A Travellerspoint blog

Hawaiian Vacation with my Russian Bear

A week on my favorite island, this time for vacation

sunny

Back in July, my boyfriend and I took a week long vacation to Oahu. It was his first time there, (and yes he is Russian, hence the title of this blog) and we filmed our trip using the gopro hero 3 and a nifty remote control DGI Phantom helicopter. The video included in this blog is the amazing result which my very talented boyfriend has produced. We spent the week doing all of my favorite things. Visiting waterfalls, exploring the island, sunbathing on all my favorite beaches, and of course hiking. We also attended a beautiful Hawaiian wedding for two of my favorite Oahu locals. And for the first time in four years of visiting Hawaii, I finally got to experience a bonfire on the beach! An unforgettable night with the most beautiful setting. Clear skies, endless stars, open beach, calm clear water, and wonderful friends. A little bit of everything is included in this video, so for this blog I am going to let the beautiful video footage do the talking! I hope you enjoy! Aloha!

Posted by GrisWorld 11:05 Archived in USA Tagged hiking travel caves adventure china oahu walls hawaii waikiki spitting Comments (1)

A little bit of this, A little bit of that

The express version of the last 12 months

971921_654..708839155_n.jpg A lot of time has passed since my last blog post. Between continuing to travel for work while also becoming a full time college student online, life has become extremely busy and little time is left for recording my adventures. But those adventures have continued despite my crazy schedule, and I feel the need to record and share. I am hoping to start adding video of my travels to this blog in the near future as well, for those that prefer to skip reading, but still want to follow along.

Since my last blog post I have not traveled to as many new places as I would prefer to report but the places I have been were pretty incredible. Last summer I traveled to Amsterdam and Belgium for the first time. Spending two days exploring Amsterdam was even more amazing then I had ever imagined it to be. It was never on the top of my list for places to visit, but the maze of canals, litered with boats, and decorative bridges connecting the roads across the water, created such a romantic feeling.246819_429.._61927697_n.jpg I fell in love with the quirky city and vowed to go back again on my next trip to Europe. I would have loved to stay longer, but after our two days In Amsterdam were up we were scheduled to attend what I consider to be the biggest life changing event of my life. We took the train from Amsterdam to Antwerp, Belgium. A beautiful gothic city which hosted an enormous cathedral next to our hotel right in town center. The reason for my trip to Belgium was to attend the largest dance/ music festival in the world and party like a teenager with 2.3 million people from 71 nationalities, on 75 acres with 10 stages and over 500 DJs! I could write an entire book on that festival and I took close to a hundred videos in those 3 days, but there is no real way to explain the amazing insanity. All I know is I must go back. Those that know me know how obsessed I became over returning to that magical place for 2013. The unity and happiness experienced there is indescribable, and with world wide tickets selling out in only 90 seconds for 2013, it is hugely apparent my feelings are shared by millions. Check out the videos for last years party, the year I was there, on you tube! (Tomorrowland 2012 official after movie). But a warning to those considering attending in 2014, this is only for the extreme partier, capable of letting loose, dealing with extreme crowds and loud music, and dancing your booty off for 3 days straight! :) 430251_429..645881301_n.jpg

From one extreme to the next, I shift to the artic. 2 weeks before Christmas 2012, I flew my companies weekly trip to Thule, Greenland, and got stuck for 8 days in the cold, dark, north pole. Well, not quite the north pole, a couple hundred miles shy of it. But well above the arctic circle. Our airplane broke hard on a Friday morning just prior to taxiing out to the runway full of passengers ready to head home for their Christmas vacations. Now, Thule is a military air base and we are the only passenger airplane that flies in and out. So when I say stuck, I mean STUCK! The next military aircraft was not scheduled to fly in until Monday afternoon which meant a new replacement part for our broke airplane would not come in until Monday. So what do you do in the dark 24/7, -30 below arctic for 8 days waiting for your airplane to be fixed? The same thing every single day. Sleep in, play on the internet, barter and beg for more internet time (only 1 hour a day is allowed), go to the gym for 2-3 hours, eat dinner, and play poker with the crew. In hindsight it wasn't all that bad, especially with such a great crew. But the fret over getting home for Christmas was heavy on all our minds and we began to wonder if we would be buying Christmas gifts for each other at the military supply store. Eventually we made it out and I have never been so happy to see the sunshine! And due to our extended trip stuck in the arctic, I ended up with a full week at home with my family for Christmas.

Throughout the year I spent a good bit of time in Japan and Singapore. I explored the Tiger Balm gardens and the Chinese gardens in Singapore, both very unique places in their own ways. In Japan we were able to attend the tiger lily festival, which is a once a year event when all of the tiger lilies bloom at once, and the effect is a blanket of pink throughout the forest as far as you can see. (Pictures in Gallery). As with anywhere in Japan, the place was beyond crowded, with Japanese onlookers loaded down with their fancy camera gear. I have never seen photography enthusiasts as motivated as the Japanese, they love their cameras! 560689_454..117856951_n.jpg

The majority of this year I have been extremely fortunate to spend at least half of my time in Hawaii. I have been on more adventures there then anywhere else and there is no way I can go into explaining all I have been lucky enough to experience in the past 6 months. I met a locals hiking group a few months back and it was the best thing that could have happened for me. I met some amazing people and was privied to some of the best hikes in the world. I have hiked up various mountain ridges, all the way to the tops of some, as high as you can go. Explored bamboo forests, jumped and swam in various waterfalls, crossed a bridge missing half its boards and covered in moss high above a beautiful valley, and kayaked out to tiny islands that make your heart stop they are so beautiful. I am going back to my favorite place on earth next week and this time I will be video recording these adventures and posting them on my blog. Hawaii is one of the most beautiful, and diverse places in the world, and even locals who have lived their entire lives there have not seen and explored everything the island has to offer. 478536_296..075739397_o.jpg

There is so much more that I was fortunate enough to experience this past 12 months... an unexpected trip to Iceland, watching giant sea turtles lay eggs on a tiny island in the middle of the Atlantic, watching the running of the bulls in the Azores... it has been an amazing year. But there are more adventures brewing and I sadly do not have time to go back and document everything from this past year, and I am pretty sure you would get tired of reading my ramblings. I am focused on the future now and focused on finding the time to share these stories and I certainly hope you enjoy them!

Posted by GrisWorld 17:08 Tagged amsterdam adventure party hawaii exploring tomorrowland artic Comments (0)

Commute to Bahrain- St. Pattys Day

A brief entry about my experience in JFK International Airport

Happy St. Patty’s day! I am spending it on an airplane but as usual still having an interesting time. I just flew into JFK International Airport for the first time in about 5 years and I am completely blown away. This place sucks! I am not going to lie, this is the most ghetto airport I have ever been to! I get off the teeny tiny regional CRJ 200 airplane I flew here on (the same style airplane I flew on with the airlines at the start of my flying career) and walk about a mile down a totally jerry rigged stretch of outside jetway, before actually getting into the airport. Then, totally lost, wander down the terminal searching for any sign of where I might be or where I am supposed to go. My flight to Amsterdam is not showing up on the monitors so at the first sighting of a Delta Sky Club sign I turn left toward the trusty elite club. It was a very strange entry to the club, I wasn’t quite sure I was in the right place. The elevator was so old and noisy I thought I might end up stuck inside. (Strangely this happened a second time in another elevator further down the terminal.) Safely inside the club the receptionist informed me that I was currently in terminal 2, would need to walk to the end of terminal 3, then take a shuttle to terminal 4, where my flight was departing. There was another Sky Club near the end of terminal 3 and I still needed dinner, so I decided to continue on. This was about 9:30pm and the whole walk to terminal 3 showed no promise of open restaurants with real food. The flight to Amsterdam is an 8 hour flight, so they do of course feed you, but I always order the Gluten Free meal which usually consists of fruit, rubbery chicken, and rice cakes. Granted I am not allergic to any of that but I was in need of something more. After about to give up hope I spotted a vendor with some cold sandwiches and wraps. I asked the cashier if anything else may still be open with hot food and she promptly answered “No”. So thinking I would have no other options, I paid $9.00 for a tuna salad wrap, of which I could eat the tuna, the wrap contains gluten. I headed on down the terminal and discovered right around the corner a bistro serving hot food and full of people eating! Drat! Next place I passed… A healthy options café, and then an entire food court! I was silently laughing hysterically at myself at this point! I managed to find and am currently in the terminal 3 sky lounge, which is big and quite! And I can’t help but wonder what more awaits me on this 25 hour commute to Bahrain. Like I said in my first entry… It’s the little things that make a story. And this, I at least, found pretty humorous! Gotta love the Journey!

Posted by GrisWorld 19:22 Comments (0)

Extreme Asia

Another trip to Japan and Singapore, and another exciting 3 weeks to log. It’s been a good trip so far. Smooth, trouble free commute to Japan (which, for those of you that don’t know, is a 14 hour flight from Atlanta, GA to Narita Tokyo… in which time I generally manage to watch at least 5 movies) Excellent crew, and we have been fortunate enough to stay in the nice, new rooms on base in Yokota (the Air Force Base that we fly out of for work). Of course we have had our share of hiccups. A delay on the first day of our trip, flying out of Japan, due to an engine issue, and an even longer delay leaving Singapore, due to heavy snow and runway closure in Japan. But the biggest benefit to flying with a good crew is the simple fact that nothing ever seems to be all that bad.

The first couple of days off in Singapore were fairly eventful. Once we flew in, early afternoon from Japan, I immediately went to see my Singapore Chiropractor. I find him worthy of mentioning because he is one of the best chiropractors I have ever met. And I have been to A LOT of chiropractors. A LOT! He was also the first and only Dr. I have found that identified the root of all my back problems. Needless to say, I am very impressed with the guy. Not only do I consider him a genius in his field, but his personality is uncanny. The first time I met him, which was only 3-4 months ago, I had just started a new workout program called Insanity. A super intense cardio and whole body workout led by the famous Shawn T.! I had considered the workout program to be an American trend. Excessively popular among the fitness fanatics of the U.S. but nowhere else. So, while working on the painful pressure points in my back, Dr. Luke Ho spikes up a new topic of conversation to try and divert my attention from the pain. He asks me what the new workout program is that I have recently started. I reply spritely, “Oh, I’m sure you haven’t heard of it, it’s called Insanity.” Dr. Luke immediately shouts out, “Shawn T.!” I couldn’t believe it! This skinny Asian chiropractor not only knew the workout, but had completed the program twice, had moved on to the next level of the Insanity programs, Insanity Asylum, and had an insanity workout group that he meets with 2-3 times a week! He was so motivated and excited about the program we talked about it the rest of my time there. I couldn’t believe how friendly and funny this Dr. was! So now, even though I pay a pretty penny to get my back cracked by the guy, I still keep going back. When you find a Dr. as good as him, even if their on the other side of the world, Ya keep ‘em!

After my visit with Dr. Luke I headed back to the hotel to try and find my crew and attempt to contact one of our passengers who had flown over to Singapore with us a few days earlier to tour solo around Malaysia and Singapore for a few days. A very interesting guy, 31 years old and he has already been to 56 countries, is a major in the military, and a special agent with NCIS! I managed to get a hold of him and found my crew, and we all hung out pool side for a bit at the hotel before taking secret agent man out on the town for a proper initiation to Singapore. The night life in Singapore is definitely worth seeing if you haven’t ever been. I will not go into detail on here for censorship reasons, but it is a bit of a culture shock at first. And Singapore is a city that never sleeps. You can stay out all night with plenty to do and see.

So, the next morning, after staying out all night, we all piled in a taxi around 8:30am to head to Chingi City. From Chingi we climb on a ferry that will only leave out when no more or less than 12 people have boarded and paid 2.50sing (equivalent to $1.25 US) to ride over to the beautiful little island of Pulau Ubin. I guess you could call the island a nature preserve. Paved and unpaved trails wind all around the island, full of monkeys, boars, monitor lizards, cobras, pythons, and ridiculously large spiders. The island is a popular spot to spend the day biking and numerous bike vendors compete for the business of those individuals that venture out to the island. We all rent front end suspension mountain bikes and head off down the trail. After not being on a mountain bike in far too long it was extremely exhilarating to be out riding through the forest and along the coast line. We walked through a mangrove swamp and out over the water looking down at all the different types of fish and crabs. Sadly, the monkeys were nowhere to be found. And we did not get to see any cobras or Pythons either. But we did come upon a giant Golden Spider, luckily not hanging across the trail for us to run into. And at one point while walking through the woods, I caught sight of something quite large rummaging through the bushes in the distance. My first officer and I ducked down trying to make out what the creature may be, excited to finally have a wild animal sighting. All of a sudden one of the local rangers came walking around the corner behind us and bent down to see what we were looking at. “Oh! Boar!” He exclaimed, and then starts clucking at the pig to get her attention. He got that Boar to walk right up to us, so close we could almost pet her. Ha! So much for wild animal! Once back on our bikes we headed to the other side of the island where there is actually a small hotel ‘resort’. This is also my crew’s favorite spot to stop and have a few beers and snacks. The restaurant is surrounded by a lagoon full of manta rays and various types of fish. My flight engineer bought fish food for all of us and we acted like giddy school children watching the different types of fish fight for the food. After 5 hours of biking, hiking, and sweating our butts off in the Singapore heat, we headed back to the ferry and made our way home to the hotel. It was an extremely fun day and definitely one of my new favorite things to do in Singapore.

Now we are half way through our 3 week trip. One more full weekend off in Japan, followed by 2 more days off in Singapore. More adventures to come!
Pictures of our day on Pulau Udin Island our posted in my gallery.

Posted by GrisWorld 02:29 Archived in Singapore Comments (1)

Amazing Costa Rica

Staying at an Eco Lodge in the rainforest of Costa Rica

This whole week I have been sitting in a classroom in Miami learning a new aircraft. Not exactly adventurous story telling material. So, even though I stated in my first entry that I was not going to recap any of my stories from the past due to lack of memory, I have decided there are a few stories that are very worth telling. Even if I don’t remember all the details.

One of my favorite stories in particular was the time I went to Costa Rica for a week long stay in a rainforest eco lodge. A few years ago, back in 2006, when I was working with the airlines, I took one of my most adventurous vacations yet. I won’t go into detail about how I discovered this lodge, but it was not your typical tourists resort, and aside for an old traveling hippie, I was the only guest. But the adventure started not when I got to the lodge, but traveling there, it was quite an ordeal.

First off, let me point out the fact that the majority of people living in Costa Rica do not speak English. And, aside for a few vital words like Hello, Please, Thank you, Bathroom, and Beer, I do not speak Spanish. A very sad fact, seeing how at one time, I lived in Puerto Rico.
I was traveling alone on this trip, as I did on most of my travels at that point in life. When I arrived in San Juan, I had to take a taxi from the airport to the bus station, which is not a problem since all airports are loaded down with taxi’s eager to take your money. When I got to the bus station I was due to call the owner of the eco lodge and get more thorough instructions on how exactly to get to the lodge. Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out how to work the dang payphones and couldn’t find anyone who spoke English to help me. No worries, I knew what bus to get on to take me to San Isidro El General and from there I would figure it out. So I board the very crowded bus and 2 hours later arrive in San Isidro. I knew I had to go up into the mountains to a little town called Pura Suerte, and I knew the taxi needed to be 4 wheel drive. What I did not know was how to say 4 wheel drive in Spanish. The first taxi driver that grabbed me after stepping off the bus, of course, did not speak English. But when I told him Pura Suerte he nodded excitedly, “Si, Si Seniora.” I tried to sign language 4 wheel drive to him in the most crude sign language imaginable, and he just shook his head, “Si, Si”. Okay, whatever, your hired. We head off to his car and as soon as I see the tiny 4 door clunker he is driving the worry I had been suppressing all day started to creep up. But, I figured, He says he knows where this place is so that must mean this rust bucket is capable. So I climb in and we head up the muddy dirt road into the rainforest. And I mean UP! I couldn’t believe how steep these unpaved roads were! Along the way we would pass random houses, and after about 45min. of driving, my driver began stopping every 3-4 houses. “Un Momento” He would say to me while he jumped out of the car, ran up to the house, conversed with the inhabitants, and then ran back to me. “Mui Bien” he would say reassuringly, and we would continue on. I was getting a sneaking suspicion that he didn’t know where Pura Suerte was after all. About 2 hours into the drive up the mountain, it was dark and starting to rain and my driver pulled over in front of a big gate leading into a cow field. “Pura Suerte!” He exclaimed to me as he grabbed a flashlight and got out of the car. “No! No Pura Suerte!” I yelled after him as I jumped out to try and stop him. I knew from the description I had been given that this was most definitely not my destination point. The driver looked at me angrily, shook his head and went back to the car. To my dismay, instead of continuing on up the road, he turned around and started heading back down! I was not going all the way back to San Isidro, so I urged him to stop at the next house and get me a phone. I called my contact at the lodge and put him on the phone with my driver. He explained, in Spanish, that we only had to drive about 10 more minutes up the road and we would be in the town of Pura Suerte. A few minutes later the owner of the eco lodge met us on his 4 wheeler. He cursed out my driver for claiming to have a 4 wheel drive vehicle and knowing where Pura Suerte was. We threw my bag on the back of the 4 wheeler, I climbed on, and off we went. We pulled up to the common house of the property and went inside. The Eco Lodge is basically 500 acres bought up by a group of five American hippies. They built 5 bamboo huts scattered around the property which they rent out for $20 a day. They also have an organic farming and reforestation project which the majority of the land is devoted too. None of the huts were being used at the time, so I had my pick of any of them to stay in for my week. I choose the Jungle Valley hut. The hut farthest out in the rainforest and the most secluded. Again we climbed on the 4 wheeler and drove the half mile to the hut. It was a small round bamboo hut, fully enclosed on one side with a half wall on the other side. A small walkway out to one side led to the sink, compost toilet, and outdoor shower (which, by the way, taking an outdoor shower in the middle of the rainforest with absolutely no one around is a really cool experience in itself). The owner showed me around, and then told me not to leave the lights on too long, that will attract bugs. Bugs! In the rainforest!?! That’s all I needed to hear! As soon as he left I very quickly washed up, jumped in the bed (after a very thorough inspection under the covers), and turned out the light. Laying there in the total darkness, alone, in the middle of the jungle, I suddenly questioned myself. What was I thinking! Just then I heard a mysterious creature flying back and forth over my head, inside the hut. Ugh! I kept my head under the covers the rest of the night, only peering out now and then checking hopefully for daylight.

Finally, after a very broken night of sleep, the first signs of dawn started to peer into my hut. Right as I started to relax a little, I heard the most terrifying sound I have ever heard in my life! It literally sounded like there were dinosaurs outside my hut. (Come to find out later in the day, these were actually Howler monkeys, now I know where they got the name.) I lay there paralyzed with fear until it stopped. When I felt like a safe amount of time had passed I peered out from under the covers and saw, for the first time, the beautiful view from my little hut. The side of the hut with the low half wall had a porch wrapped around the outside, lined with hammocks, overlooking the most stunning valley. I could not believe the beauty I was completely surrounded by. All concerns and fears melted away and I became completely immersed in the place for the next several days. I befriended the old hippie staying up at the common lodge, the only other guest, and he took to showing me around. Exploring the jungle and surrounding village. He introduced me to a couple more hippies living in a small house overlooking another beautiful valley. At one point, one of the men from the house went to the side of the house, picked some various fruits from the trees, and made us fresh smoothies. So cool!

I asked the lodge owner if I could go horseback riding, so he asked one of the village men to take me out the following day. I ended up having my own private 3 hour tour of the jungle and surrounding land, on horseback, all for $20! We even stopped at a beautiful massive waterfall, at which time my guide got off of, and tied up his horse. While pulling out his machete he instructed me to do the same. Granted, he did not speak English. Uh, yea, Giant Gulp! He smiled, seeing I was nervous and confused and pointed up to the waterfall. We were going to the top and he was going to chop our way up! I felt so adventurous!

Every night I ate dinner at the common house with the one (and only) owner of the lodge that I had met, his girlfriend, and the old hippie. Food and Beer was included in my $20 a night fee. One night after a few too many beers, the dark of night had crept up and I still had to walk out to my hut. Every other night I was sure to be in my hut before night fell. The owner gave me a head lamp for my walk, and with no concerns in mind, I took off on the half mile trek alone. I was walking along, enjoying the quiet of the jungle, when all of a sudden a flying insect as big as my face and attracted to the light on my head, literally landed on my face! All I saw were legs coming at me! I screamed and took off running at a full sprint waving my hands frantically at my face. I would love to have a video of that little moment. It still makes me laugh to think of how crazy I must have looked and sounded. And there was no one around to see it! I ran all the way back to my hut!

Thankfully, aside for the terrifyingly loud howler monkeys, and the face eating insect, I was in harmony with the jungle the rest of my stay. It was an incredible experience and something I will never forget. Especially after looking at myself in the mirror for the first time in 5 days, after I left the lodge. Now that was probably the most terrifying moment out of the whole week! The jungle life does not do wonders to the skin and hair!

Posted by GrisWorld 14:28 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged rainforest lodge eco Comments (0)

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