Archive for December, 2013

intermission

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i began my 53 hour and 50 minute commute early on November 9th in Singapore.  one calendar day and five airports later i set foot on American soil for the first time in almost exactly eight months.  no, not because i’ve finally decided to come home but rather to rendezvous with my awesome parents in Hawaii: an annual tradition many years in the making.

it goes without saying that my journey here was horrendously long.  time seemed to stand still in parts and actually even went backwards in some cases:

“ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking.  we have just crossed over the international date line which means that yesterday never actually happened.  this is however unfortunate news for passenger Roark Brewster.  not only can’t he erase his yesterday from memory, but he has to live it all over again.  thank you for flying Delta.”

this commute was the perfect opportunity to familiarize myself with the outer limits of my ability to deprive myself of sleep.  i learned a few times that if i stay awake long enough i *will* eventually pass out.  it will happen suddenly and it will make absolutely no difference what i may or may not be doing at the time.  then after 20-30 minutes i will be bludgeoned back awake when my necessity for rest takes a back seat to whatever numbness or pain i might also be experiencing as a result of the unnatural position of my body.  if i’m in a pinch during those crucial pre-boarding moments where passing out is simply not an option then all i need to do is assume an A-frame stance and maintain my center of gravity.  that way i’ll be sure to get jolted awake every time my ass hits the ground.  after a couple days of successfully maintaining this as-needed sleep pattern, my brain will out grow its hallucinogenic shenanigans phase and enter a foreshadow shutdown phase, at which point my brain’s cognitive functions will slow to a crawl and my thoughts will become a quagmire of gridlock.  during this time if a ticketing or customs agent needs me to answer a simple question like “what airport did i just fly here from?”  i will stare at her blankly while i search for the answer with the same success a blind person might have trying to locate a tennis ball in a gymnasium full of lukewarm butter.  then if i try to open my mouth before the answer is readily available i will end up making a “jjjjjjje” sound.

i put together this timetable of events of my commute from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur to Manila to Nagoya to Honolulu to Kona:

7:30am – 8:00am:             bus to SIN        = 00:30 (Sat Nov 9)
8:00am – 10:00am:           at SIN               = 02:00
10:00am – 11:00am:         SIN -> KUL     = 01:00
11:00am – 2:15pm:           KUL layover    = 03:15
2:15pm – 6:05pm:             KUL -> MNL    = 03:50
6:05pm – 6:15am:             MNL layover    = 12:10 (Sun Nov 10)
6:15am – 10:30am(+1):    MNL -> NGO   = 03:15
10:30am – 9:50pm:           NGO layover   = 11:00
9:50pm – 10:20am(-19):  NGO -> HNL    = 07:30
10:20am – 5:30pm:           HNL layover    = 06:50
5:30pm – 6:15pm:             HNL -> KOA     = 00:45
6:15pm – 8:00pm:             KOA to condo  = 01:45

TOTAL DURATION: 53:50

 

but enough about that…  lets talk about Hawaii!

hawaii1my parents, being seasoned adventurous world travelers (the likes of which make my adventures seem like field trips to the zoo) have more or less invented the concept of the “traveler’s vacation”.  like a normal vacation complete with comforts and spoils set in a familiar and easily negotiable environment, the travelers vacation has an extra added emphasis on engaging in absolutely no sight-seeing whatsoever and the doing of not a whole lot of things.  it’s a vacation meant to relieve a weary traveler from the pressures of having to make decisions and learn things.  through years of trial and error they have found the perfect place to accomplish this at the Mauna Lani Point, 30 miles north of Kona on the Big Island.  there, a quiet grouping of condos sit on a golf course at the end of a peninsula surrounded by volcanic rock.  from here one could walk to a nearby intimate beach to enjoy some of the best snorkeling on the island or just simply jump right in from the 15th hole.  this is one of the few places in the world where golfers and snorkelers co-mingle on a daily basis.

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there are about three hundred resident manta rays that frequent this greater coastal area.  at night, many of the resorts and dive shops shine spot lights into the water which attract plankton which in turn attracts the mantas that feed on them.  there also happens to be a well known manta ray cleaning station about two hundred meters off shore from the “signature hole” right in our front yard.  there, mantas will gather 2-3 at a time and circle endlessly while small cleaning wrasses nibble the parasites off of them.  their wingspans can get as long as 20 feet.  they are nearly unafraid of humans.  after watching their graceful movements and getting up close and personal with them for a few days i was inspired to capture it (as well as a spotted eagle ray) on this video, put to a song i wrote and recorded last year:

 

Hawaii has some of the most interesting underwater topography created from volcanic activity including lava tubes, arches and shooting spires.  my dad and i got to experience some of the best of it on two scuba dives.  our first dive was all about smiling for the camera.  whether it be with this octopus sucking on my face…

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or with this random cow skull crown.

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our second dive was one that put our claustrophobia to the test when our divemaster lead us through a series of lava tubes that became progressively tighter the further we went.  so tight that we had to turn to our sides in places to become as flat as possible.  even then i could feel bare metal scraping rock as i pulled myself to freedom.

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no family vacation in Hawaii would be complete without at least two trips to my most favorite restaurant on the planet.  ladies and gentleman, allow me to introduce you to “Sushi Rock“.  located in the small town of Hawi, a New Yorker named Peter Pomeranze has been running a unique and intimate sushi establishment for a over nine years.  he has managed to artfully incorporate the island’s finest and freshest ingredients into a sushi-like experience,  the likes of which will leave you in a constant state of joyful surprise as indicated by your own mouth watering moans.  the menu knows no fear and will often showcase non-traditional ingredients like pesto, caramelized unions, mac-nuts, fuji apples, cilantro, goat cheese and grass-fed tenderloin.

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when it comes right to it there are basically three main reasons why i come to Hawaii every year: 1) to reconnect with my lovely parents who i often don’t get to see otherwise, 2) to breath the soft calming Hawaiian air and 3) to dine at Sushi Rock.  and it’s when and only when i walk through these doors do i get to experience all three of these things simultaneously.

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besides sushi we primarily subsisted on gourmet fresh fish dishes, expensive wines, IPA, martinis and real American cheeseburgers.  being reconnected with real ground beef, cheese, good beer and my favorite gin after so long made me emotional at times.

cheeseburger actual

cheeseburger actual

beer actual

beer actual

Hendrix martini with a slice of cucumber (bruised to perfection)

Hendrix martini with a slice of cucumber (bruised to perfection)

 

in the evenings we huddled around a laptop to watch our favorite tv shows and sip libations until sleep overtook us usually at around 8 or 9 o’clock.

we held this routine for 13 nights.  this is also the most nights i have slept in the same bed since i left Seattle over 8 months ago.  early in the morning on the 14th day i breathed the soft Hawaiian air one final time then headed for the airport.  during another long layover in Honolulu i managed to make the kind check-in agents at the Delta counter a little nervous due to the fact that i was attempting to leave the country with no return strategy.  after almost two hours of persistent arguing and pencil pushing interlaced with a few gentle words to calm the fear in their eyes, Delta finally let me leave America and i have never in my life been so happy to do so.  my final destination will be Manila.  once there, i’ll embark on a hard targeted three week jaunt through Northern Luzon.

 

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