writing my last item, I’d like to direct your attention to part of an entry I wrote almost a year ago:

(From YMWW #6: THE PHOTO ISSUE! October 8, 2009)

I saw this stencil on the wall across the room of the sports bar where I watched the last Cal game (no comment on the game). If you can’t tell, the tree leaves resemble the shapes of the Hawaiian islands. I saw it and was immediately mesmerized. It was like one of those cliche love-at-first-sight moments where our eyes met across a crowded room, but instead of it being the woman of my dreams, it was this. Whatever. Baby steps. Anyway, it gave me a great idea for a tattoo: this design, but with the shape of California as the tree trunk. Maybe I’ll try to fashion roots to resemble my family name, or the shape of the Philippines. Maybe that’s too much. More on that later.

Get a Tattoo

Status: Completed

When: September 20, 2010

Reason: Since late high school or early college, I’ve known that I wanted a tattoo, and quickly decided that it should be a tree.  Not only is a tree representative of family, which I hold as the most important thing in my life, but it’s also aesthetically pleasing, being symmetrically asymmetrical, sometimes left to right, sometimes top to bottom (when roots are included).  Very early sketches I did were chalk-full of hidden symbols representing everything from the letters of my family names to Golden Poppies.  They looked like an amateur version of those hidden picture puzzles from Highlights magazines.  When I discovered that HiLife logo almost a year ago, I knew exactly what my tattoo should be.  I decided that if I made at full year on the island, I would get the tattoo to commemorate that.  Besides, a tattoo isn’t something I’d rush into.

The HiLife Tree cleverly and subtly represents the Hawaiian islands using the symbol (a tree) that I love.  Plus, it’s design easily lent itself to the inclusion of another thing I hold dearly: California.  So, not only did this idea represent the two states I’ve lived in, but also the decision I made to “branch out” to Hawaii (excuse the pun).  It therefore represents this adventure I took and my reasons behind it.  In a broader sense, it represents my attitude about life and how to live it.

Sorry, mom and dad. I know you don’t like tattoos, but I know you trust my motives.

PS: See that star?  It marks the Bay Area, the best place on earth!

PPS: I’ll be the model ending this entry, thank you very much.

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Young Man Went West #24: Kama’ainiversary

Yesterday, September 16, marked the first anniversary of my moving to this island.  And one year ago today, I sat down and wrote the first entry of Young Man Went West (You’d think there’d be a few more than twenty-four entries, yeah?).  It’s hard to say exactly what this milestone means; on one hand I think about all the experiences I’ve had, the people I’ve met, and the (few) obstacles I’ve overcome and marvel, Wow, has it only been a year? But on the other hand, I think about the fact that I made teriyaki bowls for half a year and have been serving shrimp for the other and wonder, Damn, it’s been that long?! One complete cycle around the sun is a hard timeframe to comprehend, especially because the seasons don’t change here, but if I break down my experiences, maybe it’d seem like a year’s worth of accomplishments.

September 2009 – After asking my auntie and uncle for a place to sleep, I buy a one-way plane ticket to Hawaii.  I have no job lined up and no place to live, but I do bring a short stack of Craigslist ads.  That’s a start.

Five days later, I get a job.  I cook food for Kikka Sushi in the Whole Foods Market at Kahala Mall.

Before the month is over, I find an affordable place to live.  It’s only a fifteen-minute walking distance from Waikiki.

I wonder how people moved anywhere before Craigslist.

October 2009 – With an income and a bed in place, I start to build my social circle.  I steal my cousin’s best buddies and befriend my international roommates.  With pau hana (“after work”) lunches and nights in Waiks, I just barely make rent.

I volunteer at the Hawaiian International Film Festival.  The other volunteers are cool and films I saw were (mostly) interesting, but I don’t try to hob-knob with any filmmakers.  I’m not in a place to network myself, and I hate doing it anyways.

I meet up with the Cal Alumni Club of Hawaii to watch Cal football games.  It’s mostly middle-aged men with kids and careers, but we still have the common bond of love for our alma mater.  Go Bears!

I finally get a Hawaiian State ID.  Now I can get kama’aina (“local”) discount rates!

November 2009 – November sucks.  I am already bored of work and get six flat tires in a week and a half.  At least the month ends with turkey.

December 2009 – As bad as November was, that’s how awesome December is.  I go bodysurfing at Sandy’s with my roommates every weekend, fly home for Christmas to see friends and family, and return (with a 50-pound suitcase of DVDs) just in time for fireworks on New Year’s Eve.

February 2010 – Without another source of income lined up, I quit my job at Kikka Sushi and never look back.

I work as a PA on a narrative photo shoot for over a week.  The opportunity has me travel to crazy-awesome places around the island, meet interesting people every day, and learn some technical photography stuff.  This is probably the best time on the island so far.

The day after my 23rd birthday, I jump out of a plane.  Don’t worry, I have a parachute.

Just as my stint as a PA ends, my new position at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. begins.  I am introduced to coworkers my age and the world of living off tips.

April 2010 – I get an assignment from FLUX Hawaii magazine.  Backstage of Fresh Cafe, I interview The Throwdowns at their CD release concert and have my article published online.  I feel important.

May 2010 – I briefly work for an aspiring wedding photographer.  I redesign his website and then work two days at a wedding convention.

I get in touch with the artist from the photo shoot and get a side job working at his house, helping him finish up various art projects.  I get really good at using a typewriter.

FLUX Hawaii magazine gives me another assignment.  I write an article about Sustainable UH, a green student group.  The article goes to print.  I feel important-er.

At the artist’s house, my duties shift from finishing up art projects to packing up his things for his move to Tokyo.  I get really good at using bubble wrap.

My work buddies teach me how to surf in Waikiki.  I’m nowhere near good, but at least I get up on the board on my first outing.

June 2010 – I go on my first vacation from Hawaii!  It’s a family trip to Seattle for my cousin Avery’s graduation.  I fall in love the city and vow to move there.  I still plan to.

I officially launch YoungManWentWest.com.

July 2010 – I move out of my apartment into a new one.  It went from a relatively clean international house to a dirty frat house.   I had to get out.

August 2010 – I return to California for a week an a half.  For the first five days, I return to Camp Milagros as a volunteer counselor for a third time, then bum around the Bay to catch up with old friends.

September 2010 – I go scuba diving.  It’s relaxing, but not as fun as riding a bumber boat at high speeds.  We do that, too.

I celebrate my first kama’ainiversary (kama’aina + anniversary) by working a double at Bubba’s.  No break.

I start another blog entry ready to joke about how I’ve done nothing for a whole year, only to realize how rich with experiences my time has been.  I am surprised how much I have to write about and cherish all the small, wonderful moments with friends that couldn’t even fit in this blog.  I’ve made many memories with many friends, some who have already left me and some whom I will have to leave eventually.  I look forward to the next eight or so months I have on this island, anticipating the random events and opportunities that will further enrich my Hawaiian life.

This was the Roxy model photo I added to my very first blog. Remember her?

PS: Here’s a link to my first post.  Thought it’d be an interesting read.

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