Category Archives: Family

Monterey Bay Aquarium

After Fanime/LineCon, Ezra and I thought it would be fun to drop by Monterey Bay Aquarium.  It’s a little out of the way but it was only a one and a half hour drive away from Mama Darling’s apartment.  Kurt had never been there before and he’s always up for spending more quality time with Ezra so he agreed to drive us. Ezra and I have actually been to Monterey Bay Aquarium before, back in 2006 with our family.  But back then we arrived in the late afternoon and we only had about two hours to look around before they had to close for the day.  This time we wanted to go early so we could take our time and enjoy ourselves.

The aquarium parking was full when we arrived, so we ended up having to park about a mile away and walk back.  But the weather was quite nice and we had this lovely view to enjoy during our walk to the aquarium.

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There’s the aquarium~

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We found this long line when we got there.  We looked at each other with fear in our eyes when we saw it because we all got flashbacks of the 6-hour line we were in the day before.  Luckily this one moved fairly quickly.  We made it inside in about 10 minutes.

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Tickets cost around $35 dollars.  (Students, senior citizens and children under 12 get a discount)
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 Getting our hands stamped

After this we just walked around and enjoyed the sights.  The park offered shows and free documentaries, but we were more interested in seeing the sea creatures.

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There were lots of people since it was still Memorial Day weekend.  When we went here back in 2006 we practically had the place to ourselves

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One of the aquarium’s many touch pools

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What am I up to?  Oh, nothing new, just petting my starfish XD

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 Mama Darling came with us since she wanted to visit her relatives in L.A.

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We had lunch at the restaurant there.  The place was packed but Ezra managed to get us good seats near the window.  They had binoculars there available for public use.

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 After lunch, we decided to head over to see the jellyfish exhibit

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This was what we were most excited about

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Fanime Con 2013 (AKA “Line Con”)

 Warning : picture heavy post ahead

Ezra and I LOVE attending cosplay events.  The very first one we went to was the 6th Philippine Toys, Hobbies and Collectibles Convention (ToyCon) back in 2007.  Kurt dressed up as Tezuka and welcomed us to the world of cosplay.  Since then, we’ve attended the ToyCon every year,  along with a few other events (Otaku Expo, Ozine Fest, etc.)  It’s been a dream of ours to attend a cosplay event outside of the Philippines and see what the similarities and differences are.  So when Kurt told us that he would take us to Fanime last May, Ezra and I could barely contain our excitement :D

Fanime takes place at the San Jose Convention Center, which is about a 6 hour drive from Los Angeles.  We left Ninang’s house in the early afternoon so we would make it to San Jose by dinner.  We were a little sad about having to leave so early because Ate Zsa Zsa and her family arrived from Las Vegas earlier that morning.

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We wanted to stay and play with cutie MacKayla

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Awwww

But we knew we had to get going before it got too late.  It was Memorial Day weekend so we knew traffic was going to be bad.

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I got quite excited when I saw this sign because The Big Bang Theory had an episode called The Bakersfield Expedition :D Supposedly Star Trek filmed a few scenes here.

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We passed by this area with lots of cows.  Even with the windows closed and the air conditioner on, it was VERY STINKY~ It was so bad that Ezra, who was sleeping in the backseat, woke up just to complain about the smell.

We made it to San Jose at around 10pm (we had a couple of stops along the way).  Originally we were planning on staying at a hotel but my aunt offered us her place, yay!  It’s a good thing too because I heard that getting a hotel room during Fanime weekend is almost impossible unless you book weeks in advance.

The next day we were up bright and early, excited to go to the event.  We don’t usually go to these things in costume (meaning we don’t dress up with a specific character in mind), but we do like dressing up. IMG_8731

I was a random witch girl

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And Ezra dressed up as a typical anime school girl.  Although she and Kurt could probably pass for an AKB48 member and her manager

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Saw these signs on the way to the convention center.  So excited!

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Full body shot of my outfit.  I’m lucky that we were staying with my aunt because I left my shoes in LA!  I only realized that I forgot to pack them when we were about 3 hours away.  Fortunately, my aunt is as kikay as me and she had all these boots to choose from.  Most of them have really high heels so I just chose the comfiest looking one.  They’re a little big on me, but I stuffed some tissue in them so they would fit better

After finding a place to park the car, we lined up to register for the event
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There were lots of people there already

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The line leads to this building

We thought this was the entire line and that we’d be good to go once we made it inside – WE WERE SO WRONG!  We were in line for 6 excruciating hours!  Some people even started calling the event “Line Con” instead of Fanime Con.  One blogger/reporter described it as “a nightmare of fubar-like levels“.  I’m not really sure if this is a regular occurrence for anime conventions in the US, but from the reviews I read online, Fanime is just know to have a terrible registration process.  Kurt has attended a couple of anime conventions in the States before, but he’s never had to wait in line for this long.

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The three of us kept staring at this window on the 2nd floor because we could see cosplayers looking down at us.  We thought that they were people that already made it through registration and were mocking those of us who were still in line.  Turns out this was still part of the line!

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Hello Haruhi

Of course, when you’re stuck in line for that long, what else is there to do but take pictures?
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There were a few volunteers who made sure the line remained organized.  They were people who registered the day before so they understood the pain we were going through.  A volunteer cosplaying Yuki Cross (Vampire Knight) told us that she was in line for 7 hours the day before.

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The dude in his underwear must have been freezing.  It was pretty cold that day

After about 2 hours, we made it inside the building.

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We saw this sign, and thought “Cool, we must be close”.  WRONG AGAIN!

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The line wrapped around the entire 2nd floor hallway

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We tried to make the best of it by keeping each other entertained

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I was so hungryyyyy by this point.  I had very little for breakfast since I was too excited for the event T__T

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Saw this half eaten chocnut on one of the pots in the hallway and though “there must be a Filipino here”.  Don’t worry, I didn’t eat it, even though I was very tempted to.

We made it to the window we were looking at earlier.  Our turn to look outside and make people jealous XD

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Check out that line

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Hello Ms. Pacman

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There were photo shoots happening all over the place
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 Dark Alice

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 Adorable little Captain America

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 The pink haired volunteer we saw earlier

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Poor Sailor Moon was cold.  Tuxedo Mask to the rescue!

Finally after about 2 more hours, we were allowed to go inside this ballroom, where Line Con continued.  (I like how this one guy on Yelp described it as “Apparently Fanimecon staff heard we liked lines, so they decided to make us wait in a line for a line for a line.“)

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We got tired of standing so we made ourselves comfortable on the floor.  We passed the time playing Words With Friends, Icon Pop Quiz and Game of Nerds.

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Saw this macho/sexeh guy there

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We made friends with this guy who was in line with us. (I forgot his name though, I’m so sorry.)  He came alone and after about 4 hours of having no one to talk to, he started a conversation with us.

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He was really nice and friendly, and he got excited when he learned that we were from the Philippines.  He told us that we were the first foreigners he met.  He asked us a lot of questions about the Philippines and we gladly answered them :)

Finally, after 6 agonizing hours, we made it to the front of the line

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We got the one day pass.  I can’t remember how much the tickets were, but I think it was between $50 to $60 for one day. (The event lasts for 4 days)

 After registration, you have to get your badge

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Personalized badges, cool~  In the Philippines we usually just get a stamp on our hand XD

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Got goody bags which contained the program and some brochures

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Another friend we made in line.  She was behind us.  She came alone too, so we started talking to each other after 3 hours.  She started the conversation by asking me if I made my costume.  I forgot her name (I know, I’m a horrible person), but I remember her telling me that she’s from San Francisco and that this is her first anime convention.  She had a friend who was already inside waiting for her.

So what was the first thing we did after getting our badges?  Look for a place to eat of course!  We were famished!  I survived the 6-hour wait because I remembered that my aunt made me pack a small sandwich in my bag that morning after she saw how little I ate for breakfast.  She knew about my hyperacidity so she told me to bring some food just in case.  Thank you Mama Darling!  You saved me~

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 The closest fast food place we found was Johnny Rockets.

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The place was packed!  Luckily Ezra managed to get us seats at the counter

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We browsed the program guide and brochures while we ate

After we finished our meal, we walked around and tried to look for the Dealer’s Hall to see the goodies they had for sale.  It was in an entirely different building, and we couldn’t figure out how to get there based on the map they gave us.  We got turned around a couple of times, but we didn’t really mind.  There were lots of cosplayers walking around the area and we enjoyed taking pictures of them as we looked for the building.

(At this point we wondered if we could have skipped out on the entire registration process and just waited to take pictures of the cosplayers outside since a lot of them were just wandering around the city.)

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Kurt got excited when he saw the Queen’s Blade cosplayer

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We came across this group of foreign cosplayers.  I think they were from Taiwan.  They didn’t seem to speak that much English.

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Ezra found FFX-2′s Yuna
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We saw some cosplayers getting coffee

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Poor Magikarp got caught by this Pokemon trainerIMG_8879

I spotted this girl across the street and zoomed in because her costume really stood out.  Not sure who she is though.

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Zack.  Waiting for Aeris.  Or Cloud?
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We saw this moogle girl while we were waiting to cross the street.  I love her costume.  I should try going to an event dressed like this sometime.

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Week 14/52 : Hello summer!

Ahh summer~ I hate the heat but I love the memories :D

To celebrate the completion of all my Hawaii entries on this blog, I decided to make a little Hawaiian-themed SP.

I feel like my summer break has finally begun :) Officially, it won’t start until the 28th, because that’s when I’ll be allowed to file for a teacher’s leave, but I submitted the last of my students’s grades last Friday, and I won’t be teaching again until August, so hooray! :D

You read that correctly. No teaching until August. We have 4 months of summer this year! UPLB’s academic calendar is shifting its start of classes from June to August, so we get 2 extra months of summer break! How cool is that? :D Although I’m a little worried that when August comes I’ll be awkward in front of the students because I would have forgotten how to teach a class. Hopefully that won’t happen. I wish I could say that we’re free to spend all those 4 months on vacation, but we’re only given a month off from work. The rest of the time we have to report to the office to do other things. But I’m not complaining. One month is more than what most people get.

The “sarong” I’m wearing in this shot is actually a piece of fabric Ezra and I bought a few weeks ago, to be used as a pillowcase.  I hadn’t gotten around to making it yet so we figured we might as well use it in this photo.  Right after I shot this, I made the pillowcase for her, and Ezra made this for me:

She posted it on her birthday (yesterday) so there was nothing I could do about it

Kurt saw what Ezra did, and this is what happened:

I swear, those two are perfect for each other

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Hawaii videos by SKDR Films :)

I’ve finished writing all my Hawaii entries, but I wanted to share these videos that Kurt made of our trip.  He filmed us constantly during our visit there (which you can see from the pictures I’ve shared).  As soon as we were back in LA, he started editing the footage.  He actually posted these last year because he’s not a lazy bum (like me) who takes a year to do these things.

This first video is the first one he made out of the three.  This one is centered on Ezra. (It’s like an Ezra Idol DVD, lol.)  He made one which featured me too (which I love of course), but I think I like this one just a little bit more.  Probably because you can really see how much effort was put into it. I’m not saying that the one he made for me wasn’t nice, or that he didn’t spend as much time on it, but since Ezra is his girlfriend and Kurt spent most of his time filming her, it’s only natural that she would have a lot of great footage.  Also, I love the song they chose for this video.  Summer Paradise is a perfect way to describe our trip.  And they went with the version which featured Taka from ONE OK ROCK :D

In the video you can see all the things I mentioned in my previous blog entries – from checking in at Trump Hotel, to visiting beaches, Kualoa Ranch, sailing, the Charity Walk and the luau at Paradise Cove.  (You can see the wave that attacked us during our sunset cruise around 2:29)

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Hawaiian Luau at Paradise Cove

On our final day in Hawaii, Papa Steve took us to Paradise Cove for a wonderful luau experience.  We got to immerse ourselves in Hawaiian culture by doing arts and crafts, playing games and watching a Hawaiian performance while enjoying a nice dinner.

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Parents looking very tropical in their floral printed outfits

My dad took these photos on the way to Paradise Cove:

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(I didn’t see most of these sights because I was sleeping in the backseat.  I woke up with a fever that morning T__T)

On our way to Paradise Cove, Papa Steve took us to see Aulani, the Disney Hawaiian Resort.

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The resort is owned by Disney but aside from the gift shop, I didn’t really see any signs of Disney in there.  It’s not like they had Mickey Mouse waiting to greet us in the lobby.  (Although they might have Hidden Mickeys all over the place and I just didn’t notice.)

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Taking pictures on the lobby balcony

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They had a lazy river.  I would have loved to try this :)

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Koi pond

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Some fluffy stuff.  Not sure what they are.  Spears?  Some kind of weapon?  (They look a lot like feather dusters though.)

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We were sitting in the lobby and chillin’ when this guy showed up:

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He gave us a brief history of Hawaii

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He was very passionate about it too

After his little history lesson, we walked around the hotel for a bit

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After exploring the place and checking out the gift shop, we continued our drive to Paradise Cove

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Posing in front as Daddy and Papa Steve buys our tickets for us

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Despite our little detour to Aulani, we got there a bit early.  They weren’t letting people in yet, so we grabbed a bench and waited for the opening

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After a few minutes, the staff told us to form a line because they would be letting people in soon

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Getting our leis from the staff

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The sun was really harsh where the line was, but I found a good solution

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Papa Steve though I was being sweet by coming up to stand so close to him, until he realized my true intent XD

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Quick shot before we went inside.  We were at the front of the line so we got to go in first, yay!

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Time to get the line moving


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 We were welcomed by this lady’s singing

IMG_8048a (2)aWe were also given free drinks as we entered the place

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Hawaii : Sunset sailing

After our eventful 6-mile Charity Walk this morning, our day was far from over.  Papa Steve scheduled a relaxing sunset cruise for us later that day.  We had a few hours to rest and get ready for our afternoon on the catamaran.

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Quick group photo in front of the hotel before we left

We walked to the beach where the catamaran would be picking us up

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Lots of people enjoying the sun

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Signing some waivers for our sunset sail

We were told that the catamaran hasn’t returned from its previous cruise yet, so we walked around the beach and took photos while waiting

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Kurt with his precious glidecam again

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We found a summer Santa walking around

After a few short minutes, we spotted the catamaran returning to shore:

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Before allowing us to get on the boat, our captain briefed us and gave us some simple do’s and don’t’s for the cruise.

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He also told us that we would be out at sea till the sun goes down, and that it would be a dry cruise with unlimited drinks on board.

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Footwear wasn’t allowed on board so we left our sandals and slippers on the shore

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We got to board the boat first so we got good seats in the front

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We sat on the floor while the “adults” got to sit on the bench
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Long line of people still waiting to come aboard

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The “floor” of the boat is actually this net type thing.  Which meant that sometimes water would splash up on us when the waves got too strong.  It made for  a nice a breezy ride though.

Once everyone was seated, our captain told us to sit back, relax and enjoy the cruise

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His co-captain told us that he would be providing us with drinks later.  And if we want more, we just had to go as him for a refill

The cruise started off really nicely.  The breeze was refreshing and the view was lovely.  Our only complaint was that Tita Rachel and Papa Steve got stuck sitting next to this vain, obnoxious couple who kept talking about how much money they have.  Tita Rachel and Papa Steve tried to come up with a plan to change their seats, but thankfully they didn’t have to suffer for very long. You’ll find out why in a minute.

Our cruise took us to this spot where the surfers were:

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INSTABITS : March 2014

Now that thesis defense period is over, I have a little bit of free time.  I’ve still got loads of reports to check but I think I can finally squeeze this entry in. It’s already late as it is.

 

Started the month off by being vain, as usual.  These days, I normally wear my hair curly, so I haven’t really noticed how long it’s getting.  I wore it straight this one time and was surprised :D

Ezra has this annoying habit of stealing my phone and sending mushy messages to herself.  Or sometimes when we get into one of our petty arguments and she wants to me apologize she just goes ahead and sends herself these messages. (Yes, she’s crazy.)  So I guess I should stop being surprised to find messages like this sent to her whenever I open Viber.  (One time she accidentally sent the messages to Karrie instead of herself!  Poor Karrie must have been so weirded out.)

I ordered fake bangs from eBay and they finally arrived.  I like having side swept bangs so I’ve been letting them grow out.  But there are times when I want blunt bangs for my SP and I figured this was a good solution.   I need to give it a little trim so it looks more natural though.

I made Sir Taps try my fake bangs on. I told him it made him look like Fukunaga from The Liar Game.  What do you think? XD

Merienda from 7-11 one afternoon. It was my first time trying their hot pot meal. I liked it.  I’ll probably get it again next time.

I was OBSESSED with this drama last month.  As soon as I finished the last episode I actually went back to watch the entire thing all over again.  I made a review about it, which you can read HERE .  (Warning : it contains lots of SPOILERS.)

I even managed to get my hands on some You Who Came From The Stars sheet music and started trying to learn them on the piano :) Weeee~

And I changed my phone’s lock screen to a picture of Kim Soo Hyun!   I think the last time I used an idol’s/actor’s photo as my phone background was back in 2010.

Our adorable little furballs :) *squeeeeee*  I miss them :(  Their new owners picked them up this month.

 Aww, happy little Moon Moon

I grabbed this photo from Amie’s Instagram account.  We had merienda with our beloved BS advisers at IRRI one afternoon.  Sir Marvs and Sir Taps are two people I highly respect and look up to :)  Not just for their vast knowledge in the field of Physics and Material Science, but also for their positive outlook in life.  I can only hope to be as optimistic as them one day.

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Hawaii Day 4 : Oahu Charity Walk 2013

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Our 4th day in Hawaii was spent walking around the beautiful island of Oahu.  Papa Steve signed us up for the Oahu Charity walk. It’s an annual fund raising event and it usually takes place around May.  The walk goes on for 6 miles and there are 18 checkpoints/stations that you have to pass through.  They give you snacks and cheer you on at each checkpoint.  It’s a really fun event and everyone is invited to join.

The charity walk starts at 7am so we were up bright and early that morning.

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 Daddy and Ninang showing off their walking shoes

We were invited by Papa Steve so of course we were representing Trump Hotel

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We’re so excited to finally get some exercise that we’re actually glowing XD (Though it might also just be because of the condensation on the camera lens)

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Papa Steve told us to bring bags because they would be giving out lots of free treats during the walk.  This way we’ll have some place to put them.

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 Showing off their walking shoes again, lol

Papa Steve picked us up at the hotel and gave us our forms, which also contained the guidelines for the event

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 We browsed through the flyer quickly since Papa Steve already told us what to expect on the walk anyway

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 The event took place on May 18, 2013.  So yeah, this entry’s almost an entire year late…. *hides*

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 The forms also contained the list of checkpoints/stations, and the stamp sheet

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 Papa Steve and Tita Rachel leading us to the first station

 

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 There were lots of people heading that way too

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 Kurt had his glidecam and was filming Ezra as usual

When we arrived at the registration booths, Papa Steve introduced us to some of the people he worked with.

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Go Trump! (Can you find us in the shot? XD)

We hung out here while waiting for the event to start

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 Lots of people signing up

Before we got started on our walk, we needed to get our energy up first

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The event offered a free breakfast for the “walkers” (that’s what they called us)

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Waiting in line for food

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 There were lots of people but the line moved fairly quickly

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 Got our juice, muffins and bananas :D

Finally it was time to start!

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 Quick shot of the excited walkers.  Daddy’s gout was acting up so he stayed behind.  He told us he would meet us later after we pass the 3rd checkpoint since the 4th checkpoint is just a short walk from our hotel.

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 The event hosts were cheerful and upbeat

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 Caught mama slathering on some sunscreen to protect herself from UV rays

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Got our first stamp!  One checkpoint down, 17 to go :D

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 There were lots of volunteers telling us where to go to make sure no one gets lost

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 Going for my 2nd stamp

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 I got a bottle of water and an energy bar from the 2nd checkpoint

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 The third checkpoint gave us cookies from Double Tree.  Ninang was really excited about these because she heard that their cookies were delish!  (I gotta say I agree.)

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Hawaii : ATV rides in Jurassic Park!

I woke up this morning feeling excited because we were riding ATVs this afternoon.  I’ve never gone before and I was a little nervous because I was told that you need a decent amount of strength to control it.  I wasn’t in the best shape so I was worried that I wouldn’t even be able to go.  But still, I wanted to try it.

After breakfast, Papa Steve and Tita Rachel picked us up from the hotel.

IMG_2177Quick picture in the lobby while waiting for them

On the way to the ranch, I snapped some pictures of the road signs because I thought the names were cute:

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Before going to the ranch, we stopped by Mokoli’i first.  Some people know it as Chinaman’s Hat.  It’s a small island that resembles a Chinese hat (although I think it looks more like a Vietnamese hat).

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I found this paining online by Dean Howell, which shows how people must envision the Chinese man wearing the hat:

The water is pretty shallow so you can actually walk to the island during low tide, but we decided to just stay on shore and take a few photos while admiring the view.

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The “noisy” ladies in Papa Steve’s car XD  (They have extremely loud voices, especially when they’re excited.  Luckily Ezra, Kurt and I were in a separate car)

We asked someone to help us take this complete group photo

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In return Papa Steve took pictures for them:

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We saw this cute couple taking pictures by the shore too:

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Honeymooners? XD

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As usual Kurt was going around taking lots of videos of Ezra

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On our way back to the car we saw these birds

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Whatchu lookin’ at?  (He reminds me of Woody Woodpecker)

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 We also came across these nuts:

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I thought they were macadamias but I later found out that they were Kukui nuts

After a few more minutes of driving, we arrived at the Kualoa Ranch.  It’s a famous tourist destination because it has been used as a film location for many popular movies and TV shows such as Jurassic Park, Lost, Pearl Harbor and Godzilla.  They offer lots of activities such as tours, ATVs, and horseback riding.

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Hawaii : Let’s go to the beach!

Our first full day in Hawaii :D  After  a good night’s sleep (no more having to wake up at 6:30 in the morning), I was greeted by this amazing view of Waikiki beach from our balcony:

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After an entire week of waking up in the cold, this was heaven~

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Ohayou!

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Ezra and Kurt admiring the view

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Quick selfie before we had to go down for breakfast

Breakfast was served at the same restaurant where we had our dinner the previous night. While waiting for our seats to be ready, we walked around the pool for a bit

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Ezra copying the Wet Floor sign and pretending to slip

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They had a jacuzzi there too. The water was scalding hot! I couldn’t even completely submerge my body because it was so hot.  But other people didn’t seem to have a problem with it.

Funny story – Ezra really did slip and fall here the next day. We went swimming after dinner and it was really cold and windy. She wanted to stay in the jacuzzi where it was warm but Kurt and I tried to drag her over into the pool. She kept resisting and ending up falling into the jacuzzi. Ouch~  She caught a cold after that too.  Poor Ez XD

After a short while, the hostess informed us that our seats were ready

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They had these cute little jam jars there

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As well as these tiny ketchup and Tabasco bottles!

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Itsy bitsy

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My parents had the omelette

IMG_6205Ezra and I had their French Toast (I think this is French toast … I forgot.  But it was yummy)

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Kurt had the breakfast platter

Papa Steve arrived to join us for breakfast and tell us what he had planned for us that day

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He still had some work to take care of so we told him that we would go down to the beach and look around while he finished up

We returned to our rooms first to get ready:

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Going up to the 36th floor

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We stayed in room 3605

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I took a few more selfies while waiting for the others.  Kurt saw me and jumped into the frame.

Waikiki beach is just a 5-minute walk from our hotel.  And every time you want to go down there, you can request a beach bag from the hotel, free of charge.  The bag contains beach towels, a bottle of sunblock, bottled water and some fruits.  You can even  put in a request for a personal attaché to carry your things for you to the beach!  Sushal~ We didn’t have that much stuff so we just asked for the bags.

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Trump Hotel from the outside

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Spotted this colorful trolley going around

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Since we’re so close to the beach, it’s pretty normal to see people walking around the street in their swimsuits

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Lovely path to the beach

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We saw some colorful birds on our way there, and this is what happened, lol

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After a short walk, we made it to the beautiful Waikiki beach

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We’re obviously not dressed for a day out in the water (since we weren’t planning on staying long, we just wanted to look around), so my parents decided to just stay by the shore while we kids took some pictures at the dock.

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Looks like a honeymoon photo, doesn’t it?

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Kurt had his glidecam with him as usual and he kept filming Ezra while we walked around.  (But he did get distracted by some tiny fish we saw in the water)

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Whenever I asked him to take pictures of Ezra and me, I would hold it for him.  (That thing was HEAVY!  I don’t know how he can hold on to it for the whole day!)

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Pretending to throw his beloved glidecam off the pier

Some fun wide angle shots:IMG_6296

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