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a heart across the ocean


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Hawaii: Our Trip to Paradise

I never really envisioned my husband and I travelling to Hawaii this year until sometime in mid of July. It began with pictures of the beautiful turquoise waters of the Pacific incessantly rolling in my husband’s mind. Although Hawaii is on our Bucket List of places to visit, it definitely was not one of our top priorities because of money and distance. Yes, Hawaii is quite expensive. However, it seemed like the more and more we absorbed YouTube videos of its glorious islands, the more and more we were lured with the desire to see them. So, one day we just threw in the towel and decided to book our tickets and reserve our hotel accommodations.

Survivors Challenge

If there’s one thing I wanted to skip from this trip, it’s definitely the loooong flight. My husband and I share the same sentiment when it comes to going through the stressful airport and all the other associated commotion. Getting through the long line to check-in and board the plane is one thing, but being trapped in your seat for hours with limited space and food available is, I must say, the ultimate challenge.

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The flight distance from Florida to Hawaii is 4,724 miles. From Orlando we flew to Phoenix for 4.5 hours (plus 1 hour layover), followed by another 7.5 hours flight to Honolulu. A total of 12 hours in flight, which I thought lasted forever. After traversing three time zones and enduring stagecoach type turbulence, I was relieved when we finally landed. Ahhh, freedom! I unbuckled my seatbelt, and right on cue, I heard the flight attendant say, Aloha! For the first time in 12 hours, I was able to smile.

From the airport, our driver gave us a mini-tour of downtown Honolulu. I was excited to listen to his information while passing by some cultural, historical, and venues of significant interests such as the Aloha Tower, Hawaii Maritime Tower, and Chinatown. I was so taken in by his information and dry humor that I even forgot to take pictures. After a twenty minute drive, we reached our hotel, which is located on Waikiki. I looked at my watch; it was almost 3:00 p.m. (9:00 p.m. Florida time). I was hungry, but all I could think of was going to bed. It didn’t take long before I dozed off to sleep. When I woke up, it was already 3:00 a.m. I heard my stomach growling like a hungry lion. I tossed and turned uncertain of what to do. I was stricken by jet lag!

The Fun Begins

Waikiki is Oahu’s major hotel and resort area. I couldn’t believe how many visitors, mostly Japanese, stay on Waikiki. Along the main strip of Kalakaua Avenue, there’s a wide array of available activities for guests. They include shopping, dining, watersports, and entertainment. In my honest opinion, Waikiki area is for laid-back tourists like us who just wanted to enjoy and soak in the natural beauty of Hawaii. It’s definitely gorgeous! Here are some images I captured on our first day.

To be continued…

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand better.” – Albert Einstein 


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Niagara Falls: Bucket List – Checked!

Last month, my husband and I finally checked off Niagara Falls on our Bucket List after deciding to go for holiwork (mixing business with pleasure) in Canada. It has been my goal since I’ve decided to pursue a career in Teaching English as a Second Language to attend at least one or two TESL conferences a year. I usually attend local conferences only as they are more accessible and affordable. However, I got a little bit ambitious this year when I saw the announcement from the TESL Canada website that its conference would be held in Niagara Falls. It was on our Bucket List of places to visit (albeit a little bit way down the list), but I thought the timing was perfect. Thus, after convincing my husband, what followed was my early registration to the event and planning for the trip.

From Orlando, we flew to Pearson International Airport in Toronto. While the flight only took 2 hours and 45 minutes, it was the 2 hour-ride from Toronto to Niagara Falls that was quite taxing, considering our very early flight. Thankfully, our ride turned out to be smooth and less complicated compared to our return trip (I’ll keep you in suspense on that leg of our journey). The beautiful weather also gave us the smiley gee-whiz positive feel. We thought the cool breeze and warm sunshine were just perfect combinations for a late spring day.

Toronto, I observed, is a lot like many cities in the United States of America in terms of buildings and infrastructure. On the way to Niagara Falls, I saw a lot of familiar sights such as car companies and shopping malls that looked reminiscence of the US. It’s not hard to immediately feel at home in this country.

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Niagara Falls Attractions

When we reached our hotel, which was just a few blocks away from Clifton Hill, we were welcomed by an array of attractions that are great for our adventure. It was almost like being in Disney. There were so many things to do on Clifton Hill alone, and if you were not use to attractions, it might give you sensory overload. Among my favorites were the iconic Niagara Skyweel, Skylon Tower, Queen Victoria Park, and the now-defunct Planet Hollywood.

Niagara Falls

My husband and I were so tired on our first day that we didn’t get the chance to see Niagara Falls until our second day. It was on our way to the Sheraton on the Falls, the venue of my conference, that we had our first encounter with its cascading sound, followed by its breathtaking view. I couldn’t help stopping myself from walking, despite the steep slope, to take a quick picture. There was no word to describe it. It was indeed captivating! After my conference, we finally got the chance to take in its magnificence, and we did it not only once – but twice (Yes, we did go back again the next day).bucket list 9

Our experience of visiting Niagara Falls was indeed unforgettable. We went home very satisfied knowing that not only I accomplished my mission to attend my first TESL Conference abroad, but also seeing one of the most famous wonders in the world. On a side note, I also have a dear lifelong friend from back home who is now residing in Toronto. She was able to catch up with me and my husband during our sojourn. What a hoot it was! Who knew?

“Niagara Falls is the hanging tongue on the face of the earth, drooling endlessly over its own beauty.” Vinita Kinra

For more information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niagara_Falls

 


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Year 2016: It’s a Wrap!

Although I must admit the year 2016 was “fast and furious” for me, with intermittent gut wrenching challenges, it has been a meaningful and productive one. Here are some of its highlights: I graduated from my second Master Degree in August, and I’ve been employed as a college instructor immediately after. My husband and I had two short getaway trips: one in spring, and another one in summer to celebrate our anniversary. I attended four workshops on TESOL, one of which I met a well-known theorist in the field of linguistics. For the first time I also participated in a political event with the sitting US President as the guest speaker. And, finally, after a year of delay, I successfully finished reading the book “An Astronaut Guide to Life on Earth” by Col. Chris Hardfield.

In hindsight, I must say, some goals I intended to achieve this year fell a little short. Not because I didn’t work hard enough but because opportunity just didn’t present itself. This has brought me to the realization that indeed everything has a time and a season. No matter how much I try, I don’t think I can force things to happen if they are not meant to be. However, it doesn’t mean that I have to lose faith and give up on my goals. I think it simply means that I just have to wait longer and probably want them more. I am convinced that sometimes there is something going on in life that is greater than what we think before planets align. That being said, before everyone gets revved up to turn the page for another year and another beginning, let me share with you some important lessons that 2016 has taught me.

  1. On my GTA Program: Success is not the result of taking chances, exploiting golden opportunities. It is the determination, hard work, and persistence to make these opportunities work to my advantage.
  2. On my graduation: Big events in life – my graduation for example – is ephemeral. Soon afterwards, the applause and adulation will stop, the spotlight moves on, and so do I.
  3.  On my job as an ELS instructor: Understanding diversity makes me see myself as no different from others. It makes me kinder to humanity.
  4.  On reading and travelling: Reading, as well as travelling, broadens me as a person.
  5. On both challenging and rewarding experiences: More than material things and fleeting victories, the most important thing in life is making most of my time I have in every situation.

There will be many endings and beginnings in our lifetimes. I surely agree with Hardfield, and I quote “Endings don’t have to be emotionally wrenching if you believe you did a good job and you’re prepared to let go.”

I wish one and all a happy New Year – 2017 bring it on!

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A Tour of the World on Foot

Once upon a time there were five lovely ladies who dreamt of traveling the world together. Unfortunately, they were landlocked. They were held by so many responsibilities. They neither had a chance to fly nor sail. Hmmm… poor lovely ladies! Despite their situation though, the notion of having an adventure remained irresistible.

They couldn’t stop thinking about going for an adventure, so they took the risk and asked the Genie to grant their wish. They took Aladdin’s lamp and rubbed it. Lo and behold came a beautiful woman with her welcoming smile holding free tickets to the Disney World- the place where dreams come true.  Oh boy!

So, off the five lovely ladies went for their journey. They toured the world on foot. They walked miles and miles to see the whole world. By the time they reached their final destination, each one of them was bathing in sweat and just ready to take a long nap. But, surely, they were contented and never been happier. – The End

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