Archive for the ‘travel’ Tag

2018 October “Roots” Trip to Japan   1 comment

Presenting the latest episode of

Hawaiians in Japan

Starring: Lari, Christine, Bruce, Kazu, Ailah, Aulia, Fred, Fumiko, Maya, Elvis

October 3-14, 2018

We planned a pilgrimage to our family’s roots in Japan. My mother’s Hokada family came from Kumamoto on the southern island of Kyushu. My father’s Kimura family came from Oshima Island, Iwakuni in Yamaguchi prefecture. So Fred, Fumiko and Maya Hokada went to Kumamoto with us. Our cousin, Elvis Kimura, who lives in Hilo, went with us to Oshima Island. Kazu flew with Ailah and Aulia to Osaka and took the shinkansen to Kumamoto. Christine, Bruce and I met in Tokyo and flew to Kumamoto from Haneda.

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Bruce and Chris did not like this hostel

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Before flying to Kumamoto, we had dinner with Yumi, Asako and Koji. Yuba is liquid tofu and you eat the cooled “skin”.

My second cousin, Hiroshi Hokada took us to Kumamoto Castle, where we got to see some of the damage from the 2016 earthquake. They were having a festival at the castle, so we enjoyed entertainment with a picnic lunch and the kids got to play all kinds of games.

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When we returned to their home in the late afternoon, we walked over to the Hokada grave site. When Chris, Bruce and I scattered our parents’ ashes it was an emotional experience to take Mom back to her ancestral roots. Cousin Fred’s wife, Fumiko comes from Nagoya, so she translated all of our conversations with our Japanese relatives throughout our visit. While we were at Osaka Castle, the ladies at home prepared a huge feast for dinner all spread out on a long table. All of us had a wonderful time getting to know each other and meeting all the relatives.

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What a feast!

The next day, Hiroshi took us to Mount Aso National Park and we visited 3 active volcanic craters. Then we went to Takachiho Gorge, where we walked in the gorge and enjoyed the scenery and waterfalls there.

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The next morning, we visited Suizenji Park, with miniature versions of the major sites in Japan, from Mt Fuji to Fushimi Inari Shrine. Then we drove to Nabegataki Falls, where we could walk behind the falls to the other side. 

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We stayed overnight at Ryokan Yamanoyu in Kurokawa Onsen village with Hiroshi and Takako, who left for home the next day. The next day, we did the “Onsen Hop”. We  paid 1300 yen to visit 3 out of 25 onsens in Kurokawa, walking from one to the next. Then we drove to Yufuin, another onsen town. We stayed overnight, but didn’t get to see much of this town because we had a long drive to Iwakuni-Oshima Island to visit our Kimura relatives. IMG_4592IMG_4624

When we arrived at Oshima Island, Hitoshi Okabatake was waiting for us with Tony, a translator, that stayed with us the entire visit so we could communicate with our relatives. We visited the Kimura grave, and scattered our parents ashes there. The Okabatake family took us to a fine dinner at a restaurant and the next morning, we picked tangerines at their orange grove.

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After they served us a delicious home-cooked lunch, we drove to Iwakuni airport and flew back to Tokyo.

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Chris & I bought new eyeglasses for $60 made in 30m minutes, including eye exam.

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Before Bruce left for home.

Lari’s Top Ten:

10 Buying new glasses for cheap in Tokyo from Zoff & JINS

9 Kumamoto Castle

8 Yufuin onsen village shops

7 Meeting and “chatting” with Japan relatives. In Kumamoto, we had Fumiko to translate, and in Oshima, we had a professional translator, Tony, with us the entire visit with Okabatake’s

6 Scattering Sue/Kongo’s ashes at Hokada/Kimura graves

5 Nabegataki Falls -walking behind it!

4 Being with cousins and family traveling together

3 Takachiho Gorge

2 Delicious home-cooked lunch at Okabatake’s and home-cooked dinner at Hokada’s

1 Kurokawa Onsen Hopping

Fred’s Top Ten:

10. Convincing Lari to study conversational Japanese?

9. Witnessing Christine scatter the ashes of Uncle Kongo and Aunty Sue at the Hokada grave in Kumamoto.

8. Hotel Breakfast buffet with the Kimura’s 3x

7. Spotting Mt. Aso from the propeller airplane on the way to Kumamoto and the scary landing at Kumamoto Airport.

6. The clouds and the mountains of Kumamoto reminded me of Hawaii.

5. Maya tricked me. She took a nice photo of Kumamoto Castle but it was actually a picture of a picture of the Castle. I didn’t even notice that it was taken before the earthquake!

4. Aulia correcting me saying “I’m not Ailah, I’m Aulia!”

3. The 800 year old tree at Takachiho Jinja.

2.  Buying some Kumamoto rice for Mochi Tsuki.

1.  Visiting the Hokada home. They were so good to us. It was just like visiting our aunties, uncles, and cousins here at home.

Fumiko’s Top Ten:

10. Okonomiyaki Place. 

9.  Local super market.

8. Souvenir shops

7. Propeller airplane to Kumamoto. 

6. Hotel breakfast buffet. 

5. Kumamoto Castle. 

4. Mt. Aso. 

3. Takachiho Gorge. 

2. Hokada ancestors’ Graveyard. 

1.Dinner @Hokada San’s House.

Maya’s Top Ten:

10. Hotel breakfast buffet.

9. Singing in the car.

8. Free hotel smart phone.

7. Propeller airplane to Kumamoto.

6. Okonomiyaki Place.

5. Kumamoto Castle.

4. Graveyard.

3. Hokada San’s House.

2. Mt. Aso.

1. Takachiho Gorge.

Christine’s Top Ten:

10  Takachiho Gorge

9   YufuIn shopping area

8  Sleeping & playing with Ailah and Aulia

7  Freddie & Fumiko, Elvis, Kazu & Bruce’s company

6  Lunch at Otabatake’s

5  Oshima (Yashiro) Island narrow streets

4  sunrise at Sunshine Sazanseto Hotel

3  Onsen Hopping

2  IchiRan (Saimin) Ramen

1  Scattering Mom and Dad’s ashes

Bruce’s Top Ten:

10 Picking Mikan at Okabatake

9. Sunrise at Sunshine Sazanseto Hotel

8. Mount Aso

7. Suizenji Esuko Park

6. Kumanoto Castle

5. Toto and other Japanese toilets

4. Kimura Grave

3. Hokada Grave

2. Lunch at Okabatake’s

1. Dinner at Hokada’s

Elvis’s Top Ten:

10 Suizenji Jojuen Garden

9 Yufuin Street shopping

8 Eating Soba in Oguni

7 Visited Kimura Grave

6 Riding Shikansen

5 Picking Mikan at Okabatake’s

4 Museum of Emmigration

3 Dinner at Ryokan Yamanoyu -Family and food (especially the horse meat)

2 Kurokawa Onsens (3 extra ones)

1 Oshima family Dinner: cousins and food (sashimi was fantastic)

Kazu’s Top Ten:

Ailah’s Top Ten:

10 Going on long train rides while playing games (w/ daddy & Aulia)

9 Eating & drinking sweets (a lot)

8 Playing w/Maya(in the car) 

7 Seeing and feeding the koi fish 

6 Seeing waterfalls -fav.-nabegataki 

5 Going to many Onsens -fav.-okunoyu 

4 Staying @neat hotels -fav.-Yamanoyu 

3 Going shopping -fav-Daiso 

2 Sagamihara-favorite -seeing Mia 

1 Kumamoto -favorite-seeing my family

 

Aulia’s Top Ten:

10 eating sushi (it tastes good)

9 going to Kumamoto zoo (seeing the giraffe)

8 seeing coyfish(taking pictures of them)

7 going to see Nabegataki water fall

6 going to the Takachiho gorge (seeing the nice green water)

5 going to the Okunoyu onsen (going in a lot of pools)

4 staying in Sunshine Suzan Seto (resting)

3 seeing our cousins (playing with them)

2 going in the trains (sitting and looking out)

1 playing balloon popping game

Posted December 11, 2018 by lariyasui in Asia

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Roger & Lari’s South Africa & Belgium Trip   3 comments

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ROGER AND LARI’S 2012 FALL VACATION

Presenting the latest episode of Roger and Lari’s Travels

“South Africa & Belgium”

September 6 to 28, 2012

It was a wonderful adventure to go on safari in South Africa! I hesitated booking a safari trip for years because of the high prices. Just the airfare alone, is costly. Early this year, my sister Christine, went to a silent auction at a fundraiser for a local hospital in Boulder, Colorado where she lives. She was able to purchase a 6-day safari package for two for $2,200 at Zulu Nyala Lodge in South Africa, which includes lodging, 3 meals a day, and two safaris per day. And she offered me the same deal, which is good anytime in 2012 or 2013. So I immediately said yes, and bought the certificate for the safari package. I decided to go this year, and she is going next year. We were gone for 3 weeks because we went to Cape Town on our own after the safari and then to Brussels for a week to visit family, who live near Brussels.

It took us 3 gruelling red eye flights to reach Durban S. Africa, where a shuttle picked us up to drive us to Zulu Nyala. Our lodge was beautiful with a swimming pool and large dining room and our room was lovely with a large bathroom and comfortable beds. They even had wifi so my iphone and ipad worked! Amazing! We were assigned to Chris for our driver guide who took us out each morning and each afternoon with 6 other people. 4 times, he drove into the mud and we had to push our vehicle out of the mud. On our last day the mud was so deep, and there were only 4 of us, so we could not push him out. Chris had to walk us out to a main road where another guide picked us up, and he waited for a tractor to rescue his vehicle. We saw rhino, impala, nyala, warthog, giraffe, zebra, cheetah, cape buffalo, vulture, and more. The daily routine was to have breakfast, go out for a morning drive, come back for lunch and rest, go out for afternoon drive, come back to relax and have dinner. Once, we went out for a night drive and once on an early morning drive before breakfast. The most exciting sight was watching a male cheetah feeding on his kill-a nyala. We were able to walk up as close as 6 feet away from him while he was eating.

Most of the guests were there through silent or live auctions, and everyone paid a different price depending on the highest bid at their respective auctions. In our group, there was one couple that paid less than us, ($1800) and everyone else paid more than us, the highest being $7000. Trevor Shaw is one of South Africa’s most reputable diamond dealers. A lover of African bush and wildlife, Trevor acquired a small private game lodge and reserve in Kwa-Zulu Natal, naming it Zulu Nyala. It started out as a place for his family and friends, then it was used for filming movies. Eventually, he started giving travel packages to Zulu Nyala as donations to help raise funds for charities in the United States, which bring many Americans to this beautiful country.

We had to pay extra to go to other reserves. Our reserve has 3 elephants, which we could see on a ridge from our swimming pool, but we could not see them up close. One day we went to a neighboring reserve, called Phinda Private Reserve, hoping to see lions and elephants. We went in their vehicle, which has a ranger/driver and a tracker who sits up front looking for animal tracks. Although we did not spot a single elephant, we saw a pride of lions twice. Once we saw them on the road, and when we stopped our vehicle, they walked right past us! Later, we saw them resting, so our ranger drove up close to them so we could all snap photos in awe.

On our last day, we went to Hluhluwe Imfolozi National Park. We were lucky to see wild dogs, hyena, baboon, rhino, a dung beetle rolling a ball of dung, and finally, we saw elephants. Several of them crossed the road right in front of us, with their babies. We were satisfied after seeing the elephants. So we got to see 4 of the Big 5: Rhino, elephant, cape buffalo, and lion. We did not see leopard since it is nocturnal, although there was one on our reserve and some of our friends saw it.

We flew to Cape Town, located at the tip of South Africa. We hired a driver to take us on tours, since we did not feel comfortable driving on the left side. Our first tour was a beautiful drive down to the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point. We saw ostrich, penguins, had lunch at a seafood restaurant by the sea, toured one winery and went up Table Mountain overlooking the city of Cape Town.  The next day we had a winery tour, and stopped at two wineries and had lunch at Moyo restaurant, where we sat up in a tree and had South African buffet. We stayed at a B&B in Sea Point, a lovely part of the city.

Then we flew to Brussels, and stayed for 2 days where we drank Belgian beer, ate Belgian waffles, decadent chocolates, had mussels in Brussels, and other delicious French food, such as frog legs, escargot and onion soup. Belgium is a unique country without a language of its own. They speak French in the western part of the country close to France and Dutch on the eastern part close to Netherlands. In Brussels, we visited the Royal Palace and Grand Place-the main town square with outstanding architecture. We visited the Atomium, which was built for the World Fair in 1958 and is still a popular attraction, just outside of Brussels. We rode the elevator to the top sphere, with views all around.

We drove to La Louviere and visited with Sharmaine, my cousin Brian Kimura’s daughter and her husband David and two children, Collin and Addison. David is in the Navy and works at SHAPE-Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe. The children are learning French at school. Sharmaine volunteers at a little shop that recycles household goods on the Army Base, called Grandma’s Attic, selling her crafts.  We spent the weekend with them. On Saturday, we went to SHAPE and the Army Base to shop for our omiyage. On Sunday, we drove to Liege, a city on the other side of Brussels to the famous Sunday Market, with vendors along the river for a mile, selling everything you can think of. On Monday, Sharmaine left her family for 2 days and went with us to Venlo, Netherlands to Floriade, a special exposition that is held every 10 years. Many countries have display tents/buildings and one large building has fabulous flower displays. We stayed overnight in Venlo and walked around the huge Floriade grounds for 2 days. They have entertainment, food, and many display buildings.

We had a wonderful trip!

Lari’s Top Favorites:

8         The delicious food in Belgium: beer, waffles, onion soup, frog legs and more

7         Brussels is a very easy city to get around in with lots of culture and history

6         Visiting with Sharmaine’s family in Belgium

5         Beautiful Cape Town and environs, especially Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope

4         The pride of lions walking right next to our vehicle

3         The elephant sighting on the last day of our safari

2         I loved seeing the female cheetah with her 3 cubs up close

1         Safari experience: having to drive around the game reserves searching for different animals and watching the male cheetah eating his kill, a nyala.

Roger’s favorites:

At Zulu Nyala Safari we saw, from only 6 feet away, a cheetah grinding a nyala he downed . He was cool and never let us bother him, while he dined-such a pussy cat! We saw a mama cheetah and her 3 cubs. Was pretty tough because they took about 50 shots and never flinched-camera shots az why. After searching for 2 days, we finally saw about 2 dozen elephants crossing the road in front of us. Just like the rhino, when the big bull buggah looks at you, you get this creepy feeling and wonder why the driver doesn’t reverse and haul ass.

We saw warthogs, wildebeest, zebras, giraffes, wild dogs, hyenas, impalas, hippos, baboons, monkeys, buffalos, vultures, eagles, cervals, and more. As for the animals, last, but not least, a pride of lions walked right by our vehicle as if they own the jungle. I could have reached out to pet them as they passed our vehicle, but the law says no feeding.

Cape Town is a beautiful city, and very clean and modern. We had a nice view of the city from Table Mountain, with a gondola which turns 360º as it goes up and down. It was the first spinning gondola I ever rode. Wine tasting was okay and lunch of African food up in a tree house was a farce. We ate in the tree house, but had to climb down to get our buffet lunch.

Brussels is a beautiful city with a lot of green parks, a palace, many churches, and old hotels. Their city square (Grand Place) is really a rectangle, but the nicest one I’ve seen.          The Belgian waffles are so crispy they broke your mouth. Coffee and beer are all 5 stars. Mussels in Brussels is true, but Uncle Bo’s clams are mo betah by far.  One negative thing about Belgium, is that you gotta pay 25 to 60 cents to use the facilities. For toilet services, South Africa is the best. In Belgium, the homes no mo water pipes outside for water the yard. The farm and garden irrigation comes from the sky – – get so much rain, it’s super green. Brussels is a typical European city with lots of beautiful architecture old buildings and a lot of statues.

Posted November 4, 2012 by lariyasui in Africa, Europe

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Roger & Lari’s 3 Winter Trips   Leave a comment

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Roger & Lari’s Three Winter Trips

We took a trip to Vancouver in November, to Durham in February and to Denver in March. All were off-season with cheap fares to visit friends and family. Roger says why go on so many “little” trips? Why not go on one “big” one? My idea is to rack up miles on cheap fares so we can use our miles on long and expensive trips, like going to Europe and Africa in September, our next “big” trip.

It was rather relaxing to travel this way… no big plans, no “must sees” or touring around. We just go to visit friends and family to hang out, so I didn’t have to do much research. And even Roger claims that it was relaxing for him, not having to drive long distances or visit museums, cathedrals or other touristy things.

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Autumn in Stanley Park

We’d been to Vancouver a few times before, and love the city. We stayed at Maple House B&B in Kitsilano, which was very conveniently located. We went to Encore! an improve theater show in Granville Island and to Science World, a fun museum. In Stanley Park, we enjoyed the fall colors and Vancouver Aquarium. We took the ferry to Victoria and enjoyed the Royal Museum and the Parliament, before driving north to Chemainus, a town filled with murals on many of their buildings. We ended up in Nanaimo, where we visited Bill & Diane and Bev & Jan, whom we had met on our Galapagos trip. Bev is the only one of the four who is not working, so she showed us around town and nearby sites.

In Durham, we stayed at Taki Scoville’s home. She has a huge collection of Japanese kimonos, dishes and artifacts. And her back yard has vegetable gardens, fruit trees and chickens. We visited Noaka’s school where he shared us and where I taught the hukilau hula to his classmates. Yvette took us to Nasher Art museum to see Alex Calder’s work, to NC Botanical Garden, to Duke Lemur Center, to the Durham Farmers’ Market and to the Roller Derby in Raleigh. We had so much fun hanging out with Noakai.

Then we drove to Laurel, Maryland to visit cousin Gary and Sally. They are both retired now, so we spent time just hanging out with them and got to see their daughter Kat& her hubby Billy.

After being home for a week, we flew off to Denver to visit my sister Christine in Boulder. We had to check out their new restaurant, Riffs, and it was divine. We ate there 3 times! Everything is delicious! Again, since we had no special plans or things to do we mostly hung out. We did check out the Boulder History Museum, shopped at thrift stores and went to Kirkland Museum in Denver. It was restaurant week in Denver and Boulder, so we got 2 three-course meals for $52.80.

We drove to Ft Collins to visit Tom&Tyke, whom we met on our Croatia tour. Again, we just hung out. But they did take us downtown for lunch and to the Art Museum to see Chihuly blown glass exhibit, which was exquisite. They also took us to Estes Park for an afternoon drive into the mountains.

Our last stop was to stay with Shirley Stokoe in Denver. We mostly stayed home and talked stories with her. We drove downtown one morning to meet Amy Ogawa for breakfast. She is a  pharmacist for Walgreens in Denver. On our last night, we had dinner at Shirley’s son Rick & Jeanne’s lovely home in Northglenn. Sarah and Robbie are both in high school and all grown up from when I last saw them.

Posted March 22, 2012 by lariyasui in Canada, USA

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Roger & Lari’s Galapagos Trip   Leave a comment

ROGER AND LARI’S 2010 WINTER VACATION

“Galapagos Islands, Equador”

Starring US, OF COURSE

Dec 1 to 14, 2010

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Nancy Eastlund, of Sun Tours Hawaii in Aiea, invited us to join her group on this Celebrity Xpedition cruise package. She went in 2008 and reserved several cabins for 2010. So we decided to go on this adventure to Equador to see the islands that fascinated Charles Darwin. We used our AA miles to get there, so we saved a bundle on airfare. The 10-day Celebrity package includes 2 nights at the JW Marriott in Quito, Equador before the 7-day cruise and one hotel night after the cruise. It took us 2 days to get there and another 2 days to get home, for total of 14 days.

The flights were a killer… we had to fly through Miami to get to Equador on 4 flights  w/3 layovers to get to Quito and 3 flights/2 layovers to come home. Quito, Equador is a UNESCO world heritage city. It is high on an Andes plateau, at 9,000 ft altitude. Quito has a population of 1.1 million and they were celebrating their annual Founder’s Day. All over town, we saw many colorful Chivas, open-air buses with bands playing music on the top and filled with families celebrating the holiday. The heart of the city is the Plaza Independencia with a huge cathedral built in the 1500s.

Celebrity flew us from Quito to the Galapagos on a chartered flight and as soon as we landed on Baltra, buses took us to the ship just minutes away from the small airport. We were greeted by sea lions sunning on the dock w/more barking under the dock. Because the ship holds only 90 passengers, it was intimate and informal. We checked into our comfortable cabin, which would be “home” for a week while cruising among the islands. We headed directly to the dining room for a wonderful buffet lunch and back to our cabin to unpack before going to muster stations with our life jackets. We had our very first tour that afternoon. We were enchanted by all the wildlife we saw on our first day: sea lions, iguanas, frigates mating with their bright red chests ballooning out, and more.

Blue footed booby

Our daily routine: we had one tour in the morning and another in the afternoon and for each tour you get to choose either a long walk or a short walk. We would board the zodiacs called pangas in groups of 16 with a naturalist who explained the flora and fauna on each tour. Every time we returned to the ship, there was beer and wine and snacks waiting for us followed by lunch or dinner after cocktails. We always had time for a 2-hr nap after lunch before the afternoon tour. All meals, drinks, transfers, snorkel gear, tips and tours were included in this all-inclusive deluxe package. We were spoiled!

Red-shirted Baldie and sea lion

The Galapagos islands were formed by shield volcanoes just like the Hawaiian islands. Active volcanoes are located in the northwestern islands. The Galapagos has 2 seasons: the dry season from June to December and the wet season from January to May. The islands are located on the equator, but because they get the cold Humboldt current from the south pole, the weather is cool and comfortable in the dry season. The waters are quite cold, so Celebrity supplies wet suits for snorkelers.

Chicken skin moments when we all shut up and were in total awe: On Floreana Island on Tuesday, we were disappointed that the salt marsh had no flamingos. But on Wednesday, on Bacha beach, Santa Cruz Island, we spotted 6 flamingos flying and when we reached the pond, we were happy to watch them feeding. On Thursday, we were on our way back to the ship on our zodiac when a large group of dolphins swam next to us. It was so amazing to be so close to the beautiful creatures. Then on Friday, we were at Dragon Hill on Santa Cruz Island, and were lucky to see 6 more flamingos feeding in the pond. On Saturday, buses took us up to the highlands of Santa Cruz above the town of Puerta Ayora, where we walked through open fields and saw, close-up, many tortoises. They are such peaceful, ancient creatures.

Most lunches on the ship were buffets down in the dining room or hamburgers and crepes up on the 4th deck. But on Thursday, we had a huge BBQ buffet lunch out on Deck 4. Unbelievable… all you can eat grilled lobster, huge shrimp, beef, pork, chicken, fish, salmon, salad bar, and dessert bar. They also served lobster 3 times for dinner. As I said, we were spoiled indeed.

The entertainment was very casual. They had one professional musician on board who played keyboard and piano at various times of day and evenings. The naturalists are very talented, and they performed salsa music for us to dance to. We also had a talent show night on Thursday and karaoke night on Friday. It turned out that I was the only passenger that participated in the talent show with my hula performance… the rest were the crew who played music, sang and danced.  Karaoke night was fun with many people singing.

This truly was an adventure of a lifetime. We don’t see ourselves going back there, but the Galapagos is not to be missed.

Roger’s Top Ten:

10.         We used our AA miles to fly to and from Equador and flew 1st class on our flights home from Quito. We usually fly economy/coach… no class… so this was a big hit!  Big, wide, soft recliners where the food tray sits flat and not inclined due to my six-pac (more like keg) abs.

9.         The cruise ship Celebrity Xpedition holds only 90 passengers. Everything was first class and everything was inclusive… food, beer, wine, bottled water, hard liquor, tips, etc. etc. Our bill was ZERO at the end of the cruise, but we did give extra tips to our favorite staff. The ship’s crew made me feel like a king!

8.         I went snorkeling 3 times and swam with or saw oodles of different kinds of fish (visions of pulehu, sashimi, baked or fried), manta rays, sea lions, sea turtles, penguins, marine iguanas, sand sharks, but no eels. Never thought I would snorkel anyplace better than Hanauma Bay. I felt like Jacque Cousteau.

7.         The inhabitants of the Galapagos Islands were extremely friendly. Marine iguanas, sea lions, turtles, land iguanas (which were bigger and more colorful than the marine variety) would be lying all over the place and you had to literally step over or walk around them. Same with the birds.. they were so tame, they almost posed for photos. Pelicans would land on our zodiacs and sea lions would just plop on and off.

6.         The only mean vicious creatures were some biting flies on one of the islands. They bit right through my shirt… making me very itchy with small welts like mosquito bites.

5.         Tortoises don’t really like us, because they hiss and retreat into their shells when we went close to them. Long time since I found an animal that I could race with and win.

4.         Thanks to Darwin, we got to visit and see all these animals. Blue-footed boobies, red chested frigates, whose chest expands like a big red balloon when trying to find a mate. Blue herons, pelicans, mocking birds, ground finches, tree finches, oyster catchers, yellow warblers, flamingos and so much more, which I don’t know the names of, and I cannot spell anyway.

3.         All in all, plenty walking but by far, one of my most memorable vacations. A guy we met said to go to South Africa for real wild animals and no need to walk since you can’t outrun those animals, and besides, they’ll eat you. So go on a safari and ride vehicles for protection. That’s all folks…

2.          P. S. (porgot something) –This trip is highly recommended. ***** (5 stars)

1.          P.P. S.S. Did you know Lari can dance the hula? She did the hula for a passenger talent show and had everybody in awe. She’s a bigger fake than me!

Lari’s Top Five:

5. Making new friends on the cruise

4. The delicious food and drinks on the Xpedition

3. The knowledge and friendliness of our naturalist guides

2. Seeing such a wide variety of wildlife

1. Being so close to the wildlife (but cannot touch them

Posted December 20, 2010 by lariyasui in South America

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Roger & Lari’s Trip to Michigan   Leave a comment

Presenting the latest episode of

“Hawaiians in Michigan”

starring: Roger and Lari

July 12 to 27, 2010

 

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Kimmy and Mike invited us to their wedding on Mackinac Island, so we made our flight reservations. But the wedding was cancelled, and we went anyway and stayed at their beautiful, large home in Owosso, in the middle of the state in farm country. We used their home as a base to travel to different cities.

First we drove north to Traverse City, the cherry capital of the world, where we went to a U-pick farm. We picked a few pounds of sweet dark and sweet light cherries @ $2 per pound. Then we cooled off at 2 wineries, Chateau Grand Traverse and Chateau Chantal for some delicious wine tasting. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Apache Trout Grill.

Charlevoix

The next day we drove to Charlevoix and Petoskey, beautiful little towns on northern Lake Michigan on our way to Mackinaw City to catch the Star Ferry to Mackinac Island. We got to the island where there are no cars… only horses and bicycles. We walked to the Murray Hotel from the ferry dock and met Kimmy and Mike there. We spent the day talking, eating, drinking and playing miniature golf. The following day, we rode bikes around the island, hung out at the hotel pool and toured the Tower Museum at the Mission Point Resort.

Bicycling around the island

The next two days, we stayed with Kimmy and Mike in their camper at the Mill Creek campground on the shores of Lake Huron in Mackinaw City. We met Kimmy’s parents and sister Char’s family of 3 adopted kids. We played Apples to Apples every night. Roger used the kid’s bike to go to the camp bathroom and shower and I used the toilet in the camper and walked to the showers. The guys went golfing one day and Kim and I took the girls to ziplining at Mill Creek Discovery Center.

From Kimmy’s house, we visited Bronners, the world’s largest Christmas store in Frankenmuth, the State Capitol in Lansing, the fabulous street fair in Ann Arbor (with artist booths) and Motown Museum in Detroit. We had dinner in Detroit’s Greektown and from there, walked to a Tiger’s baseball game at Comerica Park.

On our last day there, we visited Roger’s cousin, Roger Mikeworth and his wife Linda in the lakes district of Oakland County. There are so many lakes, very close together. Roger and Linda’s house is between Cass Lake and Sylvan Lake. We had a nice Italian dinner at Gino’s and drove around the lakes, where we saw fabulous lakefront homes.

Michigan impressions: beautiful farm country, hardly any traffic, so many American-made cars (opposite of Hawaii), $1.00 waffle ice cream cones, reasonable restaurant prices, and many lovely lakes everywhere. We had some great meals in Owosso/Flint area… Famous Dave’s, Eddie O’s, BJ’s and Drew’s.

Roger’s Top:

4. Dollar waffle ice cream cone in Elsie

3. Riding a tandem bike with Lari for 8 miles around Mackinac Island. We didn’t even get half way around the first time we tried 19 years ago.

2. Being able to drive 80 MPH with no traffic and especially not being boxed in by cars going the same speed.

1. Just hanging out in a beautiful house being pampered by the best-looking young couple

Lari’s Top:

5. Tiger’s baseball game in Comerica Park

4. Cherry picking and wine tasting in Traverse City

3. Riding around Mackinac Island on a tandem bike w/Roger

2. Street Art Fair in Ann Arbor

1. Spending time with Kimmy and her family

Posted August 7, 2010 by lariyasui in USA

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Roger & Lari’s Trip to Vietnam   Leave a comment

ROG AND LARI’S 2010 WINTER VACATION

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“Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Bangkok”

With Hal & Betty Omori, Bev Marques, BJ Ah Mau

Jan. 25 to Feb. 19, 2010

I had wanted to go to Vietnam for a couple of years, and finally planned this trip when I found cheap fares on JAL. We invited Hal (Roger’s HS classmate) & Betty to go with us, because Roger wanted a golf buddy. Two other classmates Bev and BJ joined us, so the 6 of us adventured to S.E. Asia (Indo China).

We enjoyed the food in all the countries… we had all breakfasts provided by our hotels, and most lunches provided by the tours. We enjoyed trying different restaurants around our hotels. Most dinners cost $2 or $3 per person.

I enjoyed massages almost every other day… either a foot massage or body massage, sometimes both! Most massages were $5 to $10 per hour.

The weather there is very hot and humid, especially in Saigon and Cambodia. Roger loves cold weather, so he suffered the most.

We started our tour in Hanoi. Our hotel was in the old quarter of Hanoi, and the street scenes fascinated us… people wearing the coolie hat, women selling goods by carrying them on a bamboo pole on their shoulder, many noisy motor bikes, horns tooting, crazy traffic, street food on the sidewalks and so much more to fill all your senses. In Hanoi we visited Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum, where he lies in state fully preserved. We visited his home, and the Presidential Palace, the Temple of Literature, the Museum of Ethnology, enjoyed a Water Puppet Show and took a cyclo (modern day rickshaw) tour of Old Hanoi.

From Hanoi we took an overnight train to Sapa, where we saw the terraced rice paddies and met the Hmong people. After trekking through the Black Hmong and Flower Hmong villages, and attending market day, we returned to Hanoi on the overnight train. We were driven to Halong City to board a “junk” for an overnight cruise on beautiful Halong Bay. The scenery and expeditions to some islands were outstanding, and the seafood on the junk was fabulous. We all got a foot massage in Halong City after the cruise.

After Halong Bay we flew to Hue where we visited Danang, China Beach, My Son and Hoi An. We had a wonderful guide nicknamed “Flower”, who told great stories about her country. We all got custom-made clothing at one of the many tailor shops in Hoi An, a lovely town small enough to walk around.

We flew to Saigon, now named Ho Chi Minh City, a huge metropolis crowded with millions of motorbikes and cars. It takes guts to cross the street through the crazy traffic. From our hotel, we could walk to the night market, to massage shops, to beauty salons that offer more than beauty treatments by the sexy girls sitting out front. We had a day trip to the Mekong Delta and a trip to Cu Chi tunnels, where they educated us on the warfare methods used by the Vietcong. We also visited the War Remnant Museum, which shows the atrocities of the American War.

In Siem Reap, Cambodia, we had a beautiful hotel with a swimming pool, and our favorite guide, Mr. Long, who lost an eye and a finger during the Khmer Rouge blood bath of Pol Pot. He told wonderful stories about his culture and history, that helped us appreciate Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. Here we toured in the early morning and late afternoon, because of the intense heat. It was nice to have lunch, enjoy a cool swim and relax in our aircon rooms before touring again in the afternoon.

Luang Prabang, Laos was a very serene place compared to the madness of the metropolis of Saigon. We woke up early to see many monks in saffron robes walking barefooted through the streets accepting offerings of food from the people. We took a boat ride on the Mekong up to Pak Ou caves filled with thousands of gold Buddhas.

We ended our tour in Bangkok where we enjoyed shopping, getting massages, and eating the delicious food. Our favorite restaurant is Cabbages & Condoms, that donates their profits to help the needy. Roger and Hal were supposed to golf but cancelled because Hal was ill, so instead, Roger and I toured the magnificent Grand Palace.

We all flew to Narita, where the 4 of them continued on home, and Roger and I stayed in Tokyo for a few days. Yumi & Koji Ibaramoto and their son Kenzo and daughter Ami along with Yumi’s sister, Asako entertained us royally! Read Roger’s Top Ten for more details about Tokyo.

Roger’s Top Ten: (The worst thing was, all the trekking in the humidity, that I had to do, to see all the good stuff. And I’ve had it with Buddha statues.)

10. Shopping for a belt is a problem for me, cuz all the belts in the shops are too short. In a market, this guy says he can make me a belt cuz the ones on display seemed child sized. I told him I wanted my belt to wrap around at least 8 inches past the buckle so Hallelujah! I got 2 belts that fit without sucking in my belly.

9. Bangkok, Thailand: See, another problem I have is shopping for shorts, cuz the hem goes 6 inches below my knees and they aren’t shorts anymore. So in Bangkok, I got 3 custom shorts made from the same tailor who made 2 pairs of shorts 6 years ago. I got red, blue and green shorts and never have to buy shorts for the rest of my life, unless I lose weight.

8. Hoi An, Vietnam: My third shopping problem is my widEEE, short feet with extra high arches, I cannot buy slip-on shoes unless they are size 10 (2 inches too long). So in Hoi An, I ordered 2 pairs of custom made shoes. I like them very much, because they fit so well, and the soft leather feels good.

7. Luang Prabang, Laos: As we landed in Laos, our tour guide, Noy, had a sign “Laraine & Roger Yasui”. So I went up to her and introduced myself as Roger but asked her to call me “darling” and she did for two days!

6. All of Indo-China was HOT (90+) and very HUMID. My shirt was soaked every day on all the walks which took at least 10 years off my life. Then after a 5-hour flight to Tokyo, we exit the Tokyo subway station and lo and behold, it’s snowing! After suffering in the heat and humidity, I was happy to enjoy cold weather in Tokyo!

Our friends, Yumi & Koji & Asako really went out of their way to show and treat us to authentic Tokyo. We went to a Sumo Dojo to watch them practicing. We went to Tsukiji Market to watch the fish auction. We went to a tiny little sushi bar, where one maguro nigiri costs $4. They took us to a soba shop, udon shop, monja restaurant, and more. I enjoyed Tokyo because it’s so clean and the toilets were not only heated but had some fancy gadgets that were so refreshing to my behind. They took us to a Sento (public bath) where my first concern was do I put my washcloth over my wiener or over my face. Well it was none of the above… just walked with my legs crossed and head down. Ha!  Porgot something.. Souske and Toshiko (parents of Yumi/Asako) treated us to a fabulous lunch to celebrate my Koki birthday @ 70 is like yakudoshi @ 42, and kanreki @ 60.  Hope for good things in the future, but this old fart has to believe in this Japanese tradition cuz I’ve had nothing but good things happening to me. Japan was like Heaven compared to Indo China except that I could not smoke on the streets in Tokyo.

5. The Grand Palace in Bangkok was only a couple of hundred years old so it was modern, colorful, clean and beautiful. A must-see in Bangkok.

4. Cu Chi tunnels of Saigon, Vietnam: We saw how they lived in the maze of tunnels and the many different traps that the Vietcong designed using bamboo because they didn’t have modern weaponry. We crawled through a tunnel expanded for tourists. To fight the Vietcong in the jungles with their underground network wasn’t a good idea. With all of our air power, we still did not win. Bad idea.

3. Sapa, Vietnam: terraced rice paddies built by the Hmong mountain people. The best part was getting there from Hanoi on an overnight sleeper train, which rode like a plane in turbulence and Elvis rocking and rolling. Rough, but we slept like a baby in a rocker.

2. Halong Bay in Vietnam with thousands of islands sticking up out of the bay, as we cruised on a “Junk”, which served the best food we had in Vietnam. In the fog and mist, it reminded me of the Guilin mountains in China.

1. Angkor Wat & Angkor Thom in Cambodia. Built over 800 years ago, they are just magnificent architectural works of art and definitely one of the 7 Wonders of the World, more impressive than the Egyptian pyramids.

Lari’s Top Ten:

10. Ba Ham Lake in Halong Bay

9. Cu Chi tunnels were much more than I expected

8. Hoi An village, very picturesque

7. Grand Palace in Bangkok

6. Overnight train ride to Sapa was a big adventure… good fun!

5. Foot massages & body massages

4. The delicious food in every country that was very cheap

3. Old Quarter of Hanoi city

2. Angkor Wat and Angko Thom in Siem Reap, Cambodia

1. Halong Bay overnight cruise on the Junk

Posted February 10, 2010 by lariyasui in Asia

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